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Why this mid term result?

Written By: - Date published: 5:05 pm, November 7th, 2018 - 39 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, Politics, us politics - Tags:

The voters have spoken.

United States mid-term elections are a tried and true referendum on the performance of the President.

A part, just a part of that results, is due to the economy in the United States. Not just #MeToo and everything he does against migrants, although they certainly had an effect. This isn’t the post that will do the usual blood-letting about whether the Democrats weren’t “left” enough.

Back in the day, President Obama pushed his electorate as far as he could with Obamacare, and the electorate made a very strong judgement right back.

With President Trump, it was all supposed to be an economic disaster, and his massive interventions into international trade and tearing up old diplomatic orders would leave the U.S. economy reeling. If you read the activist left too much, he should have lost both Senate and House.

And yet with many of the headline economic fundamentals very strong in the U.S., the voter reaction this time is different.

Despite second quarter U.S. GDP growth of 4.2% and historically low unemployment, Trump’s approval rating does not follow those economic indicators at all.

Trump’s team has done well because the economy has done well. They voted on the performance more than the person.

But some of that result is not as strong as his rhetoric because the economy is not as strong as those headline numbers suggest.

There’s a similar weirdness to the business confidence surveys in New Zealand versus the actual performance of the economy and the popularity of our government. In the United States it reflects a kitchen-table reality of economic life in fuel costs, healthcare costs, housing costs, and electricity, with wages just not keeping up with those rises. New Zealand is now at 3.9% unemployed, but remains one of the most unequal societies in the OECD, with pitiful wage growth. So people go backwards.

There are also oppositional effects. Great news the U.S .stockmarket has gone up! Again! Good for our super-funds! But that can also be a symptom that income continues to be redistributed from workers to capital, so the stockmarket goes up. Stockmarket up bad!

Tax cuts good! Except, Trump’s huge tax cut to corporations is an effectively targeted sugar-rush hit with a good chance of a fast come-down. The only question is whether commercial diabetes hits before or after election 2020. The tax bill, simply did not reward the citizens who brought him to the dance. And a lot of them voted their message back on that. Boo tax cuts!

Wage growth good recently! Yay! Except, average U.S. inflation-adjusted wages are at roughly the same level as they were 40 years ago. Median wages for those who have no degree have been falling for 15 years. And there’s little evidence that the big tax package has benefitted the middle class. He hasn’t delivered back to the rust-belt workers who voted him in, other than to keep declaiming that “clean coal is good” in West Virginia (didn’t work). The social welfare system that the two Bush and the Clinton administrations gutted, has not been strengthened. The Earned Income Tax Credits and wage supports are very weak. Unless you are in upper management, your lower wage or salary has not been rewarded. You would kinda hope that an economy that is even fuller than our own at 3.5% headline unemployment would have some wage growth. Bad wage growth!

A really perplexing element is the Trump administration’s focus on deregulation at this point of the U.S. economy. Deregulation at the end of a long recovery cycle is exactly what you don’t want. Because right now a lot of businesses and investment institutions are looking for yield. You have growing concentration of power. You have monopoly issues that dampen the economy. That’s not the time to deregulate. And in terms of labour and environmental regulation, you want stuff happening that doesn’t actually kill people and animals and the earth. He has no framework for regulation other than get rid of regulation. That is not a sustainable pattern of economic leadership for the United States.

Trump is not safe. He has no economic plan beyond his re-election, which through a Republican lens is fair enough.
So in some part, the collective wisdom of this democracy-expression turned out to be more than two wolves and a lamb discussing what to have for dinner.

More like, the remaining sheep got Tech-9‘s and started circling the wolves.

39 comments on “Why this mid term result? ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Well, the view from this centrist thus far is that the 42% of US adults that told the Gallup pollsters last year they were non-aligned have obviously been unimpressed by Democrat positioning. The most the Democrats can spin it is a swing back to them in the House. So the liberal revulsion factor has had some influence amongst the non-aligned centrists, but not enough to rate it as an indicator for the future.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      You reckon?

      Trump being forced to disclose his tax returns and being subject to all sorts of inquiries and suddenly not being able to get laws passed and this is a bad night for the democrats?

      • adam 1.1.1

        The losing democrats were the ones who took corporate money.

        The big winners are the small donation not reeking of corporate control progressives.

        So the centre democrats didn’t win bugger all. No surprise there then. When you look or act corrupt, no matter what side you are on, voters turn off.

        Funny that NZ has people walk away from politics in droves. My guess, JLR just made more people walk way.

      • Andre 1.1.2

        Just his tax returns and “all sorts of inquiries”? What a stunning lack of imagination and ambition there, micky.

