What We Learned From the 2018 Midterms

Democrats took the House and not much else, while cannabis won big

As the dust clears from one of the most consequential elections in American history, reactions are already taking place in the political arena. Yesterday, Trump finally forced out hapless Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after spending the better part of two years making fun of him on Twitter.

Developments will continue to happen quickly, especially in the Trump era, when a bombshell that breaks in the morning can seem like ancient history just hours later. But like all other elections, Tuesday’s outcomes will have a longer-lasting impact that will shape politics for at least the next few years.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from election day 2018:

Even More People are Voting for Cannabis

A celebratory puff may be in order: initiatives providing wider access to cannabis were a success at every level. Michigan passed full legalization for adult recreational use, while Utah and Missouri, two states Trump won by double-digit percentages in 2016, both approved medical programs. Candidates for governor in states like California, New Mexico, Minnesota and Illinois all ran on platforms advocating for legalization and won.

Legislation moves slowly, but now that one Midwestern state has legalized it, some think neighboring states may consider following suit. Cannabis investors certainly seem to be viewing the election positively; Thanks to these results and yesterday’s resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, known for his archaic views on the plant, several industry stocks are up double digits.

Democrats Had a Mixed Night

The two chambers of Congress brought very different results for Democrats. They cleaned up in the House, grabbing 30 seats from Republicans to claim a 28-seat advantage so far– votes are still being counted in races in California, Maine and Minnesota. A House majority means Democrats can now do things like subpoena Trump for his taxes, file legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller and launch investigations into the behavior of his cabinet members.

These are all positive outcomes. But things were a bit bleaker in the Senate, where Democrats lost seats to the Republicans in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. Though Florida’s senate race may soon be headed to a recount, if Republican Rick Scott maintains his 22,000-vote lead over the incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, the number of seats flipped to the GOP will climb to four.

Perhaps even worse, Democrats lost or appear to be losing some marquee races. After trailing early, crotchety Republican vampire Ted Cruz ended up beating Beto O’Rourke by over 200,000 votes. Democrats also lost a high-profile race in Florida, where Andrew Gillum conceded to Ron DeSantis. If Gov. Scott maintains his lead, Florida will have two Republican senators and a Republican governor. It wasn’t the Blue Wave some predicted, but Democrats do have reason to celebrate the results. 

Healthcare is Safe – For Now

Republicans in Congress have been campaigning viciously against the Affordable Care Act since it was passed back in 2010 without a single GOP vote in the Senate. Now that they no longer have exclusive control over the legislative branch of government, that effort appears to be over. On Wednesday, Mitch McConnell said that legislators need to work togetherto address flaws in the ACA, instead of advocating for complete repeal.

Republicans lost their best shot at repealing the ACA when John McCain famously joined senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins to tank the effort. It appears that, at least for the next few years, the GOP will have to attempt to change Obamacare instead of completely getting rid of it. Ironically, that might be a good thing for the Republicans, since public favor for the law hit an all-time high this year.

Trump Will Have to Reach Across the Aisle

Does Trump have what it takes to bargain with Democrats? He says he does, of course, sounding positive tones to the media in a press conference this week on subjects like infrastructure and healthcare. However, this is the same person who accused the Democrats of paying for thousands of immigrants from Honduras to enter the U.S. through Mexico as part of a “caravan invasion” that he says calls for a deployment of up to 15,000 troops.

Trump has never been a big fan of people who oppose him, and although he’s pushed against their boundaries as hard as possible, he will now be somewhat boxed in by government institutions for the first time in his presidency. The question now becomes which Trump we will get in response: The wheeling-and-dealing “business tycoon” who decides to work with Democrats in hopes of scoring a big win on the back half of his presidency? Or the divisive wannabe dictator who recently called himself a “nationalist”?

Whatever happens, the dynamic is set for an interesting few years leading up to a 2020 election bound to be just as important than the ones this week — if not more so.

 

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