Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Almost Over

Donald Trump has had the worst month in modern political campaigns in American politics.

Starting with his truly horrendous performance in the first debate, onward through the Venezuelan Miss Universe Twitter tirade, pivot to the airing of the 2005 "locker room" comments (likely with more to come), a marginally better, but still poor second debate, and wrapping up with prominent GOP officials including Speaker Ryan and Senator McCain effectively abandoning his campaign...other than that it was a great month for the Trump Train.

Trump loyalists continue to delude themselves that they can come back and win. They cite non-scientific internet polls, the size of his rallies, and an earnest belief that Hillary Clinton is truly the Devil (Trump's own words from the second debate) to back up their claim that theirs is a nationwide movement that the elites and Establishment cannot understand and this movement is waiting to sweep him into office. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that make it clear to me that Hillary Clinton will indeed be elected the 45th president; likely by a large margin.

It is true that Clinton has very high unfavorable ratings. It is correct to say that she has a cloud of scandal around her (at least in the minds of many Americans) and that she is not seen as trustworthy. She certainly represents the status quo in terms of policy. In any "normal" election year the fundamentals would favor a generic Republican - but this year is far from normal.

I see the electoral map looking something like this the morning of November 8.

Map generated by 270towin.com

The above map is based upon the polling as of October 11, 2016. If anything, this map is being a bit generous to Trump. Georgia is certainly at risk along with Missouri and possibly even Alaska. I will update this in a couple of weeks as more data comes in.

Why is Clinton going to win?

In short:
  • Although Clinton has high negatives, Trump's are even higher
  • A United Democratic party (maybe a few Bernie Sanders voters will defect), a very obviously split and disunified GOP.
  • On policy, Clinton is seen as better on social issues and defense. Trump is seen as better on the economy and jobs, but not by enough to win.
  • The Democrats have a built in advantage from the beginning in the Electoral College with a blue wall in the Northeast and the West Coast. They can count on at least 230 EVs running a generic candidate and only have to win a couple of swing states to get to 270. there is a much steeper climb for the GOP. Couple this with several heretofore red states now being competitive...
  • Changing demographics are favoring the Democrats.
  • Clinton has a far superior ground game. This may be a low turnout election where GOTV efforts will really matter.
  • Voter concerns about Trump's overall fitness for office, Clinton is seen by most voters as qualified - even if they dislike her.
  • Minorities will turn out heavily against Trump swinging AZ and FL. The immigration rhetoric may end up solidifying the Hispanic vote almost as solidly as the African-American vote for the Democrats for at least a generation. 
  • White college-educated voters, long a mainstay of the GOP will likely break to Clinton putting key states like CO, VA, and PA in Clinton's camp.
  • There is an enormous gender gap in favor of Clinton. The Trump tapes will likely make it a chasm.
  • Trump cannot go 12 (let alone 24) hours without some sort of gaffe that reinforces already poor perceptions of him.
  • There is likely to be more damaging tapes/revelations about Trump's personal life. Clinton will experience more bad releases from Wikileaks, but by now candidate perceptions are already too "baked in" to move the needle very much.
  • Trump's taxes: drip, drip, drip...
  • Voters who are upset about the Clinton's and Bill Clinton's sexual past are already voting for Trump. Trump's line of attack on this is unlikely to work. He needs to get back moderate Republicans and college educated women. This is a desperate attempt to disqualify Clinton. He is best to focus his energy on issues where he already has a lead such as the economy.
  • The nation's economy, although not humming is doing just well enough to favor the incumbent party. 
  • No candidate with this large a lead in October (as of Oct. 11 between 5 and 10 points) has blown it - ever. (Jimmy Carter only had a lead of this size in 1980 in one outlier poll and Trump is no Ronald Reagan)
  • Johnson and Stein, like most minor party candidates are unlikely to play spoiler in any state (unlike Perot and Nader) and seem to be drawing pretty evenly off both Trump and Clinton - thus a wash. 
Again, this is not a situation where Clinton is beloved - she is winning largely due to the GOP nominating a candidate with very poor qualities and she is able to leverage the aforementioned advantages that Democrats enjoy in a presidential race.

Trump's core voters will turn out, but not in sufficient numbers to win key states like PA, FL,AZ, NC, and VA. Ohio is a state ready-made for Trump in terms of demographics and it appears to be slipping out of reach as well. That's the ballgame.

