Protecting Your Business Regardless of Election Outcomes
by Ari Storch, IAPD’s Washington Office

uring every election cycle, the candidates all talk about how historic and impactful this election will be on the future of the United States. That argument may never be more true than this year’s election. The 2020 election will not only determine who is in charge of our country, but also the basics of how government will run.

The good news is that, ever since its inception, the IAPD Government Relations strategy has always had a bipartisan focus. It is designed to build a firewall of bipartisan support to defend the industry against detractors while developing allies who understand the value of performance plastics. If you have not participated in one of IAPD’s Legislative Fly-Ins in Washington, D.C., or a virtual fly-in Zoom meeting with Members of Congress, we urge you to do so. It’s your opportunity to witness first-hand the value of engaging in this important initiative.

What will the election mean to us?
First, let’s look at the race for control of the House of Representatives. Currently the House is divided, with 232 Democrats, 198 Republicans, one Independent who is retiring and four vacancies. To control the House, a party must control 218 seats. The current analysis by one of Washington’s top political handicappers, Charlie Cook with the Cook Political Report, has the House remaining solidly in Democrat control — even if all of the 28 “toss-up elections” break Republican — with 221 either “solid or lean Democrat” seats compared to 186 “solid or lean Republican.”

One critical future effect is the coming redistricting of House seats based upon the results of 2020 Census, resulting in the control of state legislatures and governorships. Hence the battles over the effort to count undocumented aliens as part of the Census (a battle the GOP recently lost in an initial court hearing). The Census results and the coming reapportionment will affect the House for years to come.

Next let’s look at the Senate, where the possibility of loss of Republican control is real. If that happens, it would put both chambers of Congress into Democrat hands for the first time since the first two years of the Obama Administration. Currently Republicans hold a 53-45 majority. In this election cycle Republicans are on the defensive with eight of the 10 most vulnerable Senators being Republican. Four of the most vulnerable Senators — Cory Gardner (R-CO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) — are from states that the opposing presidential candidate won in 2016.

According to Charlie Cook (and almost every other political pollster), the following are the most vulnerable Senate seats, not ranked in any order, of most likely to flip: Doug Jones (D-AL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Purdue (R-GA). For a party to control the Senate, they need 51 seats or 50 seats plus the vice president. Many political handicappers are predicting a 50-50 Senate, giving control to the party in the White House. If the Democrats retake the White House and the Senate, you may have heard discussions about eliminating the legislative filibuster.

The legislative filibuster was instituted by the Senate to ensure that the party in the minority retained some role in decisions. It demands that 60 Senators agree on ending debate on every piece of legislation that reaches the Senate floor. In the House, the majority party controls everything, so once a party controls the House it’s possible to pass any legislation regardless of the minority party’s inclination. In the Senate, however, designed to be the deliberative body of the two chambers, the decision was made to ensure the minority party always had a say — accomplished via the filibuster.

The first weakening of the filibuster occurred when the Democrats were last in control, when then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), frustrated by GOP efforts to block Democratic judges being appointed by President Obama, rallied his party to eliminate the filibuster for federal judgeships. Two years ago, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) used the same maneuver to eliminate the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees after the Democrats attempted to block a nomination. However, both leaders left the legislative filibuster intact. A campaign is now being waged to eliminate that and current Senate Democrat Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has announced that he is open to doing just that. If that happens, there will be little the GOP can do in either chamber to inhibit Democrat legislative initiatives. However, some Democrat Senators are cautioning against such a move, but a change would only require a 51-vote majority so we will need to wait and see.

Finally, let’s look at the race for the White House. Current national polls have former Vice President Joe Biden (D) ahead of President Trump by 5 points. It is important to note that Hillary Clinton, at the end of October 2016, also led Trump by 5.5 points with an 80.6 percent chance of winning the White House. However, national polls are almost meaningless in a presidential election because the president is not elected nationally, but state by state and via the Electoral College. In September 2016, the Electoral College polls had Hillary Clinton securing 324 votes compared to Trump’s 213. The current Electoral College polls have Joe Biden with a lock on 279 votes, Trump with a lock on 187 and 72 votes deemed a toss up.

What can we learn from polling?
To be frank, polling means a lot and a little at the same time. Good polling can help motivate and energize voters on both sides. However, with the challenges of COVID and voting, voting by mail and the challenges that will present, we most likely will not know who won the White House on election day 2020. The key states to watch are, and will continue to be: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Polling is simply a snapshot in time and anything can happen between now and Election Day. What is most important to know is that regardless of the outcome, IAPD has been working diligently to protect you and your businesses in Washington. Certain election outcomes may make it more difficult for us to do our work, but we have laid a solid foundation with leaders in both parties and we will continue to fight for your interests in Washington regardless of the outcome of the 2020 election.