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This is not to argue that the 2018 midterms are not important.

Does This is not to argue mean This is hardly to argue in the sentence above?

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"hardly" has connotations that "not" does not. It is quite difficult to exactly explain what these are. On the one hand, "hardly" is less of a definite negation than "not"; on the other hand, "hardly" can seem to emphasise the incorrectness of such an argument. "hardly" could also be used if someone has accused the writer of making such an argument.

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Thank you for the reply.