November 11, 2016 [LINK / comment]
Obama, Trump chat in Oval Office
In an old tradition that takes on added significance in light of the extraordinary circumstances, President Obama welcomed President-elect Donald Trump to Oval Office yesterday. The two men are bitter political rivals, having cast sharp aspersions on each other numerous times, but they managed to at least convey a sense of normalcy and dignity. The President pledged that he and the White House staff would help Mr. Trump to succeed -- "because if you succeed, then the country succeeds." See www.whitehouse.gov. Presumably, there won't be any missing T's on computer keyboards, as there were missing W's when George W. Bush took up residence in the White House on January 20, 2001.
Sore losers unleash violence
Protests against the election of Donald Trump turned violent, in New York City, Los Angeles, and other cities. Some people just don't understand the concept of abiding by the results of the democratic process. In Richmond, demonstrators vandalized the local Republican headquarters, trying in to break in through the front door, and writing the circled "A" symbol of Anarchy on the glass. To their credit, top Democrats denounced the actions as "indefensible." See Times-Dispatch. In my opinion, this is a direct result of the widespread efforts to paint all Republicans with a broad brush, depicting them as "deplorable," "racist," etc. Intelligent people should know better than that.
Congress: Republicans retain control
The Republicans did better than I expected in the 435 House of Representative races, winning 239 seats so far, compared to 247 before. The Democrats have won 193 seats thus far, with three more races yet to be determined in recounts. If there was a negative "coat-tail effect" from Trump being at the top of the ticket (as many people expected), it wasn't very strong.
In the New Hampshire Senate race, incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte conceded on Wednesday to Democrat Maggie Hassan, currently the governor of that state. In Wisconsin, Republican Ron Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold, a surprise to me. That's a possible case of a "coat-tail" effect, since Trump won that state. In Missouri, incumbent Republican Roy Blunt held on to his seat. In Louisiana, there will be a runoff election in early December, between Republican John Kennedy (!) and Democrat Foster Campbell. That seat has been held by Republican David Vitter, who did not seek reelection. So, it will be either a 51-49 split in favor of the Republicans (which is exactly what I predicted) or a 52-48 split if Kennedy wins.
I updated the Congress page with the latest results from the House and Senate races.
Reflections on Trump's triumph
In the Washington Post, Charles Lane writes that Trump's break-the-rules approach to campaigning will undermine the legitimacy of his government and lead to greater instability in American politics. Indeed, Republicans' hopes that Trump might wise up and learn how to get things done in Washington (which means cooperation and bargaining when necessary) are fragile, with no past record to support such a belief. But Trump has surprised us before, and anything is possible.
A related question is how did so many pollsters miss that hidden support for Trump? It occurred to me that Richard Nixon once hailed a similar latent mass of support for his policies, the "Great Silent Majority." Were they ashamed to tell the pollsters who they were going to vote for?
In the next few days, I hope to slowly get caught up with punditry and blogs, and offer some more thoughts on what Trump's victory means for America.
NOTE: Michigan has not been officially called yet, but Trump still has a slim lead. In New Hampshire conversely, Clinton is ahead slightly, but it's not official. So, I may have to change the map I posted on Wednesday, as well as the electoral vote totals.
What time was it over?
Tuesday's Washington Post had an article about the varying times on Election Night when the race was semi-officially called by the news networks. I summarize it in the table below, adding a final line for this year's race. (That's my own estimate.) I was going to cite the trite cliché "It's not over till the fat lady sings" on Facebook that evening, but thought better of it, in light of Mr. Trump's many infamous slurs against women.
|1980||Ronald Reagan||Jimmy Carter||8:15 P.M.|
|1984||Ronald Reagan||Walter Mondale||8:02 P.M.|
|1988||George Bush Sr.||Michael Dukakis||9:17 P.M.|
|1992||George Bush Sr.||Bill Clinton||10:48 P.M.|
|1996||Bob Dole||Bill Clinton||9:00 P.M.|
|2000||George Bush Jr.||Al Gore||(Dec. 12)|
|2004||George Bush Jr.||John Kerry||11:19 A.M.|
|2008||John McCain||Barack Obama||11:00 P.M.|
|2012||Mitt Romney||Barack Obama||11:17 P.M.|
|2016||Donald Trump||Hillary Clinton||2:45 A.M.|
Winning candidate in bold face. SOURCE: Washington Post
Early campaign poll
In going through stacks of old newspapers that I habitually accumulate, I just noticed a Washington Post / ABC poll taken in April 2015, showing Jeb Bush in the lead among Republicans with 20%, followed by Ted Cruz (13%), Scott Walker (12%), and eleven (11) other Republican candidates. Guess who was not even on that list? That's right: Donald Trump! On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was way ahead with 66%, followed by Joe Biden (11%), Elizabeth Warren (11%), Bernie Sanders (4%), Jim Webb, and Martin O'Malley. If nothing else results from this debacle, I hope the parties start to reform the nomination process so we don't get started prematurely like last time, with awful consequences in terms of the final choices.