David Winston

2018 Midterms: A Missed Opportunity for Republicans
They should have been touting good economic news. Instead they drowned it out

OPINION — We’ve assessed the 2018 campaign that began and ended with the fight for the election narrative. Our conclusion: This was not a base election. Independents decided the outcome, breaking for Democrats by 12 points.

It was a missed opportunity.

Independents Decided This Election. They’ll Decide the Next One Too
Everything depends on the people in the middle — the ones who don’t get up every day breathing fire

OPINION — There is a lot still to be learned from the midterm elections as analysts pour over incoming data, but one thing we do know is that this was a terribly divisive election, reflecting a growing disunity that isn’t good for either party or the nation.

Voters know it, too. The 2018 exit polls asked voters whether the country, politically, was becoming more or less divided. By a margin of 76 percent to 9 percent, people opted for “more divided,” an ominous sign that something has to change.

GOP Didn’t Have a Turnout Problem, It Had a Focus Problem
Turnout was high across the board, but Republicans minimized their No. 1 issue

OPINION — Did the 2018 midterm electorate break new political ground as the media had predicted for months or was it déjà vu all over again? The answer is both. 

In my last column before the election, I suggested that four key measurements would tell the story of this year’s midterms: party ID, ideology, turnout by unique voter groups (young voters and women), and how independents break.

Looking for Trends on Election Night? Watch These 4 Key Indicators
Exit poll data will offer early clues of the final outcome

OPINION — With the fog of political coverage you’re likely to see over the next week, I wanted to provide Roll Call readers with a simple how-to guide to identify important indicators on election night and what I will be focusing on as an election analyst when the first numbers begin to pour in.

You’ll hear a lot of commentary and even more speculation about the direction of the election and what specific races may mean. Here are four key indicators that can give you a good idea of how things are trending for both parties.

What a Green Wave Can’t Hide — It’s Still the Economy, Stupid
Strong economic numbers may be giving Republicans a late boost

OPINION — We’re down to the wire. Less than two weeks out from the election, this is when you begin to hear politicians and their consultants talk about campaign mechanics — mega ad buys, turnout operations, phone banks and ballot security — that will “get their candidate over the finish line.”

This year, Democrats are also bragging about their fundraising prowess, a “green wave” so to speak that gives them a winning advantage, they argue, over Republicans. Perhaps they should remember powerful fundraisers like Hillary Clinton and the 15 other Republican presidential candidates who outraised and outspent Donald Trump by a country mile and lost.

The Political Class Got 2016 Wrong. Could We See a Repeat?
What’s possible is sometimes more important than what’s probable

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

So said Sherlock Holmes in “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and the great detective’s observation may well apply to the upcoming midterm elections.

Memo to GOP: You’ve Got a Winning Message and It’s Not Pelosi
Republicans should be touting the success of their economic policies

OPINION — Republicans have a great economic story to tell if they are willing to tell it. They have less than a month to make their case to voters that the economic policies that House Republicans began pushing in 2010 are finally paying off. Now is the time to reinforce success, not change direction.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent, its lowest mark in nearly 50 years. Remarkably, unemployment has stayed under 4 percent for five of the past six months and remains at near record lows for African-Americans, Hispanics and women.

What’s Missing in the Health Care Debate?
By focusing on costs, we ignore the issues of health care quality and innovation

OPINION — The drumbeat on the left for single-payer health care is getting louder, pushed by Democratic luminaries and congressional hopefuls, all trying to make it a major issue this fall. 

That’s no surprise. Health care as a political and policy issue has been a front-burner concern for almost a decade, with both parties failing to find a solution that addresses access, quality and affordability.

What Constitutes a Wave Election?
With half of independents still up for grabs, a blue wave is not a foregone conclusion

OPINION — Is 2018 going to be a wave election? The better question is: “What constitutes a wave election?”

In a CNN interview last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Christiane Amanpour, “People ask me, is this a tsunami or is it wave? And I said, in neither case, it’s many drops of water and it’s all very close. So it won’t be a big margin, it will be small margins in many races that will produce the victory.”

Why Voters Are Still Wary 10 Years After the Economic Collapse
Despite many positive economic signs, people have long memories

OPINION — This September marks the 10th anniversary of the economic collapse and failure of Wall Street banks and companies. It recalls one of the most scarring events for Americans, as they remember the fears, anxieties and financial trauma that they, their family and friends, their communities, and the country as a whole experienced. 

