Bob Bernick’s notebook: 2018 election predictions

Here are my election predictions for this 2018 cycle, with the understanding that they are NOT endorsements, but just who I think will win:

Biggest race of the year, the 4th Congressional District.

I think Ben McAdams squeaks by GOP Rep. Mia Love.

I wouldn’t have said that a week ago, certainly not two weeks ago.

Love can still win, of course. I don’t see Democrat McAdams, the Salt Lake County mayor, winning by much, 1 percentage point or less.

But GOP President Donald Trump is not well liked in the 4th District.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen told me this week upwards of 70 percent of county voters could cast ballots.

The county makes up most of the 4th District, and McAdams is a popular mayor, a moderate Democrat who showed during his time in the Utah Senate that he can get along with Republicans and work compromises.

But there seems to be a bit of a blue wave in Utah this year – and with everything else happening I see McAdams winning this one.

We may not know the winner Tuesday night; this could be decided by provisional ballots.

Republicans win every other congressional races – Mitt Romney is our next U.S. senator; Rep. Rob Bishop wins his last term in the House (he says he will retire in 2020; Reps. Chris Stewart in the 2nd and John Curtis in the 3rd win big re-elections.

I think Democrats pick up two seats in the Utah House, maybe one in Ogden and one in Salt Lake County.

I think the numbers stay the same in the state Senate – Democrats only holding five of 29 seats.

The Legislature remains heavily Republican.

Now for the ballot measures:

I think Prop 2 – medical marijuana – passes, but barely. It has already been announced that Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will call a mid-November special session where a compromise on medical marijuana will be passed, no matter what happens to Prop 2 next Tuesday.

But I think there are enough folks out there who didn’t like the LDS Church coming out against Prop 2 that a majority can be found for it.

Prop 3, full expansion of Medicaid, will pass. GOP lawmakers may tweak it in the 2019 general session, but they had better be careful.

Prop 4, the Better Boundaries, anti-gerrymandering redistricting commission, passes. Maybe by 60 percent or more.

The Republican-controlled Legislature will not let this independent commission law stand. They will mess it up in some partisan manner. We’ll see what the voter backlash may be.

Question 1, the non-binding referendum on whether to increase the state gasoline tax by 10 cents per gallon, most of the money going to education, will fail.

This is unfortunate. But the ballot question is too confusing to the average voter: Why raise the gas tax if we want more money for schools?

The Our Schools Now citizen initiative petition would have raised the personal income and sales taxes slightly – and gotten $750 million annually into schools.

But OSN leaders decided to compromise with GOP leaders and Herbert; the gas tax voter question being part of the deal.

Herbert and lawmakers won’t raise the gas tax 10 cents without approval Tuesday. But they may try to find some other way to get more sales tax money into schools – and let’s hope they do.

State Constitutional Amendment C, which would allow the Legislature to call itself into special sessions on a limites basis, will fail.

Even though polling by Dan Jones & Associates shows the Utah Legislature has relatively good job approval ratings, many Utahns still don’t trust the amorphous body. And I’m hearing folks saying the less time the Legislature is on Capitol Hill, the better for everyone.

The two other constitutional amendments are property tax related. Voters don’t understand them, and they may fail if voters see no real need to change the state’s most basic governing document.

The basic takeaway as I see it now:

Utahns as a whole don’t much like Trump (although many Utah Republicans do).

They do like Romney.

They like the direction the state itself is going, don’t like how the country is being run, and many suburban Republicans are willing to consider a moderate Democratic candidate – as long as the state as a whole is run by Republicans.

If you haven’t voted yet; do it.

Your mail-in ballot must be postmark by Monday. If you miss that deadline, you can still fill out your mail-in ballot and drop it off Tuesday at any polling place.

And you can vote in person Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.