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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Todd Akin, the 2017 Edition

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.

On Friday, Trump gave an odd, rambling speech, nominally in support of appointed Senator Luther Strange in the Alabama runoff. Jonathan Martin at NYT:
“If Luther doesn’t win, they’re not going to say we picked up 25 points in a very short period of time, they’re going say, ‘Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was unable to pull his candidate across the line,’” he predicted to 7,500 Alabamians at a rally on Friday night as Mr. Strange looked on.

His blurting out of his political stage directions was a vintage moment of Trumpian indiscretion. But it also had the benefit of being accurate. The contest between Mr. Strange and Roy Moore, a former State Supreme Court justice and evangelical firebrand, is the most significant test yet of the president’s power to sway the party’s conservative base.
...
“If Roy Moore wins, Bannon and all the other of those people will pop out of the woodwork everywhere,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby, the veteran Alabama Republican, referring to the former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who has taken a leading role against the preferred candidate of his former boss. 
Moore was removed from the bench for defying a court order to take down the Ten Commandments from the State Supreme Court.  In the past, he supported banning homosexual acts.
It is the sort of message that terrifies Republican elites, who fear he could be a more weaponized version of Todd Akin, the 2012 Missouri Senate candidate who lost after saying women’s bodies could block a pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”
“Roy Moore would be the Todd Akin of 2017 and 2018 for every Republican on the ballot,” said Karl Rove, the Republican strategist, who is aligned with the Senate Leadership Fund. “Republicans will be asked, ‘Do you agree homosexuality should be punished by death, do you believe 9/11 was a result of God’s anger?’ He’ll say outrageous things, the media will play it up, and every Republican will be asked, ‘Do you agree with that?’”
...
 “I think they’ll go after that seat,” Mr. Shelby said of the Democrats’ approach should Mr. Moore win on Tuesday. That is less likely if Mr. Strange captures the nomination, he said. “If Luther wins, he’s in.”
The Senate Democratic campaign arm has lined up a pollster to test Mr. Jones’s strengths and Mr. Moore’s vulnerabilities. And Alabama Democrats are openly rooting for the former judge.
 “We want Roy Moore to win that primary,” said Patricia Todd, a Democratic state representative from Birmingham. “He gives us a better shot in the general election.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Russians Hacked Election Systems in 2016

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Jeff Mulvihill and Jake Pearson report at AP:
The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year’s presidential election.

The notification came roughly a year after U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia. The states that told The Associated Press they had been targeted included some key political battlegrounds, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The AP contacted every state election office to determine which ones had been informed that their election systems had been targeted. The others confirming were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Being targeted does not mean that sensitive voter data was manipulated or results were changed. A hacker targeting a system without getting inside is similar to a burglar circling a house checking for unlocked doors and windows.

Even so, the widespread nature of the attempts and the yearlong lag time in notification from Homeland Security raised concerns among some election officials and lawmakers.

Low Life Expectancy and Trump Support

Defying the Odds goes into some length on the economic and social distress that boosted Trump. Ironiclly,
Senate Republicans have supported unpopular legislation that would have worsened this distress.

At the American Journal of Public Health, Jacob Bor has an article titled "Diverging Life Expectancies and Voting Patterns in the 2016 US Presidential Election."

The abstract:
Objectives. To assess whether voting patterns in the 2016 US presidential election were correlated with long-run trends in county life expectancy.
Methods. I examined county-level voting data from the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections and assessed Donald Trump’s share of the 2016 vote, change in the Republican vote share between 2008 and 2016, and changes in absolute numbers of Democratic and Republican votes. County-level estimates of life expectancy at birth were obtained for 1980 and 2014 from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Results. Changes in county life expectancy from 1980 to 2014 were strongly negatively associated with Trump’s vote share, with less support for Trump in counties experiencing greater survival gains. Counties in which life expectancy stagnated or declined saw a 10-percentage-point increase in the Republican vote share between 2008 and 2016.
Conclusions. Residents of counties left out from broader life expectancy gains abandoned the Democratic Party in the 2016 presidential election. Since coming to power, the Trump administration has proposed cuts to health insurance for the poor, social programs, health research, and environmental and worker protections, which are key determinants of population health. Health gaps likely will continue to widen without significant public investment in population health.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trump, Buchanan, Sam Francis, and Paleocon Racism

