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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Plague Years

In  Defying the Odds, we explain that Trump and his allies have renounced  the conservatism of Ronald Reagan.

Eliot Cohen at The Atlantic:
There has always been a dark side to American conservatism, much of it originating in the antebellum curse of a society, large parts of which favored slavery and the extermination of America’s native population, the exclusion of immigrants from American life, and discrimination against Catholics and Jews. Many of us had hoped that the civil-rights achievements of the mid-20th century (in which Republicans were indispensable partners), changing social norms regarding women, and that rising levels of education had eliminated the germs that produced secession, lynching, and Indian massacres. Instead, those microbes simply went into dormancy, and now, in the presence of Trump, erupt again like plague buboes—bitter, potent and vile.
The last twitches of conservative independence consisted of Senator Jeff Flake securing a week-long FBI investigation of Ford’s charges. For the rest, there was not a profile in courage to be seen. Not one.
It is impossible at this moment to envisage the Republican Party coming back. Like a brontosaurus with some brain-eating disorder it might lumber forward in the direction dictated by its past, favoring deregulation of businesses here and standing up to a rising China there, but there will be no higher mental functioning at work. And so it will plod into a future in which it is detested in a general way by women, African Americans, recent immigrants, and the educated young as well as progressives pure and simple. It might stumble into a political tar pit and cease to exist or it might survive as a curious, decaying relic of more savage times and more primitive instincts, lashing out and crushing things but incapable of much else.
He is subtly alluding to the the closing lines of Camus's The Plague:
 And, indeed, as he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux remembered that such joy is always imperiled. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.

GOP Triage

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

At LAT, Patrick McGreevy reports that Republicans are shifting resources away from a measure to repeal a California gas-tax increase
After contributing $1.7 million to put a repeal initiative on the November ballot, Republican congressional leaders and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox are now conspicuously absent from the list of donors spending money to help convince Californians to pass the measure.

Construction firms, organized labor and Democrats have raised more than $30 million to defeat Proposition 6, while the main campaign committee in favor of the measure had just $83,291 in the bank as of Sept. 22, according to campaign finance statements made public Thursday.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gave $300,000 to the campaign during the qualification period, but he has not written a check to the committee since the measure made the ballot.

Other Republicans who donated to the campaign to qualify Proposition 6 but have not given since then include Reps. Ken Calvert of Corona, Devin Nunes of Tulare, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
A PPIC poll shows that the measure is losing.   Rather than diverting money to a probably-futile attempt to boost GOP turnout in a blue state, congressional Republicans have to put their resources into saving whatever seats they can salvage.

At The Hill, Reid Wilson reports on the party's triage:
The largest Republican super PAC defending the party's majority in the House has canceled advertising buys in two suburban districts, a signal that senior Republicans do not believe the longtime incumbents can win this November.
The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a group closely aligned with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), canceled a collective $3.1 million in advertising time it had reserved in suburban Denver and suburban Detroit, according to a source familiar with the group's advertising plans.
The ad time was meant to defend Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Mike Bishop (R-Mich.). Internal and public polls show both longtime Republicans trailing in their reelection bids weeks out from the midterms.
This year, Republicans facing a difficult political landscape have already cut ad buys in nearly a dozen districts, including seats held by Reps. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) and retiring Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.).

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Indicted Congressmen Run Bigoted Ads

Representative Duncan Hunter, the California Republican whose re-election campaign has been imperiled by a federal indictment, has released a startling attack against his Democratic challenger, suggesting that he is an Islamic terrorist sympathizer and national security risk.
“Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress,” says the narrator of Mr. Hunter’s ad, released on YouTube, in reference to the Democrat running against him. “He’s used three different names to hide his family’s ties to terrorism.”
Mr. Campa-Najjar, who until Mr. Hunter’s troubles was considered a very long shot to win a predominantly Republican district in the San Diego suburbs, has a Mexican-American mother and a father who immigrated from the Middle East. His paternal grandfather, Muhammad Youssef al-Najjar, was involved with the plan to murder Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Germany in 1972; he was assassinated by Israeli military commandos in 1973.
Mr. Campa-Najjar has repeatedly denounced his grandfather’s actions. He is Christian and has often stressed his church activities.

