Tag Archives: midterm election

Big early vote = big total vote? Maybe, maybe not!

I love the chatter about the huge early vote in states that have opened up balloting for the 2018 midterm election.

They say that more than 4.3 million Americans have cast their ballots already, signaling — perhaps, maybe, possibly — a huge increase in total vote turnout.

Excuse my skepticism, but I need to wait for Election Day to make that determination.

I detest early voting as it is. I prefer to vote on Election Day, standing in line, giving some semblance of the pageantry that goes along with voting.

I am likely to wait until Nov. 6 to cast my ballot in Collin County.

Experience tells me that a big boost in early voting doesn’t necessarily translate into a big boost in total turnout. These early-voting statistics tell me that it well might mean only that more voters are casting their ballots early than waiting until Election Day.

Oh, how I hope I’m mistaken this time around.

A big turnout at minimum suggests that Democratic and Republican “base” votes are energized to the hilt. Democrats want to seize control of both congressional chambers, but likely will have to settle for taking control of the House. Republicans want Donald Trump to continue his agenda and believe a GOP-controlled House will enable him to proceed without the fear of getting impeached.

Are these external dynamics going to fuel a huge midterm/off-year election turnout? That remains to be seen, quite obviously.

My belief for years is that representative democracy works best with more voters taking part. I hate the idea of letting someone else determine who sets public policy that affects all of us. I love voting for president … and for members of Congress, the Legislature, and for municipal and county government.

Still, I am not going to salute the expected huge turnout in this year’s midterm election.

At least not quite yet.

Is this the year midterm turnout blows up?

Americans generally take far less interest in midterm elections than they do in presidential elections, not that presidential election years are much to brag about.

Sure, about 60 percent of Americans vote for president. When it comes to voting on those “off years” for members of the U.S. House and Senate, the turnout drops off considerably.

There’s some chatter in states that have opened early voting for this year’s midterm election that turnout might actually approach presidential election year numbers.

That would be a very good thing.

As important as it is to elect presidents, it’s the congressional races that produce more of a direct impact on people’s lives.

In Texas, the top of our ballot includes a race for the Senate that is generating a lot of interest: Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging Republican Ted Cruz for Cruz’s Senate seat. O’Rourke is drawing big rally crowds; Cruz is going to campaign next week with the president of the United States.

The issue for O’Rourke is whether the interest he is spurring will produce big vote totals on Election Day. The jury is still out on that one. Indeed, Democrats are beginning to worry out loud that they won’t.

Still, Texas’s vote turnout performance lags at or near the bottom of the 50 states in these midterm cycles.

Oh, how I want that to change.

Maybe it will, given the stakes. Many millions of Americans — including me — want Democrats to take control of Congress to act as a check against the Donald Trump agenda. The House might flip from GOP to Democratic control; the Senate remains a much steeper hill to climb.

However, the turnout looks as though it will exceed recent midterm election percentages. Hey, it’s a start.

Just remember: Trump actually won in 2016

It is useful to put a few things in perspective as we watch the 2018 midterm election campaign reach its merciful conclusion.

The “Blue Wave” that everyone is saying will happen well might develop. A lot of Republican-held seats in the House of Representatives are going to flip to Democratic control. I am willing to buy into that notion. What I am not yet certain about is whether there will be enough of a flip to hand control of the lower chamber to the Democrats.

Yeah, I know. All the pundits, experts, prognosticators and talking heads say the wave will sweep the GOP out of control of the House. Democrats will take the gavel for the first time since 2011, they say.

Sure. I hope so. I do not like the direction that Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans are taking the country. I want at least one congressional chamber to belong to the other party.

The Senate remains even more iffy for Democrats.

I had some hope that Beto O’Rourke was going to win a Senate seat in Texas from Ted Cruz. My throbbing trick knee tells me it ain’t gonna happen. It’ll be close, or so they say. I’m not predicting anything, mind you. My predicting days are over. They should have ended long before the 2016 presidential election.

Which brings me to the final point.

Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 upset all the predictors’ expectations. How in the name of Electoral College victory he did it remains a bit of a mystery to me. I do recognize that he tapped into some wellspring of resentment that had been gathering in voters’ hearts. He talked their language. He spoke directly to them.

Not to me. I am just a single voter sitting out here in Flyover Country/Trump Land.

But I am going to recognize that for a first-time politician — remember that Trump never campaigned for a single public office before seeking the presidency — Trump is beginning to master the art of revving up his base. Moreover, he has hijacked the heart and soul of a once-great political party and turned it into something no one recognizes as the actual Republican Party.

It’s a sickening development. However, it’s real. And it gives me pause as the midterm campaign staggers to its finish.

I am hoping for the best. I won’t fear for the worst. I just believe the country might have to settle for something in between. What should be a Democratic tsunami could become something less formidable.

