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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Bloomberg and Trump

In Defying the Oddswe discuss campaign strategy and 0rganization  The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

At Axios, Mike Allen and Margaret Talev report that Bloomberg is emulating Trump's campaign methods:
  • Social creature: Trump's re-election campaign has deployed Facebook in a bigger way than any campaign in history, outspending all the Democrats combined. Bloomberg's team openly admires the digital prowess of Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and has built a "content factory" of constantly updating and iterating videos and messages that are narrowly targeted at — and constantly fed to — promising prospects.
  • Ubiquity: Trump forced himself into our lives with Twitter taunts and endless TV appearances. Bloomberg is buying his way into the minute-by-minute of our lives with TV ads. Bloomberg's team believes one of the key lessons of Trump campaign is that if voters see you on TV all the time, they'll take you seriously. At Bloomberg HQ, his TV ads play on a constant loop. It takes a while to realize it's not cable news, where his ads seem nearly as persistent.
  • Success sells: Like Trump, Bloomberg promises ad nauseam to replicate his professional success in governance. Many of Bloomberg's ads follow the rough arc of: 1) Hit Trump ... 2) Why the problem matters ... 3) What Mike did as New York mayor ... 4) What Mike would do as president. It's a key part of Bloomberg's effort to signal, both overtly and subliminally, that he's running against Trump — not the other Dems.
  • Slogan power: Bloomberg's massive data operation found that Bloomberg's record as mayor was one of his big selling points. And Bloomberg's inner circle thought "Make America Great Again" was an effective slogan. Voilà, the Bloomberg slogan: "Mike Will Get It Done." The twist: "It" can mean beating Trump, enacting gun control as president, or whatever the voter imagines.
  • It's all about brand, baby: Bloomberg, like Trump, has set up his campaign so his personal brand shines, win or lose. The former mayor is making plain he will spend up to $2 billion to win himself — or, if he loses, allocate some of that to the Democratic nominee and Bloomberg's pet causes. As a down payment, he's showering money on state and local parties to help them, up and down their tickets, regardless of who wins the primary.
Billionaire presidential long shot Michael Bloomberg is trying to poach staff from other campaigns with outsized salaries and fancy perks like three catered meals a day, an iPhone 11 and a MacBook Pro, according to sources.
Bloomberg is paying state press secretaries $10,000 a month, compared to the average going rate of $4,500 for other candidates and state political directors are making $12,000 a month, more than some senior campaign advisers earn, sources said.
National political director Carlos Sanchez pulls in $360,000 a year. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s political director, made $240,000 in 2016.
Every Bloomberg staffer gets a MacBook Pro and an iPhone 11 on day one. They also enjoy three catered meals daily.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Trump Hits at Entitlement Cuts

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax and economics issue in the 2016 campaign.  The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. and explains why the Trump tax cut backfired on Republicans.

JOE KERNEN: Do I dare-- one last question.
JOE KERNEN: Entitlements ever be on your plate?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth. This next year I-- it’ll be toward the end of the year. The growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look, cause it’s such a--
JOE KERNEN: If you’re willing--
PRESIDENT TRUMP: --big percentage.
JOE KERNEN: --to do some of the things that you said you wouldn’t do in the past, though, in terms of Medicare--
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re going-- we’re going look.
Jeff Stein at WP:
It was unclear what Trump was referring to when he mentioned unprecedented growth. The economy is growing but not as fast as it has in the past, though the stock market is at record levels.

Adding to the confusion are private remarks Trump recently made that appeared to dismiss the importance of the budget deficit, which has ballooned to about $1 trillion a year under his administration.

The U.S. government is expected to spend $4.6 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and only bring in $3.6 trillion in revenue, leaving the $1 trillion gap. The government finances that gap by issuing debt to borrow money, and it is projected to pay close to $400 billion in interest on that debt this year.


In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, has begun.
Nick Corasaniti at NYT:
The four senators currently running for president — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet — have all had to detour from the campaign trail in the middle of a charged primary to sit for jury duty in the impeachment trial of President Trump.

With the race in Iowa incredibly fluid, the trial has become a scheduling speed bump for the senators. They risk losing hard-won advantages in a state that evaluates candidates on in-person appearances, while former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and others are able to press into face-to-face campaigning.

Though news media coverage has focused on surrogates working overtime for duty-bound candidates — Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appearing for Mr. Sanders in Iowa; Julián Castro stumping for Ms. Warren in Nevada; Abigail Bessler, Ms. Klobuchar’s daughter, hosting “hotdish house parties” in Iowa — the campaigns say they will use digital tools to keep the candidates directly connected with voters.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Polarization 2020

In Defying the Odds, we discuss partisan polarization and views of Trump.     During the campaign, he openly encouraged violence by supportersThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Jeffrey M. Jones at Gallup:
Eighty-two percentage points separated Republicans' (89%) and Democrats' (7%) average job approval ratings of President Donald Trump during his third year in office. This is the largest degree of political polarization in any presidential year measured by Gallup, surpassing the 79-point party gap in Trump's second year in office.
Trump's first year also ranks among the 10 most polarized years, along with the last five years of Barack Obama's presidency and several of George W. Bush's years in office.