In exit polls from the 2008 presidential election, 85 percent of voters said they were worried about the direction of the nation’s economy, with 50  percent “very worried.” Eighty-one percent said they feared that the economic crisis would harm their family’s finances over the next year, with almost half “very worried.” That level of personal concern about finances doesn’t go away overnight.

If Congress Wants More Lions, It’s Time to Change the Habitat
‘The country’s honor is ours to sustain’

Congress returned this week, down a man. John McCain, over the past days, has been eulogized and mourned by partisans and pundits of every stripe and by ordinary people who loved and admired him.

His courage, his irreverence, his certainty, his temper, and most of all, his moral clarity endeared him to both the nation and his beloved Senate.

Two Years Later, the Elites Are Still Disconnected From Voters
For many Americans, it feels like the 2016 election never ended

OPINION — This is a column about listening.

It’s about the millions of people in this country who feel that no one cares what they think or values what they do. People who believe that their voice isn’t being heard, especially by the elites in this country, whether in politics, the media, academia or the cultural arena.

Men Are Seeing Roses. Women Are Gloomy. What Does That Mean for the Midterms?
‘Women’s vote’ isn’t a monolith, but grim outlook could spell trouble

OPINION — Are women seeing the country “through a glass darkly” or are men seeing it through rose-colored glasses? The most recent Winning the Issues survey (July 30-31) found that 47 percent of men think the country is going in the right direction, compared to just 37 percent of women. That’s significant.

On the flip side, 44 percent of men say the country is on the wrong track, while more than half of women do. 

Parsing Ohio’s 12th: Neither Party Should Rush to Conclusions Just Yet
A lot more can still happen three months out from November

In 1982, as a young opposition researcher at the National Republican Congressional Committee, one of “my candidates” was an equally young John Kasich running in Ohio’s 12th District.

He was the only GOP challenger to win in that first off-year election of the Reagan presidency, and Republicans have held the seat ever since. With my background in the district, I had more than a passing interest in the outcome of Tuesday’s special election there.

Second Quarter GDP Numbers Show Tax Cuts Deliver
Strong state of economy could help GOP mitigate midterm disadvantage

OPINION — No release has been more highly anticipated this summer — with the possible exception of “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” — than the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ second quarter GDP numbers.

Washington and Wall Street, with a lot on the line, have been anxiously awaiting the federal government’s quarterly report card on economic growth, billed as the first really big test of President Donald Trump’s economic policies.

Why Party Brand Matters
Both major parties have a product to sell, but neither is doing a good job selling it

OPINION — Why do some companies seem to make Barron’s and Fortune’s annual “Most admired” and “Most respected” lists year after year? Why are most of them iconic brands, whether it’s newer tech giants Apple and Alphabet or generational companies like Johnson & Johnson and Walt Disney?

Successful companies build their brand based on three key fundamentals: innovative products that meet people’s needs, strong values that drive company decision-making, and a responsiveness to changing times and changing customers.

Opinion: Trump Should Heed Hard Lessons of Helsinki — Or Risk His Leadership
President’s unconventional style has its advantages, but not always

 

“President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected— immediately.”

Opinion: When Political Discourse Becomes Bullying
With the extremes sucking the oxygen, we’ve traded thoughtful argument for shaming

There was a time when I saw appearing on cable news shows, both left and right, as an opportunity for a civil debate on serious policy issues. That was probably naive, but I believed in the inherent value of proof-based and polite argument in providing the nation with the information to make good policy choices.

But as time went on, I began to feel like Michael Palin in the famous Monty Python “Argument Clinic” sketch. In the comedy bit, Palin goes to the “clinic” to buy an argument. He pays out his five pounds, but when he meets his “arguer,” Graham Chapman immediately goes on the attack.

Opinion: The Numbers Tell the Story — Tax Cuts Work
Recent economic data run counter to the media and Democrats‘ narrative

Last October, not long before passage of the Republican tax cuts, Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” argued over taxes with his guest, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

“There has been no study that has been able to somehow reinforce this idea that tax cuts do translate to economic growth,” the NBC host said.

Opinion: Back to the Future With Party ID
Spike in the generic ballot? Calm down and carry on

It’s morning again in America. You grab your first cup of coffee, click to your favorite news site and are greeted by a new poll with a huge generic ballot spike in the congressional vote. What should your reaction be? Is it time to freak out, or calm down and assume the poll is an outlier?

The answer is neither. When a particular survey suddenly shows a significant shift in one direction or the other, political and media analysts and the public need to approach the data with caution. Before assuming there was a change in voter preference, we need to ask whether party identification in the survey also changed significantly, and if so, why.