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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Trump and the Georgia GOP

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.   

Now he is attacking Georgia Republicans for failing to help him steal the election.

 Aidan McLaughlin at Mediaite:

President Donald Trump attacked Republican Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia over the 2020 presidential election, declaring he was “ashamed” to have ever endorsed him.

Trump floated a series of wild and false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, falsely claiming it was stolen from him by Joe Biden, in his first interview since his loss with Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo.

Biden’s win came in part thanks to Georgia, a typically red state he won by a narrow margin. Trump has repeatedly pressured Georgia Republicans like Brian Kemp — who was narrowly elected in 2018 on a pro-Trump platform — and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to intervene and help his effort to steal the state from Biden.

“The governor’s done nothing. He’s done absolutely nothing. I’m ashamed that I endorsed him,” Trump said of Kemp on Sunday.

At a press availability on Thursday, Trump also attacked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who like Kemp, is a Trump-supporting Republican:

I read this morning where Stacey Abrams has 850,000 ballots accumulated. Now, that’s called “harvesting.” You’re not allowed to harvest, but I understand the Secretary of State, who is really — he’s an enemy of the people, the Secretary of State. And whether he’s Republican or not, this man — what he’s done. Supposedly, he made a deal — and you’ll have to check this — where she’s allowed to harvest but, in other areas, they’re not allowed. What kind of a deal is that? They’re not allowed to harvest during the presidential.
Some Democrats are encouraging GOP divisions in Georgia:

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Instagram Socialism as a Problem for Democrats

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

Some Democrats think that the controversy over "defunding" the police -- and other aspects of big-city progressivism -- cost their party seats in the 2020 congressional elections

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic:
One analysis of Census Bureau data projected that by 2040, roughly half of the population will be represented by 16 senators; the other, more rural half will have 84 senators at their disposal. If Democrats don’t find a way to broaden their coalition into less populous states with smaller metro areas, it may be impossible to pass liberal laws for the next generation.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times published an analysis of California ballot measures that found that “the state’s two major population centers have grown more and more different” from the rest of the state. Residents of Los Angeles and the Bay Area were at least 30 percentage points more likely than other Californians to support various propositions, such as reinstating affirmative action and allowing parolees to vote. A 30-point gap is massive—akin to the difference between deep-blue Massachusetts and purple Pennsylvania. From a political perspective, Los Angeles and the Bay Area look like leftist havens in an otherwise moderate state.

Many of their causes are virtuous, such as universal health care and higher pay for low-income service workers. But given the dynamics of online communication, which prizes extremity, Instagram socialism usually functions as a crowd-sourcing exercise to brand widely appealing ideas in their most emotional and viral—and, therefore, most radical—fashion. Thus, major police reform (a popular idea) is branded “Abolish the Police” (an unpopular idea); a welcoming disposition toward immigrants (a popular idea) is blurred with calls for open borders (an unpopular idea); and universal health care (a popular idea) is folded into socialism (an unpopular idea).

Defund police, open borders, socialism—it’s killing us,” said Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat from South Texas who nearly lost a district this year he’d previously won by 20 points. Beyond giving Republicans and Fox News easy ways to tarnish otherwise appealing reforms, Instagram socialism’s sloganeering is a turnoff for moderates who spend time online but are not, in the modern capital-O sense, Online. The average voter in a general election is something like a moderate 50-year-old woman without a four-year college degree who stays away from partisan media and follows politics only occasionally. She might hate Trump, but her dispositional conservatism makes her less likely to embrace policies tweaked in a social-media lab for viral emotionality.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Racial and Ethnic Categories

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In our next book (title TBA), we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.

Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg at WSJ:

The government, which plays a dominant role in setting racial and ethnic categories, hasn’t developed the tools to keep pace with a shifting population, demographers say. Four decades ago, for example, the U.S. Census added an ethnic “Hispanic” category to its authoritative survey of America’s demographic contours. Today, Hispanics include a vast population of both new immigrants and multi-generation American families with varying depths of ties to Latin America. New research suggests that many Hispanics are assimilating in ways that echo how Italian, Polish, and other European immigrants a century ago were eventually absorbed into the American mainstream. As they do, they are diverging economically, socially and politically.


