The Shape of the 2018 Elections: The Blue Wave in 2018

by Betty O’Shaughnessy and Dick Simpson, authors of Winning Elections in the 21st Century

This year’s elections have revealed the most polarized nation since 1968. With the recent conviction and plea bargains of two of the president’s top aides, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, presidential impeachment is now part of political discourse.

In addition, both parties show divisions, Republicans between the old-line moderate Republicans and rabid Trump supporters; Democrats between independent-minded progressives and establishment Democrats.

Money is certainly still a factor in this election — candidates from both parties depend on massive donations which have been unregulated since the Citizens United court decision. Nonetheless, it is likely that turnout rather than money will be the deciding factor in the November general elections.  Marches in the street may presage marches to the polls this year – at least by comparison to other non-presidential elections in the past.

The elephant in the room is the threat of presidential impeachment. Leaders from both parties are reluctant to push for impeachment before the election, preferring first to let Robert Mueller’s investigation run its course. According to The Hill, Democrats feel that focusing on impeachment could be politically unsafe for Senate Democrats, who are defending 10 seats in states won by Trump in 2016. At the same time, the New York Times reports that senior Republican Party leaders are urging their most imperiled incumbents to speak out about the wrongdoing surrounding President Trump, with the fear that “Where there’s smoke, and there’s a lot of smoke, there may well be fire.” This is enlarging the rift between the Trump White House and the Republican-controlled Congress.

Although both parties show divisions, they are more pronounced in the Republican Party. Some Republican leaders are calling on their candidates with tough races to stop defending Trump, but to paraphrase the once-party leader and recent primary loser Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Party has become “the Party of Trump.”

No one faction is winning all the primary elections in either party. Rather, the extent to which candidates’ positions are in harmony with those of their constituents seems to determine the winners In this election, especially “all politics is local.” Both moderates and radicals have won their party’s primaries.

While money is an important factor in any election and this will be the most expensive non-presidential election ever held, turnout will determine election outcome. Generally low during midterm elections, Pew Research reports that U.S. House primary turnout is 84% higher for Democrats and 24% for Republicans than 2014.  It has also been higher in most gubernatorial and senatorial elections. Turnout has increased most among women but also groups who have not voted in recent elections, such as minorities and young voters. Since the Parkland shooting, registration for voters 18-29 has increased by 2.16% nationwide, and among several battleground states like Pennsylvania it has gone up 16%.  The goal for various national organization has been to increase youth voting from a low of 19% four years ago to above 30% and that goal is almost certain to be achieved, with an increase of more than 2 million voters in this category alone.

Post-millennials have a higher sense of political efficacy than slightly older Millennials. And they tend to vote Democratic/progressive. Younger candidates on the ballot may also be more appealing to this generation, who believe they can make a difference.  In 2108 challenging candidates are younger and more have won their primary elections. Governing magazine reports that while the average age of incumbent governors facing election is 62, most candidates running against them are 50 or younger.  The same is true up and down the ballot.

Turnout remains the key. If women, minorities, youth and the LGBT community come out to vote, the Democrats will win in 2018.  But to build a long-term winning coalition, they must also truly listen to the people who felt so ignored that they voted for Donald Trump in the first place.  In a time of polarization in a politics of resentment, it is hard to mobilize the base and bring back alienated voters.

It is impossible at this point to predict whether Republicans can maintain their Congressional majority or the Democrats can take over the House and change U.S. policies. The election will be critical.  If the Democrats win back either House, they will block all future Trump administration policies and legislative efforts.  The election will set the stage for the 2020 election which will determine whether progressives or conservatives guide the future of our country.

Dick Simpson and Betty O’Shaughnessy are authors of Winning Elections in the 21st Century, which provides a guide to understanding the nuts and bolts of current elections.

UPK Announces New Series: Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia

The University Press of Kansas is excited to announce a new academic series: Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia.

As more and more academics at various career stages are exploring different options for work outside the professoriate, changes to academia are causing a rethinking of both the curricula and the ethics of PhD programs. People considering alternate career paths after academia continue to need resources to guide them. The aim of this new series is to redefine what success means for current and former PhD students.

Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia seeks projects that lead to meaningful professional development and create lasting value. Topics should speak to graduate students, recent and experienced PhDs, university faculty and administrators, and the growing alt-ac and post-
ac community. The series will offer affordable books marketed to a wide readership. Projects could be analyses of the academic and alt-ac or post-ac landscapes; how-to guides about dealing with a PhD program or transitioning into various professions; memoirs about different stages of an academic journey; (re)examinations of the purpose, structure, and ethics of graduate education in the twenty-first century; or something else. There’s plenty of room for creative approaches!

