Monday, August 31, 2020

- Cognitive Madisonianism Part Deux -
Divided government, protecting the filibuster, and voting for hypocrites.

 Biden Shrugged  
The 2016 presidential election stunned pundits and voters alike (including the Dividist). But, as surprising as the electoral victory of Donald Trump was in 2016, a case can be made that the 2016 Senate election results were even more shocking. And therein lies a lesson for 2020.

Four years ago, The Dividist shared his thoughts on the 2016 election in a post entitled "Cognitive Madisonianism, splitting tickets, the 2016 Senate race, and why American voters are smarter than pundits and political scientists."

The Dividist was enthralled to discover the phrase "Congnitive Madisonianism" and eager to put it to use. As he explained then, it is a political science term for the simple concept that American voters, in their collective wisdom, prefer and vote for divided government. That concept being the raison d'etre for this blog, the reader can appreciate the Dividist's enthusiasm.

In that post we assessed the current state of the election and made some predictions about the likelihood of maintaining our happily divided government across the new year:

"In 2016 the GOP will keep the House majority, the Democrats will keep the Executive branch and our government will stay happily divided regardless of what happens in the Senate. The dividist voting heuristic strives to Keep It Simple Stupid and walk the simplest path of least resistance to keeping the government divided. In 2016, that path is to vote Clinton for President (or - at the least - not vote for Trump), and vote to reelect your Republican Congressman. For the Senate - vote your conscience."

In 2016, the Dividist could see a rationale to vote for either party gaining majority control in the Senate:

"The best dividist reason to support a Democratic Senate is based on the fear that some "Black Swan", "October surprise" event (e-mails, Wikileaks, Clinton Foundation, Trump quitting the race, etc) will derail the Clinton campaign juggernaut sufficiently to let the GOP nominee be elected President.  A Democratic Senate is a backstop to prevent Unified One Party Republican Rule.

The best dividist reason to support a Republican Senate is based on moderating Supreme Court picks. If the Democrats win the Senate there is a real possibility they will implement a "Nuclear Option" rule change for Supreme Court nominees. That means a Clinton Presidency and Democratic Senate could steamroll a GOP minority and confirm anyone Clinton nominates for the Supreme Court. They might even withdraw Garland to nominate and confirm a more reliably liberal judge.

Given the continuing catastrophe of the Trump campaign, the Dividist thinks hoping for a GOP Senate and moderation of Clinton picks for the Supreme Court is the better choice."

You win some. You lose some. For a current comparison, our 2020 prediction is that the Democrats will keep the House majority, Joe Biden and the Democrats will win the Executive Branch, and the best way to keep the government divided will be for the GOP to hold a slim Senate majority. But, as in 2016, the outcome of the Senate races in 2020 are very much in doubt.

That Was Then. This Is Now.