Tom Davis & Steve Israel on “Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Two Insiders Look at the 2018 Midterms”

Tom Davis and Steve Israel's seminars will be held on Thursdays at 12:30 PM.
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All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


Across the country, the 2018 midterm campaigns have been some of the most intense, surprising, and hard-fought battles in years. Where is it all headed? In these seminars, we’ll get the inside analysis from Former Congressman Tom Davis, who ran the National Republican Congressional Committee from 1999-2003, and former Congressman Steve Israel, who ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011-2015. Together, they’ll analyze all the factors affecting the midterm elections, from pollsters and party politics to candidates, gerrymandering, demographics and, most importantly, the voters themselves. There is much conventional wisdom that governs how midterm outcomes are predicted, but American voters have learned to expect the unexpected. Will there be a blue wave or a red surge? These seminars will navigate through the last month of the campaigns, and, when it’s all over, discuss what the results mean for Congress and the Trump Administration going forward. 

Seminar 1 (10/11): The Midterms: A Blueprint | RSVP

*Congressmen Davis & Israel

What are the unique dynamics shaping the 2018 midterm elections? What does history tell us? What does the data tell us? What factors in the American electorate shape their outcome? As we head into the final weeks of campaigning, how do we interpret what’s happening in crucial races across the country?

Seminar 2 (10/18): The Committees & How They Win Races | RSVP

*Congressman Israel

What is the influence of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)? How are the committees actually run? What about outside groups such as “Superpacs?” From recruiting candidates, to directing funding, to polling and analytics, we’ll look at the role the RNCC and DCCC play in midterm campaigns, and the internal dynamics of congressional leadership, to understand the forces working for and against the party apparatus and the candidates in a fractious political landscape. 

Seminar 3 (10/25): The Midterms: Challengers & Defenders | RSVP

*Congressman Davis

Using Minnesota as a case study, we’ll look at the different dynamics of challengers and defenders in urban and rural districts. In areas like the Twin Cities, suburban districts that were once Republican bastions see voters moving to the left, while Democratic strongholds like the Iron Range are now voting Republican. The Republican party is migrating from the country club to the county. So who’s on offense and who’s on defense? What changing coalitions in the parties affect these races? Where else in the country is this happening, and what does it tell us about the electorate?

Seminar 4 (11/1): Countdown to Election Day | RSVP

*Cogressmen Davis & Israel

With Election Day just five days away, what is the state of play across the country? We’ll cut through the noise and the numbers, focusing on important trends, late-breaking national and local developments, key ratings changes, and, specifically, what to watch in the closing days. 

Seminar 5 (11/8): What Just Happened & What Does it Mean? | RSVP

*Congressmen Davis & Israel

What does the new make-up of Congress mean for the legislative agenda of the Trump Administration? For the agendas of the Democrats and the Republicans? What internal party leadership dynamics are already taking shape? Did the results further polarize the Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus in the House? And what, if anything, does this mean for 2020?

Seminar 6 (11/15): Is Truth Stranger than Fiction? Satire as the Antidote to Politics | RSVP

*Congressman Israel

In his novels “Big Guns” and “The Global War on Morris,” Congressman Israel turned to humor to share his insights on the foibles and follies of politics. Tackling the hot-button issues of the global war on terror and the battle over gun control, in his novels Israel sheds light on the real obstacles to getting things done. We’ll explore how, and why, satire is an effective means for getting at the truth; and the state of satire in today’s political climate.