“This series is being launched at the perfect time, as there are so many people who are questioning their PhD track or who have PhDs but are thinking about careers outside academia,” explains Joyce Harrison, press editor in chief. “Joe Fruscione and Erin Bartram have their fingers on the pulse of the ‘alt-ac’ world, and I’m looking forward to working with them to produce helpful guides not only for PhDs and PhDs to be, but also for university faculty and administrators.”

About the series editors…

Erin Bartram, PhD, is a freelance writer and historian of women and religion in the United States. After three years on the tenure-track job market, she left full-time academic teaching in 2018. She currently serves as the associate editor of Connecticut History Review, and her writing on history, teaching, higher education, and post-academic life has appeared in the Washington Post, Common-place, the Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. Catholic Historian, and on the pedagogy blog Teaching US History.

Joseph Fruscione, PhD, is a freelance editor, stay-at-home dad, and communications director for the nonprofit PrecariCorps. After fifteen years in aca¬demia as an adjunct teaching American literature, film, and first-year writing, he left teaching in May 2014 to pursue a freelance career. He’s worked as a post-academic consultant for The Professor Is In, and he occasionally does freelance consulting for new alternative academics or post-academics. He’s written Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry (Ohio State University Press, 2012) and edited Teaching Hemingway and Modernism (Kent State University Press, 2015), among other scholarly writing projects. He’s also published pieces about adjunct life and higher ed for Chronicle Vitae, Inside Higher Ed, Digital Pedagogy, PBS NewsHour’s Making Sense series, and elsewhere.

Please send inquiries and questions to rethinkingcareersseries@gmail.com.

UPK Names Bill Allison New Modern War Studies Series Editor

The University Press of Kansas (UPK) is pleased to that announce Bill Allison has been named the new editor of the acclaimed Modern War Studies Series. Allison is an accomplished scholar of American military history, specifically the Vietnam War, and a professor of History at Georgia Southern University.

Initiated in 1986, UPK’s Modern War Studies series publishes several books each year in military history, from the mid eighteenth century to the present. More than 250 titles have been published in the series, and series books have been awarded prizes by the Society for Military History, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Naval Historical Foundation, Army Historical Foundation, Air Force Historical Foundation, Organization of American Historians, and American Historical Association, among others.

“Modern War Studies has been the gold standard for the field, still so among a growing number of really solid military history-oriented series from several outstanding presses,” Allison said. “From operational history to the non-combatant war experience to remembrance and commemoration, and a whole slew of areas of study in between, Modern War Studies has both reflected as well as shaped the amazing scale and scope of “military history” for over thirty years. I want to continue the work that Ted Wilson and Mike Briggs did so well for so many years. I have the greatest respect for both Ted and Mike – both have mentored me over the years, taught me a lot about not only the field and ‘doing’ history, but also about how university presses work and how book publishing has changed over the years.”

Allison earned his BA and MA in History at East Texas State University in 1989 and 1991 and completed his PhD in history at Bowling Green State University. His academic work is complemented by his accomplished writing career. He is author of The Gulf War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), My Lai: An American Atrocity in the Vietnam War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), Military Justice in Vietnam: The Rule of Law in an American War (University Press of Kansas, 2007), and American Diplomats in Russia: Case Studies in Orphan Diplomacy, 1917-1919 (Praeger, 1997), and is co-author with Janet Valentine and the late Jeffery Grey of American Military History: A Survey from Colonial Times to the Present (Pearson, 2013), among other works.

Allison has presented and lectured at numerous conferences and universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, the University of Zurich, the Australian Defence Force Academy, the US Army Heritage and Education Center, and the USAF Air Command & Staff College. He is a former Trustee and Vice-President of the Society for Military History and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Military History as well as editor for Routledge’s Critical Moments in American History series. Allison has served as a visiting professor at the United States Air Force Air War College, the University of Utah, the United States Army War College, and other institutions.

“Bill Allison is one of the most highly regarded military historians working today,” said Joyce Harrison, UPK editor in chief. “He has an exciting vision for the series, and all of us at the University Press of Kansas are thrilled that we’ll be working with him in the years ahead.”

Allison plans to hit the ground running.

“I believe continuing an emphasis on operational history is important – operational studies contribute to the field and often stimulate other scholars in turn to pursue projects that place those experiences on other contexts, be it from the perspective of place, time, race, gender, imperialism, institutional, theory, whatever,” he said. “Collectively, this is what is so exciting about military history and this series – obtaining balance among the range and variety of perspectives from scholars both seasoned and new to the discipline, from around the world, to bring this work together in this series to move us forward and get us thinking of more questions to explore.”

Born and raised in Texas, he lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with his wife Jennifer (Registrar – Wofford College) and three-year-old black lab Tucker.