PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to the 2018 Midterm Elections
“Liberal San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer had a very tough night last night.” - James Taylor
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (November 7, 2018) – The 2018 midterm elections saw Democrats gain control of the House with 229 seats and the Republicans increase their narrow control in the Senate. Voters in many states also weighed in on important ballot initiatives, including the rejection of a fracking ban in Colorado, a renewable energy mandate in Arizona, and a tax on carbon dioxide emissions in Washington. Voters in Nevada approved an expansion of renewable power, an initiative pushed via millions in spending by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer.
The following statements from experts at The Heartland Institute — a free-market think tank — may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program – including a live TV remote from Heartland’s studio, which can connect to any station or network in the world – please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at email@example.com and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554
“Liberal San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer had a very tough night last night. Arizona voters handily rejected his attempt to impose a 50 percent renewable power mandate on the state. Washington voters soundly rejected a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. And while Nevada voters tentatively approved Steyer’s renewable power mandate, Silver State voters must approve any constitutional amendment in back-to-back elections. Nevada voters will look much more closely at the renewable power mandate during the next election cycle and are very likely to reject it.
“Meanwhile, Florida voters elected close Trump ally Ron DeSantis to succeed another close Trump ally in Rick Scott as governor. Steyer pumped millions into Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign. Gillum was a champion of carbon dioxide restrictions and other means to address the phantom global warming crisis. Global warming alarmists have targeted Florida as a state where they believe an activist global warming message will play to independents and Republicans. Florida voters last night showed otherwise.
“In the most direct rebuke of global warming alarmism, voters throughout the country punished Republican members of the Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus. Voters kicked out of office several Republican incumbents who were members of the caucus, including the Republican co-founder and leader of the caucus Carlos Curbelo of Florida. Voters last night reinforced what should have been clear from the outset: Republicans who join the Climate Solutions Caucus not only betray their conservative base, but they also commit political suicide.”
“The new Congress is very much like the one Reagan had in his first term, which had a much bigger Democrat majority in the House and a similar Republican Senate majority. The problem is there are no longer any moderate Democrats, who helped Reagan pass his pro-growth agenda.”
“The status quo and common sense on energy mostly won on state ballots in the 2018 mid-term elections. Florida enshrined into its constitution the current state law that bans off-shore oil drilling in state waters, and California continued to play in far left field on energy by rejecting a ballot measure that would have given some relief from high energy prices to the state’s poor and middle-class drivers by repealing a recently passed tax on gasoline, diesel fuel, and car registration.
“Voters in several states stayed firmly in the energy realist camp by rejecting measures that would have raised energy prices and hampered their state’s economic competitiveness. Coloradans wisely said no to a measure that would have blocking further oil and gas development on most remaining private and state lands. Arizonans rejected out-of-state billionaire carpet bagger Tom Steyer’s attempt to export California’s ruinous renewable energy mandates to their state. And Washington state voters showed, once again, while they may be liberal in general, you can't fool them when it comes to taxing carbon dioxide.
“The little blue wave there was crested in Nevada where voters adopted the Steyer-backed ‘50 by 30’ renewable energy initiative, which every credible economic analysis shows will cost the state jobs and raise resident’s energy bills. The good news is, Nevadans have a chance to correct the mistake they made by rejecting the renewable energy mandate in the 2020 elections.”
“As the election results continue to be sorted out, the realization is that the sun has come up again and we must face the consequences of the choices made, whether that is locally, statewide or in federal positions.
“Yesterday, the Republicans in the House of Representatives saw what happens when you in-fight and don’t move forward on campaign promises when you have the chance. But as you break it down, it is pockets that are turning more blue and others deeper red. Will the country face two years of investigations, lawsuits and impeachment hearings? Or will the Democrats in the House hold to the words of Pelosi and work together in a bipartisan manner? Hint: It is easier to fundraise with division.
“One thing we do know as we wake up this morning is that the ideological divide between the heartland and the coasts is greater than ever.”
Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.
“This election reconfirms that America is divided between regions and ideas. My past four years working with state and national elected leaders on constitutional reform tells me the only way forward is for states to meet in convention to address national issues. Americans are conflicted. We are looking for political leaders who represent the best America has to offer. We must unite around in our written constitution. This is what freedom loving Americans have faith in. States must take their constitutional responsibilities to heart and meet as a collective body as prescribed in Article V of the U.S. Constitution and lead the way.”