The fact that the 10 most polarized years have all occurred in the past 16 years -- affecting both Democratic and Republican presidents -- underscores how politically polarized the nation has become. There have always been partisan gaps in ratings of president, just not to the degree seen over the past two decades.

Pew Research:
About half of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters (47%) describe their own political views as liberal, including 15% who describe their views as very liberal, according to an average of Pew Research Center political surveys conducted in 2019.
The share of Democratic voters who describe their political views as liberal has changed little over the past few years after increasing steadily between 2000 and 2016.
Liberals outnumber moderates (38%) and conservatives (14%) as a share of Democratic voters. Yet combined, conservatives and moderates continue to make up about half of Democratic voters (51%).

Monday, January 20, 2020

Trump and the Constitution: "It's Like a Foreign Language"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonesty.  He also has a weak understanding of the Constitution.  The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

In this Vanity Fair exceprt from A Very Stable Genius, Philip Rucker adn Carol Leonnig report on Trump's participation in an Alexandra Pelosi HBO documentary on the Constitution:

With LED lights on stilts in front of him, Trump took his seat. “You’re lucky you got the easy part,” Pelosi told him cheerfully. “It gets complicated after this.” But the president stumbled, trying to get out the words in the arcane, stilted form the founding fathers had written. Trump grew irritated. “It’s very hard to do because of the language here,” Trump told the crew. “It’s very hard to get through that whole thing without a stumble.” He added, “It’s like a different language, right?” The cameraman tried to calm Trump, telling him it was no big deal, to take a moment and start over. Trump tried again, but again remarked, “It’s like a foreign language.”
The section, like many parts of the Constitution, was slightly awkward—an anachronistic arrangement of words that don’t naturally trip off the tongue. Members of the crew exchanged looks, trying not to be obvious. Some believed Trump would eventually get it, but others were more concerned. The president, already bristling about his missteps, was getting angry. He chided the crew, accusing them of distracting him. “You know, your paper was making a lot of noise. It’s tough enough,” Trump said.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Impeachment Managers' Brief

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of lawThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

President Trump’s solicitation of foreign interference in our elections to secure his own
political success is precisely why the Framers of our Constitution provided Congress with the power to impeach a corrupt President and remove him from office. One of the Founding generation’s principal fears was that foreign governments would seek to manipulate American elections—the defining feature of our self-government. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams warned of “foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence” and predicted that, “as often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.” The Framers therefore would have considered a President’s attempt to corrupt America’s democratic processes by demanding political favors from foreign powers to be a singularly pernicious act. They designed impeachment as the remedy for such misconduct because a President who manipulates U.S. elections to his advantage can avoid being held accountable by the voters through those same elections. And they would have viewed a President’s efforts to encourage foreign election interference as all the more dangerous where, as here, those efforts are part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the President is unrepentant.
The House of Representatives gathered overwhelming evidence of President Trump’s
misconduct, which is summarized in the attached Statement of Material Facts and in the
comprehensive reports prepared by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on the Judiciary. On the strength of that evidence, the House approved the First Article of Impeachment against President Trump for abuse of power. The Senate should now convict him on that Article. President Trump’s continuing presence in office undermines the integrity of our democratic processes and endangers our national security.
President Trump obstructed Congress by undertaking an unprecedented campaign to
prevent House Committees from investigating his misconduct. The Constitution entrusts the House with the “sole Power of Impeachment.” The Framers thus ensured what common sense requires—that the House, and not the President, determines the existence, scope, and procedures of an impeachment investigation into the President’s conduct. The House cannot conduct such an investigation effectively if it cannot obtain information from the President or the Executive Branch about the Presidential misconduct it is investigating. Under our constitutional system of divided powers, a President cannot be permitted to hide his offenses from view by refusing to comply with a Congressional impeachment inquiry and ordering Executive Branch agencies to do the same. That
conclusion is particularly important given the Department of Justice’s position that the President cannot be indicted. If the President could both avoid accountability under the criminal laws and preclude an effective impeachment investigation, he would truly be above the law.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

House Fundraising: Advantage D

In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technologyThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Sarah Ewall-Rice at CBS:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the group that works to elect Democrats to Congress, is touting a fundraising advantage and expanding its battleground map after learning it outraised its GOP counterparts by $40 million in 2019.

The DCCC announced this week it raised $125 million last year, roughly $20 more than it raised in 2017, the last off year between elections. The fundraising was fueled by $59.6 million in grassroots contributions. At the same time, the 42 Democratic "frontline" members in competitive races raked in more than $91 million in 2019.
"We know that this gives them a huge tactical advantage in their districts because they can buy TV time at a significantly lower rate than the committee, than outside groups, than anyone else," said DCCC political director Kory Kozloski in a call with reporters. "They're going to have the resources to tell their stories in a significant way, in a way that incumbents have never had before, in a way that Democratic candidates in many cases have never had before."

Earlier this week, the National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Emmer revealed his committee raised $85 million in 2019, $40 million less than the DCCC. Emmer raised alarm bells to Republicans as they seek to take back the House in 2020.