Elizabeth / Flickr Big wave and whale...
Elizabeth / Flickr

Ed Kilgore at New York Magazine has an interesting piece showing just what a watershed moment 2018 could be if all waves broke Democratic. It’s not out of the question, but it will take a heroic grassroots GOTV effort. Anyone up for that?

Democrats probably owe themselves the pleasure of fantasizing about how high a 2018 wave they could get if everything goes right. When it comes to House races, forecaster Harry Enten has an interesting way of thinking about the high side of potential Democratic gains, operating from an assumption that the current 12.2 percent Democratic congressional generic ballot advantage holds or actually goes higher…[.]

Kilgore draws on the analysis of Harry Enten at 538.com, who, in turn, starts with the recognition that we’re in record-breaking territory right now:

A new CNN survey released this week showed Democrats leading Republicans by an astounding 56 percent to 38 percent on the generic congressional ballot. That’s an 18 percentage point lead among registered voters — a record-breaking result. No other survey taken in November or December in the year before a midterm has found the majority party in the House down by that much since at least the 1938 cycle (as far back as I have data).

The 2010 election—not exactly ancient history–offers some clue as to the potential for a Democratic sweep, as the raw emotions that were at work for the GOP at that time now find themselves reversed, and then some:

Consider the 2010 election, when Republicans won the national House vote by 7 percentage points. Heading into that election, there were 101 Democrat-held seats with a partisan lean of +7 Democratic or less. Republicans won 65 of them (or 64 percent).

If Democrats netted a similar percentage of 58 potentially vulnerable seats, they’d pick up 37 of them, or 13 more than they need to hand the gavel to Nancy Pelosi. And unlike some other calculations, this takes fully into account the GOP’s advantage in individual districts because of redistricting or efficient voter concentration or whatever...[.]

But the possibility exists for even more massive gains if the public attitude towards Trump and the Republicans in, say. September 2018, is anything resembling the numbers in the latest CNN Survey. Again, citing Enten:

There are an astronomical 103 seats that have a partisan lean of +18 Republican or less. This expanded list includes the highest-ranking woman in the House, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and the longest-serving House member, Don Young.

Kilgore acknowledges that a lot will be riding on how the public perceives the so-called tax cut Trump has touted as their “Christmas present.”  Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo doesn’t think that in the current polarized climate, and with Democrats in particular seething with white-hot rage incomparable to what most have ever felt in their lifetimes, that it will make a damn bit of difference. His reasoning is complex and well worth reading but this is his bottom line:

The tax cut bill is unpopular first because its authors are very unpopular. It is also unpopular because of the disorderly and chaotic process in which it was constructed in which it was quite clear that the overriding goal was tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. A lot of the maneuvering was to find ways not to raise taxes too much on ordinary people so that it became impossible to pass. The overriding goal, however, was clear. So it is both the popular mood, the unpopularity of the President and the substance of the bill itself that is driving its low numbers. Recent evidence suggests that the relatively marginal short term benefits to middle income earners are not ones that will change anyone’s opinions. They’ll mainly confirm opinions of people already committed to supporting the President. Republicans are heading into a midterm election year with a historically unpopular president, coupled with polling which suggests wave-like numbers of people want the Democrats to take over Congress. Republicans have added to this by passing an extremely unpopular bill.

Enjoy the Christmas holiday. From this moment forward, we need to devote our time, efforts, ingenuity and resources into getting out the vote in 2018. It will be the most important electoral fight of our lives, and we should treat it like nothing less.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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