COMMENTARY: Observations on a misjudged election

We’ve said it before, but the vast majority of national pundits missed the signals. And no, Van Jones (of CNN): This election was not a “whitelash.” Unless, of course, it is unethical and immoral for white, working-class folk to vote their economic interests.

Perhaps University of Virginia Professor Larry Sabato said it best. He is one of the best political scientists of presidential politics. He simply said that he and most of the other pollsters and prognosticators had a flawed model for judging the presidential outcome.

This outcome, as noted in this space a few days ago, was that this year’s polling either failed or was unable to question a lot of voters who opted for President-elect Donald J. Trump. A factor, of course, is the fact that a lot of voters have dropped telephone landlines in favor of cell phones. And further, in either case, caller ID allows people to decide in advance whether they want to talk to a pollster.

So, a few first-day observations:

Mandate. Although former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won a teeny-tiny majority in the popular vote, she wasn’t very close in the electoral vote. Further, Trump laid out a short list of fairly specific things he wants to accomplish right away.

His mandate is affirmed by the fact that Republicans will retain their majorities in the House and Senate. Several of the more conservative pundits noted that Mrs. Clinton never did explain why she wanted to be president of the United States other than some fairly mushy and typical progressive programs, such as taxing the rich.

Electoral College. It still remains true that it is difficult for any Republican in this day and time to aggregate 270 electoral voters. That is because too many of the really big states, such as California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, are safely Democratic almost no matter what. That remained true this time.

Until this week, Democrats believed they had a firewall in the upper Midwest in addition to the West Coast and the Northeast. However, the unusual point is that Trump carried not just Ohio, but also Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Flawed candidates. Some Democrats already are howling that FBI Director James Comey cost Mrs. Clinton the election because of his report two weeks ago that the agency was reopening its investigation of her e-mails. And then concluded that effort on Sunday. That said, both Mrs.

Reid K. Beveridge

Reid K. Beveridge

Clinton and Trump were flawed candidates: She for her various actions around the private e-mail server in her basement and further, surrounding the various contributions to the Clinton Family Foundation and their resultant access to her as secretary of State. For his part, Trump has made various unfortunate statements about women, Latino judges and Gold Star Muslim parents.

The First 100 Days. We can no doubt anticipate a lot of action in both the White House and Congress in the first 100 days, beginning Jan. 20. To wit:

•The nomination of a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, filling the vacancy caused by the death of Associated Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago. Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination is dead. Very dead. Earlier, Trump listed 20 judges he deemed worthy. The list garnered widespread approval.

•Obamacare. Congress will move quickly to repeal it and replace it with a Republican construct. This is, however, easier said than done. The hurdle will be getting 60 votes in the Senate to proceed, with the Republicans holding 52 seats, perhaps 53 depending on a possible Democratic defection.

•Regulations. The Obama Administration promulgated more than 2,000 federal regulations. Many of these will either be rolled back by President Trump or repealed by Congress, which requires presidential concurrence. Among them will be President Obama’s “war” on coal, a regulation making it almost impossible to burn coal in electrical generating plants. Oil exploration via fracking will continue. The Keystone Pipeline will be approved.

•Trade. For one thing, the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) is dead. Trump also has promised to roll back the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA). That will be harder.

•Climate change. President Trump is no fan of that Paris agreement on climate change which, like the Kyoto Treaty that never has been ratified, mandates the United States take various actions to curb pollution while allowing China and India to go their merry way.

•Iran nuclear deal. Dead. Very dead.

•Immigration. He may not get Mexico to pay for it, but a President Trump will build that wall.

•Foreign relations. This is hard to call. Mr. Trump hasn’t said much that is very specific. Other than that he wants to kill ISIS in its crib.

This was a change election. Mrs. Clinton represented a continuation of the Obama presidency. Or of her husband’s presidency 20 years ago. That notion was repudiated in a very major way, a fact that too many progressives don’t seem to grasp very well yet. She was and is a lifelong member of the Washington establishment.

So onward and upward as President-elect Trump begins work in identifying cabinet secretaries for submission to the Senate Jan. 20 and then figuring out who the other nearly 2,000 folks he will need to fill out his administration.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reid K. Beveridge has covered politics in Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Delaware and Washington, D.C. He is now retired at Broadkill Beach.

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