TAMPA – The seasonal morning chill has settled in for most of Tampa Bay, Florida. As many are pulling out ice scrapers and lighting up defrosters for their morning commute Floridians grab a Squeegee™ and towel down their windshields and mirrors. 50°F is nothing to complain about but with a dew point near 60°F the dew weighs like a cold, wet blanket and one could catch a chill with ease.
As this holiday mood sets in and the quasi white-christmas is condensing on the St. Augustine grass that covers much of Florida (though I’d call it crabgrass) we, as a nation, still have not seated 4 of our Congresspersons and 1 in the Senate. Notwithstanding these delays the lay of the land for the balances of power is set in stone. The Democrats have gained the majority in the House of Representatives at +37 net gain, the Republicans maintained a majority at a +1 net gain.
While the political environment post-midterms is expected to calm we very well may have fully abandoned that tradition as the 24/7 news cycle and the most tweeting president in history had the 2020 conversation started well before the midterm results were called on election night. The map is diverse and America is poised for another “like no other” presidential election. But the battle will be long and hard, sure to get nasty and the 2020 Census, house congressional opposition, and very blue governorships will pose challenge against the President and the Republican party going into the 2020 Election.
The Census is one of the best tools the federal government has to maintain measurements on the demographics of her nation. Conducted nationally every 10 years since 1790 and the next is set to occur in 2020 and with it’s own controversy and legal quagmire of whether or not to include a question about citizenship status. As of November, the Supreme Court is poised to hear the case in February and evaluate the constitutionality of the question that was once on the census and last seen in 1950. Several groups at state and local levels filed suit against the census and the Trump administration to block the question.
Demographically, the states with the highest rates of illegal immigrant populations like California, Oregon, and New York have a lot to lose if the census asks about citizenship status. The loss would reduce the number of representatives in the House for each state, federal funding to those states, and other reductions because of the decreases in populations that puts the Democratic voting strongholds in jeopardy of turning purple at best. Republican voting blocks don’t stand to see as many losses as their districts are very strong on immigration laws and border enforcement.
Representatives like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and others have promised to subpoena and take other legal actions to investigate or otherwise delay President Trump’s agenda, investigate him personally, and push their campaign promises of Medicare for all and abolishing ice. But infighting and a lack of a consistent message may create problems for the majority. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expecting to win her Majority Speakership but as of yesterday 16 Democrat representatives have penned an open letter stating their opposition to Spk. Pelosi. Calling for new perspectives at the helm.
The rarity of a sitting party maintaining it’s majority in the Senate after a midterm did not prevent this administration from being that exception. The Republicans gained a seat, making their majority at least 52 and expected to be 53. Presidential appointments and other matters of personnel are expected to be smoother and it is a firewall for the President against an opposing House. Leader McConnell (R-KY) is expected to maintain his seat but key seat flips like retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) by Rep. Christine Sinema (D-AZ) have shows a formidable Democrat party.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is out. As Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker has been open about his feeling on some issues of politics and it has caused Democrats to file suit to block his appointment by the President on the grounds that Matthew Whitaker, who did have Senate Confirmation status at one time, does not currently and is not able to serve. Moreover his comments about the Mueller investigation have drawn ire from Democrats and support from Republicans. Other changes may be on the horizon, as the President said during an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday this last weekend calling it a “political fishing expedition.”
The Road to 2020
As the 2018 Midterms wrap up the conversation has shifted to 2020 and the roadmap for either party to keep and grow what majorities and branches they control. The Republican ticket is very much spoken for and the Democratic ticket is wide-ranging and indecisive.
While we are still a bit away from the “right time” to formally announce candidacy, President Trump has often alluded or outright states that he will seek reelection in 2020. At a press conference on November 7th, the President was asked by WHPC Mark Meredith of the Nexstar Broadcasting whether he would ask Vice President Pence to be his running mate in 2020. “Well, I haven’t asked him, but I hope so.” The President then asks VP Pence – who was in the room – “Mike, will you be my running mate?” to which the Vice President affirmed by nodding. It is rumored that retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will be the candidate to make the strongest contest for the Republican nomination against President Trump. What remains to be seen is if the Republicans down ticket are able to capitalize on the tax-cuts, deregulation, and fight to win each local voting group with some strong feet-on-the-street politics.
The loss of the presidency by Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dimmed the brightest star in the Democratic party, opening the floor to new, young and “progressive” candidates. A recent Politico poll suggest more than 16 names are being talked about with 21% of Democratic voters polling unsure about a candidate for the 2020 presidency.
Topping the list are Former Vice President Joe Biden (26%), Senator Bernie Sanders (19%), and Representative (D-TX) Robert “Beto” O’Rourke (8%). This may lead to a well rounded and strong candidate representing a whole of the Democratic party and thus a strong challenge for President Trump.