Bob Bernick’s Notebook: 2016 Crystal Ball

Bob BernickSo here it goes, my 2016 election predictions, with a little commentary along the way.

President: Hillary Clinton wins – and wins rather easily in the end. She may get fewer than 300 Electoral College votes – she needs just 270.

Yes, two weeks ago it looked like a blowout.

Yes, Republican Donald Trump has closed strongly, and may well win Florida, Nevada, and a few other states that Clinton hoped to pick up.

But the hard fact is this race was decided some time ago. First, because any Democratic candidate has such an easier path to 270. Secondly, because Trump is undoubtedly the worst major party candidate in recent memory.

Utah presidential vote: Trump wins here, but maybe with only 35-to-37 percent of the vote. Evan McMullin finishes second, with Clinton coming in third.

(I’ll have a few thoughts on this outcome towards the end of this column.)

Governor: Republican Gary Herbert wins his third gubernatorial race, well positioning him to take some tough stands over the next four years.

We’ll see if Herbert tries to lead out on increased taxes for public education and other important matters.

Attorney general, treasurer and auditor all stay in Republican hands.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who appeared to be in real political trouble just 18 months ago, wins easily. There were some GOP big-hitters out looking for a good conservative to challenge Lee back in 2015, but no one of substance stepped forward.

Lee also rehabilitated himself after his disastrous shutting down of the federal government, a move that cost Utah in the tens of millions of dollars.

Lee, I believe, did himself proudly by refusing to endorse Trump from the outset. Other GOP officeholders could learn from his courage.

All four GOP incumbent U.S. House members – including Rep. Mia Love – win again.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, can then start investigating now-President Hillary Clinton for four more years – no doubt wasting a lot of time and taxpayer money in the process.

Clinton is much disliked in Utah, and the always-ambitious Chaffetz may see Clinton-bashing as a stepping-stone to the U.S. Senate or governorship. Either way, a lot of us will get sick of his hyper-partisanship.

Democrat Doug Owens ran a better, well-funded campaign against Love this year than in 2014, but the redrawn 4th District is just too Republican – the presidential race too bitter and partisan for Owens to make any headway.

Democrats in the Utah House pickup three seats – going from a lowly 12 members to 15.

The state Senate remains unchanged in partisan make-up – just five Democrats to 24 Republicans.

Salt Lake County Democratic Mayor Ben McAdams wins a second term – he’s a popular guy, and one Utah Republicans should be worried about in the future.

Now back to the Utah presidential race – and allow me to climb onto my Count My Vote/SB54 soapbox once again.

Look for great irony in Utah Republican Party leaders crowing about a 35 percent Trump win in this very Republican state.

If Trump were to lose Utah’s six Electoral College votes, he would certainly lose the presidency – no doubt about that.

But why is it OK to have 65 percent of Utahns NOT want Trump to be president, yet the man gets all of Utah’s presidential votes?

State GOP leaders are crying like mad that the SB54 dual-route to the primary could allow three, four, even six party candidates in the closed GOP primary.

Such numbers could mean, in rare cases, that the top primary vote-getter would have less than 50 percent of the vote.

Death, destructing, the end of the Utah way of life – if such a thing were to happen, the GOP bosses argue.

So, the GOP bosses tell us, we have to have some kind of run off process if a candidate doesn’t win a majority of the primary vote – or the world will end.

Really?

It is OK to have Utah give its presidential votes to a much-disliked guy who wins 35 percent of the vote, but it is unacceptable, un-democratic for Republicans to nominate some GOP candidate to the Tooele County treasurer’s race with 49 percent of the vote in a three-way primary race?

Absurd, of course.

But when you’ve got all the political power, as GOP bosses in Utah do, you don’t have to act rationally.

In any case, let’s hope that after this terribly negative, bizarre presidential race, Americans can begin to heal, and our federal government leaders can compromise to move this nation forward.

At least one can hope so.