Is it Darkest before the Dawn? A look at the battle for the House of Representatives in 2018.

Is it Darkest before the Dawn? A look at the battle for the House of Representatives in 2018.

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A guest slot by RKRKRK on prospects for the next big US elections

The Democrats are reeling from an unexpected and disastrous election defeat. They are at a low ebb in Congress. Nancy Pelosi is an aging figure with an underwater approval rating. There seems to be a near-total absence of young talent in senior leadership positions for the Democratic Party. Republicans are free to gerrymander districts in most of the country. The situation certainly looks bleak- but is there a case the Democrats can turn this around in 2018?

For the Democrats to take control in 2018 they must gain 24 seats net. Looking back at the last 15 congressional elections there have been three swings large enough to achieve this. So clearly it is within the realms of possibility – but a shift of that size is relatively rare.


Of course a huge amount will depend on how Trump and the US economy are doing by 2018. If Trump succeeds in bringing back manufacturing jobs and revitalising industry he could buck the trend of the ruling party losing the mid-terms as George Bush did in 2002.

But there are some big issues on the horizon that Democrats might be able to use at election time.

 Trump’s action in choosing Tom Price as Secretary for Health and Human Services suggests he is serious about repeal of Obamacare. But this risks up to 20 million people losing their health insurance. Paul Ryan could see this as a perfect opportunity to substantially reform and voucherize/privatize Medicare- which could also be damaging in electoral terms. Trump’s refusal to attend daily security briefings could be a total own goal in the event of another major terrorist attack.

Trump has confounded most predictions thus far and his Presidency shouldn’t be written off before it’s started. He may yet turn out to have the same flair for governing as he did for campaigning.

But it seems to me that there is a greater than usual chance that he will get off to a rocky start. 

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