So much for the 2018 midterm elections that cost in excess of $5 billion.
President Trump’s name was not on any ballot, but you can be excused any confusion because he seemed to be everywhere.
Lucky for Republicans he was. The 72-year-old threw himself mainly into Senate campaigns with dozens of rallies across the country where he knew he could energize that loyal base he forged in 2015-16. And it paid off.
Despite ubiquitous predictions of a blue wave erasing the GOP and embarrassing Trump, it didn’t happen.
Both parties can claim success. Democrats retook the House and despite spouting bipartisan goals, will make life uncomfortable for the White House. But Republicans enhanced their Senate majority and can continue refilling the nation’s judiciary.
Americans reverted to their historically preferred form of divided Washington government, with one party controlling the White House and the other at least one chamber of Congress, in this case the House.
Republicans did lose the Nevada Senate seat. But Democrats, who were defending 26 of them, lost at least five, a major Republican win because it solidifies GOP control of the chamber that confirms nominees and judges and — oh, look — justices, two of them already.
The victories solidified today’s party of Lincoln as the party of Donald Trump. He helped enroll Senate newcomers now hugely beholden to this president. And the victories also erased any control that part-time Republicans like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have exerted on that caucus and body.
For a non-politician, Trump’s record in midterms looks pretty good. In 2010, ex-Sen. Obama lost 63 House and six Senate seats in his first midterm. Ex-Gov. Bill Clinton lost 54 House and eight Senate seats in 1994. Trump lost more than the 23 House seats Democrats needed but gained several Senate seats.
The wins also demonstrated the price Democrats paid for that shameless display of faux outrage over the confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
Turns out, the #KavanaughEffect was very real. Every Democrat senator who voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation will soon become a former senator. The lone yes vote — Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia — survived to wiggle through another term.
Trump never needs permission to boast, but he’s entitled this time.
No one can prove it, but it’s likely his zeal and determination blunted Democrat momentum and caused or helped solidify the winning margins for:
Ron DeSantis’ as Florida governor, Rick Scott who ousted long-time Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, Mike Braun who ousted Joe Donnelly for Indiana senator and Josh Hawley, who pushed Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill to the roadside of political history.
Trump also helped reelect flinty Texan Ted Cruz, who refused to endorse Trump in 2016. Will he be a team player now? And Trump helped Marsha Blackburn become Tennessee’s first female senator, replacing the annoying Bob Corker in the upper chamber, adding to a record number of women in the new Congress, including the first two Muslim women.
As expected, Mitt Romney easily won old Orrin Hatch’s old Utah Senate seat.
With 33 Republican governors in office following the devastation of the Obama presidency, you’d expect some casualties.
There were a few, like Michigan and Wisconsin, but also some gains, including — are you sitting down? — Bernie’s state of Vermont. Also keeping New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Texas and Ohio.
The Democrat’s jumbo presidential race for 2020 is now officially underway with possibly over 20 wannabes. Many of them reside on the party’s far left. But they’d best study the Georgia and Florida governor’s races.
There, Stacy Abrams and Andrew Gillum, both blacks, positioned themselves as fervent progressives. Abrams even talked of confiscating guns. Both lost.
Both also had the stump help of ex-President Barack Obama, who spent much of his campaign remarks talking about himself. His political magic has gone poof.
There’s a reason former presidents who can control their ego largely shun campaign trails in retirement. Republican Herbert Hoover, who lost reelection in 1932 to Franklin Roosevelt, tried to help Alf Landon in 1936. Landon got eight electoral votes. Roosevelt collected 523. Poof.