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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, November 30, 2018

It Could Have Been Worse for the House GOP

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

David Wasserman at the Cook Political Report:
Democrats won over 53 percent of all votes cast for House compared to 45 percent for Republicans. To put this wave in perspective, Republicans' margin over Democrats was seven percent in both 1994 and 2010, and Democrats won the national House vote by eight points in 2006. Right now, Democrats lead the House vote by 8.4 percent and make up 62 of the 93 members of the freshman class.
As bad as this outcome was for Republicans, it could've been worse: there's strong evidence November's universally high, historic midterm turnout actually aided Republicans more than Democrats. For example, on November 6, GOP Rep. Troy Balderson (OH-12) received about 68,000 more votes than he did in the August 7 special election, while Democrat Danny O'Connor received just 56,000 more.
Nationwide, there were 23 Republicans who won their House races by less than five points. Had the Trump base not woken up after the Kavanaugh fight, Democrats could have easily gained 50 seats.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Sad State of the California GOP

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

Mark Z. Barabak at LAT:
TJ Cox defeated three-term Republican Rep. David Valadao on Wednesday, giving Democrats a gain of seven House seats in California and 40 nationwide — the party’s strongest midterm showing since the Watergate era in the mid-1970s.
Cox clinched his victory more than three weeks after election day, when updated results from Fresno and Kings counties pushed his lead over Valadao to 529 votes. The contest was the country’s last remaining undecided congressional contest.
Cox, 55, trailed the GOP lawmaker by nearly 4,400 votes on election night but steadily gained ground as mail-in and other ballots tipped his way.
“Let this be a message to every Republican,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a tweet claiming victory. “If you come for Americans’ livelihoods, we WILL come for your seats.”
The pattern is a familiar one in California, where Republicans tend to vote early and Democrats later; ballots postmarked on election day are counted so long as they are received by election officials within three days. Others were counted once signatures and other details were verified, a process that takes weeks to complete.
Barabak and Sarah D. Wire write of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy:
The losses have a personal poignancy for McCarthy. A former leader of Republicans in the state Assembly, he was instrumental in shaping California’s GOP delegation. After being elected to Congress in 2006 and rising in the leadership ranks, he personally recruited Reps. Jeff Denham, Valadao and Walters to run for their seats; all three had served with McCarthy in Sacramento and Denham was his roommate in the state capital.

Embracing Trump and appeasing the hard-line conservative wing of the GOP were shrewd steps for McCarthy, who unsuccessfully bid for House speaker in 2015 but quickly bounced back, due in part to his strong ties to the White House.

But being the president’s point person on Capitol Hill meant pushing policies that were out of step with voters back home — such as a measure to override state gun control laws — and corralling his fellow California lawmakers to help pass them.

One glaring example was the sweeping tax bill passed in December, which stands to hurt many Californians by capping deductions of state and local taxes as well as the interest on home mortgages. All but two of the state’s 14 House Republicans — Rohrabacher and Issa — voted for the GOP tax law, even though studies suggested it would have an especially negative impact on residents in pricey areas such as suburban Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The vote allowed Democrats, who are usually tagged with the tax-and-spend label, to wield the issue as a weapon and accuse Republicans of putting party loyalty ahead of their constituents’ interests.  
California's top-two primary system resulted in races for Senate, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner in which no Republicans made the November ballot.  (Insurance commissioner candidate Steve Poizner was a Republican, but is now an independent.)  The nominally nonpartisan race for superintendent of public instruction also featured two Democrats.'Ben Christopher at CalMatters points out that many Republicans seem to have skipped these races.
At last count, the governor’s race received the highest number of votes, followed by the contest for secretary of state and attorney general. Among the statewide ballot measures, voters were most likely to weigh in on Proposition 6 (which would have repealed an increase in the gas tax) and Prop. 10 (which would have nixed state restrictions on rent control).
At the bottom of the list are four races for statewide office: insurance commissioner, U.S. Senate and state schools superintendent and lieutenant governor. The race for the state’s second-ranking executive officer received just shy of 2 million votes—16 percent fewer votes than those cast for governor.
...

An analysis of county election data shows that the voters most likely to leave the double-D races for lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate blank on the ballot live in counties with more registered Republicans than Democrats.
For example, in San Francisco County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 50 percentage points, there was only a modest 2.6 percent drop off in votes between the race for governor and the race for U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, in Lassen County, one of the state’s most conservative, nearly one-quarter of voters who cast their ballots for governor skipped the U.S. choice.
Official counts as of 11/28:

Governor

Gavin Newsom (Party Preference: DEM) 7,462,279 61.8%
John H. Cox(Party Preference: REP).........4,604,373 38.2%

Newsom also leads by nearly 2,000 votes in Orange County.

