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Jerry Shenk


More Problems for Democrats

by Jerry Shenk
 

In 2018, Republicans are well-positioned to win a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

The incoming 115th Congress will seat fifty-two Republican senators and forty-six Democrats. Two Independents caucus with the Democrats.
Thirty-three Senate seats will be contested in 2018. Twenty-five of them are held either by Democrats or Independents. Only eight are held by incumbent Republicans.

Republicans must reach sixty votes to invoke the Senate cloture rules which will end anticipated Democratic filibusters. Only one Republican incumbent running in 2018 serves a state won by Hillary Clinton (Nevada). Conversely, Donald Trump won the Electoral College votes in ten of the twenty-three states where incumbent Democrat senators must stand for re-election in 2018 -- West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

If the 2018 Senate races mirror the 2016 presidential election outcomes, Republicans would pick up nine (net) seats in the Senate, for a total of sixty-one seats — one more than they need to stop filibusters.

There are no assurances, though. Every Senate race will be determined by in-state circumstances as well as national political trends, but Republicans are optimistic that they have a reasonable chance to net the eight seats needed to bring them to sixty Senate votes.

The most optimistic analysis of Democratic Senate prospects lists eight seats currently held by Democrats as "Likely Democrat" in 2018, but vulnerable: New Jersey's Robert Menendez, who is under indictment for public corruption, and has not announced if he will run again, West Virginia's Joe Manchin, Montana's Jon Tester, Michigan's Debbie Stabenow, Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, Pennsylvania's Robert Casey, Jr, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and Virginia's Tom Kaine.

Abruptly enlightened by 2016's election outcome, the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato, who incorrectly predicted a Hillary Clinton landslide, now warns that Democrats are "very exposed" in the 2018 Senate elections.

This disparity in the parties' 2018 Senate electoral exposure is known in professional negotiating circles as "leverage." The president-elect, author of "The Art of the Deal," understands leverage. There is nothing more important to most career politicians than preserving their publicly-funded sinecures. During his first two years in office, Trump has an opportunity to use their electoral risk to gather enough support among vulnerable Senate Democrats to pass his core programs.

Writer Jerry Pournelle explained why elections have become critical: "We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It's worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time – not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine – and it will probably never be true again."

Donald Trump was an unlikely nominee and a surprise election winner. He convinced enough Americans that Washington is full of self-serving crooks, so voters gave him the presidency. Senate leverage was a bonus.

Experienced negotiators know how to use leverage.

http://www.ldnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/12/19/if-democrats-didnt-have-enough-worry/95621774/


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