Analyzing What Tuesday’s Midterm Election Could Mean Locally, Statewide and Nationally

| November 6, 2018

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Tuesday’s midterm elections may be the most talked about midterm elections that most voters can remember.

There are plenty of reasons for that, including the polarization of today’s political climate.

But, what does it all mean? What can the outcomes be? What are the stakes?

All of those questions are nearly impossible for any one person, any one candidate, any one pundit to say.

Here is a look at what could be at stake and what Tuesday could look like – and an emphasis on the word “could” because predicting politics is a dangerous game.

LOCAL LEVEL

At the local level, there are actually no races in the midterm that can be called “local” per se like county commissioner or school board or borough/township council. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t “local” races.

In fact, in each of the three counties that the EYT Media sites cover, there are races for the state legislature.

The most prominent, or at least most talked about one, is in the 63rd District that covers all of Clarion County and portions of Armstrong and Forest Counties where incumbent Donna Oberlander, a Republican, is being challenged by Democratic newcomer Conrad Warner, a teacher at Keystone.

Warner has run an aggressive campaign and says he has knocked on over 2,500 doors in the district.

Oberlander has used social media to strengthen her campaign, using videos from local politicians and constituents to explain why she should be reelected.

ExploreClarion.com held a forum that was broadcast on the site for the race and invited both candidates to participate. Warner came and talked about his vision for the community. Obenrader had legislative commitments in Harrisburg, meeting with federal officials. She sent a representative to the forum on her behalf to read a prepared statement.

A Warner victory would be considered an upset considering Oberlander has been in Harrisburg for 10 years and was a Clarion County commissioner the previous four years prior to her election to the PA House.

The bigger question here is even if Warner doesn’t win, will he draw enough votes to influence how Oberlander handles her next two years in office. Is there a certain percentage of votes that would be seen by the long-time legislator as an understanding that her district isn’t 100 percent happy with the job she is doing. Or, is it even possible for a legislator to make everyone happy?

At the very least, it will be a closely watched outcome on Tuesday night.

The legislative races in both Venango County and Jefferson County don’t seem to be generating the interest like the one in Clarion County.

In Venango County, incumbent R. Lee James, a Republican, is running against Democratic challenger John Kluck for the 64th District seat, while in Jefferson County, incumbent Cris Dush, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Kerith Taylor, who has failed in the past to make much of a dent when running for state or national office.

There is also a U.S. House race between incumbent Glenn Thompson, a Republican, and challenger Susan Boser in the Pennsylvania 15th District. Nevertheless, fivethirtyeight.com gives Thompson a 99.9 percent chance of holding the seat considering the district is 40.5 percent more Republican than the national average.

STATE LEVEL

There are two statewide races that have drawn interest this year: the governor’s race between incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner and the United States Senate race between incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and Republican challenger Lou Barletta.

While interest seems high, polling on the races hasn’t been very extensive.

The last poll on the Governor’s race was done by Franklin & Marshall Oct. 22-28 and showed Wolf with a commanding 26-point lead (59 percent to 33 percent) with 8 percent undecided and a whopping 9.5 percent margin of error. So, if all the undecideds went to Wagner and the margin of error was all in favor of Wagner, that would reduce that to still an 8.5 percent lead for Wolf.

Is the race over?

Well, as the movie Animal House said: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” Of course, nothing is over until people actually go to vote.

The governor’s decision to run a “silent” campaign during a time of decent economics in the Commonwealth coupled with some gaffes from Wagner, including when he was caught saying Wolf should get a catcher’s mask because he was going to stomp all over his face, has definitely kept the race in Wolf’s corner. Add that to the fact that since the current Pennsylvania Constitution came into being in the late 1960s, only one incumbent governor has lost a re-election bid – that was when Wolf beat Tom Corbett four years ago – and, it looks fairly likely that Wolf will be reelected.

What does that mean? Probably more of the same in the Commonwealth.

The Republicans are likely if not guaranteed to hold both the PA House and Senate meaning at least two more years of divided government.

The biggest change when it comes to the governor’s election is in redistricting, which will come following the 2020 Census. Current Commonwealth law puts Congressional redistricting in the hands of the state legislature with the governor having the ability to veto it. That means if divided government is at hand a compromise will most likely have to be found for how the next Congressional districts in the Commonwealth will look. That is a big deal considering the Pennsylvania Supreme Courts tossed out the last redistricting and created the map itself because of what is considered to be unconstitutional gerrymandering.

The other statewide race that is being contested is the Senate race, which bleeds into the topic of how the midterm could affect things at the national level.