CA21

TJ Cox (Party Preference: DEM)........... 56,634 50.2%
David G. Valadao(Party Preference: REP) 56,105     49.8%

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Blue Orange

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



At The Los Angeles Times, Orange County Democratic chair Fran Sdao wrotes:
Orange County’s Democratic Clubs blossomed and restructured into year-round campaigns, making tens of thousands of voter contacts through canvassing, phone banking, and postcard parties. Canyon Democrats, a local club in the 45th Congressional District, increased its fundraising 15-fold in less than a year, while its Republican representative, Mimi Walters of Irvine, shrugged off financial offers from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The grassroots groundswell was matched by new levels of support from established political and independent organizations who helped push this wall of water to shore.

The Democratic Party of Orange County endorsed nearly twice as many local candidates as in the previous cycle. We updated staff structures and endorsement procedures, hosted candidate training, mobilized a new grassroots organizing program and conducted our largest voter communications effort in recent memory with mail, texting, canvassing and calls.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Fox Gives Trump Officials Advance Looks at Questions

 In Defying the Oddswe discuss the role of the media, particularly conservative media.

Maxwell Tani at The Daily Beast:
Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt was clearly taken aback last year when occasional Fox & Friends fill-in host Ed Henry grilled him about a number of ethical scandals facing his administration.
And Pruitt had a good reason to be surprised. In past interviews with President Trump’s favorite cable news show, the then-EPA chief’s team chose the topics for interviews, and knew the questions in advance.
In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script.
Fox & Friends has long been a friendly venue for Trump and his allies, but the emails demonstrate how the show has pushed standard cable news practices to the extreme in order to make interviews a comfortable, non-confrontational experience for favored government officials.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Big State Updates

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

California

  • Democrats swept all statewide races.
  • Democrats netted six House seats, maybe seven if Valadao loses, and the late vote is trending against him.
  • Democrats won a supermajority in the State Senate with at least 28 seats to Republicans' 11. And Tom Umberg is leading Janet Nguyen by nearly 2,000 votes. Umberg will probably win.
  • Democrats kept their supermajority in the Assembly, winning at least 60 seats to Republicans' 19. In the 77th district, incumbent Republican Brian Maienschein has a slight lead over Sunday Gover but could lose as the last votes come in.

In The Weekly Standard, Michael Warren writes about Orange County:
“Make no mistake about it, this was a referendum on Trump-run government, and voters in Orange County, like most of American suburbia, loudly chose divided government,” says Rob Stutzman, a Sacramento-based Republican who worked on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful 2003 gubernatorial campaign. “Orange County going blue has been a slow-moving lava flow that’s been visible for a couple decades. The Trump midterm accelerated its progress.”
New York

  • Democrats swept all statewide races.
  • Democrats flipped three Republican House seats.D
  • Democrats held their supermajority in the Assembly, winning 106 seats to Republicans' 43 and the one Independence Party member who caucuses with the Democrats.
  • Democrats gained control of the chamber and expanded their majority in the State Senate, winning 40 seats to Republicans' 23.
It is the party of Theodore Roosevelt, Nelson A. Rockefeller and, yes, President Trump. It led the New York State Senate for almost all of the last 75 years. And its backers include such deep-pocketed, well-connected interests as charter schools and New York City real estate moguls.

But after an Election Day shellacking, the New York Republican Party has hit bottom. The party lost a whopping eight seats in the State Senate, evaporating its razor-thin majority, and got pounded by Democrats in every statewide race, extending a losing streak that dates to 2002.
The best that might be said for the Republicans was that they did not lose any ground in the State Assembly, where they are outnumbered by 64 seats. So come January, when the new Legislature is sworn in, not a single Republican in Albany will have so much as a committee chairmanship.
...

