Will the Midterms Sober Up the Democrats?

By historical standards, the Democrats’ performance in this year’s midterm elections won’t be good. The current consensus–which may be wrong, but let’s go with it for now–is that they will net at least 23 House seats, enough to gain control of that chamber, and probably a few more, while losing a seat or two in the Senate.

This is sub-par for the first midterm election of a presidency. In 2010, the year of the Tea Party, the GOP picked up a net of 63 House seats and six Senate seats. It also gained a record 680 seats in state legislative races. No one expects the Democrats to do remotely as well in 2018.

There is a wide gulf between the Democrats’ view of the political landscape and the voters’. For two years, outraged Democrats have been “resisting”; telling us that President Trump is literally Hitler (or, in their more moderate moments, a Hitler in the making); assaulting Republican senators, congressmen and candidates; harassing Republicans in public places; shooting up Republican campaign offices; hysterically screaming at us every day that Donald Trump represents a unique threat to the republic and is an illegitimate president, while dropping broad hints that he should be assassinated.

To which the voters are about to respond with a yawn. If the Democrats do take the House, simply because the bar is so low, their media outlets likely will refrain from pointing out that by historical standards the Democrats underperformed. But perhaps a mediocre showing on Tuesday will cause some of that party’s leaders to reassess their strategy. Maybe they will conclude that crazed, over-the-top, daily hysteria is not the best path to majority status.

I am not sure there are any sober leaders left in the Democratic Party. But if there are, perhaps they will interpret a sub-par midterm performance as a sign that they should return to being a normal political party rather than a sometimes-violent “resistance” movement. Maybe they will understand that the concerns of their Twitter base are not those of mainstream Americans. Maybe they will acknowledge (at least to themselves) that, whether they like him or not, President Trump has done some things very well. Like pursuing policies that have doubled our rate of economic growth, while leading to record low unemployment and wage gains. Also, like using foreign policy to advance American security interests. The kinds of things politicians used to take for granted.

Of course, I am always the optimist. More likely, the Democrats will use their slim House majority to launch ever-nuttier investigations of the president and likely to vote articles of impeachment (for what, God only knows), while obstructing any legislation that promises to extend the gains already made on the economy. In that event, we can look forward to Speaker Jim Jordan taking the gavel from Nancy Pelosi’s hands in January 2021.