I never seen such a thing! Moe Howard
Politics has a lot of old sayings and old traditions, mainly because it’s so old. And one of the most universally understood and accepted traditions is that there’s just something about presidential elections. Never mind that congress actually does the heavy lifting, having that name at the top of the ticket makes all the difference in the world. In fact, wide swaths of voters in both parties simply sit at home and skip the midterm elections for the simple reason that there’s no president on the ballot.
Because of that fact, a great deal of care goes into selecting the presidential candidate. And not just in hopes of winning the presidency. The old adage is that a strong, popular candidate at the top of the ticket can bring out voters who might not show up otherwise, and that effect will help all of the candidates in that party down ballot.
That actually makes a lot of sense, and that’s probably why it’s pretty well accepted. But because I’m so closely involved in observing this glorious combat on a daily basis, I pick things up. And after the results of last nights off year elections in Virginia and Kentucky, I noticed something, a pattern. So I stepped back and looked at it through a wider lens, over a longer period of time. And I’m seeing a pattern that I think may show that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election may be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in terms of the ultimate decider.
In 2016, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the ballot, nationwide the Democrats beat the GOP in the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. But the very next year, in 2017, with no presidential candidate on the ballot, the Democrats in Virginia out polled the GOP statewide by more than 200,000 votes, literally coming within a random name draw of tying the House of Delegates. In 2018, with no presidential name on the ballot, the Democrats flipped 40 seats, and more than doubled their nationwide vote domination over the GOP. And last night, in Virginia and Kentucky, once again with no presidential name on the ballot, the Democrats completed the statewide sweep of Virginia government, and flipped a governor’s seat in a state that Trump won by 30+ points in 2016.
You all know my old saying, once is an accident, twice is a habit, and three times is a fetish. How in the hell did the Democrats manage to maintain that momentum, to keep driving large numbers of voters out to the polls year after year, with no presidential candidate to drive enthusiasm?
Well, they did it the old fashioned way, with qualified, personable candidates, and good old fashioned sweat equity. They built their campaigns from the ground up, with grassroots support, and maintained their independence in the minds of voters. They talked to anybody, any time, anywhere. And they knocked on doors. Lordy, did they knock on doors. One woman running for a delegates seat in Virginia literally dropped 15 lbs from the simple effort of knocking on as many doors every day as her legs and knuckles would tolerate. Oh, and my personal favorite, the woman who went viral and got fired from her job for flipping off Trump’s motorcade on her bike won her delegates seat last night. These candidates infused voters with their enthusiasm, and the voters showed up in droves to support them.
This is why the 2020 election could be an election turned turtle. Normally, it is hoped that a strong presidential candidate brings out voters for the races down ballot. But if these incumbents, and more like them running for GOP seats, show the same passion, organizational skills, and exuberance, they could literally drive people to the polls to vote for them, in their districts. And if these voters show up to support their Democratic candidate for the House, who do you think they’ll vote for at the top of the ticket? We could actually see the “trickle up” theory at work in politics.
This is important, because there’s another topsy-turvy component in place here that normally doesn’t exist in politics. Normally, the Democrats nominate a presidential candidate hoping that he or she can drive higher than normal numbers of Democrats out to the polls. That may not turn out to be a critical issue for the Democrats in 2020. For the simple reason that Donald Trump will drive voters out to the polls for them!
Look at recent history. Trump campaigned for Roy Moore by proxy in the farthest northwest corner of Florida, and the Democrat flipped a safely reliable red Senate seat. Trump went to Pennsylvania for a House special election, in a district s gerrymandered that it was considered impossible to flip, and a Democrat flipped it. Trump campaigned his ass off in Montana, and today, Jo Tester still holds his Senate seat. And two nights ago, His Lowness pimped Matt Bevin to the stars in Louisville, and today Andy Beshear is the winner, taking a governorship in a state that Trump won by 30+ points.
The damage is especially severe in the suburbs, which is the deadliest place of all for Trump and the GOP. Democrats have normally ruled the urban areas of large cities, but the offsetting GOP strongholds were the suburbs and exurbs, with their famous “soccer moms.” Almost all of the gains made by the Democrats in Virginia in 2017 and 2019, and the Democrats nationwide in 2018, came at the expense of Republicans with seats in what had been considered “safe” bastions for Republicans. Even in Alabama in 2018, it was the flipping of GOP suburbs that gave Doug Jones his win.Last night in Kentucky, not only did Trump’s stench drive near record numbers of Democrats to the polls in the large cities, but the map showed that it drove mammoth numbers of suburban voters, who had voted for Trump in 2016, to turn around and vote for Beshear in 2019. And if Trump’s sexist nonsense drove away all of those white, suburban women voters in 2017, 2018, and 2019, along with God only knows how many husbands, having his name on the ballot in 2020 is not going to make them change their minds and switch back to the GOP.
As I said last night, after the results in Virginia, and especially the debacle in Kentucky, I am expecting that over the next 2-4 weeks, the floodgates will once again open up with GOP incumbents who narrowly survived in their suburban seats in 2018 to head for the exits. A year from now, on election night, obviously the most important thing in the world is to see and hear that anybody not named Trump has been elected President. But try to pay attention to the voting “patterns” as they’re discussed, because it might well be that the almost universal revulsion to Trump in the suburbs, as well as overpowering district performances by Democratic House candidates, turns out to be what ultimately provided the margin of victory over the slobbering hordes of Trombies that Trump will drive to the polls. This is going to be interesting.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen