President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. applaud Carryn Owens, widow of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, during the president’s address to a joint session of Congress. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Ron Faucheux is a political analyst, author and pollster. He publishes LunchtimePolitics.com, a daily newsletter on polls. He also runs Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan survey research firm that has worked for the Advocate and WWL-TV.

After the bloodletting of last year’s election, most of us aren’t ready for another one. But, in fewer than 20 months, America will elect a new Congress and 39 of the nation’s 50 governors. The future of both parties hangs in the balance.

If the intensifying Democratic resistance to President Donald Trump has any success, it most likely would happen in gubernatorial and U.S. House races. The U.S. Senate will be much tougher for them.

Republicans hold 33 governorships and, with that, set state policy in 60 percent of the country. If they can maintain this advantage, it will give them decisive influence over the reapportionment of congressional and state legislative seats after the 2020 census.

This year and next, Republicans have 28 of those governorships up for election and Democrats have only 11. That’s why Democrats are trying to gin up what they call an anti-Trump “tsunami” to exploit their opposition’s broad exposure.

In November, Democrats are aiming to retake New Jersey’s governorship and keep Virginia’s, two states with term-limited incumbents. These are often interesting indicators.

Next year, Democrats will focus on flipping at least nine potentially vulnerable GOP-held governorships, including those in big states such as Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. Republicans have far fewer opportunities.

Looking at Congress, Republicans hold a 43-seat majority in the House. Taking into account the five vacancies, Democrats need a net gain of 25 seats to shift control.

We’ve seen the president’s party suffer losses of this magnitude twice in recent times. Republicans lost 30 House seats in 2006 when President George W. Bush’s popularity was sinking, and 26 seats in 1982 after the first two years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency when the economy was still sluggish. We’ve also seen bigger shifts in 1994 and 2010, when first-term Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton lost 52 and 63 House seats, respectively.

It’s too early to tell whether Democrats can take the House. There are now about 30 Republican seats and half that many Democratic seats at potential risk, which gives Democrats more running room.

In the Senate, Democrats have the exposure problem. Twenty-five seats on the ballot in 2018 are Democratic-held, and only nine belong to Republicans. To make matters worse, Democrats also have to defend five vulnerable incumbents in strongly pro-Trump states.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, for example, must overcome forces that produced a 42-point Trump win in his state to win re-election. Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, Joe Donnelly, of Indiana, Jon Tester, of Montana, and Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota, represent states that gave Trump victory margins of between 19 and 36 points.

Democrats now appear to have only two shots at Republican incumbents, Sens. Dean Heller, of Nevada, and Jeff Flake, of Arizona. Either could be vulnerable, but neither will be easy pickings.

Other GOP Senate incumbents up for election are in the Republican strongholds of Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. It would take Category 4 winds at their back for Democrats to have a chance at any of those seats.

In the end, Trump is the wild card. As the central force in American politics, what he says and does matters.

However, some Republicans theorize that even if Trump loses support, it may not have much effect on GOP candidates in state and district races. As Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reasons, Trump is seen as a separate and distinct entity, and his personal controversies won’t rub off on other Republicans.

Maybe so. But Trump and congressional leaders still have to hack their way through the controversial details of thorny issues, from health care, tax reform and budget cuts to funding infrastructure and dealing with immigrants. If they flub their chance, Republican candidates across the country could tank. But if they deliver, and if Trump follows up on his successful speech to Congress, the Democratic resistance would flop.

It’s an understatement of biblical proportions to say a lot of water must still flow under the proverbial bridge between now and November 2018. But, it’s no understatement to say Republicans — in the stormy, unpredictable era of Trump — are already checking the skies, hoping the levees will hold.

Chuck Conconi welcomed James Zogby on this week’s episode of Focus Washington for a discussion on the current political climate. Zogby, President and Co-Founder of the Arab American Institute (AAI), discussed the implications of the 2016 presidential race  and Donald Trump on the Arab American population.

In the last polls AAI conducted in 2014, the political gap in the Arab American community was 2-1 Democrat and voter engagement was 3-1 Democrat, making voter patterns and party identification similar to those of Hispanics or the Jewish population. According to Zogby, nothing in the last two years has changed that dynamic, even the 2016 presidential election.

The election may not be changing the political leanings of America’s ethnic groups, but it is having an effect on the attitude of Americans about the Arab American community. Zogby states that hate crimes, while nothing new, are still occurring after a sharp increase following the 9/11 attacks. The increase in negativity toward the community, however, is equally matched by positive support from additional groups throughout the years, including African Americans, Latinos, mainline protestant churches and civil liberties organizations. These groups “wouldn’t give us the time of day 20 years ago,” exclaimed Zogby, but now quickly come to the defense of the Arab American community.

Like many Americans, Zogby has hung memorable documents on the walls of his office over the years. The most important document, he explained in the interview, was his father’s naturalization papers. This is important to him because his father came here illegally in his twenties at a time when the Senate “zeroed out quotas and said Syrian trash aren’t welcome.”

Hanging next to his father’s naturalization papers is a parchment from President Obama appointing Zogby to a post in the government. This, he contends, is the nature of the country – where even the son of an illegal immigrant can rise to serve the President of the United States.

“I continue to manifest though, in all the positions I make, the fact that you cannot view America either as fundamentally good or fundamentally evil. We are both. We are the Statue of Liberty and we’re Donald Trump.”

For Zogby, that is the story of America.

 

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Susan Eisenhower (Photo Credit: Focus Washington)

Susan Eisenhower (Photo Credit: Focus Washington)

Well-known independent voter discusses what the GOP and Dems Should Learn from Americans in the 2016 elections

13 June 2016 (Washington, DC): Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower and Chairman Emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, sits down with Chuck Conconi on this week’s episode of Focus Washington to discuss the changing dynamics of the Republican party as well as the impact partisan politics has had on this year’s presidential race.

