'Inside Politics' forecast: Democrats' Deja vu
04:32 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Team Clinton went on offensive against FBI director after Friday's October surprise

The GOP is contemplating how the party will change after 2016 election

Washington CNN  — 

The people and strategic decisions central to the FBI’s October surprise, a case of déjà vu for Democrats of a certain age and talk of a GOP post-election fracturing: It’s all a part of our “Inside Politics” forecast.

1) Quick Clinton reaction is different – and telling

Like most Americans, the Clinton campaign received word of the FBI director’s stunning decision to notify Congress about reviewing emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server through news reports Friday afternoon.

The candidate made no mention of it at her Friday event that followed, a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. But a bit later, Clinton made a statement and took a few questions – a clear sign of the urgency that she and her team attach to the new development.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, a longtime Clinton watcher, knows her first reflex is to hunker down. But not this time.

“Democrats are still pretty confident of her outcome on Election Day, but they’re increasingly worried what comes after that,” Zeleny said. “The effect of this FBI new development is that it is going to make, if she wins, it much more difficult for her to govern in this town. So she had started some outreach to Republicans. She was trying to sort of smooth the way here. This has blown up all of that here and undermines her first 100 days if she wins.”

2) Clinton inner circle: Again in a crisis of its own making

Clinton’s inner circle is loyal, fiercely so, a tremendous asset in politics but also sometimes an albatross.

FBI Director James Comey’s announcement centers on new emails found on a device longtime Clinton confidante Huma Abedin shared with her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman from New York.

In the past couple of weeks, hacked emails released by WikiLeaks have provided new insights into Team Clinton.

Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post knows the players – and the complications – better than most.

“We realize that ‘Clinton World’ is fraught with tension, fraught with conflict, and it’s populated by a lot of people who have big titles and no power and people who have little titles or ambiguous titles and a lot of power,” Tumulty said.

3) Clinton drama – and Democrats worry they will pay

Democrats of a certain age know the history: major controversy around the Clintons – and someone else pays the price.

Exhibit A: Bill Clinton survives impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky investigation and goes on to finish his presidency with sky-high approval ratings. But two Republican speakers of the House end up losing their positions because of their own personal failings in the post-impeachment climate.

So now, as Democrats debate the impact of the FBI announcement, there is a worrisome sense of déjà vu.

The Democratic angst? That Hillary Clinton still wins the White House, but that the new announcement hurts the party in its efforts to win control of the House and Senate.

We have lived this movie before and thoughts to that effect were a constant from Democrats this weekend.

4) Follow the candidates … and scratch your head

Where the candidates go in this final week of campaigning will tell us a lot about their strategy – and their worries.

Hillary Clinton’s stops in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina are obvious choices – if she wins one or more of those it is near impossible to see a Donald Trump victory. Clinton also has a stop in Arizona, a traditionally red state where she sees a possibility.

And Trump?

His week began out West – in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.

New Mexico?

Jonathan Martin of The New York Times shared reporting from Republicans who think Trump is choosing poorly.

“You’ve got Donald Trump going to New Mexico, Colorado, Michigan – three states where if you called the top strategists in both parties, in those states they would almost all say those states are sure to go to Hillary. Yet Trump is spending his valuable final days in those three blue states,” Martin said.

“Hillary has a much different view of reality, much more conventional view of reality. She’s going to places that she is trying to protect like Ohio, which is a little bit tougher for her, and places that she’s trying to get, like Arizona.”

5) A new GOP? A new party altogether?

Will there be a new conservative party the next time America picks a president?

It is easy to brush aside such talk as melodramatic.

But, truth is, there are a lot of thoughtful people in the conservative movement who think it is a conversation that must be had once the 2016 dust settles.

The strife within the GOP will not be settled on Election Day. In fact, most Republicans believe not only have old wounds not been healed, but that new fissures are opening because of Trump’s candidacy.

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball shared reporting on the questions, and the players, as Republicans and conservatives debate the future.

“Increasingly, what you are hearing from conservatives, is that they are going to have to leave the Republican Party and start something new. You hear this in the rhetoric from the (independent candidate) Evan McMullin campaign, which has gained so much momentum in Utah …,” Ball said.

“Republican or conservative policy experts, think tank people, consultants who made a life in the Republican Party before, increasingly have come to the conclusion that the existing GOP apparatus is too broken. They are going to have to leave start something new. Could there actually be a splintering after the election? It’s increasingly looking like that might happen.”