What are the policy implications from Tuesday’s elections?

By Aaron Rice
November 7, 2018

Mississippi did not join most states in holding statewide elections on Tuesday. That will be next year when every statewide, legislative, and county office will be on the ballot.

But that doesn't mean we didn't have action in the Magnolia State.

Mississippi was in the unique position of holding two United States Senate elections, with the regularly scheduled election for the seat currently held by Sen. Roger Wicker and the special election following former Sen. Thad Cochran’s retirement earlier this year.

Wicker won going away, picking up 59 percent of the vote. In the special election, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant, will be in a runoff with Mike Espy, a former Democratic Congressman and secretary in the Clinton administration.

Under Mississippi election law, special elections are essentially a jungle primary. There is no party identification, and everyone who qualifies is on the ballot. If no candidate receives a majority, as was the case on Tuesday, a runoff is held three week later. Hyde-Smith received 42 percent of the vote, Espy was at 41 percent, and Chris McDaniel, who almost defeated Cochran four years ago, was at 16 percent.

What McDaniel’s poor showing may mean will be a question that is being asked today, and will be discussed over the next year.

Essentially, the Republican vote was the same in both Senate races. It was just slightly split in the special election. If Hyde-Smith is successful, she will join a larger Republican majority in the Senate. Pending final counts in Arizona, Republicans may be up to a 54-46 majority in the Senate when all is said and done. This has one major political implication – judicial confirmations.

Conservatives will no longer have to hold their breath on Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski (or Jeff Flake). Perhaps now the many constitutional conservatives and federalist society members will have an opportunity to fill the vacancies and counter balance the President Obama era judges. And there will plenty of energy to use the new strength in the Senate to confirm President Trump’s judicial nominations.

What else might happen in Washington? That is to be determined with Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives. Their immediate priorities seem to be a furthering of “the resistance” with investigations and potential impeachment proceedings, but they will likely also attempt to push through a progressive agenda. Expect a lot of gridlock for at least the next two years, but for those of us who favor limited government that isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world.

The divided government will likely be good for trade, which is a good thing for the market. Criminal justice reform should continue to receive attention. We expect to see more regulatory reform from the White House and his Cabinet, something that will benefit us all. We expect immigration and healthcare policy to continue to be lightning rods. However, we may also see bipartisan agreement on areas like infrastructure spending. Unfortunately, that probably portends an increasing debt load for the American people.

One thing we can predict with relative certainty – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump will be a great spectacle. While that may not be a great compliment to the current state of affairs in our Republic, it should make for very entertaining content for television… and Twitter is guaranteed to survive for at least a few more years.


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