Why you should expect the unexpected on election day

Randy Evans –

Are we there yet? With the debates completed, and the homestretch ahead, voters have started longing for the end of this unpredictable and tumultuous election like children on a long road trip.

Regardless of what anyone says, no one actually knows how this election will turn out. From the very beginning, no one has had a clue about what would happen next and that remains true today.

After all, who predicted that an octogenarian socialist from Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders, would win 23 states and take his challenge all the way to the Democratic National Convention — notwithstanding a little “rigging” by the chair of the Democratic National Committee?

And, anyone who says they predicted that Donald Trump would emerge from a crowded field of 17 talented, well-funded candidates to win the Republican nomination would be downright dishonest.

No one could have anticipated the twists and turns of the general election with Donald Trump seemingly cooperative in making the election a referendum on him while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is equally content to hide away while the clock runs out.

Of course, more than the Office of the President (and by proxy the balance of power on the Supreme Court) hangs in the balance on Nov. 8. As discussed at length in the last edition of The Evans Report (“Watch the U.S. Senate on election night;’ Atlanta Business Chronicle, Oct. 7, 2016, Page 40A), the balance of power in the U.S. Senate is also at play.

Even as polls have started to stabilize as the impact of the presidential race settles in, there are just too many Senate seats still at play to know how things will end on election night. It could be so close that it is the outcome of the presidential election that determines the result with the new vice president casting the tie-breaking vote for control.

For a while, it appeared that the same might be true in the U.S. House of Representatives where the Republicans hold a substantial margin over Democrats. During the free fall of the Trump campaign, many House Republicans started to “feel the heat” as Democratic challengers worked hard to tie the Republican House to the Republican nominee. But, the open feud between House Speaker Paul Ryan and Mr. Trump seems to have undercut that strategy with most House Republicans going their own way and doing what they need to do to win.

Typically, in order to change control of the 435-member House of Representatives, the party out of power needs a “wave election” like the Contract with America in 1994. Yet, there are no indications of a groundswell of support for Secretary Clinton akin to a “wave election.”

Democrats and Republicans expect Democrats to pick up a few seats in the House of Representatives. While it is still fluid and anything could happen, no one is bold enough to predict Democratic control after the election.

Mr. Trump’s battles with Secretary Clinton have been as tough as his battles with the Republican establishment in Washington, D.C. He represents change — regardless of whether it is a change from the policies of the Obama administration (to be continued in a Hillary Clinton administration) or the policies of a Republican-controlled Congress.

Many forget that over half of Republicans wanted change and nominated Mr. Trump. And, almost half of Democrats wanted change and, but for a little inside help, would probably have nominated Senator Sanders. The common denominator for both was not party affiliation, but change.

Of course, most in the change movement disagree on exactly what that change should be. It is those disagreements that create the political vacuum for realignment among various groups within the political system (as predicted in The Evans Report before the election). Such change rarely occurs in a single cycle, but it does appear to be in motion.

Oddly enough, should Secretary Clinton win and the Republicans retain control of the Congress, change loses notwithstanding the clear signal from voters’ preferences otherwise. But no one should expect those voters to simply go away.

With each successive election the demand for change increases. It is why this election has been but one more step in the fundamental transformation of the electoral system of the United States.

The two-party system may survive. However, its chances diminish with every election. Increasingly, more and more voters believe that neither of the major political parties represents their views, especially in this new millennium.

Either the current national political parties will realign themselves, or the system will do it for them. Look for the possible emergence of new political parties capable of fielding competitive candidates with the resources to introduce serious change.

Until then, like all things in the midst of transformation, watch for the unexpected. It is what happens when traditional boundaries break down and new coalitions and alliances form. Already, it has produced the election that no one predicted. The same might happen on election day.