Blue Wave May Have Crested
Four of the winners in the Democrats’ Pennsylvania State House primaries embraced the endorsements of local socialist organizations. This sharp lurch to the left by the Democratic Party, if it tells us anything, is an additional predictor that the so-called “Blue Wave” of Democratic victories in the mid-terms is likelier to be a mere a ripple.
It’s a big ask for moderate Democrats – and they’re still out there—to believe that someone else will pay for the Bernie Sanders agenda of “free” college, “universal” health care, and guaranteed government-mandated salaries. That “Free Lunch” agenda becomes even less believable when rural Pennsylvania’s engine of economic growth – energy jobs – is targeted for plunder.
“Hard-working, traditionalist blue-collar voters are still a large part of Pennsylvania’s electorate,” noted David N. Taylor, President & CEO of PMA. “Sad to say, it seems the Democrats are leaving these voters behind.”
Many of these voters can still hear the chilling sound of Hillary Clinton’s promise during the 2016 presidential election to put all coal miners out of work. Oil and gas workers are on the liberals’ extinction list as well; Governor Tom Wolf’s unrelenting insistence on an extraction tax is just the start of the crusade. The message from the socialists, and now by association, the Democrats, is clear: vote for us and your high paying energy jobs will transition into government minimum wage jobs turning the cranks on the windmills when the wind dies down.
It’s no surprise that Terry Madonna, Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, Professor of Public Affairs, and Director of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll, sees no weakening in the Trump base.
“Clinton won just two counties west of the Susquehanna,” Madonna said. “That base hasn’t changed, and Pennsylvania is a pretty good example of the same trends in other states.”
Another sign the Blue Wave could turn out to be nothing more than a Democratic fantasy is that a ripping economy has led to a marked turnaround in generic polling over the past two months.
According to a Reuters poll, 39 percent of registered voters last week said they would vote for Republicans in November, and 36.7 percent said they would support Democrats. As recently as early April, Democrats were leading the generic polling by more than ten points.
President Donald Trump has delivered. ISIS, which was barely even contained under Barack Obama, has been effectively destroyed. We have the biggest tax cut in 31 years, the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years (including the lowest black unemployment rate ever recorded), and one of the healthiest and most robust stock markets in decades.
In addition, a May 21 Gallup poll showed that Americans’ optimism about the ability to find good jobs is at a record high.
“Sixty-percent of Americans believe that now is a good time to find a quality job in the U.S.,” the conclusions of the poll said, “the highest percentage in 17 years of Gallup polling. Optimism about the availability of good jobs has grown by 25 percentage points since Donald Trump was elected president.”
On the flip side, the Democratic party’s coalition of liberals, many of whom supported Sanders in the presidential primary, tend to stay at home for the mid-terms. It happened in 2010, and again in 2014, and it probably will again. A recent national Pew poll says that voters over age 50 are following midterm election news nearly twice as often as under-30 voters.
The Democrats need to retain 194 seats and flip 24 to take the U.S. House. The party in the White House historically loses some congressional seats in the midterms but Larry Sabato, with the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, now calls that possibility of a Democratic takeover a “toss-up.”
In the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently said that the GOP might actually gain six to eight seats there. The Republicans, he said, also have a shot at taking out some powerful Democrats, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, once considered as Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016.
Three of the U.S. House seats the Democrats need for a majority could come from the Philadelphia suburbs, but nothing seems certain in Pennsylvania. Besides battling their opponents, candidates are up against the mess made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court when it hijacked the redistricting process from the General Assembly.
“Still a lot of confusion out there about even the numbers assigned to the congressional seats,” Chris Nicholas, President, Eagle Consulting Group, Inc., said at a post-election analysis at the PMA’s Monthly Business Briefing.
Nicholas also said that a kind of reverse indicator of how the Democrats might fare in the fall is how the press covered the primaries — extrapolating a lot from minimal results.
“There were five times as many stories about the special election in Bucks County where a state House seat flipped from Republican to Democrat as there were about a House seat flipping from Democrat to Republican in Washington County.”
While there are no certainties in the outcomes in Pennsylvania, one thing is for certain: Pennsylvania will play a key role in the 2018 mid-term elections and could very well determine the balance of power in Congress.