The news on a federal level was no better. Democrats claimed victory over three Republican House incumbents, including Representative Dan Donovan of Staten Island, leaving New York City without a single Republican representative. All told, 21 of the state’s 27 House members will be Democrats, as are both of its senators. (Senator Kirsten Gillibrand easily won her second full term on Election Day.) And one of the six Republican House members — Chris Collins of the Buffalo area — is under federal indictment.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The GOP's Suburban Problem

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

 Dan Balz at WP:
If the enthusiasm for Trump in rural and small-town America constituted the story after 2016, the revolt against him in the suburbs, led by female voters, has become the story of the 2018 elections. The more you analyze the House results, the more the GOP’s suburban problem stands out.
One way of looking at the House results is by the population density of congressional districts. CityLab places congressional districts on a continuum of six categories, ranging from “pure rural” to “pure urban.” In between are four categories of suburban districts, from less dense to more dense.

The CityLab Congressional Density Index.
Take the 11 most rural districts that were on the competitive lists assembled by the Cook Political Report ahead of the election. Going into the election, Republicans held nine of the 11. When the new Congress assembles in January, they will still hold eight of the 11.

GOP losses in the next category, what are called suburban-rural districts, were also modest. Seven of 19 districts in this group changed parties: five shifting to the Democrats and two to the Republicans. Republicans had 17 of these districts going into the election and will end up with either 13 or 14 in the new Congress.
But the damage grows exponentially in the next two categories. There were 30 districts categorized as suburban-sparse. Heading into the election, Republicans held every one of them. As a result of the election, Democrats will have 16 to the GOP’s 14.

In the 15 districts described as suburban-dense, something similar happened. Republicans held all 15 before the election. In January, they will have control of just three. In the nine districts categorized as urban-suburban, Republicans will go from holding seven to holding just one.
Democrats made big gains in 12 districts held by Republicans that were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012, flipping nine of them. In another 13 districts won by Clinton in 2016 and by Mitt Romney in 2012, Democrats flipped another 12.
Democrats also converted eight of 12 districts that Trump won in 2016 but that Obama had won in 2012. Republicans did better in the districts won by Trump in 2016 and Romney in 2012, which constituted more than half of all the competitive districts, but Democrats still managed to convert nearly a third of them.

California delivered the most significant blow to the Republicans. The party there has been in a long decline, and Trump’s presidency has made things worse. Democrats will pick up at least six seats in California, with a seventh possible. The lone competitive seat that remained in GOP hands was that of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, who is under indictment on allegations of making personal use of campaign funds.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Noose Lady and GOP Outreach

In Defying the Odds, we discuss demographic gaps in the 2016 election.

Ashton Pittman at the Jackson Free Press:
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith attended and graduated from a segregation academy that were set up so that white parents could avoid having to send their children to schools with black students, a yearbook reveals.
A group photo in the 1975 edition of The Rebel—the Lawrence County Academy Yearbook—illustrates the point. High-school cheerleaders smile at the camera as they lie on the ground in front of their pom-poms, fists supporting their heads. In the center, the mascot, dressed in what appears to be an outfit designed to mimic that of a Confederate general, offers a salute as she holds up a large Confederate flag.
Third from the right on the ground is a sophomore girl with short hair, identified in the caption as Cindy Hyde.
The photo, and the recently appointed Republican senator’s attendance at one of the many private schools that was set up to bypass integration, adds historic context to comments she made in recent weeks about a “public hanging” that drew condemnations from across the political spectrum.
..
Even to this day, Brookhaven Academy, from which Hyde-Smith’s daughter graduated in 2017, is almost all-white. In the 2015-2016 school year, Brookhaven Academy enrolled 386 white children, five Asian children, and just one black child, the National Center for Education Statistics shows. That’s despite the fact that Census statistics show Brookhaven is 55 percent black and 43 percent white, per 2016 Census estimates.
Needless to say, people like the  Noose Lady make it hard for the GOP to reach out to African Americans.  And the GOP has been failing at outreach for decades.

In August of last year, Kathleen Gray reported at The Detroit Free Press:
The timing couldn't have been more awkward.
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, came to Detroit on Monday to try to reach out and and attract African-American voters to the GOP.
But her visit came 48 hours after a violent and deadly weekend of rioting in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered to protest the removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Their confrontations with protesters of their movement culminated with an Ohio man driving his car through a crowd of protesters, killing a woman and injuring 34 others.
Unlike many politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties who condemned the violence and the white supremacists who sparked it, President Donald Trump denounced the violence from "many sides" and refused to call out the white nationalists by name.
 AP reported in March 2013:
Reeling from back-to-back presidential losses and struggling to cope with the country’s changing racial and ethnic makeup, the Republican National Committee plans to spend $10 million this year to send hundreds of party workers into Hispanic, black and Asian communities to promote its brand among voters who overwhelmingly supported Democrats in 2012.
As noted on the Besstte Pitney blog, RNC has made repeatedly made similar efforts for more than thirty years.

