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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


IDefying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.   It unfolds  as Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.   

The latest news is bad, both for the country, as well as Trump's prospects in the election next week.

 Thomas Beaumont at AP:

And now the virus is getting worse in states that the Republican president needs the most, at the least opportune time. New infections are raging in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the upper Midwest. In Iowa, polls suggest Trump is in a toss-up race with Biden after carrying the state by 9.4 percentage points four years ago.

Trump's pandemic response threatens his hold on Wisconsin, where he won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, said Marquette University Law School poll director Charles Franklin.

“Approval of his handling of COVID is the next-strongest predictor of vote choice," behind voters' party affiliation and their overall approval of Trump's performance as president, Franklin said. “And it's not just a fluke of a single survey.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday that among U.S. states, Wisconsin had the third highest rate of new cases for the previous seven days. Iowa was 10th

Trump won Wisconsin's heavily blue-collar Winnebago County, which includes Oshkosh, in 2016, after Democratic nominee Barack Obama had carried it in 2012. Today, Winnebago is among the top 10 counties where new Wisconsin COVID cases are being reported, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and compiled by The Associated Press.

The trend is similar in Iowa. Blue-collar Dubuque County was among the state's 10 counties with the fastest-growing number of cases per capita over the past two weeks. Trump won the county narrowly after Democrats had carried it since the 1950s.

Linley Sanders at YouGov:

In the last few days, the United States has set new daily records for the number of positive COVID-19 tests reported. Recent infection levels have been higher than they were even during the July peak.

The latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that the increase has not gone unnoticed by voters. The percentage of registered voters who say "the number of cases is increasing" in the United States jumped nine percentage points over the last week, from 63% to 72%.

That number has been steadily rising throughout October, and across party lines. At the beginning of the month, a quarter (24%) of Republicans saw the case count rising. This week, that recognition has doubled (48%). Two-thirds (68%) of Democrats in early October said coronavirus cases were increasing; this week, 90% believe this to be the situation. 

State Legislatures 2020

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

The race for the legislatures will have profound consequences for redistricting.

Nathaniel Rakich and Elena Mejía at FiveThirtyEight:

Gerrymandering, or the act of purposefully drawing a map to advantage one political party or group, has a long history in this country — and politicians of all persuasions have been guilty of it. But the red wave election of 2010 upped the ante by giving Republicans lopsided control of the 2011 redistricting process. Thanks in large part to the 21 state legislatures and six governorships they picked up, Republicans were able to draw 55 percent of congressional districts, while Democrats drew just 10 percent.

As a result, in both 2012 and 2016, the House map was more biased toward Republicans than it had been at any point since the 1970s. Republicans even won 33 more House seats than Democrats in the 2012 election despite Democrats winning the House popular vote by 1.3 percentage points. And even as courts ruled some states’ maps unconstitutional and Democrats were able to flip the House in 2018, the median seat remained 4.4 points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole.

 Lou Jacobson at the Cook Political Report:

Currently, the GOP controls 58 legislative chambers while the Democrats control 40 chambers. Nebraska's unicameral legislature, which is nonpartisan, isn't included in our count. (For this tally, we counted the Alaska House's coalition leadership as a Democratic-held chamber, even though Republicans nominally control more seats.)

The GOP's edge in the legislatures has narrowed from the 65 chambers the party controlled prior to the 2018 elections. That was already down from the 68 chambers the GOP controlled just before the 2016 elections.

The GOP has held the lead in state legislative chambers for a decade. As recently as the run-up to the 2010 election, Democrats held a 62-to-36 advantage in chambers, but that degree of Democratic control has suffered from a combination of a strong GOP redistricting cycle in 2010 and the slow but permanent loss of yellow-dog Democratic chambers in the South.

At this point for the 2020 cycle, we rate 19 chambers as competitive – slightly more than the 17 we saw as competitive in our final handicapping prior to the 2018 election.

Ominously for Republicans, the GOP holds 14 of the 19 vulnerable chambers on our list. This suggests that the Democrats are well-positioned to net up to a half-dozen new chambers this fall, and more if it’s a genuine blue wave.