Executive Director, Campaign Constitution
Senior Fellow, The Heartland Institute
“This was not the ‘blue wave’ some Democrats predicted, but is still of major concern to Republicans, conservatives, Libertarians, and others concerned with limited government, individual liberties, and the rule of law.
“Increasingly less likely is a Nancy Pelosi-led effort to impeach President Trump for alleged high crimes and misdemeanors as the Mueller investigation quietly winds down with no sign that the President engaged in anything illegal. Of greater concern to liberty-loving people is the increasing expansion of single-party Democratic urban strongholds into surrounding suburban and formerly Republican counties.
“Nowhere is this more evident than in Illinois, where in 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner won all of Illinois’s 103 counties other than Cook, while this year Democrat billionaire J. B. Pritzker won seven of Cook County’s eight surrounding collar counties, extending almost to Rockford, all by solid margins.
“Either Democrats fed up with the unintended disastrous results of the policies they vote for are fleeing for the suburbs (taking their voting habits with them), or this is part of the inevitable growth of the welfare state that will soon bury the American system of self-government under the weight of unfulfillable financial obligations.”
David L. Applegate
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
“The midterm elections yielded a somewhat mixed response to climate and environmental initiatives. Specifically, Washington state rejected a carbon tax that would have raised more than $1 billion in additional revenue, but California voted not to repeal a gas tax that was passed in 2017. In the renewable energy arena, Arizona rejected a ballot measure to boost solar production, yet Nevada passed a similar proposition.
“The fact that these sorts of climate-related measures are still being voted on points to the fact that the anthropogenic global warming message still has some currency among voters. Consequently, climate realists must continue to address the fact that human-induced global warming is a poorly supported notion with numerous flaws. At the same time, research aimed towards understanding the role of natural drivers to the climate system should continue in earnest.”
“Overall, it was a very good night for blue-collar energy policy. Washington State rejected a state carbon tax. Coloradans defeated a punitive setback ordinance for oil and gas extraction. Arizona said no to a major increase in its renewable energy mandate. And the outlier Republican congressman who sponsored a federal tax on carbon dioxide emissions, Carlos Curbelo, was defeated by his Democrat opponent.
“The one negative to energy affordability was in California where voters defeated a measure to rescind a 2017 gas tax increase. That state’s 71-cents-per-gallon burden, the country’s highest, remains 30 percent higher than the national average.”
“A very important outcome of this election is not only that Republicans likely increased their majority in the U.S. Senate, but that the composition of the Republicans in the Senate will be more pro-Trump. Pro-Trump Republicans will replace NeverTrump Republicans in Tennessee and, likely, in Arizona. Also, pro-Trump Republicans knocked off Democrats in Missouri, Florida, Indiana and North Dakota.
“President Trump focused on these Senate races (more than on House races) so the results are a considerable victory for him and his agenda, which brought his voters to the polls. What President Trump was able to accomplish in this election, acting as an effective breakwater against the predicted blue wave, augurs well for his re-election prospects in 2020.”
“Democratic pickups of governorships in Michigan and Wisconsin will test the staying power of school choice. Wisconsin has the nation’s oldest voucher program in Milwaukee, and both Michigan and Wisconsin have robust charter school sectors. I think both programs will be safe since once school choice is established, parents like it. School choice becomes an entitlement, and entitlements are very difficult to take away. Time will tell.”
“The Republicans’ gains in the Senate, however – particularly the defeat of several Democrats who wrongly and mendaciously opposed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court – are encouraging developments. President Trump should be in a position to continue to place splendid originalist and textualist judges on the federal court benches. Ours is a nation deeply politically divided, and the one bright ray of hope is that with each party in control of one chamber of the national legislature there is an opportunity for bipartisan support for reform in immigration and health care. We can only hope and pray that a spirit of compromise and accommodation will somehow prevail.”
Stephen B. Presser
Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History (emeritus)
Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
Mr. Presser is the author of Law Professors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law (West Academic Publishing, 2017), which calls on the American people to undertake Constitutional Amendment.
“There’s always something to like about a period of divided government. During its brief time there will be little new bad legislation, which on balance is a plus.