        Here’s a piece looking at just the appetizers of what’s coming at Don of the Deadbrains.


        BTW, he couldn’t get any significant legislation passed anyway (except tax cuts for the rich) so no change there.

      • Dennis Frank 1.1.3

        Waiting for finals & statistical trends. What I’m looking for is the percentage of the entire electorate that shifted compared to 2016. Haven’t seen any overall breakdown of voting yet reported in the media.

        BBC has this: “forecasts based on early voting suggest turnout will be as high as 47%. This would be higher than any year since 1970.” Almost half of the electorate actually got up & voted! A stunning endorsement of democracy. Democrats will be thrilled that the system is working so well.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    When the dust settles, I guarantee you that the Democrats will be several percentage points ahead in the total vote count, but Gerrymanders mean they will get nothing like the the number of seats they should have. And that is even before you talk about the voter suppression, the roll purging, the voter ID laws, the badly run elections with not enough polling places, the laws stripping felons of votes – look at Florida, which the Republicans just won by a whisker. 1.5 MILLION ex-felons there just won back the right to vote. Voter suppression won it for the GOP in Florida.

    What I take from this election is the United States is now a country displaying a peculiar political morbidity. It is no longer a fully functioning democracy. With it’s rigged elections and voter suppression and an authoritarian, racist Republican party hell bent on turning the USA into another Turkey or Hungary it is well down the road to turning into an authoritarian nightmare.

    • mickysavage 2.1


      Florida’s vote to return voting rights to former felons under amendment 4 shows how bad things have become.

      There has been a continuous assault on voting rights. Trusting Republican office holders to run local elections shows many levels of crazy.

      The Texas machine swap democrat votes to Cruz is laughable but terrifying.

      For the Democrats to do this well when the Republicans had control of so many states was in my humbe opinion rather good.

      Goes to show why the Kavanaugh appointment was so important.

      • ScottGN 2.1.1

        Florida voters passing Amendment 4 could have a big impact on the national political environment in elections to come. Over a million felons have had their voting rights restored in a big state that often determines which way the country goes.
        Coloradans, another big state, have also voted for 2 amendments to make the state’s electoral commissions independent which will take the job of redistricting away from legislators. We saw what a boon that was for Democrats last night in Pennsylvania.

    • ScottGN 2.2

      New York Times reports that Democrat Senate candidates got about 12 million more votes than Republican Senate candidates. Yet the Republicans will have at least a 2 seat majority in that chamber. The design of the Senate – 2 senators from each state, regardless of demographics – makes that chamber pretty much impossible for Dems.

    • Adrian Thornton 2.3

      @ Sanctuary,
      Agreed, and with the Dems obviously and cynically throwing up ‘russiagate’ ( ably assisted by MSM ) as a smoke screen to avoid any serious dissection let alone outside scrutiny of their own morally bankrupt, and corrupt political practices (post 2016 election), let alone have any serious open discussion as too how they managed to lose that most winnable of elections in recent times, ultimately leaves them very vulnerable going forward.
      All this along with their outright refusal to let the party naturally drift with public opinion to the left, leaves Trump in with a serious chance for a second term come 2020.

      But as I have said many times before, the Liberal ideologues controlling US Dems (and the same is true in NZ, UK etc) would rather lose elections than concede any internal power to real Left Wing progressives….but then this shouldn’t be surprising, Liberals and progressive Socialists have very little in common, so will never exist side by side in the same political party.

  3. Pat 3

    why this result?….because ‘the left’ (or even the US Democrats) dont have a better (or even an attempt) alternative to ‘globalisation’ for far too many….a continuation of the “up yours” until such time as Trumps chickens come home to roost…..that may or may not be pre 2020.

    • soddenleaf 3.1

      Rubbish.Sorry, too harsh, I agree that Democrats arent hitting well. But seriously, the Senate seats were in red zones. The whole electorate did not vote. People like Trump foriegn finger too the world but want him off their lawn. Women gets Trumps attention so Women got a huge boost. And really a nitwit in chief, chased by his past, chased by many repulsed Republicians, chased by his future alleged jail time… …means Democrats now have the weakest non republician republician president in history. a Repubiclian notorious for back tracking and not meaning what he said.
      Sorry but this was a victory for trump, the democrats, and another nail in Republician party.

  4. Andre 4

    I reckon Kevin Drum from Motherjones nails it with his Revenge of the Median Voter Theorem.


    Fivethirtyeight just put up an interim list of the House seats that have flipped parties. On a quick skim, the only name I saw that rang a bell from all the breathless coverage of the new progressives running this time was Sharice Davids in Kansas. The other exciting new progressives either lost or were running in districts already held by Dems.

