Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Gerald F. Seib and Patrick F. O'Connor write at The Wall Street Journal:
A few Republicans saw the explosion coming long ago. As early as 2001, Tim Pawlenty, later Minnesota’s governor and a presidential candidate, warned that the GOP needed “to be the party of Sam’s Club, not just the country club.”
Mr. Buchanan tapped into anti-immigration anger in his first presidential campaign in 1992. “We were saying: ‘This is what’s going to happen,’” Mr. Buchanan recalls. “And it happened.”
Why did so many other supposedly smart politicians not see Mr. Trump’s soldiers gathering?
“It really is the elitism,” says Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia. The attitude of many in the party was “we’re smart, and they’re stupid, and we’ll just feed them abortion and guns,” he says. “It didn’t have to be this way.”
In his speech to the Republican Convention in 1992, Mr. Buchanan challenged the party to stand up for middle-class workers still struggling to emerge from that era’s recession. He cited loggers in northern California put out of work to protect the spotted owl and Korean-American business owners who stood up to looters during the Los Angeles riots.
“They are our people, and we need to reconnect with them,” said Mr. Buchanan, a former White House aide to Messrs. Nixon and Reagan. “We need to let them know we know they’re hurting.”
Republican leaders thought Mr. Buchanan’s failure showed the limited appeal of his message. A better explanation is that much of it was siphoned away by billionaire populist Ross Perot, who ran in 1992 as an independent and in 1996 as a third-party candidate. He got 19% of the vote in 1992.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Obamacare Is Plotzing, Trump Is Bobbling

Amy Goldstein reports at The Washington Post:
Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the percentage increase of this year’s plans, according to new government figures.
The steep increase in rates serves broadly to confirm what has become evident piecemeal in recent months: Prompted by a burden of unexpectedly sick Affordable Care Act customers, some insurers are dropping out while many remaining companies are struggling to cover their costs.
The figures, announced by federal officials Monday, injected a new round of uncertainty into the future of the insurance exchanges that are a core feature of the 2010 health-care law. Health policy experts said the rising prices and shrinking insurance options add tumult to the coming ACA enrollment season. The data immediately touched off a fresh round of criticism among the ACA’s persistent Republican congressional opponents.
In disclosing the 2017 rates, officials played down the impact of higher prices on consumers. They said that more than 8 in 10 consumers will qualify for ACA subsidies that will cushion them from the effects of more-expensive insurance. And they noted that as premiums go up, more Americans will be eligible for the tax credits.
Even with this political gift in hand, Trump managed to bobble it. CNN reports:
Donald Trump claimed Tuesday during an event with staff at his resort here that his employees are having issues with Obamacare -- an account contradicted by his property's general manager -- amid the news that President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation is facing soaring premiums.
"I can say that all of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare," Trump said. "What they're going through with their health care is horrible because of Obamacare, so we'll repeal it and replace it."
Trump's comments sparked questions about whether his employees receive insurance through the health insurance exchanges set up under Obama's signature law, which would mean he does not offer private health insurance to those employees.
Asked by a reporter after the event whether his employees have health care coverage through Obamacare, Trump replied: "Some of them. Most of them, no."
Clarifying Trump's remarks, the general manager of Trump's property in Doral, David Feder, said "99% of our employees are insured through our hotel."
"Over 90%, without a doubt," he added.

Blue Tides and Blank Checks

House Republicans, implicitly conceding Bob Dole's defeat in the Presidential race, are undertaking a television advertising campaign to argue that a Republican Congress is needed to deny President Clinton ''a blank check.''

The National Republican Congressional Committee plans to spend about $4 million in 50 tough House districts on a spot reminding voters of what Mr. Clinton and the Democrats did or tried to do in 1993 and 1994, before the Republicans took control of Congress.

The advertisement begins with an announcer saying: ''What would happen if the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House? Been there, done that.'' Then it shows newspaper headlines from 1993 and 1994 involving Mr. Clinton and taxes, health care and waste in Washington.

While the picture on the screen shows men around a table with money on it, the announcer says, ''The liberal special interests, aligned with Clinton, desperately want to buy back control of Congress.''

