November 12, 2018

2018 U.S. Elections: What They Mean And What’s Next

Voters in the United States cast their ballots last Tuesday, Nov. 6 in the 2018 midterm elections. While winners have not been determined in a substantial number of races—in Florida there will be at least three statewide recounts and the U.S. Senate race in Arizona still has not been called—it is clear that Democrats will be the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans will lead the U.S. Senate. The Democratic party also took back control of several governorships, including those in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Exit polls conducted on Election Day revealed voters are not convinced the Trump administration is on the right path when it comes to trade policy. According to Marketwatch, only one-quarter of voters surveyed said the president’s trade policies have helped their local economy. Thirty-six percent said the policies have not made an impact and 31 percent said they have helped their community.

Voters had similar feelings about the 2017 tax bill. Almost half (45 percent) said they had seen no impact from the legislation, while only 28 percent said they had been helped by the law. That bill reduced taxes for most individuals, small businesses, and corporations. Despite the lukewarm feelings about the tax law, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said, “there is no chance … House Democrats will try to repeal” it.

The divided outcome means it will be even more difficult for Congress to pass legislation in 2019 and 2020. On trade, the 116thCongress will have to decide whether or not to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and, as Politico noted, that could be difficult since in last week’s election the White House lost at least 20 reliable pro-trade votes. However, Politico also pointed out that 11 years ago, President George W. Bush and Democrats in Congress worked together to set new standards on labor and environment protections in trade pacts. Politico said those efforts “could be a roadmap for the Trump administration to find common ground on trade issues.”

Since the election, Democrats also have said they plan to focus on developing an infrastructure program (White House officials have agreed this should be a focus), fixes to the Affordable Care Act, bringing down prescription drug prices, and changes to the immigration system.