Advantages and Disadvantages of Republican Party and Democratic Party
How it works
Over the years, American politics have become more and more of a divisive topic. But for some, it has become more of an interesting topic. No matter your political party, stance, or beliefs, people are starting to get more involved with politics. To most Americans, the 2016 Presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was very consequential and unprecedented compared to other elections throughout history. 2016’s Presidential contest left an impact on society as a whole, and American Politics will never be the same.
With the election of President Donald Trump, many people were disappointed with the Nation’s choice as Commander in Chief, and they knew that the midterms were the perfect chance to let their voices be heard.
In the 2018 midterm election, voter turnout was higher than it had been. Record numbers of people from both sides of the spectrum all over the United States went to go vote in the midterms. Not only because they wanted their preferred candidate to get elected into the House or the Senate but also to make a statement about the President, whether negative or positive. As many Americans saw coming, Democrats won control of the House. The Democratic Party winning the midterm was the Nation’s response to President Trump’s performance in office.
Starting the 2018 midterms, Republicans entered with the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. If less than 23 Republicans in the House won without even winning any seats, they would maintain the majority, and if they lost one of the nine Senate seats even without gaining any, they would maintain the majority in the Senate. Republicans already started the midterms ahead of the Democrats from a numeric standpoint. Another advantage Republicans had entering the midterms was the popularity, or in some cases, the unpopularity of Democratic Senators running for re-election.
Incumbent Senators like Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Bill Nelson of Florida, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Jon Tester of Montana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia all faced a tough race in states they had previously won, most of which losing to Republican challengers. Many states mentioned generally voting Republican. In an article from The Guardian, “Republicans have a huge advantage as they seek to hold or expand their 51-49 majority in the upper chamber, as the battle for control runs mostly through states Trump won in 2016” (“The Key Senate Races”). Issues like the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh were important to Republicans, as many Senators who voted against Kavanaugh lost re-election, and those who voted in favor of Kavanaugh won tight races. The odds of winning the House were in the Democrats’ favor, but the odds of winning the Senate were in the Republicans’ favor.
The biggest disadvantage facing Republicans in this midterm election was the fact that Donald Trump is the President. According to an article from CNN, “Trump is one of the most important issues to voters in the midterms. Forty-five percent said he was extremely important to how they’ll be voting for Congress in the August CNN poll” (Sparks). When voters that voted Democratic cast their ballots, a large amount voted as a vote against Trump rather than a vote for a candidate. Trump is a very disliked president whom many people do not agree with, and Americans voted Democratic in high numbers to show their disapproval of the President. Traditionally, the party of the President in power loses seats in the midterms.
This happened under Clinton, Bush, and Obama Presidencies. Another factor that is beginning to affect Republicans is that some states are starting to lean more Democratic in recent years. For example, a state like Colorado which has been considered a battleground state with one has voted Democratic in three consecutive presidential and gubernatorial elections. Texas has been a Republican stronghold since the 1970s and hasn’t elected a Democrat at the state level since 1994. This state held an extremely tight election between Ted Cruz and the Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. Nevada and Arizona, two battleground states that had traditionally voted Republican, both elected Democrats to succeed the Republican Senators choosing not to run again. This shift has led to Republicans finding a harder time winning elections in states they wouldn’t expect.
Democrats entered this election with a message of encouraging people to get out and vote, and it worked. For a midterm election, voter turnout was at an all-time high, with 47.5% of eligible voters casting a ballot. A large number of registered voters only vote every four years in the Presidential contest, but taking control of the House and Senate during the Trump Presidency was important to many Democrats that do not usually vote outside of the Presidential elections, that they voted in a new kind of election to them so they can let their voice be heard. With gun control, climate change, health care, abortion, national budget, and other topics, President Trump faces a lot of disagreement with Americans, Democrats in particular; people feel the need to stand up to Trump and will do so through a vote for a candidate who disagrees with the President.
