Thursday, November 22, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Post-Election Mop-Up

There are always unresolved election results the day after election day,
and this cycle was no different.

These occur because an election is too close to call until all votes are
counted, or because local election rules delay counting absentee
ballots for one day or more, or because local rules require a run-off if
no candidate receives 50% of the vote, or of a mandatory recount is
required, or if an election is being challenged in court.

Most notable of these were three U.S. senate races, two governorships
and several U.S. house races.

On election night, it first appeared that it  might be a very decent night
for Republicans, with GOP senate challengers leading not only in three
they clearly won (North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri), but also briefly
in Arizona, Montana and Nevada --- which they eventually lost when
all the votes were counted. The GOP also won two states, Tennessee
and Texas, considered vulnerable, and critical Florida, a pick-up which
took a recount to confirm. Mississippi will require a run-off, and
remains undecided. [UPDATE: The Republican appointed incumbent
has won the run-off. The final tally in the 2018 U.S senate races is that
the GOP picked up a net of two seats, and their margin after January
will be 53-47.}

The dimension of the Democratic gains in the U.S. house was not clear
until Wednesday, and a few are still undecided --- although Democrats
now are clearly in control. A number of GOP incumbent were defeated
in purple, blue and redrawn districts. Although a few conservatives won
previously liberal seats, overall it was a very good day for U.S. house

Two key, and hotly contested, governorships remained in Republican
hands, Georgia and Florida, and the GOP gained one in Alaska, but
the liberals picked up a net of seven --- and also made gains in control
of state legislatures.

The day after the election it then appeared to have been a very good
election for the Democrats, especially with Florida in some doubt.

Now, with the dust at last settling, the 2018 mid-terms seem to be a
mixed result, with plenty of good news for Democrats who made
notable gains among suburban women. But Republicans did make just
enough gain in their control of the U.S. senate to make confirmations
of federal judges and presidential appointees much easier --- and
President Trump’s base held in states he carried strongly in 2016.
Many elections were very close, and some Democrats who lost made
a lot of noise disputing their races. Republicans now are on notice for
2020 that they need to be prepared, as they were this year in Florida,
for bitter post-election battles in recounts. The closeness of so many
congressional races also puts Democrats on notice that they cannot
take for granted the successful re-election of many of these seats in     
the next cycle.

Attention now turns to 2020. Again, any initial speculation based on
2018 is likely premature.  Unlike 2004, 2008, and 2016, the
Democrats don’t even have true frontrunners for their presidential
nomination, although they do have a very large early field (now more
than 25) of credible hopefuls. Incumbents are hard to beat, but the
all-important economy seems, at least through the stock markets, to
be hesitating.

Like riding in a canoe going through a stretch of river rapids, U.S.
national political prospects are very bumpy and uncertain as they
enter the next cycle.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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