The Full Circle Election

Since the last post to this blog, it’s been a wild “Election Week” that is closing out with Joe Biden likely to soon be declared the official winner. Numerous states ending within a few percent have fallen Biden’s direction, and the best guess is that he will end with a 306-232 Electoral College victory.  There are a number of points that this blog would like to address with regard to Election 2020 (in independent paragraph form), and they are set forth below.

Rejection of the Extremes.  This piece is titled “The Full Circle Election” because America has now completed a full circle in its three elections over the last four years.  In 2016, a Republican with a radical and controversial persona stunningly won the White House, bringing along a conservative horde.  The armies of the right were convincingly defeated by a rising and fairly progressive Democratic Party in the 2018 midterms, setting up an apocalyptic showdown between emboldened two extremes.  And what did Americans do?  They went with the more “moderate” option in both the Presidential race (the milquetoast Joe Biden) and Republicans in Congress (a likely GOP hold of the Senate and surprisingly impressive gains for Republicans in the House).  The body politic, quite frankly, decisively rejected the divisive elements of both parties’ political coalitions.

Georgia Runoffs.  Not so fast, some might say to the above paragraph, as a Republican advantage in the Senate only stands at 50-48 with two runoffs coming in early January.  And Trump likely loses Georgia too!  However, on the Senate side, Republicans possess a several percentage edge in the two-party vote shares in the first round of voting.  And frankly, Democrats were extraordinarily bolstered by the presence of Donald J. Trump on a ballot in a state with a large share of suburban whites turned off by him and a significant African American population that experienced a turnout surge to oppose Trump.  And with all this, Georgia Dems lead Trump by merely .1% and are trailing in the votes cast by party in the Senate races.  Moreover, the prediction here is that the runoffs will likely see Dems lag their November performance, and this blog expects a 6% win by David Perdue and a point or two less victory by Kelly Loeffler.

Trump and Cory Gardner.  Colorado Senator Cory Gardner has represented his state well, but put simply Republicans are out of favor in Colorado, and he could not retain his Senate seat.  Amazingly, Gardner was the only sitting Republican legislator elected in 2014, 2016, and/or 2018 who was not re-elected to Congress (the only other GOP incumbent loser – Senator Martha McSally of Arizona – was appointed after losing a 2018 Senate race).  And despite what is an incredible performance among virtually every federally-elected GOP incumbent across the entirety of 50 states, Donald Trump lost his re-election, the “blue wall” was, marginally, reconstructed, and Trump appears to be going down to defeat in once blood red Georgia.  There are some conclusions to draw from this response by the general electorate to Donald Trump, and few of them reflect well on the President’s widespread appeal.

Racial Political Reconciliation for the Right?  It has been a long time since the California GOP had a good election, but alas it finally came.  While Donald Trump was again humiliated by California voters, the same lot may well have elected as many as four Republican challengers to Congress (technically, Mike Garcia was already there after winning a special election this May).  These will be the first GOP gains in California House district since … gulp … 1998, when the party was actually competitive in the state, and they came on the backs of two Asian women and two Hispanic men.  A diversifying GOP likewise saw real and massive gains among Mexican Americans along the Rio Grande (and likely elsewhere) in Texas, in addition to a surge in support among the grab bag of Latino voters in South and Central Florida.  Trump and the GOP even accomplished a modest but meaningful uptick in support from African Americans, nearing 20% support among black men (polls also show a fairly robust level of young AA support for the GOP, but getting this voter cohort to the polls has proven tricky).

Picking Excellence.  For those who follow my blog, it appears as if this author accurately projected 49 of 50 states in the Presidential race.  Betting against Republicans in Florida was a miss (and should serve as a warning on doing so again), but there was very little state outcome error.  The picks did slightly overestimate Biden’s national strength, most likely on account of moderately underestimating Trump’s appeal to a fair number of Hispanics (Cubans/Puerto Ricans/Venzuelans/Columbians in Florida and Mexcian Americans in some border states) and his ability to squeeze just a bit more Midwestern rural support into his camp.  The selections likewise held up in the Senate, with only two misses (North Carolina and Maine, both results about which this blogger is ecstatic to be wrong).

Nancy’s Issues.  Word has filtered out that Nancy Pelosi’s caucus is enraged by the shocking failures of the Democratic House caucus in the 2020 election.  Going into the night expecting double digit Dem gains (this blogger predicted Dems adding 6), Democrats still could easily lose 10 plus seats, and they are likely to end up only a shade above the 218 House seats required for the majority (this blog currently expects between 221 and 225 Dems premised on current results).  Not only did Dem numbers shrink, their hard left progressive wing increased in power, picking up former establishment Dem seats in New York and Missouri.  In effect, Nancy Pelosi’s caucus became smaller and more left, a result likely to make management of her party’s Congressional agenda extremely difficult.

GOP Salivation.   If you talked with a federally-elected GOP official right now and were able to obtain his/her unvarnished opinion, the overwhelming sentiment on the right would  likely be ecstasy about major gains in the House and small ones in the Senate from the 2022 midterm as the party out of Presidential power.  The country is now on four-straight midterm waves, but even something lesser than each of those wipeouts for the President’s party would net the GOP the House of Representatives and a seat or two in the Senate.  And then the party faces the prospect of an even older President Biden or a deeply unlikeable Kamala Harris in the 2024 race for the Oval Office.  It’s an appetizing next four years for the right, though perhaps 2024 ebullience should be tempered until the plans of the outgoing President become clear in 2023.

The Perpetual Gerrymander.  Over the last decade, Dems have incessantly complained about the number of GOP “gerrymanders” limiting potential Dem opportunities in the House of Representatives.  Expecting to capitalize on an unpopular Donald Trump, the Democrats sought to substantially cut into the GOP’s edge in the nation’s statehouses, which largely exercise control over  the redistricting process some know better as gerrymandering.  Instead, the party on the left flipped absolutely zero GOP legislative chambers with control over redistricting (Dems may have gained one or both chambers in the Arizona legislature, but the state redistricts via a non-partisan commission), and lost both houses in New Hampshire, which may well produce a one-seat GOP gain in the House (the relatively competitive state has two Democratic Congressional seats that likely could be reduced to one via redistricting into more “party-centric” seats).  There was literally no change elsewhere, and incredibly well-financed Democratic efforts to flip chambers in North Carolina and Texas fell flat (leaving the GOP in full control of redistricting in both states).  Almost humorously, Virginia Democrats coughed up their own redistricting advantage, as a state constitutional amendment moving this function to an independent commission passed easily.  At the very same time, the voters of Missouri moved redistricting out of a non-partisan forum to its heavily Republican legislature.  All in all, the changes in the allocation of House seats via the 2020 Census and the results of state legislative elections favor a GOP gain of roughly 10 House of Representative seats in a neutral environment.