The 2018 Blue Wave That Wasn’t, Really

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Editor’s Note: The following is the first of two excerpts from the revised and updated edition of The Case for Trump, out Tuesday from Basic Books.

Throughout the summer and early autumn of 2018, election experts had often predicted a massive blue wave of radical progressive pushback against Trump in the 2018 midterms: the long-awaited negative referendum on both his agenda and behavior, and thus at last an overdue reckoning for his entire Twitter-fueled presidency.  TOP ARTICLES2/5READ MOREChopin’s Heart, Poland’s Spirit

The Democratic tsunami against the incumbent president was promised to be analogous to the wipeout suffered by President Bill Clinton after his first two years (53 House, eight Senate seats lost), or Barack Obama’s even more disastrous 2010 loss (63 House, six Senate seats). The nonstop media attacks on Trump, still consistent with the 90 percent negative news coverage of his first few months in office, had certainly seemed to energize Democrats.

Indeed, by election eve, Democrats, in the preponderant manner of the 2016 campaign, had raised a record $1 billion for state, House, and Senate midterm races, with hundreds of millions more garnered by the progressive political-action committees. Turnout in some states set records for any president’s first midterm election. Democrats ran a number of centrists and military veterans in congressional districts that Trump had won, campaigning on Trump as the destroyer of Everyman’s right to health care. Democrats promoted voter harvesting and massive registration drives to expand the electorate in districts that had previously been lost to Republicans. Yet the subsequent radical themes of the 2020 presidential election were rarely to be heard in 2018; instead, they were manifested stealthily on the ground.

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