Po­lit­i­cal pre­dic­tions for Wed­nes­day and be­yond

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHANGE OF SUBJECT - By Eric Zorn er­ic­zorn@gmail.com Twit­ter @Er­ic­Zorn

My en­thu­si­asm for mak­ing pre-elec­tion pre­dic­tions has dimmed con­sid­er­ably in the af­ter­math of 2016, not just be­cause I was wrong about the re­sults of the pres­i­den­tial con­test but also be­cause I was so con­sis­tently wrong all year about how Don­ald Trump’s be­hav­ior was play­ing with the elec­torate.

Pre­dic­tions of elec­tion out­comes are hunches based on polling re­sults that are them­selves tweaked by turnout fore­casts and other mod­el­ing for­mu­las. They’re then en­hanced (or ru­ined) by fin­ger-to-wind as­sess­ments of the pub­lic mood rooted in anec­dote and, in some cases, wish­ful think­ing.

With that in mind …

The only hunch that I’m se­cure enough to share about Tues­day is that Repub­li­can at­tor­ney Erika Harold will beat Demo­cratic state Sen. Kwame Raoul for at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Harold is an ap­peal­ing can­di­date — well-spo­ken, non-bom­bas­tic, im­pres­sively ed­u­cated. In de­bates she’s been bet­ter fo­cused on fight­ing po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion than the com­par­a­tively cau­tious and halt­ing Raoul, who al­most seems like too nice a guy to be an AG.

Harold is more so­cially con­ser­va­tive than the av­er­age Illi­noisan, but my gut feel­ing — no wa­ger­ing, please! — is that in­de­pen­dent vot­ers will elect her to be at least a mild check on the im­pulses of Democrats who look likely to be in charge of ev­ery­thing else here for at least the next two years.

Post­elec­tion pre­dic­tions

I’m more con­fi­dent about what I see in the shards of crys­tal af­ter Tues­day.

■ Harold, win or lose, will be­come the early fa­vorite to be the GOP gu­ber­na­to­rial nom­i­nee in 2022. In­cum­bent Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner, if he de­fies the polls and wins, has al­ready vowed to serve only two terms, and the party’s bench is weak.

■ Rauner’s sur­pris­ingly strong pri­mary foe, state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, won’t be able to shake the man­tle of sore loser and di­vi­sive fig­ure, and will fade into the far-right fever swamps.

■ If Demo­crat J.B. Pritzker is elected gov­er­nor, the pledge he’s made to at­tempt to amend the state con­sti­tu­tion to al­low for grad­u­ated in­come tax rates will stall in the Gen­eral Assem­bly, even if there are su­per­ma­jori­ties in both cham­bers.

■ The now-dreaded and ob­scenely hyped “car­a­van” of asy­lum-seek­ing mi­grants trekking through Mex­ico to­ward our south­ern bor­der will drop from the head­lines. The es­ti­mated 4,000 asy­lum-seek­ers are still more than 800 miles from Brownsville, Texas, and as their num­bers in­evitably dwin­dle, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will re­call the 5,200 (or could it be 15,000?) troops he’s now de­ploy­ing to the bor­der as part of a vi­cious and waste­ful stunt to fire up his base vot­ers down the stretch.

■ Speak­ing of stunts, the 10 per­cent in­come tax cut for mid­dle-in­come earn­ers that Trump re­cently and un­ex­pect­edly promised will never ma­te­ri­al­ize. It may show up in a sym­bolic leg­isla­tive pro­posal, but even if the GOP keeps con­trol of the House and Se­nate, its mem­bers won’t dare blow an­other huge hole in the fed­eral bud­get.

■ Trump will fire At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions be­fore the end of the week, be­gin­ning an ef­fort to put a brick on spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion. In­ver­te­brate Repub­li­cans who have fre­quently warned Trump not to im­pede Mueller’s work will, as is their wont, roll over and show their bel­lies.

