US congressional mid-term elections take place next Tuesday, 6th November and they are the last nationwide test of US public opinion ahead of 2020 US presidential elections in which it is believed incumbent US president Donald Trump will run for re-election.
All 435 seats are up for grabs in the House of Representatives and approximately one third in the Senate.
While currently the Republicans control both houses in congress, opinion polls show a swing to the Democrats who it is widely assumed will take control of at least the House (the Senate is likely to be a tougher nut to crack) and make the President’s task of carrying out his political programme that much harder. It may also spur on his opponents against his programme and even in extremis foster an attempt at impeachment so hostile towards him have so many of his adversaries become.
However, after the shock of Trump’s unexpected win in the 2016 presidential election, nothing can be taken for granted and in this blog we ask the question as to whether the polls are right and even if they are whether the impact on US markets will be as severe as some commentators have argued.
It is fair to assume that in the US 40% of America is “very” Republican and 40% is “very” Democrat. The fight is for the 20% middle ground . The polls have all but assured us of a Democrat majority in congress. That could have massive implications for America, it opens the possibility of the first impeachment in American history, it could take the recent correction in the American stock markets into negative territory and possibly a recession, and most assuredly would indicate that Trump would become a lame duck president hampered in his ability to get anything done and seriously undermining his ability to win in 2020. Trump has upset the established world order with respect to global trade, but his fight is in its nascent stages, and a loss in the mid-terms could weaken America’s negotiating stance. As we all say when America gets a sniffle the world often catches a cold, so we all await with bated breath the outcome of these elections.
The polls presently indicate 50.2% Democrat and 40.1% Republican of those voters declaring a preference, and Democrats thereby winning the House of Representatives by approximately 8 seats. While the media and the polls seem assured of net Republican losses, that doesn’t mean the Democrats will necessarily be the shoo-in many pollsters are expecting.
When it comes to American elections there are certain things we need to consider that go beyond the general media interpretation and we have summarised four of the key ones below as we see them:
Republicans are generally more likely to vote than Democrats.
Republicans are more likely to toe the party line than Democrats.
Democrats presently have no real leader or unified vision for the country other than a dislike of President Trump and it is easier to vote for someone than against someone.
“Quiet” conservatives generally don’t like participating in polls, and are more likely to say they are undecided.
Furthermore polls consistently show a 2% margin of error historically against the Democrats if you take the last election as the benchmark. Centrist voters who voted Republican in 2016 and for Trump are more likely to lie about it because they agree with his policies, but because he is seen as so “politically incorrect”, it is often seen as socially unacceptable to admit voting for him. Even If only half of the 7.3% of “undecideds” secretly vote Republican and/or 2% more of the vote than the polls suggest (as they did in the last election) go Republican, that could lead to a very tight result.
There are 435 seats in Congress, and the 8 seats represent 1.8%. Simple math suggests that if a 2% swing vote occurs, similar to the last election, the outcome would mean a Republican majority. We contend that this election is still very much in contention. Below we go through the issues on a case by case basis. And try to determine how Trump is doing in the court of American public opinion.