Friday, October 26, 2018

What Happens if the Democrats Get Clobbered On November 6? And 2018 Is a Repeat of 2016?

The Elephant (GOP) Kicks the Donkey (Democrats) -- Deja Vu All Over Again
(These are symbols of both political parties which date back to the late-1800's)

The "conventional wisdom" as of today holds that the Democratic Party will gain control of the House of Representatives from the Republican Party for the first time since the 2010 election, and hold losses in the Senate to under 1 or 2 seats in the important midterm elections on Tuesday, November 6.  Conventional wisdom also holds that the Democrats will also make inroads in governor races, perhaps picking up states such as Michigan and Florida, and winning over important state legislative chambers that were lost in the Obama years. All in all, the upcoming midterms will be a win for the Democratic Party.

But what will happen if the Democrats do not win control of the House of the Representatives, which will require a gain of 23 congressional seats, and will lose as many as 4 Senate seats in red states including Montana, Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota, where incumbent Democratic Senators are facing tough reelection battles? What if the hyped "blue wave" fails to materialize - or, only turns into an ineffective "purple sludge"?

What is 2018 is a repeat of 2016, the year in which Donald Trump pulled off one of the most unexpected upsets in American political history?  What could be some of the consequences?

Here are some things that probably will happen:

Donald Trump would become the unquestioned and most powerful leader the Republic Party has seen in a generation. He would almost certainly terminate Rosenstein and Sessions after January 1, and would use the results of the election as rationale for ending the Russia probe. A Republican controlled Congress would offer no resistance in this effort.

The Dow Jones industrial average would favorably respond to new tax cuts and social safety net cuts (Obamacare, Medicare, and Social Security cuts) that a Republican Congress would certainly deploy for Trump administration phase 2.

Trumpism as a political strategy - appeals to nationalism, nativism, and social conservatism would have been shown to work. The Republican Party will continue to pander to its right wing rather than its center.

Nancy Pelosi would almost certainly be replaced as the leader of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. A battle between moderate and progressive wings could ensue for control

The Democratic Party itself could enter into a civil war between moderate and "democratic socialist" wings as it enters into the Presidential Nomination process for 2020, making the 2016 Sanders/Clinton fight seem mild by comparison.

A third party could emerge from the chaos. The last time a third party made a real impact on Presidential Elections by winning a large number of electoral college votes beyond a specific region was Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Progressive Party in 1912. We could see something like this emerge. Rapid news cycles and social media could heighten interest in this.

Get ready for the unexpected.  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

October Surprise! The Stock Market is Nosediving. And This is one Trump can't do much about right now.

Down and Down the Dow Gows -- Wiping out Gains and American Retirement Portfolios
The Dow Industrial Average is correcting. This is bad news for the Republican Party and Donald Trump. The party in power never wants this to happen before an important election.

Economists feel that 3 key factors are causing this drop right now:

1. Trump has started a trade war with key U.S. trading partners, most notably China. Investors hate trade wars, particularly since China is the largest holder of native U.S. debt and can, if it so chooses, decide to dump the bonds that it holds and put the U.S. economy into recession at a significant cost to itself and to other economies. However, if China does decide to dump Trump, this would be perhaps the easiest non- warfare way to do it. 

2. The U.S. economy is overheated. The Federal Reserve has to raise interest rates to fight off any potential inflation. In addition, Trump's tax cuts need to be financed by more debt. All this means that the Fed must raise interest rates to make holding dollars and debt more attractive to institutional investors. Stocks always decline in value when this happens.

3. Factors that Trump cannot control include problems the EU is now facing with restructuring of Italian debt and Brexit uncertainties. In addition, there may be cyclical issues coming into play -- an economic expansion cannot continue forever.

If the Dow industrial average delinces through November 5, and American investors, either individual 401k holders or large institutions start to lose nerve, they will react and vote for fiscal stability which is something the Democratic Party has provided in similar situations in prior years.  Talk of more Republican tax cuts, something Trump is now doing, and talk of Social Security and Medicare cuts, something Mitch McConnell has done in the Senate, is not going to go over well in the next two weeks. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Where Do The Midterm Elections Stand For the U.S. Senate As Of Today?

Senate Election Map from Real Clear Politics - October 24, 2018

The U.S. Midterms are less than two weeks away.  Election day is set for Tuesday, November 6, and early and absentee ballot voting has already started in many states.

