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28 PalletCentral • November-December 2018 onfusion. Contradiction. Conflict. Our recent midterm elections (the election cycle between presidential election years) solidified this as our current political state. Republicans lost 39 seats (at press time) in the U.S. House, but gained two seats in the U.S. Senate. Some blame the president for the losses, others credit him for mitigating the losses and driving the gains. The reality is murkier. To better understand what happened, let's look at a few key underlying factors behind what happened in November. There is one question pollsters ask about the direction of the country loosely referred to as "right direction/wrong track." While this number had been improving, roughly 55 percent of voters still believed that the country was on the wrong track headed into election day. For Republicans, it only got worse from there. Trump's consensus approval rating stood at 44 percent positive and 53 percent negative in the days before the election. This is an historically low approval rating for a midterm election. In 1994, President Clinton had a 46 percent approval rating and Democrats lost 54 seats; in 2010 President Obama had a 45 percent approval and Democrats lost 63 seats. Hence, some observers suggest that for Republicans to have only lost 39 seats given a 44 percent presidential approval rating is an electoral miracle. When significant numbers of members of one party retire from office rather than run again, that party tends to take a beating at the ballot box. C The Political State After the Midterms By Bruce Haynes POLITICS

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