Nov 30, 2018

2018's midterms were the most unusual in modern history

Of the 18 midterms since 1950, there have been just five split decisions, where the House shifted towards one party and the Senate towards the other. And 2018's was the most split of them all.

Why it matters: Now that all of the races have been settled — with the exception of the California 21st district race — we can see how much of an outlier the 2018 midterms were. The split is also a sign of how Democrats dominated the suburban House districts while Republicans won the rural Senate states.

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Data: The American Presidency Project, AP; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios
Expand chart
Data: The American Presidency Project, AP; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Between the lines: In modern midterm elections, the trend has been for seats in both the House and Senate to shift in one direction, usually against the president's party.

The strength of this year's blue wave depends upon how you measure it:

  • If you measure it by Democratic seats gained in the House, or since Watergate, or by the margin of victory in the popular vote, it was the strongest Democratic wave since the 1974 midterm election.
  • If you measure it by total seats gained by any party, the Republicans did better under Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010.
  • And if you measure it by end results, 2006 was better for the Democrats — the year they won both the House and Senate under George W. Bush.

The bottom line: The split decision was no surprise, since the Senate map was historically bad for Democrats. That's why Republicans were able to survive and even improve their numbers a bit in the Senate. But it doesn't mean the wave wasn't there.

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Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

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The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.