Obama campaigns for blue wave in midterm elections

September 8, 2018

As politicos predict a blue wave, hurdles include apathy, doubt and strong economy

President Barack Obama is kicking off his campaign for Democratic candidates, and the party is counting on minority voters and strong turnout – both stoked by scandals encircling the White House  – to take control of the House. A strong economy and a loyal Trump base may help Republicans hold their ground. USC experts are ready to talk about November predictions, and the strategies both parties need to take or regain momentum.

The scandal effect

“Research in political science has long supported the theory that scandals tend to cost incumbents vote share. They can mobilize opponents and demobilize supporters. President Trump’s scandals are not helping GOP candidates and very well may be hurting them.

“In a working paper with USC political science Professor Christian Grose, I show that campaign finance scandals cost incumbents around 5 percentage points of vote share.  Other kinds of scandals can have an even larger effect.”

Abby Wood is an associate professor of law, political science and public policy at the USC Gould School of Law.

Contact: Abby Wood at awood@law.usc.edu or 213-500-8673


It’s all about turnout

“Minority voters are key to understanding the dynamics of elections in California as well as other states – blue, red, and purple alike – in the U.S.

“Election outcomes are all about turnout, among the most difficult aspects to predict. The win by Democrat Doug Jones against Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama special election for the U.S. Senate provides an important example of the effect of strong mobilization among Democrats in that state.”

Jane Junn holds the Associates Chair in Social Sciences and is a professor of political science and gender studies at USC.



Minorities and millennials

“There is definitely a lot of energy on the left—fueled by anti-establishment fervor and visceral hate for Donald Trump. But the path for Democrats to regain control of Congress and the White House most likely runs closer to the middle of the road.

“The challenge for Democrats is to harness the energy of minorities and millennials evident in the primaries and couple it with an appeal to moderates who are fed up with President Donald Trump.”

-from Fox&Hounds

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe is a senior fellow at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.

Contact:  or (310) 641-7472


Illustration by Diana Molleda/iStock