Biggest election winner? Polarization in America

Biggest election winner? Polarization in America
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In looking at all of the polling available, it is clear that, to the extent that there is any momentum in the midterm elections, it is now marginally — and I underscore marginally — to the Republicans, at least certainly where the Senate is concerned. When we began the fall election cycle, we had thought that there was at least some chance that the Democrats would win the Senate. That outcome now seems unlikely. Republicans hold clear leads in Senate races in Texas, Tennessee, and North Dakota, all of which were considered at one point to be in play for the Democrats.

In Texas, Republican Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all' O'Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers O'Rourke: Being a white male not a disadvantage in 2020 Dem field MORE has expanded his over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke to a comfortable margin after several weeks during which the race was thought to be a potential pickup for the Democrats, especially given the historic fundraising levels that O’Rourke achieved. In Tennessee, where Republican Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTaylor Swift says she wants to get more involved in politics Bipartisan lawmakers introduce resolution supporting vaccines Hillicon Valley: Cohen stuns Washington with testimony | Claims Trump knew Stone spoke to WikiLeaks | Stone, WikiLeaks deny | TikTok gets record fine | Senators take on tech over privacy MORE and Democrat Phil Bredesen were virtually in tied in the polls earlier this month, Blackburn now leads Bredesen by just over six points.

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In North Dakota, Republican Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOvernight Health Care: Dems demand answers on rule targeting Planned Parenthood | Senators tell FDA to speed approval of generic insulin | Nearly 8 in 10 say drug prices are 'unreasonable' in new poll Senators tell FDA to speed up approvals of generic insulin Trump applauded for walking away from 'bad' North Korea deal MORE has expanded his lead over Democrat Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampAnnual scorecard ranks GOP environmental efforts far below Dems in 2018 Overnight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE by 10 points over the last five weeks, with the latest poll putting Kramer at 56 percent and Heitkamp at 40 percent. This seat was considered to be very much in play for Democrats just weeks ago. The two other most likely Democratic targets are races that are now both within the margin of error. In Nevada, Republican Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE is now neck and neck with Democrat Jackie Rosen. In Arizona, Republican Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyRepublicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump Shanahan grilled on Pentagon's border wall funding McSally to back Trump on emergency declaration MORE is virtually tied with Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

Barring the unforeseen, it appears likely that the Republicans will gain one or two seats in the Senate, and the worst case for them is that they will keep their 51 seats. The House is a different story. It seems unlikely there will be a blue wave, as estimates by Real Clear Politics show a Democratic pickup of about 26 seats, with Five Thirty Eight estimating a pickup of 36 seats. My own sense is that there will be a gain of around 28 seats for Democrats, though there is at least the possibility that Republicans, should there be the red wave which Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE has spoken of, could well narrowly hold the House, but I would tend to doubt that.

Ultimately, the Democratic campaign has been without a positive message, and has been essentially just based on opposition to the president, which was much more effective when his approval rating was close to 40 percent than it is now that his average approval rating is closer to 45 percent and going up in most polls. Similarly, the generic vote for Congress, which had been in some polls as high as double digits, has gotten down to about six or seven points for the Democrats, with some polls estimating this to be even lower single digits.

Indeed, my own sense is that the Democrats, in not having a coherent position on immigration and not having a solid narrative against the Republicans on the economy, have been playing largely defense and running individual campaigns on local issues, and using overarching opposition to Trump to unify the disparate voices in the party.

Still, even with the Democratic victory of a narrow majority in the House, the new session of Congress will begin almost certainly investigations of the president and the possibility of a reinvestigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGeorgia's heartbeat abortion bill is dangerous for women nationwide Senate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court Battle over Trump's judicial nominees enters new phase MORE, along with the introduction of legislation for things such as Medicare for all, a guaranteed job for all Americans, and a strengthening of ObamaCare. Put another way, my best expectation is that the polarization we have seen now is just the beginning.

While I have argued in these pages as passionately as a I can for civility, my fear is that we will not achieve it even in the wake of bombings and shootings. After the midterm elections, we will face heightened polarization and division between a narrowly Democratic House and a narrowly Republican Senate that will further lead to gridlock and only will make America even more vulnerable to our mobilized and empowered allies, whether they be Russia or China or North Korea or Iran. I am pessimistic, and my sense is that my pessimism will become even more justified in the aftermath of these historic midterm elections.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”