Delving Into the Election Results: What it Means for Travel Plazas – How the Winners Won

NATSO has planned a detailed post-election analysis and preview of the next Congress and Presidential Administration for lunch on Monday, January 23, 2017 during The NATSO Show.

In the coming weeks before the detailed analysis in Savannah, NATSO will be taking a “deep dive” into the 2016 election results, examining what they mean for the various public policy issues that affect the truckstop and travel plaza industry. 

Today, NATSO examines how the election results alter the national political landscape.

Presidential Race
Defying expectations among pundits and pollsters alike, President-elect Trump won the 2016 presidential election by breaking open Hillary Clinton’s “firewall” in the Midwest.  High turnout and unprecedented Republican support among rural voters in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio provided Trump with the electoral votes he needed, despite his losing the popular vote.  Meanwhile, Clinton’s gains in traditionally Republican suburbs were weaker than anticipated. Clinton’s support among urban nonwhite voters was less than expected.

As the Map Below indicates, Hillary Clinton outperformed President Obama’s 2012 results in southwestern states such as Texas, Arizona, and California.  However, the shift was not enough to flip Arizona, and California and Texas were not competitive, negating any potential electoral college gain. 

Conversely, Donald trump dramatically improved upon Mitt Romney’s numbers with rural non-college white voters that are disproportionately located in the Midwest.  Clinton could not overcome these losses with smaller gains among suburban, college-educated voters, and as a result Trump won key battlegrounds such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

President-elect Trump does not have a traditional cadre of Washington insiders and donors to build out his cabinet and circle of advisers.  It appears as though his transition team is in the process of putting together one of the more eclectic and controversial presidential cabinets in modern history, comprised of some old-time Washington insiders who have been loyal to Donald Trump throughout his presidential campaign; industry titans; and conservative activists. 



Republicans maintained control of the Senate, defeating numerous Democratic challengers who polls showed were leading going into Election Day.  Although many pundits had predicted that Trump would harm down-ballot Republicans, just the opposite occurred: In fact, many Senate incumbents were pulled along by President-elect Trump’s unanticipated strength in several key battleground states that Trump won. 

Senate.pngPatrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin all made late comebacks to win reelection and help ensure Republicans maintained control of the Senate.  Other Republican incumbents such as Marco Rubio of Florida and Rob Portman of Ohio fared well in the face of a climate of high voter dissatisfaction with the “Washington establishment.” 

Democrats did gain two seats, however: Tammy Duckworth of Illinois defeated Sen. Mark Kirk, and Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire defeated Sen. Kelly Ayotte.  In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto defeated Republican Rep. Joe Heck to retain the seat held by retiring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  

As a result, although Republicans retain control, the Senate will be narrowly divided 52-48.  Given that several Republican senaors – most prominently , Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Susan Collins of Maine – have publicly opposed Donald Trump, the soon-to-be-president may find it difficult to get some of his top priorities through the upper chamber. 

House of Representatives
Republicans retained control of the House, although Democrats picked up a handful of seats.  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will have a difficult time, however, maintaining control of a divided caucus, as traditional, “establishment” Republicans who favor policies such as free trade deregulating Wall Street will have to contend with a growing segment of the Republican caucus – and Republican voters – who have more populist views.


State-Level Results
Overall, state control will remain unchanged in 38 states.  Republican governors will control three additional states: Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  The North Carolina governor’s race is still being disputed, and control of New York’s state senate remains up in the air as well.

WhoWillControl.pngMissouri, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Iowa have divided government, but their legislatures and governor will be under Republican control in 2017.  Washington state will technically be under full Democratic control, though Republicans will control the state Senate because one Democrat joined their caucus.

Connecticut and Vermont will be divided after having full Democrat control, as will Louisiana and Nevada after Republican control.  Both chambers in Nevada switched to Democrats.  Minnesota and New Mexico now have Democrat and Republican legislatures, respectively, but remain divided overall. 

David Fialkov's photo

David Fialkov

David Fialkov is the Vice President of Government Relations, as well as the Legislative and Regulatory Counsel, at NATSO. In this capacity, Mr. Fialkov directs NATSO's legislative, regulatory, and legal strategy on a range of issues, including transportation, energy and fuels, labor, data security, and taxes. Mr. Fialkov also oversees NATSO's political engagement program, including individualized legal and political counsel to member companies. Prior to joining NATSO, Mr. Fialkov was the senior associate in the Government Affairs and Public Policy practice at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C. At Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov advised clients on legislative, regulatory, and political issues, as well as legal concerns. His primary clients included trade associations representing the motor fuel wholesale and retail industries, including the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. Mr. Fialkov's focus was not only on the motor fuels business, but also the litany of other issues that retailers confront, including labor matters, foodservice issues, healthcare and employment issues, tax matters and data security. Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School. He received his B.S. Summa cum laude with highest honors from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Allison and daughter Lilah. More
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