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Fayette County


Alabama Election: A fluke or a predictor?

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.
Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for the state of Georgia.

Despite being able to pass a “Christmas gifts for all” unbalanced budget bill (with the Democrats help), the GOP is in trouble for the 2018 mid-term elections. As well they should be.
Their other accomplishment is passing a widely disliked tax cut disproportionately benefitting the wealthy and corporations. Trump, Ryan, and McConnell pushed through this unpopular bill with absolutely no input from across the aisle, and no Democrat voted for it in either the Senate or the House. It is an entirely Republican creation.
Further, due to Trump’s ill-advised trade war with China, the once rising stock market is now sinking fast, and the states that are most negatively affected economically are red, not blue.
There are currently 51 Republican Senators, barely enough to pass legislation if they stick together. However, eight of its Senators are up for re-election in 2018. Furthermore, all House members are running for reelection. The usual mid-term scenario is for the party in power to lose seats.
The ACA was passed by a Democratic Congress in 2009. Democrats then lost 63 Congressmen, including Jim Marshall of Macon, a friend of mine and the most conservative blue dog in Congress. Photoshopped ads showed him riding in a convertible with Pelosi. This is exactly the picture the Dems will paint this cycle, substituting a very unpopular Trump for Pelosi.
Frank Luntz is a conservative Republican pollster, perhaps the most astute of his kind. In a Nov. 21, 2016 Time magazine column, he analyzed the results of the “shake-up” Presidential election. I believe he was spot on.
Per Luntz, 2016 polls were off because a certain segment of voters were so alienated that they chose not to participate in polling. I assume that when they were contacted, they probably said that they were just too busy to take the call. Undoubtedly, some of the more apathetic said that they were undecided, even though they were not, just to avoid an explanation or what they anticipated would be tacit disapproval by the interviewer.
More to the point, based on his polling Luntz stated that the key to a successful Trump presidency would be “if he can make peace with those he profited from attacking.” Per his Election Day polling, an amazing 69 percent of swing voters wanted “leaders who are willing to compromise and work with everyone to get things done.”
Only 35 percent of Republicans agreed. Therefore, Trump has played to the base, making outrageous statements that he knows are not true. He has also taken extreme right-wing actions, including unilaterally gutting regulations as well as issuing executive orders designed to destroy the legacy of his predecessor. For example, he withdrew from the Paris climate accords, although virtually all scientists (and many business leaders) opposed the move.
Using Luntz’s rationale about broadening his appeal being the key to re-election, elections in 2018 and 2020 should be much different than 2016. Trump’s base, about one-third of the electorate, will still be 100 percent with him. I spoke recently with a friend, a retired blue-collar worker barely making ends meet, and asked him why he still supports Trump. His answer was that he is not a Democrat.
Swing voters, the independents and moderates who voted for Trump because they wanted positive change rather than the same old party politics, will remember his intransigence and irrationality. Polls show that they have turned against Trump and the GOP, even though that trend is less pronounced recently, and African-Americans and Latinos are furious with our President for his insensitivity and clear racism.
One indication of GOP difficulty is that in Alabama, the reddest of red states, both of the Trump-endorsed candidates (Luther Strange in the primary and Roy Moore in the general) lost. Minority voters are disgusted enough with Trump that they could come out in record numbers, as they did against Moore. This factor alone could move some swing states into the blue column.
A Democrat House victory is not assured. The Democrats are in a minority, 193 vs 239, and are at an extreme disadvantage due to gerrymandering. This redistricting was caused by Dems losing a tremendous number of state legislatures and Governorships under Obama’s naïve political leadership.
How motivated is the Democratic base, including minorities and millennials? In November we will know if Alabama was a fluke or a predictor of the future.