Susan addressed at length the ongoing leadership crisis this country faces. Although she had always been a Republican, she left the party eight years ago and became an independent. In fact, she endorsed President Obama during his initial campaign as well as his second presidential race. She claims that the party has ideologically shifted tremendously since her grandfather, President Eisenhower held office.

Susan’s grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, represented a form of moderate Republicanism advocating for social progression while remaining fiscally conservative. Unfortunately, in today’s polarized political arena, this ideology represents neither party but instead a combination of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

“The [Republican] party’s changing, and frankly, the party has been changing for a very long time,” stated Eisenhower.

Susan alluded to this year’s presidential nominations as an example of the transitions that are taking place within both parties. “In some ways it was surprising that [Hillary] had the kind of vigorous challenge that she did, and on the same side we had what we thought was going to be an heir apparent in Jeb Bush and it was rather fascinating to watch how quickly that set of assumptions fell through. So what I think it tells me is that both parties are changing, and they’re changing for larger reasons than I think what is currently being analyzed.”

Party politics has become a major obstacle, contributing to the lack of strategic leadership in this country. She emphasized to Chuck that “strategic” alludes to an element of time involved, and strategic leadership is defined by leaders who are trying to achieve long term goals. Susan points out that party politics make it impossible to talk and think about measures for all of America. She laments that the era when our presidents had to get up and articulate a strategy for the entire country is gone.

After declining to say which side she would be taking in this race, Susan says that she sees the United States as in transition, and that she knows much more about it than she did before this election. She recognizes the feeling of frustration emanating from the people of the United States, resulting from the notion that their government system is unavailable to them. The American people want new leadership– strategic leadership—but as Susan points out, the party politics shaking up Washington today makes it difficult to put such bold leaders into office.

 

Chuck Conconi welcomed Bob Cusack on this week’s episode of Focus Washington. Cusack, Editor-in-Chief of Washington-based publication The Hill, evaluated the irregular political climate of the 2016 presidential election.

According to Cusack, the ascension of Donald Trump has transformed the identity of the Republican Party. By confronting the potential loss of House and Senate seats, “Republicans are coming to grips with reality.” Cusack predicted that Speaker Paul Ryan will endorse Trump by the Republican Convention in July. Despite his limited appeal among Hispanic and women’s groups, Trump surprised pundits by attracting a loyal base of support.

Insecurity among Republicans parallels growing divisions within the Democratic Party. Cusack noted that a contested convention will require critical negotiations between Clinton and Sanders. He predicted that Clinton will triumph over Sanders to receive the Democratic nomination. The Convention will measure Clinton’s success as she attempts to unite her traditional supporters with Sanders voters.

Cusack concluded his remarks by urging caution in predicting Convention results. Thus far, wavering support for Clinton, combined with Trump’s unforeseen political rise, has defied voters’ expectations. This time last year, confidence in particular candidates was unshakeable. To Cusack, a fragmented Republican Party and mounting opposition to Clinton define “the year of the outsider” in which no candidate is guaranteed victory.

 

Focus Washington: 2012 Election & Conventions

On September 6, 2012, in DCView, by Focus Washington

 

Qorvis‘ Chuck Conconi sits down with Ron Faucheux to discuss the 2012 election. The presidential race as close to a tie as an election can be as Republicans and Democrats focus on rallying their base and swaying undecided voters with their conventions. Democratic National Convention got off to a fast start with a lot of enthusiasm attendees while the Republican National Convention schedule had to get shuffled last minute to due to hurricane Isaac. The Democrats stand a chance to pick up some house seats, but republicans are likely to hold the majority. However control of the Senate is up for grabs.

D.C.’s sweet spring breeze has given way to the sticky and almost unbearable humidity of the summer. The summer heat seems to be almost contagious as Presidential campaigns (read smear tactics) are heating up into full swing to prepare for November’s elections. This weekend, however, the Presidential race will be designated to the backburner as D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue prepares for the true “hottest” battle of the summer. That’s right, you guessed it, the National Capital Barbeque Battle
is back. Following the 1992 Presidential Election, Bill Clinton brought to Washington his Falstaffian appetite for all things Southern. Grumblings throughout the Clinton administration regarding D.C.’s lack of good barbeque joints caused D.C. resident Allen Tubis to pioneer the first rich and flavorful National Capital Barbeque Battle in 1993. The event originated as a friendly competition where Republican and Democratic national committees could compete against each other with fire and meat to prove which side of the Mason-Dixon Line truly sported the best barbeque. The Democrats brought the fire in the competitions first two years, causing the Republicans to drop out of the event in its third year for fear of being humiliated once again. Although the political
component no longer remains, the National Capital Barbeque Battle has continued to thrive and is expecting record crowds to swarm to Pennsylvania Avenue this weekend in hopes of finding the perfect blend of barbequed flavor and spice. Attendees
should expect 90 degree weather and even hotter barbeque spice. This year’s top categories include chicken, beef brisket, pork shoulder and whole hog.

For more information regarding the National Capital Barbeque Battle visit the website at http://www.bbqdc.com/contests_new.html

 

Rich Masters appears on the premier episode of Focus Washington to discuss the Obama campaign. Focus Washington is an online television series that analyzes complex policy issues in entertaining 2-minute to 5-minute Webisodes. The program highlights unique Washington power-figures and their influence and knowledge on government processes. The series is hosted by renowned Washington journalist Chuck Conconi.

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