The more I hear, see and read about a big “blue wave” this fall, the less I think it matters to the political fortunes of President Trump.
Oh, I know energized Democratic candidates, especially women, are well-positioned to capture U.S. House control by flipping at least 24 seats.
If that happens, no surprise.
But midterm turnovers are part of history, not precursors of one-term presidents. You could look it up.
President Truman’s Democratic party lost 55 House seats in 1946, but Truman won reelection in `48. Reagan’s GOP lost 26 seats in ’82, yet he was reelected in ’84. Clinton’s party lost 52 seats in ’94, and he won a second term in ’96. Obama’s 2010 midterms saw 63 seats lost, and he was reelected two years later.
Now, Trump is no Reagan, no Clinton, certainly no Obama. Political patterns don’t seem to apply to him. And there’s plenty to argue against his reelection, not least of which hinges on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the 2016 election.
(Which, presumably, will be completed by the 2020 election.)
Still, there are multiple reasons why major midterm losses this year mean nothing to Trump’s prospects two years from now.
First, Trump is unique. He is not his party, he’s his own party. To look at him today and say he can’t win reelection is the same as looking at him in 2016 and saying he can’t win the White House.
Second, more important, it is the economy, stupid.
It isn’t 24/7 cable babble or Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee. It’s not the Eagles or Twitter-mania. It isn’t Stormy Daniels. It’s not unending attention — fair, feigned or fake — from D.C./NY-based media, which tends to become more noise than news.
It’s the economy.
It’s what is felt in households. A CNN poll last month shows that most Americans, 58 percent, think things are going “very well” or “fairly well.”
At this point in Obama’s first term, that number was 27 percent.
Even in Pennsylvania, which Trump carried in 2016, the most recent Franklin and Marshall College poll shows a near-majority of registered voters, 46 percent — highest in 23 years — see the state headed in the “right direction.”
Think that’s due to Gov. Wolf? The legislature? The state’s wobbly fiscal health?
It’s due to the national economy.
Meanwhile, Trump’s dominance of news (and noise) eclipses all, including any alternative agenda, not that Democrats have one.
And anti-Trump fervor over the president’s globally embarrassing treatment of individuals, classes of people and nations, his legion of misstatements and fudging of facts do not, even when added up, outweigh the force of personal economic interest.
Because we’re a #MeFirst nation of self-interest, one of the reasons Trump, the embodiment of same, is president.
If we weren’t, we’d have an inclusive society with better health care, education equity, infrastructure serving all, a tax system fair to all, and a government that works, maintained by a citizenry that votes.
But we don’t. So, it’s the economy.
It’s the accountant who sat beside me at a minor-league baseball game last week talking about his client, a large firm with holdings in concrete, asphalt and other construction materials: “Every one of our contractors say they’ve never had it better.”
This could change. North Korea could end badly. Trade wars could prove harmful. Mueller could have more than anyone thinks. And Democrats could come up with something/someone to oppose Trump.
(Though, since both parties are irrelevant, another billionaire, one from the center-left, seems more likely.)
Meanwhile, Trump’s Gallup approval rating of 41 percent is up from 36 percent a year ago. By comparison, Obama’s Gallup rating at the same point in his presidency was 44 percent, down from 61 percent in his first year.
Bottom line? Trump numbers up, economy up, unemployment down, national Democrats MIA, and no link between midterm congressional losses and presidential reelection.
I only suggest you think about it.