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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Trump Rallies Spread Coronavirus

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.   

Deb Riechmann at AP:

There are no crowds at Disneyland, still shut down by the coronavirus. Fewer fans attended the World Series this year than at any time in the past century. Big concerts are canceled.

But it’s a different story in Trumpland. Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters regularly cram together at campaign rallies around the country — masks optional and social distancing frowned upon.

Trump rallies are among the nation’s biggest events being held in defiance of crowd restrictions designed to stop the virus from spreading. This at a time when public health experts are advising people to think twice even about inviting many guests for Thanksgiving dinner.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, when you have congregate settings where people are crowded together and virtually no one is wearing a mask, that’s a perfect setup to have an outbreak of acquisition and transmissibility,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, recently told Yahoo News. “It’s a public health and scientific fact.”

The Effects of Large Group Meetings on the Spread of COVID-19: The Case of Trump Rallies. B. Douglas Bernheim Nina Buchmann Zach Freitas-Groff Sebastian Otero, Department of Economics, Stanford University.

We investigate the effects of large group meetings on the spread of COVID-19 by studying
the impact of eighteen Trump campaign rallies. To capture the effects of subsequent contagion within the pertinent communities, our analysis encompasses up to ten post-rally weeks for each event. Our method is based on a collection of regression models, one for each event, that capture the relationships between post-event outcomes and pre-event characteristics, including demographics and the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, in similar counties. We explore a total of 24 procedures for identifying sets of matched counties. For the vast majority of these variants, our estimate of the average treatment effect across the eighteen events implies that they increased subsequent confirmed cases of COVID-19 by more than 250 per 100,000 residents. Extrapolating this figure to the entire sample, we conclude that these eighteen rallies ultimately resulted in more than 30,000 incremental confirmed cases of COVID-19. Applying county-specific post-event death rates, we conclude that the rallies likely led to more than 700 deaths (not necessarily among attendees).
Nadia Kounang at CNN:
A CNN investigation of 17 Trump campaign rallies finds that 14 of the host counties -- 82% of them -- had an increased rate of new Covid-19 cases one month after the rally.
The 17 rallies occurred between August 17 and September 26. CNN evaluated the rate of new daily cases per 100,000 residents at four weeks before the rally, on the rally date, and four weeks after the rally at the county level and at the state level.
Of the 14 host counties that had increased infection rates, eight of the counties had declining rates of infection in the month before the rally. The other six counties already had increasing rates of infection in that preceding month.
CNN's analysis also found that in 10 counties, the new rates of infection were growing faster than the overall rate for the state.


Friday, October 30, 2020

Screwing Up at the End

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 fundamentals usually determine elections.  But campaigns can matter at the margins, and in a close race, the margins matter.

At the close, Trump's campaign is incompetent.

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman at Politico:
JUST TAKE A LOOK AT HOW TRUMP talked about the weekly jobless claims on Thursday -- he said they were boring: “Weekly jobless claims, this is boring but it’s really good, just hit a seven-month low.” He then went on to talk about Fox News’ JOHN ROBERTS.

TRUMP ON GDP, in Tampa: “You see the number today? 33.1 GDP. The biggest in the history of our country by almost triple, right? Almost triple. Now it’s very much bigger than any GDP we’ve ever had. You have to go back to the 1950s, and then it’s less than half. This is the greatest number, 33.1%.” HE THEN continued on, talking about other items.

THE PRESIDENT SEEMS TO BELIEVE HUNTER BIDEN is a better closing message. HERE’S TRUMP IN TAMPA: “I get a call from all the experts, right? Guys that ran for president six, seven, eight times. Never got past the first round, but they’re calling me up, ‘Sir, you shouldn’t be speaking about Hunter. You shouldn’t be saying bad things about Biden because nobody cares.’ I disagree. Maybe that’s why I’m here and they’re not. But they say, ‘Talk about your economic success. Talk about 33.1%, the greatest in history.’ Now, look, if I do, I mean, how many times can I say it? I’ll say it five or six times during the speech. 33.1.”

“But you look at that and you look at Tucker Carlson, what he did the other night. Great. Great. And followed up by Sean and followed up by Laura. And the next day, nothing at all, right?”

MUCH OF THIS IS EERILY REMINISCENT of 2016, when HILLARY CLINTON’S email issues dominated the final days of the campaign. But this time, TRUMP is trying to inject into the campaign a story that’s only existing in the right-wing mediasphere. As we have mentioned, the WSJ and other right-leaning, nonpartisan and left-leaning outlets haven’t found any evidence that JOE BIDEN got involved in his son’s business activities. On Thursday night, Sinclair’s JAMES ROSEN reported that the FBI is looking into HUNTER BIDEN -- but, again, this story seems to be chiefly carried by Sinclair.

Jonathan Swan at Axios:

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters. The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter." Cruz also said that "one of Biden's best points was when he said, 'All of these attacks back and forth about my family and his family, they don't matter. What matters is your family.'" 

Trump likes rallies.  Susan Milligan reports at US News:

But voters in battleground states do not approve of Trump's largely maskless, packed rallies, a poll released Wednesday by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA found. And more troubling for the president, voters in those states also overwhelmingly blame the president for the second wave of coronavirus infections across the country.

