The mainstream media are, entirely predictably, lampooning Donald Trump’s description of the results of the American Midterms as a “tremendous success”. However, in refusing to examine the results lucidly and in context, they betray their own bias.
Success for President Trump surely is judged by how far the results impact a) his ability to carry out his legislative agenda and b) what position they leave his re-election hopes in. In terms of a, the loss of the House Of Representatives is an obvious blow however it is one that will have been entirely expected. Historically, only twice in the entire history of American politics have the Midterms broke favourably for the incumbent President. Trumps losses, 34 seats in the House, are nowhere near as catastrophic as Barack Obamas were at the same point in his Presidency. Obama lost 63 and Bill Clinton 54.
1st midterm results (House/Sen):
HW Bush (-8/-1)
— Jane O’brien (@Jane0brien) November 7, 2018
Gains were made in the Senate and in Texas, where the Democratic challenger Beto O’ Rourke spent an eye-watering $70 million in his efforts to unseat Ted Cruz, a strong challenge was a bit rebuffed. States such as Indiana where Trump heavily involved himself were success stories for the Republicans thus strengthening his hand against internal dissent. So, the GOP Senate campaign, the one Trump most closely associated himself with, was a unqualified and resounding success.
Florida is a state the Democrats will have to flip in the electoral college to turn the White House blue but the ‘Blue Wave’ largely evaporated in the Florida sunshine. Crucially, Republicans retained the Governorship of the state which infamously introduced us to the ‘hanging chad’.
Holding the keys to the Governors mansion is effectively a licence to gerrymander boundaries and therefore arguably the 7 Republican losses in this area are heavier than the 34 Representatives that were lost. Certainly that is the case when it comes to The Donalds prospects in 2020.
However, there is perhaps one note of caution. Trumps success was very much built on working class foundations and therefore it might be time to revisit the question of healthcare, an issue that clearly resonated for the Democrats. Here the loss of the House could play into Trumps hands as it imposes the logistical need for compromise somewhere along the line on him – the perfect excuse to seek a solution which charts a way out of the Obamacare omnishambles which helps those whose premiums were hiked but protects the needy who have benefitted and keeps faith with his core support.
Suburbia punished Trump this time out for simply not being politically correct enough but robust economic performance will surely turn its fickle favour back in his direction eventually. Working class voters will be harder to win back if he turns a tin ear to their concerns.