The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade organized a roundtable discussion where Tamás Péter Baranyai, research leader of the Antall József Knowledge Centre, Károly Pintér, associate professor at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and Gergely Varga. senior research fellow at IFAT analysed the results of the 2018 Midterms election in the United States. The discussion was moderated by Bence Németh, research fellow at IFAT.
The results of the 2018 mid-term elections, based on previous trends, could be calculated, although several interesting factors were highlighted by the experts. Due to the local political interests present in the elections, it is difficult to draw national trends, but the increased number of voters and the degree of polarization can be observed in general. The Democratic Party has steadily mobilized urbanized metropolitan areas, as well as minorities, while the Republicans have focused on retaining their voters from 2016.
As a result of the thin democrat victory, the most important tasks of the opposition party will be the setting up congressional investigation committees and the prevention of individual presidential actions. Looking at the Republican party, the experts highlighted the support of Donald Trump within the party, which enables him to shape the Republican strategy in his own image. The President’s position and the policy orientation based on its own priorities provide a solid basis for the next presidential election, while on the Democratic side there is no credible strategy for 2020 yet.
Traditionally, US politics has been focusing on foreign policy for two years after the mid-term elections, so the experts also discussed what can be expected in this area. The change in the US global engagement has been highlighted, and also the changing attitude of the Republican Party, which is currently placing less emphasis on the country’s participation in the international system. For Donald Trump, the use of success-communication is still vital, therefore, it is important for him to display foreign policy tensions, so the former strong approach in communications and more subtle measures in practice are expected.
The audience was also concerned about the success of the Trump phenomenon. The experts saw the novelty of Trump in his use of mass media and his win over new, more radical voters. The divisive impact of the Kavanaugh-case also emerged in the context of internal political factors. After the Russian attempt to influence the presidential election in 2016, the possibility of interference was raised as a matter of concern during the mid-term elections too. The discussants highlighting the emergence of possible hacking attacks as a factor in the development of information science, but because of the internal political implications of the current elections a significant Russian strategy can’t be seen in the interest of influencing the results.