The decision to run this advertisement followed moves earlier in the week to have field operatives from the national committee tell embattled candidates that they should effectively write off Mr. Dole's chances in their own campaigns and urge voters to send them and other Republicans back as a check on Mr. Clinton.

(Also see p. 126 of Losing to Win.)

Republicans are again playing the "blank check" card ... against a Clinton. Alex Isenstadt reports at Politico:
Republicans, desperate to salvage their congressional majorities amid Donald Trump’s collapse, are increasingly presenting themselves as checks on a Hillary Clinton presidency – a final argument that, if only implicitly, concedes the White House to Democrats.
The offensive, which has been under discussion for months and is only now being unleashed, is designed to win over voters who want to see Clinton’s powers curtailed – even as she closes in on a potentially sweeping national victory.
The message is taking different forms in different parts of the country. In Minnesota’s Iron Range, Republican Stewart Mills has begun airing a TV commercial that says his opponent, Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, is “standing with Hillary Clinton, not Minnesota families.” Nolan, the ad says, “would give Hillary a blank check to run up trillions in new debt and job-destroying taxes.”
In upstate New York, the National Republican Congressional Committee has been running a TV ad that says a Democratic candidate, Kim Myers, would “fast-track” Clinton’s agenda in the House. It urges voters to support Republican Claudia Tenney – who will “stand up to Hillary Clinton.” Another spot warns that Myers and an independent candidate, Martin Babinec, would “rubber-stamp Hillary Clinton’s agenda in Congress.”
Republican Sen. John McCain, facing the toughest reelection fight of his political career, is taking a similar approach. Following his primary victory, McCain released a face-to-camera video in which he called his Democratic opponent, Ann Kirkpatrick, a “good person,” but added: “If Hillary Clinton is elected president, Arizona will need a senator who will act as a check, not a rubber stamp, for the White House.”
At The Cook Political Report, Jennifer Duffy writes:
Senate Republicans had been doing a pretty solid job of maintaining their distance from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump by running their own campaign that focused largely on more local issues or those issues that motivate their base. The strategy was working fine and it looked as if Republicans would be able to keep their losses low. That is until October 7 when The Washington Post reported on the existence of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump described sexually assaulting women. Then things started to unravel, albeit slowly.

History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them. Since 1998, no party has won less than 67 percent of the seats in Toss Up. While the 2016 election has broken every political science rule and trend, we’d be surprised if this becomes one of them.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Clinton Ground Advantage, in Numbers

In 2012, Obama had a major ground advantage over Romney.  Reid Wilson and Joe DiSipio report at The Hill:
In critical swing states where Trump and Clinton are competing for electoral votes, the disparity is stark. The Ohio Democratic Party has 502 staffers on payroll. The state Republican Party paid just 104 people in its last payroll period.
More than 300 staffers were on the North Carolina Democratic Party’s payroll at the end of September. That’s three times the number of state Republican Party staffers on the ground.
In Nevada, where polls show a tight race, the state Republican Party employs 67 staffers. The state Democratic Party has several times that number, 240. Iowa Republicans, who hope to preserve Trump’s relatively strong poll numbers, have 32 staffers. The state Democratic Party has 206 paid staff.
In Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Trump’s campaign, state Republicans employ 62 total staff — and state Democrats have 508 people on payroll. Florida Democrats have 678 paid staffers, compared with 150 people who work for the Republican Party of Florida.
Polls also show Arizona, normally a reliably red state, is a closer contest than anticipated. The Clinton campaign said this week it would invest $2 million trying to win Arizona’s 10 electoral votes — and the state party reported paying 230 field staffers last month. By contrast, the Arizona Republican Party paid just 12 staff members.
Among the battleground states on the map this year, Republicans maintain a staffing edge in just one state: New Hampshire, where the state GOP pays 222 people. Democrats have a staff about half that size.