On December 25, 2003, Darryl Fears wrote in The Washington Post:
Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said increasing his party's share of the black vote is "a top, top priority."
The party is looking into establishing chapters at historically black colleges and universities, he said. Gillespie recalled Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) telling him that the GOP should target black voters between 18 and 35 "because they are most likely to not identify as Democrats."
During a trip to Pittsburgh in July, Gillespie said, he met with Marc H. Morial, the new president of the National Urban League. While in Detroit last month, Gillespie said, he talked for two hours with editors at the Michigan Chronicle, one of the nation's few black daily newspapers. The party has arranged with American Urban Radio to broadcast a weekly message to the huge African American audience the network reaches.
Gillespie declined to specify how much the party will spend, saying he did not want the Democratic leadership to know. "But we're budgeting for it," he said.
On January 14, 2000, Mary Anne Ostrom wrote in The San Jose Mercury News:
Saying they want to bring "two-party democracy" to the Latino community, Republican leaders at their winter meeting in San Jose on Thursday announced a $10 million nationwide ad campaign to boost the GOP's image with the fast-growing, but largely Democratic, electorate.
To tailor its effort -- which will include extensive advertising in English and Spanish in California -- the Republican National Committee released a few results from a 1,000-person nationwide poll that they say shows about a quarter of likely Latino voters have no deep ties to Republicans or Democrats.
"They are up for grabs," RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson said at a press conference, surrounded by Latino politicians, state party leaders and media consultants.
On September 12, 1997, Scott Shepard wrote at the Cox News Service:
On Tuesday (9/16), for instance, the party will announce its latest minority outreach program, the first serious effort at attracting minorities to the GOP since the short chairmanship of the late Lee Atwater.
''We've got a lot to overcome,'' Michael Levy, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, acknowledged in an interview Friday. ''But we know that we're reaching out to people who share our beliefs ... and it's time to connect all the dots.''
The GOP with an obvious eye toward the 1998, and even 2000 election campaigns plans to spend $ 1.2 million over the next year to promote its ''New Majority Council,'' which will be charged not only with recruiting minority candidates but also with getting the GOP message out to minority groups.
More importantly, and in contrast to Atwater's largely rhetorical ''Big Tent'' efforts, the ''New Majority Council'' will become an institution within the Republican National Committee (RNC) under the direction of party co-chair Pat Harrison.
''We're going to take this a step beyond anything that Lee tried to do,'' said Levy.
On September 11, 1997, Rachel Van Dongen wrote in Roll Call:
On Tuesday night, an all-star cast - including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Miss), House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga), Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman John Linder (Ga) - turned out for a fundraiser sponsored by Americans for a Brighter Future, a PAC aimed at recruiting minority Republican candidates.
Our goals are very simple," said Raynard Jackson, the founder and head of the group who has long been active in GOP circles, working for Sen. Kit Bond (Mo) and ex-Sen. John Danforth (Mo), with whom he helped push the nomination of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. "To get more minorities elected and interested in the Republican party."
...
"The party has demonstrated that they are very serious about minority outreach and I am convinced that we're going to take that message into 1998 and 2000," Jackson added. "I guarantee you that we'll see a browning of the Republican party."
...
Besides the turnout at the event on Tuesday, NRCC Chairman Linder said the committee, with the help of Hispanic Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla (Texas) and Watts, is paying greater attention to minority recruitment this cycle.
"We're emphasizing minority outreach more than we ever have before," said Linder.
And on a national level, RNC chair Nicholson and co-chair Pat Harrison are also intent on expanding minority participation in the "big tent" party. "We both share the strong goal (that) we want to make this party more inclusive," said Nicholson in a recent interview, adding that the RNC will soon be sending out newsletters in Spanish.
On March 12, 1995, A.L. May wrote in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"Republicans don't have to abandon our principles to reach out to minorities. We have only to rediscover them," [Rep. J.C.] Watts told "Project Pioneer," a candidate seminar sponsored by the Republican National Committee.

The event's name denotes a new frontier for a party that has either ignored or been rejected by the black community for 30 years. It also reflects a renewed strategy by RNC Chairman Haley Barbour to follow the "big tent" game plan started by the late Lee Atwater in the late 1980s.

