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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Vetting Docs

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the people surrounding Trump (The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli
Some highlights:
  • Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his job as EPA Administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting form titled "allegations of coziness with big energy companies."
  • Tom Price, who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging "criticisms of management ability" and "Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price's Leadership Of The House Budget Committee."
  • Mick Mulvaney, who became Trump's Budget Director and is now his acting chief of staff, has a striking assortment of "red flags," including his assessment that Trump "is not a very good person."
  • The Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani, in line for Secretary of State, that they created a separate 25-page document titled "Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier" with copious accounting of his "foreign entanglements."
...
Behind the scenes: In the chaotic weeks after Trump's surprise election victory, Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of his transition. The team that took over — which V.P. Mike Pence helmed — outsourced the political vetting of would-be top officials to the Republican National Committee.
...
Traditionally, any would-be top official faces three types of vetting: an FBI background check, a scrub for financial conflicts of interest from the Office of Government Ethics, and a deep dive from the president-elect's political team, which veteran Washington lawyers often handle.
We obtained many of the political vetting forms. According to sources on the RNC vetting team, senior Trump officials asked them to do an initial "scrub" of the public record before Trump met the contenders. But in many cases — for example the misguided choice of Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary — this RNC "scrub" of public sources was the only substantial vetting in Trump's possession when he announced his picks.
The full list here.


 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Blue Demographics in Texas

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the demographics of the 2016 election.    The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Alexa Ura and Connie Hanzhang Jin at The Texas Tribune:
The gap between Texas’ Hispanic and white populations continued to narrow last year when the state gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident.
With Hispanics expected to become the largest population group in Texas as soon as 2022, new population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed the Hispanic population climbed to nearly 11.4 million — an annual gain of 214,736 through July 2018 and an increase of 1.9 million since 2010.

The white population, meanwhile, grew by just 24,075 last year. Texas still has a bigger white population — up to 11.9 million last year — but it has only grown by roughly 484,000 since 2010. The white population’s growth has been so sluggish this decade that it barely surpassed total growth among Asian Texans, who make up a tiny share of the total population, in the same time period.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

2020 House Elections: Advantage D

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
.
Scott Wong and Juliegrace Brufke at The Hill:
The 2020 election is more than a year away, but some Republican lawmakers are pessimistic about their chances of winning back the House.
President Trump’s approval ratings in key swing states are under water. Infighting on the GOP leadership team and a notable retirement [Susan Brooks of Indiana, in charge of NRCC recruitment] have raised questions about the party’s campaign strategy.

And Republicans acknowledge that many of the at-risk Democratic freshmen in Trump districts are going to be difficult to beat as they resist calls for impeachment and stay focused on kitchen-table issues such as health care and infrastructure.
“It’s going to be tough. [The Democrats] have really good majority-makers — [Reps.] Abigail Spanberger, Dean Phillips, Max Rose. They’ve got some good members that know what they’re doing. They seem to not be embracing the crazy,” said one senior GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity.
“There is a path for us to take it back, but they have good candidates. They have money they are still raising left and right,” the source added. “You just don’t know if the intensity of our voters will be enough, because [Democrats] are still engaged.”
In the first three months of this year, the House Democrats’ campaign arm hauled in more than $32 million, while the GOP’s campaign operation raised $25 million.
Another GOP lawmaker said it will be hard for Republicans to make the case to voters they deserve the majority when they failed to repeal ObamaCare or fund Trump’s border wall in the last Congress when they controlled all the levers of the government.
“It would be very difficult to take back the majority when most people see it as a squandered opportunity when Republicans had the majority,” the second GOP lawmaker told The Hill.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Economic Clouds

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

A boom in employee bonuses handed out by some companies in the wake of the 2017 Republican tax cut proved to be temporary, Labor Department data released Tuesday showed.

Private-sector companies’ spending on nonproduction bonuses fell 24% in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier, the largest decrease for the category of benefit costs on record back to 2005.

