The 2020 election cycle is now beginning in earnest, and there are
serious question marks for the prospects of the two major U.S. political
President Trump’s re-election is in doubt --- if we take the
just-concluded 2018 mid-term elections as predictive. Although Mr.
Trump won a clear electoral college victory in 2016, he not only did
not win the popular vote, but his electoral college margin depended
critically on five battleground states, i.e., Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Michigan and Wisconsin. Most observers thought he would win none
of them, but he did win all of them.
Each of them remains as competitive in 2020, but Florida and Ohio
results in 2018 were encouraging for the GOP. Pennsylvania, Michigan
and Wisconsin, however, were not.Without them, all else being equal,
a Democratic nominee would be elected president in 2020.
Republicans lost control of the U.S. house in 2018, so the new cycle
has quite a different dynamic. The increased GOP margin in the U.S.
senate means that presidential appointments, judicial and executive,
will likely continue to go forward. Much, then, will depend on what
the U.S. house, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi as speaker, does.
There is, before the new Congress is sworn in, a division among
Democrats about how to proceed. The newer, younger and mostly urban
members of Congress seem inclined to proceed not only with public
investigations of Mr. Trump and his government, but also to impeach
the president and to pursue an historically radical agenda.
In recent days, two defeated Democratic incumbent senators in 2018
Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, have
publicly warned their party about lurching to the far left. Other center
left Democrats, especially those from battleground states in the South,
Midwest and Mountain West apparently agree, pointing out that most
of the Democratic U.S. house and gubernatorial 2018 gains were by
small margins, and were enabled by a significant number of GOP
incumbents retiring. In 2020 and 2022, most of the new incumbents
will have to defend their seats in competitive districts and states. Most
of these new incumbents won by campaigning on the center left.
Speaker-elect Pelosi has won back her post through concessions and
compromise with her caucus, and will be pressured leftward by notable
numbers of her own members, most of whom were elected in 2018 in
overwhelmingly Democratic urban districts. It is not unlike he dilemma
GOP Speaker Paul Ryan faced in 2017 with divisions in his caucus.
Whatever course the new U.S. house takes, its confrontation with a
controversial Republican president and a stronger conservative U.S.
senate will spill over into an accelerating contest for the Democratic
nomination for president throughout 2019 and early 2020.
But the division among Democrats will not be the only major factor
in the 2020 cycle. Republicans, especially those now out of power in
the U.S. house, have their own divisions, and President Trump’s
administration faces numerous challenges, now known and unknown,
in domestic and foreign policies.
Just ahead is the first inning of the 2020 contest. Runs might be scored
by either side early in the game, but there will be many innings ahead ---
and anything can happen.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.