Saturday, November 10, 2018

Reflections on the 2018 Midterms

The big winner Tuesday night was Fox News. Its viewership of 7.78 million exceeded all other broadcasters, the networks, cable and satellite. Money usually talks in political campaigns. The Democrats heavily outspent the Republicans. The Democrats raised $951 million for House candidates as of October 17, 50% more than Republicans. The airways in the LA/Orange County area were flooded with ads for Harley Rouda, Katie Hill, and Katie Porter. Their opponents, incumbent Republicans Dana Rohrabacher,Steve Knight, and Mimi Walters, were drowned out. Harley Rouda had $11.3 million to spend versus $4.14 million for Congressman Rohrabacher. Steve Knight was outspend $5.8 million by Katie Hill. They outspent the Republicans by 40% for the Senate. For example, Beto O’Rourke in Texas had $69 million to spend compared to $40 million for Senator Ted Cruz. Professor Dave Brat upset the Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, four years ago. He lost this time to Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who raised $3.8 million more than him. The Democrats are opposed to Citizens United. They claim much of their money came from small donors. So they say. Many of their checks were signed by Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Tom Steyer. The media kept predicting a blue wave, a tsunami, a tsunami blue wave. 2018 was to be a wave election rejecting President Trump. 1994 was a wave election in President Clinton’s first midyear. The Republicans won 54 House seats and 9 Senate seats, turning the House of Representatives over to the Republicans for the first time in 42 years. 2010 was a wave election in President Obama’s first midyear. The Republicans won 63 House seats, six Senate seats, and swept the Frost belt from Pennsylvania through Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and much of Minnesota. They won the governorships in all but Minnesota and swept to victory in the state legislative branches. Tuesday was a good day for the Democrats, a very good day for the Democrats, but far short of the 1994 and 2010 waves. It may not have been a wave election, but a W is a W and a L is a L. Whether it’s by one vote or 35, the Democrats control the House of Representatives, and all the power that comes with that. Many of the victory margins were 2,000-3,000, illustrating the closeness of the elections. A W is still a W. Many of the pickups were made easy by 41 Republicans retiring. Democrats regained control of the governorships in Michigan and Wisconsin. They swept the statewide offices in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, but Republicans retained control of the legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin and the Senate in Minnesota. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lost his bid for a third term by 30,000 votes. They gained at least 32 seats in the House. Kansas elected Laura Kelly governor, defeating the arch conservative, anti-immigrant Republican Kris Klobach. The Republicans held onto Florida, Ohio, and Texas as well as governorships in the erstwhile Blue States of Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Senator Joe Manchin won reelection while Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill lost. Senator Manchin’s polls showed he would lose reelection if he voted against Judge Kavanaugh. He voted accordingly. Senators Donnelly and McCaskill didn’t run this time against Republican opponents who uttered incredibly stupid, insulting statements about abortion. Florida Senator Bill Nelson has little to show for 18 years in the Senate, but he suddenly became pro-active by demanding a recount. The Republican Karen Handel defeated Pajama Boy in a special election in Georgia’s Sixth District in 2017. She was narrowly defeated this year by Lucy McBath. President Trump’s blessings allowed Katie Arrington to upset Congressman Mark Sanford in the South Carolina Republican primary. She was upset in the general election by Joe Donnelly by 4,100 votes. Where was former President Bill Clinton this election cycle? Has he finally become radioactive to Democrats? Once again, as he did as President, President Obama campaigned heavily for some candidates, especially Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum. They lost. Taylor Swift’s endorsement didn’t come through in Tennessee for Phil Bredesen. Oprah didn’t come through for Stacy Abrams. California Governor elect Galvin Newsom has the potential to become the next Governor Gray Davis. As expected the billionaire J. B. Pritzker defeated the millionaire Governor Bruce Rauner in Illinois. The prognosis for Illinois is taxes piled on taxes as Illinois emulates Governor Murphy in Connecticut. Illinois is in a race with Connecticut to see which state goes belly-up first. Connecticut voters did their state a grave disservice by electing Democrat Ned Lamont to the Governorship as well as Democrats to all statewide positions, and returning the state senate to Democratic control. Connecticut is suffering from a capital flight, which will only accelerate in the next years. Ned Lamont spent $12 million of his own money on the election. Governor Lamont was a piker compared to Governor Pritzker, who spent $171 million of his fortune on getting elected. The good news for Illinois is that this governor is probably not bribable. The suburbs deserted the Republicans this election cycle. The blame is placed on white educated women in the suburbs rejecting the President. Two other factors were at work. The first is the legacy of Senator John McCain. The House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Senator McCain flew from his treatment to the Senate to cast the deciding vote on the bill. He cast a NO, to the surprise of almost everyone. Repeal and replace was dead. The Democrats ran this election on healthcare, hammering the Republicans on their opposition to the coverage of preexisting conditions. Second was the tax bill which limited the SALT (State and Local Tax) deduction to $10,000. The combined income and property taxes in these Blue State suburbs greatly exceed $10,000 annually. The Democrats had the chutzpah of accusing Republicans of raising taxes! Pennsylvania replaced five Republican members of Congress with five Democrats, thanks to a liberal Pennsylvania Supreme ordered reapportionment. Tuesday was a reaffirmation of the double standard between Democrats and Republicans. The ethically charged Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey won reelection by 10% after the Senate Majority PAC and Democratic Senatorial Committee poured $millions into his campaign to save him. A mistrial on bribery charges and rumors of cavorting with underaged prostitutes in the Dominican Republic haunted his campaign. Congressman Keith Ellison won a plurality election to be Attorney General of Minnesota despite serious, credible charges of sexual harassment. Virginia Democrat Representative Bobby Scott was unopposed for reelection. He was accused in 2017 of sexual misconduct. