It’s been almost 10 months since Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States, and he is, by historical standards, the least popular president since Gerald Ford. Aside from Ford who was sworn in after Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Trump has attained the highest average disapproval rating in the history of public polling.
While he has yet to serve a full year in office, there are already political ramifications for his unpopularity. Recently, in our state of Pennsylvania, local and state elections were held to fill the following positions: one State Supreme Court seat, two Commonwealth Court seats and four Superior Court seats. While Republican Sallie Mundy took the open State Supreme Court seat, and Democrats only took one of the Commonwealth Court seats, Democrats won three out of the four Superior Court seats. In addition to these favorable results, Democrats won landslide victories in county level races in Bucks, Delaware and Northampton counties. It was reported by the Morning Call that Democrats outperformed their expectations at the local level, but a recent poll conducted by ABC 27 News expressed that just 35% of Pennsylvania residents support Democrat Governor Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania went red in the 2016 presidential election, and its 2018 Senatorial & Gubernatorial elections are being watched closely by political analysts.
Let’s take a look at other elections which were held last week. Last Tuesday, elections were held in New Jersey, Virginia and Georgia, to determine a variety of positions within each state government. In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy was elected to become governor in a state which was previously led by Republican Chris Christie. In addition to the defeat of Republican Kim Guadagno, New Jersey Democrats gained control of both chambers of the state legislature. In Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie was defeated by Democrat Ralph Northam who won by nine percentage points, and according to the Wall Street Journal, was, “the largest victory margin for a Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate since 1985.” In Georgia, Democratic candidates won, “three state legislative special elections, including two in districts that were considered safely GOP. That (loss) cost Republicans their majority in the state senate.” As the Wall Street Journal notes, “There is historical precedent for the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races … in 1994, 2006, and 2010 – the last three times control of the House changed parties–the midterm result was foretold by the party that won the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races the year before.”
As someone who was excited to see what the Trump administration could accomplish in an election which saw the rejection of mainstream political candidates, I have been unsatisfied with his presidency thus far. His Republican majority government, so far, has failed to make any significant changes to our healthcare system and his executive orders on travel bans were soundly shut down by multiple state supreme courts. He has shown no ability to rally Republicans around his agenda, and the new tax plan unveiled by House Republicans received a lukewarm reaction from the public at best. 538.com, a website which uses statistical analysis to predict political results, projects that Democrats are winning the race for the Senate at large in 2018, leading by eight percentage points.
While I was not surprised by Democratic victories in New Jersey and Virginia, I am surprised that Republicans are not scrambling to unite the party in the face of unprecedented com- petition. I consider myself a “flexible response voter,” which means I don’t vote based on party line, but who I think would do the best job in Washington.
In the 2018 elections, I fully expect Democrats to make large gains in Congress simply because Republicans aren’t getting anything done and accomplish- ing their campaign goals. If this year of the Trump presidency is any insight into how the next three will be handled by Republicans, you can count on me voting for several Democrats in most upcoming elections. I, along with many Americans, am troubled and disappointed by the incompetence and lack of bipartisanship in Washington.
Now, more than ever, we need to be united as a nation in the post recession era ––especially since there are many long term issues which are unresolved (Social Security, taxation, infrastructure, etc.) – and I’m not confident that Republicans will have much, if any, of a case to present to voters in 2018.