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Johnson says no ‘Blue Wave’ as country reaches split decision

Barry McNamara
Political science professor Robin Johnson is pictured taping an episode of "Heartland Politics," which airs on KBUR-AM in Burlington, Iowa.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Expect at least two more years of partisan battles in Washington, D.C. That’s the likely outcome of Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to Monmouth College political science professor Robin Johnson.

Although some analysts wondered whether Tuesday’s elections might produce a “Blue Wave” of Democratic congressional victories, Johnson said the national Democratic party came short of reaching the kind of victory that its leaders had hoped to achieve.

“Since World War I, history says that the average number of seats picked up by the non-presidential party in midterm elections is 29,” said Johnson. “The Democrats picked up 28, and with a few races still undecided, that number may get into the low- to mid-30s. But the Democrats actually lost three or four seats in the Senate. So I would not define that as a ‘wave.’ Remember, the Republicans picked up 50 to 60 seats in the midterm elections during Obama’s presidency.”

As for the election being a referendum on President Trump, Johnson replied: “It was a split decision, in boxing parlance. ... It reflected the split nature of our country.”

Johnson said that two of the more noticeable splits in the midterm elections came between rural and urban voters, and between college-educated women and men without a college degree.

“In spite of people’s hopes that the Democrats gaining some of the power might lead to some compromises between the parties, I’m not holding my breath,” said Johnson. “I think we’re going to see two more years of partisan fighting.”

That said, Johnson hopes Democrats and Republicans can come together on issues on which they should agree.

“The opportunity is there,” he said. “Take infrastructure funding. That’s something that everyone agrees we need. There’s hope that the Democrats and Trump can sit down and work something out. It lends itself to compromise.”

Johnson called Illinois’ election results “anticlimactic” – especially Democrat J.B. Pritzker’s defeat of sitting Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, Kwame Raoul's 11-point win over Erika Harold for attorney general, and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos’ landslide win for a fourth term to represent Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.

“There were really no surprises,” he said. “J.B. Pritzker won a decisive victory over a very unpopular incumbent. Cheri Bustos received over 60 percent in a district that voted for Trump in 2016. We thought the attorney general’s race might’ve been interesting, but it wasn’t close.”

In the latter race, Raoul and Harold were competing to succeed Lisa Madigan, who decided to step down after 16 years in office.

Johnson said that Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan of Chicago now has a supermajority in the Illinois House.

“It will be interesting to see what the Democrats do with that power,” he said. “There are some serious problems facing the state – pensions, moving the economy forward. There’s nowhere for them to hide. Now is the time for them to produce some ideas and to do that without creating new taxes.”