With Midterms Over, IOP Looks Ahead to 2020

Just over a week after Election 2018, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School convened a panel experts from both sides of the aisle along with members of the media to break down the results. 

IOP Senior Fellow Dan Balz of the Washington Post kicked off the Forum, moderated Rick Klein, the Political Director for ABC News. Panelists included Michael Glassner, the Executive Director of the Donald Trump for President Campaign Committee, Maria Teresa Kumar, the Founding President of Voto Latino, Beth Myers, former Campaign Manager of Mitt Romney's 2012 Presdiential campaign as well as Fall 2013 Institute of Politics Resident Fellow, Stephanie Schriock, the President of EMILY'S List, and Amy Dacey, IOP Resident Fellow and former Executive Director of Emily's List and CEO of the Democratic National Committee. 

You can watch the full conversation here or at the bottom of this post. 


Question: What do the results mean for President Trump and GOP’s map and 2020 calculations? Is there something that President Trump should do differently now?

MICHAEL GLASSNER, Executive Director, Donald Trump for President Campaign Committee

"There were different outcomes in different states based on different candidacies and campaigns in this case. So the Trump phenomenon in 2016 I think was due to Trump himself being on the ticket which wasn't the case this time. Reading historical trends into the outcomes of elections that Trump is participating in I think is folly because he ran his first campaign on such a different model, his presidency has been totally different than any other, his re-election campaign will be the same. So it is important who the governors are I think, but I also think that there's a large block of people who are Trump Voters. These are the people that we identified. I started with the campaign when he announced in 2015 I have been there continuously. So I've been very closely monitoring this Trump movement if you will. And my theory very early on, which I think largely turned out to be true in the primaries and the general election in 2016, is that the pollsters were asking the wrong people the wrong questions. And there was a large mass of people who did not participate in past elections or who were not motivated by past politicians or had been turned off by the system and were turned out by other politicians. So I think that's still the case. The Trump phenomenon is unique to him being on the ticket. The Democrats were successful in many states that were important to us in 2016, I don't know how much that matters to that block of voters that have very consistently stuck with him."

Question: You don’t think it changes anything? Any lessons from last week?

"For a non-politician to run it was much easier to take positions because you weren't necessarily anchored to your past pronouncements. Now there's a whole body of policies, statements, and tweets that you're now going be held accountable for in the re-election. So, I think that that body of work probably makes more of a difference than what changes took place in that swing states."

Question: What does the 2018 midterm outcome mean for the Democratic Party?

AMY DACEY, IOP Resident Fellow, Former Executive Director of EMILY'S LIST and former CEO of the Democratic National Committee:

I will say this: the President didn't have a no-hitter on Election Night and he didn't have one the next day either. I mean, there was a significant change and to say that a lot hadn't wouldn't be I think accurate in this. We've seen a lot change. I will give it that not winning the Senate - a map we never really should have, it was incredibly difficult to start out with I don't think our expectations where we're going to win that back - is a challenge for us. Especially when you look at judicial nominations and cabinet positions. Also losing three great public servants on the Democratic Party side you know with these senators. I will say though, that picking up, flipping Senate seats in Arizona and Nevada has a significant impact on the 2020 election. I also think to your point, Rick [event moderator Rick Klein], talking about those governor's races in key states in the Midwest: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, which you know the President himself credits for a lot of the reason that he won in 2016 I would rather have Democrats sitting in those in those offices there and the bottom line is winning back the House was significant not only for a public policy position or having balance power in government but we won in a lot of different districts where we can organize now where we have Democratic House members. I think one of the untold stories too is all the significant chambers we were able to flip in the state legislatures. Eight chambers flip, you know, over 350 you know seats one that will have a significant impact when you're building a national campaign. I don't underestimate how difficult it will be to run against Donald Trump but I think these victories and winning in some of these places is going to have an impact on the map in 2020. It's a different map.

Question: How is the 2020 map different now after the 2018 election? Are things substantially different?

BETH MYERS, Fall 2013 Institute of Politics Resident Fellow, former Campaign Manager, Mitt Romney 2012:

I think that midterm races are always important and they always matter and it's always important to vote. That being said, we have 24 long months between now and the election in 2020 and a lot can happen.

Do I think Texas is a toss-up state? Absolutely not certainly not in 2020. Although Beto O’Rouke was an interesting candidate. Texas is still pretty solid red, particularly in a Presidential year.

And I'm with Michael, you know you always see the historic norm happen - you didn't with George W. Bush, 2002 broke that mold - but going to historic norms, this race was solidly in the middle of that. We had a divergent election where the Republicans kept the Senate and lost the House. The Republicans were also at an historic high number of Governors and there was an almost inevitable swing back. So I think it's an important part of the 2020 map but I don't I don't read too much into it as far as being impactful on the on the Presidential race.

Question: "You wrote that If 1992 was the year of the woman, 2018 will go down as the year of the black and brown woman." What’s the importance for that in Congress and for what the future holds for politics in America?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, Founding President, Voto Latino:

There's a couple of things, I think that when you guys actually start looking at what the electoral map looks like in 2020 there's two things that we should really be thinking about: first of all, one and six voters were new voters they were first-time voters. We have never seen a wave of that, of new blood actually not only running for office but also basically participating in Congress especially in a midterm. This was the highest some participation in over 100 years. That says that people are paying attention and young people are paying attention. The reason that is valuable is that when you start looking at the electoral map for 2020 for the very first time we're going to have 12 million more young voters than baby boomers.

We just came out with a survey with Change Research where we basically surveyed over 1,500 millennial voters in five states and for the very first time, 94 percent of them said that they were going to vote in every single election. So it is incumbent upon both parties to start putting points on the wall to make sure that they are not only paying attention but trying to differentiate themselves from each other. And if there is a way to make sure that there is a wave and a change of that electoral base the Democrats really can't dig deep into just investigations of the Republican Party, what they're really going to have to do is basically demonstrate how they are different from the Republican Party, how they are different from Trumpism and how they can actually deliver policies that may make them change. And that is we were going to see a shift.

When folks say that Texas isn't in play, I encourage folks to think about the fact that Pete Sessions, an 11 term incumbent who is part of Republican leadership just lost. His district had 11% Latino representation, by 2020 it is going to 17 percent by 2024 it's going to be 24 percent. I would encourage folks to think of Texas much more akin to what California was under Pete Wilson. Pete Wilson was the original architect of really difficult anti-immigration laws that all of a sudden awoke this sleeping giant that people kept saying he wasn't going to be possible in California and that's currently what's happening in Texas and Arizona and in Nevada. 

Watch the full conversation: