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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Demographics of the Blue Orange

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   California is an important part of the story.

Adam Nagourney and Robert Gebeloff at NYT:
Those new swing suburban counties were one of the central factors behind the 40-seat Democratic gain in the House in November. Many of them have been changed by an increase in educated and affluent voters who have been pushed toward the Democratic column by some of Mr. Trump’s policies. That partly accounts for what is happening here in Orange County, but the political shifts can also be explained by the rapidly changing cultural, political and economic face of the region and are on display in places like Bolsa Avenue, which is known as Little Saigon.
In the 48th Congressional District, which voted out Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a fixture of Orange County Republican politics for nearly 30 years, the Latino population jumped to 145,585 in 2017 from 38,803 in 1980, or 8 percent, accounting for 21 percent of the district’s population.

In another corner of Orange County, where Representative Mimi Walters, a Republican, was upset by Katie Porter, her Democratic challenger, the Asian-American population jumped from 14,528 in 1980, or 4.4 percent, to 175,540 in 2017, making up just under a quarter of the total population.
“Everybody is surprised,” said Jim Brulte, the state Republican leader. “Like Orange County is immune to the demographic changes?”
Tom Tait, the outgoing two-term Republican mayor of Anaheim, who saw the county change before him as he grew up here, said the party had failed to keep up.
The local party has dropped the ball with immigrant communities,” he said. “Anaheim is now one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States.”

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Tax Bill: Womp, Womp, Womp

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign.  Our forthcoming update will explain why the Trump tax cut backfired on Republicans in 2018.

Jim Tankersley at NYT:
There was a point in early 2018 when big American companies couldn’t stop talking about the Trump tax cuts. Flush with the projected savings from a $1.5 trillion law, they promised to raise wages, hand out bonuses to workers and invest in big projects. They scored headlines, along with applause from President Trump.
The fawning faded quickly. Analysts noted that the handouts to workers amounted to a relatively small share of the roughly $200 billion in federal income taxes that corporations avoided thanks to the cuts. Wages across the economy ticked up, but not by nearly as much as some Republicans had promised when they voted for the law. Capital investment surged at the start of the year, but the rate of growth fell sharply in the third quarter.
Stock buybacks by publicly traded companies continue to set records. They neared $200 billion in the third quarter for S&P 500 companies. Goldman Sachs analysts have predicted that the total amount of buybacks across the economy could top $1 trillion for the full year.
Some workers did reap rewards from the law, as many companies followed through on — and even exceeded — their promises to raise wages and pay bonuses. Yet other firms have announced layoffs, despite reporting higher profits and billions of dollars in tax savings.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The English Patient, 2018

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character.  

Teachers can use Trump's tweets to illustrate common mistakes in English.

Proper case of pronoun (I instead of me) and missing apostrophe at the end of a plural possessive (troops instead of troops')


Punctuation error (Democrat's instead of Democrats)

Missing words:
A 115-miles-long contact would take many years to read.

Capitalization errors:

Spelling error (priveledged instead of privileged):


Friday, December 28, 2018

The Long Brown Era Comes to a Close in California

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   California is an important part of the story.

Jerry Brown, 80, is leaving the California governorship after four terms.

A member of the Brown family was on the California statewide ballot in 15 of the 18 midterm elections between 1946 and 2014:
  1. 1946: Pat Brown, attorney general (lost)
  2. 1950: Pat Brown, attorney general (won)
  3. 1954: Pat Brown, attorney general (won)
  4. 1958: Pat Brown, governor (won)
  5. 1962: Pat Brown, governor (won)
  6. 1966: Pat Brown, governor (lost)
  7. 1970: Jerry Brown, secretary of state (won)
  8. 1974: Jerry Brown, governor (won)
  9. 1978: Jerry Brown, governor (won)
  10. 1982: Jerry Brown, US senator (lost)
  11. 1986:
  12. 1990: Kathleen Brown, treasurer (won)
  13. 1994: Kathleen Brown, governor (lost)
  14. 1998:
  15. 2002:
  16. 2006: Jerry Brown, attorney general (won)
  17. 2010: Jerry Brown, governor (won)
  18. 2014: Jerry Brown, governor (won)

California GOP, 2018

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   A forthcoming update will include the 2018 midterm.

It’d be hard to find better Republican hopefuls than Republican Reps. Jeff Denham and Mimi Walters or candidate Young Kim, according to [CA GOP chair Jim] Brulte. They all lost in the “unmistakeable” blue wave.
Republicans feel that wave was exacerbated by voter laws that they say helped Democrats. Also aiding Democrats: They were unified on a health care message that proved hugely effective in 2018. Democrats campaigned as the party that wanted to protect pre-existing condition coverage and make health care more affordable.
Democrats plan to stay with that message in 2020, while both outgoing and remaining Republicans have often concentrated on criticizing the media and new state voter laws.
But, Brulte said, Republicans need to put emphasis on how to appeal to minority groups, groups that widely disapprove of the leader of the party, President Donald Trump.
“Until the issue of immigration is completely dealt with, California Republicans are going to have trouble,” Brulte said, not specifying exactly what that would entail. Trump continues to push for a U.S-Mexico border wall and more restrictive immigration laws.
Walters, the outgoing congresswoman, blamed the party’s troubles on “the machine” of Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and voting laws passed by the “liberal legislature.” California passed four new voting laws that took effect in 2018, such as motor voter and same-day voter registration, all of which made voting easier.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, who retired from Congress and is taking a job with Trump’s administration, blamed the Democrats “turnout machine” and a lack of outside spending by Republicans in certain races.

When asked how Republicans combat all these woes, and what they need to do to turn out their own voters, Issa got on an elevator and remained silent until the doors closed.

Liz Mair at The Daily Beast:
For a bunch of California Republicans, no matter how much of an effort they made, nothing was going to overcome the hurdle of a wildly unpopular Trump as leader of the GOP, a tax reform bill that Trump signed that raised a bunch of normally reliable GOP voters’ tax bills, problems with health care that the GOP under Trump did not appear to be fixing, and immigration and trade policies crafted by Trump personally that have been tremendously off-putting to Hispanic, Asian and—yes—quite a few white voters too. If you believe that demographics are destiny, given Trump’s most Trumpy policies, it was probably already a given that several GOP-held House seats in California would change hands.
But none of this explains the sheer expanse of the losses, whereas a failure of candidates to behave like they were in the fights of their lives actually does.
Valadao, whose district is more than 75 percent Latino, and therefore the most minority-dominated of any Republican-held district in California, undoubtedly suffered because of Trump’s manifest antipathy to Hispanics. The tax bill and trade wars probably hurt him, too. But Valadao also hurt himself big time by making bad decisions and not working hard enough on issues of prime local importance. The best example of this is DACA—a deeply resonant subject in his district, especially.
The truth is, 2018 was always going to be a tough election for Republicans. But Norquist is right: A lot of Republicans lost unnecessarily because they took wins for granted, and didn’t focus on what mattered to their constituents, whether that was the impact of tax reform in California, New York, New Jersey or Illinois, or health care or trade or immigration (I’m a pro-immigration Republican who thinks the party should embrace comprehensive reform, including a path to citizenship). And a bunch of Republicans simply didn’t work for wins; they believed the #fakepolls narrative and delivered middling performances when loads of Democrats were proverbially vying for Oscars.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Troops and Trump

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign.

Benjy Sarlin at NBC:
President Donald Trump, on an unannounced visit to American military personnel in Iraq, said Wednesday he will do "whatever it takes" to secure border wall funding and attacked Democrats for blocking him.
"We need a wall," Trump said at the Al-Asad Air Base west of Baghdad. "We need safety for our country."
Presidents normally avoid partisan fights in military settings as part of a bipartisan tradition of keeping national security institutions separate from politics. Trump, who has frequently disregarded this norm, used his speech to soldiers to attack Democrats over the standoff, saying they only opposed a wall "because I want it."
At Military Times, Leo Shane III reports that Trump's approval rating among active-duty military members has declined.

And at NYT, Steve Eder reveals how Trump probably got his phony medical excuse from the Vietnam draft:
In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam.

For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.

Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.

The podiatrist, Dr. Larry Braunstein, died in 2007. But his daughters say their father often told the story of coming to the aid of a young Mr. Trump during the Vietnam War as a favor to his father.

“I know it was a favor,” said one daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56, who along with her sister, Sharon Kessel, 53, shared the family’s account for the first time publicly when contacted by The New York Times.

Elysa Braunstein said the implication from her father was that Mr. Trump did not have a disqualifying foot ailment. “But did he examine him? I don’t know,” she said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Russians Helped Jill Stein

Two days before the 2016 presidential election, an Instagram account called @woke_blacks posted a message in support of long-shot Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“The excuse that a lost Black vote for Hillary is a Trump win is bs,” it read. “It could be late, but y’all might want to support Jill Stein instead.”

According to a report commissioned by the Senate, the account was a fake, part of the Russian campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

The report was one of two that leaked this week saying the Russian effort to disrupt the election specifically targeted black voters and harnessed America’s top social media platforms. But the reports contained another finding that was largely overlooked — the Russians also focused on boosting Stein’s candidacy through social media posts like the one from @woke_blacks.
Windrem reports that the Russians had long backed Stein, even in 2012,
Most famously, Stein was one of two Americans invited to sit with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the head table of the RT 10th anniversary dinner in Dec. 2015. The other was General Michael Flynn, who was advising then candidate Donald J. Trump and is now awaiting sentencing in the special counsel’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The head table of a gala celebrating the tenth anniversary of Russia Today in December of 2015 included Russian President Vladimir Putin, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Jill Stein of the U.S. Green Party.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Donald Trump Christmas

Trump blasted Democrats for opposing his border wall and accusing them of hypocrisy, claiming “the only time they went against it––it was only one time––when Donald Trump said we want to build the wall.”

He brought up Comey as an example, saying the Democrats “hated him,” but then after he fired the head of the FBI, they were immediately flipping out and asking why he would fire him.

“As soon as I fired him, it was a terrible thing to do,” he continued. “It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country. But other than that, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas. Thank you very much."

The Favor Bank

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

In The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe wrote: 
Killian looked out over the lobby of 100 Centre Street. Then he turned back to Sherman.
"You ever hear of the Favor Bank?"
"The Favor Bank? No."

"Well, everything in this building, everything in the criminal justice system in New York" — New Yawk — "operates on favors. Everybody does favors for everybody else...A deposit in the Favor Bank is not a quid pro quo.  It's saving up for a rainy day."
Seth Hettena at NYT:
One of the keys to success in Mr. Trump’s life has been collecting deposits in a bank of favors. “Do me a favor” is one of his favorite lines, with the promise of good things to follow. For some, the good things never materialize. But failure to play this game can land you a spot on Mr. Trump’s enemies list. For example, Mr. Trump nursed a long-held grudge against Mario Cuomo, because the former New York governor failed to grant him an unspecified “perfectly legal and appropriate favor.
The problem for Mr. Trump is that he is unable or unwilling to spot the difference between a favor and a crooked scheme. And that goes a long way toward explaining why he has surrounded himself with people in trouble with the law and why his presidency is in the grip of intensifying federal investigations.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Trump's Transactional Approach to Foreign Policy and Everything Else

 From the Reuters interview: 


“Whatever’s good for this country, I would do. If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”


“I really hope that people aren’t going to suggest that we should not take hundreds of billions of dollars that they’re going to siphon off to Russia and to China, primarily those two, instead of giving it to us. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs. You’re talking about huge military and other contracts. I hope that’s not going to be a recommendation. But that’s moving along. And some of the senators are coming over to see me.”

Michael Tackett and Charlie Savage at NYT:

 When President Trump said in an interview this week that he was willing to intercede in the case of a Chinese telecom executive facing extradition to the United States if it helped achieve “the largest trade deal ever made,” it was a clear signal that his White House saw no problem intervening in the justice system to achieve what it considered economic gain.

A range of experts agreed on Wednesday that the president had the legal authority to order the government to rescind the extradition request for the executive, Meng Wanzhou, or even drop the charges against her. But they could not point to another instance of a president injecting himself into a criminal proceeding in a similar way.

“It sets a very bad precedent,” said Nicholas Burns, a former under secretary of state and ambassador to NATO who served in Republican and Democratic administrations and now teaches diplomacy and international relations at Harvard. “By mixing justice with trade and the rule of law with trade, it devalues both.”
 Last month, Max Boot wrote at WP:
Trump dismissed the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered this crime, writing “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” All that matters to Trump is preserving the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, which he justified with fanciful and fictitious figures – $110 billion in Saudi arms sales and $450 billion in general Saudi investment.

One suspects Trump’s sympathies lie with the Saudis for more personal reasons. The Saudi king and crown prince laid out the red carpet, literally, for Trump on his first trip abroad as president in 2017. They haven’t criticized him. Why should he criticize them? He is tougher on the SEAL commander who was responsible for killing Osama bin Laden than on the Saudi despot who was responsible for killing Jamal Khashoggi — simply because the latter is nicer to him than the former.

And, lest we forget, Saudis have shown their respect for Trump in tangible ways. He now denies doing business with Saudi Arabia, but in 2015 he bragged: “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.” Perhaps another president would not let such pecuniary considerations affect his decisions, but in Trump’s case it’s hard to have any faith that he will act in accordance with a higher good.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Scandalabra 2018

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal
  David A. Fahrenthold,  Matt Zapotosky and Seung Min Kim at WP:
Two years after Donald Trump won the presidency, nearly every organization he has led in the past decade is under investigation.

Trump’s private company is contending with civil suits digging into its business with foreign governments and with looming state inquiries into its tax practices.

Trump’s 2016 campaign is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation into Russian interference has already led to guilty pleas by his campaign chairman and four advisers.

Trump’s inaugural committee has been probed by Mueller for illegal foreign donations, a topic that the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman plans to further investigate next year.

Trump’s charity is locked in an ongoing suit with New York state, which has accused the foundation of “persistently illegal conduct.”
The Trumps cheated on their taxes At NYT Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig explain the effect on building tenants.
As it turned out, a hidden scam lurked behind the mysterious increases. In October, a New York Times investigation into the origins of Mr. Trump’s wealth revealed, among its findings, that the future president and his siblings set up a phony business to pad the cost of nearly everything their father, the legendary builder Fred C. Trump, purchased for his buildings. The Trump children split that extra money.

Padding the invoices had a secondary benefit for the Trumps, allowing them to inflate rent increases on their father’s rent-regulated apartments.

“The higher the markup would be, the higher the rent that might be charged,” Robert Trump, the president’s brother, once admitted in a sworn deposition obtained by The Times.

The president and his siblings have long since sold their father’s buildings and moved on with their inherited fortunes. But for tenants, the insidious effects of the scheme continue to this day.
The padded invoices have been baked into the base rent used to calculate the annual percentage increase approved by the city. The sum total of the rent overcharges cannot be calculated from available records. As a way to appreciate the scope of the impact, a onetime $10 increase in 1995 on all the 8,000 apartments involved would put the total overpaid by tenants at more than $33 million to date, an analysis of approved rent increases shows.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character.

David Nakamura at WP:
After threatening a shutdown for months over border wall funding and vowing last week that he would “take the mantle” of responsibility, Trump tried to shift the blame Friday, just hours before a government funding bill expired at midnight.
“The Democrats now own the shutdown!” he wrote on Twitter.
That was news to Democrats. “You own the shutdown,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded in a tweet, adding a video clip of his meeting with Trump and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the Oval Office in which the president declared: “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”
“Yep, you said that,” wrote Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), an enthusiastic Trump antagonist. “There are tapes.”
Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
At points throughout the day, Mr. Trump refused to address the chaos as he further ensconced himself in his administration’s achievements. Speaking to reporters assembled for a bill-signing on criminal justice reform — a piece of bipartisan legislation championed by Mr. Kushner — Mr. Trump refused to address unrelated questions on Syria or other issues, telling reporters their questions were not appropriate.
In other corners of the rattled capital, his most reliable allies refused to defend him on his decision to pull back troops from the Middle East.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a reliable lieutenant in partisan battle, is now one of the president’s most vocal critics on Syria. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, issued a rare statement that he was “distressed” by the departure of the defense secretary, Jim Mattis. Even Fox News, the mirror Mr. Trump has used to reflect the story of a presidency reshaped in his own image, has broadcast segments critical of his abrupt decision to pull troops.
Stocks are crashing. Heather Long, Josh Dawsey and Thomas Heath at WP: 
The Dow’s performance since Trump took office is now significantly less than what was achieved at the same point in Barack Obama’s presidency. The Dow is up 18 percent under Trump, compared with 45 percent at this point under Obama, according to Bespoke Investments.
Trump has repeatedly faulted the Federal Reserve for the market slide. But on Wall Street, many say Trump’s recent actions are also to blame.
“The market has lost confidence in the narrative coming out of the White House on the economy and trade,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, a multinational network of accounting firms.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Weak President

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character.