■ The prom­ises made by now-cam­paign­ing Repub­li­cans that they will make sure peo­ple with ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions are pro­tected in the health-in­sur­ance mar­ket will evap­o­rate Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The GOP has been re­lent­lessly de­voted to dis­man­tling the Af­ford­able Care Act of 2010 (Oba­macare), and charg­ing peo­ple the same af­ford­able pre­mi­ums for health in­sur­ance re­gard­less of their med­i­cal sta­tus is the cen­ter­piece of that act.

Be­fore the ACA, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies of­ten de­clined to of­fer full cov­er­age to the al­ready ail­ing and can­celed poli­cies for those who be­came sick.

Pre­serv­ing the ban on such dis­crim­i­na­tion re­quires pre­serv­ing the essence of Oba­macare. And on Oct. 22 the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion qui­etly an­nounced a pol­icy that makes it eas­ier for states to al­low in­sur­ers to of­fer what Democrats called “junk in­sur­ance” — in­sur­ance poli­cies that of­fer fewer pro­tec­tions for those with ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

■ If we end up with a di­vided Congress — a Demo­cratic House and Repub­li­can Se­nate — as polls and con­ven­tional wis­dom sug­gest, it will only fuel Trump’s fury. Se­cretly, how­ever, he’ll be glad to have Democrats to blame for his ev­ery fail­ure, most no­tably his fail­ure to build a mas­sive wall at the Mex­i­can bor­der.

■ Trump, who has re­peat­edly said that Tues­day will be a ref­er­en­dum on his pres­i­dency so far, will de­clare vic­tory and vin­di­ca­tion in the re­sults, no mat­ter what. If there are races in which Repub­li­cans fall un­ex­pect­edly short, he will blame the me­dia. Un­der no cir­cum­stances will he take re­spon­si­bil­ity for his party fail­ing to take full po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage of a good econ­omy.

What Oprah said, and then some

Strong words from Oprah Win­frey dur­ing an im­pas­sioned speech Thursday in the At­lanta sub­urbs:

“For any­body here who has an an­ces­tor who didn’t have the right to vote, and you are choos­ing not to vote — wher­ever you are in this state, in this coun­try — you are dis­hon­or­ing your fam­ily,” said the former talk-show star. “You are dis­re­spect­ing and dis­re­gard­ing their legacy, their suf­fer­ing and their dreams when you don’t vote.”

Win­frey, on the stump for Ge­or­gia Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Stacey Abrams, was re­fer­ring pri­mar­ily to the his­tory of African-Amer­i­cans be­ing de­nied their fran­chise, but I would re­vise and ex­tend her re­marks this way:

For any­body who has an an­ces­tor or rel­a­tive who has fought for our lib­er­ties, ei­ther lit­er­ally by serv­ing in the armed forces or fig­u­ra­tively in de­fend­ing the rights and op­por­tu­ni­ties of Amer­i­cans through ac­tion and protest — and you are choos­ing not to vote, you are dis­hon­or­ing your fam­ily. You are dis­re­spect­ing and dis­re­gard­ing their legacy, their suf­fer­ing and their dreams, and you are ig­nor­ing your duty to help shape a bet­ter world for all children in gen­er­a­tions to come when you don’t vote.

Re: Tweets

The run­away win­ner of this week’s on­line reader poll for fun­ni­est tweet was my friendly ri­val Neil Stein­berg, a SunTimes columnist: “(Pres­i­dent Trump is) in my thoughts and prayers, though I’m not spec­i­fy­ing ex­actly what I’m think­ing about and pray­ing for.”

You will not dis­honor any­one if you don’t vote for the Tweet of the Week, but if you’d like to be sure to vote, go to chicagotri­bune .com/news­let­ters and sign up for the Change of Sub­ject email alert when the poll goes live.

NUCCIO DINUZZO/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Demo­cratic state Sen. Kwame Raoul, left, and Repub­li­can at­tor­ney Erika Harold, both can­di­dates for state at­tor­ney gen­eral, get ready for their fo­rum last week on WTTW.

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