"We Republicans have made a terrible mistake over the years in not aggressively seeking the millions of black voters who agree with us on the issues," said Barbour, who argues that there is now a pool of conservative blacks willing to consider the GOP.
On May 21, 1991, RNC chair Clayton Yeutter told the National Federation of Republican women:
We're also going to work outreach very hard, the minority votes, in 1992. My personal impression is that -- and there are a good number of minority folks represented in the room here today. My personal impression is that minorities are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Democrats who simply promise them things and never ever come through with anything in the real world. It is apparent that the jobs that have been generated for minorities in the last decade or so come because of Republican administrations and Republican policies, not Democratic administrations -- because there weren't any -- and not Democratic policies. And we need to make sure that's understood.
On April 24, 1989, Richard Benedetto wrote in USA Today:
Republican efforts to attract more minority voters have shifted into higher gear heading toward the 1990 elections.
GOP National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater has been wooing Asians, Hispanics and blacks in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Atwater met with state Republican leaders Friday in Newport Beach, Calif., urging them to make reaching out to minorities a priority.

President Bush, encouraged by polls that show his support among blacks higher than predecessor Ronald Reagan's, will speak at the May 13 commencement of predominantly black Alcorn State University in Mississippi. Alcorn State President Walter Washington said he's invited every president since Lyndon Johnson; Bush is the first to accept.
''Even a small increase in minority votes (for Republicans) will make the difference between victory and defeat in many elections,'' Atwater told the GOP officials.
On January 22, 1989, David Broder wrote in The Washington Post:
[RNC Chairman Lee] Atwater's mentor, Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), was a symbol and beneficiary of the white backlash that drove millions, including Thurmond, out of the Democratic Party and into the GOP. But now, Atwater said in an interview, "minority outreach is my command focus, and I'm going to insist it drive my daily schedule." 
Through appointments to administration jobs and party posts, Atwater hopes to spur the creation of "an alternative leadership structure" in black communities. "Affirmative action has worked, and there's now a much larger black middle class," he said. Pointing to surveys showing weaker Democratic identification among young, better-educated blacks, Atwater said, "The time is right for us to reach out to them."
Unstated by Atwater but acknowledged by other GOP operatives is the fact that the "outreach" strategy could not have worked with Ronald Reagan in the White House and the Justice Department leading the battle against civil rights rulings obtained under previous Democratic administrations.
On June 28, 1986, Clay F. Richards wrote at UPI:
The Republican Party embarked on a new program Saturday to enlist minority participation because, GOP Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf said, Republicans ''do not intend to turn our backs on black Americans.''
''No subject is more critical to the future of our party than minority participation,'' Fahrenkopf told the summer meeting of the Republican National Committee.
The RNC created an advisory commission on minority participation to study the problem. Historically, the Republican Party has done poorly among black voters. President Reagan got only 9 percent of the black vote in 1984.
Fahrenkopf named Edward Lujan, chairman of the Republican Party in New Mexico, to head the commission.
''The purpose of the commission is to make recommendations to the RNC chairman with the goal of taking steps to attract more minority commmunities into our party's activities,'' Faharenkopf said.
On May 15, 1982, Richard E. Cohen wrote in National Journal:
It appears to be the Mission Impossible of the 1982 campaign, but Richard N. Richards, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is pulling no punches. "It's very important we elect one or more black Republicans to the House this year," he said in an interview. "I'm very confident we will."
In light of the Reagan Administration's repeated gaffes on civil rights issues and the high unemployment rate among blacks, Richards's goal may seem especially improbable. But the GOP already has two apparently strong candidates for November, and several others are possible. "We have to be concerned," said a Democratic political aide.
No black Republican has served in the House since 1928. In recent years, the national party has trumpeted its "outreach" efforts to expand the party's racial base. But Richards concedes those efforts have failed and says the way to succeed is to elect some black Republicans who can symbolize efforts to expand black trust in the GOP "I can't do that on my own," Richards said, adding, however, that things could change once Republicans make blacks feel comfortable within the party.
On July 13, 1980, Martin Tolchin wrote in The New York Times:
With black unemployment rising at a rate about double the national average, inner cities eroding and President Carter cutting social programs, Republican Party leaders hope this year to make inroads into the traditionally Democratic black vote.
''There's a lot of opportunity there,'' said Bill Brock, the Republican national chairman.
Detroit was selected as a convention site, at Mr. Brock's behest, at least in part because the
Republicans hoped to make it a symbol of a new commitment to older cities, to blue-collar workers and minority groups.
In their preconvention deliberations, the Republicans unanimously adopted a new platform plank on black Americans for the first time in modern history. The plank urged Federal programs for the inner cities, strong enforcement of civil rights statutes, and a nondiscriminatory system of Federal appointments.
The plank said: ''For millions of black Americans, the past four years have been a long trail of broken promises and broken dreams. The Carter Administration entered office with a pledge to all minorities of a brighter economic future. Today there are more black Americans unemployed than the day Mr. Carter became President.''
The plank was the work of Ronald Reagan's political strategists, who say that he will address the concerns of black Americans from a conservative viewpoint.

