Why the 2018 midterm elec­tions feel so epic

High stakes for the upcoming Amer­i­can midterm elec­tions.

Vocable (All English) - - Sommaire - JONATHAN TAMARI

The upcoming midterm elec­tions will be held in the United States on 6 Novem­ber. Ev­ery four years Amer­i­can vot­ers take to the polls to elect their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Congress (the Se­nate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives), both of which are cur­rently con­trolled by the Repub­li­can Party. As Don­ald Trump com­pletes his sec­ond year in of­fice, these elec­tions are of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance this time round…

Wash­ing­ton — Ever since Pres­i­dent Trump's elec­tion, Han­nah Lau­ri­son has had an eye on Nov. 6, 2018. So stunned the morn­ing of Trump's vic­tory that she couldn't find the words to tell her daugh­ters, the Philadel­phian found her voice soon after. After com­mis­er­at­ing and cry­ing with friends, Lau­ri­son helped or­ga­nize weekly protests out­side Repub­li­can Sen. Pat Toomey's of­fices in Penn­syl­va­nia, and now leads a coali­tion of grass­roots lib­eral groups work­ing across the state.

2. She is part of a wave of ac­tivism sparked by Trump, as the pres­i­dent and the back- lash against him have be­come the defin­ing forces in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. In less than [a month] those com­pet­ing el­e­ments face their most sig­nif­i­cant test in a midterm elec­tion freighted with epic im­pli­ca­tions. “My world is peo­ple who are on fire about pol­i­tics,” Lau­ri­son said.

3. Trump and his sup­port­ers, mean­while, warn that a roar­ing econ­omy — and his very pres­i­dency — is un­der threat in what amounts to the first na­tional mea­sure of his ten­ure. “There's a de­ci­sion here whether we want to con­tinue the pros­per­ity and all the good things with the econ­omy,” said Jim Wor­thing­ton, a Bucks County busi­ness­man who founded a grass­roots group to sup­port Trump.

A FOOTHOLD IN CONGRESS

4. Ev­ery na­tional elec­tion car­ries sig­nif­i­cant stakes, but this cam­paign is charged in a way like few in re­cent mem­ory, crack­ling with the fu­ri­ous en­ergy of 2016 that in many ways has only grown more in­tense dur­ing Trump's pres­i­dency. Most di­rectly at stake is Democrats' chance to gain a foothold in Congress,

and the power to slow Trump's agenda and probe his ad­min­is­tra­tion, set against Repub­li­cans' hopes to en­act con­ser­va­tive poli­cies for at least two more years.

5. The sym­bolic stakes run even deeper. Former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has taken to the cam­paign trail. In call­ing for re­jec­tion of Trump's pol­i­tics “of fear and re­sent­ment,” Obama joined a cho­rus of Democrats, and some Repub­li­cans, warn­ing of fun­da­men­tal threats from Trump's se­rial dis­hon­esty, racially charged rhetoric, at­tacks on the news me­dia, and calls for law en­force­ment of­fi­cials to in­ves­ti­gate his ene­mies. “The midterms are just such an im­por­tant point to test whether all of this re­sis­tance en­ergy and po­lit­i­cal fever can be trans­lated,” Lau­ri­son said.

TRUMP’S PO­LIT­I­CAL STYLE

6. A Demo­cratic wave might of­fer the po­lit­i­cal reck­on­ing that many ex­pected in 2016, and sig­nal that even though Trump's in­cen- di­ary style worked then, it might still carry a po­lit­i­cal price. If Trump and the GOP again beat ex­pec­ta­tions, though, and hold the House, it could val­i­date the pres­i­dent's un­con­ven­tional ap­proach and again show that his ap­peal runs far deeper than pub­lic sur- veys sug­gest. It would fur­ther dec­i­mate the old po­lit­i­cal rules.