Demographics favored Democrats as millennials, women, and minorities voted in high numbers to support Democratic candidates. Enthusiasm was high in electing record numbers of women and minorities into Congress. Two Native American women had been elected to be the first to serve in the House of Representatives, the first Muslim Congresswoman had been elected that night, the first black woman to represent the state of Massachusetts was elected, and Arizona and Tennessee had elected their first female Senators. One Hundred women will serve in the US House of Representatives. In addition to that, Colorado had elected the first openly gay governor in American history (Sabur & Alexander, pars. 7-8). Motivation to break these barriers encouraged thousands to cast their ballot.
The biggest hurdle that hit the Democrats this election was, in fact, who the Senators that were running for re-election were. Of the 35 expired seats in the Senate, 26 belonged to Democrats, while only nine belonged to Republicans. Republicans already had two more seats, which meant that Democrats would have to win 28 Senate elections in order to take the majority. Another factor was that the President had endorsed and helped campaign with Republican candidates, especially those in key states. The low amount of disadvantages worked out in the Democratic Party’s favor.
Although it would be considered that the Republicans lost the midterm elections, there were several major victories for the party. Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who had served in the US Senate since 2001, was defeated by Republican challenger Rick Scott in a battleground state. North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, and Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill were all defeated by Republican challengers. In addition, many Republican governors saw victory across the Nation.
Another notable aspect of these elections was the number of seats picked up by Democrats in the House and comparing them to other midterm elections. This midterm, Trump lost 39 seats. “In 2010, Obama lost 63 House seats…In 2014, Obama lost just 13 House seats, but he lost them in a House already packed with Republicans…in 2014, Obama lost the Senate” (Lockie). In 2006, President Bush lost both the House and Senate. Compared to past Presidencies, Trump lost fewer House seats than usual and gained seats in the Senate. To many Republicans, this is an accomplishment.
When it came to preparation for these midterm elections, both parties went above and beyond funding, campaigning, and backing the personality of their nominee. If an incumbent was vulnerable to not being able to win their seat for another term, the opposing party came together to back their candidate, knock down the incumbent, and win the office. To talk about funding, this was the highest-funded and most expensive midterm election in American history. The final cost of how much money was spent was 5.2 billion dollars. Both parties put a lot of money towards the Florida Senate race and even more money towards the Texas Senate race, making it the most expensive congressional election in history (Mayersohn, pars. 1, 4). In a very consequential midterm year under a very consequential presidency, both parties needed to go beyond the limit to secure their victories and help their party move forward.
After many tough and close nail-biting elections, and many political upsets, it is safe to say that the Democratic Party has won the 2018 midterm elections. The biggest and most obvious reason why Democrats would be considered the winners is that the party won control of the House. Democrats needed 23 seats to take control and won 39. Winning the House of Representatives is already a plus for the Democrats, but what makes it mean more is that it happened during the Trump Presidency. Democrats now have more power to stand up to the President than they had for the past two years of his term. Trump will now have more of an obstacle than he has ever had during his time in office.
Republicans in both chambers of Congress and in the Cabinet now have more opposition than they have had before during this Trump era. These factors are all a win for Democrats. Although there were elections all over the United States that Democrats have lost, the party’s performance in certain tight races is a good sign for Democrats. Suburban congressional districts across the country that have usually voted Republican are starting to show a Democratic trend in some areas. The Republicans in districts that haven’t been seeing a tougher challenge than what they are used to. An example of this happening is in the state of Kansas, the Second Congressional District, to be exact.
This district has always voted red, and the Republican candidates have always won overwhelming victories in past elections, but in this year’s congressional election, the Republican candidate only won 48.1% of the vote (270 to win, 2018 Senate ResultsKansas). This is just one election in one district. Many elections happened like this one all over the United States, which gives Democrats hope for the future in the chance of more red districts flipping. This could be due to the effect of Trump being in office and the disappointment that came with it.