The entire House of Representatives, 35 Senators, 36 State Governorships (out of 50), and a good portion of the State Legislatures are up for election.

Here is my take on where the Senate elections stand as of today in the U.S. Senate:

The makeup of the Senate is currently 51 Republicans / 49 Democrats.

The Republicans control Senate organization by a factor of a majority; in the event of a tie Vice President Mike Pence casts the tie breaking vote as President of the Senate. Democrats would need 51 Senators to control the Senate.

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As of today, this appears to be beyond the reach of the Democrats. 50 Republican seats seem safe or leaning to Republicans. Democrats would need to score an upset in heavily Republican North Dakota, Tennessee, or Texas, and win all of the toss-up states to win a majority.  This scenario is not likely to happen.

The best Democrats can reasonably hope for (unless polls are entirely out of balance) is a pick up of one seat.  Republicans are looking for a loss of as many as 5 Democratic seats. The following 6 seats are in play as of today:

Montana - Democratic Incumbent John Tester is running for reelection in a state where President Trump is very popular. He is narrowly favored in most polls.

Arizona - Two female congressman are running neck and neck in recent polls for an open seat that is seen as a very "purple" state. Trump carried Arizona in 2016 by a narrow margin.

Nevada: Democrat Congressman Jacky Heller is challenging Republican Senator Dean Heller in a state that Hillary Clinton narrowly carried. The race is seen as neck and neck.

Indiana: Joe Donnelly, a Democratic Incumbent Senator, is running neck and neck against a Republican challenger in a state where President Trump remains popular.

Florida: Democratic Incumbent Senator Bill Nelson is narrowly favored over Florida's Governor, Rich Scott, who cannot run for reelection.  The turnout and enthusiasm generated by Florida's Democratic candidate for Governor, Andrew Gillum, who is African-American and 39 years old, is seen as helping the more laconic style of Nelson.

Missouri:  Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill is running neck and neck for reelection in a state that President Trump carried by a wide margin.

If the elections were held today, I predict that Democrats will carry 4 of the above 6, and Republicans 2 (my best guess is Missouri and Arizona) which will give the Republicans a 52 seat majority in the senate.

This would be a one loss seat by the Democrats. It was be a disappointment, Trump's strategy for energizing his right-wing base may very well have paid off in keeping control in Arizona, North Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, and other states that were seen as winnable for Democrats before the Kavanaugh nomination.



Friday, October 19, 2018

The Midterms Are Less Than Three Weeks Away - Here are My Updated Predictions



The U.S. 2018 midterms, set for Tuesday November 6,  are less than three weeks away.

Here are my updated predictions.

Senate:    Republicans will pick up 2 seats for a total of 53 seats (3 seat majority)

House:   Democrats will pick up 31 seats for a total of 226 seats (8 seat majority)



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Two New Polls Point To Disaster For House Republicans On November 6

Is a Blue Democratic Tidal Wave About To Hit The House of Representatives?

Two well regarded polls out today see a 13 point Democratic voting majority for the House of Representatives in the elections set for 4 weeks from today on November 6.

Early voting has already started in several large states.

A 13 point generic ballot lead would point to a 60 plus seat pick up for Democrats.


Source:  https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-generic-ballot-polls/?ex_cid=irpromo


For additional information: about the CNN poll:

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/dems-gain-on-generic-ballot-in-post-kavanaugh-cnn-poll-contradicting-other-surveys

Saturday, October 6, 2018

President Trump's Popularity is Rising. Will The Stop the Expected Congressional "Blue Wave" on November 6?

Trump's 42% Popularity -- Thanking A Higher Power 

President Donald Trump's average adjusted popularity is now 42.4% and is on an upswing according to the excellent quantitative analysis conducted by Nate Silver and his team over at fivethirtyeight.com.

Trump's rise in popularity, which is still at a historic low for any President at a similar point of tenure, is due to the following:

1. A reduction in the reported unemployment rate to a 49 year low of 3.7%.

2. A boost due to today's confirmation of SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

3. The USA is not involved in any major ground land wars - except for very limited ground action in parts of the Middle East. Americans do not like soldiers coming home in body bags.


Trump's Popularity Has Not Been This High Since May 2018
Source: 538 Running Average of  Tracking Polls
4. Trump is winning trade concessions from trading partners. The new NAFTA-style trade agreement gained headlines this week, even though it probably would have been better positioned as a revision of NAFTA with ongoing negotiated concessions by both sides.

