What we know, expect, and can only guess in 2020
As 2019 fades into 2020, some things in politics we know, some things we can expect, and some things we can only guess.
First, here’s what we know: President Trump has been impeached. Here’s what we can expect: The Senate will certainly acquit him (whenever the House finally presents the case), with Arkansas Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman voting alongside their Republican colleagues in support of the president. We also can expect an extremely interesting greeting, or lack of one, between Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi when Trump arrives to give the State of the Union address Feb. 4.
But here’s what we can only guess: the difference it will make in the 2020 elections. Will a majority of swing voters decide impeachment was an overreach and punish Democrats? Or will it increase their desire to remove Trump the old-fashioned way, at the ballot box? Or will impeachment even matter by next November?
Assuming the Senate trial occurs early in the year, the next major event will be Arkansas’ primary elections. Here’s what we know: Early voting begins Feb. 17, with the elections concluding March 3. Eighteen names are on the Democratic presidential primary ballot, while three are on the Republican side.
Here’s what we can expect: Trump easily will win Arkansas’ Republican Party primary.
But we can only guess who will win among the Democrats. By March 3, most of those 18 candidates will have left the race. Some have already quit, while others will be forced out by disappointing showings in early states. Some candidates who seem strong now will weaken after Iowa and New Hampshire. In December 2003, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was the Democratic frontrunner, while Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was polling at 10%. Then Kerry won Iowa, Dean’s “scream” speech played worse on television than it really was, and Kerry steamrolled to the nomination.
The next event in Arkansas politics will be the Legislature’s once-every-two-years fiscal session. Here’s what we know: Lawmakers will meet starting April 8 to consider budgetary matters. Here’s what we can expect, though not with certainty: It will be uneventful. Most will want to do only the bare minimum with the elections looming.
While all of this is happening, we know various groups will be collecting signatures to place initiatives on the November ballot for stricter legislative term limits, legalizing recreational marijuana, and other causes.
We can expect that many of the efforts will not survive the signature-gathering process or the lawsuits that will follow, but one or more could.
Meanwhile, we know the Legislature has already referred three amendments to voters: to permanently extend a half-cent sales tax for highways; to change term limits so lawmakers must leave office a little sooner but can return after a four-year break; and to make it harder for voters (and legislators) to amend the Constitution.
But we can only guess how Arkansans will vote on all these ballot issues. It would have been reasonable to expect recent proposals legalizing casino gambling and medical marijuana would fail. They passed.
Eventually, all the sound and fury will end, and we’ll vote. Here’s what we know: Early voting begins Oct. 9, with Election Day occurring Nov. 3.
Here’s what we can expect will happen in Arkansas. Trump will win the state’s six Electoral College votes. Cotton easily will be re-elected. The state’s four Republican congressmen also will win, with only 2nd District Rep. French Hill forced to break a sweat. Rep. Rick Crawford in the 1st District doesn’t even have an opponent. The current state legislative breakdown – three-fourths Republican, one-fourth Democrat – will remain roughly the same. Republicans will increase their lead in county level offices.
Here’s what we can only guess: what will happen nationally.
Thanks to the Electoral College, the presidential election once again will be decided by a relatively small number of swing voters in a few purple states. Turnout nationwide could be very high, and we can only guess how that will affect the presidential and congressional races.
Finally, we know this: On Nov. 4, the 2020 elections mostly will be over, except for maybe a few runoffs for local races and the formality required by the Electoral College.
Which leads us to one more thing we know: The next election cycle begins that day.