But about three quarters of the paid GOP staff received small stipends, an indication they are among the ranks of trained organizers rather than full-time staff.
State party payrolls only hint at the paid staff advantage Democrats have as Election Day looms and early voting begins. The Clinton campaign reported paying 809 staffers in September, while the Trump campaign paid just 152. The DNC has 478 staffers, according to their FEC reports; the RNC has just 270.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Democrats, Outside Money, and the Iron Law of Emulation

It's the Iron Law of Emulation. A few years ago, Karl Rove and the Kochs learned lessons from Democrats about coordinating outside spending.  Now the Democrats are learning from the GOP.

Nicholas Confessore and Rachel Shorey report at The New York Times:
The Democrats’ tentpole is Priorities USA, a five-year-old super PAC that has access to the party’s biggest donors and the implicit blessing of Mrs. Clinton, and is now on track to raise $173 million by Election Day. That is more than any equivalent Democratic effort in history, including the controversial big-money groups set up by wealthy liberals a decade ago to unseat President George W. Bush. The PAC is closely coordinating with environmental and labor activists and other organizations set up to harness support from veterans, African-Americans and Latinos.
In twice-monthly meetings at a Democratic law firm in downtown Washington, officials at Priorities have convened representatives of a dozen super PACs and progressive organizations to carve out swing-state turf and share intelligence from organizers on the ground. Several have pooled money with Priorities USA to purchase television and digital advertising through the same media firms, allowing smaller groups to get better rates. (Other left-leaning organizations, including labor unions and a super PAC founded by the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, have separately spent significant money on field organizing.)

Class, Education, and Uninetntional Gerrymandering

Previous posts have discussed unintentional gerrymandering.  At The New York Times, Alec MacGillis links it to educational and economic inequality.
First, geographic mobility in the United States has become very class-dependent. Once upon a time, lower-income people were willing to pull up stakes and move to places with greater opportunity — think of the people who fled the Dust Bowl for California in the 1930s, or those who took the “Hillbilly Highway” out of Appalachia to work in Midwestern factories, or Southern blacks on the Great Migration. In recent decades, though, internal migration has slowed sharply, and the people who are most likely to move for better opportunities are the highly educated.
Second, higher levels of education are increasingly correlated with voting Democratic. This has been most starkly on display in the 2016 election, as polls suggest that Donald J. Trump may be the first Republican in 60 years to not win a majority of white voters with college degrees, even as he holds his own among white voters without degrees. But the trend of increasing Democratic identification among college graduates, and increasing Republican identification among non-graduates, was underway before Mr. Trump arrived on the scene. Today, Democrats hold a 12-point edge in party identification among those with a college degree or more. In 2004, the parties were even on that score.
Finally, in the United States the economic gap between the wealthiest cities and the rest of the country has grown considerably. The internet was supposed to allow wealth to spread out, since we could be connected anywhere — but the opposite has happened. Per capita income in the District of Columbia has gone from 29 percent above the United States average in 1980 to 68 percent in 2013; in the Bay Area, from 50 percent above to 88 percent; in New York City, from 80 percent above to 172 percent. Cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston exert a strong pull on mobile, highly educated, Democratic-leaning voters, while at the same time stirring resentment in the less prosperous areas those voters leave behind. And these economically dominant cities tend to be in deep-blue states.

Clinton's Oppo Book on Sanders

At Politico, Gabriel Debenedetti reports on the WikiLeaks leak of the Clinton oppo book on Sanders.
In an email dated November 5, 2015, Clinton’s research director Tony Carrk circulated six exhaustive documents compiled by his staff, detailing Sanders’ record and past, to two dozen other Clinton advisers as they girded for a longer-than-expected primary that ultimately stretched seven more months. It is not clear what pieces of the extensive research were intended for eventual public use or even represented the campaign’s views; such in-depth documents typically include a wide range of potential hits and pieces of information that are never used or even considered.
The wording of Carrk’s email suggests the November exchange is one of the first times the research had been discussed internally. By that point, Sanders was already threatening Clinton’s lead in a number of states, and he had overtaken her in polls of New Hampshire, so the delayed conversation reinforces the public perception at the time that the senator’s candidacy had caught the former secretary of state's team off-guard.