 Manny Fernandez and Reid J. Epstein at NYT:

After a generation under unified Republican control, Texas is a battleground at every level of government this year. President Trump and Senator John Cornyn are fighting for their political lives, and five Republican-held congressional seats are in danger of flipping.

But some of the most consequential political battles in Texas are taking place across two dozen contested races for the Texas State House, which Republicans have controlled since 2003. To win a majority, Democrats must flip nine of the chamber’s 150 seats — the same number of Republican-held districts Beto O’Rourke carried during his 2018 Senate race, when he was the first Texas Democrat to make a competitive run for Senate or governor in a generation.

Mr. O’Rourke has organized nightly online phone banks that are making about three million phone calls a week to voters during the campaign’s final stretch. His organization helped register about 200,000 Texas Democratic voters in an attempt to finish a political transformation of Texas that began with his Senate race.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Bad COVID News

 IDefying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.   It unfolds  as Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.   

The latest news is bad, both for the country, as well as Trump's prospects in the election next week.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Self-Inflicted Senate Wounds for the GOP

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

Josh Dawsey and  Rachael Bade at WP:
President Trump privately told donors this past week that it will be “very tough” for Republicans to keep control of the Senate in the upcoming election because some of the party’s senators are candidates he cannot support.

“I think the Senate is tough actually. The Senate is very tough,” Trump said at a fundraiser Thursday at the Nashville Marriott, according to an attendee. “There are a couple senators I can’t really get involved in. I just can’t do it. You lose your soul if you do. I can’t help some of them. I don’t want to help some of them.”

The attendee shared the president’s words on the condition of anonymity as the event was a closed-door gathering. It was held before the last presidential debate between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.

Morgan Gstalter at The Hill:

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs on Friday went after Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), asking why anyone would vote for the Republican lawmaker just weeks before his hotly contested election.

Dobbs lashed out at the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman for “not subpoenaing the left-wing heads of the censorships Twitter and Facebook until after the election.”

“I don’t know why anyone in the great state of South Carolina would ever vote for Lindsey Graham. It’s just outrageous,” Dobbs said. “This is the guy who keeps saying, ‘Stay tuned.’ He said he would get to the bottom of Obamagate with the Judiciary Committee, which has been a year and a half, actually longer, of absolute inert response to these pressing issues of our day.”

Dobbs noted how Graham, now one of President Trump’s most vocal supporters, was criticized by the then-Republican presidential candidate during the 2016 election.

Trump called Graham “one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen” and said the senator, who was running against him at the time in the GOP primary, “is a nut job.”

“I believe that the president’s words about the senator then apply today,” Dobbs said.

“Graham has betrayed President Trump at almost every turn,” Dobbs pressed. “He has betrayed the American people and his oath of office. He’s done absolutely nothing to investigate Obamagate except to tell everyone, ‘Stay tuned,’ time and time again. Stay tuned. Senator Graham needs to be tuned out in South Carolina.”

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Shrinking White Working Class

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.  They are not working in his favor this time.

Ford Fessenden and Lazaro Gamio at NYT:
In 2016, Donald J. Trump confounded the polls in part by generating an unanticipated level of enthusiasm and turnout from a group that had grown increasingly apathetic about elections: white voters without college degrees.

But in 2020, Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. face a drastically changed electorate. The cohort of non-college-educated white voters — who gave Mr. Trump just enough of a margin to win the election in 2016 — has been in a long-term decline, while both minority voters and white college-educated voters have steadily increased. 

The decline, a demographic glacier driven largely by aging, has continued since 2016. The number of voting-age white Americans without college degrees has dropped by more than five million in the past four years, while the number of minority voters and college-educated white voters has collectively increased by more than 13 million in the same period. In key swing states, the changes far outstrip Mr. Trump’s narrow 2016 margins.

His campaign leaders are betting that a two-year grass-roots mobilization that has yielded significant voter registration gains will overcome the demographic disadvantage and the polls, again.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Debate: Biden Wins

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update  -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

Trump did better in the second debate than in the first.

