Simply put, 2018 is on track to be the “Year of the Angry White College Graduate.” I’d estimate the college-educated share of the electorate will be around 43 or 44 percent next year, up from 39 percent in 2016. That’s dreadful news for Republicans: These voters have indicated the highest intensity of opposition to Trump in polls, and we’ve already seen them power Democrats to victory in Virginia and Alabama.
These voters are more riled up than at any point in recent memory. “Some of the most worrisome signs for Republicans have been the stark turnout differentials between red and blue precincts,” Wasserman warns. “In Virginia’s gubernatorial election, turnout was up 20 percent over 2013 in blue localities versus 13 percent in red localities. And in the six special congressional elections held in 2017, Democrats have averaged 71 percent of Clinton’s 2016 votes, while GOP candidates averaged just 55 percent of Trump’s 2016 performance.”
Those angry about President Trump and his assault on our values and democratic institutions might actually relish a meaty, important conversation that treats them like adults. They are fired up, but they are fired up about particular things— fiscal irresponsibility, incompetent government (with Congress rubber-stamping ideologically extreme and utterly unqualified people to powerful posts), the GOP’s harboring men credibly accused of a pattern of sexual assault (both Roy Moore and Trump), Trump’s international bellicosity (too often egged on by those in Congress, as with “decertifying” the Iran deal without a coherent next step), Trump’s attacks on the press and courts and the Trump family’s self-enrichment, to name just a few items. We’ve suggested Stop The Abusers is a fitting theme to attract voters distressed at the Trump administration’s abuse of power (and inability to address Trump’s alleged abuse of women).
Challengers seeking to boot out GOP incumbents have an abundance of riches to choose from in crafting their 2018 arguments. Let me address just three.
First, Republicans are passive enablers, not only on matters of ethics and the Russia probe, but in pushing through thick-headed policies even they know are unhelpful. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in one of the Rubio-iest interviews to date confesses:
I thought we probably went too far on (helping) corporations. By and large, you’re going to see a lot of these multinationals buy back shares to drive up the price. Some of them will be forced, because they’re sitting on historic levels of cash, to pay out dividends to shareholders. That isn’t going to create dramatic economic growth. (But) there’s a lot of things in the bill that I have supported for a long time (such as) doubling the Child Tax Credit. And it is better – significantly better – than the current code.
Rubio is not on the ballot, but every Republican who is and who voted for the bill needs to be asked: “If you knew the corporate tax break ($1 trillion of the total cost) was not going to help middle class Americans, why didn’t you change it?” It’s indicative of the GOP’s inclination simply to go along to get along with Trump and hope no one notices the details. These college-educated suburbanites get the details.
Second, Republicans refuse to listen to voters who tell them they don’t want Obamacare repealed (they want it improved, mostly by cheaper premiums), don’t want a big tax cut for the rich, don’t want “dreamers” deported and don’t think climate change is a hoax. These are the voters who want sensible, responsive government and good services, and who care about the quality of life in their communities. Republicans have proven their hostility to government over and over again, so why put them in charge of it? A party that had the opportunity to be reformers has become a rotten custodian of government, willing to wreck entire departments, chase off qualified people and be dismissive of facts (whatever the subject — crime, the environment, trade — may be). If voters are exhausted and disgusted with juvenile antics and yearn for grownups, challengers can provide them with an alternative to dumbed-down, incompetent government.
Third, if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III turns up evidence of criminal and/or impeachable wrongdoing, do voters actually think Republicans — who have carried his water and tried to discredit the investigation at every turn — will do something about it? C’mon. The constitutional crisis occurs when presented with ample evidence of abuse of power, the Congress does not follow through in the manner set forth in the Constitution, namely impeachment. Democrats should not shy away from the issue. Rather, they should be clear: If presented with adequate evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice or financial wrongdoing, they will act upon it. Republicans won’t. And that’s about as good an argument as any as to why the GOP shouldn’t have majorities under this president.