On Tuesday the Republicans and Democrats traded body blows like no other time in recent memory. It reminds me of the Napoleonic Battle of Eylau. After stunning and wildly successful battles over the previous two years (and beyond), Napoleon engaged the Russians in 1807 at the Prussia village of Eylau. The losses were extreme and the mystique of the “given” Napoleonic victory was shattered. It was an attrition nightmare entailing tens of thousands of losses on both sides. Napoleon was eventually successful and won the battle at great cost.
The midterm elections gave a split decision. The Republicans grew the Senate majority, held key governorships, and beat back an avalanche of California money trying to buy the election. While taking control of the House, Democrats also unseated some good Republicans like Governor Walker in Wisconsin and Senator Heller in Nevada and a possible loss for my friend Dana Rohrabacher in California. Steve Chabot in Ohio won and I am very glad for that.
Some of Mike’s key “takeaways:”
- There was no blue wave — at least not one that didn’t hit a red wall. The country was not solidly in the D corner looking to reject Trump everywhere as the left-wingers had hoped from the comfort of their bubbles. The Ds will eke out the barest majority in the House fueled more by the forty House R retirements and the occasion of the president’s first midterm than by anything else. I predicted D+ 10-15 or a bit more. They will settle in to about twice that number but possibly the worst showing for the party out of power’s gains in a midterm in recent memory. Obama lost over 60 seats in his midterm “shellacking.” Bush lost 30 in his first midterm but retained the majority in the House and Clinton lost 54 in the 1994 Gingrich Republican Revolution.
- The Senate was stacked for a Republican victory due to the quirk of there being so many Ds up for reelection. The Rs took advantage and posted gains to the “land of the hundred kingdoms.” I predicted no R losses and a final count of R+ 5. If Arizona comes in for the Rs as expected, I will be R+3 (two thousand votes short in Montana and a surprise loss in Nevada ruining my prediction). The Senate is not only a little redder but “Trumpier” as well. Majority Leader McConnell will have an easier time getting Trump’s appointments confirmed and to protect the president from congressional action originating in the House.
- Republicans won most of the key governorships that they need for 2020. Carrying swing states like Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and New Hampshire, the Republicans are well-positioned to fight in these battlegrounds in two years. Notably, Georgia still waits to see if the apparent Republican victor, Kemp, will climb over 50 percent in order to avoid a run-off. Also, Scott Walker lost as well. I hope that The Donald has a Cabinet post for Scott — he has earned it. Maybe AG?
- I heard one “election expert” on Fox News last night say that this was a victory for the American’s love of divided government. What an idiot. I might be alone in this but I think that in this highly partisan atmosphere, not one single voter of the tens of millions voting said to themselves, “I really want to vote my party but I will crossover to help create that comfortable and much beloved gridlock provided by divided government.” Americans tolerate divided government (maybe more than they should) but never vote that way. Fox needs some personnel changes and some “experts” that have at least walked a precinct or two in their time. Also, the Fox News very early call for the House, three hours before millions cast their votes, will go down as a controversial mistake that will not be repeated, I predict.
- More money was spent in an attrition turn-out battle this year than any before. Hundreds of millions poured in from areas having nothing to do with the states in which the money was spent. I am of two minds on this. On one hand, it came to very little for the Ds but on the other hand it came to enough to have both the left and the right try it again. Elections like this one are not good for the national psyche. House and State-level races are designed to be local events. Increasing national control, funding, and candidate selection by the party headquarters in D.C. for these elections is a bad development. There are a lot of changes needed in the construct and operation of Congress but this leap forward towards parliamentary-type (national party-dominated) elections is not a good development and should herald important election changes before it is too late.
- The Rs still have not learned to campaign in the Trump style (or they still simply reject it). Trump rolled-up an impressive number of victories to which he attached his personal endorsement. The Party, however, ran the run-of-the-mill election with the same old tired tactics and eked out something of a win after a brutal and expensive battle (much like Napoleon at Eylau). It needn’t have been. Once the children of major donors that run the RNC come to the conclusion that there are no more #NeverTrumpers who think they are right, they will be able to retool their tactics and embrace the Trumpian style and élan of electioneering. I hope that it comes sooner rather than later.
- The D majority will prove to be a hard vote. The punditry is already talking about legislation v. investigation. There is no question, it will be investigation. The left wing movers and shakers that bought and paid for the new majority and the winning candidates selected by those same movers and shakers will insist on it. Further, the Ds are far more fractured that the Rs ever were. Maxine Waters and Dan Lipinski (for example) agree on almost nothing but are both solid Ds. The Democratic House Caucus lurched decidedly to the Left with its win leaving many of its members with absolutely no role or a hope of one. The Democrats can forget “needing” the Republican minority or even the Senate to legislate. They won’t get that far. With the barest of majorities the D committee chairmen will have to compromise within their own caucus to legislate. These aging baby-booming lefties have waited decades to take up the gavel. They are not compromising for anyone. In short, needing her entire caucus every single time, Nancy will not be able to pass gas much less significant legislation. Therefore, Speaker Pelosi will do that for which she needs no permission or compromise, investigations.
It was a painful mixed-bag but it is important to remember that after Eylau, Napoleon went on to win that war and crush the Russians and the Fourth Coalition. 2020 is only 24 months away.
Michael Patrick Flanagan represented the 5th District of Illinois in the historic 104th Congress. Prior to his Congressional Service, Michael was commissioned in the United States Army Field Artillery. Michael and his firm, Flanagan Consulting LLC, have represented both large and small corporations, organizations, and associations. In 2009, Michael entered public service again with the United States Department of State in Iraq as the Senior Rule of Law Advisor on the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maysan, Iraq. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.