The elec­tion’s over — now what?

The Maui News - - OPINION - SCOTT RAS­MUSSEN

It was al­most un­set­tling to wake up the morn­ing af­ter the elec­tion and re­al­ize it turned out pretty much as we ex­pected.

There were, of course, some in­di­vid­ual sur­prises, but noth­ing on the seis­mic shock scale of 2016.

For months, it had been ex­pected that Democrats would win a mod­est House ma­jor­ity, and they did. The pop­u­lar vote mar­gin for the Democrats was just about right where the Scot­tRas­mussen.com Generic Con­gres­sional Bal­lot pro­jected it to be (and also about the same as the Real Clear Pol­i­tics av­er­age of all elec­tion polls).

In the Se­nate, it had long been rec­og­nized that the Repub­li­cans were likely to gain a few seats, and they did. In the cam­paign’s fi­nal days, there were five or six very close races where ei­ther can­di­date could win. But while Democrats could have won any of those in­di­vid­ual races, the GOP was fa­vored to win most of them. That’s just what hap­pened.

So now that we got the elec­tion we ex­pected, where do we go from here?

The con­ven­tional wis­dom sug­gests grid­lock is com­ing. In that view, there’s no way a Nancy Pelosi-led House will forge sig­nif­i­cant bi­par­ti­san deals with a Mitch McCon­nell-led Se­nate and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The like­li­hood of grid­lock is very high, but I’m not sure how much it mat­ters. Over the past two years, the Repub­li­can-led House also strug­gled to reach agree­ment with the Se­nate and the pres­i­dent. Other than the tax cut and re­peal of the Oba­macare man­date, lit­tle was ac­com­plished in the leg­isla­tive arena.

But the lack of leg­is­la­tion does not mean a lack of im­pact. The Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion did take some mod­est steps to re­duce the reg­u­la­tory bur­den. That ac­com­plish­ment seems es­pe­cially sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it fol­lowed decades of enor­mous reg­u­la­tory growth.

The dereg­u­la­tory ef­fort is al­most cer­tain to con­tinue. Among other things, there will be an on­go­ing ef­fort to give Amer­i­cans a greater de­gree of con­trol over the health in­sur­ance they pur­chase. Lower-cost in­sur­ance that doesn’t cover ev­ery imag­in­able pro­ce­dure may be frowned upon by bu­reau­crats in Wash­ing­ton, but they are wel­comed by mil­lions who have to buy their own in­sur­ance.

Ad­di­tion­ally, with an in­creased Se­nate ma­jor­ity, the pres­i­dent will find it eas­ier to con­firm judges who are skep­ti­cal of an allpow­er­ful fed­eral gov­ern­ment. That’s es­pe­cially true be­cause the Repub­li­can Se­nate vic­to­ries in 2018 make them early fa­vorites to re­tain con­trol of the Se­nate in 2020. If there is an­other Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion in the com­ing years, the con­fir­ma­tion will be a lot smoother with a big­ger Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity.

For their part, the Democrats are likely to launch many in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the pres­i­dent. But they will feel an on­go­ing ten­sion be­tween a pro­gres­sive base de­mand­ing im­peach­ment and more mod­er­ate Democrats fear­ful of of­fend­ing cen­trist vot­ers. That ten­sion will carry over to is­sues like health care, where pro­gres­sives dream of ban­ning pri­vate in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and forc­ing all Amer­i­cans into a gov­ern­ment-run health care sys­tem. The moder­ates rec­og­nize that such a plan is not pop­u­lar with the rest of the coun­try.

So, over the next two years, we’re likely to ex­pe­ri­ence grid­lock. But that doesn’t mean a lack of ac­tion. In­stead, we’ll see dereg­u­la­tion and ju­di­cial ap­point­ments from Repub­li­cans. And Democrats will try to re­solve their party’s in­ner ten­sion be­fore the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

To find out more about Scott Ras­mussen, visit www.cre­ators.com.

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