All U.S. House seats are up for grabs this November. However, only one-third of those in the Senate are. The Democrats currently hold the majority of them — 23 out of 33. Another two are Independents who are part of Chuck Schumer’s Senate coalition. As for the eight Republican seats up for re-election, they are all in deep red states.
Remember when Wendy Davis was going to turn Texas blue? Or when Hillary was supposed to win in the South? Why is this time different? It isn’t and the “blue wave” is just another myth. Especially when looking at where the seats up for re-election in the Senate are. Winning the House, of course, is not easy. If it does happen, inner-party conflicts between high-profile Democrats might make it meaningless.
A Mountain in the Senate
The Democrats need to unseat GOP incumbents in Texas, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The states where Republican senators are retiring are very conservative, too. The three are Tennessee, Arizona, and Utah.
Realistically, the Democratic Party’s best hope is winning Nevada. Even if they did that, it would put them at 48 seats and the GOP at 50, in addition to two independents. But before thinking of that, the Democrats need to successfully defend their 23 Senate seats up for re-election.
This includes Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Montana, and West Virginia. Democrats also need to defend seats in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These are the rustbelt and midwestern states that won Trump the Presidential Election in 2016. The list suggests that we’re going to have a red wave in the Senate, if anything.
In Florida, another Democrat faces a tough re-election. One of the GOP candidates running against him is Rick Scott, the current two-term governor who is leaving office due to term limits. The Sunshine State’s other Senate seat is held by Republican Marco Rubio, who is not up for re-election.
Its also important to keep in mind that all of these senators were last elected in November 2012. Much has changed since then, including Obama voters in the Midwest who went red four years later.
Not in the House
The best chance the Democrats have at making significant gains this November is through winning the House. Yet, that will not be enough for them to turn much of their agenda into law. Also bear in mind that winning the House in itself is a very tall order.
For the Democrats, the “blue wave” is all about forming meaningful opposition to the current Republican White House. That not only means stopping the GOP’s agenda, but also getting their way on issues of importance to their voter base, such as being able to fund DACA or expanding welfare programs.
Just as importantly, the Democrats want to undo many Obamacare rollbacks that the GOP put in place. A Democratic Congress will regularly do so through the budgets they will vote to send to Trump’s desk. They will most likely include funding for sanctuary cities or cuts in immigration law-enforcement spending.
If the White House vetoes these measures and/or shuts down the government, the Democrats will label it as dysfunctional and stubborn. The media will say that Trump is unrealistic for having the same expectations he had when the Republicans were in charge, and that only a Democratic White House can efficiently run the government and work with Congress.
However, in order for them to do so, they need both chambers of Congress. Alongside the mountain they have to climb in the Senate, the party also needs 20 percent more seats in the House. If they wanted to form a sizable majority, that is. They only won by that margin once since 1995 in November of 2008.
At that time, they were up against a Republican Party who — while in power — oversaw the recession, stock market collapse, and skyrocketing unemployment. Currently, the markets are performing at historically high rates and most Americans are benefiting from the Trump tax cuts.
Can the Blue Wave Govern?
Inner-party divisions are making the Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi look more like a ceremonial figure. During the last government shutdown, she staunchly opposed the GOP budget because it didn’t fund DACA. Pelosi found herself blowing in the wind after her Senate counterpart Chuck Schumer, and members of her own House caucus voted for the Republican spending measure.
When Connor Lamb recently won in Pennsylvania, he spent millions in ad money attacking Nancy Pelosi and Democratic opponents who aligned with her. In light of this, others are doing the same. Recent gaffes also put the San Francisco lawmaker at odds with a major pro-choice organization.
If the Democrats deliver a blue wave, it will be through populist and anti-establishment candidates. It will be similar to when the Tea Party started to influence the GOP in Congress, except on the other side of the aisle.
Pelosi and Schumer’s blue wave is in the hands of candidates who more or less want to remove them from the party’s leadership. Do you think Boehner would’ve been better off if the Democrats kept their House majority? It was the Tea Party that ended his tenure while the Democrats worked with him.
Moreover, Pelosi and Schumer need to win districts that heavily supported Trump. If the anti-establishment Democrats go back on their promises, their voters are very likely to remember that.
Haitham al Mhana is the chief operator of the UnCut Report, where a version of this commentary appeared. He specializes in free market economics, gun rights, federal overreach in the Western States and foreign policy.
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