Why? Because the Republicans are led by a demagogue who has persuaded them that it’s somehow OK to have a president who doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.

Trump adviser: Don’t listen to ‘experts’ Blue Wave prediction

It’s not every day that you’ll read words of agreement from High Plains Blogger regarding senior Donald Trump administration adviser Kellyanne Conway.

However, she makes an important point. The same “experts” who are predicting a “Blue Wave” in this  year’s midterm election also predicted a Hillary Clinton landslide victory in 2016. Conway, who was Trump’s presidential campaign manager, reminds us that the election didn’t turn out the way the “experts” predicted it would.

Her message? Don’t listen to the prognosticators because, she says, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

You haven’t heard me predict a Democratic wipeout of Republicans in 2018. I’ve expressed some hope it would happen.

Trump’s victory two years ago caught a lot of observers by complete surprise. I was one of them who was shocked and dismayed by what transpired in November 2016. It also taught me a lesson: Don’t ever in a million years count Donald Trump out when he’s in the middle of a political brawl.

I’m not sure about the size of the Democratic wave that is forming out there. The Brett Kavanaugh hearing about his confirmation to the Supreme Court supposedly galvanized and energized the Trump GOP “base.” It also did the same thing to the Democrats’ base as well.

The question: Which political “base” is more organized as well as being more passionate about who controls Congress?

I suggest we take Kellyanne Conway’s advice to heart and understand that the “experts” who thought Hillary Clinton would win just might be blowing smoke in advance of the midterm election.

Then again … I hope they’re right and Conway is wrong.

Willie gets flak for backing Beto? Shocking!

Willie Nelson wants to play a free concert to gin up support for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.

And to think that some Texans — maybe many of them — are upset that the Red-Headed Stranger would be backing O’Rourke in his bid to defeat Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the upcoming midterm election.

Shocking, I tell ya. Simply shocking that Nelson would back a Democrat.

Who did these critics suspect Nelson would back. Is he going to go with Cruz, the stuffed-shirt conservative? Hardly.

This backlash against Willie Nelson’s support for O’Rourke is hilarious to me. Nelson has made no secret of his support for progressive politicians and policies during his many years as a top-tier entertainer and occasional political activist.

Sure, he hails from Abbott, a Central Texas town full of God-fearing political conservatives. Does that mean ol’ Willie is going to follow along? Of course it doesn’t mean that at all.

Nelson appeared on “The View” talk show this week. “I love flak,” he said. “We’re not happy ’til they’re not happy.”

“Everybody has an opinion,” he added added. “Everybody has a right to an opinion. I think I have one too.”

So, let the man sing and play that old guitar — the one that looks as though it’s been run over by a diesel tractor — on behalf of Beto O’Rourke.

His fans ought to give their protest over Nelson’s support of Beto a rest. What in the name of country croonin’ did they expect?

Blowing smoke, or is Beto the real deal?

Mick Mulvaney, budget director for the Donald Trump administration, has sounded a serious alarm bell.

He has told Republican faithful that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas could lose his attempt at being re-elected. He said Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke poses a serious threat to the Cruz Missile (my description, not his … obviously).

How does one take this? Is it an attempt to gin up support among Republicans who until now had been sitting on their hands? Or is it a legitimate concern from a key Trump aide who think one of the GOP’s once-safest seats might be in serious jeopardy?

I cannot assess the motive behind Mulvaney’s assessment.

Mulvaney sounds the alarm

I’m not close to any political movements these days. I rely on what I see and hear in the media, or what I see on the street as I make my way through life.

I keep hearing about O’Rourke’s astonishing welcome in the Texas Panhandle, where I used to live. I hear about all the O’Rourke lawn signs showing up in tony old-money neighborhoods — such the Wolflin neighborhood in Amarillo — where residents have traditionally voted Republican.

Here, in Collin County, I’m not yet seeing evidence of this O’Rourke phenomenon. I drive through neighborhoods and I see a smattering of O’Rourke lawn signs, but nothing like the volume I hear about cropping up in Amarillo. I will add, though, that Cruz signs are quite rare, so perhaps there’s some anecdotal evidence of an O’Rourke “surge” in the final two months of the Senate campaign.

Yes, I have seen the polls. The race appears to be a dead heat. There remain, though, a large body of undecided voters, or at least those voters who aren’t yet ready to tell pollsters how they intend to vote. They remain the big prize awaiting to be lured either by Cruz or O’Rourke political machines.

Back in Washington, the budget director says Cruz could lose this contest.

I hope he’s right.

This election really might be one for the ages

It seems that every two years politicians declare the upcoming election — whether for president or for Congress — to be the “most important election in our lifetime.”

