Reviewing my political predictions for 2017 revealed I was right about many things, especially how many actions taken by the NC General Assembly or the Trump administration would end up on court. I was also wrong about some things, like the courts ordering North Carolina to hold special legislative elections in 2017.
Thinking ahead for the next year, I anticipate just as much, if not more, turmoil in Raleigh and Washington. Because the stakes are so high in state and national politics, I see little bipartisanship taking hold, even if public opinion polls suggest that a growing number of Americans are in favor of politicians from both parties working together.
Donald Trump will continue to be omnipresent and any discussions of electoral politics or public policy must be seen through a “Trump lens.” He will continue to disrupt both Democratic and Republican politics. And, despite approval ratings that should remain at historically low levels, his disruptive presence will continue reshaping the political landscape domestically and internationally.
Here are ten predictions for 2018:
- The Mueller investigation into the Russian connection will continue, despite attempts by Trump supporters to end the investigation and force Mueller out of his role. More indictments will come from the investigation, including Jared Kushner, but Trump survives through 2018.
- The 2018 midterm elections produce a “wave election” for Democrats with key pickups in Nevada and Arizona, as well as a surprise pickup in Tennessee producing a Democratic majority in the Senate. Likewise, Democrats pick up 45 seats in the House of Representatives to take back that chamber.
- The North Carolina congressional delegation remains in Republican control, but the Democrats pick up one seat–the 9th Congressional District–after a bloody Republican primary leaves incumbent Robert Pittenger damaged for a general election fight.
- Women become the big winners in Congressional races, as they win enough seats to reach 35 percent of House and Senate seats.
- In North Carolina legislative races, after maps drawn by the Special Master in 2017 are finally approved, Democrats pick up enough seats that Republicans cannot override a veto by Governor Cooper on a straight-line party vote. In the Senate, Democrats pick up four seats, making the Republican advantage 31-19, while in the House, Democrats pick up six seats, reducing the Republican advantage to 69-51.
- A major state issue, introduced in 2017, which would change the way in which state judges are selected–moving from an election system to an appointment system–will fail. The districts used to elect district and superior court judges, however, will change as judicial redistricting legislation will pass.
- At the national level, Congress will pass a law protecting DACA recipients, but Democrats will pay a high price for the law with funding for a wall between the border of Mexico and the United States being part of the agreement. The wall, however, will never be fully built, because of the changed political landscape after the 2018 midterms and legal actions (and threats of legal action) by landowners on the US-Mexico border.
- Attempts by Republicans in Congress to completely reform Medicare and Social Security fail to political pressure from interest groups and President Trump.
- The US continues to put diplomatic pressure on North Korea and threaten military force, but does not follow through on the military threats. By mid-year, Iran replaces North Korea as the major source if international tension, as internal political pressure in Iran leads political and religious leaders to crack down on its citizens. The Iranian leaders attempt to exert more pressure on other countries in the Middle East to distract the world’s attention from its political repression, which draws even more attention from President Trump and the UN.
- The Supreme Court rules for the Colorado bakery in the important free speech case and rules that political gerrymandering (the Wisconsin case) can go too far, thus setting an important new legal standard for the next round of redistricting.
The next twelve months will continue the political process we have experienced over the last ten years of significant change. In that relatively short period of time, both political parties have experienced major conflicts over what it means to be a Democrat or a Republican. At the same time, we have seen a strong push by citizens unattached to political parties to exert their influence over a broken system. In 2016 that push was from angry rural voters. In 2018, angry urban voters, particularly women, may be the key drivers in the change.