An American political science professor says you have to go back to the era of the Vietnam War to find a midterm election that’s galvanized U.S. voters to the extent of the 2018 campaign.
“The level of excitement, the level of tension, mobilization, fear is unprecedented,” said Iowa State professor Steffan Schmidt during an interview Tuesday morning on Gormley.
Schmidt said early voting numbers appear to indicate high turnout for the vote. He said this was unsurprising given the level of effort put in by both major U.S. parties to get their respective bases out to the polls.
“The Democrats really fear a continuation of the Trump administration policies, then Trump has said ‘if the Democrats take control, everything will go to hell.'”
U.S. President Donald Trump has inserted himself prominently into the Republican campaign, holding rallies and stumping for various GOP candidates throughout the race.
Schmidt said it’s a relatively unusual strategy in midterm races and has effectively made the election more like a national referendum on the president and his policies.
“It is not common, and in the case of President Trump I think we will have to see if it was a smart move.”
Schmidt said he thinks Trump may have taken a lesson from his predecessor, Barack Obama, who stayed relatively disengaged during the 2010 midterm campaign and saw Democratic control of the House and Senate snatched away.
“Remember, Barack Obama had two years after he got elected where he had control of the House and Senate. And then he sort of sat back and he let the Republicans come in and take control of the House and Senate, which basically paralyzed his administration.”
Americans will choose an entirely new House of Representatives and will also vote on 35 of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate.
Schmidt said he thinks Republican control of the Senate is fairly safe, with the GOP even showing potential to add to its slim 2-seat majority in the upper chamber of Congress.
However, he said Democrats appear to have a strong chance of gaining the 23 seats they need to take control of the House. He said that development would leave Trump in a tough spot for the remainder of his term as president.
“President Trump,then, will have to basically govern the way Obama did, which is with executive orders.”
Schmidt said the use of executive orders in a gridlocked Congress has limits.
“They’re temporary. They are not law. They don’t have to go through Congress and the next president, if he wants to, can simply sign another executive order and nullify the previous one.”