Op Ed

Democrats Beware Overconfidence

Republicans are vulnerable in 2018, but nothing is assured.

By - Feb 21st, 2018 11:56 am
Blue wave. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Blue wave. Photo is in the Public Domain.

There’s an old saying in politics: “Don’t count your chickens until the bones are in your mouth.” Democrats who are eagerly anticipating the November elections should keep those earthy words of wisdom in mind. Overconfidence can be disastrous.

Nonetheless, optimism is certainly reasonable for progressives looking ahead to the elections later this year. Many signs point to a blue wave in November. For starters, midterm elections, more than anything else, are referendums on the president and Trump’s approval rating is dismal — by far the worst for any president in his first year.

Congressional Republicans are even more unpopular than Donald Trump. A recent poll indicated that only 21 percent of prospective voters approve of the job the Republican Congress is doing. That poll also found voters, by a 17 point margin, prefer Democrats to be in charge of Congress.

Special election results since Trump moved into the White House also point to Democratic victories. Most prominent is the election of a Democratic senator in deeply red Alabama. That outcome could be partially written off to a deeply flawed Republican candidate, but perhaps more telling are the numerous wins for Democrats in legislative elections. So far, 34 seats have flipped from red to blue, most recently in a state Senate district in northwestern Wisconsin. Trump won that district by 17 percentage points, but the Democrat bested the Republican this month by 10 points. Even in seats that Democrats have lost, the Democratic vote percentage is substantially up from 2016. Overall, compared to the partisan split in recent elections, there has been a 12 percentage point shift to Democratic candidates.

Politicians themselves are another harbinger of change — both the large number of retirements by incumbent Republican members of Congress and the relative success of the parties in recruiting candidates for November. So many House Republicans are not running for re-election that they’re on track to set a record. While Democrats have a plethora of top tier candidates coming forth, the Republicans have generally had a hard time getting their strongest contenders to run. Just recently, the top GOP Senate candidates in North Dakota and Ohio quit their races. It seems that the politicians know which way the wind is blowing.

However, there are some major obstacles in the way. Because U.S. senators serve six-year terms, the incumbents up for re-election in 2018 were elected in 2012, when Obama was re-elected and Democrats racked up victories in normally Republican states. Ten of the Democratic senators facing the voters this year are from states that Trump won and five are from states that Trump won by more than double digits. There are only a few vulnerable Republican Senate seats up for grabs.

On the House side, gerrymandered districts are a major impediment to Democratic wins. Republicans control the House now because of partisan redistricting. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court does the right thing and prohibits extreme partisan gerrymandering, it is very unlikely that their decision would come in time to give us fairer districts for this election. One bright note, however, is that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a new map in that state, which will reverse one of the worst partisan gerrymanders and will likely lead to several more seats for Democrats.

The Republicans can’t be expected to sit idly by. They will have virtually unlimited funds from the Koch brothers and other billionaires and large corporations to run a full-scale assault of negativity on Democratic candidates. We can also expect their allies, the Russians, to again be actively involved in dirty tricks to advance Republican candidates.

Things look promising for Democrats, but nothing is assured. We’ll have to do all we can to hatch them chickens!

This column was originally published by Madison’s Cap Times.

Spencer Black represented the 77th Assembly District for 26 years and was chair of the Natural Resources Committee. He currently serves as the vice president of the national Sierra Club and is an adjunct professor of urban and regional planning at UW-Madison

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

9 thoughts on “Op Ed: Democrats Beware Overconfidence”

  1. Troll says:

    Overconfidence hopefully retired in 2016. Bye, Hillary. Who spends million s of dollars on fireworks to shoot off in New York City? Answer Hillary.

  2. Terry says:

    I wouldn’t ever discount Career Politician Scott Walker and Republicans. They are as greasy, crooked and scheming as they come. They have gerrymandered the state (aka already cheated and stolen elections and our voting rights) and they changed the campaign finance laws so they can receive unlimited amounts of greasy out of state Dark Money from their mega rich donors. That said, cozying up to and appeasing and enabling Nazis, Confederates, racists, misogynists and crypto-fascists like Trump has never sat well with me. That’s why for the first time ever I will be voting straight Democrat.

    Dump Walker 2018

  3. Terry says:

    @Russian Troll, Who blows billions of dollars on a multi-decade long string of bankruptcies and failed real estate developments and then has to be “bailed out” by Russian oligarchs. Answer: Donald Trump
    Who blows 4.5 Billion of taxpayers’ money on corporate welfare for a Chinese company instead of building a teal economy? Answer: Career Politician Scott Walker

  4. Colin says:

    Overconfidence is what allowed GOP to win in 2016.
    Don’t let it happen again.

  5. Caligula says:

    Crooked Scott Walker and Republicans have already cooked up yet another election year scheme! Bribery!


    Dump Walker 2018

  6. Troll says:

    Iowa 2012 Obama over Romney. 5 points.
    Iowa 2016 Trump over Clinton 10 points.
    Democratic corporate party broke in 2015. Hillary bank rolls Democratic Party.

    Bernie Sanders ties Hillary Clinton in six caucus and it is determined the winner being a coin flip. Hillary wins all six coin flips which were determined by Democratic officials.


  7. Terry says:

    Hey Russian Troll!


    Trump has the lowest approval rating ever for any president at this point in their presidency for a REASON. He sucks.The worst ever. Trump. That’s right, the worst ever! How high is the rating mama? 37% and falling, just like the Trump stock market! Plunging…

    Dump Trump
    Dump Walker
    Free Wisconsin!

  8. Terry says:

    @Russian Troll, You are, once again, 100% WRONG! Still blaming Obama? Sad.
    Nice try though but try again…


    Or again…


    Or again…


    Need anymore? You sycophantic Big Government boot licking Nazi Republican ass clowns can’t deny reality forever! Trump’s approval rating was the LOWEST EVER for any president after 1 year! Fake news right? Pshaw! Trump sucks and America hates him. He has been a disaster for the country and we ALL deserve better. Republican rubes hitched their wagon to a Grade A crypto-fascist idiot and you all need to accept this act. Lowest approval rating ever!!

    Trump’s approval rating is currently at 37%! It’s pathetic, just like him. How low can it go? A whole lot lower the tighter the Mueller Investigation noose gets!! A little tighter everyday! Lol! Enjoy!

    Dump Trump!
    Dump Walker!
    Dump All Republicans!!

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