Said Hadley, “Our economy still is not producing sustained inclusive growth. Our politics are fractious. There is a long list of social problems, budgets, entitlement payments, immigration reform, that we’ve known for years we have got to address, and we haven’t done so… We’ve got to solve some of these questions that have been lingering.”
Second, both friends and adversaries will be gauging what the midterm outcome says about the likelihood of President Trump both finishing his first term and perhaps winning election for a further four years. That will prompt decisions to engage the administration or “wait-it-out” on controversial issues including the escalating US showdown with Iran ahead of next week’s new round of sanctions, ongoing negotiations with North Korea, the future of Russian sanctions and a host of trade conflicts and negotiations from China to Europe.
Finally, the mid-terms could have influence on electoral politics around the world. In that respect, the vote isn’t just a referendum on President Trump’s first two years in office but also on the populist brand of politics he represents. While the populist swing pre-dates his election, it has picked up momentum since, in part due to his inspiration to like-minded politicians around the world.
It isn’t just Trump, but also the broader US political and social environment that has global influence. A few examples: the “me too” movement has created a backlash against sexual harassment and misconduct around the world, particularly (but not only) in Europe. The women’s and science marches, initiated in the United States, were replicated elsewhere.
At the same time, the Trump administration’s “American First” rhetoric and actions have empowered like-minded leaders. In Europe, such leaders have most often rallied around anti-immigration politics, while in Latin American it has been around anti-corruption campaigns. But on both continents, populist candidates have spoken of the Trump inspiration.
As it was with Trump, such candidates have profited from the inability over years of more conventional, establishment politicians to tackle the growing concerns of their societies about the impact, among other issues, of rapid globalization and technological change, which has fed voter uncertainties.