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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Trump Catches Up in Campaign Finance

Elena Schneider and Lauren Egan at Politico:
Joe Biden’s campaign planned to bury Donald Trump in an avalanche of cash.

Instead, his allies are bracing for a slugfest without the benefit of a fatter wallet, as financial reports showed Trump outraising Biden in back-to-back months, hauling in huge sums after his 34 felony convictions and erasing Biden’s longstanding financial edge.

Democrats in recent days largely downplayed Trump’s new financial lead in the same way Trump’s allies had when Biden was running ahead in the money race — saying the president would have enough money to compete.

But privately, several Democratic strategists and donors were reeling.

“There was the strategy of raising all this money on the front end so we could have this huge edge,” said one Biden bundler, granted anonymity to speak candidly. “The whole point of it was to come out with a sizable cash advantage and, you know, we’re now even and it’s June. … I have no other word for it other than ‘depression’ among Biden supporters.”

Another major Biden bundler, also granted anonymity, called the development “disappointing, but not surprising.”

In the 2024 money race, not only was Trump out-raising Biden, but he also had more cash on hand. And Republican megadonors, too, rolled out enormous checks for Trump in recent days, including $50 million from longtime GOP donor Timothy Mellon to a pro-Trump super PAC.

Several Biden donors insisted that they expected — and planned — for Trump to close the gap after he clinched the Republican nomination, comparing it to when Mitt Romney caught up to then-President Barack Obama in fundraising over the summer of 2012. Part of the disparity between the campaigns was that Biden was spending more heavily, building “out an unbelievable campaign structure in battleground states,” while “Trump has done nothing,” said Chip Forrester, co-chair of the Biden-Harris Southern finance committee.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Democrats Get More Liberal

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

Justin McCarthy at Gallup:

The overall increase in liberal views on both social and economic issues is driven exclusively by Democrats.

When comparing this year’s figures with measures taken 10 and 20 years ago, Democrats’ liberal identification on social issues has increased by 30 points from 2004 to now. On economic issues, Democrats’ liberal identification has nearly doubled.

Meanwhile, Republicans and independents are no more, and no less, likely to identify as liberal on social or economic issues than they were in 2004 or 2014.

Independents’ ideological perspectives are nearly exactly what they were in 2004 and 2014. They remain most likely to say their views on both kinds of issues are moderate.

Republicans have become more conservative on social and especially economic issues. They are somewhat less moderate than in the past on social issues and are half as likely now as in 2004 to express moderate views on the economy. As was the case in 2004, few Republicans identify as liberal on either kind of issue.

Saturday, June 22, 2024


Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good.  Neither is the condition of the conservative and libertarian movements.

Ben Rothove at The Washington Examiner:
Turning Point USA was once merely a somewhat controversial right-wing student organization, but it has quickly turned into one of the most destructive forces in Republican politics.

Last weekend, Turning Point hosted its “People’s Convention” in Detroit with headliners including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), and former President Donald Trump. Beyond politicians, controversial speakers at the event included conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, “Pizzagate” promoter Jack Posobiec, and Candace Owens, who recently left the Daily Wire because of her ignorant remarks about Israel.

Turning Point has also had a considerable number of personnel problems. The organization had to fire a TPUSA ambassador earlier this year after she posted on X, “The Zionist Jews controlling our planet are all pedophiles who have no regard for the sanctity of human life and purity,” while a top official at Turning Point Action resigned in April after being accused of forging more than 100 signatures to get on the ballot for a state legislature election.

Turning Point, as it now stands, is doing far more harm than good for the conservative movement.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Russian Influence Operations 2024

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracy.  Russia helped Trump through 2020.

Russian influence operations have changed. After an abortive coup, Putin killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led earlier efforts.  The Russians are now doing things in-house, and poorly. Julia Ioffe at Puck:

Some of the mistakes are just weird, like the title of one of the Doppelganger sites, “50 States of Lie.” (Fifty states of lie? It just sounds wrong.) Or like the one I discovered on Across the Line, one of the websites in the Doppelganger network. “According to recent polls,” an article on the website proclaimed, “it is refugees who are mostly in favor of Biden’s second term and strongly support him, calling him their ‘daddy.’” (Daddy?!) Others, true to the directives we know were given to the staff of the agencies to imitate average conservative Americans, created posts that sounded more like Yosemite Sam. “I protect my home and my rights here in Texas, not listenin’ to them Washington games,” one such Telegram comment said. “We got bigger things to worry ‘bout, like illegal immigrants messin’ up our land. Don’t mess with Texas!” (The apostrophes are particularly amusing because, if there’s one thing we’ve all noticed on social media, it’s that people are sticklers about punctuation.)