On August 8, 1977Newsweek reported:
Bob Dole meant to win black friends with his conciliatory speech to the National Urban League last week, but he committed a gaffe that undid his mea culpas. "We may have gotten what we deserved in terms of the black vote in 1976," the Republican Vice Presidential candidate began. ". . . I'll confess we haven't done enough. I promise we'll do more. We can't run with Lincoln any more." Unfortunately, Dole's speech didn't end there. "Vernon [Jordon] said he was sending a warning to both parties," the Kansas senator declared. "We got ours. We got ours in spades." There was an audible ripple of groans. "That's not offensive to me," Dole said later. "In the Midwest that means we were clobbered . . . I don't think it's anything at all unless somebody makes something of it."

Acknowledgement of Harm

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the political impact of economic and regulatory policy.

Coral Davenport and Kendra Pierre-Louis at NYT:
A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.
The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth.
Mr. Trump has taken aggressive steps to allow more planet-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plant smokestacks, and has vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, under which nearly every country in the world pledged to cut carbon emissions. Just this week, he mocked the science of climate change because of a cold snap in the Northeast, tweeting, “Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
But in direct language, the 1,656-page assessment lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, the report finds.
Noam Levey and Evan Halper at LAT report ton regulatory and legal filings acknowledging multiple kinds of harm from Trump's deregulatory policies.
The Department of Education, for example, did not report how many student borrowers would be affected by a proposed rule issued earlier this year making it more difficult for students who have been defrauded by colleges or universities to get debt relief. Nor did the agency report how much more debt these students could face.

Only when borrowers sued did the agency acknowledge in court filings that scaling back the federal government’s debt relief program had left students with $56.9 million in additional debt.

Similarly, the Department of Health and Human Services has been granting states permission to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries without any assessment of how many people could lose health coverage as a result.

Many advocates fear that the administration may simply stop reporting potential adverse effects from their proposals.

To date, however, agencies have acknowledged that several of the administration’s highest-profile policy shifts would likely cause significant harm.

Nowhere has this been more apparent than at the EPA, an agency that has long set the standard for evaluating the costs and benefits of proposed regulatory moves.

When Trump in 2017 ordered the EPA to scrap President Obama’s landmark initiative to fight climate change by limiting power plant emissions, agency scientists reported the move would cause up to 4,500 premature deaths annually.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Trump Thanksgiving Week

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character and impact on America.


Josh Dawsey at WP:
In the slathered-in-gold center foyer of his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump sat at a small table covered in a black tablecloth, holding a script as aides scurried about. An American flag stood nearby, and a crystal chandelier dangled above. Behind him, servers arranged the tables for a Thanksgiving feast.
Beneath a gold ceiling, Trump told troops representing five branches in five countries overseas about “barbed wire plus . . . the ultimate” that was blocking migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Loquacious and hopping from topic to topic, he debated the merits of steam catapults vs. electromagnetic ones for aircraft carriers and whether the United States was being treated poorly on trade. On both occasions, perplexed officers on the other end of the phone seemed to disagree with his conclusions.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The GOP's California Collapse


