The Green Papers
The Green Papers

An ELECTION 2018 Preview:
Races to Watch

Mon 5 Nov 2018

What the reader will see below is a (well, not so) brief summary of the races for Governor, United States Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives I myself will be keeping a rather close eye on (some closer than others, admittedly, especially as the vote returns come in and I can thereafter more and more easily discern just where I should spend more of my time looking) during the evening (and on into the wee hours) of this coming Tuesday, 6 November. A lot of potentially competitive races in this election will not be mentioned (in fact, at least a few States will not even be mentioned!); but please note that, just because I haven't referred below to a particular contest, it doesn't mean that race is not at all an important one; in fact, as far as I am concerned, all contested elections on the ballot, all up and down it, in your own election precinct are important and I urge those of you among my fellow Americans- regardless of where you might stand on the issues of the day, or where you might best "line up" along the political/ideological spectrum- to utilize what one historian of American voting rights more than a half century now, Marchette Chute, called 'The First Liberty'! In addition, not all the races I discuss below are equally competitive: it is simply that the ones I do discuss are likely, in my opinion, to be indicators (or at least 'tell's) of just how well (or not) Election 2018 has gone for either Major Party as more and more returns come in from more and more parts of the United States.

The highest "drama" (if one wishes to use that term) coming out of Election 2018 involves the question of whether or not the Democratic Party can wrest political control of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Republicans, who have held such control for the past eight years; there is also the issue of just how likely (although, perhaps not) it is that the Democrats might also gain political control of the United States Senate from the Grand Old Party's hold on that body it has enjoyed for the past four years. These clearly overlay the political landscape going into this Midterm Election and will be the principal focus of the piece which follows this introduction. In addition, I should note that all incumbents are in boldface, regardless of whether or not they are seeking re-election this time round; and all non-incumbents (those seeking an office who are not yet holding it) are in italics; there is no other reason for this! And, with that caveat, I will now start our tour of Election 2018:


As far as the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives be concerned, my native New England (that is: the region in which I myself was born [and, later on in life, would attend college]) gives them no real help whatsoever (and, in fact, provides at least a few potential pitfalls, as will be seen below): the one-time home of the curmudgeonly, even (at times) post-puritanical (yet practical), 'Yankee' and the "nose in the air" 'Brahmin' (who "talk[s] only to God") has now become a more generally Democrat-friendly region. The main interest, as regards New England as the returns come in, will be primarily in certain gubernatorial races (principally those where incumbent Republican Governors are bidding for re-election): one will thereby be able to discern (in comparison with other races- especially any for United States Senate in such States) just how much "ticket-splitting" (or not) is going on in this region which, in turn, may well set up at least one of the themes of the night, as more and more returns come in from all over-- whether or not one type of race (for Governor, United States Senator, or Member of Congress) is, or is not, having a concomitant effect on the fortunes of each of the Major Parties in other types of races elsewhere on the same ballot.


For purposes of this piece, I am defining the 'Mid-Atlantic' rather narrowly east to west while, at the same time, expanding it slightly north to south in relation to its usual boundaries as a Region within the United States. As far as Election 2018 be concerned, it should be considered to include eastern New York State running down through the Hudson Valley into the Metro New York City area (including Long Island), all of New Jersey, eastern and central Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and the D.C. suburbs of Virginia (and the reason for all this should become clear as the dear reader works his/her way through this piece). It is here, in the 'Mid-Atlantic' (as I have just defined it), that any serious chance for the Democrats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives must be launched; truth be told, the Dems must come out of this region with a net gain in House seats of at least upper single digits (say, +6 at the least-- if not more) in order to thereafter be able to pick up enough seats throughout the rest of the country to thereafter end up holding at least 218 seats (the minimum number of House seats for a Majority in that chamber)-- faltering here in the 'Mid-Atlantic' (again, as above defined), frankly, dooms the Party of the People's pet electoral project of 2018!


