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Blue Wave or Blue Ripple?

Don Rose 1 November 2018 No Comment

A couple of weeks ago I was happily surfing on the expected “blue wave” that would deliver the House of Representatives back to the Democrats–and even had muted hopes for the Senate.  Reinforced by Nate Silver’s usually reliable predictions on 538, I foresaw something like 35 seats being flipped with the possibility of another 10 or 20 if the wave became a tsunami.

   Now, a week from the midterms, I see signs on the horizon that could make it a closer race with the possibility–though not the likelihood–of falling a seat or two short of the 23 needed to win Not trying to be Donny Doomspeak, but we ought to be cognizant.

77ripple

   Item: Trump’s positive rating rose to the all-time high of 47 percent in a respected poll–though he was still under water with negatives of 49 percent. No other poll has confirmed that number, but since the essence of the midterms is a referendum on the incumbent, rising ratings are not a good sign.

   Why the rise?

   It’s the economy, stupid. Getting palpably better with lower unemployment, though wages have not risen proportionately. Another issue is a few trade deals that look good to many–though most of the salvos in Trump’s trade war hurt his base.

   Then there is immigration,  long a wedge issue, inflamed by the “caravan” of 7,000 Central American asylum seekers wending its way through Mexico. For more than a week we were treated to shots of that endless stream of migrants crossing a bridge–the perfect visual to plump up Trump’s scary lies about an “invasion” of undesirables including dreaded Middle Easterners and MS13 killers.

    Never mind that there’s no evidence of either. Never mind that past caravans, though smaller, dissipated at the border, or that the migrants were seeking legal asylum, not illegal entry. Only a couple thousand were actually granted asylum after long waits–but yes, a handful possibly slipped in improperly.

   The bridge  image was scary to a lot of people, egged on by Trump’s lies about how the Democrats are behind the whole thing because they want “open borders” so the “illegals” will become Dem voters. His fear-mongering apparently won some support .

   And don’t forget voter suppression.

   Polls show the Repubs narrowed the “enthusiasm gap,” and while early voting shows record turnouts, an ominous sign is that some reports indicate the Reds outnumbered the Blues. Too soon to say if this holds.

   The Trump-loving bomb-maker episode quickly took TV’s cameras off  the caravan and his exposure reflected badly on his idol. Now, a horrendous mass slaying at a Pittsburg synagogue puts anti-Semitism to the fore. The media focus may not return to immigration this week.

   Also on the plus side, health care–particularly insurance for people with preconditions–may help Dems overcome immigration fears. At the moment, Silver still says Ds have a 6 in 7 chance to win the House–though the Senate is 1 in 7.

   Just sayin’ work a little harder and donate a few more bucks if you don’t want that wave to melt into a ripple.

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Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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