Trump's addrss to joint session of Congress, plus hte Democratic response
Pres. Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress was popularly called the "State of the Union" address, although that formal speech is not constitutionally required of an incoming president. Some excerpts:
As a result of President Trump's cabinet appointments, and one Senate election,
several new officeholders have assumed office (listed below).
There will also be five special elections for the U.S. House of Representatives, later this spring,
to replace additional cabinet appointments (governors don't make House appointments; only Senate and Attorney General appointments like those below).
Jan. 14: New Iowa governor Kim Reynolds (R, was Lieutenant Governor)
Jan. 24: New California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D, was U.S. House member; appointed by Governor)
Jan. 24: New South Carolina governor Henry McMaster (R, was Lieutenant Governor)
Feb. 9: New Alabama Senator Luther Strange (R, was State Attorney General; appointed by Governor)
Source: OnTheIssues archives; see House coverage for additional upcoming special elections.
Cabinet appointee replacements: Jan. 26, 2017
Who will replace Trump's cabinet nominees?
Following is a list of Cabinet nominees who are also elected officials, and the status of the election to replace them:
Alabama Senate special election to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions, appointed as Attorney General,
will have his replacement appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley(R), who could also call for a special election.
Gov. Bentley is under threat of impeachment from Alabama's Attorney General, Luther Strange, who is also the frontrunner in the special election.
Montana House special election to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke, appointed as Secretary of Interior,
should have his replacement appointed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock(D), under a new 2015 law, but
the Montana Secretary of State (who would be in charge of a special election) claims that the new law establishing House appointments is unconstitutional.
Former gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte(R) and Rob Quist (D) have announced their candidacy, among others.
South Carolina gubernatorial succession: Gov. Nikki Haley appointed as UN Ambassador:
Gov. Haley resigned and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster became governor.
McMaster spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention, delivering the official nomination speech for Trump.
Iowa gubernatorial succession: : Gov. Terry Branstad appointed as Ambassador to China:
Gov. Branstad will resign and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will become governor.
South Carolina House special election to replace Rep. Mick Mulvaney appointed as Budget Director:
Gov. Henry McMaster will set the date for the special election to replace Rep. Mulvaney.
State Rep. Ralph Norman(R) and State Rep. Tommy Pope (R) are likely contenders, among others.
Republicans introduce first set of bills for 2017-2018
Congress introduces many bills as soon as Congress convenes (which occured on Jan. 3)
Some of those bills are "re-filings" from previous Congresses -- the same purpose, the same text, but it didn't pass last time, so the sponsor is trying again this year.
For newly-inaugurated first-time members of Congress, this is the best means to establish their priorities (since they are unlikely, as incoming freshmen, to have written a bill already!)
We looked over our collection of "key bills" from previous Congresses, identifying those which have been re-filed, and then added to those any new co-sponsors (with a 2017 date instead of the old date).
The list on the left are the bills from previous Congresses, with new incoming freshmen added with 2017 dates.
The list on the right are the corresponding bills from the 115th Congress, which we'll check again in a few weeks for more co-sponsors.
Most of these bills are Republican-favored bills; the sponsor has re-filed them because they failed while Obama was President, and are now hoping for passage under President Trump.
Bill from previous Congress, with links to new co-sponsors
Bill from 115th Congress, with all current co-sponsors
Republican majorities in both chambers elect leadership (and Democrats too)
The person who is 2nd in line for the Presidency, and the person who is 3rd in line for the Presidency, were elected today, but hardly anyone noticed despite the importance of this vote for the Constitutionally-defined "line of succcession."
The Constitution specifies that the Speaker of the House is 2nd in line, after the Vice President -- and further specifies that the President Pro-Tem of the Senate is 3rd in line -- those two positions were filled by elections today.
Try googling this event and you will find very little -- so we summarize the results here.
New members of the 115th Congress are sworn in today, two weeks ahead of the presidential inauguration.
The first order of business, for both chambers, is to elect new leadership.
