This fall’s main event will be the presidential election, but just as important will be the contests for control of the two chambers of Congress. It seems unlikely that the House will change hands, but Democrats appear likely to gain several seats in the U.S. Senate, possibly enough to take control of the chamber.
If that happens, it will be tempting to see some larger story in the result. Perhaps Donald Trump cost Republicans further down the ballot. Or maybe voters are reacting to years of inaction by congressional Republicans. Maybe it’s voter reaction to the GOP’s position on social issues. Narrative is a powerful thing, and legions of political reporters are addicted to it.
But the truth is, Democrats would likely stand to gain with or without Donald Trump and a dysfunctional Congress. In fact, many of the trends driving election outcomes are mechanical rather than story-driven.
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