When the next Congress convenes, Republicans will control at most eight of California’s 53 seats in the House of Representatives, down from 14 before the election. That number could fall to seven if GOP Representative David Valadao, who represents a Central Valley seat, cannot maintain a narrow lead over Democratic T. J. Cox that has steadily dwindled as officials have counted absentee and provisional ballots since Election Day.
Even if Valadao holds on, which looks increasingly doubtful, the eight Republican seats would leave the GOP controlling only 15.1 percent of California’s Congressional delegation, the nation’s largest. That would be the smallest share of the state’s Congressional delegation that Republicans have controlled since 1883, according to figures provided by the California Target Book, a non-partisan publication that analyzes state elections.
Assemblyman Chad Mayes at CALmatters:
In 2015, I was part of a group of Republican leaders who engaged in a multi-year process that researched policy issues and voter trends, did polling and focus groups and sifted through mountains of data.
Our objective was to better understand California and determine why the Republican Party has been on the decline and identify a path forward. What caused the decline? Did the GOP:
  • Alienate ethnic voters starting with support for Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative that was viewed as anti-immigrant, and opposition to affirmative action?
  • Had the LGBTQ community simply written off Republicans as intolerant over their opposition to gay marriage?
  • Were younger voters turned off by Republicans’ denial of climate science?
  • Was the so-called war on women’s health repelling female voters?
  • Was the party viewed as too loyal to business at the expense of working families?
The collective answer to these questions is “yes.”
CA Democrats are having a happy Thanksgiving morning:

 U.S. Representative District 21 - Districtwide Results
CandidateVotesPercent
 TJ Cox
(Party Preference: DEM)
54,266
49.8%
*David G. Valadao
(Party Preference: REP)
54,713
50.2%
* Incumbent


CandidateVotesPercent
 Tom Umberg
(Party Preference: DEM)
130,739
50.4%
*Janet Nguyen
(Party Preference: REP)
128,877
49.6%

Thankful for the Separation of Powers

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character and impact on America.

Asawin Suebsaeng,  Erin Banco, and Betsy Woodruff at The Daily Beast:
On Tuesday night, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump had asked his aides to explore ordering the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey. Though the wish ultimately went unfulfilled, the fact that it was made was widely condemned as an extreme abuse of power by legal experts and law-enforcement veterans.
For right-leaning allies of the president, however, the problem wasn’t that Trump contemplated prosecuting his former political opponent, it’s that he balked at following through on it.
“The advice that he shouldn’t order the Justice Department, assuming it was given, to get back to enforcing the law on Mrs. Clinton and James Comey, that’s political advice, not legal advice,” Tom Fitton, who heads the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, said. “Hillary Clinton benefited from a sham investigation into her email practices, and this Justice Department refuses to do anything about it. And the president would be derelict in his job to not ask why justice isn’t being served by this Justice Department… It’s reassuring that he is broaching the question.”
Mark Sherman at AP:
President Donald Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts clashed Wednesday in an extraordinary public dispute over the independence of America’s judiciary, with Roberts bluntly rebuking the president for denouncing a judge who rejected his migrant asylum policy as an “Obama judge.”
There’s no such thing, Roberts declared in a strongly worded statement contradicting Trump and defending judicial independence. Never silent for long, Trump defended his own comment, tweeting defiantly, “Sorry Justice Roberts.”

The pre-Thanksgiving dustup was the first time that Roberts, the Republican-appointed leader of the federal judiciary, has offered even a hint of criticism of Trump, who has several times blasted federal judges who have ruled against him.
Before now, it has been highly unusual for a president to single out judges for personal criticism. And a chief justice’s challenge to a president’s comments is downright unprecedented in modern times.
 Heather Hurlburt at New York:
The first casualty of President Trump’s deployment of active-duty troops to our southern border – or maybe the second, if you count the line between military policy and naked partisanship as the first – has been clarity. Over the last ten days, we’ve had reports that troops were finishing their mission and leaving the border, and then reports that they weren’t. The administration changed the rules to limit where would-be refugees could apply for asylum, until a court said it couldn’t.
Now there’s been another bewildering development. According to Military Times’ Tara Copp, a memo came down from the White House on Tuesday evening authorizing active-duty troops at the border to fulfill some functions of law enforcement for the “protection of border agents” – including searching and detaining people, crowd control, and “lethal force, where necessary.”
National security lawyers all over the country lifted their heads from their Thanksgiving preparations in alarm. It has been very settled law for more than a century that active-duty troops may not be used for law enforcement functions within U.S. borders. That law, the Posse Comitatus Act, was passed just after the Civil War and Reconstruction, specifically to protect state governments from having policies they didn’t like enforced by federal military personnel on their soil. The exceptions are extreme: the president can “use military force to suppress insurrection or enforce federal authority,” per the Congressional Research Service. It’s worth noting that servicemembers always have the right to use force for self-defense – but the idea is that troops are not to be used in roles where they might choose to use force for other reasons.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"Thank you to Saudi Arabia"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonesty.