Those bonus payments jumped in late 2017 and early 2018 after Congress approved its package of tax cuts. Walmart Inc., AT&T Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. were among prominent employers that announced bonuses in the wake of the new tax law. President Trump and other Republicans touted the bonuses as an example of how the law benefited everyday workers.
Those gains appear to largely have been a one-time windfall. 
Heather Long at WP:
The Federal Reserve did not change interest rates Wednesday but strongly signaled a willingness to cut soon to prevent the economy from slowing further. President Trump has urged the central bank to cut rates for months to boost growth.
Business investment is slowing, uncertainty has increased, and the U.S. economy is growing at a “moderate” pace, the Fed said Wednesday, a notable downgrade from last month when the central bank characterized the economy as “solid.”
The Fed indicated it would take action if the economy shows any more signs of decline.
“In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the [Fed] committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” the Fed wrote in a statement.
Wall Street investors are widely anticipating a rate reduction when Fed leaders meet next in late July because of Trump’s trade war and slumping business investment, especially in manufacturing.
“Many on the committee do see a strengthened case for cutting rates," Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said Wednesday. “News about trade has been an important driver of sentiment in the inter-meaning period. We’re also looking at global growth.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

McConnell v. a Half-Century of GOP History on Puerto Rican Statehood

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional politics as well as the presidential race  The update 
-- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Baily Vogt at The Washington Times:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is happy to be the “grim reaper when it comes to the Democrat’s socialist agenda,” including blocking measures that would grant Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood.
“They plan to make the District of Columbia a state — that’d give them two new Democratic senators — Puerto Rico a state, that would give them two more new Democratic senators. And as a former Supreme Court clerk yourself, you’ve surely noticed that they plan to expand the Supreme Court,” the Kentucky Republican said on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” addressing growing calls from 2020 Democrats to add additional members to the high court. 
“This is full bore socialism on the march in the House. And yeah, as long as I’m the majority leader of the Senate, none of that stuff is going anywhere,” he said.
As far as Puerto Rico is concerned, he is blocking his own party's position and accusing it of "full bore socialism."  The GOP has officially supported Puerto Rican statehood in every platform in the past half-century.
  • 2016: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state. We further recognize the historic significance of the 2012 local referendum in which a 54 percent majority voted to end Puerto Rico's current status as a U.S. territory, and 61 percent chose statehood over options for sovereign nationhood. We support the federally sponsored political status referendum authorized and funded by an Act of Congress in 2014 to ascertain the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico. Once the 2012 local vote for statehood is ratified, Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico's future admission as the 51st state of the Union.
  • 2012: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
  • 2008: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
  • 2004: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the Constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
  • 2000: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
  • 1996: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We endorse initiatives of the congressional Republican leadership to provide for Puerto Rico's smooth transition to statehood if its citizens choose to alter their current status, or to set them on their own path to become an independent nation.
  • 1992: The Republican Party supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign State after they freely so determine.
  • 1988: Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898. The Republican Party vigorously supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union as a fully sovereign State after they freely so determine. Therefore, we support the establishment of a presidential task force to prepare the necessary legislation to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have the opportunity to exercise at the earliest possible date their right to apply for admission into the Union. We also pledge that a decision of the people of Puerto Rico in favor of statehood will be implemented through an admission bill that would provide for a smooth fiscal transition, recognize the concept of a multi-cultural society for its citizens, and ensure the right to retain their Spanish language and traditions.
  • 1984: The Republican Party reaffirms its support of the right of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union after it freely so determines, through the passage of an admission bill which will provide for a smooth fiscal transition, recognize the concept of a multicultural society for its citizens, and secure the opportunity to retain their Spanish language and traditions.
  • 1980: Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898. The Republican Party vigorously supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We believe that the statehood alternative is the only logical solution to the problem of inequality of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico within the framework of the federal Constitution, with full recognition within the concept of a multicultural society of the citizens' right to retain their Spanish language and traditions. Therefore we pledge to support the enactment of the necessary legislation to allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise their right to apply for admission into the Union at the earliest possible date after the presidential election of 1980. We also pledge that such decision of the people of Puerto Rico will be implemented through the approval of an admission bill. This bill will provide for the Island's smooth transition from its territorial fiscal system to that of a member of the Union. This enactment will enable the new state of Puerto Rico to stand economically on an equal footing with the rest of the states and to assume gradually its fiscal responsibilities as a state.
  • 1976: The principle of self-determination also governs our positions on Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as it has in past platforms. We again support statehood for Puerto Rico, if that is the people's choice in a referendum, with full recognition within the concept of a multicultural society of the citizens' right to retain their Spanish language and traditions; and support giving the District of Columbia voting representation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives and full home rule over those matters that are purely local.
  • 1972: The Republican Party adheres to the principle of self-determination for Puerto Rico. We will welcome and support statehood for Puerto Rico if that status should be the free choice of its people in a referendum vote.
  • 1968: We will support the efforts of the Puerto Rican people to achieve statehood when they freely request such status by a general election, and we share the hopes and aspirations of the people of the Virgin Islands who will be closely consulted on proposed gubernatorial appointments.

