What Happens Next?

Six months have passed since the fateful November 3rd presidential election.  Here are the BB predictions for the next six months.

1.Coronavirus Pandemic: There’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that the CDC just loosened the mask guidelines for those of us who have been vaccinated.  By mid-summer the region where I live — San Francisco Bay area — will likely have achieved herd immunity; that is, more than 80 percent of the adult population will have been vaccinated.  The bad news is that significant parts of the US will not reach these vaccination levels and, most likely, will never reach them.

Our local experts ( https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/2021-05-herd-immunity-California-Bay-Area-16148134.php) now believe that the State of California will reach herd immunity right around June 15th — the goal set by Governor Newsom for “reopening” the state.  The experts explained that California is ahead of the rest of the nation because we have a lower incidence of “vaccine hesitancy:” “About 30% of Americans on average are reluctant to get vaccinated, but the number is lower in California, with an estimated 10% to 15% of Golden State residents vaccine hesitant, according to data from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Studies have shown that people who identify as Republican are less likely to get vaccinated than Democrats, and vaccine hesitancy in California is generally higher in red counties, according to the department.”

Our experts feel that it will take several years before the United States reaches herd immunity — because of vaccine hesitancy, new virus variants, and global travel patterns.  This means travel will continue to be restricted as well as participation in large events.

Political consequences: As long as the U.S. continues to make progress overcoming the pandemic, this bodes well for the Biden Administration.  In California, given that the golden state reopens on June 15th, this progress bodes well for Governor Newsom — the recall effort was already a long shot (The latest polls (https://calmatters.org/commentary/2021/04/california-newsom-recall-poll/ ) find that just 36 percent of California residents favor recalling Newsom.)

2.Donald Trump: For Democrats, the past six months has been positive — Joe Biden has done a good job, is popular, and has the nation headed out of the abyss. For Republicans, the past six months have — once again — been about Donald Trump.

After Trump’s 7-million vote election loss, the January 6th insurrection, and his second impeachment trial, the Republican Party split.  An April NBC News poll (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20690434-210098-nbc-news-april-poll-4-25-21-release) found that Trump’s approval had slipped to 32 percent (21 percent very positive and 11 percent somewhat positive).  In this poll, for the first time, more Republicans saw themselves as supporters of the GOP (50 percent) rather than as supporters of Trump (44 percent).  It’s hard to gauge the size of this split, but the intra-Party debate about the role of GOP leader Liz Cheney indicates that a substantial number of Republicans no longer want Trump to lead their Party — probably not a majority, somewhere in the vicinity of 33 percent.  (This estimate aligns with polls (https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/11/politics/voting-restrictions-analysis/index.html ) that indicate around 70 percent of Republicans feel the 2020 election was “stolen” from Donald Trump.}

Trump is down but not yet out.  He has lost his social media presence — he’s banned from Twitter and Facebook and has yet to create a replacement.  This has had two consequences: first, the DT “thought of the day” is not as omnipresent as it once was.  Second, Trump’s fundraising is not as effective as it was — nonetheless, DT’s political action committee is sitting on a reserve of about $85 million.

Political Consequences: For the moment, DT runs (most of) the Republican Party.  That’s a problem for the GOP because Trump is unpopular with the general electorate, is no longer an effective social-media presence, and is headed for a set of messy legal problems.  Hmm.  Seems like Republicans are “hoist on their own petard.”

3. The Big Lie: The recent CNN poll indicates that about 30 percent of voters (70 percent of Republican voters) believe that Joe Biden was unlawfully elected.  Trump, and his Republican cohorts, have succeeded in spreading the big lie.

In the last decade, the Republican Party hasn’t had much of a policy agenda, they’ve mostly been concerned with social issues.  During Trump’s reign their agenda consisted of build the wall, cut taxes, and repeal Obamacare.  In 2021, their agenda has been further simplified: don’t cooperate with anything proposed by the Biden Administration — because Biden has unlawfully elected — and inhibit the votes of everyone other than Republicans.

Most Republicans legislators have accepted his big lie and moved forward with voter suppression.  Ten states — including Arizona, Florida, and Georgia have pushed through new laws to make it more difficult to vote. ( https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/553012-controversial-voting-laws-add-to-democrats-midterm-obstacles) “I think we need to state the purpose: Republican politicians are using lies about the 2020 election to pass voter suppression laws that they think will hand their party power,” said Jena Griswold, the secretary of state in Colorado and the chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.

Although the intent of the Republican legislators is to diminish Democratic votes, some of the measures may deplete Republican votes — for example, new laws making it more difficult to cast absentee ballots will inhibit the votes of GOP seniors.  In addition, the new voter-suppression legislation has been subjected to dozens of lawsuits.

Political Consequences: Unclear.  It’s undemocratic to make it more difficult to vote but Republicans don’t care. The GOP problem is that this is not a broadly popular message and doesn’t serve as an effective alternative to the Biden/Democrat agenda.

Summary:  Hmm.  Republicans have sold out to Trump and he’s about to go down bigly.  The GOP seems to be headed over the falls.  Meanwhile, don’t expect bipartisanship.  Biden needs to hold a steady course.