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party endorsed Representative Tony Cardenas for reelection while attacking the Republicans on the Kavanaugh hearings eventhough the Representative was accused of assaulting a 16 year old girl. The Democrats only applied the #MeToo to Republicans. To be fair, Republicans voters in New York and San Diego have apparently reelected two Representatives under federal indictment. Texas beats that by reelecting state Representative Ron Reynolds while he was serving a year in jail on five misdemeanors. The late returns from Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida and Maricopa County in Arizona threaten to flip the election night Republican victories to Democratic, shades of the selective and inconsistent Florida recounts in 2000, and a repeat of the Al Franken 2008 election. It seems the Chicago election model has migrated to Broward County, Florida. Always remember the great title of Hugh Hewitt’s book, “If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat.” The dead may vote in Chicago, but Arizona beats that by electing a dead, brothel owner, Dennis Hof, to the state legislature. The new 116th Congress will be the most diverse in history, with at least 118 women in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Two Native American women and two Muslim women will enter the House as will two African American woman from Connecticut and Massachusetts. If Katie Porter holds on to her lead against Congressman Steve Knight in California and Max Rose’ victory over Congressman Dan Donovan in New York stands, then neither Los Angeles County nor New York City will have a Republican member of Congress. Maine’s outgoing Governor Paul LePage is packing up and moving to Florida for the usual reasons of winters and taxes. New York state voters removed 8 Republican Senators from the legislature, replacing them with Democrats. The effect is that for the first time in decades democrats will control both houses of the legislature. The tacit agreement in the past is that the Assembly would reapportion itself and the Senate itself every ten years. The Democrats will control all the entire reapportionment process after the 2020 election, which will strike a severe blow to the shrinking Republican base in New York. Democrats flipped over 300 state legislative seats, but that’s far short of the roughly 1,000 seats lost to the Democrats under President Obama. State ballot results paint an interesting vignette. Colorado and Washington are both purple states leaning blue. Colorado voters defeated Prop 112, an effective ban on new fossil fuel development. It would have banned oil and gas production within 2,55 feet of homes, hospitals, schools, buildings with a certificate of occupancy, and “vulnerable” areas, as well as parks, playgrounds, public open spaces, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Colorado voters also rejected Amendment 74, which would require just compensation to be paid landowners whose properties dropped in value as a result of government regulations. Washington voters defeated Initiative 1631, a proposed carbon tax, which would have increased the gas tax on cars, starting at $.13/galloon. Seattle residents supported the tax, but were outvoted by the rest of the state. They also approved Initiative 1634, which bars communities from imposing food and beverage taxes. Conversely, California voters rejected Prop 6, which would have repealed Jerry Brown’s gas tax increase, which could cost the average family $800/year. Much, but not all the tax revenues, would go to road and street repairs. The state Attorney general changed the label on the initiative to rescinding the funds for road repair, backed up by over $30 million in ads opposed to the repeal. California voters also rejected Prop 10, which would have allowed communities to reimpose rent control. Florida voters approved 69-31 a ban on offshore drilling. California’s Democrats won 5 of the 8 statewide elections by about a 20% margin. A major exception was Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was expected to defeat State Senator Kevin DeLeon by a astronomical margin. Instead, she won by only 8%, reflecting Republican blowback over her treatment of Justice Kavanaugh. Colorado and Michigan approved the creation of an independent reapportionment commission. Colorado elected the first openly gay governor while Wilton Manor, Florida now has an all LGBTQ city council. Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah approved the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion. Montana approved it a few years ago, but defeated a cigarette tax increase to fund the expansion. Free medical care sounds attractive, but Medicaid is failing to deliver in fact. The 2017 expenditure for Medicaid was $557 billion, of which the feds covered 62% and the states 38%. The Medicaid expansion is a Faustian bargain. San Francisco and Mountain View voters decided the solution to the sad homeless problem was to tax large employers in their community. Let’s see how well that works out. Mountain View obviously believes Google will not leave town. Michigan, Missouri, and Utah voters approved toking up, at least for medical purposes. A wonderful election in Kentucky was the defeat of Rowan, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who had refused to license a gay marriage because of her religious beliefs. Jefferson County, Alabama (Birmingham) elected African Americans as Sherriff and District Attorney. Bull Conner must be rolling over in his grave. New Yorkers elected Letitia James, an African American woman, Attorney General. The Democrats ran on no platform, except Trump. It worked. Their priorities seem to be: 1) Resistance; 2) Subpoena; 3) Get President Trump’s tax returns; 4) Impeach Justice Kavanaugh 5) Investigate, investigate, investigate 6) Pursue the Russia conspiracy. Is this what the electorate elected them to do?

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