But he needed Biden to make a catastrophic mistake.

But Biden did well.  In fact, he won the snap polls.

As of this morning, 49.3 million people had already voted.  Maybe something can change the course of this campaign, but it is getting harder and harder to see what that something could be. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Campaign Money in the Final Days

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

Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
President Trump’s campaign has far less money than advisers had once anticipated for the final stretch of the presidential election, as rosy revenue projections failed to materialize, leaving aides scrambling to address a severe financial disadvantage against Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the race’s most crucial juncture.

To close the budgetary shortfall, Mr. Trump has slashed millions of dollars in previously reserved television ads and detoured from the battleground states that will decide the election for a stop in California last weekend to refill his campaign coffers. He has also tried to jump-start his online fund-raising with increasingly aggressive tactics, sending out as many as 14 email solicitations in a day.

But Mr. Biden still entered October with nearly triple the campaign money as Mr. Trump — $177 million to $63.1 million — and is leveraging that edge to expand the battleground map just as Mr. Trump is forced to retrench.

Despite raising more than $1.5 billion in tandem with the Republican Party since 2019, Mr. Trump is now in the same financial straits as he was four years ago, when Hillary Clinton had roughly double the money he did. The financial pinch has engulfed his advisers and party officials in something of an internal blame game after years of bragging about their fund-raising prowess, according to current and former campaign and administration officials. Republican allies, meanwhile, are wondering where all the money went.

“Campaigns that are trailing two weeks before the election, there is always a lot of finger pointing,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and former adviser on Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. “And asking where the money went is always the first question.

Marc Caputo and David Siders at Politico:

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s $100 million investment in Florida to defeat Donald Trump is recasting the presidential contest in the president’s must-win state, forcing his campaign to spend big to shore up his position and freeing up Democratic cash to expand the electoral map elsewhere.

Bloomberg’s massive advertising and ground-game spending, which began roughly a month ago, has thrown Trump into a defensive crouch across the arc of Sunbelt states. As a result, the president‘s campaign has scaled back its TV ad buys in crucial Northern swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — a vacuum being filled by a constellation of outside political groups backing Joe Biden.

BUT Kevin Robillard reports at HuffPost:

A gigantic fundraising haul and outsized spending by a super PAC led by close allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have alarmed Senate Democrats, who fear their candidates may be outspent down the stretch of the election despite record grassroots fundraising.

Senate Leadership Fund, the super political action committee controlled by McConnell allies, raised $92 million in September and began October with more than $103 million in the bank, according to a Federal Election Commission report filed Tuesday afternoon. Those huge sums, collected mostly from checks of donors who gave more than $1 million and in some cases have not revealed themselves, have helped Senate Republicans gain a financial edge in several key races.

Over the final days of the election, according to the Democrats tracking media buys, Republicans are set to outspend Democrats on TV in four key Senate races: Michigan, where Democrats are hopeful Sen. Gary Peters can defend his seat against Republican John James; Georgia, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to knock off GOP Sen. David Perdue; Kansas, where Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier is battling Rep. Roger Marshall for an open seat; and in South Carolina, where Democrat Jaime Harrison is putting a scare into GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.


With this election, your station needs to be ready to comply with all of the FCC’s political advertising rules.

Lowest unit charges (or “Lowest Unit Rates”) guarantee that, in the 45 days before a primary and the 60 days before a general election, legally qualified candidates get the lowest rate for a spot that is then running on the station within any class of advertising time and particular daypart.


In modern political elections, where PACs, Super PACs and other non-candidate interest groups are buying much political advertising time, broadcasters need to remember that these spots don’t require lowest unit rates. Even if the picture or recognizable voice of the candidate that the PAC is supporting appears in the ad, spots that are sponsored by an independent organization not authorized by the candidate do not get lowest unit rates (note, however, that spots purchased by independent groups featuring the voice or picture of the candidate may trigger public file and equal opportunities obligations for the station if the station decides to run those spots).  Stations can charge these advertisers anything that the station wants for non-candidate ads – no need to stick to lowest unit rates.



