“The Sunday Political Brunch” – December 18, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016


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Mark Curtis

We are on the road again this week, touring America. The landscape is changing, so it’s a good time to take a new look at the electoral map. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Georgia on My Mind” – There were a lot of polls in 2016 that showed Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump in Georgia. Ultimately, Trump won 51 percent to 46 percent, but the details are worth looking at. Two polls in August, including the highly-regarded Atlanta Journal-Constitution, had Clinton up by four to seven percentage points. As late as October 28, the Quinnipiac Poll had them tied. Georgia is changing demographically, as more people from the Northeast and Midwest move South. Similar states, such as North Carolina and Virginia, have already gone Democratic, and Georgia could follow suit. Red is not red forever!

“Arizona, Too!” – Much as in Georgia, there were times in this race when Hillary Clinton led in Arizona, a traditionally red state. Much of this change has its roots in two demographic shifts: the expanding Latino voter base, and the retirement of Northerners to the Sun Belt. Neighboring New Mexico was a solid Republican state for many years, but has gone Democratic in six of the past seven Presidential elections.

“I’ll Have a Blue Christmas, without You”—I can hear Elvis singing it now! As mentioned above, red states are never guaranteed to remain red; nor are blue states, blue. The lesson from this election lies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. All were predicted – and with seemingly a great deal of certainty – to go for Secretary Clinton. Instead, all three traditionally-blue states went red for Trump; and few – if any – polls saw the trend coming.

“Be the Disenfranchised” – It has struck me in recent elections that certain voters leverage being disenfranchised. “We have no voice,” they shout; and maybe there is something to that. In 2000, we had a classic match-up between legacy candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush – both of whom come from legendary American political families. Fast forward to 2008, and you get the bi-racial, hardscrabble-life Barack Obama, and in 2016 the famously wealthy - but without political legacy -Donald Trump. Trump and Obama appealed to large numbers of voters who felt their constituency had no voice. They were the antithesis of the Bush-Gore (and, yes, Clinton crowd). They appealed to those who felt left out of the conversation, albeit at different ends of the political spectrum.

“Electoral College Matters” – On Monday, the Electoral College votes, and don’t bet a dime that it will overturn the election. There may be a couple of stray electors who don’t vote for Trump, but nowhere near the 37 who would be needed to change the outcome of the election.

“Hack Attack” – The reports of computer hacking in this election are not going to change the outcome either, but I do find them troubling. The fact that a foreign country tried to hack into the Republican National Committee (unsuccessfully) and the Democratic National Committee (successfully) is disturbing. I know of no credible evidence that suggests hackers breached any voting machines or vote counts, so the outcome of the election won’t change. But this ought to send up a red flag to everyone that threats to our cybersecurity are a serious and growing national security concern, and that proper resources must be devoted to protect against them. brought to bear to fight it.

“Biting into a Lemon” – Someone asked me this week why Democrats are so bitter about the outcome of this election, and whether that bitterness will last. The vote was nearly six weeks ago, and I think the wound will be raw for some time. The fact that one candidate won the popular vote and another won the Electoral College is very frustrating to those on the losing end of that deal. I believe Republicans would feel the same way if they had won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College. In 2000, the public was just as bitterly divided; but much of that bitterness dissipated when - just eight months into the Bush administration - the September 11th attacks helped unify the nation.

Do you think the Electoral College should be eliminated? Why, or why not? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.


Related Slideshow: Trump’s Win - What Does it Mean for Rhode Island?

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Jennifer Duffy

Cook Report

"We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

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Pam Gencarella

Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

"Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

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Kay Israel

Professor at Rhode Island College

"With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

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Jennifer Lawless

Professor at American University

"The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

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Len Lardaro

Professor at University of Rhode Island

"Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."

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Mike Stenhouse

RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

"As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

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Kristina Contreras Fox

VP of Young Democrats of America

"A Trump Presidency means the validation of the ugliest part of America. In RI, as with the rest of the country, the hammer of his hatred will fall hardest on minority communities. Being a blue state doesn't make us immune from this danger.

Trump won over 35% (39.5) of the vote here! We need to look in the mirror, and not lie about what the reflection shows us. No more hiding underneath a blue blanket. I expect those who claim Democratic values to be true to those values. The gulf between words and actions have turned into fertile ground for Trump's message to grow here in RI. If you call yourself a Democrat, if you claim to stand in opposition to Trump, now is the time to prove it. Show up and fight back."


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