“Since I cannot see Pelosi moderating the self-righteous mob of leftist Democrats arriving in the House, Trump will have a joyful time painting them into a corner. The country is safe from the Senate going along with any of their crazy legislation or investigations. The new mostly hard line conservative Republican senators in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee ought to be able to move Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell farther to the right.
“Trump should have few problems getting conservative picks for the 111 current vacancies in the federal judiciary. That would give the president nearly a quarter of the 865 total federal judge slots, in addition to the 100 or so conservatives that remain from the two Bush presidencies.”
Jameson G. Campaigne
President, Green Hill Publishers and Jameson Books
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
“Looking past the numbers, the composition of the party caucuses in each chamber has become more ideological. The Republican incumbents in the House who lost were mostly moderates, replaced by progressive Democrats. The Democrat incumbents in the Senate who were defeated were, likewise, mostly moderates, replaced by conservative Republicans. While there may be talk of bipartisanship, the polarization that increasingly characterizes the Congress will only get worse.
“The prospect is a return to budgeting via fiscal brinksmanship and continuing resolutions. The prospect is also for gridlock on needed changes in law, including healthcare and immigration reform. On the other hand, with a strengthened position in the Senate, the president will be able to more easily populate the Judiciary and the executive agencies.”
“I am especially glad for the outcome of the governor races in Florida, Ohio, and Georgia and that the Senate is more strongly Republican.”
“It will take some time before the meaning of the 2018 midterms is completely understood. They were clearly a referendum on President Trump, but it must be borne in mind that more often than not the president’s party loses House seats in his first mid-term, and that is, after all, what happened. Americans like checks on power, and flipping the House will trim the president’s program, and may well subject him to spurious Congressional investigations.
“For transportation advocates, and the construction materials industry, the House switching to Democratic hands has the potential to be a positive move. President Trump’s pledge to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure has floundered. And while it is easy to look forward and a House poised to ramp up investigations into Trump’s taxes, Russian connections and cabinet members, he is going to need a ‘w.’ Infrastructure is the one place where the two sides can find common ground. The question is, will they do what is right for the American people or stay entrenched in defensive positions where nobody wins.”
Mark S. Kuhar
Editor, Rock Products/Cement Americas
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
“Now that Democrats have regained control of the House, look for the new chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) to protect Obama-era education policies embedded in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Despite plummeting standardized assessment scores across the country – and despite the failure of common standards aligned to 11 federal laws in ESSA – Scott will protect the law rather than evaluate its negative effects on student learning.”
“The radical left has fallen short of its objective to seize all the levers of power and transform America permanently, but its storm troopers are coming perilously close. As Lenin purportedly said, medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism. Healthcare voters are terrified of losing their government subsidies – care that is ‘affordable’ only because taxpayers are being forced to pay for it. First, government interference made care outrageously expensive. Then it gave some a free ticket to obtain care – on government terms. Dependence on government for access to lifesaving treatment or pain relief is a great incentive for obedience. Republicans betrayed their promise to repeal Obamacare and its destruction of genuine insurance, and with each passing year it becomes more entrenched.”
“With very little effort, the environmental community was able to drum up 43 percent for Prop 112 in Colorado, a measure that would devastate oil and gas production – and the economy and revenue for roads, parks and education – in a major energy-producing state, compared to the industry that fought tooth and nail, and at great cost, to defeat it. This will likely embolden environmental extremists to tinker with their model and come back again. Colorado has become a petri dish for ballot measures and political operatives love to experiment here, which comes at the expense of voters and a barrage of countless advertisements, phone calls, texts and knocks at the door.
“The Democrats also swept the state from the top down. While voters may have signaled Prop 112’s 2,500-feet set-back for fracking maybe took it too far, there is no reason to believe the newly Democrat-controlled state legislature and governor wouldn’t start prodding and poking to discover what increased distance voters would support – be it 2,000 feet or some other arbitrary distance. It may already be hidden in the polling crosstabs.
“Prop 112 may have publicly split Democratic candidates and officials from the environmental lobby, but you I’m sure they will find a way to heal, and heal quickly. I have a feeling the oil and gas industry will be on the menu during their reconciliatory meal.”
“Michigan voters elected a Democratic governor but retained Republicans to lead both branches of the Legislature. Labor issues were a key issue in the race with Democratic candidates running to repeal Michigan’s right-to-work law and re-establishing ‘prevailing wage’ on government projects. For the first time in eight years, our state will have a divided government – but the biggest labor reforms look to remain on the books.”