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Trump Squandered Money, Biden Leads Money Race

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

Fredreka Schouten at CNN:
President Donald Trump's campaign entered October with just $63.1 million in remaining cash reserves, new filings show, underscoring his financial vulnerabilities as Election Day fast approaches.
His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, had nearly three times that amount -- more than $177 million -- remaining in his war chest, highlighting how the former vice president's fundraising success in recent months left him with a substantial money advantage as the fall campaign got underway.
Trump's campaign burned through more money than it took in last month, spending more than $91 million on advertising alone, according to a report it filed Tuesday evening with the Federal Election Commission. But the President's campaign has been outspent on television in recent weeks, as Biden has battered him on the airwaves, particularly in three swing states -- Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- that helped Trump secure the White House four years ago.
One sign of the President's cash crunch: Over the weekend, he flew to deep-blue California for a high-dollar fundraising event that aides say brought in $11 million for his reelection..

Brian Slodysko and Zeke Miller at AP
Since 2017, more than $39 million has been paid to firms controlled by Parscale, who was ousted as campaign manager over the summer. An additional $319.4 million was paid to American Made Media Consultants, a Delaware limited liability company, whose owners are not publicly disclosed.

Campaigns typically reveal in mandatory disclosures who their primary vendors are. But by routing money to Parscale’s firms, as well as American Made Media Consultants, Trump satisfied the basic disclosure requirements without detailing the ultimate recipients.

Other questionable expenditures by Trump and the RNC that are included in campaign finance disclosures:

— Nearly $100,000 spent on copies of Donald Trump Jr.’s book “Triggered,” which helped propel it to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.

— Over $7.4 million spent at Trump-branded properties since 2017.

— At least $35.9 million spent on Trump merchandise.

— $39 million in legal and “compliance” fees. In addition to tapping the RNC and his campaign to pay legal costs during his impeachment proceedings, Trump has also relied on his political operation to cover legal costs for some aides.

— At least $15.1 million spent on the Republican National Convention. The event was supposed to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, but Trump relocated it to Jacksonville, Florida, after a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic governor over coronavirus safety measures. The Florida event was ultimately canceled, with a mostly online convention taking its place. Disclosures show the RNC still spent $1 million at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, near Jacksonville.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.  They are not working in his favor this time.

 Lloyd Green at The Guardian:

The chasm between the two Americas – “Unemployment America” and “Stock Market America” – made starkly visible this spring, has not disappeared. Instead, the divide has widened.

America’s stock indexes have weathered the pandemic; the country’s job markets less so. On Thursday, the labor department reported nearly 900,000 new unemployment claims and Columbia University announced that 8 million Americans had fallen into poverty since May.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases continues to climb, the Affordable Care Act stands in legal jeopardy, and Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s latest pick for the supreme court, will not tell us if she believes that Medicare and social security pass constitutional muster. The New Deal may yet be undone.

On that score, language that soothed the White House and Republicans may come back to haunt them at the ballot box. According to polls, older voters are prepared to vote for Joe Biden, a Democrat, in a marked departure from elections past.

The gaps between the rural US, white evangelicals, white voters without college degrees and the rest of the country have not disappeared. Military suicides are up by a fifth and death by opioids has returned. Beyond that, the issue of immigration retains its potency.

Monday, October 19, 2020


In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential raceConspiracy theory seems to be seeping into the GOP grassroots.  Party leaders are tacitly encouraging it.

Over the summer, Republicans nominated QAnon backers in congressional and legislative primaries, a sitting US Senator embraced a Q candidate in her home state, the president refused to condemn the conspiracy, and twice seemed to go out of his way to shower it with praise. Polls now suggest that a substantial number of Republicans are, at minimum, Q-curious, and now in the final days of the campaign, party leaders have begun to embrace Q-tinged themes.

Yesterday, we had a sitting U.S. senator (from my home state) openly speculating about Hunter Biden and child pornography.


It can get worse.

Just last week, Trump was given a chance to repudiate the movement.