I do see ME and NB splitting their electoral votes. the Omaha area and northern Maine are not representative of their states in general.

Electoral College Prediction
Clinton 358
Trump 180

National Vote Percentage
Clinton      49%
Trump       42%
Johnson     6%
Stein           3%


The Prof

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September Update

What an August! Donald Trump experienced a near free fall in the polls, both nationally and in key swing states. Hillary Clinton appeared to be in cruise control as a result of Trump's unforced errors. However, Trumps slide seems to have stabilized and has reversed in the past month.

Trump has had a successive number of misfires since the close of the GOP Convention beginning with the poorly managed battle with the father of a Muslim US soldier who fell in battle in Iraq. This has been compounded by racial misfires and a seemingly uncoordinated policy on immigration. These along with yet another campaign shakeup, very little campaign ground game had his campaign in free fall.

Hover, things stabilized with a combination of more policy clarity on immigration (he has gone hardcore) and some unfortunate news on the Hillary Clinton email front has breathed a bit of life back into the Trump campaign. And to top it off, her recent health scare has been at the news forefront in recent days.

Polling has tightened in both national, and more importantly, in the swing states, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, and North Carolina are all essentially tied. What looked like an easy victory for Clinton a month ago, now seems to be a down to the wire election. But I would be remiss to ignore several variables that are still in play:

  • The three presidential debates - This is where the two candidates (Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Jill Stein are not invited) will have the opportunity to square off one on one. Clinton is by far more versed on policy, Trump will benefit if he can appear competent as expectations for him are rock bottom. 
  • Events over the next several weeks - a terrorist strike, poor economic news, a late scandal, the dreaded October surprise all can affect the course of this election.
  • Gaffes by either candidate; with Trump verbal mishaps are somewhat expected, but Clinton needs to maintain discipline on messaging.

This is going to be a base election - the candidate that can drive out their base by using fear/dislike of the other candidate will likely win.

My next post will focus on the electoral college physics that will drive this contest.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Convention Time, Mistake on the Lake?

July is anything but the summer doldrums during presidential campaigns. A few words about the GOP convention this week and we will take a look at the Democratic Convention next week.

Donald Trump owns the Republican Party lock stock and barrel (except for those pesky Never Trumper's) until November and possibly beyond if he wins. However, his chances of winning cannot be considered very likely if current trends continue.

The Good

Trump was able to unify his party as much as he can and has defied the punditry by coming in as an outsider and effectively wresting control of the GOP from a long-entrenched establishment.

Governor Mike Pence will help bring on the Christian right who have been suspicious of Trump to from the beginning. Additionally, Pence has both executive and legislative experience and is a GOP insider.

Even with all of his gaffes, mistatements, and sometimes mind-blowing policy ideas Trump has stayed within striking range of Hillary Clinton in the polls which speaks to her inherent weakness and lack of trust. This also is a testimony to the GOP coming together after a very divisive primary.

The Bad

The convention can best be described as having an atmosphere of darkness, fear, and immanent destruction of the American dream if anybody but Trump takes the presidency come January 2017. Contrast this with Ronald Reagan's sunny and optimistic disposition and attitude from the 1980s. Some of the speakers painted such an apocalyptic vision of the nation should Hillary win that many swing voters will be turned off by the sheer pessimism that was on display.

Another issue was that the delegation in Cleveland had very few non-white faces. For a party that needs to improve its performance among minority groups this was not a good start if it wants to stay relevant at the presidential level.

The Ugly

Ted Cruz. His publically withholding his endorsement of Donald Trump is understandable on many levels, but he certainly should not have spoken at the convention in such a way as this will undermine party unity. Cruz is obviously betting that if Trump loses he will be the GOP 2020 front runner, but his lack of loyalty will probably serve to make him even more of a pariah within the party.

The one thing that is keeping Donald Trump within striking distance are the very poor favorability ratings of Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately for Trump, his own favorability ratings are even lower.

We will see next week what the Democratic Convention brings. Clinton's choice of Tim Kaine for vice president is certainly going to help her at the very least by making Virginia almost untouchable for the GOP in 2016.


The Prof

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Trump vs Hillary - It's On!

Yeah yeah, far too long without a post and all sorts of excitement.

