Alan Zendell, January 1, 2019
Two years ago, I swore off predictions, but to be honest, although I was sure Trump had little chance of winning in 2016, I always had a nagging doubt. The Clinton campaign seemed unable to see a discarded banana peel and not slip on it. A lot of us noticed that, but we thought even a campaign as badly run as hers couldn’t result in a Trump victory.
We learn from our mistakes. The problem wasn’t making predictions, it was making them while disregarding important information that was right in front of us. This year I’m confident in the wave that’s been sweeping the country. It’s definitely not a Trump wave, but that doesn’t mean the Democrats aren’t capable of turning it into one. So here are my fearless predictions for 2019, followed by honest confidence levels.
Donald Trump – The president will not be impeached in 2019. (95%) He will be investigated with all the depth and vigor of a prostate exam, starting as soon as Democrats in the House can draft subpoenas. (99%) There will be a fight-to-the death over the release of Trump’s personal and business financial records (98%) which may have to be decided by the Supreme Court. (90%) Trump anticipated just such an eventuality when he fought to put Bret Kavanaugh on the bench. It’ll be a nasty fight, but the public’s right to know will win by a narrow margin. (70%)
Trump may find a way to claim victory over the border wall and the government shutdown, but it will be a pyrrhic one at best, and for all practical purposes, that fight will mark the beginning of the end of Trump’s ability to govern autocratically. (80%) He will find 2019 extremely trying. His ego will suffer badly and he won’t handle it well. He won’t back down gracefully on anything, even though he could win much public support if he did. Consequently, we will see an ever more erratic and unhinged president as his frustration grows. (90%) By the end of 2019, he will have lost the confidence of Independents, and his base will have shrunk to less than a third of the country. (70%)
Democrats – The confidence levels above would be higher if they didn’t depend on the Democrats handling their House majority properly. They’re extremely splintered, an occupational hazard of maintaining a broad tent.
Nancy Pelosi will be the new Speaker. (99%) She will begin (she probably already has) by trying to bring the disparate elements together. All those elements know their common enemy is Trump. The question is whether they can bridle their own passions and personal ambitions to agree that defeating Trump is priority number one no matter what else happens. There’s a decent chance that Pelosi can achieve that in the House (60%) especially with the example that when the Republicans failed to in 2106, Trump won.
But there are a lot of prominent Democrats outside the House. Bernie Sanders will play nice this time if the DNC treats him fairly and respectfully. (70%) Elizabeth Warren will not, however. She will continue to beat her own drum as long as people listen. In the end she was a strong Clinton supporter last time, and she’ll get on board with whomever is most likely to beat Trump this time too. (90%) She will run in the primaries, and her slogan will be “Pocahontas for President.” (100%)
Joe Biden will run if he’s convinced he can make a difference. As soon as he believes there’s someone better to carry the Democrats’ mantle, he’ll withdraw. (100%) Wild cards like Beto O’Rourke are impossible to predict. I hope he doesn’t lose sight of reality and accepts whatever role is necessary to defeat Trump. (??%)
The Economy – The bull market is over. There are too many headwinds to fight. Markets will remain unpredictable and ultrasensitive to developments in the trade war and actions of the Federal Reserve. (95%) Trump will not fire the Fed chairman. (100%) Unemployment will be shown to have bottomed out, and job creation will slow as corporate profits end their growth spurt. (100%) Whatever the economy does this year, Trump will own it no matter how he tries to shift blame. (100%)
The Mueller Investigation and Russia – Trump’s financial records will show a disturbing dependency on Russian banks and oligarchs. For years, western banks with the exception of Deutschebank, have been unwilling to lend the Trump Organization money after his record of failures and bankruptcies. It’s been suspected that he was being supported financially by Russian money, and that will turn out to be true. (90%) It will also be shown that Trump used every trick in the book to avoid taxes. He’s not alone in that, but the revelation that it’s true after all his denials will hurt his approval rating. (90%)
The only real fly in this ointment is doubt over whether the Democrats can hold it together. If they do, it’s going to be a very happy new year.