Mariel Garza at LAT:
It should be enough in this conservative district for Hunter to call attention to his young opponent’s progressive platform. Instead, the incumbent has been pressing the “radical Muslim” angle in speeches and in this ad. That the campaign would sink this low suggests a certain desperation. Hunter is still polling higher in the race than Campa-Najjar, but only by 8 points. There’s no guarantee that advantage will hold until Nov. 6, especially with current events in Washington that could drive turnout in unpredictable ways.
I wish I could say this were the only racially tinged political ad in this midterm race. It is not. Rep. Chris Collins (R-New York) has managed to outdo even Hunter’s ugly ad with one that features his Democratic opponent Nate McMurray speaking Korean in a video. McMurray’s wife is Korean. The subtitles underneath the video hint that the Democrat is a foreign agent working to move American jobs overseas. At one point, there’s a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un projected over McMurray’s shoulder, which makes it clear this ad is not to inform people but scare them enough that even the candidate facing criminal charges seems preferable.

Oh, did I forget to mention that? Like Hunter, Collins is campaigning with an indictment on his back. He faces federal charges of insider trading.

I hope that voters don’t reward this kind of irresponsible behavior in November. Politics are ugly enough as it is.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Hearing and the Midterm

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

Rebecca Berg and Dan Merica at CNN:
Members of the House of Representatives have no say in whether professor Christine Blasey Ford's accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh sink his Supreme Court nomination.
But as much as the contentious confirmation fight over Kavanaugh played out on television screens across the country on Thursday has put vulnerable Democratic senators in the spotlight, it may be at-risk House Republicans who ultimately feel the most heat.
The counter-intuitive dynamic is rooted in the midterms map: Whereas many of the key Senate battlegrounds are deeply Republican states where President Donald Trump won handily in 2016, the fight for the House is taking place in suburban districts in states like California, Pennsylvania and New York — areas with high proportions of college-educated women who could be particularly moved by Ford's allegations and her emotional testimony to the Senate.
"This hearing, and the entire Supreme Court fight, actually may do more to hurt the GOP in House ... than it does in the Senate, despite the fact that senators are voting on it," said one House Democratic campaign veteran. "Mitch McConnell and (Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman) Chuck Grassley may be helping end the Republican majority in Congress."

While some Republicans said a capable House candidate would come out of this debate unscathed, other party operatives fear the spectacle that engulfed the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday could deepen misgivings among voters -- particularly women -- about the Republican Party, which has consistently underperformed in generic polling leading during this midterm election cycle.
A GOP campaign operative put it bluntly: "The women are gone. It's all about the base."
More than half of California found Christine Blasey Ford's story believable, and about one-third found Brett Kavanaugh's testimony believable, according to an exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by Survey USA.

The poll, which queried 1,100 adults from California, found that 60 percent found Ford's story believable, and 35 percent found Kavanaugh's testimony believable. The poll also found that California was split when asked if Kavanaugh has the temperament to be a justice on the Supreme Court -- 41 percent said yes; 47 percent said no; 11 percent they were not sure.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Poll Data from California

