Let me start by admitting my crystal ball is broken. Back in 2016 I predicted that whoever won wouldn’t be up for re-election. I figured illness, impeachment, or scandal would prevent either Ms. Clinton or Mr. Trump from running for a second term. I was also certain that Trump upon inauguration would immediately stab all conservatives in the back and work almost exclusively with Democrats. I also confidently predicted in March that the whole COVID thing would pass around the time of Easter. There was absolutely no way a free people would put up with a police type state for longer than that.
Boy was I wrong.
That said, here are some visions of the future from my crystal ball…
McConnell will take joy in slow walking every nomination coming from the Biden White House. I expect the fillibuster will be reinstated for nominations. Biden will face a completely intransigent Senate. I expect the state legislatures will draw pretty friendly maps and Republicans will pick up ~10-15 seats in 2022 giving Republicans both houses. I think it is possible (although not likely) that Biden steps down around that time giving Kamala Harris (nearly) two years as President before the 2024 cycle. Somewhere between 2021 and 2023 Republican legislatures in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, North & South Carolina, and Arizona will force election security through the states. Not sure about this one, but I would expect the Senate to hold its current 52-48 split. It really isn’t a super competitive map, and pickup opportunities are slim.
2024 – I think Donald Trump would likely lose if he is the nominee. I just don’t think he would be able to re-rally the party behind him. 2016 was an upset, and 2020 was a squeaker. If he comes back again he would be the “sore loser” attacking the sitting president and millions would feel “you already lost.” Maybe I’m wrong (check my prediction about COVID), but I just don’t think he would be able to overcome having been a loser. Besides, if he starts up his own news network (or buys one) there might be too much to set aside in order to run. I would expect that Trump wants the Republicans to win 2024 and his best means of accomplishing that is to build a conservative news network (CNN?) that explicitly appeals to Blacks and Latinos. I kind of expect Trump to buy CNN and replace the opinion sections with Black, Latino, and Women Conservatives. He would give lots of air time to candidates he likes as he continues reshaping the party.
I think any other Republican that can win the primaries will win the general. I think our next nominee looks like Dan Crenshaw, Kristi Noem, or Ted Cruz. I think the Bush/McCain/Romney days of the party are over. The era of Palin as a VP to pacify the deplorables is over as well. The base is more concerned about winning than decorum. Our next nominee is a winner, not a statesman. We’re done with statesmen, they are much too likely to compromise on everything important. So 2024 election runs with someone like Noem as the nominee and absolutely trashing President Harris (even if Biden has not stepped down I would expect Noem to regularly refer to “President Harris”). Trump organizes and keynote speaks at her rallies. The vote is secure in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Trump’s base still has the fighter and winner they want, and the nominee is acceptable to white suburban women. Noem swings the vote 5 pts picking up Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. She might win Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Maine as well for a 322-216 win. At the same time Republicans pick up Senate seats in Arizona, West Virginia, Montana, and one or two between Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nevada, and Pennsylvania to give Republicans a 56 or 57 seat majority in the Senate.
So I am imagining Noem facing ~30 open seats in the appellate courts (the ones McConnell would have blocked). This might flip the 4th, and give conservatives a more than even shot in the 9th. Liberals would then only hold 4 circuit courts (1st, 10th, DC, and Federal) and have a viable minority on the 9th. She would have another ~100 or so open seats in the district courts, and before her first term ended likely the opportunity to flip a Supreme Court seat (by 2028 Breyer will be 90). I would expect that Alito and Thomas might time their retirements to coincide with a conservative President and a 56 seat majority senate locking in a conservative supermajority for truly decades.
If Dan Crenshaw is the nominee I don’t see the calculus changing much. If Trump does create a Conservative News Network (CNN) I expect that would absolutely trash any chance of a Jeb! redux or that governor who’s dad was a postman, or even Rubio or Sasse. The next nominee would 1) vocally stand against Roe v. Wade 2) support secure borders 3) not want to jump into wars in the middle east 4) not align with China 5) support decentralization of power away from D.C. 6) produce a list of potential Supreme Court nominees 7) display the testicular fortitude to make their claims believable. Whoever wins would absolutely clean house starting their first day in office. There would not be the same mistake Trump made in 2017, the assumption would be that anyone who worked for Biden/Harris has only stuck around to undermine the new President.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Uncle Joe is going to be the most beloved President ever. Maybe in 2021 Democrats pick up both seats in Georgia, and in 2022 they gain Pennsylvania, Florida, and one of the Carolinas. Maybe Alito retires and Thomas passes away in 2023 giving liberals a generational lock on the Supreme Court. Maybe the redistricting is too aggressive and fails and Democrats gain seats in the house in 2022 giving the Democrats a lock on power and Harris gracefully wins in 2024. I have learned not to be surprised with outcomes like that. However, I think the first case is far more likely.