Stuffing the Political Turkey this Thanksgiving - Sunday Political Brunch November 25, 2018


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – More than two weeks after the midterm election on November 6th, and we are still tabulating results and assessing the consequences. Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Senate Update” -- Things are getting clearer in the upper chamber. Gov. Rick Scott (R-Florida) is now U.S. Senator-elect, after defeating Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida). That leaves the Senate margin at 52 Republicans to 47 Democrats. The lone remaining race is in Mississippi where Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi) is in the fight of her life against former Rep. Mike Espy (D-Mississippi), who also served nearly two years as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The runoff election is this Tuesday, November 27.

“House Update” – The latest count is 233 Democrats to 201 Republicans, with one race yet to be decided. As of now, that’s a net gain of 38 Democratic seats. I know Democrats are buoyed by that, but remember Republicans basically surrendered 40 seats through retirement, resignation or pursuit of other offices. Had the GOP not had to defend so many seats, they might still hold the House. On average, incumbents win 96 percent of the time. Giving up seats, just erases that advantage.

“State House Update” – It’s now 27 GOP to 23 Dems in the governors’ mansions, but a net gain of seven for the Democrats. In New Hampshire, New York, Colorado, Connecticut and Maine, Democrats took control of the state Senate. They took control of the state Houses in Minnesota and New Hampshire. To be sure, Republicans still control 30 Legislatures, but a net loss of seven chambers is significant. Remember, “all politics is local” and nowhere is that more evident than in choosing ones local House and state Senate members, as well as in individual Congressional districts. The politics closest to you is the politics that matters most.

“Dissecting the Details” – One of the most closely watched races in the nation this year was for the U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is one of the most popular politicians in West Virginia history. Since 2000, he has won a race for Secretary of State, two terms as Governor, and two races for the U.S. Senate. In all cases he won with a large majority, exceeding 50 percent of the vote every time. Yet, in his 2018 Senate reelection bid he won with 49.5 percent of the vote to Atty. Gen. Patrick Morrisey (R-WV) at 46.3 percent. It’s probably a sign that long-time office holders nationwide need to tread carefully in 2020. A lot of incumbents retired or were beat in 2018, so no one should assume the office they now hold is theirs to keep forever.

“So, Who’s Popular and Who’s Not?” -- I think there is a growing sentiment out there that President Trump will be a one-term commander in chief. I think that is an unwise assumption. Democrats (and most fellow Republican candidates) underestimated him in 2016, yet he won. Yes, he’s controversial but he has developed a strong core constituency. A recent poll in Real Clear Politics might be instructive. It ranked the favorability ratings for U.S. leaders. The results: President Trump 41 percent; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 28.5 percent; Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 21.8 percent; and, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) 29 percent.

“Advantage 2020?” – For the past year I spoke of the huge advantage Senate Republicans held in the 2018 cycle, and my prediction that they would gain seats, which they did. It was because Democrats were defending 26 seats, to just nine for Republicans. Those are tough odds. Well, fast forward to 2020 and almost the opposite happens. The GOP will be defending 21 Senate seats, and the Democrats only 12. And as always, a lot will hinge on coattails (or lack of them) in the presidential race.

What do you think this year’s political results mean for 2020? Just comment here or click the comment button at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the five surrounding states.

© 2018, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.

Photo Courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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