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

Gas Tax Repeal, Rent Control Propositions Trailing
Newsom Still Has a Double-Digit Lead, But It’s Smaller
In the governor’s race, Democrat Gavin Newsom maintains a double-digit lead over Republican John Cox among likely voters, although the 24 point lead Newsom had in July (55% to 31%) has narrowed to 12 points today. Today, about half (51%) say they would vote for Newsom, while 39 percent would vote for Cox and 7 percent are undecided.
Most Democratic likely voters (86%) support Newsom and most Republicans support Cox (85%). Independents are divided (42% Newsom, 37% Cox, 15% undecided). Latino likely voters favor Newsom over Cox by 38 points, while white likely voters are divided. Likely voters in other racial/ethnic groups prefer Newsom by 16 points (sample sizes for Asian American and African American likely voters are too small for separate analysis). A majority of likely voters (59%) are satisfied with their choice of candidates in the governor’s race (32% not satisfied). Most likely voters say they are following news about the candidates very closely (21%) or fairly closely (41%).
Feinstein Ahead by 11 Points
Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking her fifth full term in the US Senate, leads fellow Democrat Kevin de León by 11 points (40% to 29%) among likely voters, with 8 percent undecided. The margin has also narrowed in this race: in July, Feinstein led by 22 points (46% to 24%). Today, about a quarter of likely voters (23%) volunteer that they would not vote for US senator. When this group is excluded, Feinstein leads de León 52 percent to 37 percent.
Across parties, Democratic likely voters favor Feinstein by a two-to-one margin (60% to 30%), while about half of Republicans (52%) and a quarter of independents (26%) say they would not vote for US senator. Feinstein leads among women (46% to 30%), while men are divided (34% Feinstein, 28% de León). She leads among white likely voters (40% to 25%) and those in other racial/ethnic groups (41% to 32%). Latino likely voters are divided (40% Feinstein, 38% de León). Feinstein leads among likely voters age 18–44 (41% to 33%) and among those 45 and older (40% to 27%). Most likely voters (55%) are satisfied with their choice of candidates in this race.
Baldassare summed up: “Lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom and incumbent US senator Dianne Feinstein lead their challengers by double digits although by smaller margins than in July.”
Most Favor Democratic Candidates in House Races
With control of Congress a much-discussed issue, half of California’s likely voters (52%) say this election is more important to them than past midterms. Democratic likely voters (64%) are much more likely than Republicans (48%) and independents (42%) to say this election is more important.
Asked about the election for the US House of Representatives, most California likely voters (54%) say they would vote for or lean toward the Democratic candidate, while 37 percent would vote for or lean toward the Republican. Most partisans support their own party’s candidate, while independents prefer the Democratic candidate by 11 points. Democratic candidates are favored by a 35 point margin (63% to 28%) in districts held by Democratic members of the House. Republicans are favored by a 21 point margin (55% to 34%) in Republican-held districts. In the 11 districts deemed competitive by the Cook Political Report, likely voters are closely divided, with 44 percent favoring the Republican candidate and 43 percent favoring Democrat. (The competitive distri
cts are 4, 7, 10, 16, 21, 25, 39, 45, 48, 49, and 50, as shown on this congressional map.) When likely voters are asked if they would prefer to elect a House candidate with experience in politics 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Laughter in Turtle Bay

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign.  During that campaign, he often said that the world is laughing at us.  At the UN this week, he made that claim come true.

Emily Tamkin at Buzzfeed:
Donald Trump’s speech to the UN was met by widespread laughter, and diplomats have confirmed that their delegations were laughing at — not with — the US president.
“Sometimes, when we see a behavior or listen to arguments or notions that seem so far-fetched, unreasonable, or insane, there is almost natural reaction of laughing,” one Latin American diplomat said, speaking anonymously so he could speak freely.
The diplomat added, “It is not laughing at a good joke, but a nervous laugh, or a bad joke turned laughable precisely because the guy who tells the joke doesn't realize how bad it is.”
Laughter filled the UN General Assembly room on Tuesday after Trump said his administration “has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
“His words in the opening part of the speech were clearly addressed to [a] domestic audience,” wrote one European diplomat in a message that noted that other world leaders do the same. “But as he did it in the Trumpian way (bragging ridiculously about being one of the best administrations in history) people in the audience reacted how they reacted.”
“What would resonate well at a political rally in America sounded a little awkward at the UN General Assembly,” the diplomat added.

Looking Blue

Six weeks out, Republican ads aiming to disqualify Democrats early don't appear to be sticking. House polling — both public and private — was already tenuous for the GOP, but has become noticeably more dire since Labor Day. Independent polls in the last two weeks show Reps. Mimi Walters (CA-45), Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Dave Brat (VA-07) trailing. Not long ago, they were in the Lean Republican column.
There are a few notable exceptions. Rep. Andy Barr (KY-06) has erased his deficit, in part thanks to GOP ads hitting Democrat Amy McGrath for bragging at an out-of-state fundraiser that "I am further left than anybody in the state of Kentucky." And, Republicans continue to see better-than-expected numbers in significantly Hispanic districts like California's 39th CD, Florida's 26th and 27th CDs and Texas's 23rd CD.
But both parties are seeing Republicans' numbers continuing to erode in professional suburbs, and some in the GOP fear they still haven't hit "rock bottom." This week, five more districts move towards Democrats. Overall, 13 GOP seats now lean to Democrats and another 29 are Toss Ups. Right now the likeliest outcome is a Democratic gain in the 25 to 40 seat range (Democrats need 23 for a majority). View our full ratings here.

David Lauter at The Los Angeles Times:
Boosted by growing support among suburban women and widespread antipathy toward President Trump, Democrats approach the midterm election poised to make major gains nationwide, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll shows.

Democrats had a 14-point margin, 55% to 41%, when likely voters were asked which party’s candidate they would cast a ballot for if the election were held now. If that advantage holds up until election day, just less than six weeks away, it would almost surely be large enough to sweep a Democratic majority into the House.

Voters also oppose Republicans on a number of major issues. But overriding all of them is the president, whose outsized personality has dominated the nation’s news since he declared his candidacy more than three years ago.

Roughly 3 out of 4 likely voters said they saw their vote this fall as an opportunity to express a view of Trump. For many, that view is negative: Those saying they planned to register opposition outnumbered Trump supporters, 45% to 29%.

Likely voters disapprove of Trump’s overall performance in office by 57% to 39%, the poll found. Almost half of likely voters, 49%, said they “strongly” disapprove, while just under one-quarter, 24%, strongly approve.

Especially notable are the views of women, whose preferences have expanded the Democratic edge since a USC Dornsife poll surveyed most of the same voters this summer.

In the summer, men were closely divided between the two parties; they remain so now. But women, who already leaned significantly toward the Democrats, have shifted further in their direction, widening a large gender gap. The poll found women now favor the Democrats by 28 percentage points, 62% to 34%, among likely voters.

Three overlapping groups of female voters who have long been important for Republicans have moved away from the party: suburban residents, married white women and white women without college degrees.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Gender Gap in Candidates

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the demographic divides of the 2016 campaignThe gender gap was wide, and is now important in the 2018 midterm.

At the Honest Graft blog, Dave Hopkins writes:
The gender gap, produced by the relative pro-Democratic lean of women and pro-Republican lean of men in party affiliation and voting habits, has been a fact of American electoral life since the 1980s. In 2016, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, women voted Democratic for president by a margin of 15 points (54 percent to 39 percent), while men voted Republican by 11 points (52 percent to 41 percent). This difference was somewhat larger in 2016 than in other recent elections—probably reflecting the specific candidates on the ballot last time—though not dramatically so; Gallup estimated in 2012 that Barack Obama had carried the women's vote by 12 points while losing to Mitt Romney by 8 points among men.

But gender differences in the composition of the parties become greater as we move up the ladder of political engagement from average voters to activists, candidates, interest group leaders, and elected officials. Today, for example, 74 percent of female senators are Democrats, as are 73 percent of female U.S. House members—even though Republicans outnumber Democrats overall in both chambers. And this elite-level gender gap is certain to grow after the 2018 midterms. Democrats have nominated 183 women for the House this year (compared to 52 for the Republicans), representing a record 43 percent of the party's candidates. Among non-incumbents, a full 50 percent of Democratic House candidates are female, compared to 18 percent for the GOP.

"The World Is Laughing at Us"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign.  During that campaign, he often said that the world is laughing at us:

Today at the United Nations, he made that claim come true.  Matthew Choi at Politico:
World leaders laughed Tuesday after President Donald Trump said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that his administration had accomplished more than any other in American history.
"In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," Trump said near the start of a speech before the assembled world leaders, prompting audible laughter.

Religious Trump Voters

In Defying the Odds, we discuss cultural reasons for Trump's victory. His evangelical support has received much attention.  Trump also got 60% of the non-Hispanic Catholic vote.  

  • Donald Trump voters who attend church regularly are more likely than nonreligious Trump voters to have warm feelings toward racial and religious minorities, be more supportive of immigration and trade, and be more concerned about poverty.
  • Statistical tests indicate that Trump voters who attend church regularly are significantly more likely than nonreligious Trump voters to have favorable attitudes toward black people, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Muslims, and immigrants, even while holding other demographic factors, such as education, constant.
  • Statistical tests find no significant difference in effects between Protestant and Catholic church attendance among Trump voters.
  • Religious Trump voters have higher levels of social capital: They are far more likely to volunteer, to be satisfied with their family relationships and neighborhood, and to believe the world is just and that people can be trusted.
  • Since 1992, record numbers of Americans are leaving organized religion with the share of nonreligious people quadrupling among all Americans and tripling among conservatives.
  • These data demonstrate how private institutions in civil society may have a positive impact on social conflict and reduce polarization.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Corruption and Health Care Are On Voters' Minds

From the Kaiser Family Foundation:
The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds recent political events weighing heavy on the minds of voters when it comes to the 2018 midterm elections. Three in ten voters (33 percent of independent voters, 32 percent of Democratic voters, and 25 percent of Republican voters) say corruption in Washington is the “most important” topic for 2018 candidates to discuss. This is the first time corruption in D.C. was included in KFF’s list of possible campaign topics and, along with health care (27 percent) and the economy and jobs (25 percent), it is among the top topics for voters three months before the 2018 midterm election.

Poll: 4 in 10 Americans are “very worried” that they or a family member will lose coverage if #SCOTUS overturns the ACA’s pre-existing conditions protections
KFF polling continues to find pre-existing conditions as a widespread concern and with the impending lawsuit Texas v. United States, a majority of the public say it is “very important” that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protections for people with pre-existing conditions ensuring guaranteed coverage (75 percent) and community rating (72 percent) remain law. About half (52 percent) of the public are “very worried” that they or someone in their family will have to pay more for health insurance and four in ten (41 percent) are “very worried” they will lose their coverage if the Supreme Court overturns these protections.
Over the past few months President Trump has maintained a tense relationship with drug companies over the price of prescription drugs. This month’s tracking poll finds an increase in the share of the public who say drug companies making too much profit is a “major reason” why people’s health care costs have been rising (78 percent compared to 62 percent in 2014). However, less than half of the public – four in ten (42 percent) – say they think President Trump’s strategy of publicly shaming drug companies and asking them to cut prices will be effective in reducing prescription drug costs overall and a similar share (38 percent) are confident that the president will be able to deliver on his promise that Americans will pay less for prescription drugs under his administration.
Health care costs continue to be an important issue in the 2018 midterm election and beyond. When given a list of possible worries, unexpected medical bills tops the list that includes other health care costs such as premiums, deductibles and even drug costs, as well as other household expenses. Four in ten insured adults ages 18-64 say there has been a time in the past 12 months when they received an unexpected medical bill and one in ten say they received a “surprise” medical bill from an out-of-network provider in the past year.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Republicans Lose the Tax Messaging Battle

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign.  

 Sahil Kapur  and Joshua Green at Bloomberg:
A survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee has led the party to a glum conclusion regarding President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: Voters overwhelmingly believe his tax overhaul helps the wealthy instead of average Americans.

By a 2-to-1 margin -- 61 percent to 30 percent -- respondents said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families,” according to the survey, which was completed on Sept. 2 by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.

The result was fueled by self-identified independent voters who said by a 36-point margin that large corporations and rich Americans benefit more from the tax law -- a result that was even more lopsided among Democrats. Republican voters said by a 38-point margin that the middle class benefits more.
When it comes to approval for the tax overhaul, American voters remain torn -- 44 percent favor it and 45 percent oppose it.
“Voters are evenly divided on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” the RNC-commissioned report said. “But, we’ve lost the messaging battle on the issue.”
Paul Waldman at WP:
The reality is not in dispute. Around two-thirds of the benefits of the tax cuts went to those in the top quintile of taxpayers, with about 20 percent of the benefits going to the richest 1 percent. By 2025, when the cuts are fully phased in, the top 1 percent will get 25 percent of the benefits. (See details here.) The centerpiece of the plan, furthermore, was a gigantic corporate tax cut. Republicans promised that this cut would produce a wave of investment and wage increases for workers, but so far the only wave that has resulted is a tsunami of stock buybacks benefiting wealthy shareholders, which is exactly what liberals predicted.
Those facts are available to anyone who might seek them out, but most people aren’t going to. What people do notice, however, is that their paychecks didn’t look much bigger after the tax cut. Maybe they’re getting a few more dollars a week, but it certainly wasn’t life-transforming.
That probably influences perceptions, but I’d contend that where Republicans really lost was not in the fact-checking and media analyses (close as those are to my heart) or even in people’s paychecks, but in the relentless Democratic messaging on this issue. It had the benefit of being 1) easy to understand, 2) consistent with what people already believed about Republicans, and 3) completely true. Democrats repeated over and over that this was a tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, which it was. And they didn’t have to work particularly hard to convince voters that passing a tax cut for the rich is the kind of thing Republicans do, because we’ve seen it so many times before.

Brutal Polling and the GOP

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

Dana Blanton at Fox:
Voter support for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court is down in the wake of Christine Ford’s assault allegations, as more believe her than him.
Currently, 40 percent of voters would confirm Kavanaugh, while 50 percent oppose him, according to a Fox News poll. Last month, views split 45-46 percent (August 19-21).
More voters believe Ford’s claims than Kavanaugh’s denials by a 6-point margin, 36 vs. 30 percent. However, about one-third, 34 percent, are unsure who is telling the truth.
At CNBC, John Harwood reports on a new NBC/WSJ poll:
The survey, six weeks before Americans head to the polls, shows Democrats leading Republicans by 52 percent to 40 percent for control of Congress. If it holds, that 12 percentage point margin would suggest a "blue wave" large enough to switch control of not just the House but also the Senate.

