How It Happened and What the Trump Presidency Means

Editor’s Note: American Benefits Council President James Klein offers seniors an insightful view of what to expect from a Trump presidency: We have heard for months that Donald Trump's path to 270 electoral votes was much more challenging than Secretary Hillary Clinton's. However, the reason for that was not simply ongoing polling. It was also the historical base of each party. In every presidential election between 1992 and 2012, there were 18 states (plus the District of Columbia) that voted for the Democrat – representing 242 electoral votes. By contrast, there were 13 states that voted for the Republican each time, representing just 102 electoral votes. Clinton started out with a base that put her within easy striking distance. We have heard for months that the Democrats needed to pick up just five seats (four, if Clinton  won) to gain the majority in the Senate. What has been less frequently noted is that mathematically the Democrats were in an excellent position to do so. The Republicans were defending 24 seats and the Democrats were defending only 10 seats. Seen another way, the Democrats had nearly 2.5 times as many opportunities to pick up a seat from the Republicans than the other way around. The fact that Republicans have lost only two seats is remarkable. Republicans and Democrats alike thought that Trump's high unpopularity ratings would be a drag on so-called "down-ticket" races. Trump supporters will note that rather than being a drag, his coattails substantially mitigated Republican losses in both the House and Senate. And they will cite that as a reason that Republican members of Congress need to fall into line to support him. By contrast, Trump's critics will assert that so many voters expected Clinton  to win, that they were more inclined to vote for Republican Senate and House candidates as a buffer against a Clinton  administration given her high unpopularity. Undoubtedly there is an element of truth in both points of view. Typically, following a presidential election the losing party performs a post mortem – with some members of the party saying that they should have moved (right or left) to shore up their base. Others argue that they should have moved to the center to gain support from independents. This is a first time I recall where the winning party will engage in serious soul-searching. Is the Republican party still largely a party of business interests and social conservatives? How many of the millions of people who voted for Trump don't consider themselves Republicans but, rather, were attracted by his message – and, therefore, does the party, at its peril, assume it has the support of these individuals? There is a critical distinction between being the majority party in Congress and "controlling" Congress. Just ask former Speaker John Boehner. These past two years, despite the largest Republican majority in the House since the 1920s, the GOP leadership ha [...]

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11/11/16 5:30 PM

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