President Trump: (18:41)
I know very little. You told me, but what you tell me, doesn’t necessarily make it fact. I hate to say that. I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard.
This was not the first time that Trump dodged the question. Back in August, he also went out of his way to praise Q:
“I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” Mr. Trump said during a White House news conference ostensibly about the coronavirus. “So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”
A reporter gave him a chance to clarify this, by telling Trump that one of the central tenets of QAnon is that Trump is saving the world from a satantic cult of pedophiles and cannibals connected to prominent Democrats, celebrities, and denizens of the Deep State.
Trump said: “I haven’t heard that. But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it, and I’m willing to put myself out there. And we are, actually. We’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country. And when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow.”

As the Times deadpanned the next morning, “Mr. Trump’s cavalier response was a remarkable public expression of support for conspiracy theorists who have operated in the darkest corners of the internet and have at times been charged with domestic terrorism and planned kidnapping.”

Trump’s flirtation with Q is not accidental or casual. Trump and other Republicans increasingly see QAnon as an essential part of their coalition. Business Insider reports:

GOP political strategists acknowledged in interviews with Insider that Republicans view QAnon believers and the movement not as a liability or as a scourge to be extinguished, but as a useful band of fired-up supporters. While they're careful not to embrace QAnon explicitly, these Republicans said, they make sure not to adopt messages that alienate what has become a key part of the Republican coalition.

"The surrogates around Trump try to keep [QAnon supporters] happy because they know they're going to vote," said one Republican close to the president's campaign who asked to speak on condition of anonymity.
Politico has noticed the same thing:
The QAnon world is no longer simply a social media community trafficking in conspiracy theories. It’s increasingly a new constituency for the GOP — one that’s fired up like the rest of the MAGA movement, warring with tech giants and ready to battle through Election Day on behalf of a struggling president.
As usual, Trump is both cause and effect. His attitude has certainly given the conspiracy movement oxygen to spread; but he is also responding to the growing evidence that it represents a larger and growing part of his own base.
Hunter Woodall at The Daily Beast:
President Trump dodged directly answering a question about the QAnon conspiracy theory Friday, days after he cheered on one of its supporters who is well on her way to winning a congressional seat. Trump celebrated the victory of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who defeated a fellow Republican by 14 points Tuesday, advancing to what is likely to be a win in November for Georgia’s 14th congressional district seat. Greene believes in QAnon, the bonkers pro-Trump conspiracy premised on mass executions of Trump’s political opponents. The FBI considers it a potential source of domestic terrorism.

“Well she did very well in the election,” Trump said during a White House press briefing Friday. “She won by a lot. She was very popular. She comes from a great state and she had a tremendous victory, so absolutely I did congratulate her.” When a reporter from the Associated Press tried to press him on whether he agreed with the candidate embracing QAnon, Trump moved on to another reporter. QAnon believers desperate to see their beliefs validated have long wanted a White House reporter to ask Trump about QAnon, even launching email writing campaigns asking journalists to “ask the Q” at a press briefing. On Wednesday, following Greene’s victory, Trump tweeted that she is a “future Republican Star.” 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Right Fears the Left

Ross Douthat at NYT:
Let me try to elaborate on what this right is seeing. The initial promise of the internet era was radical decentralization, but instead over the last 20 years, America’s major cultural institutions have become consolidated, with more influence in the hands of fewer institutions. The decline of newsprint has made a few national newspapers ever more influential, the most-trafficked portions of the internet have fallen under the effective control of a small group of giant tech companies, and the patterns of meritocracy have ensured that the people staffing these institutions are drawn from the same self-reproducing professional class. (A similar trend may be playing out with vertical integration in the entertainment business, while in academia, a declining student population promises to close smaller colleges and solidify the power of the biggest, most prestigious schools.)

Over the same period, in reaction to social atomization, economic disappointment and conspicuous elite failure, the younger members of the liberal upper class have become radicalized, embracing a new progressive orthodoxy that’s hard to distill but easy to recognize and that really is deployed to threaten careers when the unconvinced step out of line.