Casey has been a Senator since 2007 and has generally been well-liked in the state, partly because his late father was a loveable governor by the same name and partly because he has always been seen as a moderate on many issues and champions himself as a pro-life Democrat.

Barletta, like Wagner, has tried to dig deep into the passion that helped President Trump win Pennsylvania in 2016. But, like Wagner, the polls don’t look favorable for Barletta.

A poll taking by the Allentown Morning Call from Oct. 28 through Nov. 1 shows a 14-point (54-40) lead for Casey with 6 percent undecided and a margin of error of 5.5 percent. A poll taken by Franklin & Marshall Oct. 22-28 shows a 15 percent (50-35) lead for Casey, but with 15 percent undecided and a margin of error of 9.5 percent.

Either way, it would be considered an upset if Barletta unseated the two-term incumbent.

HOW THE MIDTERM COULD AFFECT THE NATIONAL LEVEL

In Washington, D.C., we will either have one-party control as we have had for the past two years, or we will go back to split-control.

The most likely outcome, according to most pundits, would be for the Democrats to regain control of the United States House of Representatives with the Republicans maintaining control of the United States Senate.

According to the election forecasting site, fivethirtyeight.com – and note that it is only a forecasting site – there is an 87.3 percent chance the Democrats retake the House and a 12.7 percent chance Republicans maintain the House.

The same site says the Republicans have an 83.3 percent chance of maintaining control of the United States Senate (to do so they could end up with a 50-50 split in the Senate with Vice-President Mike Pence being the tie-breaking vote, therefore, giving the party control) and a 16.7 percent chance the Democrats hold the Senate.

All of these predictions are based on current polling data from a number of different polls including Republican-leaning, Democratic-leaning, and independent polling organizations. But, as we saw in 2016, sometimes polls can be misleading, so that is why these are only projections or forecasts and not set in stone.

So, what happens if the projections are accurate?

Well, that is the million dollar question. No one really knows.

Both sides claim they know what would happen, but only time will tell.

If the Democrats gain control of the House, would opposition to President Trump’s agenda becoming fiercer? Could the Mueller Investigation of the President’s possible ties to Russia during the 2016 Presidential Election become more of a focus?

If the Republicans control both Houses of Congress what is the most likely outcome? Will there be another overhaul of Health Care? Will border security continue to be a hot-button topic?

The short answer to all of these questions is yes and no.

Yes, if Democrats win, the President will have to most likely play nicer if he wants anything to pass, although he could resort to more and more executive orders, a tactic taken by some presidents. He is signing an average of 48 executive orders per year, which is the most since Jimmy Carter signed an average of 80 per year when the Democrat was in office between 1977-81. So, if the Democrats present a roadblock for some of the President’s agenda, it is likely that he will sign more executive orders to pursue his agenda.

At the same time, President Trump is also very good at reading the tea leaves of politics, a lot better than his opposition gives him credit. He is perhaps one of the best politicians to ever do that. In fact, he is so good at it he has convinced a lot of people he isn’t a politician.

So, if the Democrats win the House, the President may decide that instead of doubling down on certain things that he will try to find common ground quietly while continuing the Twitter opposition that he has become so famous to keep his base happy.

If the Republicans maintain control of the House, it would be seen a reformation of the work the Party and the President have done for the past two years.

While Democrats would claim nothing has gotten done, that is a highly partisan viewpoint. It is more like, nothing they like has gotten done.

The country is very divided on issues like border security and taxes; so, about half the country is very pleased with what the Republicans have done and half is very unpleased. But, a win Tuesday would very likely be seen as a positive referendum on the current policies; so, expect more of the same over the next two years if Republicans maintain both the House and the Senate.

TURNOUT

What will Tuesday’s turnout look like? Who will have the advantage?

Historically, midterm elections don’t draw turnout the way Presidential elections do. But, with all the hype and all the focus this year, that could change.

Who does a high turnout help?

Most experts will say that a lower turnover helps the party in power while a higher turnout, especially this year a higher turnout by younger voters, could help the Democrats, whose stances seem to resonate with a higher percentage of younger voters than older voters.

Locally, we could be in for some rainy weather all day. And, rainy weather tends to drive turnout down, so it will be interesting to see if the weather plays a role at all on Tuesday.

Related Stories:

Midterm Election Guide
All Eye on Warner/Oberlander Race
Incumbent Republican Candidates Facing Off Against Democrat Challengers in Venango County
Incumbent Republican Candidates Facing Off Against Democrat Challengers in Jefferson County


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Category: Local News, News, Politics