Fielding Center Hosts Panel Discussing the Occurrence of ‘Blue Wave’
By Bridget Kennedy, Contributing Writer
On Wednesday, Oct. 10, the Fielding Center for Presidential Leadership Study and the Eisenhower Institute hosted a panel discussion on the 2018 midterm elections and their implications. This panel included acclaimed journalists David Shribman and Jill Zuckman, both of whom spent years at the covering Congress and midterm elections at national newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Boston Globe.
The main question the panel aimed to address was would the 2018 midterm elections follow historical election trends? In all but two cases in the modern era, the first midterm election after a new president has been elected has resulted in the party of the president losing seats. With the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Trump’s lack of support among women voters, many journalists have postulated a democratic takeover of Congress, a so called “blue wave.”
Zuckman and Shribman, however, had a less clear-cut view. Both felt it was worth acknowledging that as the baby boomer generation continues to age, retirement and entitlement programs will become election-making issues, thus increasing the appeal of the Democrats. Conversely, Shribman pointed out that unemployment is currently at a historic low, putting the Republicans and the Trump administration in a favorable light. But as the federal deficit increases, political courtesy decreases, and the free press is put under fire, an anger still persists in our current political discourse.
While both panelists agreed that angry people are more likely to turn out to vote in midterms, neither could definitively predict which groups would turn out and how they would vote. 2018 has been a year of continued polarization as both the Republicans and Democrats take more extreme positions, leaving moderates alienated and less likely to turn out for the midterms, which will surely serve as a catalyst for further divisions.
As Shribner stated, “I grew up near the ocean, and I know that a blue wave also has an undertone.”