On Wednesday about lunchtime we should get news of the first results of the 2018 US mid-term elections. Some have characterised it as a referendum on the presidency of Donald Trump.
In fact it may represent a step to make The US more democratic, as well as more Democratic (see Governors and democracy below).
Charles Richardson at Crikey has a good summary, if you can get in. Of course he draws from FiveThirtyEight, where Nate Silver has:
- Final Election Update: Democrats Aren’t Certain To Take The House, But They’re Pretty Clear Favorites
FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats an 87.5% chance of taking the House – good odds, but no certainty.
FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Democrats only a 16.8% chance of taking the Senate. You will recall that the Democrats currently hold 26 of the 35 seats up for election, some of which are vulnerable.
Republicans will likely hold on to the Senate in part because Democrats have so many tough seats to defend. The likeliest outcomes range from a GOP gain of four seats to a Democratic gain of two, but only the latter could take away the GOP’s majority. Democrats would need a near-perfect night to win the Senate.
In any case, the outcome will be important for setting up the 2020 elections. In 2014 the Democrats lost nine seats, which will be up for grabs again in 2020.
There are two good prospects for Democrat gains: Nevada, with a two-party margin of 0.6%, and Arizona (1.6%). But beyond that it gets very difficult, although Texas (8.2%), Mississippi (byelection, 11.3%) and Tennessee (18.1%) are rough chances.
The most likely path to a Democrat majority is to pick up Nevada and Arizona and hold all of their own seats. Those thought to be at risk include North Dakota (0.5%), Montana (2.0%), Indiana (3.1%), Minnesota (byelection, 5.3%), Florida (6.7%), Missouri (8.3%), New Jersey (9.9%) and West Virginia (12.4%).
Governors and democracy
One of the reasons that the US struggles to work as a proper democracy is that state governors set the electoral boundaries for the House of Representatives. Everyone knows that they are badly gerrymandered, but the current ethos is that winning is more important than democracy. Richardson says that in 2016 the split was 241/194 to the Republicans with a bare 50.6% of the two-party vote. To win the House in 2018 the Democrats will need to win about 56%, or a swing of about 6.5%.
36 of the 50 states are holding elections for their heads of government, called governors. Of those 36, 26 are currently Republicans, nine Democrats and one independent (in Alaska; he is retiring).
Perhaps as many as 10 of the 26 Republican governorships are considered possible Democrat gains, including such major states as Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Democrats may end up governing about half the states, with considerably more than half the population.
Electoral boundaries are redrawn every 10 years after a census. That means 2021 after the census of 2020.
At Politico we find that A staggering 36 million people have voted early, setting the stage for big midterm turnout.
That’s already ahead of the 27.2 million people who voted early in 2014. They reckon this year early voting could exceed 40 million.
It shows that Americans are more politically engaged than usual. This makes the polls less likely to be accurate.
Elsewhere The Conversation has numerous articles on the US mid-term elections. Brendon O’Connor and Dan Dixon have a summary of issues, including vote suppression with a focus on Georgia, where 53,000 registration applications had already been suspended when a judge ruled the practice used illegal. 70% of those suspended were African Americans who comprise 32% of voters.