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Outsiders vs. Insiders: 2018 elections a wakeup call to the ruling class regardless of outcome

How long will it last?

The thought was on the mind of all Republican voters on November 9, 2016, the “morning after” now-President Donald Trump pulled off one of the most unanticipated upsets in American political history. Trump’s vanquished Trump Choose the Futurefoe – Democrat Hillary Clinton – was not only favored to prevail in the last quadrennial presidential election, she was practically crowned the victor before voters even went to their precincts the previous day.

Prior to the election opinion surveys were all over the place, sowing confusion as to the ultimate margin of Clinton’s triumph. But Americans – or at least those in states where Trump won – knew otherwise.

Nonetheless, even the most ardent of Trump backers was pleasantly flabbergasted by the result, leading to the question above – how long could the new president sustain his electoral momentum?

Election Day 2018 is now here and perhaps by tomorrow morning we’ll ascertain the answer. Just like in 2016, pundits and political pros wavered as to the degree to which the GOP would suffer for Trump’s trivial personality variances. Regardless of whether you love him or hate him, there’s little doubt today will be all about the man in the Oval Office.

Byron York summed it up at the Washington Examiner, “The biggest question in this year's midterm elections is how much the results will be about President Trump as opposed to the local issues that often play key roles in races for the House of Representatives. A shorter way of saying it is: Are the midterms really a referendum on Trump? …

“Trump is a presence in each district and in each campaign — but not necessarily the same Trump. In some races, Trump is the Trump of the daily commotion on cable TV and the Internet — the president who, according to his many detractors, writes outrageous tweets, dog-whistles bigotry, and is increasingly cornered by the Russia investigation.

“But in other races, there is an entirely different Trump at work. That Trump is the president who is making the economy better by cutting regulations that handicapped local mining, logging, and manufacturing. That Trump is a president protecting not just individual industries and incomes but a way of life.”

York’s piece included excellent analysis of five Minnesota House districts, including two current Democrat-held seats expected to flip to the GOP today, two Republican-held seats that could go Democrat and one true tossup where no one’s sure what will transpire.

The only sure thing is Trump’s profound effect on voters’ attitudes just about everywhere – and it’s not limited to the Gopher State’s upside-down split political personality. Here in my (Northern Virginia) home district “moderate” Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is thought to trail Democrat ultra-liberal challenger Jennifer Wexton. Should Comstock come up short today Democrats pick up one of 23 seats they need to retake the House majority.

Establishmentarian Comstock is supposedly on shaky ground because of her relatively conservative voting record, which conforms closely with the Trump agenda. In several of her campaign ads the two-term congresswoman’s emphasized immigration and Wexton’s apparent weakness in enforcing the law on illegal aliens, a message that plays well in conservative rural parts of the district. But the notorious anti-Trump suburbs are a different story, with educated white “soccer moms” allegedly being turned-off by the president’s caustic nature and fondness for tweeting out his every impulse. (As a side note, do these people read the totality of Trump’s tweets or only focus on the ones the media highlights? What’s so offensive?)

Media experts say these suburban voters worry about healthcare and buy-in to Democrats’ demagoguery on the issue – as though congressional Republicans truly hope to shove granny in the wheelchair off the cliff and yank the social safety net out from under every American who depends on it. Such grandstanding is far from reality (if not blatant lies) – and even if it were true, Trump himself promised he wouldn’t touch the big entitlement programs and he waits at the Resolute Desk to veto any bill that changes the status quo (fortunately or unfortunately).

Envision Democrats closely examining the results of every poll suggesting which issues might create an opening in voters’ minds. Democrats definitely can’t talk about economic growth, the unemployment rate or immigration since the migrant “caravan” has “resistance” written all over it. Consumer confidence is high; inflation is contained; wages are rising; there’s relative peace abroad… none of this points to Democrat victories, does it?

Yet according to the Real Clear Politics polling average Trump’s approval rating remains mired in the mid-40’s and hasn’t markedly changed in the past six months. News cycle after news cycle passes without swaying people on Trump either way. Every time the media seems sure it’s discovered the magic political silver bullet for the president he endures the attacks without any apparent scars. Likewise, whenever something positive happens (which is all the time) Trump doesn’t pick up additional fans or backers.

The vast majority of conservatives and Republicans are steadfast behind Trump even if they’re not wild about everything he does on a personal level. Believers in limited government, traditional values and a strong national defense appreciate the administration’s pro-American business policies and willingness to dissolve the Obama shackles that prevented the nation’s entrepreneurs from accomplishing everything their vivid imaginations dreamed up. Conservatives also appreciate Trump’s unyielding push to make NATO allies pay a greater share of their own defense costs.

The truth is, Trump has been like a dream for most folks, a Republican leader who finally acts on issues most vital to the base without worrying about potential negative political repercussions and dire warnings from the establishment ruling class. Trump’s unwavering dedication to fulfilling his campaign promises is incredibly refreshing; not every GOPer wants to sit down to dinner with him but they still like his job performance.

Fox News commentators are convinced there’s more support for Republicans out there than meets the eye and the pundit forecasted “blue wave” will crash on shore without knocking over too many Republicans. Democrats and liberal cable news hosts are just as sure Trump’s an ankle weight on the GOP’s chances and people really prefer the “nice guy” persona of establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney to the polarizing populist/conservative commander in chief.

With economic numbers heavily in the GOP’s favor one speculates the Fox folks are right. Could it be, as was true in 2016, that there’s an undercurrent of support the polls failed to detect?

