Saturday, August 27, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Weekend Update 21

Before the British vote (‘Brexit’) on leaving the European Union
(EU), its opponents warned of imminent economic and political
disasters if it were to pass. After Brexit did pass, the same
opponents promptly reiterated their warnings. Now, months
later, the dire outcomes have yet to appear. There has been,
of course, some impact in remaining EU nations. led by
Germany, to regroup and to head off further defections. Still
an EU member for at least a year, the United Kingdom (UK) is
preparing for new economic and trade relationships, many
which will be with EU nations. The Brexit vote did precipitate
new leadership in the UK government, including a new prime
minister and cabinet. Economic problems continue to fester
in various EU member states, provoking some banking crises.
Complications in continental immigration policies continue to
plague even the most prosperous EU member states, most
notably Germany. Brexit might turn out to be one of the least
of Europe’s challenges.


A series of major insurance companies departing from
participation in the Obama administration’s healthcare reform
program known as Obamacare plus much higher rates in many
existing state Obamacare policies have brought the contentious
issue back into the political election of 2016. The issue proved a
major problem for the national Democratic Party which had heavy
losses in the 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections, but did not seem
to affect the outcome in the 2012 presidential election year.
With Obamacare now in full force, still very unpopular, and with
rising premium rates, the issue is giving several vulnerable
Republican U.S. house and senate candidates some valuable
ammunition against their liberal challengers.

Although the Obamacare issue previously cited is helping
Republican vulnerable congressional incumbents in close races
this cycle, other issues, including GOP nominee Donald Trump’s
controversies, are potentially helping Democratic challengers in
other races. Incumbent Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri has a
tightening race with Democratic challenger Julian Kander ---
although Blunt maintains a lead. Incumbent Pennsylvania GOP
Senator Pat Toomey had led his challenger Katie McGinty until
recently, but several recent polls have him trailing. The two most
endangered GOP senate incumbents, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
and Mark Kirk of Illinois, continue to trail their liberal
challengers. Arizona GOP Senator John McCain, his party’s 2008
presidential nominee, had been thought to be safe for his 2016
re-election, but with his Democratic opponent on the left and some
lingering opposition from some conservatives, his seat now looks
more and more competitive. GOP incumbent Kelly Ayotte of New
Hampshire is locked into a close contest with her challenger
Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan. A few bright spots for
Republicans are in Florida where incumbent Marco Rubio is
looking stronger against either of two potential Democratic
challengers, and in Nevada where GOP nominee Joe Heck is
ahead of his Democratic opponent Catherine Cortez Masto in the
race for the seat being vacated by Democrat Harry Reid. Races
also looking better for conservatives are in Iowa where veteran
GOP Senator Chuck Grassley now has a bigger lead over his
opponent, and in Ohio where incumbent Rob Portman continues
to lead Democrat Ted Strickland. Democrats are feeling much
better about the race in Indiana where they had been far behind
GOP candidate Todd Young. Then their nominee left the race
to make way for for former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh who
instantly made the race competitive. Democratic incumbent
Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado continues to have a notable
lead over his GOP challenger, but this race could become
competitive, as could some other races now considered safe for

One feature of most election cycles, even ones much less volatile
than this one, is that a few contests often develop into close races
in the closing days of the campaign.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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