New Year predictions are ubiquitous, easy and cheap — so count us in. We’re often wrong, but seldom in doubt.
Will the Mueller investigation find Russia/Trump campaign collusion?
Pignanelli: “The Russians are not our friends”—Sen. Mitch McConnell
The investigation is uncovering smoke, which will reveal some combustion. Either the evidence indicates Trump campaign operatives behaved like Keystone cops running around talking to Russians without influencing election outcomes. Or the report uncovers that Russian influence in our government and society is much greater than Americans know and tolerate — indicting parties, officials and others with collusion and/or incompetence.
Webb: Certainly, the Russians tried to interfere with the election. But that’s much different than collusion. Hundreds of obsessed reporters have been searching for a smoking gun. No gun and very little smoke. Meanwhile, possible FBI anti-Trump bias and the phony Trump dossier is smoldering. Might be a conflagration there.
Will Donald Trump be indicted, impeached, or otherwise be hounded from office in 2018?
Pignanelli: No. National Democrats want Trump around because they view him as “extra help” in the elections.
Webb: In the dreams of leftists, yes. In reality, no chance.
Will the 4th Congressional District race between Mia Love and Ben McAdams be as heated and intense as predicted by national politicos?
Pignanelli: Yep. Both national parties really, really, really want this seat.
Webb: McAdams will be unjustly attacked as a flaming liberal and out of touch with Utah values. Love will be unjustly attacked as a right-wing Trump sycophant and a tool of the ultrawealthy. Fun campaign ahead.
Are there more “shoes to drop” in the sexual harassment controversy that could impact state and local elections?
Pignanelli: Credible national and local sources are whispering that allegations of similar inappropriate conduct against current/former officials will be revealed. Reactions by colleagues will flavor the elections.
Webb: Certainly, more accusations will come at the national level. I have no idea about state and local.
Will GOP tax reform be a defining issue in the 2018 election?
Pignanelli: At this political roulette table, National Republicans placed all their chips on black and Congressional Democrats dumped everything on red. This interesting gambling strategy is dependent upon the economy in 2018.
Webb: Tax reform will boost Republicans. The stage is set for happy voters enjoying strong economic expansion.
Will Republicans hold on to U.S. House and Senate majorities in the November elections?
Pignanelli: See answer to tax reform question.
Webb: Given the historical trend of major mid-term losses to the party in power, it will be remarkable if the GOP holds the Senate and House. Nevertheless, I think Republicans beat the odds, barely.
Will Orrin Hatch seek re-election, retire and will Mitt Romney be the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate?
Pignanelli: I am sticking to my two-year-old prediction that Hatch runs again. It is almost January, and so far I'm right.
Webb: Hatch retires and Romney runs — and wins.
Will Utah regain the top spot as the best state for business?
Pignanelli: North Carolina and Texas beat us? Really? Demoting our state to No. 3 was an obvious undeserved bone thrown to Southern states. Gov. Gary Herbert has appointed a great economic development team who will get us back to the top in 2018.
Webb: If we’re in the top five or so, we’re fine. Utah has to work extra hard to stay on top because several other states enjoy inherent advantages like climate, oceans, etc.
Election years are notorious impediments to congressional action. In 2018, will Congress accomplish anything (fund CHIP, begin a trillion-dollar infrastructure program, build the wall, allow Dreamers to stay)?
Pignanelli: The hope and future of this country (aka Dreamers) get to stay, but only through the compromise of a silly wall construction. Political realities likely prevent massive infrastructure funding.
Webb: With a president oblivious to political consequences and a Congress emboldened by sweet tax reform victory, the Republicans will be aggressive. They will fund CHIP, provide a way for Dreamers to stay, and get started on infrastructure and entitlement reform.
Which of the five ballot initiatives will eventually become law?
Pignanelli: None. (Caveat: If an important religious institution refrains from public guidance, the marijuana initiative could pass).
Webb: Count My Vote wins, institutionalizing the current popular system. Medicaid expansion also makes the ballot and wins.
Will we see progress on the homeless situation, or does it become an election year political football?
Pignanelli: Both results occur — highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of policy initiatives in election years.
Webb: Many homeless people will be helped. Political winner is Speaker Greg Hughes, seen as taking leadership when it was needed.
Will the Legislature reform Utah’s tax system?
Pignanelli: Key legislators spent considerable effort this summer reviewing many proposals, which compel passage of several.
Webb: Modest progress on broadening the tax base and lowering rates and producing a bit more money for education.
Will Pignanelli and Webb ever get anything right? Our standard answers:
Pignanelli: I inhabit a state of self-delusion so I know I'm right, and when I worry about being wrong, a glass of wine always restores confidence.
Webb: I’ve only been wrong once in my life. It was when I thought I made a mistake. My wife will verify.