Misunderstanding Medicare for All

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that Poll most Americans do not understand how much the leading Medicare-for-all proposals would restructure health care..
The most recent KFF Health Tracking Poll finds majorities across partisans think taxes for most people would increase under a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare-for-all (78 percent), and about half (53 percent) think private health insurance companies would no longer be the primary way Americans would get health coverage under such a plan. However, when it comes to other key changes that the leading Medicare-for-all bills introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal would bring, large shares are unaware of how the current health care system may be affected. For example, majorities say people would continue to pay deductibles and co-pays (69 percent) and continue to pay premiums (54 percent) under a Medicare-for-all plan. Likewise, majorities say people with employer-sponsored or self-purchased insurance would be able to keep their plans (55 percent each) under a Medicare-for-all plan.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Trump and the Russian Electric Power Grid

In Defying the Odds,we discuss Trump's approach to governingThe update --recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth at NYT:
 The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.
...
Officials at the National Security Council also declined to comment but said they had no national security concerns about the details of The New York Times’s reporting about the targeting of the Russian grid, perhaps an indication that some of the intrusions were intended to be noticed by the Russians.
... 
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place “implants” — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.
Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bullock and the Debates

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Gabriel Debenedetti at New York:
Steve Bullock would love for everyone to know that he’s been elected statewide three times as a Democrat in Montana, a state Donald Trump won by 20 points. But getting that message out is going to be a bit more difficult than Bullock planned, since he won’t be on the first Democratic presidential primary debate stage in Miami later this month, barely falling short of the Democratic National Committee’s polling threshold. Bullock, who only got into the race in May after his legislative session ended and he reauthorized Montana’s Medicaid expansion, didn’t make the cut after the party decidednot to count an early Washington Post/ABC poll in its qualifying criteria. Then, on the last day he might have snuck in, he came one respondent shortin a Nevada poll. He’s not happy about it.
Cheyenne Haslett at ABC:
If there's a silver lining for 2020 Democratic candidates who didn't make the cut for the first Democratic debates later this month, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is certainly looking for it.

As the only candidate elected in a state that also voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, Bullock has argued that the DNC is blocking the one Democrat who can truly connect with Trump voters. He's taking advantage of not making the debate stage to emphasize what's he accomplished working with a Republican legislature in Montana -- and giving his campaign a chance at what his many rivals in the 2020 field wish for: a moment to stand apart from the pack.

Capitalizing on that moment, it took just a day after the DNC's announcement, Bullock's campaign to issue a fundraising call. In a new campaign ad obtained exclusively by ABC News, a man born and raised in Montana sits in the bed of his truck and rails against the DNC's decision not to include the governor on the debate stage.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Pocketbook Politics

