As always happens in even-numbered years, with just a week remaining until the Nov. 4 elections, everybody in Washington has become a political prognosticator. Depending on who you believe: (a) Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate and significantly increase their majority in the House of Representatives, forcing President Obama to rein in his agenda and seek compromise; or (b) Democrats will retain the Senate and make some gains in the House (although not enough for a majority), giving President Obama the votes he needs to achieve his key goals during the end of his final term.

By the time you read this, we’ll know the outcome, but we thought it would be helpful to give you some perspective on  each of those scenarios, as well as a couple of variations on the themes and on what forgers can expect in either case.

Let’s start with a brief review of why “Washington Insiders” (whoever they are) believe each scenario is possible.

 

Scenario I

Republicans gain at least six Senate seats and take control of the U.S. Senate, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) replaces Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) as Majority Leader. Republicans chair all committees and control the floor schedule, and President Obama is forced to seek compromise in order to achieve his goals.

Many observers of both parties believe this is the most likely outcome because Democrats are defending 21 seats compared to 15 for Republicans, and seven of those seats are in states that President Obama lost in 2012.

Add to that the fact that Republicans likely have a three-seat head start, with their candidates expected to win open seats previously held by Democrats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. Assuming they hold all current Republican seats (more on that later), they only need three more to take control, and there are plenty of opportunities. Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina are all toss-ups or leaning Republican, and GOP wins would replace a Democrat. Also, New Hampshire is a close race that could swing Republican if this election turns into a “wave” for Republicans.

That pretty much wraps it up – a Republican Senate for sure.  Oh, wait … what if Republicans don’t hold all their current seats?

 

Scenario II

Democrats keep control of the Senate. The theory here is that Democrats hold on to one or more seats they currently control (Louisiana, Iowa, Colorado or North Carolina), and they pick up a couple of seats currently held by Republicans. Kansas and Georgia are on that list, and Kentucky shows up in their dreams. Any combination of those possibilities could result in Republicans gaining fewer than the six seats needed to take control.

 

Variations on the Theme 

Just to make things interesting, we may not know the outcome on Nov. 5. That’s because Louisiana and Georgia election laws require that a candidate get 50% plus one vote to win outright on Election Day. If nobody does, there is a runoff between the top two vote-getters (Dec. 6 in Louisiana; Jan. 6 in Georgia). Both races (as of this writing) seem to be headed for extra innings. Conventional wisdom says that runoffs should favor Republicans, but as the financial folks say, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.” (And if Louisiana State University is in the SEC Football Championship on Dec. 6, all bets are off!)

 

What can forgers expect? 

This is a non-partisan column, but there are some key reasons why forgers may be better off with Republicans in control of the Senate.

First, the runaway regulatory train would at least slow down, if not stop. The EPA’s proposals on greenhouse-gas emissions and ozone, both of which would dramatically increase costs for forgers, would certainly face further review and potentially be revised or stopped. Second, legislation to improve the economic climate for manufacturing in the U.S. would at least be given a vote in the Senate, and President Obama – faced with the reality that his last term is ending in 2016 – might actually sign one or two. Third, the potential for comprehensive tax reform would improve, including the likelihood that manufacturers would be treated equally regardless of their business structure.  

Regardless of the outcome on Nov. 4, FIA will be back at work soon after the elections, educating new members of Congress about forging and its importance to a strong manufacturing economy in the U.S. and gearing up for the next Lobby Day in April 2015.