5. The Mueller investigation is still ongoing and is on "hold" in terms of major new indictments through the November 6 midterms.

6. Trump is President and controls much national media conversation.  He may yet be able to pull off an "October Surprise" in the foreign policy field that I mentioned in an October 1 post. 

7. Although an increasing number of millenials are willing to vote for socialist parties and candidates, older voters are not. Younger voters do not have a good record turning out in midterms. The Democratic Party may be moving too far left too quickly by identifying factions with the Democratic Socialists of America and similarly named groups.


Only 21% of 18 - 29 year olds bothered to turn out in 2014 midterms vs. 37% of all voters

My predictions as of today:

The U.S. Senate: The Democrats will lose 2 seats. I predict 47 Democratic Seats (including two independent) and 53 Republican seats. The Democrats are simply defending too many seats (10) in states that went for Trump. 

The House of Representatives:  The Democrats will win a narrow majority of 9 seats.

The final count will be 222 Democratic Representatives, and 213 Republican Representatives.

There are currently 193 Democrats in the House. This will be a pickup of 29 seats.

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The final results will be disappointing for many Democrats and progressives who are projecting a great "blue wave" on November 6.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Kavanaugh Will Almost Definitely Be Confirmed - Per My Prediction of 8 Days Ago

Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins - Swing Votes for Kavanaugh
Illustration from Huffington Post on Thursday, October 4 

It appears that controversial Trump SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed -- probably at some point in the next three days.

The Huffington Post and other media outlets report that the limited and controversial FBI report was released last night to the Senate, and is not available for public disclosure, reportedly has not directly confirmed any sexual improprieties against Kavanaugh. At least two Republican Senators will need to vote against Kavanaugh for his nomination to be rejected by the Senate. Both Jeff Flake (Arizona) and Susan Collins (Maine) were undecided -- but have made statement this morning that sound positive toward confirmation. This leaves only Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) as the only Republican Senator who might vote against Kavanaugh's confirmation, however, even if she were to vote no, her vote alone could not stop the nomination.

I predicted on September 26 that Kavanaugh would be confirmed unless Michael Avenatti produced a credible third witness by Thursday, September 27 against Kavanaugh. Although Avenatti came forward with a third witness, Julie Swetnick, her claim against Kavanaugh was simply not strong enough to gain traction as evidence against him.

I predict that Brett Kavanaugh will get 53 votes, and 2 Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Joe Manchin (WV)  will vote for confirmation. They are from states where Donald Trump is very popular and are up for reelection in 5 weeks. They will have "informal permission" from Democratic Party leadership not to sacrifice their senate seats by voting no.


My Prediction - Kavanaugh Would Be Confirmed

Monday, October 1, 2018

Is Master Politician Trump Planning Several October Surprises?



President Donald Trump should never be underestimated. He has proven his brilliance as a master marketer and promoter by making the most of limited resources before. He would not be President of the United States otherwise.

An October Surprise is an unexpected event which impacts national November elections in the United States. Although they traditionally are mentioned during Presidential election years, and are not always assigned to actual decisions but accredited to chance events, some political observers have talked about a Trump "October Surprise" which will upend the 2016 midterms which are set for November 6, 5 weeks from tomorrow.

As I mentioned this weekend, the Kavanaugh nomination is turning out to be a disaster for the Republican Party. Although Justice Kavanaugh is now favored by prediction markets to be nominated by a 2-1 margin,

The first "October Surprise" came this morning.  Trump's announcement today of a new NAFTA-like trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada can probably be beneficial for Republican Congressional candidates if it swings some independent voters.

Trump is a very good media manipulator. We can expect other attempts at an "October Surprise" in the following areas:


  • North Korea peace agreement and second summit 
  • Progress Towards Two-State Israeli Palestinian Peace Agreement 
  • USA / Russia Space Exploration Agreements / Other Deals. However, Russia's backing of Iran's movement in the area -- particularly in Syria and Lebanon as a regional Shi'ite power is bound to cause friction on this front. 
  • Other unexpected news. 


We can also expect more Wikileaks and other attempts at disinformation as we get closer to the election designed to inflame Trump's conservative case since turnout is key to Republican chances in 5 weeks.

Expect more October surprises dominating the news headlines over the next 5 weeks.