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

Federal tax payments by big businesses are falling much faster than anticipated in the wake of Republicans’ tax cuts, providing ammunition to Democrats who are calling for corporate tax increases.
The U.S. Treasury saw a 31 percent drop in corporate tax revenues last year, almost twice the decline official budget forecasters had predicted. Receipts were projected to rebound sharply this year, but so far they’ve only continued to fall, down by almost 9 percent or $11 billion.
Though business profits remain healthy and the economy is strong, total corporate taxes are at the lowest levels seen in more than 50 years.
t the same time, overall taxes paid by individuals under the new tax law are up so far this year by 3 percent, thanks to higher wages and salaries, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Last year tax payments by individuals went up 4 percent.
Sarah Min at CBS:
The longest economic expansion in U.S. history could soon come to an end, according to a survey of chief financial officers released Wednesday. Their fear is that growing economic uncertainty and trade wars could finally halt the record streak of U.S. GDP growth, now barely a month shy of its 10th year.

Nearly half, or 48%, of chief financial officers in the U.S. are predicting a recession by mid-2020, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey, which is conducted quarterly. And more than two-thirds, 69%, are predicting a downturn by the end of next year.
"It looks likely that an economic recession is on the horizon for 2020," John Graham, finance professor at Duke University, said in a video statement.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fire Kellyanne

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the people surrounding Trump (The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli

A release from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today sent a report to President Donald J. Trump finding that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.
Although the President and Vice President are exempt from the Hatch Act, employees of the White House are not. OSC’s letter to the President accompanying the report refers to Ms. Conway as a “repeat offender” and states: “Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law.”
Today’s report follows a March 2018 OSC report finding that Ms. Conway violated the Hatch Act during two separate television interviews in which she advocated for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.
Moreover, during a media interview on May 29, 2019, Ms. Conway downplayed the significance of the law as applied to her. When asked about the Hatch Act, she stated, “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” and “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
Like with other presidential appointees, the President has the authority to discipline Ms. Conway for violating the Hatch Act. Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service.
OSC’s full report is available here

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Trump Invites Foreign Interference

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Lucien Bruggeman at ABC:
Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners -- such as China or Russia -- or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, "I think maybe you do both."
"I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump continued. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent' -- oh, I think I'd want to hear it."
...
"It's not an interference, they have information -- I think I'd take it," Trump said. "If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI -- if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, 'oh let's call the FBI.' The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that's the way it is. It's called oppo research."
...
"Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,' do you call the FBI?" Trump responded.
"I'll tell you what, I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do," Trump continued. "Oh, give me a break – life doesn't work that way."

"The FBI director said that is what should happen," Stephanopoulos replied, referring to comments FBI Director Christopher Wray made during congressional testimony last month, when he told lawmakers "the FBI would want to know about" any foreign election meddling.
But on Wednesday, the president refuted Wray's sentiment.
"The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn't happen like that in life," Trump said. "Now maybe it will start happening, maybe today you'd think differently."

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Age Gaps

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Lisa Lerer and Denise Lu at NYT report that the youngest and oldest candidate in 2020 have a 40-year age gap between them, the largest in modern political history.
Age has never defined a race so sharply before. The 23 Democrats include one of the youngest presidential candidates in modern history and the oldest one, spanning four generations — from 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., to 77-year-old Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont.
...
The two men leading most national polls — Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden — would be over 80 by the time they finished their first term in office, beating out Mr. Trump to become the oldest of any president elected to their first term. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who polls in third place in many surveys, will be 71 on Election Day.

Their age cuts a striking contrast with many of their rivals: Mr. Biden won his first statewide race for Senate in 1972, before eight of the Democratic candidates had been born. When Mr. Sanders entered Congress in 1990, 10 of his opponents had not yet graduated from college. Both men were the only candidates in federal office during the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first invasion of Iraq and the first major generational transition for their party in more than three decades — the election of Mr. Clinton in 1992.
...
But the dominance of older voters at the polls may not hold in 2020. This presidential race is likely to be the first election in which voters under 40 make up the same proportion of the electorate as voters over 55 — nearly 40 percent of the electorate, according to some early projections. Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X outvoted older generations in the 2018 midterms, and early surveys show them on track to turn out in far greater numbers in next year’s primary contests than they did four years ago.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Biden Strategy

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo at Politico:
He brags about his ability to get along with Republicans. He’s not in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s good graces. His campaign has sent mixed messages on climate change and abortion funding.
If it seems like Joe Biden is running for the nomination of a different Democratic Party than the rest of his rivals, that’s because he is.