Bottom line  - Donald Trump is the nominee of a fractured Republican Party. Hillary Clinton will be the nominee of a contentious, but I believe eventually unified Democratic Party.

How did Trump do it?

Against all odds and most predictions, Trump is a political brand unto himself. He has successfully channeled voter anger at the GOP establishment, the Obama administration, immigrants, and Wall Street. Trump was also able to sell his brash, unconventional style and his constant tweaking of the media and GOP establishment - which play well with economically disenfranchised voters.

The way delegates are apportioned with a split field. Trump was able to turn consistent 30% vote totals into state wins and build momentum and the perception that he was unstoppable. The GOP was unable to unite behind an "anti Trump" as all of different factions were unable to come together.

A word on Marco Rubio: on paper he had the qualifications (young, Hispanic, from a swing state), but came across as stiff and woefully unprepared for the mud that was the GOP primary, His getting into the dirt as well (comments on Trump's hand size) sealed his fate. This shows that candidates have to perform and can't just have qualifications that have yet to be tested.

However, many in the GOP are not warming to a Trump candidacy. The repudiation of his nomination from figures such as Mitt Romney, both former President Bush's, and Speaker Paul Ryan. There is considerable concern that Trump will not only lose the presidency, but this will translate into massive GOP losses in the Senate and House.

Movement Conservatives who backed Cruz are concerned with Trumps liberal stances on some social issues. hose in the neo-conservative wing are concerned with his isolationism. And many are concerned with his brash and oftentimes incorrect statements that only serves as a goldmine for Democratic campaign ads. The GOP is clearly divided at this point and bringing the factions together with the hardline Trump supporters is going to be very difficult indeed.

How did Hillary do it?

Clinton was able to use the power of the Democratic establishment and the loyalty of the Superdelegates to cross the nomination threshold (likely to happen before the end of May). However, Senator Sanders has galvanized the youth and left wing of the party and has managed to throw a scare into both Hillary and the party establishment. But, unlike the GOP, it seems that the Democrats are more likely to coalesce by the party convention, as many in Sander's camp are pragmatic enough to support Hillary to prevent a Trump presidency.

And onto November...

As of today (May 9, 2016) Hillary is the presumptive favorite to win perhaps a landslide victory in November. This is based upon early polling and individual state voting histories. Additionally demographic shifts will favor the Democrats.

  • Both Trump and Hillary have very high "very unfavorable" ratings (45% and 55%) respectively. These candidates are already known and defined, thus changing these perceptions is unlikely. The result is two candidates viewed negatively by a majority of the electorate. This increases the possibility of a relatively low turnout election. Low turnout will help Trump as groups who are less likely to vote appear to be supporting Clinton.
  • VP picks - will have to do a Veepstakes post soon - the VP pick will not greatly help each candidate, but a poor pick can further depress already poor approval ratings.
  • The economy over the next  months, an economic downturn helps Trump. Clinton as the defacto incumbent benefits from a recovering economy.
  • Expect a negative campaign from both sides - this will further depress turnout and gin up partisans of each candidate.
  • Does Hillary get indited based on the email issue? I do not this she does, but on the off chance it happens this will have grave effects on her future Is Joe Biden waiting to parachute in?
In a future post I will take a closer look at the Electoral College map.


The Prof

Saturday, December 26, 2015


After a too long absence from writing, I think an update is warranted as the race on the GOP side is the world tuned upside down. Six months ago, "JEB!" Bush seemed to have the inside track to the nomination. Now languishing at 3% in the polls, he has the political equivalent of Mt. Everest to climb. Ditto for Chris Christie and John Kasich. Note that all three are either or have been sitting governors and are on the moderate side of the GOP.

The Ascendancy of the Angry Outsider

Both Donald Trump and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz have cultivated and fertilized a vast and underestimated undercurrent of discontent on the GOP electorate. Polling data has consistently shown a disdain morphing into an outright anger of those in the GOP who have been perceived a "part of the Washington Establishment" and as "betrayers" of the voters. As recently as 2012, the "establishment" candidate in Mitt Romney successfully wrested the nomination from the outsider candidates, but Mitt Romney is not running this year (or is he...see primary scenario #3 below).