Leadership positions are elected by partisan votes, with separate votes for each party's leadership positions.
The new Congressional leaders are:
And if you're wondering who's 4th in line for Presidency after Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch -- that would be Secretary of State John Kerry, until Trump's Secretary of State nominee gets confirmed.
The rest of the Cabinet fills in the line of succession from 5th in line and onwards -- see our Cabinet succession list for details!
OnTheIssues.org presents our annual IFFY awards for "iffy" candidates
OnTheIssues condemns candidates with an "IFFY Award" for running an "Issue-Free campaign." These are "iffy" candidates because they refused to provide voters with information on what they believe and how they will legislate. They are likely to be "iffy legislators" too -- never providing their constituents with information, on the belief that the less voters know, the more likely the "iffy" candidates are to get re-elected.
An IFFY award is a non-partisan condemnation: OnTheIssues doesn't care WHAT candidates' issue stances are -- as long as they HAVE issue stances!
At OnTheIssues, we believe that candidates should make clear their issue stances, and if they don't do that, then they should not run for office at all, and if they get elected and still won't divulge their issue stances, that they should resign or be driven from office by outraged constituents.
The following candidates comprise our IFFY award recipients for 2016.
One of them was elected Governor, and the other four Will be seated in the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2017 -- and we recommend that you write to them demanding that they speak on the issues!
Who will get nominated? Actual accouncements plus speculation
Following is a list of Cabinet nominees, followed by a list of upcoming possible nominees, with links to their issues coverage for all candidates for whom we have issues pages (we'll update as further announcements come, with dates):
OnTheIssues.org predictions as bad as everyone else's in 2016
Presidential electoral counts:
Hillary Clinton 232; Donald Trump 306; Evan McMullin 0
Hillary Clinton 372; Donald Trump 160; Evan McMullin 6
Recounts still underway in MI, WI, and PA
Party control of U.S. House:
Democrats gain 6 seats, leaving Republican majority of 241-194.
Democrats gain 25 seats, leaving Republican majority of 222-213.
Two runoff elections pending in Louisiana on Dec. 10; both have retiring Republican incumbents
Party control of U.S. Senate:
Democrats gain 2 seats, leaving Republican majority of 52-48.
Democrats gain 6 seats, winning Democratic majority of 52-48.
One runoff election pending in Louisiana on Dec. 10
Party control of Governorships:
Republicans gain 3 seats, leaving Republican majority of 34-16.
OnTheIssues made no prediction but it would have been just as inaccurate as above!
One gubernatorial outcome still being contested in courts, in North Carolina
We predicted that the polls were systemically inaccurate in the Democrats' favor because they discounted get-out-the-vote efforts by Hillary.
In fact, the polls were systemically inaccurate in the Republicans' favor because they discounted many voters who would not tell the pollsters their vote.
Electoral counts: Hillary Clinton 372; Donald Trump 160; Evan McMullin 6
OnTheIssues predicts a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton, 372-160 electoral votes.
Some points of interest:
We predict that Evan McMullin will win Utah and its 6 electoral votes.
That would be the first electoral vote victory for a 3rd-party candidate since George Wallace in 1968.
Even if McMullin loses Utah, he will most likely come in second place, the first time a non-major party has come in second since Ross Perot in 1992.
We predict that Hillary will turn blue many traditionally red states, including North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona.
We do not predict that Hillary will turn Texas blue -- but the pundits love that possibility and will talk about it endlessly on election night.
When the polls close at 8 PM on election night, the bellweather states are PA, GA, and NC -- if those three fall to Hillary, our map will be pretty accurate for the rest of the country.
Nebrasks and Maine split their electoral votes; we predict both will do so, with the urban areas going for Hillary and the rural areas for Trump.
As with our Senate Prediction and House Prediction, our preliminary analysis is "meta-analysis" of polls, summing up the results of numerous credible statewide polls nationwide.
