The 2018 midterm elections are here.
After all the primaries, all the candidates’ campaigning, all the money spent and all the arguments made, it is the voters’ turn.
Here are my predictions. These are based on what I know (or thought I knew) last Friday. Last minute events can still have an impact and I may just be plain wrong.
But, for what it’s worth, here we go ...
I expect Proposition 2, the Medicaid expansion measure, to win solidly. Opponents have been crippled in their efforts by a lack of resources.
Proposition 1, the horse racing/gambling measure is more interesting. I’ve heard of survey research that gives both the “yes” and the “no” side the advantage. I don’t know which will win. But, my guess is those in favor will prevail. My theory is that the anti-gambling argument is not strong enough to prevail in a state that has accepted the lottery. We will see.
I am confident in predicting that Brad Little will be Idaho’s next governor. His campaign has covered all the bases with substantial advertising, solid messaging and a statewide ground game. He also committed to building on the strong economic record of Gov. Butch Otter, who still has solid approval numbers. Despite a promising start, Paulette Jordan has done little to change the course of the race. Her last minute television was too little, too late. Little takes the race solidly.
The race for the next lieutenant governor had the potential to be very competitive. Kristin Collum, Democratic nominee, has an interesting resume. Janice McGeachin, a former GOP state legislator from Idaho Falls, set up an interesting woman versus woman dynamic by winning the May primary. Collum’s effort has been insufficient to overcome the strength a Republican has in Idaho. McGeachin’s campaign has been minimal, but sufficient.
The bright spot for Idaho Democrats is the superintendent of public instruction slot. Sherri Ybarra, the GOP incumbent, has raised little and spent less. Her tenure has been rocky. Democratic candidate Cindy Wilson has run a solid effort, substantially outspending Ybarra. More importantly, supportive allies have spent big sums on television. Idaho Falls conservative businessman Frank VanderSloot’s endorsement of Wilson was startling. I predict a Wilson win.
Watch the local races to see if Proposition 2 draws out new voters. Could such a surge benefit Idaho Democrats in a few legislative contests? Maybe.
Democrats should take the U.S. House. From the beginning, Republicans have suffered from far more numerous retirements. But, the biggest Democratic advantage has been their ability to field numerous viable candidates who have raised significant funds and run competitive campaigns in a plethora of GOP-held districts. In looking at polling all over the U.S., Democrats are leading in nearly enough seats to win control. They need less than one of three of those too close to call. If that is accurate, a Nancy Pelosi-led House of Representatives will likely severely check the Trump Administration by launching investigations and blocking legislative action. My prediction is Democrats gain 30 seats or so.
The good news for Republicans is that they should hold the U.S. Senate and even expand their majority a bit. The key has been a very favorable map with far more Democratic seats in play. Republicans are favored to defeat Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. Democratic seats in Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, Montana and West Virginia are in play for the GOP. Democrats are after GOP seats in Nevada, Arizona and maybe Mississippi and Texas. I expect a Republican gain of 1-3 seats in the end.
Democrats will also pick up a fair number of governorships currently held by Republicans. They are ahead in Maine, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Iowa and New Mexico and could easily win even more state houses. Republicans are favored to pick off Connecticut. I see Democrats winning 5-8 seats.