However, in 2016 there is a palpable anger in the base. From this perspective, the GOP controlled congress has compromised and has not opposed President Obama nearly enough. Polling data also suggests an anger toward candidates who are identified as moderates or RHINOs (Republican in Name Only). The aforementioned Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich  are collectively hovering around 10% in nationwide polls. Yes, nationwide polling does not mean much in late December with the first primary five weeks away, but the consistency of these results suggests that something real is at work here.

In my view, there are three things have driven the GOP electorate in this direction.

  1. Immigration, a huge issue to the GOP base. Trump's wall and keeping Muslim immigrants out has a lot of fans in conservative quarters.
  2. Security and terrorism, post Paris and San Bernadino are making this an election where perceived toughness matters.
  3. Unrelenting opposition to President Obama and to any in the GOP who compromise. Compromising = traitorous behavior.

Now for a look at the angry outsider candidates:

Trump's policy views and rhetoric clearly has played well to this large block of voters. Bombastic rhetoric which normally would disqualify a candidate from the normally staid GOP now seems to increase the support for those who say it. Trump (no hard core conservative by the way except for immigration) can also argue that due to his personal wealth he cannot be corrupted by "special interests" who have other candidates at their beck and call. So far it is working as his national polling numbers are now approaching 40%. I think this support is unstable (but I have been wrong about Trump's longevity throughout, so what do I know...).

Ted Cruz has quietly built his organization and has thoroughly distanced himself from his peers in the Senate to the point of being actively disliked by his colleagues. But in 2016, this is political gold when trying to win primary voters. In addition, as a born-again Christian, Cruz is well positioned in Iowa and states with high Evangelical populations. At this point I see him as the chief rival to Trump.

Although his campaign appears to be fading, Dr. Benjamin Carson (who actually is not that angry, but evangelicals really like him) had a spike of support as he focused on his soft-spoken honesty - even though he has a tenuous grasp on actual policy. For many of these angry voters, policy expertise doesn't matter and in some cases is actually a negative.

Is Rubio the only hope of the Establishment?

Senator Marco Rubio occupied an interesting space in this contest. He is to the right of the more moderate triumvirate mentioned earlier. However, he is not as far right as Cruz and not bombastic like Trump. He could be a candidate who can unite the party and polls well against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. However, he is an apostate on immigration policy and thus far has failed to consolidate his support.

So What Now?

This picture will likely remain muddy for some time. As long as there are many candidates all taking some of the vote it will not be easy for a clear front-runner to emerge in terms of delegate accumulation which is how presidential nominations are won. To win the nomination, a candidate must secure a majority of the delegates at the party convention that will be held in July. The total number of delegates is 2,472 with 1,237 being the magic number for a simple majority

Below are some plausible scenarios...

  1. One of the candidates breaks through and secures the nomination by the end of April. In primaries, winning begets winning as funding and media attention can create an inevitability for the candidate in the lead. Plus, after March 15, most of the GOP primaries are "winner take all" in terms of winning delegates. Prior to March 15, delegates are awarded proportionately to how candidates do in the voting within each state. So it is likely the contest will initially be relatively close in terms of pledged delegates, but after March 15 one candidate can quickly build an insurmountable lead. This is how Romney was able to outdistance his opponents in 2012.
  2. It is a war of attrition until the last primaries in June. Two or more candidates keep winning states and delegates and this goes down to the wire. One candidate secure the majority of delegates late in the game, similar to the Obama-Clinton contest of 2008 and the Ford-Reagan battle of 1976.
  3. The dreaded "Brokered Convention". This is the least likely scenario and involves an end game in which no one candidate secures the majority of delegates. In his situation there would be intra-party dealing to come up with a nominee from among the current candidates or possibly one who did not run at all in 2016. Paging Mr. Romney...
I think scenario 1 is most likely at this point. A long and drawn out nominating process will harm the GOP's chances in November, chances that are already likely under 50%. The party hierarchy will try very hard to deny the nomination to Trump as he is almost universally viewed as destructive, unable to win in November, and worse yet -  a drag on GOP candidates in Senate and Gubernatorial races. But if this happens there is the possibility of...

Wildcard - Trump Runs as an independent

So say Trump ends up losing the nomination.He has the motivation, money, and supporters to mount an independent bid for the presidency. Most analysts, including me believe this would make a much easier path for Hillary as it would effectively split the opposition. in 1992, Ross Perot did not elect Bill Clinton, but certainly took a few states away from George Bush This truly would be the GOP nightmare scenario. Could Trump actually win a three way race? I would say very unlikely if not impossible.

