(Rich Galen, Mullings.com) – I spent the weekend on T. Boone Pickens’ ranch, Mesa Vista, with about two dozen really smart people talking about energy and transportation.
As those of you who have ever sat in a meeting – or even had lunch – with me know, I have the attention span of a five-year-old, but I was mesmerized at the breadth and depth of thinking about how we will get from point A to point B in the near future.
My job was to lead a discussion about the political situation. No engineering, geology, or business degree necessary. Degree in speech is a definite plus, though.
Let’s start with this: A few weeks ago President Barack Obama said that if he were permitted to run again, he thought he could win a third term.
Let’s run the numbers.
There are about 7,383 state legislators in the U.S. Prior to yesterday’s elections, about 3,245 were held by Democrats; about 4,138 held by Republicans. (About 56% – 44%)
That’s a difference of 887 in favor of the GOP. According to the website PunditFact.com, (based on data from the National Council of State Legislators) the GOP has won 913 seats since Barack Obama took office as President.
After two Presidential elections and two Mid-terms, the GOP has 33 Governor’s seats to the Dems’ 17. This includes the GOP pickup in Kentucky yesterday.
But wait! There’s more! Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia and his team have calculated that in addition to those 913 legislative seats:
“Democrats, during Obama’s presidency, have lost 11 governorships, 13 U.S. Senate seats, 69 House seats, and 30 state legislative chambers.”
Oh. We’re not done yet.
According to RealClearPolitics.com, the GOP controls 69 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers and holds a political trifecta (the Governor, control of the State House and Senate) in 22 states. Democrats have the trifecta in just seven states.
Is it any wonder that much of the lobbying has shifted from K Street to Main Street?
Since Senator Obama became President Obama, Republicans regained control of the House (in 2010 on the anti-Obamacare wave) and the U.S. Senate (in 2014 on the anti-Obama wave).
Because of gerrymandering (see control of state legislatures above), it is unlikely Democrats will regain control of the House any time in the near future. Republicans hold a massive 247-188 advantage and that is unlikely to change much in either direction.
The Senate – as you know, a third of the U.S. Senate is up for election every two years – has 34 seats up this year. Republicans are defending 24, Democrats only 10. Under normal circumstances, that would mean the Democrats were in excellent shape to regain control of the Upper Chamber, but not this year.
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s map shows Democrats with no elections, “Safe,” “Likely,” or “Leaning” seats at 47. Republicans have 50. Three are toss-ups: Nevada (Harry Reid’s Democratic open seat), New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte’s GOP seat) and Florida (Marco Rubio’s open Republican seat).
Keeping in mind we have a year to go, if those figures hold, the Democrats have to hold all of their seats and go three-for-three in the toss-ups PLUS win the White House, so the VP can cast the deciding vote as to which party organizes the Chamber.
That is far from an impossible result, but it is a long way from what we had been hearing after the mid-terms last year – that the D’s would get the Senate back with ease in 2016.
When I got to the Presidential portion of my presentation over the weekend, I said I could answer the question of who would be the GOP nominee in two words:
If I had to bet a quarter today – and get odds – I would say that the Republican nominee will be either Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or John Kasich. I want better odds on the Kasich bet.
In the latest Quinnipiac poll, Rubio and Cruz are essentially tied at 14 and 13 percent respectively. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are tied at 24 and 23 but I still don’t believe they will be there when the heavy voting starts.
So, the Congress, the Governors, and the State Legislators have all become bastions of GOP power since the election of Barack Obama seven years ago.
If he wants to run for a third term, I say let’s amend the Constitution and let him do it.
Barack Obama may be the best friend the GOP has ever had.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.