And if that didn’t make you laugh, consider the fact that OpenAI found that these agencies were using ChatGPT to generate comments and posts—and then just threw everything up online, including ChatGPT’s error messages. Here’s an amazing screenshot, also from OpenAI’s report.

russia influence 2024 election
A Russian armed with ChatGPT, in other words, is still a Russian.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Obvious Lies

Tom Nichols at The Atlantic:
[If] Trump is doing so well, why is his campaign and its support system in right-wing media resorting to easily disproved lies? Joe Biden’s age has been a brutal factor in keeping his poll numbers low. The president is weaker of voice and stiffer of gait than he was even a few years ago, and more likely now to mangle a word or phrase. The GOP has its pick of examples to use to keep making that case, yet the party resorts to cheap tricks such as deceptive video editing.

Last week, for example, Biden was at the G7 meeting in Italy. The Republican National Committee released a video of him apparently wandering off from a group at a skydiving exhibition, like a confused grandpa looking for the van back to the senior-citizens home. The New York Post dutifully ran with the video. It looked bad—but as presented, it was a lie. Biden was turning to talk to a paratrooper just a few yards to his left.

The RNC video and the Post’s obedient amplification weren’t based on spin or interpretation. Someone had to have looked at that video of Biden in Europe and made the conscious decision to create a lie. Let’s just cut the frame right there so that Biden looks like he wandered off. By the time anyone figures it out, it won’t matter.

The video made the rounds, and maybe that’s all the RNC wanted. A lie, as the saying goes, gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. And, as I often point out, I am a grown-up who has worked with local and national politicians. I am fully aware that politics ain’t beanbag and dirty tricks are part of the game. But if your candidate is doing well, why take the risk? A party that thinks its candidate is in control doesn’t take the chance of pulling the spotlight away from the opponent, which is exactly what happens when campaign operatives get caught in a lie.

The campaign engaged in a similarly baffling move this past weekend, when Trump went to Detroit. The Trump courtier Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News to congratulate him for speaking to 8,000 people at a Black church. Trump did, in fact, speak at a Black church—but to a crowd of perhaps 100 or so mostly white people in a half-empty space that couldn’t hold 8,000 people even if seats were installed in the rafters and on the roof. (Its pastor gamely said the next day that he was surprised at the number of Black people who actually attended, considering that some had initially laughed at him when he approached them on the street about the event.)

So why not take the win, run the video of Trump with a Black pastor, and leave it at that? Why go for the big lie and then look foolish?

Monday, June 17, 2024

"Convicted Criminal"

In Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politicswe look at Trump's dishonesty and disregard for the rule of law.

Our next book will look at the 2024 campaign and the impact of Trump's legal problemsNew York courts have found that he is a rapist and a fraudAnd he is now a convicted criminal.

Arlette Saenz and Sam Fossum at CNN:

The Biden campaign is rolling out a new ad in battleground states framing the election as a choice between a “convicted criminal” and a president “fighting for your family” in its latest effort to seize on Donald Trump’s conviction in his criminal hush money trial in its appeal to voters.

It marks the first time President Joe Biden’s campaign has used Trump’s legal woes in its television advertising campaigns, setting up a major contrast push as the two prepare to face off in their first debate, which will be hosted by CNN on June 27. The campaign spot, titled “Character Matters,” is part of a $50 million ad buy in June and will run on television and internet-connected TV in battleground states and on national cable, the campaign announced Monday.

For months, Biden and his team refrained from using Trump’s legal woes in their arguments against him. But that changed in the days after Trump was found guilty in New York.

The campaign has leaned into using the verdict as further evidence the former president is unfit for office and has branded him a “convicted felon” in statements. Biden first addressed Trump’s conviction one day after the jury’s unanimous verdict, saying in remarks at the White House that it reaffirmed “the American principle that no one is above the law.”

Three days later, the president used the term “convicted felon” to describe his opponent at a Connecticut fundraiser.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Housing Costs in 2024

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the politics of economic policy

Peder Schaefer at Politico:
By nearly every metric, it’s never been more expensive to buy a home in America.

The average sale price for a home in 2024 is a record high $513,100, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is near 7 percent and the ratio of the median single-family home sale price to household income — a good proxy for tracking nationwide home affordability — is 7.68 to 1, an all-time record.

Naturally, housing concerns loom large in the race for the White House: An April Michigan Ross/Financial Times poll showed that 27 percent of Americans assess housing costs as one of their top three economic issues as they make their vote for president, ranking higher than government spending, the national debt, wages or even interest rates.

Younger voters are especially energized around housing issues, the poll showed, with 31 percent of all voters 18-44 marking it as a top economic issue, tied with gas prices and wages.