But the best evidence of vulnerability for Trump and his party lies in the seats Republicans already hold. The survey shows Republicans leading by only a single percentage point in those districts.
Overall, a 42 percent plurality of voters say they want to place a check on President Trump, compared to 31 percent who aim to help him achieve his objectives. Even in Republican-held districts, 38 percent want a check on their party's president.
Moreover, Democrats have generated wide advantages among key swing groups within the electorate. The poll shows them leading by 31 percentage points among independents, 33 points among moderates and 12 points among white women.
Among white college graduates, a group Republicans carried by nine points in 2014 mid-term elections, Republicans now trail by 15 points. Among white women without college degrees, a group Republicans carried by 10 points in 2014, Republicans now trail by five points.
"The Republican coalition is, at the moment, unhinged," said McInturff, the Republican pollster. The party's erosion among women voters heightens the potential risk for Republicans in the ongoing furor over sexual assault allegations against Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh.
Joshua Green at Bloomberg:
President Trump likes to mock Nancy Pelosi, but a private survey conducted for the Republican National Committee finds that she’s actually more popular—and beats the president when the midterm election is framed as a contest between the two.

The internal poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek, asks registered voters who they support “when the November election is framed by Trump and Pelosi.” Overall, respondents prefer Pelosi-aligned candidates over Trump-aligned candidates by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent. Among independents only, Pelosi still prevails by a 4-point margin. The poll was completed on Sept. 2.

Stormy Days

 In Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of  scandal.  

At The Guardian, Lloyd Green reviews the Stormy Daniels memoir and reflect on Kavanaugh"
Kavanaugh is finding out that allegations of attempted rape can put a crimp in one’s ambitions, and that what happens at Georgetown Prep or the DC suburbs doesn’t always stay there.
Just as Trump vouched for Rob Porter, his allegedly wife-beating ex-White House staff secretary, the president is weighing in for Kavanaugh and, for added measure, directly attacking the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s purported victim. This is not exactly the narrative Republicans need, hurtling toward the midterms. When Senate seats in Tennessee, Texas, and Arizona are in play, the party has a huge problem.
The latest polls depict an unloved Kavanaugh. Reuters-Ipsos shows the public opposing his confirmation 36-31 while Wall Street Journal/NBC News pegs the gap at 38-34, a historic approval deficit for a would-be supreme court justice. Even Harriet Miers, George W Bush’s failed pick for the high court, saw her numbers above water.
The outcome of this standoff remains to be seen. For the moment, Daniels is one person with an unvarnished narrative.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Kavanaugh and the Swamp

In Defying the Odds, we discuss how the issue of Supreme Court nominations affected the 2016 race.

In July, Scott Shane and colleagues wrote at NY Times:
When Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh introduced himself to the American people on Monday, with a beaming President Trump beside him, he had a lot to say about his mother, a former high school teacher and a Maryland judge. He accorded his father strikingly less attention — just 34 words, compared with 132 about his mother — mentioning his “unparalleled work ethic” while not saying exactly what work he did.
Yet Ed Kavanaugh’s career may shed light on his son’s hostility to government regulation, a major reason conservatives are so enthralled by his nomination to the Supreme Court. He spent more than two decades in Washington as a top lobbyist for the cosmetics industry, courting Congress and combating regulations from the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies. (Among his hires for legal work: John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice.)
Theodoric Meyer at Politico (h/t Jessie):
“I’ve known Brett for almost 18 years,” Colleen Litkenhaus, a lobbyist for Dow Chemical, wrote on Facebook less than an hour before Loper’s tweet. “He is extra extra smart, kind, warm, thoughtful and caring.”
She was speaking out, she added, “because, if you don’t know Brett personally, you may want to hear from those that do.”
The women rushing to Kavanaugh’s defense include Candi Wolff, the top lobbyist for Citigroup; Sara Fagen, a consultant at DDC Public Affairs; and Laura Cox Kaplan, a former lobbyist for PricewaterhouseCoopers who now hosts the “She Said/She Said” podcast.
Many of them belong to a class of connected Washingtonians who typically try to avoid upsetting their corporate clients by weighing in on Beltway scandals. But they decided to speak because of their friendships with Kavanaugh, who’s deeply integrated in the Republican social scene in Washington. Kaplan said in an interview that it was “physically painful” to watch the scandal unfold.
Eliana Johnson at Politico:
It turns out that the Keystone Cops detective work by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan — which set Washington abuzz with the promise of exonerating Brett Kavanaugh, only to be met by mockery and then partially retracted — was not his handiwork alone.
CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment andv a potential setback for Kavanaugh’s hopes of landing on the high court, according to three sources familiar with their dealings.

