October revelations impact the U.S. election

October revelations impact the U.S. election

In this debate series, GRI asked what will mostly affect election day and the upcoming presidency. Jon Lang presents how the latest email revelations in October will affect the results next Tuesday.

Lang hues that, while the tradition of the October surprise has become routine in Presidential election cycles, October 2016 has realized daily revelations with significant implications for the U.S. election.

From the mission to retake Mosul, Iraq, the announcement of Obamacare premium hikes in 2017, the Wikileak’s release of emails from the Democratic Party, and the FBI’s re-opening of Secretary Clinton’s email investigation, this most unusual of cycles continues down its tumultuous path.

Secretary Clinton has endured a recent period of very adverse news cycles. With only 11 days remaining to Election Day, FBI Director James Comey revealed that his department is re-opening its investigation into the Clinton emails. Little else was revealed about the specific cause or the nature of the emails under review leading to public speculation which will keep the story in the headlines.

The revelation will likely give pause to moderate Republicans considering voting for Secretary Clinton as well as former supporters of Senator Sanders long suspecting of the Secretary. It will also provide vulnerable Republican Senate candidates additional ammunition as they pivot to running as a check on a likely Clinton presidency.

In addition to the FBI’s announcement, the news that healthcare premiums will spike by approximately 25% in the coming year under the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) will provide Republican candidates from Mr. Trump on down the ballot a line of policy attack.

Despite these recent revelations which have effectively crowded talk of Mr. Trump’s history with women out of the headlines, Secretary Clinton remains favored to win the presidency. While national and state-level polls will likely tighten in the final days of the campaign, Mrs. Clinton’s previously healthy lead of 6 to 8 percentage points in an aggregation of polls should be sufficient buffer to withstand a late Trump charge.

There are two reasons for this. Early voting has been underway for several weeks, and it is expected that by Election Day approximately 40% of the 2016 electorate will have already cast ballots. Many of these ballots had already been cast by the time the FBI’s announcement had been publicized.

Second, when the race tightens, get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activities become even more critical. Mr. Trump has long eschewed traditional GOTV infrastructure giving Mrs. Clinton a sizeable advantage in turning supporters out to the polls, an advantage which historically can account for a 2 to 3 percent boost in voting numbers.

Perhaps a more compelling question is whether anti-Trump fervor can drive the Senate back to Democratic control. Assuming a Vice President Tim Kaine in his capacity as President of the Senate will throw his support to Democratic leadership in the event of a 50-50 split, Democrats must pick up 4 Senate seats without losing any currently held.

Republican Senators Kirk of Illinois and Johnson of Wisconsin will likely provide Democrats with two pick-up opportunities. Recent polling suggests Republican Senator Ayotte’s New Hampshire seat is also slipping away.

Democrats would need to pick-up one additional seat in the U.S. election, likely from the following races currently too-close-to-call: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, or North Carolina. Democrats will also need to defend a vulnerable Senate seat in Nevada being vacated by the current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

As Republican candidates for Senate have already begun to pivot to the narrative that they will provide a check against a Clinton presidency, the recent FBI announcement may strengthen the Republican argument.

As polls tighten in the U.S. election for President, chances will improve for Republicans down-ballot recently fearing a rout. Because of these dynamics, leadership of the Senate is currently too close to call.

About Author

Jon Lang

Mr. Lang is a Principal at Key Global Advisory, a geo-political and economic risk consultancy. His prior professional experience ranges from strategy consulting at Deloitte to national US policy development for the White House. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Government from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in European Political Economics from the London School of Economics, and is currently completing a global executive MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.