DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Grim Tidings for the GOP Midterm

11th January 2018

Steven Hayward wrings his hands.

Political scientists can point to a lot of evidence from past election cycles that one early sign that a party is facing a rout at the next election is a wave of incumbent retirements. In the last two days two senior Republican House members in California have announced that they will retire this year: Darrell Issa, and Ed Royce. Issa, based near San Diego, has just barely hung on to his seat in the last couple of election cycles, and Royce’s Orange County seat has been looking more marginal for a long time. California Republicans are going to be hard pressed to hold these two seats. (Incidentally, term limit rules adopted back in the Gingrich years may have played a role in these decisions. Both Issa and Royce would lose their committee chairmanships next year even if re-elected.)

A lot of normally intelligent right wing commenters have been getting the vapors about the 2018 mid-term elections, and most of it (as here) makes mountains out of molehills. Two Republican Congressmen having troubles in ever-increasingly Democrat California is not the same as a ‘wave of incumbent retirements’. Looking at trends is fine so long as the trends represent actual facts on the ground, and can be very misleading if you just cut-and-paste from the past to the present without making sure that the shoe fits this time.

People have have also been jittery about the President’s ‘low approval ratings’, ignoring the fact that (a) these are all polls run by people who oversample Democrats (you can look it up), and so will be worse than reality (the same polls showed Hillary getting a landslide a year ago, if you’ll remember), and (b) Trump isn’t seen as some sort of avatar of Republicanism the way that Presidents like Reagan and the Bushes were, so there’s a disconnect that makes such conventional wisdom inapplicable in the Age of Trump.

Trump is Getting Stuff Done and dragging Congress along behind him, and any Republican who is worried about re-election just needs to get with that program. The ones who are in trouble are the anti-Trumpers like Jeff Flake, and I have absolutely no problems with them retiring and letting an actual Republican try for that seat.

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