7. The stakes show in pub­lic sur­veys: 65 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers told a Wash­ing­ton Post/ ABC poll in Au­gust that it's more im­por­tant to vote now than in past midterms. Among Demo­cratic-lean­ing vot­ers the fig­ure was 75 per­cent. For those who lean Repub­li­can, it was 57 per­cent.

UN­CER­TAINTY

8. The odds, and his­tory, fa­vor Democrats. The party in the White House has lost House seats in all but three midterms since the Civil War, and Trump's ap­proval rat­ings are his­tor­i­cally low. But Trump de­fied pre­dic­tions and polls in 2016 with a vic­tory that fit into a pat­tern of seis­mic up­sets around the

globe as vot­ers have raged against tra­di­tional in­sti­tu­tions and politi­cians — ad­ding to the un­cer­tainty and ten­sion sur­round­ing this midterm.

9. Fur­ther fu­el­ing the apoc­a­lyp­tic mood is Trump's all-con­sum­ing per­son­al­ity, which has kept sup­port­ers and crit­ics in­flamed. Ev­ery week ar­rives with the ex­haust­ing ve­loc­ity and un­pre­dictabil­ity of peak cam­paign sea­son — now go­ing on year three. Lib­eral ac­tivists in­ter­viewed for this story stressed that be­yond per­son­al­ity, they are also fight­ing on tan­gi­ble is­sues that af­fect ev­ery­day peo­ple, such as taxes, health care, work­ers' rights, and the Supreme Court. Some Repub­li­cans have ar­gued that the pres­i­dent's poli­cies are broadly pop­u­lar. But Trump's re­al­i­tyshow style over­shad­ows every­thing, an­a­lysts said.

CRIT­I­CAL STATES

Fur­ther fu­el­ing the apoc­a­lyp­tic mood is Trump's all­con­sum­ing per­son­al­ity.

10. With many vot­ers in mod­er­ate, sub­ur­ban ar­eas turn­ing against the pres­i­dent and the GOP, Penn­syl­va­nia, New Jer­sey, and Cal­i­for­nia are the three states most crit­i­cal to con­trol of the House, said Kyle Kondik, an an­a­lyst at the Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia. Democrats, who need to add 23 seats for a House ma­jor­ity, are con­sid­ered a near lock to gain at least three seats in the Philadel­phia re­gion but are tar­get­ing much more. If a true wave emerges, they might net dou­ble-digit gains across Penn­syl­va­nia and New Jer­sey. The fight for the Se­nate is on more con­ser­va­tive turf, where 10 Demo­cratic in­cum­bents are run­ning in states Trump won.

11. Even if a Demo­cratic wave emerges, it may not pre­dict Trump's fu­ture. Democrats suf­fered a dis­as­trous 2010 midterm, but Obama won re­elec­tion two years later. Mean­while, the left is wrestling with its own up­heaval.

12. In some cases Democrats have nom­i­nated cen­trists, like Rep. Conor Lamb, in Western Penn­syl­va­nia, who have ap­pealed to swing vot­ers. In other in­stances they opted for hard­charg­ing lib­er­als, par­tic­u­larly women and peo­ple of color, who have chal­lenged the old or­der — most fa­mously Alexan­dria Oca­sioCortez in New York and Ayanna Press­ley in Bos­ton. The dif­fer­ent ap­proaches will of­fer a test of com­pet­ing strate­gies as Democrats pre­pare to con­front Trump di­rectly in 2020. It's yet another rea­son why this elec­tion feels so big.

(Alex Bran­don/AP/SIPA)

The United States Capi­tol, home of the U.S. Congress.

(Craig Hud­son/AP/SIPA)

A Trump sup­porter at a rally in sup­port of the Se­nate can­di­dacy of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Pa­trick Mor­risey, Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston.

(SIPA)

An anti-fas­cist and anti-Trump pro­tester at an Alt-Right rally in Wash­ing­ton D.C., Au­gust 12, 2018.

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