As the dust settles on the 2018 midterm elections, a few things have come into focus. One is that while this was maybe not a fully blue wave (depends on which historical perspective you use as a benchmark), the Democrats harnessed voter anger against the current administration into a solid win by capturing the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years.
At present, the Democrats hold 232 House seats to 200 Republican House seats (there are still three seats up for grabs, but these will likely be settled soon). While Democrats lost some seats on the Senate side, they still hold a strong 45 seats to the 52 Republican-held seats (there are two Senate Independents that typically vote with Democrats, and there is one Senate seat in Mississippi currently in a run-off).
So what does this mean for advertisers? Can we expect to see a divided Congress immediately engage in open hostilities harnessing two years of ramped-up rhetoric on both sides, or are we entering a golden two-year stretch of bipartisanship? The short answer is that we can probably expect to see a little bit of both.
A few warning arrows have already been shot. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has already promised his first act as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee will be to subpoena acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker to question him about his hostility toward the Russia investigation. But there are also signs that a Democratic House is willing to work across the aisle in the spirit of “bipartisanship and common ground,” according to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is likely to regain her position as speaker of the House.
For the advertising industry, the two issues of importance most likely to immediately fall under this new gossamer of bipartisanship will be privacy and prescription drug pricing transparency. Both issues have obvious bipartisan appeal: They both affect almost all Americans, have been the subject of much proposed Republican and Democratic legislation over the years and have broad populist appeal.