Another election like this one in Kansas that happened on the state level and received attention nationwide was the battle for Texas Senator between Incumbent Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Beto O’Rourke. It has always been a dream of Democrats to flip the Lone Star State, and this was the closest they have ever been to doing so. Republicans in Texas usually have a safe shot at victory when running in statewide elections, but things were different for Senator Cruz. O’Rourke challenged Cruz for the Senate and had a lot of support behind him. This was, in some ways, a surprise since Cruz’s name was recognizable from being a Senator from the Union’s second most populous state and placing second in the Republican Presidential Nomination in 2016. However, many people in Cruz’s home state did not like him.
With O’Rourke’s high enthusiasm and likable personality, as well as the motivation to make Texas blue, O’Rourke being anti-Trump, and Cruz’s unpopularity, O’Rourke’s chances of winning were higher than one would imagine. With the vote going 50.9%-48.3% in Cruz’s favor, being one of the closest Senate races of the year in a state people would not expect, Beto O’Rourke almost gave America one of the biggest political upsets of its time. “While the Democrat gave Republican senator Ted Cruz a nail-biting election night, ultimately Mr. O’Rourke’s pro-immigration, pro-gun control, and pro-impeachment stance proved fatal in the deep-red state.” Even though he lost, Beto O’Rourke’s name is now on the national stage for being a progressive Democrat who came close to winning Texas.
A 2.6% gap in a statewide election gives Democrats faith that the state will one day turn blue. Taking back the US House of Representatives and closing the margin, and making more of a Democratic presence in red areas were ultimately why Democrats won the midterm election of 2018. A big contributor to these trends is people’s opinions on the performance and trust in President Trump. Many people chose to cast their vote as a vote against Republicans and against the President, regardless of where they lived or what their political views or previous voter trends were.
Moving forward, the National Government will be different than it has previously been now that there is a chamber of Congress under Democratic control in the Trump Presidency. Nancy Pelosi will most likely be handed back the gavel and once again become the United States Speaker of the House. The system of Checks and Balances will be used more, as President Trump will have more Congressmen and women keeping him in line and preventing him from signing bills that they don’t believe are just. Now, the Office of the President will only get harder for Trump. He will face more opposition than he usually had before. Now, policies like gun control, abortion, immigration, national budget, national defense, and arguably the most controversial to Congress, health care, are now in the hands of the Democrats.
Republicans take a different approach to all of these than Democrats do, so there will be a lot of disagreement within the House, disagreement between the House and Senate, and disagreement between the House and the Executive Branch. Another thing crossing Democrats’ minds now that they have the House is the possibility of impeachment. Many received votes on the basis of standing up to the President and would keep their word on it. With the opposite party of an unpopular president being in control of the House, there is more worry than usual.
An article published by The Independent states, “With Democrat control of the House, we can expect to see more calls to launch investigations into Mr. Trump’s scandals and controversies. This is simply because the Democrats — being the majority party—will have more money, staff, and control over the chamber’s committees” (Harvard). With that said Democrats now have their perfect shot at making impeachment possible. In summary, the year ahead will leave the Legislative and Executive Branches even more divided than they have already been.
In conclusion, with control of the House returning to the Democrats and the Democratic performing better in red states and districts, Democrats have won the 2018 midterms, and the biggest factor contributing to Democratic wins and Republican losses is the unpopularity and low approval of President Donald Trump. However, this election was not a blue wave as expected, but rather a blue ripple as Republicans gained seats in the Senate and Democrats have only a narrow lead over the Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Nation had seen this midterm being the biggest of its time for a while, as both parties prepared the best campaign staffs they could get, airing as many ads as possible and spending billions, making this year the costliest nonpresidential year.
The Republicans were able to take advantage of the low amount of Senate seats expiring on their side of the aisle and the amount of Democrat Senators in red states or unpopular Senators that they could take a stab at. Democrats had a lot more to take advantage of, including a high amount of enthusiastic and determined candidates, listening to a nation’s request for change and encouraging them to vote to do so, changing demographics across the country, and the, biggest of all, a common enemy: the President. If Hillary Clinton or another Republican nominee had won the Presidency in 2016, these midterms would have taken a different route. There would be less motivation for Democrats to take back the House and Senate and get Republicans out of office. Overall, after an election fueled by the opposition, the people of the United States must accept the results and come together as one under a new Congress for the coming years.