The presidential race, every four years, understandably is the
focus of popular and media attention, but as we have been
reminded once more in the past two years, control of the U.S.
house and senate can be critical to the nation’s public business.
Republicans now control the U.S. senate, and have been able,
aided by procedural reforms, to confirm a record number of
young and conservative federal district and appellate judges
nominated by President Trump. At the same time, the GOP
majority was able to block what it felt was a very partisan
impeachment of the president when it reached a senate trial.
Democrats now control the U.S. house, and have been able to
block Mr. Trump’s legislative agenda, hold up presidential
executive branch nominations, and conduct investigations
into the president’s activities. The latter led to a very rare
presidential impeachment by a partisan vote late last year.
Prior to the current and sudden health emergency, there
were many pundits, pollsters, party activists and consultants
predicting November outcomes. Conventional “wisdom”
among these was that President Trump would be re-elected,
the Democrats easily keep control of the U.S. house, and that
GOP control of the U.S. senate would narrowed close to a tie.
After the emergency, now presumably still in its early days,
any previous conventional wisdom about 2020 election
results would seem to be premature if not invalid.
Depending on the management of the crisis, its duration, its
severity and economic impact, significantly different
outcomes are reasonably possible, including the election of
Joe Biden as president and a Democratic sweep of Congress,
or a landslide win for Donald Trump accompanied by
Republican control of both the U.S. house and senate. A more
mixed result in a close election could also occur.
The original issues will likely remain, including who will get
to nominate and confirm any U.S. supreme court justices in
the next four years, immigration policy, foreign trade policy,
tax policy, domestic infrastructure renewal, and entitlement
reform. But how the current emergency will affect voters,
especially non-base voters, on these issues could be crucial.
It is important always to emphasize the importance of the
quality of the individual candidates in the competitive house
and senate races. Strong and appealing candidates,
incumbents or challengers, can and often do resist national
election trends or waves.
When all the 2020 nominees are chosen, especially challengers
to incumbents, a much better picture of the prospects of the
down ballot contests will come into view. Until then, there is
likely only debatable speculation.
Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.