A Blue Wave Election? (Part 1–The Facts)

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)
President Obama Approval Ratings (Gallup Poll)      President Trump Approval Ratings (Gallup Poll)

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)

Obama 2010–“The heavy Democratic Party losses were attributed to anger with President Obama, opposition to the Affordable Care Act, large budget deficits and the 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?

In Conclusion

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.



About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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12 Responses to A Blue Wave Election? (Part 1–The Facts)

  1. whungerford says:

    I wonder how the Cook Political Report can rate NY-23 when the Democratic challenger is yet unknown?


  2. josephurban says:

    One of the things we Democrats are best at is counting our chickens before they are hatched. The “blue wave” will only occur if young people register and VOTE. Getting out the under 35 vote is the key to the next election.That is why the GOP is intent on voter suppression. If everyone votes, the GOP loses in a landslide and they know it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pystew says:

    I feel that at this far away from the election they are looking at the enrollment records, pass voting patterns and how much money has been donated. They obviously don’t follow the grassroots activities from all 435 congressional districts.


  4. David Eric Cummins says:

    According to Ballotopedia, less than 50% of eligible voters in NY23 voted in the 2016 congressional race. Our best shot at flipping the district is to target that majority who didn’t vote and get as many as possible registered and convinced to vote this time. We won’t flip it if only the same people who voted in 2016 vote in 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pystew says:

    Good point. I agree. We need to contact more than Democrats; we need to contact those who are registered voters but are not in a party (sometimes known as Blanks), and others. Finding the names of those who voted, and those who did not vote in 2016, is easy—each county’s Board of Elections have the records and will email them to anyone who asks for them at no cost. Hand copies will cost for the paper used. Then comes the hard work—how to contact them and figuring out what to tell/hand to them. We have time.


  6. Rynstone says:

    Tom Reed voted “NO” on teh PORK filled Omnibus Bill. This will help him win.

    The recent special election in western PA was a military Conservative Democrat who ran supporting 2nd Amendment rights and had an ad showing him shooting an AR15 with a high capacity magazine.

    The special election down south was a race featuring a flawed candidate.

    The only chance Democrats have of winning this November is if the economy take a dive. Of course, in NY State we have been in teh economic toilet for quite some time thanks to Andrew Cuomo.

    Cynthia Nixon winning the Democrat primary could help the Dems win in NY State in November.,


  7. josephurban says:

    Reed voted YES on the massive pork for corporations and the uber-rich that added 1.5 TRILLION dollars to the debt. To give 83% of the tax breaks to the top 1%. Not sure how that will play among the real working people of NY-23. Let’s see how Tom “spins” that one. Adding $ 1.5 trillion to the debt while providing no benefits , except a very small, temporary tax break for 99% of the people.
    Whenever the GOP loses they claim they have a “flawed” candidate. LOL Of course they do. The GOP is full of flawed candidates.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. pystew says:

    Having an ex-military candidate was a help in the PA race,, but shooting the AR-15 won’t play well now, after the Parkland event and the students, who have nothing to lose, and forming their own one issue voting block.

    The number of voters participating in the June 26 Democratic Primary will give us a hint about the November election.

    If Reed does win, it will have more to do with this war chest from the those how really benefited from the Tax Reform than from the happy under employed constituents who are happy with the crumbs the GOP dropped along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rynstone says:

    C’mon Joey,
    I thought you were too smart and too thorough to make a mistake like this !

    Congressman Tom Reed most definitely voted “NAY” on H.R. 1625
    the teh Massive PORK filled PORKULUS spending Bill commonly known as the 2018 Omnibus.
    Republicans 145 90
    Democrats 111 77

    Again, Congressman Tom Reed voted “NO”.

    Actually, many Dems were happy as pigs in mud to vote for this massive spending Bill. This is everything they wanted with the exception of military spending.
    The Republican never could have passe this Bill without the massive support of the Democrats in Congress.

    Again, Tom Reed voted “NO”. I guess Josephurban and small government conservative Democrats and “Blanks” just might be voting for Tom Reed in November!

    If the Dems win in November it will be because of the anti-Trump effect that we see at all of Tom Reed’s Townhalls.


  10. josephurban says:

    Ryn. I guess you misunderstood.

    I was talking about the OTHER pork bill. (Erroneously labeled the “tax reform” bill) The one that gave the 1.4 trillion dollar tax breaks, 83% of which went to the top 1%. Haven’t you been paying attention? When I called Tom’s office and asked why he supported that bill that raised the debt by $1.4 trillion I was given the old run around. No one could explain it.

    The “tax reform” bill added to our debt, something Tom used to be opposed to. I guess he only opposes adding to the debt to provide services to citizens.

    Now, the bill you are talking about was one that Tom did vote against. It was a bill that supported the military, the veterans, the NIH, scientific research,medical services for the elderly,schools, etc…all the things Tom opposes!


  11. Rynstone says:

    With Democrats like this in office it may hurt the Democrats chances of winning in November



  12. Rynstone says:

    If Dems want to win they should start campaigning against and working to reduce all government growth and bureaucracy and abuse of government power at all levels.


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