Saxman: Election Winners and Losers
By Chris Saxman
Saturday afternoon I received a phone call from our freshman Randolph-Macon volleyball player.
“So what … I take a nap and wake up to a new president?”
“What happens next?”
“Well, there will probably be recounts and court challenges in some states.”
“They very rarely overturn the results.”
“Really? How come?”
“Elections are run in different states with different laws, but the results almost always never change. Before you were born, there was a recount in Florida over 500 some votes and it went to the Supreme Court. In the end, after the recounts the results stood.”
“So Biden is president?”
“Will be in January. How was the scrimmage?”
“Good. We won…”
Yes, America will very likely once again transition power from one political party to the next in the Executive Branch of her federal government.
The beat goes on.
And America once again chose divided government.
Even in our intensely divided times, she somehow managed to find a balance between partisan interests.
Peggy Noonan wrote in the WSJ Saturday about the results known to her at the time: “Not only do the elites not understand the electorate, and the press does not understand the electorate, and the pollsters don’t understand the electorate, but neither of the two parties understands the electorate. And that’s their job! But they don’t understand their own voters.”
I like Noonan’s writing because she is fair in her observations.
In that light, let’s take a look at some of the Winners and Losers thus far from the election results.
- Joe Biden. After his initial campaign for president in 1988 ended under a cloud that wouldn’t pass for morning dew these days, Biden will take the helm of the federal government in January. (Yes, there is always the possibility that might be reversed in courts or by recounts, but Biden looks to win the popular vote by 5 million. At this point, it is perfectly reasonable to declare victory so that the country can transition smoothly) Congratulations to the Irish kid with the Roman virtue of “constantia” or perseverance.
- Kamala Harris. After her disastrous 2020 presidential campaign ended in 2019, Harris avoided her previous mistakes and showed message discipline down the stretch performing well in her lone debate against Mike Pence. She showed her ability to take over for Biden which is the primary electoral bar. Her goal was to hold serve and she did. In doing so, Harris will become the first female vice-president in history and becomes the front runner for the 2024 nomination for president come January.
- South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn. Holy Lord is that guy in good shape going into 2021. Clyburn played kingmaker for Joe Biden when he needed it, bet heavy with house money, and won. Bigly. YUGE. Need something done in DC? Start with that office.
- Maine Senator Susan Collins. Written off for political dead just months ago, Collins won by 9 points in a state Trump lost by eight. NINE. Noonan observes about Collins, “She crushes her opponents. She’s not meek, she’s Don Corleone. She’s savage.”
- Virginia Democratic Congresswomen. While the Virginia GOP has yet to figure out that recruiting women to run against other women in suburban districts would be considered smart strategy, they went with Strategery instead. HOWEVER, that in no way should diminish the impressive campaigns of Abigail Spanberger (VA7) and Elaine Luria (VA2). Spanberger and Luria ran well funded, disciplined campaigns. Kudos. The only question I have is did Spanberger leak the audio recording of her comments to the House Democratic Caucus conference call? Listen here for that remarkably candid moment. If she did, in fact, leak that herself – now THAT would be a savage move to help her in 2022 as she won by only 7,000 votes with Biden leading the ticket. But would a former CIA operative do that?
- Republican Women and Minority candidates. The GOP found electoral success with nominees who are not MAWGs – Middle Aged White Guys. In doing so, they countered the national narratives of sexism and racism. Proving once again the old maxim that if your opponent is hitting you with a club, removing it from his hands would be a good start. You still need to be a good candidate to win – just ask Martha McSally and Amy McGrath. But it doesn’t take a McGenius to see that the future of American politics will include a much more diverse portfolio of excellent candidates. <gallery applause>
- Nikki Haley. Speaking of future candidates, did any Republican more perfectly play this cycle than the former Governor of South Carolina/former Ambassador to the United Nations? Timing is everything in politics and Haley’s was impeccable. She enters the 2024 cycle as the likely GOP front runner who is not named Trump.
- Mitch McConnell. Wile E. Coyote Super Genius level stuff this cycle with a sprinkle of good luck from North Carolina and McConnell is poised to remain Senate Majority Leader should the GOP win the two Georgia seats in January.