After suggesting on Twitter on Tuesday that he had obtained information that would exculpate Kavanaugh from the sexual assault allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, Whelan worked over the next 48 hours with CRC and its president, Greg Mueller, to stoke the anticipation. A longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s, Whelan teased his reveal — even as he refused to discuss it with other colleagues and close friends, a half dozen of them said. At the same time, he told them he was absolutely confident the information he had obtained would exculpate the judge.
The hype ping-ponged from Republicans on Capitol Hill to Kavanaugh’s team in the White House, evidence of an extraordinarily successful public relations campaign that ultimately backfired when Whelan’s theory — complete with architectural drawings and an alleged Kavanaugh doppelgänger — landed with a thud on Twitter Thursday evening.
And a Saturday morning update from Heidi Przybyla at NBC
A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him.
Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party's messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago at a high school party. In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past "allegations of misconduct."
He had worked for North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell
Sources familiar with the situation said Ventry was let go from Bell’s office after parts of his résumé were found to have been embellished, and because he faced an accusation of sexual harassment from a female employee of the North Carolina General Assembly's Republican staff.
 While doing work for the Judiciary Committee, Ventry was employed by CRC Public Relations, a prominent GOP firm helping to promote Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court.
A company spokesman told NBC News, "Garrett was on a leave of absence from the company and as of this morning we have accepted his resignation."

Gosar Family Values

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

Bloomberg reporter (and CMC alum) Sahil Kapur:

Ronald J. Hansen at The Arizona Republic:
Six of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar's siblings have appeared in online ads asking Arizona voters to back David Brill, their brother's Democratic opponent in November.
The stunning public endorsement underscores the family's rancorous relationship with the conservative firebrand who has represented Arizona's 4th Congressional District since 2011.
"It would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist," sister Grace Gosar says in an ad for Brill.
"I think my brother has traded a lot of the values we had at our kitchen table," sister Joan Gosar says in another.
READ MORE: Gosar supports U.K. activist seen as bigot

The public estrangement of Gosar from his brothers and sisters first became publicly known a year ago, when they expressed their dismay for Gosar's political views in a letter to the Kingman Daily Miner.

But the family's latest intervention in Gosar's political career reveals the depths of the gap between one of the most conservative members of Congress and the people who have known him all of his life.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Kavanaugh and the Midterms

In Defying the Odds, we discuss how the issue of Supreme Court nominations affected the 2016 race.

Susan Page at USA Today:
More Americans oppose than support the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Public Affairs Poll finds, an unprecedented level of disapproval for a nominee to the nation's high court.
Amid allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, those surveyed say by 40 percent to 31 percent that the Senate shouldn't vote to approve his nomination, the first time a plurality of Americans have opposed a Supreme Court nominee since polling on the issue began. Nonetheless, they also are inclined to believe he will, in the end, be confirmed: Just 11 percent predict he won't; 45 percent say he will.

The findings underscore the serious political stakes – and the potential for blowback in the midterm elections now little more than six weeks away.
From Gallup:

 Support for Prior Supreme Court Nominees, Final Survey, 1987-2018
Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of […] serving on the Supreme Court, or not?
Vote in favor Not vote in favor Margin
% % pct. pts.
Brett Kavanaugh 39 42 -3
Neil Gorsuch 45 32 +13
Merrick Garland 52 29 +23
Elena Kagan 46 36 +10
Sonia Sotomayor 55 36 +19
Samuel Alito 54 30 +24
Harriet Miers 42 43 -1
John Roberts 60 26 +34
Ruth Bader Ginsburg 53 14 +39
Clarence Thomas 58 30 +28
Robert Bork 38 35 +3
Reading for Kavanaugh is latest. Gallup did not measure support for the nominations of Anthony Kennedy, David Souter or Stephen Breyer. Gallup measured support for Neil Gorsuch, Merrick Garland and Ruth Bader Ginsburg just once, shortly after each was first nominated.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Rohabacher Update