Then we apply political intuition as to why the polls are systemically over-counting or under-counting in their results
(for example, the polls in 2008 and 2012 systemically under-counted turnout among minority voters and young voters -- our intuitive effort here is to predict those sorts of systemic errors for 2016).
There are two core systemic errors for 2016 that the polls cannot capture: increased turnout among youth and minorities (which favors Hillary Clinton), and decreased GOTV efforts by the Republican Party (which disfavors Donald Trump).
The Clinton campaign is currently attempting to increase youth turnout by deploying Bernie Sanders and is also currently attempting to increase minority turnout by deploying Barack Obama.
We do not think these efforts will be very successful -- Hillary simply does not appeal to youth like Bernie Sanders does, and does not appeal to minorities like Barack Obama does.
Her efforts will succeed at avoiding these groups voting for Trump, but we predict the usual historically low turnout, unlike the very high youth turnout enjoyed by Sanders in the 2016 primaries and the historically high minority turnout enjoyed by Obama in 2012.
Bottom line on youth and minorities: the polls will get it right: youth and minorities will vote overwhelmingly for Hillary over Trump, but will have under-whelming turnout at the polls.
The Trump campaign is attempting to overcome lackluster participation by Republican Party officials nationwide -- we explore this problem in detail in our commentary on the second presidential debate.
Lackluster Republican Party participation in the presidential campaign means that "GOTV efforts" -- "Get Out The Vote" on election day -- will be severely hampered by having only half the number of Republican volunteers compared to Democratic volunteers.
This "GOTV failure" will cost Trump 3% or 4% on Election Day -- and the daily tracking polls do NOT account for this!
Bottom line on Republican GOTV: If the polls indicate that Trump is only ahead by 2% or 3% in a particular state, it is likely that Hillary will win that state due to superior Democratic GOTV.
Trump has consistently complained that the Republican Party has not done its fair share -- we agree, and we think that will cost Trump the election!
House of Representatives prediction: Oct. 26, 2016
OnTheIssues.org prediction: Republicans hold their House majority by 5 seats
Currently the GOP holds a House majority of 30 seats. OnTheIssues predicts that the Democrats will gain a substantial number of seats in the House,
but not quite enough to overcome the Republican majority. Our summary prediction first:
Category A: First we list 27 Republican-held districts where we predict a Democratic win.
Category B: Then we list 2 Democrat-held districts where we predict a Republican win -- which means a net 25 turnovers, 5 fewer than is needed for a Democratic majority.
Category C: 15 Republican-held House districts where we predict the Republicans will retain the seat in a tight race.
Category D: 3 Democratic-held House districts where we predict the Democrats will retain the seat in a tight race.
We predict that for all 388 other districts not listed here, the incumbent party will maintain its seat.
Net result: House control is maintained by the GOP, with a Republican majority of 247-188 slipping to a weaker majority of 222-213.
Category A: 27 Republican-held districts where we predict a Democratic win
California 10 (R+2) Jeff Denham loses to to Michael Eggman
Minnesota 3 (R+5) Erik Paulsen survives challenge by State Sen. Terri Bonoff
New York 1 (R+7) Lee Zeldin survives challenge by Anna E. Throne-Holst
New York 23 (R+9) Tom Reed survives challenge by John Plumb
Pennsylvania 6 (R+11) Ryan Costello survives challenge by Mike Parrish
Pennsylvania 16 (R+7) Joe Pitts survives challenge by Christina Hartman
Virginia 5 (R+6) Robert Hurt survives challenge by Jane Dittmar
Washington 8 (R+4) Dave Reichert survives challenge by Santiago Ramos
Category D: 3 hotly-contested Democratic-held districts where we predict the Democrat will hold the seat * These are all districts where our prediction changed since August
Arizona 1 (D+4) Ann Kirkpatrick (retiring); Tom O'Halleran survives challenge by Paul Babeu and Former Secretary of state Ken Bennett
Nebraska 2 (D+3) Brad Ashford survives challenge by Don Bacon
New York 3 (D+11) Steve Israel survives challenge by Jack Martins
We use a "meta-analysis" of looking at the averages of several polls simultaneously
(not using partisan voting history in the district as in our earlier prediction).
