Tags: election day | midterms | pelosi

Election Day Surprises Are the New Norm

Election Day Surprises Are the New Norm
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a news conference following the 2018 midterm elections at the Capitol Building on November 7, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

By Thursday, 08 November 2018 12:57 PM Current | Bio | Archive

“What’s your prediction?”

Pundits pride themselves in answering that question. But it’s a fool’s errand.

Election forecasting was once performed with laser-like precision. But now, accurate predictions are going the way of the dodo, as traditional assumptions and historical precedents have gone out the window. The result is uncharted territory.

The reasons are many: a hyper-partisan society; 24/7 news coverage; unprecedented mobilization via social media; and the all-important “Trump” phenomenon — where certain candidates and issues (such as Brexit) under-poll but outperform.

Let’s be honest: despite those who “knew” that Mr. Trump would win (a broken clock is right twice a day) virtually no one, including Trump himself, thought he would prevail. The lesson: surprises are the new norm.

Here’s a look at the our election climate:

— Historical precedence is useful, but not all-telling. The president’s party almost always loses seats in midterm elections, but those numbers vary: presidents with approval ratings above 50 percent lost an average of 14 seats. But that number plummets to 37 when a Commander-in-Chief falls below that threshold. Reagan, despite his massive 44-state victory in 1980, lost 28 House seats; Clinton lost 53; and Obama lost a staggering 63. All had approval ratings in the 40s.

Donald Trump’s “official” approval rating, for much of his term, has hovered near all-time presidential lows. What does that mean? Not much, since he didn’t come close to suffering losses like Presidents Clinton and Obama. Fact is, given the GOP added to its senate majority, President Trump had an unusually successful night.

That said, even though Mr. Trump lost the House (despite outperforming historical averages), much of the media is already incorrectly trumpeting that result as a repudiation of the president. And Nancy Pelosi, as House Speaker, will undoubtedly allow calls for impeachment to gather steam — the worst thing for America, as the nation’s gulf will grow exponentially wider.

— Trite as it sounds, the sole factor in determining tight races is who’s better at turnout. Easy to plan, but much harder to execute.

It’s one thing when 30,000 people attend a Trump rally. But the question was how many would actually vote, given that the president wasn’t on the ballot? In other words, would Mr. Trump’s pitch that “voting in the midterm is the same as voting for me” manifest at the ballot box? One of the least transferable commodities is popularity, but in this case, the president’s supporters came through.

Interestingly, midterms have historically been low-turnout affairs dominated by college-educated voters (who aren’t a strong Trump constituency). However, blue-collar voters who propelled Trump to victory turned out in record numbers.

Another X-factor (which terrifies the Left) is the president’s increasing traction with traditionally Democratic constituencies: Blacks, Latinos, gays, labor, and Jewish voters. In close races, those inroads seemed to have proved decisive.

— Democrats often claim “voter suppression.” In some respects, they are correct. First, felons who served their time should have their voting rights restored (as Floridians just voted to do). Once rehabilitated, they shouldn’t be denied that right.

More egregious is the voting disenfranchisement of some Native Americans because they lack traditional addresses on their reservations. Sorry, but that should not be reason enough to strip them of voting rights. We put a man on the moon 50 years ago, so it can’t be that hard to enact a system where identities and addresses can be verified.

Is it a coincidence that Republicans in North Dakota spearheaded this effort? That many Native Americans vote Democratic? And that Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp’s victory in 2012 was only by 3,000 votes? This author would love to think yes, but experience says otherwise.

Our hallowed right to vote should never be politicized! If one side can’t win on the issues, shame on them. Throw in the towel, or go back to the drawing board, but don’t suppress an American’s right to vote because a party can’t sell its ideas.

Regarding Voter ID, the claim that it disenfranchises people is ludicrous. In a society where people must show ID to enter office buildings, airplanes, trains, and even buy antihistamine, it’s time to give the same importance to voting. Government-issued IDs are free of charge, so let’s cut the garbage arguments. No ID, no vote. End of story.

Early voting should be abolished. Not only does this practice add considerable expense to local governments, it is also unnecessary.

From a common-sense perspective, what happens when a citizen casts a vote weeks before election day, and subsequently learns something distressing about his candidate?

Same for straight-ticket voting. Americans have become far too complacent when it comes to voting and, as a result, are reaping the consequences of a corrupted system. Good policy should never come down to just a “Democrat” or “Republican” one-second lever pull. Instead, making citizens vote for individuals over party may yet inspire them to take a more avid interest in who will represent them.

Both sides need a lesson in messaging.

Democrats ran a campaign bereft of ideas save one: vote against Trump. It proved enough to win the House, but as a long-term strategy, it’s a disaster. Just ask Republicans who did the same thing to Obama, thus ensuring his reelection.

On the Republican side, it’s clear the president understands campaign messaging, as everyone knows his platform: hardline on immigration, lower taxes, tough on China, fewer regulations. But he wasn’t running.

Instead, the GOP had senate leader Mitch McConnell stating, mere weeks before the election, that Security, Medicare and Medicaid needed to be cut. That may be necessary, but who in their right mind says that before an election, especially one where your party is already facing difficult odds? Truly baffling.

And the GOP got the worst of both worlds when it voted to remove preexisting condition protections from the Obamacare repeal bill but never passed it. They ended up getting hammered for something that never saw the light of day. Brilliant.

The Republicans refused to run advocacy ads during the last year outlining their vision and what they’ve done. Instead, they chose the cookie-cutter approach of  running mostly ineffective ads during the white noise of campaign season. The result of that error was several seats lost which could have been salvaged with a little political common sense.

2020, here we come.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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2020, here we come.
election day, midterms, pelosi
Thursday, 08 November 2018 12:57 PM
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