Barack Obama joined that chorus today. Others have said that the 2018 midterm election is the most consequential election in memory.

The more I think about it, they might be right. This midterm election might be the most important such event we’ve seen in some time.

Think of the stakes. A president seems to careening out of control. Congress stands as a possible deterrent to the president’s most dangerous impulses. The House of Representatives well might shift from Republican to Democratic control.

What happens if the House flips from GOP to Democratic? Hearings. Lots of hearings. That “Russia thing” will take an even more prominent place on center stage.

So … yes. This election seems like a real big deal.

Maybe the biggest ever?

Cruz gets blowback from criticizing O’Rourke’s potty mouth

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign is trying to paint challenger Beto O’Rourke as a potty-mouthed punk who drops f-bombs at random.

Social media response has been, well, a bit different from what the Cruz campaign expected. The revelation seems to be making the Democratic challenger seem more cool.

This mini-tempest makes me laugh and it reminds me of something that happened back in my hometown of Portland, Ore., during a race for the mayor’s office.

Incumbent Mayor Frank Ivancie’s 1984 re-election campaign dug up a 1978 picture of a challenger, Bud Clark — owner of the legendary downtown Park Blocks watering hole the Goose Hollow Inn — “exposing himself” before a statue. The picture showed Clark with his back to the camera pulling open a trench coat with the caption “Expose Yourself to Art.”

Ivancie, a man with no discernible sense of humor, thought the picture would doom Clark’s insurgent candidacy. It did precisely the opposite. It called attention to the challenger and — no pun intended — exposed Ivancie to be a stuffed-shirt prude.

Clark won the election, defeating Ivancie.

So, with that I want to hail the attempt by Sen. Cruz’s team to make Beto O’Rourke out to be a young man with a foul mouth. It well might produce the same result that occurred in Portland so many years ago.

Trump displays limitless amount of inappropriateness

Donald J. Trump amazes me, if you can believe that.

The president’s willingness to inject himself into ongoing legal investigations is utterly astonishing. He keeps firing off Twitter messages that seek to coerce, intimidate and bully federal investigators looking into government corruption.

And, oh yes, he continues to undermine the Department of Justice’s professional prosecutors as well as the attorney general, the man he appointed to lead the DOJ.

The Justice Department has charged U.S. Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, two Republicans — one from New York, the other from California — on corruption allegations. Trump doesn’t like that, given that he, too, is a member of the GOP.

He tweeted this: Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……

So, in effect, Trump is saying that Sessions and the Justice Department shouldn’t do their jobs. They shouldn’t proceed where the evidence takes them. They need to place the protection of the GOP majority in Congress ahead of the law on the eve of the midterm election coming up in November.

Good, ever-lovin’ grief, man!

I keep having to stipulate that although I am no fan of Sessions, he doesn’t deserve the constant harangue he is getting from the president. So damn what if Collins and Hunter were early and vocal supporters of Donald Trump? That doesn’t exempt them from law enforcement investigation when evidence surfaces that implicates them. DOJ gumshoes are doing the job they signed on to do.

I am sickened to the max at Trump’s continuing inappropriate use of Twitter to attack the Department of Justice, a key executive branch agency. Doesn’t the president realize that he is the chief executive of the federal government?

I have to ask, moreover, this question: If the president is so innocent of the questions being leveled against him, why does he keep acting like a guilty individual?

You want ‘contact’ in politics? Wait for midterm election result

The late great U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas used to call politics a “contact sport,” especially as it was practiced in the Lone Star State.

With the midterm election approaching quickly, it appears as though the political climate in Washington is going to get a good bit more “contact oriented” than it already has become — if that is possible.

I offer this bit of information with extreme caution. The “experts” who suggest that Democrats are looking more likely to take control of at least one congressional chamber, the House of Representatives, also “predicted” Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the 45th president of the United States.

They missed that one.

Suppose, though, that the Democratic Party does take the gavel from the Republicans. What do you suppose will happen?

Let me ponder that.

We must not rule out impeachment of the current president of the United States. Donald Trump is facing a bushel basket of trouble in the months after the midterm election.

What’s more, there well might be a lot of congressional hearings as newly constituted House committees — with Democratic chairs — summoning witness after witness to look into whatever they damn well want to examine.

Yep, payback is a bitch — ain’t it?

Republicans saw fit to examine that matter called “Benghazi” seemingly forever. Then we had that email matter. The Benghazi probe produced nothing incriminating, nor did the email kerfuffle.

So, what might the Democrats do in return?

It’s anyone’s guess. Go ahead and speculate, if you wish.

I’m betting it’s going to get a lot less fun for Republicans once the smoke clears from Midterm Election Day — presuming, of course, that the experts are right … this time!

If they are, get ready for a whole lot of blocking and tackling in the nation’s capital.