From his schedule to his messaging to his policy positions, the former vice president is carving a divergent path through the primaries based on a theory that few of his rivals appear to believe — that the Democratic base isn’t nearly as liberal or youthful as everyone thinks.
It’s a high-risk strategy at a time when the progressive wing is pulsing with energy. There is a danger of looking disconnected from the rising Obama coalition, or seeming to adhere to an outdated view of the party.
But so far it’s working. Since his April 25 launch, despite talk that his polling numbers would slide once he entered the race because he was out of step with the current party mood, Biden has instead led in every national survey. He sprinted out of the gate with a post-announcement 6-point bump and still hold leads in recent early state polls.
Harry Enten at CNN:
Our new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom's new Iowa caucuses poll conducted by Selzer and Co. shows Joe Biden at 24%, Bernie Sanders at 16%, Elizabeth Warren at 15%, Pete Buttigieg at 14% and Kamala Harris at 7% among likely caucusgoers.
It's the first high quality Iowa poll conducted since Biden entered the race and shows him in a tenuous position. Buttigieg and Warren are doing better than other polls in the state have suggested.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Mexico Agreed to Do What It Had Already Agreed to Do

In Defying the Odds, we discuss issues such as trade and immigration The update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States over the past several months, according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations.
Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said.
The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.
And over the past week, negotiators failed to persuade Mexico to accept a “safe third country” treaty that would have given the United States the legal ability to reject asylum seekers if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.
Mr. Trump hailed the agreement anyway on Saturday, writing on Twitter: “Everyone very excited about the new deal with Mexico!” He thanked the president of Mexico for “working so long and hard” on a plan to reduce the surge of migration into the United States.
It was unclear whether Mr. Trump believed that the agreement truly represented new and broader concessions, or whether the president understood the limits of the deal but accepted it as a face-saving way to escape from the political and economic consequences of imposing tariffs on Mexico, which he began threatening less than two weeks ago.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Email from CA GOP

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

The California GOP has fallen on hard times and is trying to pump up registration and build up its database.

From the California GOP:



Friday, June 7, 2019

What Matters to California Voters

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 raceCalifornia may matter more this time because it votes on Super Tuesday and mail ballots go out on February 3.

A release from the Public Policy Institute of California:
Less than a year before California’s presidential primary, Democratic likely voters and those who lean Democratic are divided on a key question: Is it more important to nominate the candidate whose views align with their own or the one who seems most likely to defeat President Trump? Older voters are more likely to say that the ability to defeat Trump is more important, while younger voters are more likely to think it is more important to nominate a candidate with views similar to theirs. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
Among likely voters who identify themselves as registered Democrats or as independents who lean Democratic, 48 percent say it is more important to choose the candidate most likely to beat Trump, while slightly fewer—42 percent—say it is more important to choose the nominee whose views align with theirs.
Among those age 18 to 44, about half (51%) choose a candidate with similar views (43% able to defeat Trump). Among those age 45 and over, 52 percent prioritize the candidate’s ability to defeat Trump (37% candidate whose views align with theirs).
Overall, two-thirds of California’s likely voters (65%) say they will definitely or probably choose a candidate other than Trump. This view is held overwhelmingly by Democrats (93%) and by a strong majority of independents (66%). But an overwhelming majority of Republican likely voters (82%) say they would definitely or probably vote to reelect Trump if the election were held today. Similarly, there is a partisan divide among likely voters on approval of Trump: 84% of Republicans approve of how Trump is handling his job as president, compared to far fewer independents (43%) and Democrats (8%).
“With the 2020 presidential primary looming large in California, Republicans overwhelmingly want to reelect Trump, while most Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are divided about what they are looking for in a candidate to defeat Trump,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.
Asked to choose the attributes that are most important in a presidential candidate, half of likely voters (52%) prefer experience and a proven record, while 39 percent opt for new ideas and a different approach. Democrats who are likely voters are divided on this question, with 49 percent saying experience and 42 percent saying new ideas, while majorities of Republican (60%) and independent (53%) likely voters prefer experience.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Policy Plagiarism

