The good news if you don’t like US President Donald Trump: he has less than 24 months remaining in his first term in office. The bad news: he now looks to have a better chance at staying in office until 2025.
This year’s midterm elections broke for Trump much more than expected. The Republicans maintained their control of the Senate, picking up key victories in Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota. And though the Democrats , as expected, this is not the they were hoping for.
Some key takeaways from the midterm elections:
, such as his pledge to secure the border against an “” of Central American migrants, worked as a get-out-the-base strategy. While Democrats enjoyed a surge in , Republican voters also did not stay home.
Trump for president in 2020: Trump looks to be in a better position for re-election than many commentators had believed.
The Democrats did take back the House, but that is par for the course in midterm elections. What’s more telling is that they did not invade Trump territory – the deep-red parts of the South, Midwest and Rust Belt – in any substantial way. Winning control of the House could make life difficult for Trump, but the Democrats cannot remove him from office in the Senate - which seems a world away.
Also, the midterms should make it a near-certainty that no serious Republican will challenge Trump for the presidential nomination in 2020. He has proven once again that he is an impressive electoral campaigner with a crude but effective grasp of strategy.
There was a Brett Kavanaugh effect: The highly contentious over Trump’s Supreme Court pick seems to have energised his base more than the Democrats’. The Democrats in red states lost their re-election bids – Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.
There is not a Democratic messiah in waiting: Texas Senate candidate looked like he might be this figure – a person to much the way then-Senator Barack Obama did in 2008 – but O'Rourke against incumbent Ted Cruz, despite a very tight contest. Democrats still need a platform that is about more than “Stop Trump.”
It is a year of the woman – but not just progressive women: A (260) ran for Congress this year. Early results suggest that many white, female voters who backed Trump in 2016 went for Democratic candidates this time around, reflecting the salience of healthcare as a key election issue for Democrat voters.
Hispanics remain a key demographic: Trump was widely condemned for his anti-Hispanic immigrant stance in midterm campaigning. The paradox is that the more Republicans can appeal to Hispanics, the more likely they are to win next time.
According to exit polls, the Republicans in the midterms, compared to nearly 45% captured by . If they are able to increase this margin to between 35 to 40%, this might be enough to turn purple states like Florida and Nevada reliably red.
There is a lot of purple out there: Americans still rather like split-ticket voting, meaning they are fine voting for different parties on the same ballot. This makes the notion of exclusively red and exclusively blue states an exaggeration.
For example, Democratic candidates picked up governorships in traditionally Republican states, such as , a hard-line, anti-immigrant Trump ally. And Republicans won several governor races in traditionally Democratic New England.
Florida has retained its centrality to US electoral politics: The state remains essentially impossible to call. Polling trends were , with losses by Democrats and . As purple a state as they come, Florida could well determine the next several presidential elections.
The bottom line after the midterms is that Trump is here to stay. And though the Democrats now control the House, this has just offered him a foil – an institution to define himself against – as he moves toward re-election in two years time.