The term “Blue Wave” has raised hope of the people of the NY23rd to flip our district from Red to Blue. The recent Pennsylvania Special Election sparked more talk about a Blue Wave, or even a Blue Tsunami.
The Wall Street Journal has created a short video (less than 3 minutes), “Can the Democrats Ride a Blue Wave to Midterm Election Wins?” which gives a quick summary of “The Wave” theory. It reminds us that the sitting President’s party gained representatives during the mid-term elections in only two times (FDR in 1934 and Bush in 2002) in the last 150 years.
The video uses examples from the three most recent Waves Elections–Clinton’s 1994 Wave (GOP picked up 54 seats), Bush’s 2006 Wave (Dems picked up 31 seats) and Obama’s 2010 Wave (GOP picked up 63 seats) to point out the common factors determines how big of a wave to expect in 2018:
- a low presidential approval rating
- intensity in the opposition party
- success in special elections
- a lot of retirements in the majority party
- a weak economy.
Looking at the facts:
A low presidential approval rating
The following chart shows the Gallup Poll President’s Approval Ratings for the calendar year just before the Blue Wave election.
Source: President Clinton Approval Ratings (Gallup Poll), President Bush Approval Ratings (Gallup Polls)
Intensity of the Opposition Party
How do we quantify the “Intensity of the Opposition Party”?
- There’s a great difference in political communication when President Clinton tried to pass his health insurance plan in 1993 and what we experience now. The opposition to it was led by republicans, conservatives, libertarians. The Health Insurance Industry created an advertisement campaign, and Hillary got heckled when she gave speeches about it.
- The opposition to Bush’s Iraq War didn’t keep him from narrowly getting re-elected in 2004. Many organized protest took place beginning at Bush’s second inaugural and they grew in frequency and size. On March 18-20, 2006, the 3rd anniversary of our invasion on Iraq saw over 500 coordinated protest. (Wikipedia)
- GOP’s opposition escalated during Obama’s Affordable Health Care. The Tea Party aimed their objections by attending Town Hall Meetings. The Tea Party’s largest rally was the Taxpayer March in Washington (September 12, 2009). It was reported that the “estimates of the number of attendees varied, from ‘tens of thousands’ to ‘in excess of 75,000’ ” (Wikipedia).
Those were at different times. Cable News and Social Media have helped get news out to the public. The 2018 electorate is much more informed and involved in the election process and the number and size of organized protests has greatly increased. That with the multitude of grassroots groups organizing events and connecting with the voters who usually sit at home during the mid-term elections increases the intensity against the GOP.
Success in Special Elections
The following chart summarizes the Special Congressional Elections. A case can be made that the GOP has done very well since, as of this date (March, 2018) they won 5 of the 7 races. On the other hand, the Democrats are very excited since most of the races have been in solid Republican states and they have cut drastically into Trump’s support.
Can we expect another close race in the April Arizona House election, even though Trump took that district by 21%? Then there’s the Ohio’s House race where he only won by 11%. The final three listed will be held with on the Federal Election Day.
On the above chart, Trump’s support dropped by an average of 20.7%. We need to note that Trump defeated Clinton in the NY23rd by 15% (54.5% to 38.7%).
A Lot of Retirements in the Majority Party
- Clinton-1994–26 House Democrats retired before the election.
- Bush 2006– 18 House Republicans retired before the election.
- Obama 2010–17 House Democrats retired before the election.
- Trump 2018– “Already, at least 38 House Republicans have announced they are retiring, running for another office or resigning outright. They’re leaving from all over the map, from southern New Jersey to southern New Mexico.” (CNN article “There is a wave of Republicans leaving Congress, Updated Again” accessed 3/27/18).
A Weak Economy
A weak economy is a relative to the times. The quotes below are from Wikipedia articles about the House of Representatives election of the respective year about the reasons of the House seats lost. Click on the year to access each article.
Clinton 1994–“The Democratic Party had run the House for all but four of the preceding 62 years. With help from the Harry and Louise television ads, the Republican Party was able to unite the majority of Americans against President Clinton’s proposed healthcare reform . (No mention of a weak economy)
Bush 2006–“The public’s perception of George W. Bush, the handling of the war in Iraq, and a series of political scandals involving mostly congressional Republicans took their toll on the party at the ballot box” (No mention of a weak economy)
Trump 2018–How is our economy? Wall Street is doing quite well, and the only major piece legislation has been the new Tax Plan. The deficit is record-breaking, and we have to see how the Trade War proceeds. Will the voting public have a positive reaction to the economy in November? Will it affect the way we vote in November?
Although the November is seven months away, all signs point show that we will have a Wave Election this year. Will it include us? According to the latest Cook Political Report the NY23rd is a SAFE Republican seat. In “A Blue Wave Election? Part 2”, we’ll look to see how we can maximize the wave energy to include the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.