Three Reasons for Democrats to Be Optimistic About the Midterms

A woman makes a photo of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 18, 2017
A woman makes a photo of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 18, 2017 (Lorie Shaull)

Democrats in the United States have three reasons to feel optimistic about this year’s congressional elections, argues Ruy Teixeira at his blog, The Optimistic Leftist.

  1. Off-year elections are a good predictor of performance in the midterms, as reported by Daily Kos. Democrats won several special elections in 2017, notably in Alabama and Virginia. That bodes well for 2018.
  2. Republicans don’t have a turnout advantage, at least not with a Republican president, according to Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight. Republican voters are usually more motivated when a Democrat is in the White House.
  3. Donald Trump is hugely unpopular. Nate Cohn writes in The New York Times that the president is far less popular than the state of the economy would suggest — and when presidents are unpopular, their party usually loses. Read more

Two Arguments for a More Proportional Voting System

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013 (Jeffrey Zeldman)

Democrats could win 54 percent of the votes in next year’s congressional elections and still fall short of a majority.

G. Elliott Morris reports for Decision Desk HQ that because Democrats are clustered in America’s cities and face harsh gerrymanders, they aren’t likely to win a proportionate share of the seats.

We can debate at length whether this is unfair or by design, but that discussion isn’t changing Republican minds.

Advocates of a more proportional system should try two different arguments:

  1. Politics should not be reduced to two options. There is no major party for Americans who are economically as well as socially liberal (“libertarian”). Nor was there, until recently, a party for nativists. Republicans are turning into one, but that will leave conservative internationalists on the outside.
  2. Proportional representation would discourage regional factionalism. Jason Willick argues in The American Interest that if one region of the country drifts too far from another politically, and the minority region is out of power at the federal level, that could set the stage for secession or civil war. At a time when political violence in the United States is rising, it’s not hard to understand the perils of balkanized political coalitions. Read more