The Briefing, Vol. VIII, Issue 49

Dec. 14, 2020

This Week:

  • The Electoral College has its say
  • Protecting Trump’s regulatory legacy
  • GOP prospects improve in Georgia with oppo dump against Warnock

Outlook: Courts continue to reject the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the result in key states that could throw the Electoral College vote back in his favor. This doesn’t mean there weren’t irregularities worthy of investigating or rectifying. But none of these, even if they can be fixed, will overturn an election that was decided by tens of thousands of votes in three states. As of today, the Electoral College will have had its say.

Recall that in 2000, the contest dragged out in the courts into December over a much closer result — a 500-or-so vote lead in a single state, whose outcome could have potentially been reversed based on any of several legal challenges. 

At the end of the legal battle over the 2000 election, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her two-person dissent from the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision, argued that the final say actually comes in January, when the House of Representatives counts the votes. There is a reason seven justices rejected that argument at the time. Yet this dissent, in which only one justice was willing to join Ginsburg, is the last hope to which Trump’s campaign now clings. 

Legacy: The fact is, Trump came very close, but he came up short. Conservatives need to be thinking ahead to 2022 and 2024, but more immediately, they need to think about preserving his legacy by winning in Georgia on Jan. 5. With even a razor thin Senate majority, Democrats will be able to undo all sorts of Trump accomplishments. 

We have noted previously that Democrats will not have the numbers to pack the Supreme Court or engage in other flagrant abuses of power such as ending the filibuster in the Senate. However, they will be able to fill every possible judicial and executive post vacancy along party lines. This can have devastating consequences, as the recent history of the Fourth Circuit shows. This federal appellate court, now Democrat-dominated after President Obama’s successful efforts to fill vacancies, covers the East Coast from the Carolinas to Maryland. It was responsible for the gerrymandering that gave Democrats an advantage in House races in North Carolina this year, and it has caused all sorts of other chicanery related to gun rights and other topics of key concern.

Regulatory Review: Another topic pertains to deregulation, one of Trump’s greatest accomplishments in office. 

Think back to the beginning of the Trump era. Republicans, given relatively narrow majorities in the House and Senate, were able to instantly undo 16 regulatory actions that had been taken late in the Obama administration thanks to the Congressional Review Act. That law, which originally passed in 1996, allows elected legislators to overturn bureaucratic rules and regulations from the executive branch with a simple majority vote in both chambers, provided that lawmakers act soon enough after the regulatory action is taken.

Republican actions at that time simplified the deregulatory process for Trump and hastened his timeline. But the same rules now make vulnerable the gains that his administration made in creating a friendlier national business climate and causing the economy to boom before the coronavirus hit. Only a victory in Georgia can prevent Democrats from using the same method to undo late-Trump-era rules and regulations. In contrast, a Republican victory means that recent Trump environmental, energy-related, and finance and housing-related rules and regulations (specifically with regard to homeownership) will be kept in place for years at least as the Biden bureaucracy goes through the entire lengthy and arduous process of rulemaking.  

Senate 2021

Georgia: New polling from the Trafalgar Group shows at least one of the two races breaking toward Republicans in just the last two weeks. The race between Sen. David Perdue, R, and Jon Ossoff, D, remains tight as a tick, an exact tie. But Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R, has benefited from a net ten-point swing in her race against Rev. Rapael Warnock

The erasure of Warnock’s seven-point lead from the beginning of December comes after a massive dump of opposition research into his past statements praising Fidel Castro and condemning the U.S. as a racist country. Warnock’s past radicalism is probably a bridge too far for voters in a state that remains fairly conservative despite its recent vote for Joe Biden.

Speaking of which, Biden will be in the state this week to campaign for the Democrats. 

Senate 2022

Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio’s announcement that he will run for a third term in 2022 is good news for Senate Republicans, who would like to keep this race off the board if possible. “Little Marco,” as Trump called him, lost a lot of face during the 2016 election. But in the time since, he has put his shoulder to the wheel and built a very good reputation for himself. He has become increasingly popular in his state and gained stature in the Senate as an expert voice on foreign affairs. He can also showcase his having worked across the aisle on a variety of issues without compromising his conservative principles. 

From a personal perspective, Rubio would love to run for president in 2024 without placing his Senate seat in jeopardy. A win in 2022 would afford him such an opportunity.

North Carolina: Conservative Rep. Mark Walker, R, made an early announcement that he will be running to keep the Senate seat of the controversial Rep. Richard Burr, R, in Republican hands. As this year’s near-loss by Sen. Thom Tillis demonstrated, this will be one of the tougher seats for Republicans to defend in the midterm election. 

Already, Walker is not alone in his ambition. It is possible that President Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, will jump in. Her potential participation is intriguing, but it remains to be seen how powerful the Trump name would be in a Republican primary if President Trump were not the actual candidate.