AEI Election Watch: The 2018 contests - AEI

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Event Summary

With the midterm elections underway, AEI’s team of election experts convened Wednesday for the first Election Watch event of the 2018 campaign.

AEI’s Karlyn Bowman began the event with an overview of the public mood and attitudes surrounding the 2018 elections. Next, AEI’s Michael Barone unpacked the Senate races, covering particularly tight races that will determine the majority. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s John Fortier reviewed the governors’ contests. AEI’s Sean Trende discussed the possible “waves” that could come with House races this year. The panelists agreed that many Senate contests were too close to call, that the Democrats would likely regain the House, and that Republicans would lose governorships.

The Ethics & Public Policy Center’s Henry Olsen added that many traditionally Republican seats, both at the national and state levels, will turn blue, predicting a “high-income revolt.” Lastly, AEI’s Norman J. Ornstein addressed governance after November, speculating on what a new Democratic majority would do in the House versus continued GOP control.

— Zoe Appler

Event Description

In less than a month, Americans will go to the polls to elect 35 senators, 435 members of the House of Representatives, 36 governors, and several thousand state legislators. Join AEI’s Election Watch team for a comprehensive briefing on where the contests stand and what the outcomes may mean for 2019 and beyond. Drawing on their deep experience in analyzing elections, the panelists will examine specific contests, the polls, levels of enthusiasm, key voting groups, the issues, and what the results will mean for the Democratic and Republican parties and for Trump’s coalition and the resistance. In addition, they will address whether America’s election systems are ready for November.

AEI’s Election Watch series is the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. Since 1982, AEI’s experts have provided historical insights and current commentary in every midterm and presidential election.

Join the conversation on social media with #AEI2018.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


8:30 AM
Registration and breakfast

8:45 AM
Panel discussion

Michael Barone, AEI
John Fortier, Bipartisan Policy Center
Henry Olsen, Ethics & Public Policy Center
Norman J. Ornstein, AEI
Sean Trende, AEI

Karlyn Bowman, AEI

9:50 AM

10:00 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Eleanor O’Neil at [email protected], 202.862.5899.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner and a resident fellow at AEI. He is a contributor to Fox News Channel, author of “Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics” (Crown Forum, 2013), and one of the founders of “The Almanac of American Politics.” Over the years, he has written for many publications in the United States and several other countries, including The Economist, The Times Literary Supplement, The Daily Telegraph, and The Sunday Times of London. Mr. Barone received the Bradley Prize from The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in 2010, the Barbara Olson Award from The American Spectator in 2006, and the Carey McWilliams Award from the American Political Science Association in 1992. He has traveled to all 435 congressional districts.

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at AEI, where she compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women’s attitudes. In addition, she has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States.

John Fortier, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Democracy Project, is a political scientist who focuses on governmental and electoral institutions. Before joining the Bipartisan Policy Center, he was a research fellow at AEI, where he served as the principal contributor to the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project, executive director of the Continuity of Government Commission, and project manager of the Transition to Governing Project. He also served as director of the Center for the Study of American Democracy at Kenyon College. Dr. Fortier is the author of “Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises, and Perils” (AEI Press, 2006), author and editor of “After the People Vote: A Guide to the Electoral College” (AEI Press, 2004), and author and coeditor, with Norman Ornstein, of “Second Term Blues: How George W. Bush Has Governed” (Brookings Press, 2007). Dr. Fortier has been a regular columnist for The Hill and Politico and is a frequent television commentator on elections and government institutions. He has also taught at Kenyon College, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware, Harvard University, and Boston College.

Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world. He is the author of “The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism” (Broadside Books, 2017) and the coauthor of “The Four Faces of the Republican Party: The Fight for the 2016 Presidential Nomination” (Palgrave Pivot, 2016) with Dante J. Scala. Before joining the Ethics & Public Policy Center, Mr. Olsen most recently served from 2006 to 2013 as vice president and director of the National Research Initiative at AEI. He previously worked as vice president of programs at the Manhattan Institute and president of the Commonwealth Foundation. His work has been featured in many prominent publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review, and The Weekly Standard.

Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at AEI, where he studies politics, elections, and Congress. He is a cohost of AEI’s Election Watch series, a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal and The Atlantic, a BBC News election analyst, and the chairman of the Campaign Legal Center. Dr. Ornstein previously served as codirector of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission. A longtime observer and analyst of American politics and Congress, he has been involved in political reform for decades, particularly campaign finance reform and the reform of Senate committees. He also played a role in creating the Congressional Office of Compliance and the Office of Congressional Ethics. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. He was named one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine in 2012. His many books include “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported,” with E. J. Dionne and Thomas Mann (St. Martin’s Press, 2017), and the New York Times bestseller “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism” with Thomas Mann (Basic Books, 2012), which was named Book of the Year by Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog, one of the 10 best books on politics in 2012 by The New Yorker, and one of the best books of 2012 by The Washington Post. The book’s revised edition, “It’s Even Worse Than It Was,” was published in April 2016.

Sean Trende is the Gerald R. Ford Visiting Fellow at AEI, where he works on elections, American political trends, voting patterns, and demographics. He is also the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. Before becoming a full-time political analyst, Mr. Trende practiced law for eight years, during which time he represented clients before a variety of settings ranging from state trial courts to the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Trende is the coauthor of “The Almanac of American Politics 2014” (University of Chicago, 2014) and the author of “The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs — and Who Will Take It” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He has appeared on a wide variety of radio and television shows, ranging from “Fox & Friends” on Fox News Channel to “All In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC.


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