...[The} spread of online conspiracy theories has encouraged liberals in a belief that the only way to safeguard democracy is for this consolidated establishment to become more aggressive in its attempts at cultural control — which is how you get the strange phenomenon of some journalists fretting about the perils of the First Amendment and demanding that the big social-media enterprises exert a kind of prior restraint over the American conversation.


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

Texas, once part of the GOP base, is competitive this yearCandace Valenzuela will probably succeed a Republican in representing a Dallas-area House seat.

Dan Balz at WP:

The story of the political change in Texas begins with the enormous population growth the state has experienced over the past decade, with most of it concentrated in the major metropolitan areas of Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.

Between 2010 and 2018, the 27 counties that comprise these major metropolitan areas collectively added nearly 3 million people — an increase of 19 percent — and today they make up one of the most vibrant economic areas in the entire country. Republican elected officials have bragged about the state’s ability to attract new businesses, but the added growth has helped to change the political balance in the state.

One change is the increased dominance of the big cities and suburbs in overall turnout. According to data compiled by Richard Murray and Renee Cross of the University of Houston, the 27 counties that make up the major metropolitan areas account for 69 percent of the statewide vote, compared with 60 percent in 1996 and 52 percent in 1968.

For a long time, the balance between metro and non-metro Texas didn’t make much difference. The metropolitan areas split their votes between Republicans and Democrats in about the same proportions as in the smaller towns and rural areas, according to Murray and Cross. That began to change in the past two decades and has quickened in the past five years. Not only do the big cities and surrounding suburbs account for a larger proportion of the statewide vote, they are increasingly voting Democratic.

Changing demographics are a major factor as well, as Texas becomes increasingly diverse. For years, Democrats have pointed to the growth in the Latino community as the pathway to turning Texas blue — the demographics-as-destiny argument. With birthrates in the Anglo community having slowed, the Latino population is on pace to equal or surpass the non-Hispanic White population by 2022.

Before Trump came on the scene, some Texas Republicans had made more significant inroads among Hispanic voters than, say, Republicans in California. Former president George W. Bush focused on Latinos and was rewarded in both his gubernatorial and presidential races. Other Republican elected officials are still able to attract good levels of Latino support.

The success of Republicans like Bush and others frustrated the predictions of Democrats of a more rapid red-to-blue shift in the state, as the party’s disappointing showing in gubernatorial and Senate races over the years has shown. But Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has made it more difficult for Republicans to maintain, let alone expand, their Latino support.

Beyond the growth in the Latino population, another demographic change that is affecting the political balance is the rise of Asian Americans: Vietnamese, Indians, Chinese and others. Asian Americans are now the fastest-growing segment of the Texas population, and they are voting for Democrats more than they once did.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Bluing of the Sunbelt

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

Arizona and Texas, once part of the GOP base, are competitive this year.

At Politico, Sabrina Rodriguez reports on Arizona:

Arizona’s state races haven’t gotten so much attention given the millions of dollars being pumped into the presidential matchup and expensive race between appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Kelly, which could help tip the Senate over to Democrats. But it’s the possibility of flipping that state legislature that has many Republicans thinking about the long-term effects of Trump’s GOP.
“The Republican Party needs to understand that there’s a large number of us voting Democrat all down the ballot because of Trump, and they need to realize that their choice to blindly follow him will impact the state politics,” said Daniel Barker, a former Arizona Court of Appeals Judge who started Arizona Republicans Who Believe In Treating Others With Respect, a PAC that’s supporting Biden.

“We need to change direction,” he added.
The November election will provide the first indication of whether Arizona is becoming Democratic-leaning territory, like Colorado and Virginia — or a perennial swing state, like Florida. The state’s growing Latino population and shifting attitudes among college-educated white voters across the state have been a boon to Democrats. Almost a third of the state is Latino — and while only about half of them are expected to vote, they are likely to break heavily for Democrats: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema secured 70 percent Latino support in her 2018 run.