Such analyses are available on Wikipedia and in numerous other sources.
First we determine "competitive" districts, where several polling organizations indicate that the incumbent party might lose.
Then we look at the actual opponents; they must meet several criteria:
They must have a web presence (a professional campaign website, and presence in newspaper reports)
They must have an "issues" section on their website (we refuse to predict any candidate can win without a platform -- and we found MANY such candidates!)
They must be within "striking distance," i.e. within 4 percentage points, a typical margin-of-error on polls.
Meeting those criteria "certifies" a challenger as winnable and hence in Category A or B;
our theory is that 2016 is a "change election" and any seriously-challenged incumbent will lose if the polls indicate "even" or a challenger slightly behind.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debate in Las Vegas
Excerpts and fact-checking from the third debate:
Donald Trump on Abortion: Not acceptable to rip baby from womb in 9th month.
Donald Trump on Budget & Economy: We're dying at 1% GDP growth; we don't make things anymore.
Hillary Clinton on Free Trade: I fought illegal dumping of Chinese steel and aluminum.
Donald Trump on Free Trade: I disagreed with Ronald Reagan on trade; we need better
Evan McMullin on Free Trade: Consistent conservative in favor of free trade.
Hillary Clinton on Government Reform: Unprecedented Russian interference in presidential election.
Jill Stein on Government Reform: We need ranked-choice voting in presidential elections.
Hillary Clinton FactCheck on Immigration: Yes, voted for a partial wall on Mexican border
Donald Trump FactCheck on Immigration: Yes, Hillary would increase Syrian refugees by 550%
What about the supposedly all-important assertion by Donald Trump that he won't accept the results of the election?
(It's there in our excerpts; Hillary called it "horrifying" and the mainstream media has harped on about it endlessly).
Well, here's what that really means: NOTHING.
What happens if Hillary is declared the winner on election night and Trump never concedes? NOTHING.
What happens if Trump NEVER accepts the election results? NOTHING.
All of these seemingly important events -- Hillary being declared the winner; Trump calling with a concession speech; the loser "accepting" the election results -- none of these matter one bit.
Do you know what the U.S. Constitution says about all of those things? NOTHING.
The Constitution is clear on how presidential elections ACTUALLY work:
Each state determines the winner of the electoral votes in that state (by the Secretary of State certifying the result, or various terminology analogous to that).
If Trump actually wants to DO something to "not accept the election results," he would have to file a lawsuit in individual states where the election was close enough to warrant that -- TK34 states allow that.
20TK states have an automatic recount process if there's a tight enough margin -- that's what occurred in Florida in 2000 -- otherwise Trump has to pay for a recount.
Trump can file those lawsuits regardless of whether he concedes on election night or not (you might recall that in 2000, Al Gore DID concede, and then called George W. Bush back to "rescind" his concession -- but none of that really mattered Constitutionally -- filing his lawsuit the next day DID matter -- that led to the case "Bush v. Gore" that went to the Supreme Court).
There are rules in each state about how close the results have to be, to allow filing a lawsuit like that -- Trump can do so, individually in each state, and that would delay certification in THAT state, but not in any other states.
After the Secretaries of State certify each state's results, the "Electoral College" meets to finalize the presidential election -- regardless of Trump's "acceptance" of the results or not -- that's what the Constitution is all about.
Let's say Hillary wins with 372 electoral votes on election night -- with 270 needed to win, that means Trump would have to file lawsuits in states adding up to at least 102 electoral votes (that's at least a half-dozen mid-size states) in order to delay the Electoral College from voting regardless of some states being delayed.
So when you hear the mainstream media harping on about Trump "threatening democracy," you might refer them to the U.S. Constitution -- it's all laid out clearly in Article II, without any reference to "acceptance" or "concession" or anything else -- and nothing Trump has said is any threat to that!