Paige Lavender at HuffPo:
Trump on Tuesday issued a bizarre statement reaffirming that the U.S. considers Saudi Arabia an ally, despite the CIA conclusion that the crown prince ordered the death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the kingdom.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump said in the statement. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”

Saudi Arabia has acknowledged people close to the crown prince were involved in the assassination, but has denied he had personal knowledge of it. Trump appeared to take their word on that, casting doubt on his intelligence agencies.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump’s statement said.


Benjamin Franklin, 1773:
It was thought at the Beginning of the Session, that the American Duty on Tea would be taken off. But now the Scheme is, to take off as much Duty here as will make Tea cheaper in America than Foreigners can supply us; and continue the Duty there to keep up the Exercise of the Right. They have no Idea that any People can act from any Principle but that of Interest; and they believe that 3d. in a Pound of Tea, of which one does not drink perhaps 10 lb in a Year, is sufficient to overcome all the Patriotism of an American!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Crossroad GPS, RIP



Anna Massoglia and Karl Evers-Hillstrom at Open Secrets:
One Nation, a conservative 501(c)(4) “dark money” nonprofit masterminded by Karl Rove, raised nearly $17 million last year, according to the most recent IRS tax filings released Friday.
Meanwhile, Crossroads GPS — formerly a dominant group in conservative circles and also run by Rove — raised just $75,000 last year, all but confirming its demise less than a year after the IRS granted it tax-exempt status.
The two dark money groups — along with the conservative American Crossroads and Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) — share the same Washington, D.C. office and employees. Each organization is run by Steven Law, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who remains closely aligned with the groups.
...
Crossroads GPS was once a dominant outside spending group, shelling out $71 million in an attempt to defeat Democrats in 2012. The group was so prolific that its legal battles ultimately spawned new guidance from the FEC earlier this year that now requires all “dark money” groups that spend at least $250 on independent expenditures explicitly advocating for or against a candidate to report every donor who gave at least $200 for “political purposes” in the calendar year.
The nonprofit reported raising more than $16 million in 2016, but its funding appears to have disappeared almost entirely as the focus shifts to One Nation.
The tight-knit super PACs and dark money groups like to shuffle their money around and have remained active in the 2018 election cycle. SLF reported accepting one contribution of $6.8 million from One Nation in September 2018 and two additional $3 million contributions last month.
SLF — which spent nearly $94 million to support Republican Senate candidates, mostly through attack ads — is the second-largest donor to American Crossroads in 2018, giving more than $690,000.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Materials on the 2018 Midterms

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

Slides from John Sides

Op-Ed by Stanley Greenberg

Mark Muro and Jacob Whiton at Brookings:
Looking at congressional districts, the analysis shows that the governing majority of 228 congressional districts (as of this post’s publish date) won by the Democrats last week encompasses fully 60.9 percent of the nation’s economic activity as measured by total economic output in 2016. Democratic districts are more productive, with a strong orientation to the advanced industries that inordinately determine prosperity. Notably, voters in these districts possess bachelor’s degrees at relatively high levels and work disproportionately in digital industries like software publishing and computer systems design.
By contrast, the 200 seats (as of this post’s publish date) captured by Republicans represent a much different swath of the economy. While almost as numerous as Democratic holdings, these seats represent just 37.6 percent of the nation’s output, reflecting a productivity level of just $106,832 per worker, and appear much more oriented to lower-output industries as well as non-advanced manufacturing (e.g., apparel, food, paper). Relatively fewer adults in these districts possess a bachelor’s degrees and fewer work in digital services.
Table 1


 Niall McCarthy at Statista:
After a steady volume of early votes, predictions of a high turnout at the midterms have turned out to be accurate. Last week, the U.S. Elections Project published preliminary numbers and 49.2 percent of voters cast their ballots - that's nearly 116 million people. That marks the highest midterm turnout since 1914 when it hit 50.4 percent and women still didn't have the right to vote.

25 states had a turnout or 50 percent or higher with six exceeding 60 percent: Colorado (62.2 percent), Minnesota (64.3 percent), Montana (62.1 percent), Oregon (61.3 percent) and Wisconsin (61.2 percent). Down through the years, the midterms have always had a weaker turnout than the presidential election and that trend remains unchanged this year (more or less). The presidential elections usually see a turnout of about 60 percent and this year's midterms came closest to matching Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign when turnout was 51.7 percent.
Infographic: Highest Midterm Voter Turnout In Over A Century  | Statista