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Natasha  Korecki and Marc Caputo at Politico:
Twenty-four hours after Joe Biden’s campaign was taken to task for lifting portions of a climate change plan without citation, it’s clear that the former vice president has plenty of company.
A sampling of policy proposals from Biden’s leading rivals suggests the lifting of direct text from academic papers, think tanks or policy institutes — and the cribbing of facts without attribution — is fairly widespread on 2020 campaign websites.

A POLITICO review found previously published material on the official campaign websites of Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, as well as frequent use of facts and data without citation on a number of others.
"More than 1 million women in America today have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner,“ Harris writes under the gender equality section of her website.
Everytown, the gun safety group, has a remarkably similar line on its own site, with one minor difference in scale: “Nearly 1 million women alive today have been shot, or shot at, by an intimate partner."

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Russians on Twitter

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.


Gillian Cleary at Symantec:
One of the main talking points of the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign involved attempts to surreptitiously influence public opinion using social media campaigns. In the months after the election, it quickly became apparent that a sophisticated propaganda operation had been directed against American voters.
Not surprisingly, news of these campaigns caused widespread public concern, prompting social media firms to launch investigations into whether their services had been misused. In October 2018, Twitter released a massive dataset of content posted on its service by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company responsible for the largest propaganda campaign directed against the U.S.
The dataset consisted of 3,836 Twitter accounts and nearly 10 million tweets. These accounts had amassed almost 6.4 million followers and were following 3.2 million accounts. The sheer volume of data was enormous, more than 275 GB.
The archive has proven to be a treasure trove of information on how the IRA’s propaganda campaign operated. For example, prior to the release, many people assumed that its posts were focused on just one side of the political spectrum. Once the data was made public, it quickly became obvious that in order to achieve its goal, the campaign directed propaganda at both sides of the liberal/conservative political divide in the U.S., in particular the more disaffected elements of both camps. The main objective of the campaign instead appeared to be sowing discord by attempting to inflame opinions on both sides. This was not just confined to the online sphere. Several of the accounts were used to organize political rallies in the U.S. and some of the most influential accounts in the dataset were used to promote these events to the largest possible audience.
However, believing that there is a lot to learn from this data beyond its messages and target audience, we decided to carry out some in-depth analysis of the archive to learn more about how this propaganda campaign worked. What we discovered was that this was not an ad-hoc response to political events in the U.S. Instead, the evidence points to a carefully planned and coordinated operation, with the groundwork often laid months in advance.
While the tactics employed changed somewhat over time, the basic template for this operation remained the same, utilizing a small core of accounts to push out new content and a wider pool of automated accounts to amplify those messages.
Along the way, we also came across some interesting bits of information, such as what appeared to be some rogue operators using monetized link-shortening services to make some money on the side.
Key Findings:
  • The operation was carefully planned, with accounts often registered months before they were used – and well in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The average time between account creation and first tweet was 177 days.
  • A core group of main accounts was used to push out new content. These were often ”fake news” outlets masquerading as regional news outlets or pretended to be political organizations.
  • A much larger pool of auxiliary accounts was used to amplify messages pushed out by the main accounts. These usually pretended to be individuals.
  • The campaign directed propaganda at both sides of the liberal/conservative political divide in the U.S., in particular the more disaffected elements of both camps.
  • Most accounts were primarily automated, but they would frequently show signs of manual intervention, such as posting original content or slightly changing the wording of reposted contented, presumably in an attempt to make them appear more authentic and reduce the risk of their deletion. Fake news accounts were set up to monitor blog activity and automatically push new blog posts to Twitter. Auxiliary accounts were configured to retweet content pushed out by the main accounts.
  • The most retweeted account garnered over 6 million retweets. Only a small fraction (1,850) of those retweets came from other accounts within the dataset, meaning many of the retweets could have come from genuine Twitter users.