Media  Global Economy  2018.12.04

Objection to "the Republican Party's good fight!" Caution signal against Trump's reelection - Data on the mid-term election in the US show the Democratic Party's fairly high winning rate.

The article was originally posted on Webronza on November 13, 2018

Did the Republican Party really fight well?

Because the Republican Party, which is under the leadership of President Trump, has maintained a majority in the Senate as a result of the mid-term election, many people seem to think that the Democratic Party failed to attack the Republican Party thoroughly, that the blue wave (blue is the color of the Democratic Party) did not emerge, or that both parties fought to a draw.

The Senate has the power to approve the appointment of administrative executives, such as the Secretary of each Department, and the Supreme Court judges. The approval of President Trump's appointment of conservative Mr. Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court judge last month caused fierce political conflict between both parties. It is said that the Republican Party's acquisition of a majority in the Senate is a favorable result for the Trump Administration in that the result makes it easier for the Administration to gain approval when it appoints administrative executives and Supreme Court judges.

Because the Trump Administration sent two conservative judges into the Supreme Court, the number of conservative judges has become five, a majority among the nine Supreme Court judges. If the recently hospitalized 85-year old liberal judge retires, it will be possible for the Administration to appoint one more conservative judge.

Because there is no limit on the term of office of a Supreme Court judge, it can be expected that the Supreme Court will make conservative decisions for the next several decades, such as objection to abortion or same-sex marriage. This is a win for the conservatives and a defeat for the liberals.

In addition, when the previous presidential election was held, Republican candidates won the office of governor in the States of Ohio and Florida, which have many voters and are regarded as important among the swing states (although it is possible to predict the result of a presidential election beforehand in most states - for example, a Republican candidate will win in Texas, while a Democratic candidate will win in California -, the result cannot be predicted in the swing states). This was regarded as a great advance toward the reelection of Trump.

Many people think that although the ruling party was usually defeated when a mid-term election was held after a presidential election, the Republican Party fought well this time. Trump praised himself for a rare increase in the number of seats in the Senate.

However, is this true?

The Republican Party was defeated also in the election for the Senate

First of all, let's not forget that the election was held in a situation where the economy was better than ever and there were almost no unemployed people. It was held under conditions extremely favorable to the ruling Republican Party.

Of the 100 seats of the Senate, 35 seats were contested and the number of Republican seats was only nine. This was because the Democratic Party won a great victory in the previous election in which incumbent senators were elected. It seemed easy for the Republican Party to win this election, for the party already occupied a majority of the Senate and would have maintained a majority if it had won only nine or more out of 35 seats.

In addition, during the 2016 presidential election, Trump gained a victory in 10 states among the 26 seats (states) the Democratic Party had before this election. Therefore, this election was favorable to the Republican Party.

As of November 24, except for one seat that it is still unknown which party will gain, the Republican Party has gained ten seats, while the Democratic Party has gained 24 seats. As a result, if these seats are added to the seats not contested this time, the Republican Party has 52 seats, while the Democratic Party has 47 seats, except for the one vacant seat. Because of this, it is said that the Republican Party has won the election for the Senate.

However, if looking only at this election, the Republican Party won 10 seats, but lost 24 seats, resulting in a winning rate of only 29%. Can this be called a victory? If Trump, the Republican leader, were a professional baseball manager, he would have been dismissed long ago.

In the Midwest of the US, which is called the "Rust Belt" and greatly contributed to Trump's winning of the 2016 presidential election, the Republican Party won only in Indiana and Missouri, while the Democratic Party won in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Democratic candidate won even in West Virginia, where Trump has an approval rating of 69% (however, the candidate Mr. Manchin is the only Democratic Senator who voted for the approval of the appointment of Mr. Kavanaugh).

In the State of Texas, where the Republican Party has traditionally overwhelmed the Democratic Party, Mr. Ted Cruz, who ran for the Republican Party's preliminary presidential election and fought fiercely against Trump for the appointment of a presidential candidate to the very end to win the election, narrowly shook off Mr. Beto O'Rourke, a Democratic Congressman House who burst into sudden prominence. When the election was held, the caravan of several thousand refugees that Trump attacked by saying some of them were criminals or terrorists was moving northward through Mexico to the US. Because of this, the election was influenced by Texan people's fear of the refugees approaching Texas, which is bordered by Mexico. Ted Cruz was lucky.

Democratic Party's high winning rate

On the other hand, the Democratic Party's winning rate was 71% in the election for the Senate.

This rate is higher than the winning rate of the Boston Red Sox, which overwhelmingly won the American League East championship for the third consecutive season with 104 wins and 49 losses, won the American League championship and the World Series championship this year. It is also higher than the pass completion rate of Tom Brady (New England Patriots) from the University of Michigan, an extraordinary American football quarterback called "The GOAT" (Greatest of All Time). The rate is overwhelming in the sports world.