  5. Andre 6

    The Repug mindset in a nutshell: they’ll just go right ahead and elect a dead brothel owner to be their representative. Literally.


  6. Fireblade 7

    We’re all living in Amerika
    Amerika ist wunderbar

    (Rammstein Music Video)

  7. Draco T Bastard 8

    The economy is there to ensure that everyone has a reasonable living standard while living within the physical constraints of the world. Capitalism doesn’t do that. It throws a large percentage of people on the scrapheap of poverty, fools a lot of people into thinking that they’re middles class and then steals from them to reward the actual middles class and the rich.

    More of the same, no matter where in the world, will just make us all worse off as our societies collapse.

  8. Observer Tokoroa 9

    The Home of Rottenness

    America seeks only wealth. It seeks it only for the Wealthy.

    It does it via Tax Cuts for the ugly Rich
    It does it by ignoring the Poor and the Sick
    It does it by tramping on the low wage earners and their families
    It does it by the kaleidoscope lies that the president spits out day and night
    It does it by its hatred of every man women and child on the planet – except the Republicans.

    America is the Home of Rottenness. The Home of Homicide. The home of the Gun; The home of Deceit and Gerrymander.

    I am with Micky Savage when he says:
    “For the Democrats to do this well when the Republicans had control of so many states was in my humble opinion rather good.”

    As for me, I will admire America when I see it take care of its Citizens; when it pays decent wages; when it serves the sick people; when it respects women and girls; when it buries its cowardly guns; when at long last it sticks to Truth; The whole Truth; and nothing but the Truth.

  9. WeTheBleeple 10

    “In October, China’s Trademark Office granted provisional approval for 16 trademarks to Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, bringing to 34 the total number of marks China has greenlighted this year, according to the office’s online database.

    The new approvals cover … and voting machines.”


    Nothing to see here.

  10. Wayne 11


    Just to pick up on a point that is a common misconception on this site.

    New Zealand is not one of the most unequal countries in the OECD. It sits in the middle. I think what you mean is that between 1984 and 1992 there was one of the biggest changes in the OECD, largely because we went from the most regulated economy in the OECD to being a normal OECD economy.

    In 1984 we had import licensing (you needed a permit to import things), exchange controls, 66% max tax rate, 50% of the economy owned by the state, compulsory unionism. That was more regulation than the Scandinavians.

    Now we look like any other OECD economy. Inequality has basically stayed the same for the last 25 years. It doesn’t look like it will change much under the current government, not unless they hugely increase taxes on the top 20% of earners. There is no indication they will do so.

    • Ed 11.1

      And you were part of that appropriation of wealth from the poor to the rich.
      Shame on you and other ideologues of neoliberalism.

      On top of that the politicians ( and you were one of them) sold this country to foreign corporate interests.
      This undermined and compromised our sovereignty and made New Zealand workers simple commodities for gigantic business interests and foreign nations.

    • Ad 11.2

      Wealth concentration of 53 per cent of wealth in the hands of 10 per cent of households, is greater than the OECD average, but not bad as the United States, where 10 per cent of households hold 76 per cent of the wealth.

      It’s not just about 30 years ago Wayne.

      Sure the GINI coefficient has stabilized, but our wealth is more and more centralized at the very very top.

    • Stuart Munro 11.3

      I notice you skim over the point, as usual, Wayne.

      NZ’s ill-judged lurch to the right was predicated on a promise of greatly improved economic performance that you and your incompetent colleagues never managed to deliver. You didn’t grow the pie, you just stole our slice.

      • Wayne 11.3.1

        Actually we did grow the pie. Substantial growth from 2011 onward. Even Labour admits that. Where do you think the 3.9% unemployment rate comes from?

    • tc 11.4

      I’m sure the homeless feel much better for that heartfelt analysis Wayne…..especially the ones that used to have accomodation in state houses you sold out.

    • Pat 11.5

      “It doesn’t look like it will change much under the current government, not unless they hugely increase taxes on the top 20% of earners. There is no indication they will do so.”

      why am I unsurprised you conflate wealth and income?

  11. Bill 12

    I can’t quite grasp the wolves and sheep analogy. Maybe I’m being thick, but who’s who or what and what-not?

    That aside, if there’s a notion that politics and economics is just a big machine that will birl cogs (voters) “just so” if it’s been set up “thus”, then I’d be taking the post as a fair iteration of that notion.

    Leaves me cold…not, I guess, that the temperature of a cog matter o’er much 😉

  12. Pat 13

    Ultimately it dont matter coz CC, resource extraction and over-population but the explanation for why those that had their last throw of the dice on Obama in a forlorn hope and have overnight become xenophobic racist misogynists (not really, but the appearance for all intents and purposes is the same) is comprehensively explained here…


    an hour well spent.

