The world awoke yesterday to the US mid-term election results with one question in mind – will Donald Trump be re-elected? As I have argued consistently since he took office, the answer is no. Nothing about these results, and everything about the immediate aftermath, makes me more certain.
2020 betting unmoved by mid-term signals
Many a hot take mused that Trump was in reasonable shape. Our 2020 Presidential Election odds moved slightly in his favour, with 2.68 now available about him winning a second term. An understandable reaction if simply comparing the situation to recent cycles. Obama, Clinton and Reagan all won a second term despite losing the House of Representatives in their first mid-term.
The problem with such comparisons is they are based on normality. On less divided times, when more voters swung between elections. Nothing since Trump entered politics in 2015 has been normal. These elections weren’t normal and the fast unfolding events across the Atlantic are unprecedented.
Even before all the votes have been counted, Trump ramped up his war with the media at this astonishing press conference, and sacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions – who, significantly, was not even allowed to stay until Friday as he wanted. According to this presidential historian, we are looking at a scandal ten times bigger than Watergate.
"If this is going the way it looks, this is 10 times worse than Nixon"
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) November 7, 2018
Democrat House sweep was a rejection of Trump
Before dealing with the future, let’s look at these results. First, any idea that retaining the Senate equated to a draw for Republicans is fantasy. That wasn’t a national race, with only a third of seats in play, on a very favourable map. In contrast all 435 House seats were up and the Democrats overcame systemic bias, partly due to gerrymandering, to win a majority.
They won the popular vote by around 7.5%, with the swing most marked in precisely the sort of suburban district that ultimately determine general elections. They also swept several governorships (including deep, red Kansas) and state legislatures. The turnout was historic, with the rise most stark among millenials, women and minorities. In what was effectively a referendum on Trump, a clear majority ‘disapproved’ and just shy of half ‘strongly disapproved’.