If anything is certain this election season, it’s that everything is uncertain. Should the strong economy continue and nothing too crazy happens, it’s conceivable that Republicans could hang onto the executive, the Senate, and even regain the House. President Trump will be on the ballot in all those districts Democrats swiped from Republicans, and now they’ll also have their own record, or lack thereof (impeachment, anyone?), upon which to run. The Senate will come down to a few key races in Maine, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, but Democrats will have to win them all in order to gain the four seats needed to gain control (three if they win the presidency). And Trump is coming off what even HBO host Bill Maher called “his best week ever” following his Senate impeachment acquittal and widely acclaimed State of the Union address.
None of the three tasks - holding onto the executive and Senate and retaking the House - will be easy, but all are doable. It’s also conceivable that Democrats could sweep everything. They have the numbers, and if their turnout exceeds our turnout in the right places they win, pure and simple.
However, the most probable scenario is that, whoever assumes the presidency in 2021, government will remain divided. If Trump does manage to win a second term in office this November, he will likely face at least one legislative branch controlled by Democrats. If that branch is the Senate, good luck getting any judges or appointees confirmed. If it’s the House, Trump won’t be able to sneeze without Adam Schiff calling for an impeachment inquiry. If it’s both, God help him.
But things weren’t always this way. Richard Nixon won 301 electoral votes in 1968 and a crushing 520 in 1972, but his party controlled neither the House nor the Senate any of the time he was in office. Notably, Democrats did lose seats after Nixon’s 1972 landslide victory, from 247 House members to 243 and from 64 senators to 58. Hardly the stuff of national consensus, even though Democratic nominee George McGovern only managed to win Massachusetts and Washington D.C. Yet, Nixon was able to appoint four arguably conservative Supreme Court justices and a whopping 231 federal judges, 38 more than Franklin