This is the Region that has proved, for some time now, to be the least Democrat-friendly part of the country (with the possible exception of much of the more sparsely populated Intermountain West): the once, up to a couple generations ago, "Solid [Democratic] South" has long since become the "Solid Republican South". In fact, this fact is what will make the Democrats' taking over the United States Senate in this election nigh unto impossible; in addition, the geographic path for Democrats in this regard is not only narrow in general, it is virtually non-existent in this part of the country-- primarily because most Southern States (both North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana) do not even elect a United States Senator this time round. In a singular case of "bad luck with the timing", there are not many Senate seats for Democrats to even try to pick off (assuming they even could) within the South in the first place! For purposes of this piece, I have defined The South as the 11 States that once made up the Confederacy, plus West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.


Please keep in mind that I live in New Jersey (hence, my use of the term 'Out West') and, for purposes of this piece, 'Out West' contains every State wholly west of the 100th Meridian. By the time the polls close in most of these western States, the "drama" to their east will already be well underway; that is: we will already have had vote returns from which one can discern just what each Major Party might face (in terms of control of the U.S. House, if not also the Senate) as the returns first begin to come in from this part of the country.


I have saved the Midwest for last in this piece because, as was the case two years ago, this will be the region of the country that will, in the main, ultimately decide the election-- in this case, answering the question as to which Major Party controls at least the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, I have also (if only for purposes of this piece) defined this region somewhat more broadly than is more usual: in addition to the six Great Lakes States and the six States of the Upper Plains, I also herein include both western and central New York and western Pennsylvania (because those portions of these last two States seem to, at least in general, vote more 'midwestern' than 'northeastern').


A prediction? From me?!... Nah!

But I will say this: if I were a political version of a Sports Bookie, I would set the Over/Under at 222.5 House seats for the Democrats (so no one could "push"): that is, with 218 seats in the U.S. House of the Representatives necessary for a Majority, I would not be at all surprised to see the Party of the People picking up roughly 4 to 5 seats more than they would need in this year's General Election... but note that their gaining a Majority in the lower chamber of Congress would not be by all that much! As for the United States Senate, I don't, right now, think the Democrats can take control of the United States Senate: yes, they could well "flip" the Senate seats in, say, Arizona and Nevada only, at the same time, losing two or more seats the Democrats currently hold elsewhere. If the geographic path for a Democratic House Majority is, indeed, so rather narrow, it is all that much tighter for a Democratic Majority in the Senate.

What might change this come Tuesday? Some serious upsets as regards Senate races, in States in which a Democrat would not be at all expected to win, given the political demographics of moment (I have already referred above, if only as an obvious example, to what kind of upset Congressman Beto O'Rourke [Democrat] knocking off Senator Ted Cruz [Republican] of Texas would be; but the Democrats would also need at least one or more like it). Simply take a look at our site's Senatorial Primaries At a Glance table, however, and it can be easily seen there are rather few opportunities for Democratic candidates for the Senate to do just this: here putting aside the question of just how many of the vulnerable Senate seats currently held by Democrats-- in West Virginia, in Indiana, in Missouri, in North Dakota, in Montana (even in both New Jersey and Florida!)-- can the Party of the People possibly hang on to.

The one thing that might prove different as regards to what I have written in the first paragraph of this concluding section would be Democratic candidates for the House doing better than even I think they will do in Tuesday's Election: in such a case, the Democrats would then win even more House seats than my 'line' of 222.5 suggests and, in turn, this could have an effect elsewhere on the ballot in a State like, say, Nebraska. More than likely, however, even were the Democrats to so "pad their lead" in the U.S. House of Representatives, it would have very little concomitant effect on most of the United States Senate seats currently held by Republicans and up for grabs in this election.

Yet, as with Sports, so it is with Politics: the winners of the "game" are not at all determined by the prognostications of pundits. I am rather certain there will be at least a few surprises once the returns are coming on throughout Tuesday night on into the wee hours of the morning of Wednesday 7 November-- for there almost always are (the candidate thought to be just about sure of losing who, nonetheless, pulls it out via late returns; a candidate who looked as if he/she had no real chance actually squeaking by into victory): it will be these, scattered hither and yon across the Nation, that might end up making these 2018 Midterm Elections come out at least somewhat differently in the end from that which is most expected, whether in favor of one Major Party or the other.

However, above all else, if you are registered to vote anywhere in these United States of America, then VOTE!... above all else, there is no better conclusion to a piece about an upcoming Election.

Modified .