“In this sea of partisanship, expect a safe harbor for bipartisanship in the next Congress in protecting consumers, by bringing more accountability and transparency to the Internet’s unchecked, winner-take-all, biased-brokers, of online supply and demand: Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Consumers and both parties understand that power corrupts, and these companies’ unchecked market power over most-everything corrupts completely.”
Policy Advisor, Telecommunications
The Heartland Institute
“On the night the Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives, former speaker Nancy Pelosi crowed, ‘pre-existing conditions, pre-existing conditions,’ as she knew that this was the buzz-word that energized the Democrat base to win many close elections. Through this whole campaign season she never explained how Obamacare has become a costly trap for patients with pre-existing conditions because healthy young people have left Obamacare in droves.
“We can only hope that the electorate is tired of the infighting and will expect this new Congress to devise real solutions to the problems in our health care system. But even if our government cannot deliver, the Direct Primary Care movement is growing as doctors find they can work directly with patients to deliver high quality care at a low cost. And fortunately, the health sharing ministries are still alive, well and growing.”
“Many Democratic candidates were financially fueled with money from the billionaire class, and especially those billionaires that have become legion on the West Coast. If there is a coherent economic philosophy with Democrats, it is the embrace of socialism, as they hold to the crabbed belief that socialists have created paradise elsewhere, and that a highly-taxed and highly-regulated economy will magically produce a cornucopia of free goods. In other words, they continue to believe in a fantasy.”
William L. Anderson
Professor, Department of Economics
College of Business
Frostburg State University
“Even with a divided Congress, our elected officials must come together and immediately address American’s risky dependence on imports for critical minerals and metals needed for all our technology. Otherwise our smartphones, batteries, alternative energy options, and military defense are all in jeopardy, along with our economic security.
“This is not a partisan issue; it is woven into the fabric of our 21st-century lifestyle in terms of medical advances, transportation choices, environmental trade-offs, business productivity, and educational priorities.”
Silicon Valley author, Rare Mettle
Co-author, Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
“My view on healthcare is that the 2018 election will result in a slowing of any changes to health care at the federal level. Gridlock will be the theme. However, on the margins, some changes may still occur. But this will not satisfy conservatives who yearn for a more market-based health care system, nor liberals who want ‘Medicare for all.’ The media has been touting that the voters have been energized by healthcare issues, but I don’t see this election result changing anything dramatically.”
Gerard Gianoli, M.D.
The Ear and Balance Institute
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
“A divided Congress will force The White House to adopt a new strategy regarding healthcare reform. Rather than a political model that is framed in terms of Obamacare repeal and replace, they would be well advised to adopt an economic paradigm instead. They have already hinted at this with some of the comments coming from the White House regarding pharmacy benefit managers and drug prices.
“They should expand this to a comprehensive approach that looks at all parts of the healthcare system which cost a huge amount of money yet offer no value – such as PBMs, group purchasing organizations for hospitals, and the overuse of insurance for routine care. All of these drive up prices needlessly.”
“Democrats ran a divisive campaign in the mid-term election. They hoped to energize voters who oppose President Trump and drive a wedge between his supporters and Republican voters who’ve grown apathetic. The Democrats’ strategy did not work as well as they had hoped. Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives but that is expected in midterm elections when a newly-elected president’s party controls the House. Democrats’ victory in the House was not as big as expected and Republicans scored gains in the Senate and had some unexpected victories in state gubernatorial elections.
“Health care was on voters’ minds. Unfortunately, losing the House makes health care reform more difficult. The longer Obamacare remains in effect the more difficult it is to reform the health care law.”
“Given the new make-up of the House, network neutrality legislation will likely be back … again. That is to say it is more likely that a pro-big-government leadership in the House will want to impose big government controls and mandates on the internet rather than promoting freedom and liberty. In addition, the likelihood of the House of addressing the expansive new taxing regime post-Wayfair has been reduced. Taxpayers face the prospect of higher taxes, less freedom, and a slower, more expensive internet.”
Managing Director, Madery Bridge Associates
Policy Advisor, Telecom and Technology
The Heartland Institute
“With the elections over, it is now time for those we sent to Congress to start working together to find solutions to the challenges that face America. Criminal justice reform remains an area where progress can be made, and is an area where we have seen a growing bipartisan consensus. Additionally, states will still have a great chance to seek waivers from the federal government for things like work requirements for Medicaid and innovation waivers to improve access to quality health care for all Ohioans.