Matt Glassman repeats Neustadt's dictum that presidential power is the power to persuade:
And, in this sense, Trump just looks supremely weak in DC. He can’t get the GOP to do anything legislatively that is on his agenda but not theirs. He constantly complains about his own cabinet officials, who appear to ignore him regularly, but is too boxed in politically to fire them. Private sector “allies” loudly walk away from him the minute he crosses them. And he can’t even stop the record-setting departures and the legendary-level leaks at his own White House, where power-hungry staffers engage in endless intrigue, precisely because they know it is so easy to manipulate the president if you can get the face time.
In the last few weeks, things seem to be getting worse for Trump. In response to Trump’s less-than-emphatic denunciation of MBS and the Saudis over the Khashoggi murder, the Senate invoked the War Powers Resolution for the first time ever, directing Trump to end U.S. involvement in Yemen. GOP Senators have completely ignored Trump on his central domestic policy issue, the border wall, instead preferring to craft their own deal with the Democrats, even as Trump escalates the issue and backs himself into a corner. Numerous GOP Senators went apoplectic in response to Trump’s announcement about leaving Syria. And in response to the Mattis resignation, Majority Leader McConnell did not mince words about his dissatisfaction.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

GOP Hispanics

In Defying the Odds, we discuss demographic gaps in the 2016 election.  The forthcoming update will include a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

At FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon, Jr. reminds us that there is a substantial minority of Hispanics who lean GOP:
“There is a growing evangelical share among Hispanics, and that may be an important part of the story for Republican Latinos,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s director of Hispanic research.

Trump’s approval rating among Latinos also hovers between 20 and 30 percent in national polls (compared to 60 and 70 percent disapproval). That number is more evidence that a solid minority of Latinos is likely to remain aligned with Trump and the Republican Party.

To conclude, let me again emphasize that Latino voters overall are heavily Democratic and don’t like Trump. News articles that portray Democrats as having a “Latino problem” are, in my opinion, a bit off. It’s hard to say a party has a problem with a voting bloc that it wins by more than 35 percentage points nationally. The Democrats’ strength with Latino voters was a major factor in the party’s ability to flip GOP-controlled Senate seats in both Arizona and Nevada, two states with large blocs of Latino voters.

But it’s also true that Republicans continue to win a meaningful share of the Latino vote. And that has major implications. Florida remains a hugely important swing state in presidential elections, and now Democrats are talking about trying to win Arizona and maybe even Texas next year. Democrats could carry those states by winning more white voters, particularly those in the suburbs, but Democrats could also motivate Latinos who have not previously voted to cast ballots in those states. Or they could try to win over Latinos who have traditionally voted for Republicans.

For Republicans, this bloc of the electorate is just as critical. The path for Trump to win re-election probably includes him winning Arizona, Florida and Texas — and that would be easier if his Latino support doesn’t, say, bottom out to single digits in those states. But I don’t expect Trump to do much in the next two years to woo Latino voters. So the big question is whether Trump will have alienated Latino voters so much by 2020 that even those who have long backed GOP candidates decide that they can’t keep voting Republican.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Trump Foundation Folds

A release from the NY AG:
Today, Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced that – following a court decision in favor of the Attorney General – the Trump Foundation has signed a stipulation agreeing to dissolve under judicial supervision, with review and approval by the Attorney General of proposed recipient charities of the Foundation’s remaining assets.

This stipulation follows the court decision last month allowing Attorney General Underwood’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation to move forward.

Attorney General Underwood’s lawsuit sought the dissolution of the Foundation under judicial supervision and with the oversight of the Attorney General's Charities Bureau. The lawsuit – which also seeks millions in restitution and penalties and a bar on President Trump and his three eldest children from serving on the boards of other New York charities – remains ongoing.
Attorney General Underwood released the following statement:
“Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.
“Today’s stipulation accomplishes a key piece of the relief sought in our lawsuit earlier this year. Under the terms, the Trump Foundation can only dissolve under judicial supervision – and it can only distribute its remaining charitable assets to reputable organizations approved by my office.
“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone. We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”
The Attorney General filed the stipulation with the court today; it is awaiting the judge’s signature.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wise Words from Jim Brulte

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   California is an important part of the story.

At The Hill, California Republican chair Jim Brulte writes that demographics are driving the state party's decline -- and could portend growing problems for the party elsewhere.
In 1996, the white, non-Hispanic population in California was approximately 51 percent, and GOP registration statewide was 37 percent. Today, the white, non-Hispanic population is under 37 percent and GOP registration has dropped to 25 percent. And given our party’s inability to generate significant voter registration in the rapidly-growing Hispanic and Asian voting groups, this decline in voter registration is actually accelerating.

