America spends most of its time these days relitigating the 2016 election, starting with the president himself.
Why shouldn’t we do it for real in 2020?
For years right-wing men have been telling the left that it was a mistake to let women vote. Finally, left-wing men have reason to agree:
You think she’s not thinking about it? She’s not rolling out sick Twitter burns because she enjoys tweeting:
Well, now we know. https://t.co/olQlhzQiuO
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 16, 2018
Her top aides, meanwhile, are showing the charm and good instincts that have made the name “Hillary Clinton” beloved among all American political stripes:
If someone flew home from Helsinki they’d get back to DC around 9pm. Probably jet lagged. You know what I’d hate if I just got back & needed to sleep? A bunch of people outside my home with bullhorns & air horns.
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) July 16, 2018
The data nerds at FiveThirtyEight have an interesting debate posted today: Would Republicans have … actually been better off if Clinton had won in 2016? Not immediately, of course — there would be major setbacks in the short-term, starting with the Scalia vacancy — but what about in the medium- and long-term? The thought experiment begins with the assumption that Republicans still would have had 52 Senate seats on Inauguration Day last year, which means Hillary’s path to getting her SCOTUS nominee confirmed would have been difficult. Some sort of bargain would have needed to be struck. A more centrist nominee than Merrick Garland? Garland in return for several Republican appointees to the cabinet, as FiveThirtyEight speculates?
Even a nominee to the right of Garland would be well to the left of Neil Gorsuch, which means a serious shift to the Court’s conservative lean. But for how long? Nate Silver looks ahead a few years, noting that Republicans have done very, very well in midterms recently when there’s a not-very-popular Democratic president in the White House:
With Trump in power, Democrats are probably going to end up with somewhere between 47-52 Senate seats after this year. Obviously a reasonably wide range there and I think they’re underdogs to take the Senate, although it’s competitive.
By comparison, though, if Clinton were president, where would Democrats end up? I haven’t done the math in detail, but I’d guess somewhere in the range of like 39-45 senators. They’d be in a lot of trouble, as Nathaniel said.
And they wouldn’t have had Doug Jones win that race in Alabama (in part because there would have been nothing to appoint Jeff Sessions to.)
A Senate with upwards of 60 Republicans plus a redder House wouldn’t be out of the question in 2019. Hillary’s legislative agenda would be roadblocked by McConnell and Ryan. Of course, there’d be no Trump tax cuts (unless Congress could muster two-thirds majorities in both chambers, which is unlikely if not impossible) but also no trade war. Foreign policy would look much different, needless to say, although ironically that’d be a rare point of common ground between Clinton and the GOP — there’d be a largely unified anti-Putin effort. If it’s true that Trump’s policies are largely responsible for the booming economy then you might expect slower growth under Hillary, holding her job approval numbers down. And Anthony Kennedy might have decided to try to stick it out for the duration of her term, leaving her with just the Scalia opening on the Court to fill. Probably not: Ginsburg and maybe Breyer would have retired, giving her two more appointments. But the two replacements for them wouldn’t shift the balance of the Court dramatically.
After 12 years of Democratic control of the White House, with Hillary personally unpopular and the economy possibly weaker than it is now, it’s quite likely that Republicans would win the presidency in 2020. And if they did, the new executive would probably have a larger Republican Senate majority to work with upon taking office. You’d still get those tax cuts, just a few years later. The big sacrifice for righties in this scenario would be the Court, particularly if both Ginsburg and Breyer retired during Clinton’s term and were replaced with much younger nominees. Between Garland, Sotomayor, Kagan, and the two new guys, you’d have a solid Democratic majority for at least 10 years and maybe out to 20. I think that’s where the rose-colored FiveThirtyEight scenario for Republicans breaks down. Realistically there’s no way the GOP doesn’t lose SCOTUS for the better part of a generation if Hillary wins in 2016.