- Investor’s Business Daily Polling When every other poll gets it wrong and you get it right two cycles in a row? Take a bow. What about Trafalgar? Well, in the end it was hit or miss as they usually do. Better than most this cycle, Trafalgar still had some misses late which could be due to missing the early Democratic voters.
- Social Media. While they are likely losing the war, they won the business battle by increasing revenue. As publicly traded companies, they will return to their shareholders what they are supposed to return – profits.
- Donald Trump. Like the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Trump choked. Plain and simple. Trump entered this race as the underdog (Falcons were a 3 pt dog, too) because of his razor thin 2016 victory but, frankly, given that the Donald had done so well with economy coming into 2020, he was way ahead in the early betting lines much like the Falcons’ 28-3 halftime lead. However, Trump mishandled so poorly the COVID-19 pandemic that he ended up losing by a similarly close Electoral College outcome this year. Had Trump been remotely presidential during the outbreak of the virus and called America to a higher purpose, he likely wins going away. Trump was his own worst enemy and the Democrats’ best. Again.
- Congressional Democrats. Given all the advantage they had going into this cycle to not win back the Senate and actually lose seats (maybe over 10) in the House is political malpractice. From the Washington Post article on internal Democratic turmoil “Pelosi even held out hope of taking control of the Senate, pointing to two likely runoffs in Georgia where Democrats will be severe underdogs. Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), however, cautioned that if Democrats run on socialized medicine and defunding the police, “we’re not going to win” those races.” Clyburn should know, he lives next door.
- Public Polling. Look, this an easy pinata to hit. They got it wrong. Again. In their defense, America is undergoing a massive political realignment and the response rates are in the low single digits. Still, when your business is predicated on getting numbers right and you get them wrong, the market will move without mercy. It should be noted that some polling operations got it right.
- Virginia Republicans. Another easy pinata to hit, the VaGOP has yet to change a thing in over a decade of losing to their opponents. The crazy thing is that they only have ONE opponent. Remember in the first Superman movie when Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor) said to Ned Beatty disgustedly, “Otis, I give you ONE JOB … kill Superman….” VaGOP are now the peers of New Mexico, Maine, and Illinois Republicans having done worse than New Hampshire and Minnesota. But they ain’t playing against Superman. They have ONE job. One.
- Medicare for All, Court Packing, Green New Deal, Tax Increases and much of the Biden Campaign Platform – that is unless the Democrats sweep the Georgia runoffs which they are not expected to do. Can’t wait for the first polls to come out on that one. Just kidding, I can wait. We all can. Expected spend over $700MM. That’s a lot of peaches.
- Georgia voters. See #5. Sorry, y’all.
- The media. If there was ever a place to say “won the battle but losing the war” – this was it. It’s one thing to show bias, we all have some. However, the rank partisan behavior on both sides was appalling. The Washington Post states “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Well, a Republic Requires Responsible Reporting. If you can’t call out your own, step aside.
- Fox News. Having been the primary and mainly singular outlet for the GOP and Trump campaigns, Fox News made serious bank with their audience. Until they called Arizona for Biden. All I see on social media is how their loyal fans are switching to OANN or Newsmax TV due to that heresy. Win with the Right, lose with the Right. Could they could lose the Right because they got Arizona wrong? Yes. This could open the door for Trump News coming to a new streaming service called Trump Nation also available on the Trump App on your Android and Apple devices.
- Mike Pence. By all accounts a solid guy whose two VP debate performances set him up for legitimate run for 2024, Pence really has little lane left politically as he will be either running against a Trump (or Trump) or a massive GOP field led by several minority and female candidates who will be better general election matchups against Harris four years from now.
- America’s two party system. An almost daily conversation I have had with thousands of people (mainly business leaders) in the aggregate over the last five years is this, “Is this the best we can do? These two? Seriously?”
- Hunter Biden. Those of us around in the 70s recall President Carter’s brother Billy. He even had a beer brand called … well …”Billy Beer.” Biden’s son and his business dealings threaten the momentum of the new administration like a train dragging a wheel-less caboose.
Chris Saxman represented the 20th District in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002-10. A businessman and active member of the community, he is Executive Director of Virginia FREE, a non-partisan, non-profit that informs the business community in order to advance free enterprise and responsible, pro-business government. He and his wife Michele live in Richmond.