The Post-Election Hangover -- The Sunday Political Brunch November 18, 2018


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Elections – like hangovers – can seem like they go on forever, especially after the party has ended and the sun comes up. Over a week after Election Day 2018, there is still a lot to dissect, and there is still a lot to be decided. I was on Capitol Hill this past week assessing the situation. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Senate: Where Things Stand” – As of press time, Republicans held 51 seats in the Senate to 47 for Democrats, with two undecideds in Florida and Mississippi. Right now, Republicans lead in both races, and I predict will win both seats with a resulting 53 to 47 majority, an overall increase of two seats.

“House: Where Things Stand” – Right now, Democrats have won 230 seats to 199 for Republicans, with six races still up in the air. I predict the GOP will take four of these and Democrats two. The final House total will be 232 Democrats and 203 Republicans, clearing a solid win that puts Democrats in charge of the House for the first time in eight years.

“Governors: Where Things Stand” – This, I think, was the most under-reported result from Election Day. Republicans hold 26 governorships, to 23 for Democrats. The race in Georgia remains too close to call. But right now, Democrats have made a gain of six seats. There was likely a similar shift in the make-up of state legislatures, where Republicans have controlled a majority of states for years. As I always say, political movements start from the ground up, not the top down. If Democrats made significant gains in state houses, watch out on 2020. That may be when a real “blue wave” occurs.

“Famous Names” -- Keep an eye on the rising star of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming). Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was first elected to the U.S. House in 2016, and just won reelection to a second term. Despite her lack of seniority in Congress, she has already been elected as Chair of the House Republican Conference, the third ranking position in GOP leadership. Now that’s a rocket ride to the top. Only House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) outrank her.

“California Dreamin’?” -- With the Republicans being led in the House by Californian Kevin McCarthy, there is also the prospect that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) will once again be elected House Speaker. That raises an interesting question: Has any state ever held the top two leadership posts in the House at the same time? I’ve been Googling all kinds of different questions, but have yet to find an answer. Is it possible the Pelosi-McCarthy leadership from California will be a first? Email me if you find a similar precedent from the past!

“Agenda 2019” – As I have mentioned in recent weeks, divided government can often lead to two possible extremes: gridlock or cooperation. In my lifetime I’ve seen both. The Reagan and Clinton administrations are two examples where significant legislation took place despite Democrats controlling some portion of the government, and Republicans the other. Then we’ve seen other times where the partisanship and hostility led to little cooperation including parts of the Obama and Bush II administrations. It’s hard to predict which way we’ll go in 2019.

“Issues: Immigration” – It may come as a surprise, but I think immigration reform may be one area where we will see bipartisan cooperation. Democrats want DACA made permanent. The acronym stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The eventual goal is to create a path to citizenship for minor children who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents or others. Many of these children were very young, and willfully broke no laws and are now into productive adulthood, albeit in the shadows. In exchange President Trump may get partial or even substantial funding for a border wall. Stay tuned!

“Issues: Infrastructure” – There was a lot of agreement between the White House and Congress over the past two years that a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure bill needed to get done. This could help rebuild the nation’s highways, bridges, airports, schools and even state and municipal roads. It’s a good way to stimulate the economy, too. The need is real and the economy is cooking, so what’s the problem? Well, unemployment is at an all-time low, so where do you get the workers? This may tie into the immigration issue above? Would a “guest worker” program help staff these jobs?

“Issues: Income Taxes” – The Trump tax cut package added stimulus to the economy, although the wavering markets of late are a concern. While corporate tax cuts were a permanent part of the deal, individual income tax cuts for most low and middle wage earners are set to sunset after five years. With Democrats in charge of the House Ways and Means Committee - where all revenue bills must originate - will they extend tax cuts indefinitely? The ball’s in their court!

“Issues: Health Care”— With the Democratic takeover of the House, there will be no repeal of Obamacare. But are there issues they can work on? The President wants to clamp down on the cost of prescription drugs. Democrats and Republicans alike want to stop the spiraling increases in premiums and co-pays. Obamacare appears here to say, but can they tweak it and fix it and make it better?

Where and what would you like to see President Trump and Congress do? Just click the comment button at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, the five surrounding states, and the District of Columbia.

© 2018, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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