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A Blue Wave Coming?

Omri Nahmias

Democrats look poised to take the House of Representatives

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Photo: AFP/IMAGEBANK

Ayear before the 2016 presidential election, nearly every media outlet and pollster dismissed Donald Trump’s prospects for victory: He has no mathematical chance, the election is a wrap, there’s no way he will be president.

Eighteen months later, the song remains the same: The Republicans are in big trouble in the November midterm elections. Democrats look poised to take the House of Representatives. The knockout punch even has a name, the Blue Wave.

The opening shot landed when Republican candidate Roy Moore lost a Senate race in Alabama in December 2017. That loss — in a state that leans heavily Republican — also generated a wave of theories, some fact-based and others psychological.

The theory was simple: Trump’s approval level is low and his negativity ratings are high, so next time around the Democratic base will come out in droves to defeat the party of the president. And, some added, of course Trump will lose in 2020.

But since that time, something has shifted. It’s true, the Republicans may lose control of the House, though their chances of maintaining a majority in the Senate are far better. But what caught my eye is a survey last week on CNN reporting a 15% gain in the number of Democrats who say the country is headed in the right direction. That number went from 25% in February to 40% this month. The approval levels among Democrats for Trump’s handling of the economy have also risen, from 15% to 26%. In all areas — the economy, foreign affairs, trade, and immigration — Trump has registered a 4% rise among the population.

If it is possible to offer a psychological explanation for this shift, we might just say that people have grown accustomed to their Twitter-loving president. Trump took the White House by storm, insulting and angering a lot of people along the way. Many opponents simply refused to accept his victory and set out to undermine his presidency.

The first year didn’t exactly improve things. With chaos in the White House, mass firings of advisors and aides, embarrassing leaks, and of course, undiplomatic and offensive tweets, the term “impeachment” was introduced early.

But what horrified the American populace in the first and second months is now accepted with relative indifference. People now understand when Trump says something for effect and when he really takes a stand. And yes, he has also grown into the job, stabilized his staff, reduced the leaks, and introduced popular policies like a tax cut and a firm stance internationally.

Will there be a Blue Wave in November? Who knows — there’s half a year until the elections. But it’s certainly true that the tsunami doesn’t look as fearsome as it did just a few months ago. Meanwhile, as Trump has improved his approval ratings, the Democrats have not identified a single candidate who appears capable of challenging the incumbent in 2020. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 711)

 

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