17 Months to the End of Democracy

TL;DR: We’re screwed.

Recent discussions on FB and Twitter led me to do the advance prep for the 2018 midterms. My take: It’s ugly.

I originally compiled the historical data in response to accusations that the Democrats weren’t doing enough to support the so-called Progressive agenda. I kept hearing that Dems had the majority. It’s true that for a long time the balance of power seemed to indicate that a simple majority was enough, but that’s largely untrue because of the filibuster.

There’s an interesting (and altogether unintended) correlation with the date range I picked and this graph on the Wikipedia page:


“Senate Action on Cloture Motions”. United States Senate. Retrieved November 22, 2013.[1]

I didn’t set out to correlate the stats. I chose the dates arbitrarily because I started paying attention to politics with the 1972 election, thanks to my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Smith. My original Election stats spreadsheet included the breakdown of the US Congressional seats and the balance of power from 1973-date:

Primary and Caucus Statistics for 2016 Presidential Election

I’ve just pulled those stats into their own separate spreadsheet, here:

House & Senate Composition/Predictions and Historical Data

While I was at it, I added the 2018 Midterms with a prediction of what that will look like, assuming there are no other Senate seats up for grabs before we get to the election. (These are generally handled state by state outside of the general election.) Note that 1/3rd of Senate seats are normally up for election every six years. The 2018 election is for Class 1 (also known as the Class of 2012), who came in on the coattails of President Obama’s second term.

Statistically speaking, it doesn’t look good at all for a Democratic takeover in 2018. At present, there are only eight incumbent GOP seats up, three of which have not yet declared whether they will run. Only one of those seats is remotely at risk (Nevada) based on the election outcomes in 2016 and 2014. Meanwhile, there are 23 Democratic and two Independent seats up, of which 11 are what I would consider at risk. There are four undeclared incumbents.

Furthermore, with mounting evidence that the Russians hacked into 39 states over the course of the 2016 election, and what looks like widespread collusion in the Trump administration, there’s every reason to believe that we have lost control of our country even before January, 2018.

Chances are excellent that if we don’t get our collective shit together and get out the vote in 17 months, the GOP will acquire a filibuster-proof majority and our Great American Experiment will be over for good.

FiveThirtyEight.com doesn’t list the 2018 Midterms yet. Watch this space for updates and let’s see if my predictions play out.


[1] Randy Schutt – Own work
Number of cloture motions filed, voted on, and invoked by the U.S. Senate since 1917. Data from http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/cloture_motions/clotureCounts.htm See earlier graph: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cloture_Voting,_United_States_Senate,_1947_to_2008.svg
CC BY-SA 3.0
File:US Senate cloture since 1917.png
Created: 22 November 2013

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