NY-22 Minute: Fundamentals of the 2018 Midterm By Luke Perry
Political observers have been debating whether the 2018 midterm will be a wave election or not since the special elections held earlier this year. The party of the president in power typically loses seats in the midterms, particularly if the president is unpopular.
The first midterm of recent presidents have netted even greater losses in the House. The Democrats lost 63 seats in 2010 during Barack Obama’s first midterm, 52 seats in 1994 under Bill Clinton.
House Republicans gained seats under George W. Bush in 2012, but that was an anomaly coming after 9/11. Republicans lost 8 seats in 1990 during George H.W. Bush’s first midterm and 26 seats in 1982 under Ronald Reagan.
All of these presidents whose respective party lost House seats were more popular heading into their first midterm than Donald Trump has been thus far. George H.W. Bush had the highest approval rating, 57 percent. The rest exceeded 40 percent: Clinton (48 percent), Obama (45 percent) and Reagan (42 percent).
Donald Trump was elected with 45 percent of the popular vote. He fell below 40 percent approval rating in an aggregate measure of all major polls on May 16. His current approval rating is 37 percent.
If this stays unchanged, Trump would enter the 2018 midterm as the least popular modern president approaching a midterm except for George W. Bush in 2006, who also had an approval rating of 37 percent. Republicans lost 30 seats that year.
The 2006 wave election for Democrats aided the election of Michael Arcuri in NY-24 (later redistricted into NY-22), the last Democrat to represent the district.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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