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

The CA 48 race between Dana Rohrabacher and Harley Rouda is very close.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

First Paper for Structured Independent Study

Answer one of the following:
  1. Take any chapter in the Herrnson book and write a brief update taking into account developments since its publication early in 2016, including that year's elections.  What do we know now that we did not know then?  How does this new information bear on his analysis and conclusions?
  2. Choose any current election for the House or Senate.  What do the television campaign ads tell us about the strategies of the Democratic and Republican nominees?  (In most cases, you may find them on YouTube.) Some examples here:   In your analysis, consider the economic, demographic, and political makeup makeup of the constituency.
  3. How will the Kavanaugh controversy affect key races for the Senate in 2018? See the list at .  In your answer, take into account public opinion surveys as well as the political history of contentious Supreme Court nominations (especially Clarence Thomas).
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and between five and six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. 
  • Submit papers as Word documents, not pdfs.
  • Cite your sources. Use Turabian/Chicago endnotes. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Email me your papers by October 8.  I reserve the right to dock late papers one gradepoint for one day's lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Dark Money Disclosure ... For Now

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.  Campaign finance is a big part of the story.

Adam Liptak at NYT:
In a victory for advocates of campaign finance transparency, the Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to block a trial judge’s ruling that required some nonprofit groups that place political advertisements to disclose the names of their contributors.
The Supreme Court’s brief order gave no reasons and did not note any dissenting votes. The order vacated an earlier one entered on Saturday by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. that temporarily blocked the ruling.
That ruling, issued last month by Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington, required many nonprofit groups that placed advertisements supporting or opposing political candidates to disclose the identities of donors who had contributed more than $200. Before the ruling, such groups could generally shield their donors from public scrutiny.
The case was brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, a watchdog group. It sued the Federal Election Commission and Crossroads GPS, a conservative group. Judge Howell struck down a federal regulation that had effectively allowed secret contributions, saying it conflicted with a federal statute.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rich People are Better Off. Everyone Else...

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.  Those divides, however, are now working against him. Despite reports of robust economic growth, Trump's approval rating is sagging and Republicans are in serious danger of losing the House.  What is happening?

At NYT, Nelson D. Schwartz writes about the aftermath of the 2008 crash.
A decade later, things are eerily calm. The economy, by nearly any official measure, is robust. Wall Street is flirting with new highs. And the housing market, the epicenter of the crash, has recovered in many places. But like the diary stored in Ms. Swonk’s basement, the scars of the financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession are still with us, just below the surface.
The most profound of these is that the uneven nature of the recovery compounded a long-term imbalance in the accumulation of wealth. As a consequence, what it means to be secure has changed. Wealth, real wealth, now comes from investment portfolios, not salaries. Fortunes are made through an initial public offering, a grant of stock options, a buyout or another form of what high-net-worth individuals call a liquidity event.
Data from the Federal Reserve show that over the last decade and a half, the proportion of family income from wages has dropped from nearly 70 percent to just under 61 percent. It’s an extraordinary shift, driven largely by the investment profits of the very wealthy. In short, the people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see. Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster.
When the bubble burst, the bedrock investment for many families was wiped out by a combination of falling home values and too much debt. A decade after this debacle, the typical middle-class family’s net worth is still more than $40,000 below where it was in 2007, according to the Federal Reserve. The damage done to the middle-class psyche is impossible to price, of course, but no one doubts that it was vast.
In December reported at Bloomberg:
President Donald Trump is trying out a new campaign slogan: “How’s your 401(k) doing?” The answer for more than half of Americans is that they don’t have one.

Trump has tested out the line this month at a fundraiser, a campaign rally and in a White House meeting, predicting that the rising U.S. stock market will help him win re-election. But only about 45 percent of private-sector workers participate in any employer-sponsored retirement plan, and the lower-income workers in Trump’s political base are the least likely to hold money in such an account, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Ditto the GOP tax cut.  Quentin Fottrell at MarketWatch:
Approximately 76.4 million or 44.4% of Americans won’t pay any federal income tax in 2018, up from 72.6 million people or 43.2% in 2016 before President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to data released Thursday by the Tax Policy Center, a nonprofit joint venture by the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, which are both Washington, D.C.-based think tanks. That’s below the 50% peak during the Great Recession. They still obviously pay sales tax, property taxes and other taxes.