POLITICO and Meridian Team Up to Forecast Fall Elections for Diplomats

Ambassador Stuart Holliday (R) welcomes POLITICO reporters and diplomats to Meridian. Left to Right: Luiza Ch. Savage, Charlie Mahtesian, Lorraine Woellert, Michael Crowley. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar.

Election hacking, appointment of conservative justices, voter turnout and the effect of personal foibles on electoral results were at the forefront of a conversation with POLITICO at Meridian on Tuesday this week. In the immediate lead-up to the opening of the UN General Assembly, diplomats in Washington listened in rapt attention as top reporters delved into the most pressing issues of today and forecasted this year’s elections results.

More than 70 leaders attended the latest Insights @ Meridian program focused on the 2018 elections, including representatives from 43 embassies. This high-level audience of Ambassadors and top political counselors was joined by the participants in an International Visitor Leadership Program of young European leaders to hear from top POLITICO reporters about the upcoming elections.

Moderated by Luiza Ch. Savage, Editorial Director for Cross-Platform Content and Executive Director, POLITICO Pro Canada, panelists explored the upcoming Congressional mid-term and gubernatorial races, the voting electorate and the major issues driving voting trends.

Panelist Charles Mahtesian, Senior Politics Editor, focused on the Congressional elections. He highlighted the Congressional races where previously uncompetitive Republican-held districts are now up for grabs by Democrats, specifically in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. While it is possible that the House might change party control, he predicted that the Senate will not. He also noted that the gubernatorial races in Florida and Georgia are being contested by progressive Democrats, which is a major shift from the moderate candidates of the past in these Republican-controlled states.

Mahtesian also spoke about the “Year of the Woman” that is foreseen, concluding, “There is no hype to the number of women candidates we’re seeing in both parties - it’s impressive... And these women will be the vice presidential and presidential candidates in the future and I think that will be the legacy of the midterms this year.”

Lorraine Woellert, White House Reporter, talked about President Trump’s base, who is sticking with him in the elections. The President has delivered on his promises to Evangelical Christians, appointing many conservative judges and increasing importance of the Council on International Religious Freedom.

Addressing a question from Ambassador Daniel Mulhall from Ireland about voter turnout, Michael Crowley, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent, noted that the Republican base comes out to vote during midterm elections, and that the Democrats are urgently trying to drive their supporters to the polls. He also tackled the question of Russian influence or meddling in the elections, saying that “As a political issue, I think election interference has become white noise overall. I think people are confused by it and won’t be voting on it.”

Hosted on Meridian’s historic campus, Insights @ Meridian sessions are an initiative of the Meridian Center for Diplomatic Engagement. They are held monthly to provide diplomatic leaders with the political, social and economic context driving U.S. government policies. Insights allows diplomats to exchange perspectives and gain valuable insight on timely domestic and international issues in a neutral, non-partisan environment. Insights events feature high-level U.S. government speakers, members of the media, or thought influencers to brief the diplomatic community followed by Q&A/discussion and networking reception. Ambassadors or senior representatives from Washington-based embassies are invited to join these events leading to a broad and diverse cross-section of regional interests and perspectives.

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The Insights @ Meridian series is supported in part by The Bernstein Family Foundation, The Walter and Isabel Cutler Endowment for Global Understanding, and First Data.

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