Senate Election Certainty
October 31, 2018
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There is one clear certainty about the 2018 elections.
Senator Chuck Schumer will not be the majority leader.
I have looked at every Senate race this year, and I do not see any way the Democrats can get to a majority.
The supposed blue wave broke before making it to shore.
This is a much bigger breakthrough in national government than you might have expected.
If the Democrats had acquired a majority in the Senate, they could have blocked every person President Trump nominated for federal judgeships. Now that this seems unlikely, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans will continue the amazing shift of the courts back toward a reliance on the American Constitution as the source of legal decision-making. This was the biggest achievement of Trump’s first two years, and now it is likely guaranteed to continue.
If the Democrats acquired a Senate majority, they would launch dozens of investigations and help hobble the senior leadership of the government. They would make life endlessly frustrating for Trump appointees. Instead of developing new policies, the President’s team would be absorbed with preparing for unending, irritating-but-dangerous hearings. Their time and energy for new reforms and new policies would be severely limited.
A Democratic Senate would have pursued hearings on issues they thought would keep their base excited and enthusiastic.
Among the biggest losers next Tuesday will be the would-be presidential candidates mired in the minority. The outbursts of Senators Cory “Spartacus” Booker and Kamala Harris were early indications of the frustrations of trying to run for president while being in the minority. Senators Booker, Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren are among those who will lack the majority pulpit to schedule the right hearings on the right topics to maximize favorable publicity.
Depending on the scale of the Democratic defeat, Senator Schumer may face a rebellion against his own leadership. After next Tuesday, Schumer will have failed to bring his party into the majority. Furthermore, he kept his team together on big questions such as the tax cuts and approving Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but still, with a breathtakingly small margin, Leader McConnell simply kept winning.
Four Republicans deserve credit for this extraordinary outcome: President Trump, McConnell, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.
President Trump has been the foundation for everything because he assembled the red state majority. His policies, mass rallies, tweets, and media savvy have kept that majority together for two years. Trump may not have broadened his base, but he has certainly solidified and educated it. If Senator Joe Manchin loses next Tuesday, it will be a sign no personality can overcome being on the wrong team in a state President Trump carried by a 42 percent margin.
Leader McConnell has once again vindicated his methodical, steady approach to governing. His memoir, The Long Game, is filled with examples of how patient and persistent he is. He helped recruit and fund candidates and in some cases, provided campaign managers. When necessary, he has talked bluntly with incumbent senators to get them to do what is needed for re-election. His consistency in working with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to get Kavanaugh approved for the Supreme Court may have been the final turning point in defining the Senate elections in the key states.
Senator Gardner did a superb job of working with all his Republican colleagues and the Trump White House to recruit the candidates who had the potential to win. Without these strong, competitive personalities, the opportunity for a Republican victory would never have materialized in a number of states. It is easy to forget how much Republicans shot ourselves in the foot with weak — and sometimes downright weird — candidates in 2012 and 2014. Not a single unforced error was made in recruiting candidates for 2018.
RNC Chair McDaniel has had the wisdom, energy, and perseverance to do an outstanding job of fundraising and then focusing that fundraising to expand and deepen the Republican ground game nationally. There are some key reasons Republicans won eight of 10 special elections for the House these past two years, and one of them is the extra votes turned out by the RNC local neighborhood outreach program. McDaniel deserves credit for the vision to grow the system – even beyond its 2016 base. She has had the energy to raise the money and the personality to keep the party focused on winning instead of bickering.
Speaking of 2016, if the size of the Republican victory next Tuesday shocks the media and the Left, some credit must go to the years of hard work by former RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his leadership in building a big enough system to help win hard fought states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The House is still a tough contest that could go either way. I think the GOP range is probably a low of 204 to a high of 229. None of us will know for sure until the votes start coming in. The polls are about as meaningful as they were in 2016, and the so-called experts are probably as right as they were in 2016 when they just misread reality and imposed their own models.
The Senate as an institution is settled. Individual Senate races are still up in the air, but the general picture is clear.
There is no circumstance where Schumer can become majority leader. At a minimum, we will have a two-vote Republican majority after Tuesday night.
McConnell’s majority will certainly grow.
My current conservative estimate is a GOP gain of three seats. My optimistic prediction is a gain so high I am afraid to put in writing. Leader McConnell dislikes and distrusts projections, so I will keep my much more positive number to myself.
The Trump Revolution will be safe and continue to grow in the Senate – and that is an amazing outcome for 2018.
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