Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
As we continue to see the GOP head for the hills while the left braces for what they believe is going to be a banner year it’s worth noting the significant differences between what is expected to be the great blue wave of 2018 to the big red wave that actually happened in 2010.
#1 Obamacare vs the Tax Bill
The Big red wave of 2010 took place after the passage of Obamacare, one of the most unpopular laws in the history of lawmaking by a congress. Democrats were assured by their leadership and the media that one the law was passed it would become more and more popular with the public come election day. That was not the case. Republicans (falsely it turns out) promised to repeal Obama if given the chance and the voters decided to give them that chance.
The most significant law that was passed by this congress was the tax bill of 2017. It was excoriated in the media and we were assured by the Democrats and the left that it’s unpopularity would continue to grow the opposite has been the case. Many Democrats are running on the idea of repealing this bill and raising taxes. I suspect that will not be as popular as repealing Obamacare but in fairness to the Democrats I have no doubt that they will attempt to do so if elected.
#2. The 2002 map vs the 2012 maps
In 2010 the year of the big red wave the Republicans tax ran on the same congressional maps that the Democrats had won big on it 2006 and 2008, however the wave of 2010 extended was not limited to congress but took place over the entire nation giving the GOP an unprecedented number of seats at the state level just before redistricting. This means that the supposed “big blue wave” is going to have to break on a set of maps that specifically favor republicans in the house.
#3 The 2010 Senate Landscape vs 2018 Senate Landscape.
In 2010, the year of the big red wave the split of seats up for election was unremarkable 19 republican seats were up vs 18 democrat seats (counting special elections) but the Democrats had a huge majority (59-41 counting the two “independents” who voted with dems). The end result was the Democrats still held that majority but it shrunk to 52-47. In 2018 the republican majority is only 51-49 an even split in a divided country but only 9 GOP seats are up for re-election this year vs 24 for the Democrats, many of them in states that President Trump won. Democrats to take the majority will have to win 26 races out of 33.
4. 2010 Retirements vs 2018 retirements
In 2010 the retirement ratio of republicans to democrats was 20-17. Once again 17 Democrats are retiring but 38 republicans over 15% of the caucus have decided to give this election a miss. Given that the Democrats only need 24 seats this would seem a great advantage, but given that the GOP base is unhappy with the current congress’ inability to act (in fairness the Senate is mostly to blame here) the removal of incumbents associated with a “do nothing” congress might actually work in the GOP’s favor, or to put it another way, how many seats might the Democrats saved in 2010 if 38 Democrats who voted for Obamacare decided to retire in 2010 rather than run for re-election?
5. The 2010 Economy vs the 2018 Economy
In 2010 the Democrats had overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate and were presiding over one of the worst economies in living memory and that was before the effects of Obamacare began to take effect. The Democrats had to run blaming said bad economy not on President Obama but on President Bush and the promise of prosperity just around the corner. In 2018 the economy is growing like gangbusters, the strong stock market is way up vs election day 2016 and people surging back into the work. Members of the GOP can run on keeping the good times rolling while Democrats are running on a combination of impeachment and raising taxes, in effect killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. It remains to be seen how popular that message is going to be.
6. The 2010 expectations vs the 2018 expectations.
With a few exceptions like the bloggers on the ground absolutely nobody saw the 2010 red wave coming. The warning shot of the Scott Brown election was considered by many an outlier and the Tea Party movement that drove the 2010 election was discounted by the media which assured us that the passage of Obamacare along with what they claimed was an improving economy would spell good news for Democrats and the party believed it. It wasn’t until the week before the election, sometimes the day before, that the media realized that there was something rotten in Denmark. In 2018 the media, the pundits and even some in the GOP, despite the roaring economy, see trouble ahead. Despite the favorable economy, their money advantage and favorable maps absolutely nobody in the party is taking this election for granted and while you are seeing a few pro-forma statements about retaining the majority you aren’t seeing the overconfidence that the Democrats and media showed in 2010 and 2016 right up to the final week. The GOP sees the rocks ahead with a full six months to do something about it.
7. A Trending down Incumbent in 2010 failing expectations vs an Trending up Incumbent surpassing expectations in 2018
No president was ever elected with Higher expectations than Barack Obama, the expectations for him were so high that he won a Nobel Peace prize simply for existing. 2010, the second year of his presidency was when reality started to creep in.
In 2010 Barack Obama started with an approval rating of 51-43 (Gallup weekly). This was pretty low point for him at the time as he had held a positive approval rating for all of 2009 spending the first half of the year in the 60’s and all but two weeks in the fifties to end it. He held a positive approval rating until the week of June 21st where his rating dropped to 45-46 July. While he would have one “even” week (Sept 6th) he would keep an approval rating he averaged an approval rating was -2.2 (45-47) from that point to election day which was a stark contrast to where he started on election day 2009 (67-13). During this entire time President Obama was constantly lionized by the press.
By contrast no president came to office with lower expectations that Donald Trump. The predictions were dire for the economy and the world with people literally expecting to be put into camps and the media and the world stoking such fears. In 2018 once again reality started to creep into this narrative.
Gallup ended its presidential approval polling in Jan of 2018 however Rasmussen continued daily tracking polls (no option for undecideds like gallup) and also runs an “approval index” based on those who “strongly approve” vs “strongly disapprove”
That “approval index” has not been a positive number since March 3rd 2017 and spent most of 2017 in the high teens to low 20’s. 2018 has seen a different trend President Trump reached single negative digits in feb and has remained in the low teens to high single digits chiefly from the “Strongly approve” number now being consistently in the 30’s rather than the 20’s
In terms of raw approval on election day Donald Trump had 56-44 approval rating. By March 17th he had dropped to 49-51 and with the exception of a single day (April 21st 2017) did not have a disapproval number below 50% and managed to reach as high as 62% disapproval.
In 2018 things have leveled off he has had several days where he has hit 50% approval and this month has averaged a 49-51 split.
And all of this is in the face of a press that has been pounding him from day one.
A closing thought, every point here, from the state of the economy to the maps to the polling numbers are based on either verifiable historical and/or the current numbers, or put simply the facts.
The GOP has reality on its side, can they leave their bubble long enough to see it?
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