November 6 mid-term poll is crucial for US politics

Public opinion polls have shown consistent leads for Democrats and worker allies to take back the US House and pick up some key governorships

November 6 mid-term poll is crucial for US politics
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Mark Gruenberg/IPA

Millions of voters, many of them Democrats including historic numbers of women, angry at the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and subsequent GOP actions trashing everyone but the 1 percent, are mobilizing in a blue wave. A fearful part of the Trump base, many registered as Republicans, some allowing their fear to turn into hate, and many crowing over the ascension of a right-wing federal judge –- Brett Kavanaugh — to the Supreme Court, is surging in a red counter-wave.

African-Americans, Latinos, progressive Jews, and class-conscious white workers, women, the old and the young are entering the political arena in unprecedented numbers to reject the Trump agenda of tax cuts for the rich and destruction of healthcare for most. Some white voters are getting involved, unfortunately, to back what they perceive as positive efforts to “Make America Great Again” by trashing US allies, imposing tariffs on Canada and cultivating dictators around the world. And, looming over and driving it all, is Donald Trump.

Welcome to the 2018 mid-term election, probably the most-consequential one the US has had in decades. Its outcome could set the course of the country for at least 10 years.

In no other mid-term elections in USA, such polarization was noted. This is the semi-final and its outcome will have important bearing on 2020 Presidential poll.

With just four days to go until the November. 6 balloting, and with early voting under way in states that allow it, the outcome is very much up for grabs. Public opinion polls have shown consistent leads for Democrats and worker allies to take back the U.S. House and pick up some key governorships, notably in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and possibly Georgia and Florida.

But polls have been wrong in the past, especially when African-Americans seek top jobs. Democrats Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee in Florida, Stacey Abrams, the state house minority leader in Georgia, and Ben Jealous, the former NAACP head in Maryland, all seek governorships. Gillum and especially Abrams must fight GOP voter suppression, too.

Both major parties and outside shady dark money special interests poured millions of dollars into a mass airwaves campaign. Total spending already tops $1 billion. Just one gubernatorial till, in Illinois, shattered the $200 million mark – and that was by July.

In all this, workers and their allies are campaigning nationwide on economic themes. The GOP’s $1.2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the rich is a big talking point – and voters realize it doesn’t trickle down to them. And both Democrats and workers are trumpeting the GOP’s past and present efforts to demolish the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, especially its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

In yet one of many lies, Republicans now say they plan to protect those vulnerable people, while Democrats would not. That’s despite more than 60 congressional roll calls, all pushed by the GOP, to repeal the ACA. Such is the tenor of the 2018 GOP campaign.

The goal they’re fighting over: whether Democrats gain at least 24 U.S. House seats, thus wresting control from the worker-hating Republican majority. And whether the GOP increases its Senate margin from 51-47, plus two pro-Democratic independents.

“We can’t ride a wave to victory. It takes work!” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently told the Northeastern Illinois Labor Council. “I need you to volunteer. I need you to door knock and phone bank. If you haven’t yet, send local union mail to your members. Have conversations at the worksite. Come join us for a labor walk.”

“I’m not going to raise $2 million to win a seat nobody knows about,” says Penny Morales Shaw, one labor-backed candidate for a seat on the Harris County (Houston) Commission, which controls a $2 billion budget. “But dollars don’t win elections. People do.”

The reason the 2018 election is so important was summarized in a plea for more money for pro-worker, pro-woman, pro-gun control candidates in Florida – not just Gillum, but for the state legislature, where progressive forces face, right now, a GOP veto-proof majority.

“These races are of vital national importance,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said. “Only a blue Florida can stop mass voter suppression in a key swing state in 2020. And, if Republicans control the upcoming redistricting process in this large, fast-growing state, multiple seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will be lost to Republicans for a decade or more.”

Those words could be applied to many large and medium-sized GOP-gerrymandered states. The 2010 mid-term GOP election sweep gave the right-wing control of governors’ chairs and legislatures in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas, among others. They exploited it to the hilt.

That’s why the 2018 election is so important. Most of the 36 governors chosen this fall will have a big say in who represents you and me after the 2020 census re-allots U.S. House seats among the states, and state legislative seats within them. In all but six states – Iowa, California, and Arizona among them – governors and legislatures make those decisions.

Even some of pro-worker state legislative margins are close: One seat, for example, in the Washington state senate. Similar small margins in Oregon. And the New York state senate was effectively controlled by a coalition of Republicans and eight renegade conservative Democrats – six of whom lost their primaries to progressives in early September.

State lawmakers matter. California’s legislature and retiring Gov. Jerry Brown (D) passed a raft of pro-worker – and anti-Trump – laws. Right-wing GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in Illinois tried to jam through a right-to-work law but lost 71-0 in the Democratic-run state senate. But Rauner also initiated the infamous U.S. Supreme Court case that made every single state and local worker in the U.S. a potential “free rider,” thus slamming unions and workers in the pocketbook. That dollar drain could hamper labor’s election efforts.

Rauner now trails by double digits in the polls to AFL-CIO-endorsed Democratic nominee, J.B. Pritzker, a hotel executive whose Hyatt chain has some labor baggage of its own. But Pritzker’s favored to win, aided by unionists angered at Rauner’s disastrous reign.

Similarly, Wisconsin unionists feel confident about their chances of knocking off right-wing GOP Gov. Scott Walker, author of the infamous Act 10, which emasculated the Badger State’s public worker unions – sparing those few unions that endorsed him for the top job when he first ran in 2010. But Walker survived three prior elections, including a recall labor pushed.

Recent polls give the Democratic and union-backed nominee, Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public instruction, an average lead of 3.6 percentage points, but the most recent survey gives Walker a 1-point lead. Both are within the margin of error.

Similarly, the heavily Republican Michigan government was criminally negligent, or worse, in the Flint lead-in-the-water catastrophe. And departing GOP Gov. Rick Snyder willingly signed the right-wing majority’s demolition of state worker protections.

That’s sent Michigan unions out on the hustings en masse in favor of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gretchen Whitmer, electing more pro-worker state lawmakers – and favoring a referendum that would set up a non-partisan redistricting commission.

The combination of the Flint water mess and an effective “Fix the damn roads” theme by Whitmer, a former state legislator, gives her a 46 percent-41 percent lead over GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette. Seven percent of voters back a Libertarian and the rest are undecided.

Workers are guaranteed frequent allies in several top races including New York governor (Andrew Cuomo), California governor (Gavin Newsom), legislature and U.S. Senator (Dianne Feinstein or Kevin DeLeon). However, progressive Democrats, including progressive unions, are upset by some Feinstein votes and cooperation with Trump and Cuomo’s failures on ethics and other issues in Albany. Besides Illinois, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and Georgia there are many other notable races key to workers and their allies. Among them:

In no other mid-term elections in USA, such polarization was noted. This is the semi-final and its outcome will have important bearing on 2020 Presidential poll.

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