In Defying the Odds, we note that Pat Buchanan's 1992 campaign foreshadowed the Trump campaign:
After growing up in Washington, DC, earning degrees at Georgetown and Columbia, working as a White House aide in two Republican administrations, and logging many hours on the television talk-show circuit, Buchanan was yet another insider who took up outsiderism. Specifically, he became a spokesperson for a faction of conservatism that disdained internationalism and free trade, and even flirted with Holocaust denial. Bush’s support for NAFTA and Israel outraged him. “He is yesterday and we are tomorrow,” Buchanan said in his announcement speech. “He is a globalist and we are nationalists. He believes in some Pax Universalis; we believe in the Old Republic. He would put American's wealth and power at the service of some vague New World Order; we will put America first.” 
...
In 2016, Pat Buchanan looked back at his 1992 race and told journalist Jeff Greenfield: “Those issues started maturing. Now we’ve lost 55,000 factories. … When those consequences came rolling in, all of a sudden you’ve got an angry country. We were out there warning what was coming.” 
At The New York Times, David Brooks writes of Buchanan and palecon writer Sam Francis:
The Buchanan campaign was the first run at what we now know as Trumpian populism. In a profile of Francis called “The Castaway,” Michael Brendan Dougherty smartly observed that Buchanan and Francis weren’t just against government, they were against the entire cultural hegemony of the ruling class.
Francis wrote a wickedly brilliant 1996 essay on Buchanan, “From Household to Nation”: “The ‘culture war’ for Buchanan is not Republican swaggering about family values and dirty movies but a battle over whether the nation itself can continue to exist under the onslaught of the militant secularism, acquisitive egoism, economic and political globalism, demographic inundation, and unchecked state centralism supported by the ruling class.”
Francis urged Buchanan to run an unorthodox campaign (of the sort Trump ended up running), and was ignored. “If Buchanan loses the nomination, it will be because his time has not yet come,” Francis wrote. The moment would end up coming in 2016, 11 years after Francis’ death.
Francis’ thought was infected by the same cancer that may destroy Trumpism. Francis was a racist. His friends and allies counseled him not to express his racist views openly, but people like that always go there, sooner or later.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Manafort Is In a Lot of Trouble

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

At WP, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Adam Entous report:
Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.

The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team as they probe whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort’s offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokeswoman for Deripaska dismissed the email ex­changes as scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”
At NYT, Kenneth P. Vogel and Jo Becker report:
Paul J. Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Trump who is at the center of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, is working for allies of the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region to help administer and promote a referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq.
The United States opposes the referendum, but Mr. Manafort has carved out a long and lucrative career advising foreign clients whose interests have occasionally diverged from American foreign policy. And he has continued soliciting international business even as his past international work has become a focus of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into ties between Russia and Mr. Trump and his associates, including possible collusion between them to influence the presidential election.
In fact, the work for the Kurdish group appears to have been initiated this summer around the time that federal authorities working for Mr. Mueller raided Mr. Manafort’s home in Virginia and informed him that they planned to indict him.
At NYT, Michael S. Schmidt:
Mr. Mueller has asked for all internal White House communications about numerous former campaign officials, including Paul J. Manafort, the former campaign chairman who is now under federal investigation. The document request also seeks communications about Mr. Trump’s campaign foreign policy team: Carter Page, J. D. Gordon, Keith Kellogg, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Russia: Deep Impact

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

If a star of fake wrestling shows can become president, then a guy who played a president (not to mention God) can talk about Russia.




Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Wire, DC Edition

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Axios:
The FBI wiretapped Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, both before and after the election, CNN reports. According to the report, those taps were active during a "period when Manafort was known to talk" to President Trump, but not at the time Manafort attended a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer.
Three sources told CNN the investigators were concerned Manafort had "encouraged Russians to help with the campaign."
The taps were authorized by a FISA court, per CNN, a step that requires high-level approval and significant documentation. A storage facility belonging to Manafort was also searched.
 The investigation into Manafort began in 2014, over consulting work he did in Ukraine. He is now a central focus of Robert Mueller's investigation. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Another bombshell, per the NY Times: after agents executed a search of Manafort's home in July, prosecutors "told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him."