Prepare Yourself For a Bumpy Ride Over the Next Nine Months

One of the reasons that pundits become obsessed with polls during every election cycle is that they assume that their job is to predict the future. What has always been interesting to me, however, is how polls—which tell us where things stand today—are relied upon without any attempt to actually look ahead and ponder the events that will shape the future.

For Democrats, we are now in the midst of what Ella Nilsen called the “momentum primary”—which includes the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Coming out of Iowa, Pete Buttigieg seems to be the candidate who gained momentum. As a result, pundits are pouring over polls from New Hampshire to see if his candidacy has any legs.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Buttigieg will do very well in New Hampshire. But a quick look down the road suggests that it might be a while before we find out if he’s an actual contender because in subsequent states, he’s polling in low-to-mid single digits. We’ve still got a long way to go in this primary.

When it comes to the general election, the assumption is that Trump got a boost from the fact that Senate Republicans refused to hold him accountable. But given that even they know he’s guilty, the story doesn’t end there. Representative Jerry Nadler has indicated that the House is likely to subpoena testimony from John Bolton, while documents continue to trickle out from Lev Parnas. Who knows what else we’re going to learn over the next few months?

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are apparently gearing up to put the Bidens on trial, and all of a sudden, the White House is becoming very cooperative in producing documents.

For months, while the impeachment controversy raged, powerful committee chairmen in the Republican-controlled Senate have been quietly but openly pursuing an inquiry into Hunter Biden’s business affairs and Ukrainian officials’ alleged interventions in the 2016 election, the same matters that President Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani unsuccessfully tried to coerce Ukraine’s government to investigate…

The senators’ requests to the Treasury have borne fruit, according to the ranking Democratic senator on the Finance Committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon, who contrasted the cooperation given to the Republican senators with the pervasive White House-directed stonewall that House Democrats encountered when they subpoenaed documents and witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.

“Applying a blatant double standard, Trump administration agencies like the Treasury Department are rapidly complying with Senate Republican requests—no subpoenas necessary—and producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” Wyden spokesperson Ashley Schapitl said in a statement.

Oliver Willis made the prescient prediction on this one.

There is, however, one other branch of government that is sure to take center stage in the 2020 election: the Supreme Court. As I wrote previously, they will rule on three cases a few months before the election that will consume both the media and the voting public.

  1. Whether the Trump administration can end DACA
  2.  A case that could end Roe v. Wade as we know it
  3. Whether Donald Trump must release his tax returns and finances

On the first item, ICE Director Matt Albence recently made it clear that if the Court rules in Trump’s favor, they are already prepared to begin deporting DACA recipients immediately.

What we don’t know right now is how the Supreme Court will rule in these cases. But especially on the one affecting Roe v. Wade, all signs point to its demise. If that happens, it will overwhelm any other issue on the table at that time. On the other hand, if the Court rules that Trump must release his taxes, pouring over those documents will consume the media and their reporting. If what we expect turns out to be true, Trump could be toast.

My point in all of this is to challenge our obsession with the immediate moment and to suggest that we also keep the longer view in mind. The next nine months are going to be a helluva bumpy ride and it will help to be at least somewhat prepared.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.