Looking Back and Forward After the Midterms: Does Trump Still Have a Chance in 2020?

0

With most recounts and vote counts have finished since the election a month ago, now is a time to look back at some of the results and what might be expected in the next couple of years in the states and federally. This has received some treatment already, but likely not in the manner I will here, so here are some of my thoughts.

A few states I will note right off the bat are going to shift distinctly to the left from wherever they may be currently with the achievement of Democratic trifectas in their state government: That is, unified control of the governorship and both houses of the legislature. An example is New York, which is going even more leftist than it had been with the fall of the State Senate which had been under Republican control almost continually for several decades. Additionally, Colorado and Nevada will also moving further left with Republican losses of a legislative chamber and governorship, respectively. There will likely be pushes to shore up organized labor, promote abortion-on-demand, expand government reach in the health care system, and change the election system in each. These changes may mean the latter two states will likely not be swing states in 2020.

Focusing more geographically with the Northeast, outside of Pennsylvania beyond the edges of the Philadelphia Metro, New Hampshire, and northern Maine, the region is now more or less a wasteland for the GOP. Republicans lost all but one seat in New Jersey, four in Pennsylvania (through court-mandated redistricting), and a smattering in NY. They could not even win in Connecticut where the incumbent Democrat Governor created a fiscal disaster. Leftism seems to be eating away at all those states, and save for the occasional moderate governor (like in Maryland, Massachusetts, or Vermont), unless things change soon the GOP will likely be out of power there for a long time, save for the regions listed above, and those are given we keep economic growth apace.

In the South, on the surface, much remained the same. The GOP lost no governorships, and relatively few statewide or congressional offices. That said, Republicans barely held on in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina for most major races, and while Florida has long been a swing state to keep an eye on (and had a net gain for the GOP in the Senate race despite it being an otherwise bad year), the other two, and particularly Georgia, had long been thought to be safe for Republicans. That can no longer be taken for granted, and efforts will be need to preserve all the gains that Republicans have made over the years as changing demographics in suburbs start to make the region more competitive then they were in past cycles. This goes especially for Texas, where Senator Cruz and multiple candidates for Congress and the legislature all had closer calls than they should have, though the repeal of straight-ticket voting should help there. Another state to note, Oklahoma, despite the best efforts of the Dems and the teacher unions, stayed largely as Republican as before overall. The rural areas are actually even more GOP than before, but there is now a glaring hole now in OKC where Dems are making a breakthrough. There is great potential for it to become how Austin did 15-20 years ago, to become much more left-wing in coming years. Bottom line, fast-growing parts of the South are becoming swingy, and Republicans need to be careful about holding it going forward, though rural areas that aren’t heavily minority are now largely Republican.

In the Midwest, the GOP had some losses, several of which were expected. It wasn’t catastrophic like many had thought, however. It hurt to lose Walker in Wisconsin and the governorship in Michigan, but we held both legislatures, and the new Democrat governors will be hamstrung somewhat and already are, given the lame duck sessions in both. As for Iowa and Ohio, we held on in both, and I think both should stay Trumpist in 2020 given that context. Minnesota had a rural vs. city divide that led to the flipping of multiple congressional seats and the creation of the only split legislature in the country, and as such it is a state to keep an eye on going into 2020. The Plains States all held solid for the GOP save Kansas, where Kobach did not run the best campaign and the blowback from the Brownback Era has been immense. In Illinois, I do not mourn the political demise of Bruce Rauner, but I will readily concede the state is more fiscally doomed than before under the dual dictatorship of Madigan and Pritzker. Overall, though, Trump is still very much in the game still in the Midwest, especially in Wisconsin.

In the Mountain West, as mentioned before, Colorado and Nevada have moved almost intractably left with the influx of out-of-staters, many from California, and also international migration. With the loss of the previously Republican governorship in New Mexico, that state is now in a similar position to the other two. On the other hand, Utah (save Mia Love), Wyoming, and Idaho all stayed in Republican uniformly. Montana still loves Tester, but he was wounded, and the state is becoming hardened against most other Dems, even in the Congressional race against a flawed GOP incumbent. This leaves Arizona, which like its other Sun Belt State brethren further east, is now showing major signs of moderation in its suburbs. That is how Sinema won the Senate race, along with a handful of other Dems who otherwise would not have won previously, while Doug Ducey and a few other Republicans were re-elected statewide. Both legislative chambers are now almost evenly split, though for now they still remain Republican. The Grand Canyon State is now a truly purple, and the right cannot take it for granted anymore.

On the Left Coast, besides Alaska, where the Grand Old Party likely has gained back the lower chamber of the legislature and the governorship, it looks rather terrible for the Republican Party. The hemorrhaging of the party around Orange County continues apace in California, as well as in other areas the Golden State’s metro areas. The same could be said in Oregon and Washington, where the legislatures in both became more Democratic. I will note that the GOP gain a seat back in Hawaii’s State Senate, but that was the only green shoot there. Some clawback might occur next cycle in all these states, but it is going to be tough for conservatives, overall.

With respect to Congress overall, I was slightly more optimistic personally than what the results bore out. We have a 53-47 GOP Senate, and a 235-200 Democrat House, pending results in North Carolina’s 9th District. I thought Republicans would get to 54 in the Senate and the GOP would be in the 210s in the House. On the state level, overall the GOP kept 27 governorships, are even on attorney generals, and kept 28 secretaries of state, against the odds that they would be forced to even splits or below, so that is a plus.

My early prediction for 2020: I think the Dems in the states and Pelosi in DC overplay these next two years, and Trump wins again in 2020, banking the Sun Belt again with a bit of struggle while breaking the Blue Wall in the Midwest again. You heard it here first.