Since Nov. 9, 2016, it seems, every political poll has called for Democrats to exact their desperately needed revenge on President Trump and his Republican 'Party of Trump' during the 2018 midterms. Of course, the historical precedent is solidly in their favor. While factors like the economy and stock market loom large in the minds of voters, the trend shows that midterm elections are often a wash for the president's party. But Trump isn't exactly the typical US president, and his 2016 victory was a repudiation of the status quo. And while his name may not be on the ballot, Trump has encouraged his followers to vote as if it was. To wit, the brutal campaign season culminated with the president holding 11 rallies in 8 states in 6 days to whip up support for Republican candidates in battleground states and districts across the country and ensure maximum turnout among his base.
Early voting totals suggest that this approach is already yielding results. Enthusiasm among Republican voters surged during October as Democrats' lead in the polls narrowed, something that pundits have attributed to the contentious confirmation battle of SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh and anxieties surrounding the migrant caravans making their way toward the US border.
Of course, Democrats have been doing everything they can to get out the vote, since historical data suggest that a higher turnout typically benefits Democratic candidates. Their efforts have helped yield the highest early voting turnout in recent memory. Still, at least one major poll - Rasmussen - is calling for Republicans to retain control of the House and Senate. This is significant because Rasmussen was the only shop to accurately forecast Trump's upset win in 2016.
(Poll courtesy of RealClearPolitics)
In any case, the polls are actually closer than the headlines would have voters believe. According to the betting website predictit.org, the base case for Democrats taking the House, but the Republicans retaining the Senate, has been assigned odds of around 60%. The odds that the Republicans hold both chambers is around 30%, and the odds that the Democrats take both chambers is a piddling 10%.
So, what are the implications for policy and markets if Republicans hold the House and expand their majority in the Senate? It's a scenario that ING is calling "Trump Unbound". A brief overview is sketched out in the flow chart below. In short, expect Trump to "double down" on his "America First" policies, including more hard-line immigration and trade policies, more tax cuts and expanded fiscal spending.
But in a more detailed explainer published on Tuesday, Bloomberg delves into more detail, in the following summary:
- Two years ago, pollsters got it wrong on Hillary Clinton.
- If Republicans hold on to both chambers, Trump will take all the credit and he would deserve it. The president did 11 rallies in eight states over six days to stir up his voters, leaning on immigration and painting Democrats as coddling law-breakers.
- Trump unbound: He still would have both houses of Congress, but more than that, would say his unorthodox approach worked. He and his advisers will feel ever freer to "let Trump be Trump."
- Democratic despair could not be overstated: Why can’t we stop this guy?
- Trump gets the government shutdown he’s long wanted over the border wall on Dec. 7
To this list, we'd like to add one more: If the Republicans win despite the best efforts of grassroots Democrats, expect an explosion of political unrest as leftists around the country take to the streets in protest - potentially triggering a wave of political violence - as Trump begins the push for some of his most-hated (by Democrats) policy proposals, including authorizing the construction of a wall across the US's southern border.