In the House of Representatives, all 435 seats are contested every time. As of November 24, the Democratic Party gained 233 seats, while the Republican Party gained 199 seats. The number of Democratic seats increased by 40 from 193. More than 100 female Democratic candidates won. They include people of various ethnicities, such as Muslims, Somali refugees, and native Americans.

These results are largely because of votes cast by women who rebelled against President Trump and young people who feel repelled by the frequent occurrence of shooting rampages due to insufficient gun control. Although the results were reversed, in the State of Tennessee, Taylor Swift, a famous singer, appealed to people not to vote for the Republican Senate candidate who obstructed the improvement of women's rights. Because of this, there was a record increase in the number of voter registrations - especially, young people's registrations. The voting rate of young people, who are generally uninterested in elections, increased not only in Tennessee, but also all over the US.

Although mid-term elections have not attracted much interest in the past, those this year drew much attention like a presidential election, resulting in a long line of voters in front of each polling place. The voting rate greatly increased from about 35% to 50%, which served as a tail wind for the Democratic Party.

This is indicated by data. While one-third of the members was up for reelection in the Senate, the election for the House of Representatives was held all over the US. According to the voting trends in the House of Representatives, 59% of female voters voted Democrats, while 40% voted Republicans (in the case of male voters, 47% voted Democrats, while 51% voted Republicans). In terms of academic background, 53% of white voters with a university degree voted Democrats, while 45% of them voted Republicans (in the case of white voters without a university degree, 37% voted Democrats, while 61% voted Republicans). In the case of young people between 18 and 44 years old, 61% voted Democrats, while 36% voted Republicans (in the case of people aged 45 and older, 49% voted Democrats, while 50% voted Republicans).

Although many people expect that the Democratic Party will have an uphill battle in the 2020 Presidential election...

In spite of this, the Democratic Party failed to achieve a landslide victory. This is largely because the US governors have the great power to demarcate electoral districts for the House of Representatives and Republicans have been appointed as governors in 33 states, about two-thirds of the 50 states in the US, resulting in favorable demarcation to Republican candidates.

In the 36 states where a gubernatorial election was held this time, the Democratic Party made remarkable progress and recaptured the office of governor in seven states, resulting in almost halving the number of governors between both parties. This will be advantageous to the Democratic Party in the future.

Although it is said that Republican candidates won in the gubernatorial elections in the States of Ohio and Florida, the Democratic Party won in the election for the Senate in Ohio and close races were seen in both the gubernatorial election and the election for the Senate in Florida. Because the difference in the number of votes counted automatically was less than 0.5% in both elections, the number of votes was counted manually as in the case of the presidential election between Bush and Gore in 2000. At the time, Bush gained 2,912,790 votes, while Gore gained 2,912,253 votes, resulting in a narrow margin of 537 votes.

In this way, elections are likely to become close races in the State of Florida. This is the reason why Florida is called a swing state. Although there are many supporters of the Republican Party in Georgia, the state drew attention because it might have the first female Afro-American Democratic governor. The gubernatorial election has become a close race.

Given such a force of the Democratic Party, the view may emerge that the Democratic Party can obtain many votes in both the Senate and House of Representatives when the presidential and congressional elections are held in 2020.

The Democratic Party wants to win the election for the Senate in 2020. Unlike this election, in the 2020 election the Republican Party will have to defend 22 seats among its 33 seats. Even if the Democratic Party's winning rate is 50%, it will become the majority.

However, many people have the view that the Democratic Party will have a hard fight in the presidential election.

One of the reasons is that the Democratic Party has no presidential candidate who can compete with Trump.

However, the same was said to the Republican Party before the presidential election in 2016. While the Democratic Party had a strong candidate named Hillary Clinton, the Republican Party did not have any reliable candidate. Many candidates jumped in the race for the party's preliminary election.

However, during the Democratic Party's preliminary election, Hillary Clinton was overwhelmed by Bernie Sanders, a leftist Senator who advocated the cause of social democracy. This resulted in a clear rift between the Democratic Party's centrist faction and radical leftist faction, which adversely affected the presidential election. On the other hand, Trump became a presidential candidate for the Republican Party, drastically stating he would make "walls" to prevent immigrants from entering the US. His statements jolted white people's real feelings about racial discrimination and xenophobia. As a result, he won the party's presidential nomination, defeating the candidates regarded as the stronger than he at the time.

Although the Democratic Party was expected to nominate Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate in 2008, it nominated Barack Obama, who just became a Senator in 2004. Mr. Obama was elected as President.

It cannot be predicted what kind of person will become a presidential candidate by what chance. In this election, attention was drawn by Beto O'Rourke in Texas, Stacey Abrams, an Afro-American woman who competed for the office of governor in Georgia, and Andrew Gillum, an Afro-American man who competed for the office of governor in Florida. The former two persons in particular pushed the Republican candidates hard in the traditionally Republican constituencies.

