On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will become the 45th President of the United States, and Republicans will be in charge of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The last time Republicans held both the White House and both Houses of Congress was 1928.
If you’re going to be wrong, it helps to be in good company: Virtually nobody who claims to be a pollster, pundit, political analyst or operative (including yours truly) predicted that Trump would win. The math just didn’t work for Trump. He had to “run the table” (which any pool player knows is difficult) or “draw to an inside straight” (which any poker player knows will get you busted eventually). Based on everything we thought we knew, Hillary Clinton simply had too many paths to the magic 270 electoral votes, and he had too few.
What we and other observers overlooked were the voters, particularly the ones at Trump’s rallies. They didn’t show up in the polls, but they showed up at the polls in droves in rural areas and across the Rust Belt. We also underestimated the distrust that many voters had for Secretary Clinton, and we assumed she would have the support of President Obama’s supporters. She had their support, but not in the same numbers he did in 2008 and 2012.
We didn’t foresee the last-minute FBI revelation that led many to conclude that the investigation into possible illegal acts by Secretary Clinton was about to be reopened with a vengeance. On Nov. 7, when FBI Director James Comey said, “Oh, never mind,” the markets rallied, but Independent voters that might otherwise have voted for her didn’t.
Finally, we didn’t believe, based on experience, that Trump could be disciplined and on message for two straight weeks leading up to Nov. 8. But he was, thanks in part to a staff that literally took away his Twitter account and chained him to the teleprompter.
Democrats had high hopes of regaining control of the Senate this year when they were defending only 10 seats against 24 for Republicans. Against all odds, Republicans retained control of the Senate by losing only two Republican seats (Illinois and New Hampshire) while holding on to all 22 remaining Republican seats up in 2016, including in the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin. In Louisiana, the top two vote-getters are headed to a runoff on Dec. 10, with the Republican favored. Consequently, Republicans have a 51-48 advantage in the Senate that likely goes to 52-48.
Democrats also dreamed of retaking the House, where Republicans enjoyed a substantial 247-188 advantage going into the election. More rational observers thought they’d likely gain 13-15 seats, but Republicans lost only six seats (with four races still undetermined), which means they’ll have at least 238 seats in the 115th Congress.
Come January, we expect a major effort by President Trump and Republicans in Congress to demonstrate that they can make government work for the people who sent them to Washington. That likely means restructuring or repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); an infrastructure investment package; a significant (if not comprehensive) tax-reform package, including lower corporate and individual rates and a mechanism for repatriation of funds trapped offshore; and major changes in regulatory policy, including reversal of some recently issued and pending regulations.
This was a historic election in many ways, and it will be dissected and studied for years to come. But FIA doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for that – we have to understand the political structure now and prepare our strategies for anticipating and influencing the policy decisions that will affect manufacturers in general and forgers specifically.
Not only will we have new members to educate about manufacturing and our industry, but we’ll be in a different environment than we’ve ever seen: Republicans in control of the White House and both Houses of Congress. And although that means a generally more favorable environment for business and possible progress on issues of concern to manufacturers (like tax reform and infrastructure spending), these are not your father’s Republicans – they are more populist, more protectionist and more suspicious of “corporate” America.
FIA is already gearing up for a significant public policy effort in 2017, including an expanded Lobby Day to be held in the spring.
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