AP/Mark Humphrey

Nothing Certain On The Eve Of First Trump-Era Elections

Monday, November 05, 2018


STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters on Tuesday will decide the $5 billion debate between President Donald Trump's take-no-prisoner politics and the Democratic Party's super-charged campaign to end the GOP's monopoly in Washington and statehouses across the nation.

There are indications that an oft-discussed "blue wave" may help Democrats seize control of at least one chamber of Congress. But two years after an election that proved polls and prognosticators wrong, nothing is certain on the eve of the first nationwide elections of the Trump presidency.

"I don't think there's a Democrat in this country that doesn't have a little angst left over from 2016 deep down," said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List, which spent more than ever before — nearly $60 million in all — to support Democratic women this campaign season.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House are up for re-election. And 35 Senate seats are in play, as are almost 40 governorships and the balance of power in virtually every state legislature.

While he is not on the ballot, Trump himself has acknowledged that the 2018 midterms, above all, represent a referendum on his presidency.

Should Democrats win control of the House, as strategists in both parties suggest is likely, they could derail Trump's legislative agenda for the next two years.

Tuesday's elections will also test the strength of a Trump-era political realignment.

"What it means to be Republican is being rewritten as we speak," Ari Fleischer said. "Donald Trump has the pen, and his handwriting isn't always very good."

Democrats hope to elect a record number of women to Congress.

Former President Barack Obama seized on the differences between the parties in a final-days scramble to motivate voters across the nation.

The hyper-charged environment is expected to drive record turnout in some places, but on the eve of the election, it's far from certain which side will show up in the greatest numbers.

The outcome is clouded by the dramatically different landscape between the House and Senate.

Democrats are most optimistic about the House, a sprawling battlefield extending from Alaska to Florida. They need to pick up two dozen seats to claim the House majority.

Democrats face a far more difficult challenge in the Senate, where they are almost exclusively on defense in rural states where Trump remains popular. Democratic Senate incumbents are up for re-election, for example, in North Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana — states Trump carried by 30 percentage points on average two years ago.

Democrats need to win two seats to claim the Senate majority, although most political operatives in both parties expect Republicans to add to their majority.