The Blue Wave that Wasn't

Tom Finnerty18 Nov, 2020 2 Min Read
Wake him when it's over.

There's a lot about this 2020 election which remains uncertain, but one thing that we know for sure is that the projected Blue Wave, which had the Democrats retaking the Senate and making double digit gains in the House, didn't happen. Thus far they've only picked up one senate seat, and even if they win the two run offs in Georgia -- an outcome that is not at all certain -- the best they can hope for is a 50-50 tie, with the vice president as tie-breaker.

And that's not even taking into account the possibility that West Virginia's Joe Manchin, the last of the Blue Dog Democrats, finally accepts that there's no longer a place for him in AOC's party and decides to cross the aisle.

In the House, Republicans have already picked up eight seats. If GOP candidates win all of the races where they're currently leading, they will have 213 seats (with 218 a majority), a far cry from the 196 GOP seats FiveThirtyEight projected just before the election. As Jim Geraghty pointed out, "[I]f ten Democratic members got stuck in traffic or on a delayed flight, Democrats would temporarily not have a majority in the chamber."

Party leadership is so anxious about this that Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are reportedly pressuring members not to accept positions in a Biden administration if they're offered, for fear that it would whittle away at their already razor thin majority.

This isn't the type of dominance which the Democrats had been banking on, and it goes a long way towards undermining their boldest electoral promises. Consequently, it wasn't surprising that stocks fell for so-called renewable energy firms in the days following the election, as the market reacted to the improbability that the left would be able to implement their environmental agenda in any permanent way.

First Solar, a manufacturer of solar panels, dropped 8.6%, while home solar provider SunPower fell 2.8%. SunRun, another provider of residential solar, closed flat after declining earlier, and fuel cell maker Plug Power slipped 2%. All have outperformed the broader market this year, with the solar power companies in particular gaining momentum in recent months as the polls swung in favor of Joe Biden in the presidential race and Democratic Senate candidates.

Which isn't to say that a President Biden couldn't do a lot of damage on his own to the economy overall, the oil and gas industry specifically, and to the environment ultimately. He is reportedly already planning to create a White House National Climate Council and embed climate specific offices in all (or most) executive departments.

But without the senate, with a precarious majority in the House, and without the backing of the Supreme Court, a Biden Administration would be prevented from sweeping changes. We shouldn't stop fighting, but we should also thank heaven for small favors.

Tom Finnerty writes from New England and Ontario.

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