Emotions are more important than evidence in 2018…
Depending on your news source, the upcoming midterm election is either the quasi-socialist Sandernista Left against the pro-growth Constitutionalist GOP… or it’s the monocle- and top-hat-wearing Republican plutocrats against the always-earnest, always-fighting-for-the-little-guy Democrats.
Issues of real importance to Americans – taxes, health care, and the overall economy – are swamped by emotional appeals. It’s far easier to yell “socialist” or “white nationalist” during cable news shout fests than it is to talk about real governance issues.
We will know soon enough whether Democrats or Republicans have carried the day. But why wait, when you can speculate?
It’s far easier to yell “socialist” or “white nationalist” during cable news shout fests than it is to talk about real governance issues.
Right now, the conventional wisdom, history, and polling data is that the Democrats will gain control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans will keep a slim majority in the Senate.
All the electoral truisms remain true, and the analytic clichés will make their inevitable rounds on the editorial pages. It’ll be about “base turnout” and “enthusiasm.” “Kitchen table issues” will win out in the end. All politics is local, and every House race is its own little media ecosystem.
This is why – despite Congressional approval ratings hovering somewhere near the public’s fondness for TSA pat-downs (Gallup has it at 19%), far more Americans think their Congressman is A-OK. That means national sentiment doesn’t translate to every individual contest.
There are, however, some new national-level dynamics that could bring big surprises into the midterm mix. And despite a roaring economy, relative peace on the world stage, a president who is as captivating on TV as he is politically polarizing, the deciding factor in the upcoming election could be over the one branch of our government not directly determined by voters: the judiciary.
Even in its aftermath, the Brett Kavanaugh fight is still raw…
Judge Kavanaugh is now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, but the victory hasn’t dissipated the right’s anger. To the GOP faithful, the ordeal was a ruthless character assassination. They got their SCOTUS seat, now they want payback.
Tens of millions of Americans watched Senate Democrats tear into an esteemed family man with decades of success at the highest level of the legal profession and a reputation for decency and honesty. Even in the bareknuckle era of Trumpian politics, this was a new low, particularly since there was no evidence or witnesses.
Weaponizing the so-called “Me Too” feminist movement for partisan ends may not have the desired effect in November. Notably, even the less-than-enthusiastic Trump supporters from within the GOP have been shown that, whether they run a Mitt Romney type of character or a Trump, the Left gives no quarter and seeks the utter destruction of the other side. Total war has a clarifying effect on all ends of the battlefield… Now Republicans realize that they can either rally behind Trump’s GOP or get used to watching the Democrats bludgeon their way to victory, then bayonet the survivors.
But as we know, people vote for a lot of different reasons. High on that list is how casting their vote makes them feel.
Outside the echo chamber of the media, the Kavanaugh effect may not retain its potency. After all, Kavanaugh is not on the ballot (nor is Trump, for that matter), and there are many news cycles left between now and when Americans will cast votes. A late October surprise – like, perhaps, the president declassifying the origin documents of the Russia collusion investigation – wouldn’t be much of a surprise at all. We expect those kinds of games.
In saner times, the economy might be a larger part of the political narrative – that the Trump administration can boast the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years provides the kind of bumper-sticker soundbite that political consultants dream about.
Add to that the sky-high stock market, robust GDP growth, and strong overall business confidence – and the advantages of GOP candidates going into this contest should be insurmountable.
But as we know, people vote for a lot of different reasons. High on that list is how casting their vote makes them feel. The Democrats excel in identity politics, and the dominance of the left-leaning news media serves as a powerful reinforcement mechanism.
For almost two years, a casual watcher or reader of the daily news has been told that President Trump is a racist, misogynist madman, and traitor. The ferocity of the media’s insistence may sway more than a few minds that there must be something to these charges. For Republicans struggling to hold onto their House or Senate seats, this smear by association may not lead to a wipeout, but it could tip some close races.
The only certain prediction is that 2019 will continue the political street fight defining the era of Trump’s presidency… That, and the fact that soon, the midterms will be over – and the 2020 presidential election will begin.
Buck Sexton is host of the nationally syndicated talk radio program, The Buck Sexton Show, heard on over 100 stations across the country.
A former CIA and NYC Police Department Intelligence Officer, Buck is also the co-host of Stansberry Investor Hour, a weekly radio show that you can subscribe to for free right here: investorhour.com.