It is easy to forget it was not always like this. California has a long and rich history of thriving under Republican stewardship. We are the party of Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan. Since 1862, California has elected successive Democrats to be governor just twice — once was in 1886 and the other was last month when Gavin Newsom was elected to succeed Jerry Brown.

What changed? The quick answer is the voting population: Our party and our candidates have yet to figure out how to consistently attract support from Hispanics and Asians.

California is one of five majority-minority states. Another of those five states, Hawaii, is solidly Democratic. New Mexico just elected a Democratic governor and added to its legislative majorities that include a two-thirds majority in the lower House. Nevada elected a Democratic governor, flipped a Republican-held U.S. Senate seat and increased Democrats’ numbers in the state legislature, which brought about a two-thirds majority in the lower house. And in Texas, long held as an example of Republican excellence, Republicans managed to win all statewide races, but lost two congressional seats, two state Senate seats and 12 lower House seats.

By the end of next year, a majority of children in this country under age 18 will be non-white. And by 2044, a majority of the population of our country will made up of individuals from current minority groups.

The Internet Research Agencies Social Media Tactics

Craig Timberg and Tony Romm at WP:
Months after President Trump took office, Russia’s disinformation teams trained their sights on a new target: special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Having worked to help get Trump into the White House, they now worked to neutralize the biggest threat to his staying there.
The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former FBI director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies. One post on Instagram — which emerged as an especially potent weapon in the Russian social media arsenal — claimed that Mueller had worked in the past with “radical Islamic groups.”
Such tactics exemplified how Russian teams ranged nimbly across social media platforms in a shrewd online influence operation aimed squarely at American voters. The effort started earlier than commonly understood and lasted longer while relying on the strengths of different sites to manipulate distinct slices of the electorate, according to a pair of comprehensive new reports prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee and released Monday
From the Senate Intelligence Committee:
Today, third-party experts released two independent analyses of social media tactics used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in their attempts to influence U.S. political discourse. The reports are the first comprehensive analyses of their kind conducted by entities other than social media companies themselves, and are based in part on data provided by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).
The reports, titled “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency” and “The IRA and Political Polarization in the United States, 2015-2017,” were authored by New Knowledge, and University of Oxford and Graphika, respectively.

The third-party reports released today are based in part on data provided by the Committee under its Technical Advisory Group, whose members serve to provide substantive technical and expert advice on topics of importance to ongoing Committee activity and oversight. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions presented within are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Senate Intelligence Committee or its Membership.
Separate from the Technical Advisory Group, the Committee is conducting an ongoing investigation into the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. As part of its investigation, the Committee has held several open hearings on the use of social media by foreign influence campaigns, including recent hearings with third-party experts in August 2018 and social media company officials in September 2018. The Committee will release its own report on social media with its findings as an installment of its investigation.
To read New Knowledge’s report, “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency,” click here.
To read University of Oxford and Graphika’s report, “The IRA and Political Polarization in the United States, 2015-2017,” click here.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The GOP Blew Its Chance to Focus on the Economy

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

GOP pollster Dave Winston sums up the 2018 election, with these key takeaways:

  • This was not a base election. Independents decided the outcome, breaking for Democrats by12 points.
  •  Turnout was higher, but the ideological/party composition remained basically the same. Women and young voters made up the same percentage of the electorate as in previous elections.
  • The key to the election was voter groups changing vote preference almost across the board,especially Independents, as Republicans saw significant losses in the suburbs and in rural areas.
  • According to ideology and party ID post-election data, there was no radical realignment to the Left. America remains a center-right country.
  • The state of the economy had the potential to be the most powerful message, not healthcare, with 68% of voters calling the economy excellent or good, an improvement from 2016 when only 36% called it excellent or good.
  •  Republicans were not able to capitalize on the economic opportunity by educating the electorate on what was in the tax cut bill and how it was helping them and their families. Only 32% of voters believed the bill reduced tax rates for everyone. Those people who said it would lower their taxes voted Republican 73-26.
  • The combination of the immigration and the caravan issues dominated the Republican economic message voters heard by a 2:1 margin.
  • The focus on the immigration/caravan issue instead of the positive jobs report in the last days of the campaign had a net result of late deciders breaking for Democrats by 12 points.
  •  Republicans missed an opportunity to win because they were not able to make the number one issue – the economy – the number one issue.