Wednesday, May 10, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Alternative Outcomes For 2018

We are now both close enough to, and far enough from, to
suggest three alternative outcomes to the 2018 national
mid-term elections.

The first is primarily a “paper” what-meets-the-eye outcome
that favors mostly the Republicans, but offers also some good
news for Democrats, especially at the state level.

In this scenario, the size of the GOP U.S. house majority is
likely to be diminished, but not by too much; the size of the
small GOP U.S. senate majority is likely to be moderately
expanded. On the other hand, in this “paper” model, the
Democrats would be likely to gain notably in governorships
and state legislatures now mostly led by Republicans. This
model assumes little impact from any Trump administration
success or lack of it, and neither a booming nor a sharply
declining economy.

The second possible outcome would be likely if the record of
President Trump and the Congress that his party now controls
is judged to be failing or unable to keep its campaign promises.
This could lead to sizable liberal gains in the U.S. house and
minimum GOP gains, if any, in the U.S. senate. Even should Mr.
Trump and his colleagues have some successes, if the U.S.
economy goes into another recession, the electoral prospects
for the conservatives would be likely more typical of mid-term
elections in which the party-in-power suffers net losses.

A third possible outcome is one not being much discussed
in the media, especially in the media hostile to Mr. Trump and
his party. In this scenario, the new administration breaks the
usual historical pattern of the first two years of a first term,
and succeeds in both transforming domestic public policy
while reestablishing U.S. military and political prestige in
foreign policy. At the outset of Mr. Trump’s term, this scenario
seemed “impossible” to Democrats, and even unlikely to many
Republicans, but as the new president “learns the ropes” of
Washington, and increasingly asserts himself on the world
stage, this outcome actually must be considered as a possibility.
But even should this transpire, the conservative party would also
need a continued upward motion in the economy, something
over which they more limited control. A program of tax cuts and
tax reform, however, would have notable impact, and this is
something the administration can do --- if it can successfully
negotiate the differences now existing in its own party.

These three general outcomes remain speculative at about 18
months from election day, 2018. On the other hand, this key
electoral moment is quickly approaching. In the contemporary
political environment, announcement of candidacies (previously
made at the end of the year before election day), now in most
cases must be made before the summer of the year before the
election --- well before many economic and issue trends are
apparent, and in this case, before it is clear whether or not the
new president and his administration is a success, a failure, or
something in between.

With so many international “hot spots” and crises, so many
domestic political forces pulling each major political party
apart, and now the clear sense of a global socio-economic
transformation taking place, there can be little doubt that what
lies ahead in U.S. politics will be robust excitement, surprises
and unexpected change.

Stay tuned in. Don’t change the dial.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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