By Matt Rooney
Let’s assume the polls are correct for the sake of this post’s exercise. I know many of us don’t want to.
A net Democrat gain of 26.5 seats on Tuesday is the current RealClearPolitics polling average result as of 4:30 p.m. on Election Eve, Save Jerseyans. A tad more than the 23-seat pick up necessary to flip the House and end the GOP’s eight years of control.
Democrats currently hold 193 seats in Congress’s “lower” chamber. 193 + 27 (we’ll round up) = 220, a full 15 seats smaller than the current GOP majority and, as I pointed out last week, a “wave” result considerably more modest than what we saw in 2006 and 2010.
That’s also a 5 seat majority. The smallest held by either party since 1933.
What can you do with a 5 seat majority? Not much. Not much at all.
A severely-hamstrung Democrat majority would be all the more difficult to lead given the fact that its membership could include ‘moderate’ Democrats like Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5) and Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ2) who, in this scenario, represent purple-to-red districts. They won’t be able to vote for impeachment, “Medicare-for-all,” or massive tax hikes and face the voters in 2020 and 2022 without a high probability of negative electoral consequences. In other words, no “passes” for tough votes. Consequently, the party’s somewhat less-radical wing will find itself in direct opposition with Democrats’ burgeoning, uncompromising socialist base that will feel empowered.
Will the Democrat base turn on its leadership? Complaining loudly of inaction? Much the same way that Republican voters are angry over a lack of movement on repealing Obamacare and securing the border?
Before any of that even happens, hypothetical caucus members like Van Drew and Gottheimer representatives might make Nancy Pelosi’s attempt at a second speakership a tough, divisive affair before the new Congress even formally gets underway.
Meanwhile, the GOP Senate (likely to remain intact) will keep confirming judges. Trump will have a tangible opponent to scrap with instead of his own party’s leadership. Republicans will improbably find themselves in a stronger position heading into 2020 for it despite their many tactical mistakes in recent memory.
If I’m a Democrat?
Yeah, I want to beat Republicans, but I’m almost hoping my party comes up a few seats short in Congress on November 6th. Progress? Yeah. Especially with the governors who play a big role in the party’s growth around the country. But not enough inside the Beltway to take an ownership stake in D.C.’s dysfunction, one which could rob Democrats of any perceived claim on the mantle of “change” in 2020.
Matt Rooney is founder and editor-in-chief of SaveJersey.com, a regular conservative commentator on television and radio, and a New Jersey practicing attorney.