“And on the judicial front we can expect to see President Trump appoint more judges who interpret the law rather than make law.”
Greg R. Lawson
Statehouse Liaison and Policy Analyst
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
“The success of the Democrats in winning a majority in the House means the end of any prospect for the next two years of federal legislative reform in higher education. The Higher Education Act (HEA) will be rolled over, not revised. The House Democrats might pass their version of the reauthorization of HEA, the Aim Higher Act, but the Senate will reject it out of hand. The Democratic majority in the House will also work hard to thwart many of the reforms that the Department of Education has begun under Secretary Betsy DeVos: efforts to fix Title IX rules, repair accreditation, foster competition among colleges, level the playing field between not-for-profit and for-profit colleges, roll back grants that unfairly favor programs that benefit campus progressives, and amend other programs to ensure that they serve broader national purposes will face significant new obstacles from Congress.
“There were many things that the Republican Congress could and should have accomplished while it had the chance, but once again the Republican leadership assigned very low priority to higher education reform. The price for that negligence is apparent in the voting patterns that brought the Democrats to the majority: the plurality of college-degreed voters in the suburbs voted for Democrats, as did millions of college students. Allowing college to be turned into a four-year immersion in the ideology of the progressive left has long-term consequences. A majority of college graduates from the last quarter century are the new ‘low information voters.’ They know precious little about American history or the underlying principles of our republic, and they are primed to look on ordinary Americans and America itself with disdain. Higher education is a key issue for conservatives if they have any hope of shaping the future of our country.”
“The midterm elections certainly have been a referendum on Trump, but mostly on his style (classical male ego) that offended too many college-educated women. This should tell us something about the values absorbed at the modern, ‘progressive’ university. Trump personifies the rejection of ‘progressive,’ although he is hardly a ‘conservative.’
“The Senate victories assure the continuing influence of more Federalist Society members, and perhaps another Supreme Court appointee. Straightening out the appellate courts is also worth looking forward to, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is eager to do more.
“No more tax cuts, sadly. Perhaps we will even House pressure to end Trump’s tariff games. But a narrow Democratic majority in the House only makes Speaker Pelosi’s last term a prospect for ashes and regrets. Trump has someone now to campaign against for the next two years. He has an enemy to ‘blame.’”
Policy Advisor, Economics
The Heartland Institute
“For weeks we’ve been hearing so much about a ‘blue wave’ that you would’ve expected a tsunami last night. Democrats must be waking up this morning with that disappointment schoolchildren feel when they’ve been expecting school to close for weather, but the sun is shining bright.
“The natural balance of power tends to swing back and forth in Congress. In the 2006 midterm elections, while George W. Bush was president, the Democrats gained control of the House and Senate. In 2010 and 2014, while Barack Obama was president, Republicans enjoyed historic, sweeping gains in the midterm elections. The 1998 midterm elections were the first since 1934 not to result in net gains in congressional seats for the party whose president was not in office. In light of this history, the Democrats as a matter of course should have done far better last night than they did.
“Although Republicans have lost the House, they can, given historical trends, consider the 2018 midterms a victory. To have picked up seats in the Senate, moreover, means they can continue to populate the federal courts with intelligent, reliable judges who are committed to the rule of law rather than whims and fleeting fancies.”
Assistant Attorney General, State of Alabama Office of the Attorney General
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
“The midterms seem to set Trump up for 2020. The right governors are in place. The House could have been much worse. The resignations by Republican members set up their loss of the House. Why couldn’t these guys gotten reelected and the resigned with the House still in Republican control? Because they didn’t care. That’s a pretty bad example for the party and House Speaker Paul Ryan. It was Ryan’s job to hold the House, but he did not influence those people to stay on. Taking a look at Senate results tells you that Ryan failed big.
“Senate set up to approve originalists to all the Courts. Thomas is a pretty sure third Trump replacement to SCOTUS. Thomas ready to go RVing, Sottemayor is ill, meaning other appointments possible in next two years, and if Trump re0elected, the odds go up for SCOTUS appointments.
“If Trump totally redoes the courts, both the Supreme Court and the courts of appeals, he goes down as one of the top four or five presidents in history.”
The Heartland Institute is a 34-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.