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DC lobbyist outlines predictions and disruptions in the midterms, the 116th Congress, and the 2020 elections

Washington DC lobbyist Bruce Mehlman published his latest slide deck on Monday, outlining continued sources of disruption in the federal government related to the upcoming midterms, the lame-duck session of Congress, the newly elected 116th Congress, and the 2020 elections. Here is our summary of the key information included in the presentation:


Based off big data models, there will likely be a blue wave in the U.S. House, with the U.S. Senate expected to stay under Republican control. Predictions from various models put the likelihood of Democrats taking the House between 68 and 80 percent, while the likelihood of Democrats taking the Senate sits between 27 and 34 percent.

Mehlman points out that based on prior presidential approval rating trends, President Trump’s 40 percent approval rating indicates Republicans are likely to lose seats in both chambers of Congress.

Other election indicators are a mixed bag, with some favoring Republicans and others favoring Democrats heading into the midterms. Both consumer confidence in the economy and the typical midterm electorate favor Republicans, while a push in candidate recruitment and the turnout from the primaries favor Democrats.

Future of the 115th Congress:

According to Mehlman, there are four key questions that will impact the future of the 115th Congress during the lame duck session.

  1. Will election results be contested?

Whichever party loses in the midterms may not accept defeat quietly. If the results are contested, Democrats are likely to blame Russian hackers, gerrymandering, and voter suppression, while Republicans are likely to blame the media, illegal immigrants, or Chinese Hackers.

  1. What will the “Civil Wars” within the parties look like?

Regardless of which party has a majority in the House, a new speaker will need to be elected. Mehlman points out that both Nancy Pelosi (D) and Kevin McCarthy (R) have majorities to become speaker, but may not have 218 votes.

  1. What remains for the 115th Congress?

There are still several significant lines of business that the 115th Congress needs to address after the elections. These include funding the government past December 7th, the Farm Bill/Food Assistance, IRS Reforms, election security, and intelligence reauthorization.

  1. Probes, Pardons, and Partings?

Heading into the end of the year, the Mueller Report is expected and there may be end of year pardons and potential White House firings that will impact Congress.

Future of the 116th Congress:

Heading into the new year, between 15 and 25 percent of the House will be new and there will be major turnover in committee leadership, representing a major disruption in Congress.

If Democrats take over control in the House, Mehlman predicts their focus will be on aggressive oversight of Trump, agencies, and industries. He also says Democrats will likely work to stop and reverse Trump actions by protecting the Affordable Care Act and blocking deregulation. Democrats will also likely try to rally their base in anticipation of the 2020 elections and work on potential deals related to infrastructure, prescription drug pricing, and trade.

Meanwhile, he says the Trump Administration will double down on its unpredictable style and exhibit a renewed commitment to campaign promises such as ending the ACA and controlling immigration.

The Road to 2020:

Heading into the 2020 elections, both Democrats and Republicans will have major decisions to make in regards to the direction they want to take their party. For Republicans, Mehlman says its 90 percent likely Trump will be the nominee in 2020. He says there’s a 9 percent chance Republicans might choose a “truer conservative” such as Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, and there is a 1 percent chance they will turn to a more moderate candidate such as John Kasich or Larry Hogan.

Democrats will have a similar choice in that they can either embrace the far-left Bernie Sanders type of candidate, or go more moderate to try to win back the “Reagan Democrats.”

The full slide deck can be viewed here.