by Henry Oliner

Many who carefully analyze these things think that the Democrats will take the House in the fall, and have a shot at the Senate. I remain skeptical even though the Democrats have a healthy lead in a generic poll.

There is a tendency for the party in power to lose seats in the midterm.  Turnout is less dependent on the Presidential ticket.  New parties try to get as much done as quickly as possible and change scares some folks.  Their fear of a short time window may be self-fulfilling.

Besides the midterm advantage the Democrats have a few other benefits.  They do not have the weight of a negative lead candidate like Hillary on the ticket. Donald Trump is now a known entity and they can pick and choose qualities they detest the most.  They can select the Tweets that infuriate them, and find examples to call him a racist.  I doubt it will have much weight beyond the true believers.  Most of the rest do not believe his clumsiness and thoughtlessness qualifies as racism. But if this gets out more of the Democrats on election day, it can turn some districts.  The racist calumny may get out the black vote like Hillary never could.

There were probably many Democrats that disliked Hillary, but could not vote for Trump and just stayed home. In the three swing states there were enough who voted downline Democrat, but did not vote the top line, to give Donald Trump his victory.

On the other hand, the Democrats have a few serious liabilities.  Nancy Pelosi will be the face of a Democratic victory in every local campaign. She is more toxic than Hillary. The revulsion to Nancy Pelosi was the driver of their stunning midterm loss in 2010.  Pelosi seriously limits their chance of success. The greatest fear of the GOP is that she will resign and not be in play to become Speaker of the House.

It was their own James Carville who said, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  The economy is humming. The tax law has delivered raises at Walmart, bonuses at numerous companies and a tax cut for 80% of the voters. Utility companies will be cutting rates.  Unemployment is low and black unemployment is at an all-time low. Low interest rates and high stock prices make home owning cheap and 401ks high. This is a far different scenario than 2010 when the economy was still depressed, and the government was shoving expensive new policies down our throat. If the tax cut remains successful they have to run without a single Democratic vote having supported it.  Republicans will remind them of that right after they remind them that Pelosi will be Speaker of the House if the GOP loses.

It remains uncertain how much influence Trump has on the local races.  The Democrats will make the race a referendum on Trump.  They pray that his character flaws will outweigh the economic success stories. The Republicans will make it a referendum on Nancy Pelosi and the political class that brought Trump to power.

The Democrats are preferred in a generic poll, but final elections are not generic.