Remember: There is always another election. And the 2018 congressional elections already promise to be extraordinary.
This is Trahant Reports.
Let’s look at the landscape so far. Last week voters in Kansas surprised Republicans by barely winning a district that’s supposed to be safe. And this week voters in suburban Atlanta will pick a replacement for Mike Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary. At this point you can boil this race down to one question: Who will show up? If more Democrats vote than normal (by about nine points) they could win this seat.
Indian Country’s first judgement of the Trump administration comes in Montana on May 25. Montana voters will pick a replacement for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke defeated Denise Juneau to win re-election. Now the race is between a singing cowboy, Rob Quist, and a wealthy entrepreneur, Greg Gianforte, who lost his November bid for governor.
Back to the big picture. House Democrats are well-positioned by history. The president’s party nearly always loses seats in the first election after winning the White House. In 2010 after Barack Obama’s historic election, his party lost 63 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate. According to Gallup polling, since 1946, when presidents are above 50 percent approval, their party loses an average of 14 House seats compared with an average loss of 36 seats when presidents are below that mark. President Trump remains far below that mark.
In 2016 there was a remarkable group of Native Americans running for the Congress. For that to happen again, there needs to be a recruitment of candidates.
In Arizona, for example, Victoria Steele would be well-suited to run again against Rep. Martha McSally. McSally would have to defend Trump’s unpopularity in a swing district.
It would be interesting to see a strong Alaska Native candidate surface in Alaska against Rep. Don Young. Young was lucky that the health care bill failed when it did because he did not need to take a vote. He would have had to choose between his party and his state.
Ideally I would like to see younger candidates from Indian Country. Young people who could build innovative, digital campaigns instead of relying on what’s been done in the past.
This is why the special elections right are so important. Because win or lose in Kansas, Georgia, and Montana, it shows that the House is not cemented to Republican leadership. The 2018 election cycle will be very different than the one that moved Trump into the White House. And all it takes is for a few potential candidates to see the possible … and to think, “I can do that.”
I am Mark Trahant.