As the caucuses and primaries draw near, a clearer picture will emerge. Going to be a fun year for political junkies regardless of what happens.


The Prof

Sunday, May 31, 2015


We are now in the midst of the not-so-invisible primary and as the title suggests, this will be a look at likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But Wait! This is an open seat. There is no sitting incumbent. History shows that there should be a scramble for this nomination, especially among the Democrats...

In a true role reversal, the Democrats are looking to a coronation of the heir apparent; the runner-up in the last contest. In contrast, the GOP is at 19 candidates and counting.

Hillary Clinton announced that she is running for the Democratic nomination in April 2015. This is a good time to look at her strengths and weaknesses and conduct a quick analysis of her candidacy.

  1. Perceived Experience. So much of politics and elections is defined by perceptions and the perception that she is ready and able to assume the office of the presidency on Day 1 is compelling. 
  2. Eight years as first lady, during which she was involved in both successful (women's initiatives) and unsuccessful (healthcare) policy goals. 
  3. Election as Senator from NY in 2000, an office to which she was easily reelected.
  4. Ultimately unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, during which she became a household name and gained invaluable experience running and almost winning a national campaign.
  5. Secretary of State posting provides foreign policy experience.
  6. Very weak opposition from the Left in terms of former MD governor O'Malley and Socialist Bernie Sanders. Looks like Elizabeth Warren who could cause more concern is not running. Former Reagan appointee turned Democrat Jim Webb will not be a factor.
  7. Gobs of money! And the ability to raise gobs more...
  8. Fond memories of the Clinton presidency - we can get two for the price of one again (inside joke from 1992 campaign). Bill will be helpful (as long as he behaves).
  9. Her gender and the ability to make history. This is a biggie.
  10. Over the years she has done a lot of favors that she can now call in.
Now for the negatives
  1. She had all the structural advantages of money and organization in 2008 and still managed to blow it.
  2. Does not take nor handle tough questions or unsupervised settings well.
  3. Clinton Foundation questions may blow up her face.
  4. Email scandal may blow up in her face.
  5. Does not have a politician's natural ability - appears to be cold and calculating without much pretense of genuine humanity. Sorry, but this IS the perception...
  6. Benghazi issue, although not seen as important by many in the public, is still around and will be investigated by the GOP-controlled House.
  7. She has made a lot of enemies on both sides of the aisle over the years. Democrats are not overly enthusiastic about her, but there are few alternatives.
  8. She is very polarizing. A Clinton administration would be fraught with more gridlock as the GOP is likely to keep control of Congress, at least initially.
  9. She is tied to President Obama's success or failure over the next 18 months.
  10. Rails against Wall St. but benefits from it - hypocrisy issue.
It is far too early to make any predictions, but I am fairly certain that unless the dynamics change - and change soon, that she will win the Democratic nomination fairly easily. I don't see Sanders be much of a threat - in fact he may help her look moderate as he is so far to the left. 

Hillary's strategy is to do enough to make this inevitable and keep any major opponents on the sidelines. But she is also flying under the radar for now to some extent (note very few press questions) so that she can run out the clock on any serious opposition within the party. Thus far it seems to be working. Well over 50% of Democratic primary voters are supporting her in the early polls and her opponents are registering in single digits.

Note that she is taking positions on social issues (immigration) that are to the left of President Obama. This helps her among the left of the party, Hispanics, and among younger voters. I would not be surprised to see her take other leftist positions to appeal to groups she will need in the general. Plus it helps neutralize any thoughts of a "Draft Warren" movement.

If serious opposition does not materialize by mid fall, the primaries and her nomination are a forgone conclusion (absent any major scandal or gaffes). She is already running against the GOP and ignoring her own party's opposition. This is a strategy that may backfire though as the perception of a coronation may not sit well with the general electorate. I would advise her to take on her opponents as it will build her credibility as a candidate who is going to work for the nomination.Avoiding the press is a long-term mistake as well as she cannot avoid them forever.

I place her changes at the nomination of over 90% right now. This is not your father's Democratic party where it was a free for all. Ironically, the Dems are behaving like the GOP where there would be a coronation of the person whose "turn" it was. And the GOP is now having a free for all.

