by Tae Kim
It has been already two years since Donald Trump won the presidential election in a most dramatic way after bitter and unpredictable campaign, and now we are moving into what could be the people’s judgment on how the presidency has been faring – the November midterm elections. It is a well established rule that the party that won the last presidential election usually loses in the following midterm election. In the modern era, no party comes to mind that won such midterm elections, and many political observers do not cast otherwise in the coming elections either. However, thinking how Donald Trump won the last presidential election, how he has governed the nation since then, the way which the previous political customs and rules have been broken, we may see just the opposite of the conventional view in the coming elections.
Even without such unique circumstances surrounding the presidency, there is another powerful element that may well result in a clear Republican victory: the miraculous economic prosperity under President Trump’s direction. As he pledged during the pre-election campaign, he delivered a more than 3% annual growth, crushing the naysayers on the other side of the aisle and writing a new bold chapter in the American economic history, surpassing even that of the Clinton’s era. It is not just Trump’s own words, but the facts and statistics do confirm that we are living in an unprecedented economic prosperity, even counting the last great such economic uproars of the Clinton era. Clinton was elected on the heels of the “Great Recession” of George W. Bush. Clinton was well versed in job creation and corporate growth in his previous stint as a governor of Arkansas. Interestingly enough, Trump too is someone that does closely resemble Clinton when it comes to economy. Trump has had a wealth of experiences as a direct manager of job creation and expansion of economy. Before the election in 2016, many have compared how closely the two resembled each other in overall political approachability and their strengths in focusing on economy, interestingly enough as two are not in the same party affiliation.
One thing that comes apart between the two is the fact that it took more than two years, actually it was in his second term that the real impact of the economic prosperity felt across the entire country, for Clinton to produce such result, but for Trump, we are already finding ourselves on top of the mountain as the stock market reached the highest level in history, more than 3% annual growth, the all time lowest unemployment rate, among many other economic indexes. President Trump is now telling the nation that we have more jobs than the people can handle. This claim is actually backed by not just the numbers in the lowest ever unemployment rate but people’s own words of crying for help in finding workers all over the country.
Another important factor in forecasting a clear Republican party victory comes from the Democrats’ lack of message to counter Trump and the Republican party’s message of Make America Great Again. Early this year, you will recall that the Democrats came up with a new slogan of “Better Deal.” I don’t know how long it took before the new slogan completely gave way. No one really remembers that anymore. Even since then, the country has not seen any new slogans or even ideas to challenge the Republican winning strategy in the Democrats’ effort to mount a way to a victory in November. It does not take much to see that the Democratic party will not be able to present to the nation why it would be victorious in November, other than the customary belief of the political balancing act surrounding midterm elections.
The lack of a clear message to convince the American electorate why Trump and the Republican party should be defeated by the Democratic party is of a major factor, in addition to the profound economic prosperity under President Trump. The Democratic party should be in chaos. No party can sustain a winning thrust without a clear message to the people, and the Democratic party is right in the middle of such dangerous frame. It was very hard to come up with a message that could challenge the Republicans’ Make America Great Again slogan, which has now transitioned to Keep America Great, it seems, to begin with, and the almost sorry debacle of “Better Deal”, the Democrats undoubtedly will fail to come up with a new message or a slogan as there are only three months left until the elections.
There is yet another major factor contributing to a possible Republican victory: the unity among the party. There have been some media reports how some member of the party have been defecting and raising opposition to President Trump, but overall it does not seem that Trump is losing control of the party nor the opposing members have a far influence among the voters. These opposing voices seem to be minor and concern usual minor frictions that are not too unusual. What’s more important is how Trump has the direct impact on candidates’ election results. It has become customary now to see that a candidate that Trump mentions in his tweets is almost sure to be elected.
There have been numerous such instances that it is hard to recall every single case. Once a candidate is mentioned by Trump in his tweets, the candidate is usually met with a winning result. That has been the clear case in the last primary elections held last month. And Trump has also brought the party together. Senator Lindsay Graham and the former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have all blatantly attacked and opposed Trump during the last presidential campaign, but now they are on Trump’s side and have become loyal supporters. That is yet another testament to Trump’s political ability to bring people together.
In a particular note, we may see a strong Republican surge in California as well as other western coast states of Washington and Oregon. These are solid liberal states that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won in the last election, but since then, with the help of Trump, these states have seen a remarkable revolt against the super majority Democratic rule, and it has become common for Republicans to freely challenge the solid Democratic base. Especially in California, many political observers have cast a strong bet that the Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox has more than a fair shot at winning against the Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom.
Considering all these political momentum going strongly positive for Trump and the Republican party, the country will not be too surprised to see the party winning the midterm elections, so similar to how dramatic the last presidential election was won, in that the Democratic party has no grip on catching the people’s mood and it has no solution to offer to the people as to why the Republican party should be defeated. Unless the Democratic party is revitalized with a new direction in the next three months, the Republican party and President Trump could be in a position on the day after the election to declare the mandate of the country continue to be in their hands.