Rick Moran wrote at PJ Media, “[Novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux wrote at The Washington Post] ‘A blue wave is predicted for the midterms. I'm not convinced of it. Trump proved most polls wrong for a reason. In Britain, a shy Tory is someone who will not reveal his or her intended vote to a pollster. There are many loud Trumpers, but there are shy Trumpers, too. So I distrust polls more than ever, especially as — after Trump won, and voters became more vocal — I discovered that many in my large and lovable and liberal-minded family, and maybe yours too, revealed themselves as shy Trumpers.’

“Nixon had his ‘silent majority’ at a time much like this one. The country was tearing itself apart over Vietnam and Nixon was the target of almost as much liberal vitriol and hate as Trump has been. The reason pollsters may be wrong again this time is that these ‘shy Trumpers’ have been conditioned these last two years to keep their opinions to themselves so they don't get screamed at by their friends and relatives. There is a price to pay when bullies attack you for saying something halfway nice about the president. It's not pleasant.

“The question of the day is will these ‘shy Trumpers’ actually vote? If they go to the polls in any numbers at all, Tuesday night is going to harbor a rude surprise for Democrats.”

Moran’s piece (generously quoting Theroux) makes an excellent point. Everyone’s aware of the “loud” Trumpers – they show up in social media posts, political yard signs, red MAGA hats, Trump t-shirts and in some cases, license plates (here in Virginia, for example, we have the option of choosing a “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag plate). Second Amendment lovers show their spirit by donning NRA garb or affixing bumper stickers to their cars and trucks.

Anti-Trumpers are just as vocal in their opposition and social media habits. Trump haters aren’t hard to find – it almost seems like they feel compelled to publicly state their “resistance” in order to remain in good standing within liberal social circles.

Then there’s everybody else, including those who’re deathly afraid to reveal how they feel about the direction of the country for fear of censure or worse – worries about “offending” their coworkers or being denied a promotion on the job because the boss is a liberal. Or how about a black conservative who figures most of his family and friends are lifelong Democrats and wouldn’t be receptive to his silent Trump approval.

In today’s politically polarized America there just aren’t many fence-sitting “independents” out there anymore. With Trump’s nonstop exposure in media there’s literally no getting away from politics in culture or the news. Switch on the TV and talk show hosts dare not take a middle ground lest they lose viewers from the rabid left side of the spectrum.

Everyone knows there are Hollywood conservatives who won’t speak out for fear of never working again. Heck, actor Tim Allen didn’t sufficiently cloak his Trump support and it got his show cancelled by ABC despite consistently high ratings in a notoriously difficult Friday night timeslot (of course Last Man Standing is back (on FOX) and dominating once again, fueled by millions of fans fed up with liberal entertainment elites’ relentless war on traditional culture and family values).

With nightly scenes of violent Democrat mobs harassing and threatening people because of their political views it’s no wonder why the “shy Trumpers” are hesitant to expose themselves. A leftist kook is just an off-the-cuff remark away, which could result in a verbal haranguing, pepper spray in the face or even worse – a physical confrontation. Just ask Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell or Sarah Sanders or any other Trump backer who’s been accosted by leftists and lived to tell about it.

Will the “shy Trumpers” make it to the polls? If they do the news narrative this evening will mirror 2016’s -- and there’ll be some awfully miserable liberal commentators.

As alluded to above some of those silent Trump supporters could be African-American. Black conservative DeRoy Murdock wrote at National Review, “’What the hell do you have to lose?’ candidate Donald J. Trump queried black Americans in 2016, as he asked for their votes with characteristically blunt eloquence. Eight percent of black voters bought his pitch. While this seems like a rout, Trump outperformed Mitt Romney by one-third; 6 percent of blacks backed 2012’s GOP nominee. Trump’s total was astonishing, given that the Left/media slandered him as the guy who brings the lighter fluid to a cross burning.

“So, what do blacks think of Trump today? Rasmussen’s tracking poll Monday found Trump’s approval among blacks at a record-high 40 percent, versus 50 percent nationwide. How could this be? The Trump-hating Left/media’s attacks have been ruthless, relentless, and more one-sided than a flounder. Answer: President Trump and Republican leadership have made black Americans better off than they were two years ago...

“In stark contrast to the ‘divider-in-chief’ rhetoric he is accused of spouting, President Trump said: ‘We’re fighting to give every American — all over the country, every single American — a future of dignity and purpose and of pride.’ So true. On Election Day, the only thing blacks have to lose is the Democrat hell from which Republicans are emancipating them.”

Yes indeed. Trump has a way with words and conceptualized his entire 2016 campaign with his “what the hell do you have to lose?” query to a demographic that traditionally ignores the “R” candidate on the ballot en masse. Democrats have taken black voters for granted since the mid 1930’s – and the signs indicating African-Americans could be reconsidering their loyalties must frighten Democrats to the hilt.

If true, forty percent black support for Trump could make a difference this year. Even if black voters won’t pull the lever for Republicans they may reconsider a positive vote for Democrat candidates, many of whom swear they’ll impeach Trump if provided the power and opportunity to do so.

A vote for a Democrat is akin to choosing chaos, anarchy, inertia and deadlock. Americans aren’t stupid – they realize what’s happening and here’s thinking common sense will prevail on a mass scale today. Disliking or even opposing Trump isn’t enough motivation to punish Republican candidates. The pundits are wrong. There will be no “blue wave” – or at least one big enough to swamp the GOP.

Win or lose, today marks the end of the beginning. The Trump administration’s first two years were a resounding success and the president will sustain the momentum regardless of which party controls the House come January. Voting is a civic duty – never more so than this year.

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