This promises to be a busy year and a half. Next up, the GOP and why there are only four candidates with any chance of getting the nomination and only two who could possibly beat Hillary,


The Prof

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Baker squeaks it out, The Prof Nails Most Races

I must give myself an A- in my predictions for this past election...did quite well!

Prediction                    Actual
Baker          48%            48.5%
Coakley       45%            46.6%
Falchuck        3%              3.3%
McCormack   2%              0.9%
Lively             2%              0.8%

Baker's win was due to multiple factors:
  • Exit polling did show a gender gap with Coakley winning women by 14 points. However, Baker won men by 16 points.
  • Although Coakley won the cities and inner Boston suburbs, her margins were worse than in Patrick's reelection in 2010. For example, Patrick won in the city of Boston by 47 points, but Coakley won by "only" 36 points. Baker also over-performed in many Democratic bastions such as Everett, Sharon, and Newton, won the liberal suburban communities of Wayland and Sudbury, and kept Coakley's margins in Worcester and Lowell to under 15 points.
  • Cambridge and Amherst were both 80-20 for Coakley - no surprises there!
  • Voters never really "liked" Martha Coakley and she failed to drive up Baker's negatives.
  • Baker was able to effectively distance himself from the national GOP. He also ran a very disciplined and largely mistake-free campaign.
  • Voters were most concerned about the economy and this is where Baker was seen to be a better manager than Coakley.
  • Coakley's campaign never really got off the ground and she did not enjoy unity among Democratic voters or politicians. About 20% of registered Democrats voted for Baker and several Democratic mayors and legislators endorsed Baker as well.
  • Third party candidates likely drew support away from both candidates in roughly equal proportions.
  • The death of former Boston Mayor Menino the week before the election effectively "froze" the election during the final weekend and kept a potential Baker gaffe about a New Bedford fisherman out of the headlines.
  • Baker won in the areas where he needed to and ran up large margins in Worcester, Plymouth, Essex, and Norfolk counties. This counteracted Coakley's wins in the Boston area and Western Massachusetts. See the below map for details.

Although Baker won, it was very close and was a margin only by two points (40,000 votes out of over two million cast). He succeeded in threading the needle for a Republican in Massachusetts to prevail.
  • Minimal campaign mistakes
  • Distance from national GOP, non-partisan approach
  • Liberal or agnostic on social issues
  • Willing to work with Democrats, angry Tea Party candidates simply cannot win here
  • Weak Democratic candidate juxtaposed with an attractive Republican candidate
In all other major statewide races, Massachusetts remained solidly blue and elected Democrats to all other constitutional offices by wide margins. Senator Markey won reelection against a largely unknown challenger, 62-38. Republicans did pick up 2 seats in the State Senate and 6 in the House...still in a tiny minority, but some progress.

I nailed most of my other prediction as well, missing only one call.
  • Question 1 did pass narrowly where I thought it would not. My predictions on Questions 2,3, and 4 were all correct along with the predicted lopsided margins.
  • Seth Moulton defeated Richard Tsei in the 6h Congressional district. While I thought Moulton would win a narrow race, he won by 15 points. In this case, I think that Moulton's status as a newcomer and military veteran contrasted sharply with Tsei being on the ballot for the past three cycles and his being in state government since 1984. Being a fresh-faced outsider helped!
  • Scott Brown may now consider moving to another state for Senate after losing by 3 points to Shaheen in NH. I think that a Vermont seat is open in 2016...
 Good Night for Republicans Nationwide

Republicans won the Senate in a major wave, flipping 8 seats (possibly 9, after the Louisiana runoff in December). The GOP will enjoy a nearly 50 seat majority in the House. They also won a number of Governorships in Democratic states (IL, MA, and MD) and expanded their nationwide lead in state legislatures. 

Looking at exit polls, the GOP benefited from higher turnout among white voters, low turnout among minorities (typical for a midterm election cycle), and the continuing unpopularity of the President. I do not necessarily see this as a mandate for the Republicans, but more a rejection of the status quo.

Now, can they govern and how does this affect the last two years of President Obama's term? Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell have alternated between conciliatory and fighting words - as has President Obama.

I think, based on early observations, that there will be continued confrontation on Capital Hill. If the president issues any sort of amnesty decree via executive order, there will be little, if any, cooperation going forward. Additionally, 2016 presidential politics will affect both legislation and the dynamics in Washington. I will write more on this and what it means in the near future.


The Prof