Why the 2018 midterm elections feel so epic
High stakes for the upcoming American midterm elections.
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.
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.
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.
The United States Capitol, home of the U.S. Congress.
A Trump supporter at a rally in support of the Senate candidacy of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston.
An anti-fascist and anti-Trump protester at an Alt-Right rally in Washington D.C., August 12, 2018.