Matt Levin at CalMatters:

“Where things look really different in Texas politics right now are in these districts that have seen rapid population growth, and Californians have been a part of that growth,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

While the prospect of Texas as a swing state may shock those who associate the state with George W. Bush, it shouldn’t surprise anyone paying attention to its politics over the last decade. While Barack Obama lost Texas by 16 points in his 2012 re-election bid, in 2016 Hillary Clinton closed that gap to single-digits. Two years later, Democrat Beto O’Rourke lost to incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz by less than three points.
The improving performance of Texas Democrats tracks well with the exodus of Californians into Sun Belt states over the past two decades. Since 2008, more than 700,000 Californians have moved to Texas, at first propelled by the Great Recession and later by their home state’s increasingly untenable cost of living. ...

Henson warns it’s seductively reductionist to attribute Texas’ rapid statewide purpling simply to California expats. When you factor in the number of Texans that have moved to California over the last decade, the net political effect on a state with 29 million people is less progressive tidal wave and more trickling blue-ish tributary. With a rising Latino population and growing metropolitan areas, Texas’ internal demographic shifts have combined with out-of-state immigration (not just from California) to alter its politics.

It’s also a mistake to think everyone from California moving to Texas drove there in a Prius adorned with a “Billionaires can’t buy Bernie” bumper sticker. While precise polling on ex-Californians’ political persuasions is hard to find, loads of anecdotal evidence suggest a decent chunk of Golden State emigres are fleeing the state precisely because of its progressive culture.

But the parts of Texas where Californians are most likely to move — the sprawling suburbs of Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth — are now politically competitive in a way that was unfathomable 20 years ago. Even if progressive Californians aren’t numerous enough to push Texas away from Trump, they can still tilt congressional and state legislative races. In many places, they already have.

“Those areas, particularly the suburban and exurban areas outside of Texas metros, have become ground zero for a much more competitive Texas in which the Republican hegemony that has been so uniform here for the last twenty years has come under siege,” said Henson.

 Patrick Svitek at The Texas Tribune:

All but one of the 10 Democrats running to flip nationally targeted U.S. House seats in Texas raised more than their Republican opponents over the past three months, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

In six of those nine races, the Republican ended the quarter with more cash on hand, a financial advantage heading into the last full month before Election Day. But the Democratic fundraising shows serious momentum as the national party reaches the finale of its drive to make Texas the top congressional battleground nationwide this November.

Republicans also had a bright spot in one of the two seats they are trying to win back, that of Democratic Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher of Houston. Her GOP challenger, Wesley Hunt, soundly outraised her. She ended the quarter with a small cash-on-hand advantage.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Democratic Fundraging

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

Fundraising is an important part of the story.

Julie Bykowicz at WSJ:
“ ‘Fundraging’ very neatly summarizes low-dollar donor behavior, the collision of emotion and giving,” said Patrick Ruffini, a Republican pollster and digital strategist.

Across the 14 most-competitive Senate races, Democrats collectively raised nearly $200 million more than their Republican counterparts in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed Thursday. Leading the pack was Mr. Harrison, who collected $58 million for the quarter, beating the previous quarterly Senate fundraising record by about $20 million. Mr. Graham, who has been vocal about his challenger’s formidable cash hauls, raised $28 million, the most ever for a Republican Senate candidate. Neither campaign responded to requests for comment.

From AP:

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock raised more than twice as much money for his Senate campaign as incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines did in the latest reporting period, according to numbers released by their campaigns on Thursday.

Bullock reported raising $26.8 million in the three months between July 1 and Sept. 30, while Daines reported raising $11.5 million.

Bullock’s fundraising total now stands at nearly $38 million since he filed as a candidate in March while Daines’ total is $24.5 million since he began his first term in 2014, Lee Newspapers of Montana reports.

Bullock’s quarterly contributions exceed the nearly $26.6 million in total fundraising for Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and his Republican challenger Matt Rosendale in their 2018 race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Tester raised $20.9 million.

Total spending in the 2018 U.S. Senate race in Montana was about $60 million. Spending by campaigns and outside groups in this year’s contest is expected to reach at least $146 million as the parties battle for control of the Senate.



