Budowsky: Anti-Trump wave in 2018?

Budowsky: Anti-Trump wave in 2018?
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There is a high probability that in the midterm elections of 2018, a substantial wave of voters will turn out in large and potentially unprecedented numbers to register their opposition to President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE and his supporters in the Republican House and Senate.

Trump remains the most unpopular and distrusted new president in the history of presidential polling. Trump and Republicans in Congress are trapped together in a Gordian knot. Trump has political ownership of Republicans in Congress, and they have political ownership of him in the eyes of voters.

It is important to understand the fundamental difference between presidential elections and midterm elections.  A presidential election decides who will lead the nation, and in what big-picture direction. A midterm election, by contrast, is a “yes or no” referendum passing judgment on the party in power.


The last three midterm elections brought landslide wave victories for the “out” party. In 2006, the wave election catapulted Democrats to power in Congress as a reaction against the presidency of George W. Bush.  In 2010 and 2014, the wave elections similarly catapulted Republicans to power in Congress as a reaction against the presidency of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Live coverage: Heitkamp faces Cramer in high-stakes North Dakota debate MORE.

Historically, the first midterm election of a new president almost always results in the party of that president losing seats in Congress. The last three midterms have imposed extreme losses on the party of the incumbent president.

Because of the size and intensity of widespread public disapproval of Trump, which is unprecedented since the presidency of Richard Nixon, the odds favor the 2018 midterms following the pattern of elections in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

It is true that in the 2018 Senate elections, far more Democratic seats are in play than GOP seats, and that gerrymandering after the 2010 census gives Republicans an edge.  But what makes wave elections different is that extremes in public opinion and extremes of voter intensity against incumbent presidents or parties override all other factors and lead to stunning upsets.

There will be an anti-Trump wave in 2018.  The only question is whether it is a gigantic and titanic wave which, if current trends continue, as they probably will, is likely.

Words cannot fully express the magnitude of increased turnout from anti-Trump voters in 2018, many of whom feel continuing anger and rage about how Trump was elected with the support of a Russian dictator, after the grotesquely shameful intervention of the FBI director, followed by the attempt by Republicans to steal a Supreme Court seat by refusing to even consider the exceptionally qualified nominee of former President Obama.

Nor can words fully express the increased turnout that is coming in 2018 from anti-Trump voters who angry, alarmed and fearful of a president and Republican Congress who are taking the nation in a far different direction than most voters supported in 2016.

These voters are sickened and frightened by a president who foments racial and religious intolerance and calls political opponents and leading media the “enemies of the people,” mirroring language used by foreign dictators, not American presidents.

The Trump base, which represents less than 40 percent of voters, is radically at odds with the rest of the nation.

Take ObamaCare. According to a new Marist poll, 60 percent of Americans want ObamaCare to remain as it is or become more progressive. Only 36 percent want ObamaCare repealed or made more conservative.

Take immigration, tax cuts for the wealthy, attacks against climate change science, deregulation of big banks, public education and attacks against Medicare, Social Security and consumer protection — all issues where the majority stands with Democrats and against the Trump or GOP base.

If Republicans escalate their attacks against popular programs, the anti-Trump wave will swell to titanic heights and the Tea Party-like sieges at GOP town meetings will look like dinner parties in Georgetown by comparison.

To paraphrase James Carville: it’s the turnout, stupid, that will bring the wave that will take back the country from Trump.


Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.