To many Americans, it feels like just yesterday when President Donald J. Trump was elected and inaugurated. But, it’s an even year, which means the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, as well as select senators. Tulsa and the surrounding areas have an important decision to make in the 1st Congressional District.
Jim Bridenstine, who represents Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District, has term-limited himself to three terms and has been nominated for a position within the Trump administration at NASA. His decision has led to an open election for his current position. Bridenstine’s district encompasses ORU and all of Tulsa County. According to year-end reports with the Federal Election Commission, Republican businessman Kevin Hern led all candidates in fundraising during the fourth quarter of 2017. Andy Coleman was second, followed by former ORU professor Tim Harris, Nathan Dahm and Danny Stockstill. No Democrats have announced their candidacy.
Nationally, the senators up for reelection are Democrats Bill Nelson, Joe Donnelly, Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey and Tammy Baldwin. The common denominator between all the candidates is they are all Democrats from states where Trump won. Particularly, Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin are facing pressure after certain pollsters have their seats leaning Republican. And according to USA Today, the senatorial elections in states like Florida and Wisconsin are still leaning blue.
Meanwhile, there are numerous Republicans in the House who represent counties where Hillary Clinton beat Trump. In Orange County, California, there are four Republican-controlled districts where Clinton won. Representatives Ed Royce and Darrell Issa are Republicans who are retiring from districts which now lean blue.
Traditionally, midterm elections are not beneficial for the party in control of the White House. Most recently in 2010, Barack Obama’s approval ratings were below 50 percent, and Democrats lost 63 seats, which was the worst by a party in the White House since World War II. History would indicate losses for the GOP in the 2018 election.
“Given the president’s low approval rating, given the historical likelihood, it’s more often than not that the majority party loses seats at the midterm,” said ORU Chair and Associate Professor of History, Humanities and Government Curtis Ellis.
According to a Real Clear Politics Average, Democrats are leading the generic ballot by eight points, which is projected to give them 30 seats back, which is six more than what Democrats need to regain the majority.
Despite lots of polls and history indicating a big win for Democrats, a recent report from Fox News indicates Congressional Republicans have a sense of optimism. At a GOP retreat in West Virginia, Trump slammed Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi after she called bonuses for Americans in their paychecks as “crumbs.”
“She called it crumbs, when people are getting $2,000 and $3,000 and $1,000. That is not crumbs. That is a lot of money,” said Trump at the 2018 House and Senate Republican Member Conference.
Pelosi’s comments have sparked a GOP firestorm where Republicans have begun using her comments as fuel on the midterm campaign trail.
At the state level, many governorships are up for grabs. In Illinois, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is running for re-election in a state where Clinton won handily. Recent polling coming out of the state show his approval rating around 30 percent, and nearly 55 percent say they disapproved of his performance.
A similar scenario is happening in New Mexico where Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is term-limited, and Democrats are feeling confident they can secure the governorship where Clinton won the state by eight points in 2016.
In a state which elects governors and presidents by very close margins, Florida, according to Politico, is “difficult to predict.” Heavily crowded primaries on both sides of the aisle have led to Florida’s gubernatorial race being hotly contested. Polling from the Florida Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 11 shows Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam leading among Republicans, and former congresswoman Gwen Graham leading Democrats.
“The numbers for or against Republicans in different states have moved dramatically favorable, where two months ago there was a much lower rating,” said Sen. James Lankford.