In addition, the problem as to whether the Democratic Party can nominate a candidate who can settle the conflict between the centrist faction and the radical leftist faction has been pointed out.

However, during the election, many Democratic candidates appealed to maintain and improve Obamacare (the medical care program), which was threatened by Trump. It is hard to think that the Democratic Party's centrist faction cannot accept Bernie Sanders' insistence on the improvement of the medical care system.

In addition, Sanders' insistence on free tuition fees for state universities brought forward the problem of extraordinarily high tuition fees. The average annual tuition fee for a state university is 25 thousand dollars. In the case of the University of Michigan, which is one of the leading state universities and attracts excellent students from all over the US, students from within the state pay 15 thousand dollars as the tuition fee, while those from outside the state have to pay 50 thousand dollars. Although my American friend living in the State of Colorado wanted their daughter to enter the University of Michigan, they had her enter the University of Wisconsin due to the University of Michigan's high tuition fee. Students are managing to pay such high tuition fees with low-paid part-time jobs and large loans. As soon as they graduate from a university, they will have to repay the loans. Although it is hard for the centrist faction to agree on free tuition fees, the faction will be able to compromise about tuition fee reduction.

The structure where the Republican Party is the majority in the Senate and the Democratic Party is the majority in the House of Representatives will continue

If you glance at a national map that shows which party has gained seats in the House of Representatives of the mid-term election geographically, indicating the Republican Party by red color and the Democratic Party by blue color, you have an impression that the Democratic Party sporadically won in some areas, while the Republican Party seems to have won most of the House of Representatives seats. Although the Republican Party seemingly has achieved an overwhelming victory, the Democratic Party defeated the opposing party in reality.

Why has this happened?

On a map, there seem to be many districts in which the Republican Party won seats. This is because, as written in "Trump launches a trade war against the rest of the world," the Democratic Party is supported by residents in cities and suburbs, while the Republican Party is supported by residents in vast rural areas.

Although national average data reflect the voting patterns in urban areas with a high population, none of the trends indicated by such data can be seen in rural areas. In the State of Indiana, a Midwest state where the Republican Party gained the Senate seat this time, although a remarkable difference can be seen in national average data, 49% of the female voters chose a Democrat, while 46% chose a Republican. In the case of university-graduated white people, 49% voted a Democrat, while 48% voted a Republican. In the case of the youth, 47% voted a Democrat, while 45% voted a Republican. Almost no difference can be seen.

Cities and suburbs are small in area, but have many residents. Therefore, they have many seats in the House of Representatives. The opposite is true in rural areas. Although Republican governors have demarcated constituencies for their own advantages, it is easier for the Democratic Party to gain House of Representatives seats, because the number of seats is proportional to population. In the future also, population will continue to flow from rural areas to urban areas, so the House of Representatives will become more advantageous to the Democratic Party.

Irrespective of population, however, each state has two seats in the Senate. In addition, because many states are located in rural areas, the Republican Party, which has many supporters in rural areas, can gain many seats. When elections to the Senate will be held in 2020 in many states whose Republican members have Senate seats now, it will be difficult for the Democratic Party to gain seats because most of them are located in rural areas.

Given the above, it seems that the structure where the Republican Party is predominant in the Senate and the Democratic Party is predominant in the House of Representatives will continue for a while.

Will Trump be reelected?

What about the next presidential election?

The number of presidential electors in each state is the total of the number of House of Representatives members, which is allocated according to the population of each state, and the number of Senate members elected in each state (two members in each state). In other words, the number is somewhere between the characteristics of the Senate election and those of the House of Representatives election. A comparatively large number of presidential electors are allocated to under-populated states, such as Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. As in the 2016 election, this is said to be one of the factors for the defeat of candidates who gained more votes.

As described above, however, because it can be predicted which party will win in most states, the outcome of the election will depend on the results of the swing states. To achieve reelection, it is necessary for Trump to win not only in rural areas but also in the swing states.

The Democratic Party won the office of governor in the State of Michigan in this election, where the final result was not attained for a long time due to an extremely close fight in the 2016 presidential election. In the Midwest, where Michigan is located, the Democratic Party won gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. In the West, it won them in New Mexico and Colorado, both of which are regarded as swing states.

Trump seems to need policies that will prevent him from being defeated in rural areas, especially in the Midwest. His trade war against China has given a hard blow to farmers in the area. If the trade war is prolonged, their support of the Republican Party will be shaken. Moreover, Trump's existing method of appealing only to his own supporters cannot work if the voting rate increases because many young people who are against Trump go to polling places in the swing states such as Florida.

However, if he takes a flexible attitude about immigration and other policies, his core supporters may give up on him. It is difficult to deal with voters. Anyway, if Trump continues to deal with them in the same way as before, it may be difficult for him to be reelected.

(This article was translated from the Japanese transcript of Dr. Yamashita's column in "Webronza" on November 13, 2018.)