With just over four months before Election Day, nearly every poll shows that voters want the Democrats to take back the House. According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats lead the generic congressional ballot by almost eight points–on paper, more than enough to flip the chamber. But what should really make the red team sad is that enough seats are in play to more than overcome the baked-in Republican advantage thanks to the brutal gerrymanders that were passed after the 2010 census.
The Cook Political Report, for instance, pegs 24 Republican-held seats as toss-ups, and gives Democrats the advantage in 10 more. Cook also believes 181 Democrats are safe for reelection, compared to only 153 Republicans. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball pegs a whopping 34 Republican-held seats as toss-ups, and gives Democrats the upper hand in seven more. Cook and Sabato also believe that 180 or more Democrats are already assured of another term in Congress, compared with only 150 or more Republicans.
Nathan Gonzales of Roll Call uses a slightly different methodology, but his math is only slightly less sad for the red team–Democrats have the advantage in nine Republican-held seats, and nine more are toss-ups. However, he believes that the Democrats could pick up anywhere from 20 to 30 seats, and 185 Democrats are safe compared to only 173 Republicans.
There is no denying it–the Democrats are definitely the favorites this November. And that doesn’t sit well with former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. In a recent column, Huckabee mused that “intelligent people” don’t understand why Americans want to give the gavel to the Democrats.
Huckabee claims that the “anti-Trump propaganda blitz” can’t hide the fact that Americans are “far better off now than they were two years ago” since Donald Trump took office. He then churns out a list of the usual Trump talking points–strong economic growth, low unemployment, and last winter’s tax cut. He also claimed North Korea’s nuclear capability is being “dismantled,” and a supposedly growing body of evidence that claims of collusion with Russia are a “threadbare fairy tale.”
All of this led Huckabee to ask those who want Democrats to control the House, “Are they tired of winning already?” Well, Mike, if you get right down to it, we really aren’t winning.
For one thing, Trump’s trade policy could wind up harming Americans more than it helps them. Tariffs on steel, for instance, harm workers in industries that buy steel–construction, aerospace, and automobiles.
Moreover, farmers have felt the squeeze due to retaliatory tariffs on agricultural exports. Trump tacitly admitted this when he announced a $12 billion relief package for farmers harmed by the escalating trade war. CBS News’ Adriana Diaz spoke with a number of farmers in Will County, Illinois who said they don’t want the bailout–but to sell their goods at fair market value. Watch here.
And that tax cut? Well, Bloomberg’s Noah Smith suggested there are a lot of reasons it’s not really a win for the average American. He found data that suggests wages actually dropped over the first two quarters of 2018 when they should have increased. He also noted that many companies are buying back their stock, thus putting more money in the pockets of their shareholders rather than workers.
To those who claim the tax cut will pay for itself, Smith pointed out that the per capita gross domestic product only rose 1.34 percent in the first quarter of 2018, slower than 2017’s pace and downright sad compared to 2014 and 2015.
Voters in the swing districts that will likely decide control of the House know all of this. So they know that we really aren’t winning.
But even without that to consider, a lot of Americans are wondering if any gains in the economy are really worth it. Are they really enough to overcome the embarrassment of a president throwing our allies under the bus while coddling dictators? Or uncritically accepting the word of a hostile foreign power that it didn’t hack our election? Or the prospect that members of that president’s campaign, and possibly the president himself, colluded with said hostile power?
So far, recent polling at the national and seat level suggests the answer to those questions is “no.” If Huckabee thinks it’s sad that Americans think there’s more to the state of the country than just the economy, that says a lot about him.
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