Republicans Retain the Senate, Majority of Governorships, Lose the House – Ramifications?
As a Florida resident, I’m grateful that the majority of the Florida Senate and Governors Race polls published on Monday were wrong. In fact, we want you to see how crappy the pre-election polls were, so we will provide some comparisons.
Rick Scott has defeated Bill Nelson for Senator, Ron DeSantis defeated Andrew Gillum to be Governor, both races determined by the slimmest of margins, despite the anticipated “blue wave” anticipated by polls. Five out of six polls from the major polling agencies said Gillum was leading by 4 points or more. Only one called it for DeSantis. Three out of four polls published Monday called it for Nelson by several percentage points, Scott won by 1 point, which was outside of their margins of error for the three (in other words, these are flawed polls).
The count in the upcoming Senate is 54 to 45 favoring Republicans, a larger margin than in the current Senate of 51 to 49, and much better than expected. Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith came out ahead but not over 50%, so Mississippi will have a runoff election in a couple of weeks. If she ultimately succeeds the Senate count will be 55-45, a comfortable margin.
The larger Senate majority is excellent news for Donald Trump who can now nominate conservative judges and make political appointees without having single Senate members in a position to veto his picks.
The House of Representatives is a different story. While the final count may not be known for several days, the House appears to have a Democratic majority of about 223 to 213. This majority, while slim, means that Nancy Pelosi will likely take over as Speaker (at least temporarily) and Democrats will take over the leadership of House Committees. This could pose problems for Trump. It is likely that budgets will be difficult, legislation will be stalled, and multiple politically based investigations will be launched. However Trump has proven resilient in his use of executive orders, and with both the Senate and the Supreme Court on his side, his abilities should be largely undiminished.
Some tactics come to mind that may help Trump survive and thrive in the next two years. The lame duck Congress could pass a budget that supports the conservative agenda, pass it through the Senate and lock it in. A Democratic House would not be able to unlock this, since both the Senate and the President could veto any changes. They could protect Defense spending and prevent more entitlement spending, and perhaps even fund Trump’s border wall. This might mean a big mess for the 2020 budget, though. Unless, of course, they can pass some kind of default budget arrangement that goes into effect if a normal budget is not passed, as was the case with Obama (who only passed one budget in 8 years).
Don’t expect any major partisan legislation for the next two years. The DACA legislation being pushed by Republicans will not pass, nothing related to Obamacare will go through the House, no immigration reform legislation.
The Republican domination of Florida (besides leaving me relieved), means that Donald Trump will have a much easier time working in Florida in the next Presidential race in 2020. Florida has “picked” the President in every election since 1996 and assistance from a Governor and a two Senators (the first time both have been Republican in over a hundred years) will likely carry the day.
Some key Senate races, plus the polls predicting them (from Real Clear Politics):
Donnelly(D) vs. Braun(R) – two polls said Donnelly, two said Braun, Braun won by 10 points.
Heitkamp(D) vs. Cramer(R) – polls said Cramer by 9 points or more, Cramer won by 11 points.
McSally(R) vs. Sinema(D) – polls said one tie, one Sinema, and four for McSally by a couple of points, McSally appears to have it won by 1 or 2 points.
McCaskill(D) vs. Hawley(R) – three polls said a tie, two said Hawley, one said McCaskill – Hawley won by 6 points.
Cruz(R) vs. O’Rourke(D) – Polls said Cruz by 3-10 points – won by 3 points.
Heller(R) vs. Rosen(D) – polls said a tie, Heller lost by 5 points.
Blackburn(R) vs. Bredesen(D) – polls said Blackburn by 0-9points, (one said a tie), Blackburn won by 10 points.
Tester(D) vs. Rosendale(R) – polls said Tester by 3 points, Rosendale winning by 1 point as of this writing.
Republicans had to defend 26 Governorships and was expected to lose some this round. 33 Governorships will likely end up as 28, still a nice majority, but the exact number is not known at the time of this writing. This will be important in getting cooperation as Obamacare continues to be dismantled, as well as other efforts where changes must take place locally. Notably, former Presidential candidate Scott Walker has been defeated in Wisconsin.
Some key Governor’s races, plus the polls predicting them (from Real Clear Politics):
Illinois – Pritzker(D) vs. Rauner(R) – polls said Pritzker by 9-22, Pritzker won by 15 points.
Georgia – Abrams(D) vs. Kemp(R) – three polls say Kemp by a couple of points, one tie, one poll for Abrams, Kemp won by 3 points.
Ohio – Cordray(D) vs. DeWine(R) – five polls for Cordray by 5 points, one tie, two polls for DeWine by 4-8, DeWine won by 5 points.
Kansas – Kobach(R) vs. Kelly(D) – four polls for Kobach by 1 point, one for Kelly by 1 point, Kelly won by 4 points.
Michigan – Schuette(R) vs. Whitmer(D) – polls say Whitmer by 10 points, Whitmer won by 9 points.
Wisconsin – Walker(R) vs. Evers(D) – three polls say Evers, two ties, and one with Walker ahead, Evers won by 1 point.
As you can see, the polls were all over the place. I would comment that any correlation between the polls and actual results are purely coincidental.