  13. Carolyn_Nth 14

    Ad, you glossed over the significance of the #metoo and immigration issues. Bradbury is slamming them as having prevented a landslide for the Democrats.

    But the big story of the 2018 mid-terms is the record numbers of women now running for office, (plus the big turnout of women voters.

    Intercept has an article on the record numbers of women running for office.

    Women Built the 2018 Midterm Blue Wave — but the Last One Washed Them Out

    The number of women in Congress is expected to reach another record at 117. At the time of publication, women won 96 seats in the House and 12 in the Senate, and nine women out of the 16 who ran are headed to governors’ mansions.

    As the article indicates, it’s wrong to assume all these women are Democrats or Democrat voters. I have seen in my twitter stream claims that white women have voted more for some white Republican candidates than their opponents of colour.

    nevertheless there are some firsts, like first Native American woman in the House.

    CNN reports:

    From a pair of Native American women to a Somali refugee to the first openly gay man elected governor, the 2018 midterm elections brought a series of history-making votes that marked major accomplishments for women and LGBT candidates.

    Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress, CNN projected. Davids’ win in Kansas against GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder was a pickup for Democrats, who CNN projects to gain control of the House.

    Haaland will replace New Mexico Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who vacated the seat to run for governor.

    I have also read that a big part of the huge turnout for the election was due to a large number of women voting.

    BTW, it’s wrongly assumed that Trump’s core supporters are the working classes. Most research I’ve shown indicates the core includes a significant amount of the middle classes. The characteristic that seems to set them apart from other voters is their resistance to change.

    The #metoo and pro immigrant movements are as much a sign of underlying discontents and changes, as they are prime motivators for voting.

    • Ad 14.1

      Yes they were a separate post entirely.

      I was concentrating on the economic performance impact.

      But if you want to have a go at those other factors, go for it.

  14. Siobhan 15

    The thing you have to admire about the corporate neoliberal centrists and their stumbling ideology, is they really are “glass half full” type people.

    Pragmatists, right through to the slow and withering end of their Compassionate Capitalist Dream.

    • Dennis Frank 15.1

      I’ve spent almost 40 years learning how to rationalise the social psychology driving it. And that’s after a decade (the seventies) expecting capitalism to die on the vine and being puzzled that it kept not happening.

      Problem for me as a radical centrist is the co-dependency of the left & right, and how that creates commitment to preserving the system. Conservative centrists like Winston do pragmatism out of habit, with the right you get ideological adherence to the belief system and with the left you get deceit via the pretend opposition to it, but both sides of the left/right duopoly keep using the system since it still works.

      So in that respect, the dream that promises abundance & prosperity is accompanied by the reality of survival in varying degrees of comfort for most participants. That it is likely to end badly is only evident to those few of us who can extrapolate the trajectory…

  15. Some wins

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, youngest woman elected to Congress.

    Ayanna Pressley, first black House member from Massachusetts.

    Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, first Muslim congresswomen.

    Jared Polis, first openly gay man elected governor.

    Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, first Native American congresswomen.

    Marsha Blackburn, first female senator from Tennessee.

    Janet Mills, first female governor of Maine.

    Abby Finkenauer, first congresswoman from Iowa.

    Jahana Hayes, first black congresswoman from Connecticut.

    Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, first Latina congresswomen from Texas.


    • Dennis Frank 16.1

      Don’t tell the chinese regime, they’ll get too excited. Gotta suppress ethnicities! How else can the empire survive? Building more concentration camps already…

      • marty mars 16.1.1

        They learnt it off the English and other euros including usaians. Even here dennis. I wish the whole lot of them oppressors would just go away – it’s 2018 ffs.

        And yes I put a link up the other day to the atrocities being committed against minorities and indigenous people’s by China.

  16. joe90 17


    Fun fact: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a law preventing second place finishers from requesting a recount if they lost by more than 1%. Walker lost by 1.2% to Democrat Tony Evers. Poetic justice.— Denizcan Grimes (@MrFilmkritik) November 7, 2018

  17. joe90 18

    After her opponent gave her victory speech….oops..

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In a stunning turn of events, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, 33, has been declared the winner of New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District race.

    “The votes have been counted and voices of people in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District have been heard,” Torres Small said to a small group of supporters in Las Cruces after learning she beat Republican Yvette Herrell.


    Herrell claimed victory Tuesday night. However, her campaign released a statement Wednesday night saying they will wait for every vote to be counted.

    “Last night, we heard from Xochitl Torres Small that it was extremely important that every vote be counted” said Rob Burgess, Senior Advisor to the Yvette Herrell campaign. “This campaign believes that should be the case and we look forward to seeing the results from all provisional ballots throughout the district.”


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