Conventional wisdom says that an incumbent president loses seats in the House and Senate in the first midterm elections after he is sworn in. Like many things with Donald J. Trump, conventional wisdom is looking more likely to be turned on its head during the 2018 elections. After the election of John Kennedy in Louisiana last weekend, the Republicans will hold 52 seats in the Senate, Democrats 46. In 2018 the Democrats are slated to defend half of their remaining seats, plus two seats where the “independent” caucuses with the Democrats. Trump won ten of those states. The GOP has a real shot of gaining a supermajority.
You may be thinking it is too early to be talking about such things as the 2018 election, when the winners of the 2016 elections haven’t even been sworn in. You’re probably right. But an understanding of the 2018 election adds another dimension to why the Left is in such a panic over the upcoming two years. It will be very hard for Democratic incumbents in states that voted for Donald Trump to go against his agenda if they want to be reelected. After all, being reelected is the number one job of the politician, not governing.
How bad is it for the Democrats? This bad.
Democratic incumbents in Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Florida each represent a state that Donald Trump won in 2016. Of those ten states, Mitt Romney won five (West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, and Montana) back in 2012. And of those five, John McCain, R-Ariz. (F, 32%) carried all but one (Indiana) back in 2008 — which means four states of the ten have been solidly Republican in the last three presidential elections! Those incumbents are in for a rocky ride in 2018.
In a non-presidential year, the electorate is less Democratic since Democrats normally don’t turn out as many voters In these “off years,” Republicans can also win in what are considered presidential “blue states.” Of the remaining 12 states with Democratic senate incumbents up in 2018, three of them have Republican incumbent governors: Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Mexico. The two states with “independent” senators that caucus with the Democrats will also have Republican incumbent governors in 2018: Maine and Vermont.
Out of the 25 seats held by senators that caucus with the Democratic party, 15 of them are in states that either voted for Trump, have a Republican governor, or both. That is a brutal. To put it in perspective in 2010 — the year of the Tea Party— there were 18 out of 37 seats that were Democratic incumbents. The Republican Party picked up six of them. And remember: the GOP does better in off-year elections.
To make matters worse for the Democrats, the GOP may get a head start. There are very strong rumors that North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. (F, 5%) will be chosen as Trump’s agriculture secretary. If that happens, state law in North Dakota calls for a special election to be held within 90 days of the vacancy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (F, 40%) has already met with Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. (F, 27%) to discuss a possible vacancy, according to Rob Port of the conservative North Dakota Say Anything Blog.
In other words, the Republican majority — after the North Dakota vote is certified — could stand at 53 senators within 100 days of Trump’s inauguration. Cramer would have to defend the seat in 2018 if he were elected in a special election.
Over in Ohio, one strong conservative candidate has already announced his run for the state's open 2018 Senate seat. Josh Mandel the current state treasurer has signaled his intentions to run against Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio (F, 11%). Mandel has fought to increase transparency in the state of Ohio, his signature accomplishment has been putting all government spending and even the salaries of Ohio government employees online. He has also invited counties and municipalities across Ohio to use the system to do the same.Mandel has also been a thorn in the side of progressive Governor John Kasich. He went so far as to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (C, 74%), and acted as Rubio’s top Ohio surrogate during the primary campaign.
According to an internal poll released by WPA Opinion Research, if the election were about two weeks ago, Mandel would beat Brown by one percentage point. Mandel leads Brown in key demographics by significant margins.
Republicans and conservatives smell blood in the water. 2018 has the potential to be an even more devastating year for the Democrats, and their allies on the Left.