2016 Post Election Report
With our ballots cast through Virginia’s early voting option, my wife and I boarded a plane in route to volunteer during the last week of the election within our respective home states of Arkansas and Louisiana. What became clear soon after hitting ground was the Washington, D.C. “bubble” is still intact and American’s were crying out for a new direction.
By the time this article is published, the November elections will be a distant memory and our country should be starting to see tangible signs of what President-Elect Trump paired with control of the Senate, House, and soon to be the Supreme Court by Republicans might mean for our country.
Before we turn our attention to what will come, I think it is critical to take a close look at how we got here. The voter participation rate appears to be coming in well under 2012. At the end of the initial counting, approximately 122 million individuals were recorded as voting. It is estimated that possibly more than 50% of voters took advantage of the early voting procedures, like my wife and I had.
In the last 30 years, turnout has increased from 81.5 million voters in 1976 to a high of 131.4 million in 2008. The fall-off between 2008 and 2012 was -1.7%. During this 30-year span, presidential turnout has increased in every election with the exception of 1988, ’96, and 2012.
STATE EARLY VOTING FACTS
- A total of 37 states and DC allow “no-excuse” early voting, meaning anyone can vote by mail or in-person as a matter of choice.
- In six states (KY, MS, MO, NY, SC, and VA) one still must have a valid excuse to vote early or absentee, meaning the individual must indicate that they are unable to be present at their usual polling place on Election Day.
The November 8th election produced one of the largest upsets in presidential history as Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump, scoring a major come-from-behind victory, virtually flipping the country in comparison to the last two Republican nominees, John McCain or Mitt Romney.
Republicans held their Senate majority and could go as high as 53 seats, which would mean losing only one, if they win the Louisiana run-off on December 10th (they will be favored to do so), and should Sen. Ayotte hang onto her small lead in New Hampshire.
The biggest marginal surprise was Republican Todd Young scoring a ten-point victory in Indiana over former Sen. Evan Bayh (D), who originally led by 21 points. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R) scored a six-point win, but all of the other toss-ups were in the two to three-point realm. The biggest surprise of the night was Sen. Ron Johnson (R) holding his Wisconsin seat despite only two polls during the entire last year ever showing him to be ahead. Though the race closed in the end, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) continued to hold a consistent advantage.
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) held the Democrats’ open Nevada seat, and becomes the first female candidate of Latin descent to enter the US Senate. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R), on the ropes during the last few weeks of the campaign, managed to secure a three-point victory. In another surprise, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) again defied the odds and held his marginal seat, also in the face of bad polling, to secure another six-year term.
The one state that did flip from R to D was Illinois, where Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) successfully unseated first-term Sen. Mark Kirk (R), as expected.
Republicans held their House majority, only losing six to nine seats, depending upon the calling of final races that are still outstanding. This brings the new majority to the 239-236R range with Democrats falling between 196 and 199.
Twelve gubernatorial races were on the ballot, yielding party changes that favored Republicans. Democrats may have converted one Republican state house, that in North Carolina as Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) leads incumbent Pat McCrory (R) by just 5,000. It is unclear if any absentee or provisional ballots remain to be counted. Republicans took Democratic posts in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont. Open seats in Delaware and West Virginia remained in Democratic hands, while Republicans held their two open seats in Indiana and North Dakota.
Democratic incumbents were re-elected in Montana (Gov. Steve Bullock) in a close election, Oregon (Gov. Kate Brown), and Washington (Gov. Jay Inslee), while Republicans held Utah (Gov. Gary Herbert).
Overall, the gubernatorial count advances to 33R-16D-1I, with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) being a former Republican.
It is too early to tell exactly how the election of our 45th President and the 115th Congress will shape the decision making.
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