One way of describing the riveting 2020 election is by emphasizing the Presidential race outcome — with a new occupant soon heading to the White House.
However, the story of this election goes a lot deeper, with some races still to be decided. It’s important to understand voter motivations and election implications across national and state contests, said Jim Ellis, Senior Political Analyst for BIPAC, the Business-Industry Political Action Committee.
“The Presidential election was more of a rejection of Trump individually as opposed to his policies,” Ellis said during an ABA post-election webinar geared to members of ABA’s PAC and NextGenBaker program. “Once we see final electoral numbers and have the ability to analyze them, I believe we will detect many unaffiliated center and right-of-center voters who said I can’t vote for Trump but came back in the other races to vote Republican because they believed the Democratic policies were too extreme.”
Ellis relayed insights on a wide range of election results and those still to be decided — in particular the makeup of the Senate in what he called this period of “elongated political overtime.”
He was joined in the presentation by Kelly Knowles, ABA’s Vice President of Political and State Affairs, who discussed the association’s proactive 2020 PAC efforts and its future action plans.
What Stood Out in Election
- Electoral Math: Ellis called it “extraordinary” that this Presidential contest will likely be decided by the same electoral scoring as the prior one — 306 to 232 — but with a reversal in the winner this time around. “So in a lot of ways it’s a rerun, with the same states, the same electoral vote count, but a flip in the numbers,” he said.
- Key States: Ellis said his earlier prediction of five states that will really matter — discussed in a pre-election ABA podcast — came true. Those are the southern tier states of Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. “I said that if Biden could break through in one of these, he would win,” Ellis said. “And it looks like he got two,” both Arizona and Georgia.”
- House Results: Republicans gained seats in the House — actually taking back seats they lost to the Democrats in 2018 — which may lead to more momentum for Republicans in that chamber in 2022, Ellis said.
What’s Still on the Radar
- Senate Runoff: The Georgia runoff for both Senate seats on January 5th will be consequential for deciding the Senate’s makeup. Republicans need to win just one to keep control of the Senate. Ellis gives the edge to the Republicans, but he predicted one party will win both races. “Whichever side gets voters to turn out more will win both,” he said. “I don’t see a split.”
- Trump Lawsuits: President Trump has been challenging the Presidential election result with lawsuits, but Ellis said he doesn’t believe this will succeed in changing the outcome. “He needs three states to flip the outcome, and that does not appear that it’s going to happen” Ellis said.
- Reapportionment: The Census Bureau is targeting early January to report reapportionment numbers for redistribution of seats in the House, based on population changes. Ellis said red states — including Texas and Florida — are expected to gain seats in reapportionment, while blue states are expected to be on the losing side — including possibly California for the first time.
Ellis said the outcomes in state legislatures represented a stunning blow to Democrats and the biggest election surprise. “Democrats targeted 13 states for flipping chambers,” he said. “They spent millions of dollars and got zero. Just one state flipped it chamber — New Hampshire — but it went from Democrat to Republican.”
ABA PAC Succeeds and Eyes Future
ABA’s Knowles reported success with ABA’s political efforts that raised money for candidates in Congressional races who supported free enterprise and the baking industry. She cited a “90% win rate” for candidates supported in House races and 80% for the Senate. Initiatives successfully pivoted from traditional in-person strategies to virtual ones suited to the COVID era.
The emphasis is now on helping the Georgia runoff Republican Senate candidates with “maxed-out contributions.”
“And we’re already gearing up for the 2022 election cycle,” she added.
If you missed this event, access the recording here.