Many political analysts anticipate that President Trump’s success in the year ahead will depend on the resolve of voters. Particularly, whether voters will enable Trump’s agenda by doubling down and electing a Republican majority in the mid-term elections or, on the other hand, create a more balanced House of Representatives with a Democratic majority will largely determine Trump’s 2018 political success.
Traditionally, voters have flocked to the polls and voted for individual candidates who those voters felt could benefit their lives in tangible ways. That benefit might have been bringing construction, manufacturing, or mining jobs to rural communities or delivering tax cuts to overburdened businesses in metro areas.
This upcoming mid-term election, though, could be drastically different in that it could well turn into a referendum on an entire party. Political analysts anticipate that voters will be motivated to go to the polls for one of two reasons – they want to solidify support for President Trump’s Republican party, which would essentially provide more legitimacy to the Republican agenda, or a different set of voters want to disapprove of the job that the president is doing through their protest vote.
The special elections in Virginia and Alabama seem to suggest that a surprise is in store for this year’s mid-term elections. The more recent senatorial election in Alabama say a surprise win for Democratic Doug Jones over his Republican rival Roy Moore, who was given last-second support by erstwhile Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and President Trump himself. Many political pundits read Roy Moore’s defeat as a terrifying omen on what’s to come in the mid-term elections.
Historically, President Trump’s overall standing with the public and approval rating is lower that any other president leading into the mid-term elections. The historical precedent has been for a party – whether Democrat or Republican – to lose control of one or both houses when the President’s approval rating drops this low. Only about a third of Americans approve of the job that Trump is doing in office while well over half of Americans disapprove of Trump’s performance.
Interestingly, the deck could be stacked against the democrats in the mid-term elections as Democratic candidates will have to combat heavily gerrymandered House races and simultaneously defend more Senate seats against challengers. Whether Democrats can wrest back control will depend on those factors as well as turnout and the president’s shifting popularity ahead of voting.