The survey of six battleground states – Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – found that majorities of voters saw Trump "much less" or "somewhat less" favorably because of his practice of holding in-person rallies, with people standing shoulder to shoulder and not wearing masks.

In Arizona, 56% saw Trump less favorably because of his rallies compared to 26% who saw him "much more" or "somewhat more" favorably; in Florida, the split was 58% unfavorable to 22% favorable; in Michigan, it was 57% unfavorable to 25% favorable; in North Carolina, it was 55% unfavorable to 25% favorable; in Pennsylvania, the divide was 58% unfavorable to 22% favorable; and in Wisconsin, it was 55% unfavorable to 25% favorable, according to the poll.

Despite warnings from public health officials and protests from some local political leaders, Trump has conducted an active in-person campaign during the pandemic, stepping up his rally schedule in recent weeks while he remains stubbornly behind Biden in the polls.
Dareh Gregorian at NBC:
A crowded Trump rally in steamy Tampa, Florida, on Thursday resulted in 17 attendees needing medical attention, with a dozen being taken to the hospital, fire officials told NBC News.

Trump spoke for just under an hour in 87-degree heat at the event outside of Raymond James Stadium to a largely mask-less group of supporters.

A fire truck at the rear of the rally sprayed water in the air to rain down on some rallygoers, but the heat was too much for some attendees, many of whom had been waiting for hours. Tampa Fire Rescue said one of the attendees fainted and another had a seizure. The other 10 who were taken to the hospital were just listed as "sick" with no other details.

The incident came two days after 30 rallygoers in Omaha, Nebraska, needed medical attention after transportation issues resulted in hundreds of attendees being stuck for hours in the freezing cold. Officials said seven were taken to area hospitals with a variety of ailments.



Thursday, October 29, 2020

Senate Classes and the Six-Year Term

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

Always remember the importance of the six-year term for senators.

A Senate class elected in a midterm will face reelection in a presidential year, and vice versa.  The political conditions of the second will be different from the first.  A wave election brings in a set of senators who are vulnerable to defeat six years later.  The GOP took control of the Senate in the Reagan sweep of 1980, and lost it in 1986.  The GOP tied in 2000, suffered a big setback in 2006.  

Bridget Bowman at Roll Call:

The same group of Republicans who helped their party win control of the Senate in 2014 could be responsible for the GOP losing the majority next week. For these particular senators, a lot has changed over the last six years.

In 2014, it might have been incomprehensible that, six years later, Donald Trump would be president, Democrats would be raising millions in a single fundraising quarter, the 2010 health care law would be popular and the world would be grappling with a once-in-a-century pandemic.

But that’s the reality facing the GOP class of 2014, a group of senators that included some “rising stars” in the party, such as Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Colorado’s Cory Gardner. They’re now among the most vulnerable senators up for reelection, in part because of the dramatically different political environment.

“Six years is a long time in politics,” said Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, who ran the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2014.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Unforced Errors by Trump

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.   

During COVID, rallies mostly have to take place outdoors. In late October, therefore, attendees in many places have to wait for hours in cold weather. If a campaign is going to put supporters in that position, it must ensure their safety. 

 Tim Elfrink at WP:
By the time President Trump finished speaking to thousands of supporters at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on Tuesday night and jetted away on Air Force One, the temperature had plunged to nearly freezing.

But as long lines of MAGA-clad attendees queued up for buses to take them to distant parking lots, it quickly became clear that something was wrong.

The buses, the huge crowd soon learned, couldn’t navigate the jammed airport roads. For hours, attendees — including many elderly Trump supporters — stood in the cold, as police scrambled to help those most at-risk get to warmth.

At least seven people were taken to hospitals, according to Omaha Scanner, which monitors official radio traffic. Police and fire authorities didn’t immediately return messages from The Washington Post early Wednesday and declined to provide reporters on the scene with precise numbers of how many needed treatment.

Under Nebraska's district system for choosing electors, the congressional district surrounding Omaha has one electoral vote.  By screwing up logistics, Team Trump may have thrown it away. 

Even without hypothermia, Trump rallies are dangerous.

Shawna Chen at Axios:

The Minnesota Department of Health has traced nearly two dozen coronavirus cases to three campaign events held last month, an official told Axios on Monday. Why it matters: The Trump campaign has come under repeated fire for being lax about mask requirements and not adhering to social distancing and other local guidelines at its events. Minnesota has also seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with nearly 1,600 new COVID-19 cases reported on Monday, per MPR News

Paul LeBlanc at CNN:

President Donald Trump offered his latest appeal to suburban women Tuesday evening, promising to get their husbands "back to work" if he's reelected.
Claiming he was "saving suburbia" at a campaign rally in Lansing, Michigan, the President pitched himself as the candidate for suburban women voters because he's "getting your kids back to school" and "getting your husbands -- they want to get back to work. We're getting your husbands back to work."
While Trump focused on "husbands" during his speech in Michigan on Tuesday, the coronavirus pandemic has had a much larger effect on women in the work place.
The International Monetary Fund warned in July that the pandemic recession is hurting women more than men, and job losses during the economic downturn are happening in sectors of the economy where women are disproportionately represented. The annual Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org showed one in four women reporting they are considering downshifting their career or stepping out of the work place entirely, partly due to the demands the pandemic has placed placed on working mothers.


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.”