Republicans and Democrats held primary elections in seven states on June 26: New York, Colorado, Maryland, Oklahoma, Utah, South Carolina and Mississippi, the last two states being runoff primaries. Predictions for the November 2018 midterm elections have projected a wave of Democrat victories, perhaps enough to reclaim both the Senate (which only needs two GOP losses) and the House (which needs 30 Democrat victories).
The polling still indicates a likely swing in at least the Senate to Democrat control, but the results of the primaries seem to show something different.
Fox News reported interesting development for both parties. For the Democrat primaries, it reported:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former campaign organizer for Bernie Sanders, pulled off a stunning upset in New York City on Tuesday by defeating Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., a member of party leadership who was considered all but a shoo-in.
Crowley, 56, a 10-term incumbent from Queens and fierce Trump-basher, was a steady fundraiser for fellow Democrats and was thought by some to be a future speaker of the House.
His defeat left no clear potential choice in the House to succeed Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as the party’s leader. Further, it exposed deepening divisions within the party as the liberal wing flexes its muscles in the primaries — pressuring the establishment to back big-government policies like Medicare for All and guaranteed jobs.There were times that Crowley’s campaign in New York’s 14th Congressional District showed signs of fragility. The New York Times editorial page, after his loss, reported that he ran a lackluster campaign that bordered on complacency. The paper pointed out that he debated his opponent only once.
Ocasio-Cortez, 28, who is from the Bronx, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and ran a low-budget campaign where she was outspent by an 18-1 margin.
Fox further noted that this race’s outcome revealed a weakness in the establishment structure among Democrats in the same way that Donald Trump radically showed that the GOP establishment has become very lost.
“We have had our country on autopilot and we’ve been accepting what’s been happening,” she told Refinery29 earlier this month. “And what’s happening in this country is indicative that we need new leadership. We need new leadership in the Democratic Party and we need new leadership in the country.”
Her win drew comparisons to when then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican, lost to unknown Dave Brat in 2014, and raised questions for Pelosi.
“In the short term, Pelosi may have crossed another potential challenger off of her list, but the bigger picture can’t be good for the existing Democratic leadership structure,” Jim Newell wrote in Slate. “Crowley, for all his accumulated power, just got taken out on the mantra of generational change. This presents an argument, for Pelosi’s detractors in the conference, that the rest of the leadership should follow suit.”
Politico wrote that although a rival to Pelosi was defeated, Ocasio-Cortez represents a “reminder of the generational demands for change at the top of the party hierarchy,” and her victory will likely send a “shudder through the moderate wing of the party.”
The GOP has interpreted the rise of an extremely radical left wing to the Democrat Party as a sign that Democrat party unity is failing and that the party is splintering.
However, this phenomenon is not restricted to the Democrats. President Trump’s own rise to the presidency was a similar shock to many people who are both Repubicans and the GOP establishment in DC. President Trump is attempting to use his own outsider momentum to get more GOP primary victories with people that will back his own unique style and policy set.
This map shows that there are 27 seats truly considered “toss up” seats in the November contest. Of these, assuming that the likely and lean GOP elections do indeed go GOP, the number of pure tossup victories needed is eight. The Democrats need 20.
June 21 US House Election prospective map
In other words, this election appears to be quite close. The Fox News map for the Senate shows a similarly close race:
Here with an assumed 48 seats, the GOP must win three Senate elections to retain or increase control over the upper legislative house. The eight toss-up states are interesting, because historically Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, North Dakota, West Virginia and Arizona are all considered “red states”, yet they are considered toss-ups this year.
According to this report, also from Fox News, the GOP primaries revealed that the President’s coattails are effective in helping Republican candidates triumph, but the victory of Socialist Ocasio-Cortez over establishment Mike Crowley suggests ideological fragmentation in the Democrat party. Further, the Fox analysis seems to suggest that the “blue wave” that was forecast looks increasingly mythical:
Primaries Tuesday showed the power of President Trump’s endorsements continued to help Republican candidates triumph, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., lost a key lieutenant – Rep. Joe Crowley – in a New York City race that suggests internal divisions among Democrats are more serious than people might think.
In addition, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee who lost to President Obama, staged a political comeback by easily winning the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah held by the retiring Republican Orrin Hatch. Romney seems headed for victory in November in the heavily Republican state.
Democratic divisions between the leftist insurgents who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in his unsuccessful campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 make it less likely that a big, blue wave is coming that will sweep Democrats to majority control in the House and Senate.The insurgents have the potential to change the Democratic Party over the long term into something more in line with left-leaning parties in Europe, rather than continuing to remain within the uniquely American spectrum where both parties agree to one degree or another that market forces should continue to play a role in setting economic policy.
President Trump’s job approval numbers are holding steady somewhere in the mid-40s. The percentage of voters who feel the country is on the right track is now up near 40 percent – double where it was at the beginning of the year.
The only way this feels like it’s a “change election” is on the Democratic side, where younger voters and women seemed determined to “Bernie-fy” the party and have it stand for such things as rolling back the Trump tax cuts, free college for all, Medicare for all and – in essence – a transformation of the United States into a full-blown version of a European-style welfare state.
That pitch might work in the big cities, which seem to be the only power base the party of the Clintons and Obama has left. But it’s not clear that voters in the suburbs and rural areas will vote for candidates on the far left.
And, thanks to the recent outburst from liberal entertainers and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters – who has urged those on the left to harass Trump administration officials wherever they might be found – the Democrats may be in the process of losing whatever advantage they might have had on the civility question. That might actually be one place where President Trump is truly vulnerable.
The 2016 elections showed American that nothing can be trusted to be as it seems. The verdict from the news reports is inconclusive at best. It does not appear that anyone on either side has grounds for complacent confidence.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.