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Bad Numbers for Trump as Time Starts Running Out

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.

 Christopher Rugaber at AP:

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week by the most in two months, to 898,000, a historically high number and evidence that layoffs remain a hindrance to the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department coincides with other recent data that have signaled a slowdown in hiring. The economy is still roughly 10.7 million jobs short of recovering all the 22 million jobs that were lost when the pandemic struck in early spring.

Talal Ansari and David Hall at WSJ:

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. neared 60,000, driven by a resurgence of infections in the Midwest and other areas of the country.

The U.S. reported more than 59,000 infections, bringing the nation’s total to more than 7.9 million confirmed cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The death toll surpassed 217,000.

Trevor Hunnicutt at Reuters:

The Democratic fundraising organization ActBlue reported on Thursday that it collected $1.5 billion on its online platform from July to September, the most it has ever raised in a quarter.

By comparison, WinRed, a major Republican fundraising platform, said on Monday that its platform collected $623.5 million in the third quarter.

The Democratic sum includes donations made to several groups and political candidates as well as the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden, who looks poised to head into the closing weeks of the race with a financial advantage.



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Trump Has Problems with Weaponization of Government

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.  Trump is weaponizing the federal government for his political benefit.

Lara Seligman at Politico:
President Donald Trump's campaign is running an online political ad that uses an image of his vice president, his Pentagon chief and his most senior military adviser watching the raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from the Situation Room on Oct. 29, 2019.

"President Trump wants you to request your ballot," the ad says. Clicking on the ad, which includes the tagline "Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc," leads to the Trump campaign's voter sign-up page.

But the campaign didn't seek approval from Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to use his image in the ad, a defense official said. “This photo, like many others, was not used with [Milley's] knowledge or consent,” said the official, who requested anonymity to speak about a sensitive topic.

Erin Banco and Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast:

The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci demanded that the Trump campaign refrain from using him in future campaign ads, saying Monday that it would be “outrageous” and “terrible” if he was featured in another commercial and it could “come back to backfire” on Team Trump.

Asked by The Daily Beast if his comments were a thinly-veiled threat to leave his post if he ended up in a new campaign spot, Fauci replied: “Not a chance.”

"Not in my wildest freakin’ dreams,” he said, “did I ever think about quitting."

From there, Fauci went on to explain what he meant by “backfire.”

"By doing this against my will they are, in effect, harassing me,” Fauci said. “Since campaign ads are about getting votes, their harassment of me might have the opposite effect of turning some voters off."

Stephanie Armour at WSJ:

President Trump’s plan to send 33 million Medicare beneficiaries a card that can be used to help pay for as much as $200 in prescription drug costs won’t be completed until after the election, according to a person familiar with the plan.

The cards will be mailed in phases, with some likely going out later in October but most not until after the Nov. 3 presidential election, the person said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is spending an estimated $20 million for administrative costs to print and send letters to Medicare beneficiaries informing them that they will be getting cards, the person said.

Plans for the overall drug-discount program have been sent to the Office for Management and Budget, the person said. It is unclear if or when the office will approve the program, which could cost $8 billion, the person said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicare designed for people 65 and older, is unable to say exactly when the cards will go out because the proposal is still at OMB. Beneficiaries will have two years to use the discount cards, the person said. 
 Matt Zapotosky and Shane Harris at WP:
The federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William P. Barr to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents has completed his work without finding any substantive wrongdoing, according to people familiar with the matter.
The revelation that U.S. Attorney John Bash, who left the department last week, had concluded his review without criminal charges or any public report will rankle President Trump at a moment when he is particularly upset at the Justice Department. The department has so far declined to release the results of Bash’s work, though people familiar with his findings say they would likely disappoint conservatives who have tried to paint the “unmasking” of names — a common practice in government to help understand classified documents — as a political conspiracy.
The president in recent days has pressed federal law enforcement to move against his political adversaries and complained that a different prosecutor tapped by Barr to investigate the FBI’s 2016 investigation of his campaign will not be issuing any public findings before the election.