US Politics

What’s at stake for Trump in the 2018 midterms?

BY Finn McRedmond   /  9 August 2018

After the special election in Ohio on Tuesday, things are looking precarious for Trump’s midterms. The traditionally red state still managed a Republican victory, but it was narrow. What warning signs does this give to the Republican hold over both The Senate and The House of Representatives?

The president’s party historically falters during the midterm elections – take Obama’s disastrous year in 2010, which saw the worst Democratic midterm election defeat in 70 years. The Republican party were revitalised in Congress, making sweeping legislation under the Obama administration simply a lot harder.

Now, if one chamber cedes control to the Democrats, Trump’s ability to get through significant legislation will be compromised.

Gregory Giroux of Bloomberg notes that it’s not only losing legislative control that should concern Trump. He said: “His administration would likely face new or re-energized investigations, perhaps including subpoenas, by congressional committees that would switch to Democratic control.

“A Democratic Senate would become a formidable obstacle to any still pending or new Supreme Court appointments by Trump. And a Democratic House could be emboldened to start the process of trying to impeach Trump.”

The President’s Party loses on average 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate in the midterms. For the Democrats to regain control of the House they need only 24 seats, and as for the Senate? They need just two.

So things aren’t looking great for The Republicans, who currently hold a precarious majority in both. Additionally, Trump’s approval ratings in mid-2018 are near the lowest of any president ever at this point in his term, according to polling from Gallup. And unpopular presidents’ parties tend to lose more seats, as Giroux notes.

Counterintuitively, Steve Bannon (Trump’s former political strategist) sees the key to retaining the majority in both houses is turning the election into a vote on Trump himself. He said: “You’ve got to make it an up or down vote November 6. I want Trump on the ticket in every district.

“You have to put Donald Trump on the ticket. You’re not voting for Congress. You’re voting for Donald Trump.”

The tactic does not seem to tally with the evidence, but master political strategist Bannon was an architect of Trump’s historic success in 2016. And Trump himself doesn’t exactly fit the mould of any of his predecessors. Despite the unsettling news from Ohio, Trump yet again, might just pull this one off.