Trump rallied the wrong base

Trump rallied the wrong base
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The midterm results were predictable. Democrats gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives while the GOP maintained its hold on the Senate.

The GOP managed to keep the Senate because of the larger Democratic exposure and the rural nature of the states with competitive races. The media’s national exit poll was a national survey that reflected the big Democratic victory on the House side.

There’s a wealth of data in the national Election Day exit poll. Here are four nuggets, I extracted from the data mine.


What went wrong for the GOP? Donald TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE.

Trump will blame the GOP’s loss of the House on everyone and everything but himself. But the plain and honest truth is a midterm election is a referendum on the president. The national exit poll indicated that a clear majority of voters disapproved of Trump’s performance. Almost half of the electorate strongly disapproved of the president’s performance.

Two in three voters said that Trump was a major factor in their decision. Four in 10 voters indicated they voted against Trump while a quarter said their vote was to support the president. The 2016 election was a race between Trump and Clinton while 2018 was referendum on Trump. Trump s hurt himself during his presidency more than Clinton hurt him during the 2016 campaign

Trump had a chance to gloat when he managed to get Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughCollins downplays 2020 threat: 'Confident' re-election would go well if she runs The exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' MORE through the Senate onto the Supreme Court. But the nomination battle hurt the GOP Tuesday. A plurality of voters opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation. An overwhelming number of voters want the Supreme Court to protect Roe v Wade, which may be in danger now that the high court has a conservative majority.

The administration’s rough and tumble foreign policy also was a concern for voters. Almost half of the voters said they felt less safe as a result of the president’s conduct of international relations. Only a quarter of the electorate said that Trump’s trade policies had helped them.


Obama’s Revenge.

Health care — which was a big loser for the GOP — was a big winner with voters. The issue was the No. 1 priority for voters. Four in 10 voters said health care was the most important factor in their decisions. Voters were much more likely to be worried about health care than they were about immigration. Seven in 10 voters indicated they favored major changes in the health care system.

The GOP effectively repealed ObamaCare without replacing it. The coverage of pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act gave working families peace of mind. The GOP stubbornly refused to deal with those concerns and the party paid the price Tuesday.

Trump’s demagogic and xenophobic appeals failed because bankruptcy as a result of a serious family medical problem is a much more immediate concern than a caravan of immigrants hundreds of miles from the U.S.- Mexico border. 

Trump Lite Economy-More Jobs, Less Pay

The economy should have been a big advantage for Trump and the GOP but it didn’t work out way. Both health care and immigration were bigger voter concerns. Two out of every three voters said the economy was in good or excellent shape but that didn’t shape vote choices. Only half of the voters who said the economy was in good shape voted for Republican congressional candidates.

Sluggish wage growth and surging inflation have left most Americans worse off financially than they were in 2000. Only a third of the voters stated that their financial situation had improved in the last two years.

The monthly increase in jobs that Trump is so proud of obscures the problems middle class Americans continue to have making their monthly mortgage payments, feeding their families, paying medical bills and planning for retirement. 

At a campaign rally on Nov. 1 in Missouri, Trump said “this election is a choice between Republican results and radical resistance” But the president’s only major congressional success was the passage of his tax cut plan.

But the tax law wasn’t the life preserver the GOP thought it would be. Only three in 10 voters stated the tax had helped them financially. The tax law generated a massive increase in the federal budget deficit which in turn led to Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE’s clumsy attempt to blame the red ink on spending for Medicare and Social Security.

Trump rallied the base but it was the wrong base.

Since the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump efforts were geared to motivate the base. Well, he did motivate the base but it was the Democratic base he revved up.

The president’s divisive rhetoric brought millions of new voters into the electorate. A tenth of Tuesday’s electorate were people who didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential race. These new voters supported Democratic congressional candidates by a three to one margin.

The hostility of women towards Trump translated into a Democratic House majority.  Only a bare majority of male voters supported GOP congressional candidates while a large majority of women voted Democratic.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at, a social media network for politics.