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Midterm Voter Turnout: Will There Be A Blue Wave Or A Red Wall?


It is Election Day, and let's be real - polls are one thing, voting is another. So the narratives we're going to be talking about tomorrow are in many ways up to you, the voters. Whatever happens, we do know we'll be talking about which party controls the House of Representatives and what that might mean. And I'm not sure anyone follows politics and policy in the House more than the two people joining us in our studios in Washington this morning. Democratic strategist Ali Lapp and Republican strategist Liesl Hickey, thank you both so much for coming in. We appreciate it.

ALI LAPP: Thanks for having us.

GREENE: And we should say you're on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but you come together often to host a podcast called House Talk. So you do a lot of conversations about what's happening in the House, which is great. Liesl, let me start with you on the Republican side. What do you see is at stake in this House election?

LIESL HICKEY: You know, I think what's at stake are some big issues that are facing the nation. One - the economy. I think job creation and job growth and unemployment, I think lower taxes - I think those are big issues that are resonating with voters and are at stake.


LAPP: Certainly, the majority is at stake today, and I think Democrats are well positioned to take the majority in the House of Representatives. I think Democrats have been pretty clear about what their agenda is going to be. They want to focus on infrastructure investment, creating jobs, lowering health care costs and, you know, taking on some of the corruption and scandals that we've seen coming out of this administration.

GREENE: It's interesting - both of you are talking very much about issues whereas, you know, leading up to this, a lot of people have been saying this is in many ways also a referendum on the Trump presidency. Have we been playing up that narrative too much?

LAPP: Well, I think Trump is the backdrop for everything that's happening politically in our country right now, and House races are certainly no exception. There's a lot of districts in the country that voted for Hillary Clinton after voting for Mitt Romney four years prior. And Democrats in those districts have a real opportunity to win, and that's because voters are not happy with the direction that Trump is taking the country.

GREENE: Liesl, let me just ask you. Jonah Goldberg, the conservative writer from National Review, was on our program a few days ago. He said there's this theory in Republican circles that President Trump actually wants to run against a Democratic-controlled House in 2020, that it would be better for him. Do you buy that? And why would that make sense?

HICKEY: Yeah. I mean, I agree with Jonah. I think that makes sense because it allows once again to create a choice in an election for him between Democratic policies and Republican policies. And so I do think that would benefit the president going into 2020 in a way.

GREENE: Ali, let me ask you. Democrats going to the polls today - it seems that many are not just displeased with this president but absolutely furious and hoping that if Democrats were to take control of the House, they might start many more investigations into some of the legal questions looming over the Trump presidency. Is there a risk if Democrats end up taking control and follow that path?

LAPP: I think the lack of a check and balance has been a driving force in independent and suburban voters' displeasure with the Republican Congress. I don't think Democrats will overreach. I think we have strong leadership in the Democratic Party. I think you can look back to 2007 and 2008 when there were those in the progressive movement fighting for, you know, let's impeach George W. Bush, let's do this, and that's not how Democrats operated in 2007 and 2008. Democrats worked with Bush on issues where there was some common agreement and stood up to him on issues where there weren't. And that's why I don't worry about that.

GREENE: Liesl, is President Trump, do you think, worried about a House controlled by Democrats because of those investigations, or is having those potential investigations one reason that he's, you know, might be licking his chops in some ways and wanting a Democrat-controlled House?

HICKEY: Well, I don't think anyone wants to see a lot of investigations. I mean, voters, what they want is they want Washington to work. They want things to get done. And so a lot of investigations is just more dysfunction.

GREENE: I want to ask you both because I was speaking to David Axelrod and Karl Rove on the show, you know, two veteran strategists, and talking about whether this could be a change election, and this is a moment when there are, according to our polling, a lot of Americans who think that politics has just lacked civility. Is that a message you're hearing from voters? Because I wonder how we reconcile that desire from voters for something more civil but also, you know, both parties seem so fired up in this moment where there's a lack of civility.

LAPP: I think there's a way to disagree and to fight it out on issues without being uncivil. And I think if you look at Democratic candidates and Democratic campaigns that have been going on in House races, I don't think you can always say the same thing about what some of the Republican candidates are doing, particularly the president himself who just had to have a racist ad pulled off of NBC because they found it so offensive.

GREENE: Liesl, what do you make of what Ali just said?

HICKEY: You know, I do think voters are looking for people to come together, to work together, especially women who are going to be, I think, the key deciders in this election. You know, I think there is an exhaustive majority out there that it hopes the two parties can come together and make meaningful progress.

GREENE: OK, speaking to Democratic strategist Ali Lapp and Republican strategist Liesl Hickey. They host a podcast called House Talk together, and they probably know more about the House than most or all people out in the country today. We appreciate you both coming in and sharing your thoughts. Thanks so much.

HICKEY: Thanks for having us.

LAPP: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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