The election is over!!!
America took a collective sigh of relief as the most divisive campaigns of modern time have come to an end. It was historic in that the polls, pundits, media and political experts were proven soundly wrong as Donald Trump scored a resounding upset victory.
Interestingly, the false predictions were largely the result of misinterpreting who would vote. The huge gaps between educated and non-educated weren’t as large as expected and the breakdowns based on gender and race were amazingly accurate. Turnouts were close to expectations with one exception—rural Americans were the deciding factor in the election. They turned out in record numbers and voted resoundingly for Trump.
The economy’s performance over the last eight years has been dismal, Obamacare is overwhelmingly seen as a failure and, of course, nobody can remember a time with more foreign policy blunders and failures. America wanted change. And in the end Donald Trump was the change candidate.
Ironically, one pundit said Donald actually ran against Donald but still came out the winner. This was not a campaign about issues and certainly was not a campaign decided by personality as both candidates enjoyed historically high negatives. In the end, it was a repudiation of the Obama presidency and the desire for substantive change. The establishment on both sides of the aisle were sent a very clear message.
Both parties will have a lot of soul searching to do after the election. The Democratic Party still enjoys an almost insurmountable advantage in the Electoral College and they outspent the Republicans in the presidential race an estimated 2:1. They continue to have demographic and institutional advantages in controlling the media, the entertainment industry and the world of academia. But they need to find policy success and candidates with broader appeal.
The Republicans control the House, Senate and the presidency, which is a reason to celebrate, but have troubling prospects going forward. The coalition that Trump put together to win is not one that many Republican candidates can replicate. In fact, Trump’s policies do not fit into the established bipartisan model and are more populist than progressive or conservative.
The Democrats are in disbelief that they couldn’t defeat Trump, who was deemed as vulnerable a candidate as could have been produced. Likewise, the Republicans can’t take too much pride in defeating the weakest candidate they are likely to face.
The good news for the Democrats is that they once again won the popular vote. Their electoral advantage is perhaps more of a question mark, as their dominance in the large population centers is only equaled by their failure to carry suburban and rural America. The Electoral College was designed so that a candidate had to have mass appeal across the country. And both parties should be questioning their ability to do that on the morning after the election.
From the beginning, the pundits said this was an election that would show the changing face of America. And the bad news for Republicans is that they still lost in all the areas of concern – they lost among women, blacks, Hispanics, and nearly every ethnic group. They lost among the rich and the poor, and were resoundingly defeated by the millennials. It was a big night, but an ominous night for the Republicans.
The Democrats, while smarting, seem to be well positioned going forward. The good news is they won’t be following the Obama administration next time, and they won’t be running Hillary either. While the demographics seem to be in their favor, the election results also were ominous. Even a casual glance at the county by county maps shows the story. Democrats rule the big cities primarily on the two coasts, but virtually everywhere else they are trailing and that divide is growing.
What does the election result mean going forward? It makes Obama’s lame-duck presidency even more important. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is considered vital for the future of the beef industry, must be passed during the lame duck session or it is likely not to be passed all. Trump’s win diminishes Obama’s legacy in several ways, but his reliance on governing through executive order rather than with the help of Congress also makes reversing most of his political gains easy to accomplish.
From an economic standpoint, the short term reaction by Wall Street is expected to be negative, but the long term will be determined by Trump’s ability to deliver on his promises of stimulating economic growth. Lower taxes, less regulation and a growing economy will all be a boon for agriculture if delivered upon.
However, agriculture has been extremely nervous about Trump’s trade direction. He was portrayed as anti-trade, but claimed he is a free trader who just wants better deals. Agriculture will benefit greatly from a free trader with teeth, and will be sorely disappointed in an isolationistic or anti-trade bent.
Bottom line is that agriculture was not on the radar in this campaign so the impacts are expected to be more macro rather than micro in nature. The biggest impact will be on the courts and Trump’s nominees will tend to have a far less intrusive view of government’s role than Clinton’s would have.
Trump won and the elites in politics, finance and the media lost as the middle class said they wanted change. Perhaps the most surprising part of the election was how magnanimous and thoughtful all the big players were in the aftermath. President Obama pledged to work with Trump in the transition, Hillary asked America to give Trump a chance and hoped for his success and Trump was humble, reconciliatory to his opponents and even complimented Hillary for her service. It was striking and gives one hope that the nation that was carved up and divided by these very individuals may once again become more united.
The 72 days to Trump’s inauguration and the first 180 days of his presidency should be illustrative. Presidential elections are always historic but this election may have been truly transformative. We should know soon if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
It was a long and nasty race, but elections have a way of restoring your faith in America. On a not so serious note, the greatest effect may be in the entertainment area, with celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Cher, Jon Stewart, Al Sharpton and Barbara Streisand all vowing to move out of the U.S. if Trump won. His victory should have a depressing effect on the housing market in Hollywood.