Saying that anything in the annals of American political history is “unique” or “unprecedented” is dangerous, for the simple fact that the past is filled with so many oddities from which we can draw parallels. That said, we’re struggling to come up with something equivalent to what we’ve seen in Virginia over the past week.
Redistricting in the U.S. House of Representatives is not a unified process as is the case for most national legislatures, but the result of the cumulative actions in the states that have more than one representative. Nevertheless, it is useful to look at the entire House to see how the decisions in the states combine to form a fair or biased playing field for the parties.
An already turbulent national political environment was rocked by another major development Wednesday afternoon: Justice Anthony Kennedy, the closest thing there is to a swing vote on the Supreme Court, decided to retire. President Donald Trump, who already got to appoint conservative Neil Gorsuch to the court after Senate Republicans decided not to consider then-President Barack Obama’s replacement for the deceased Antonin Scalia in early 2016, is now poised to pick a second justice, and one who likely will push the court further to the right. This comes on the heels of several key, 5-4 decisions released at the end of this year’s Supreme Court term that broke against the court’s liberal bloc.
President Trump is likely to name a new Federal Reserve chair over the next few days. Speculation is focused on current Fed governor Jay Powell and Stanford University economist John Taylor. The list may be larger; it could still include current Chair Janet Yellen or Kevin Warsh. Trump is soliciting opinions and advice from people inside and outside government. We will see soon enough.
With the Virginia primary less than a week away, the eyes of the political world are now focused on the Old Dominion. Considering the early polling in New Jersey’s gubernatorial general election contest, where Phil Murphy (D) starts as the favorite over Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) after both won their respective party nominations on Tuesday (more on that below), it seems likely that Virginia’s race will be the marquee election of 2017, though the June 20 House special election in GA-6 might have a case. Here’s what to look for in the Virginia primary on Tuesday, June 13.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to end debate on the nomination of Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) as the next U.S. ambassador to China. While the exact timeline is uncertain — Democrats could try to stall the appointment — Branstad’s confirmation for the diplomatic post is expected very soon. Upon becoming ambassador, Branstad will resign the Hawkeye State governorship and hand the reins over to Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who will become Iowa’s first woman governor. Once she takes office, Reynolds is expected to run for a full term in 2018 as a gubernatorial incumbent, albeit a “successor incumbent” rather than an elected one.
With politicos everywhere turning their eyes to the still-distant 2018 midterm election, we thought it would be useful to review some of the basic differences and similarities between the electorates in presidential and midterm cycles. Basically, midterm electorates are smaller, older, and less diverse than presidential ones, but the demographic voting patterns and divisions that we see in midterms are quite similar to presidential contests. What follows is a look at the similarities and differences between the two kinds of national electorates. For the most part, this analysis is based on exit poll data: We used the national exit poll data for the presidential race in presidential years and the national exit poll data for the national House vote in midterm years.
Election years are separate but also connected. Assuming he is confirmed by the Senate to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price (R, GA-6) will be vacating his suburban Atlanta seat sometime soon. He would be replaced by the winner of a special election, which could be held as soon as this spring. All candidates from all parties will compete in a single “jungle primary,” and barring anyone winning a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election.
Tomorrow marks the start of the brave new world of President Donald J. Trump. But today marks the end of the Obama-to-Trump transition. They, and we, survived the interregnum, more or less — and it was not guaranteed and is worth celebrating.
It’s already clear that the very strange political year of 2016 is bleeding over into the New Year. How could it be otherwise? President-elect Donald Trump, loved and hated by about equal numbers of Americans, continues to ignore or break with convention in a wide variety of areas. Just as the normal rules didn’t apply to him in the campaign, they may not apply to him in office either.
Hillary Clinton has picked an awful time to hit one of the rough patches that has plagued her throughout the campaign. Now with just days to go until Election Day, there’s added uncertainty about the outcome. But while she may not be on the brink of an Electoral College win the size of Barack Obama’s in 2008 or even 2012, her position as the clear frontrunner in this race endures.
Another week has passed in the presidential race and it appears that Donald Trump is not making up much if any ground on Hillary Clinton. Last month, we coined the term “Fortress Obama” to describe an outer and inner ring of defenses Clinton had against Trump as she sought to recreate Barack Obama’s Electoral College majority. The outer ring consisted of states like Florida, Iowa, Nevada, and Ohio — states that Obama won twice but that are vulnerable to Trump — as well as North Carolina, which Obama carried only in 2008. These are states that Trump needs but that Clinton could probably do without. Then there’s the inner ring, states like Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, none of which Clinton can afford to lose if Trump were to completely knock down the outer ring.
The mist is lifting from the map of the United States and the moment of clarity for the 2016 general election campaign has arrived. Yes, there is still uncertainty about some states in the Electoral College. But nearly all of it comes in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012 or a couple of Barack Obama states that Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to win.
In the broad sweep of U.S. history, very occasionally one of the major parties simply disqualifies itself from the contest to win the White House by nominating an unelectable, non-mainstream candidate. We suspect that there will never be a better example than Donald Trump. The Republican Party chose a deeply divisive figure — one not supported by many senior figures in the GOP even before the release of Trump’s raunchy 2005 discussion with Access Hollywood’s (and now The Today Show’s) superficial, celebrity-worshipping Billy Bush. (Yes, he is of the Bush family, so a Bush finally speared Trump, however unintentionally.) Their X-rated discussion, and Trump’s insistence on discussing Bill Clinton’s sordid past, has caused voters to usher children out of the room when the TV news comes on. Is this the most embarrassing campaign ever? It must be close.