Sociologists say that projections for a white minority rely on outdated concepts of race. The federal government generally counts anyone with nonwhite lineage as a minority, a practice that echoes the “one drop” rule that once allowed discrimination against people with even minimal Black ancestry. The Census Bureau currently projects that the share of people defined as white by this restrictive definition will drop below half of the population by 2045. But by using a broader definition—including as “white” anyone with a white parent and a parent of another race—whites would be about 55% of the population and would remain a majority even in 2055.
The government’s majority-minority projections use almost exclusively the “one drop” way of counting. For example, 42 million people checked “Black” on the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and an additional 4.7 million marked “Black” and another race. But historically, the bureau hasn’t distinguished between these two ways of self-identifying as Black. Moreover, roughly 60% of mixed-race babies have one parent conventionally considered white, and another who is Hispanic, Asian or mixed race (typically white and minority). They are more likely to live alongside whites and, once they grow up, to marry whites than their single-race minority counterparts, research shows.

The majority-minority story that we’ve all imbibed, that is very widely believed, is a distortion,” said sociologist Richard Alba. In his new book, “The Great Demographic Illusion,” the City University of New York professor argues that the projection assumes a rigidity to racial and ethnic boundaries that does not reflect surging intermarriage or America’s experience with immigration.

Ian Haney López, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, surveyed and conducted focus group interviews with Latino voters in the run-up to the election. He found that a quarter saw themselves as a group that remains distinct over generations, much as Blacks do. But half minimized the importance of race and said they believed Latinos can get ahead through hard work, or they considered themselves more akin to European immigrants who eventually became part of the mainstream. This latter group was more likely to support Mr. Trump than those who saw more continuity in their racial identity. “There are a significant number of Latinos that do not want to see themselves as a subordinated group,” Prof. López said.

President Trump received 36% of the votes of Latinos without college degrees and a third of the votes of Latinos with college degrees, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 110,000 voters conducted the week before the election. Latino support for Trump rose with income, the opposite of what happened for whites. Mr. Trump won 31% of voters from Latino households making less than $50,000 a year and 40% of voters from Latino households making more than $100,000 a year.


Democrats' Downballot Blues

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

Trip Gabriel at NYT:

Across the country, suburban voters’ disgust with Mr. Trump — the key to Mr. Biden’s election — did not translate into a wide rebuke of other Republicans, as Democrats had expected after the party made significant gains in suburban areas in the 2018 midterm elections. From the top of the party down to the state level, Democratic officials are awakening to the reality that voters may have delivered a one-time verdict on Mr. Trump that does not equal ongoing support for center-left policies.

Emily Skopov was the Democratic nominee for an open state legislative seat in a Pittsburgh suburb. She lost.

“There’s a significant difference between a referendum on a clown show, which is what we had at the top of the ticket, and embracing the values of the Democratic ticket,” said Nichole Remmert, Ms. Skopov’s campaign manager. “People bought into Joe Biden to stop the insanity in the White House. They did not suddenly become Democrats.
This year, Democrats targeted a dozen state legislative chambers where Republicans held tenuous majorities, including in Pennsylvania, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Minnesota. Their goal was to check the power of Republicans to redraw congressional and legislative districts in 2021, and to curb the rightward drift of policies from abortion to gun safety to voting rights.

But in all cases, Democrats came up short. None of their targeted legislative chambers flipped, even though Mr. Biden carried many of the districts that down-ballot Democrats did not. It could make it harder for Democrats to retain a House majority in 2022.

“In 2018 in the Philadelphia suburbs, you had rage voting against Trump,” said Senator Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, a Democrat. But this year, with Mr. Trump on the ballot, the president brought out many more supporters who are occasional voters, diluting what Democrats had widely anticipated would be another wave election for them. “It may be suburban voters are still ticket splitters,” Mr. Casey said.

Ms. Skopov, the losing candidate in suburban Pittsburgh, was quick to tell voters while knocking on doors before the election: “I’m a fan of our police. I’m not looking to defund police.”

Still, she was hammered in mailings by Republicans who portrayed her as having an anti-law-enforcement position, which her campaign manager, Ms. Remmert, said did great damage.

Ms. Remmert cautioned that if Democrats hoped to cement their 2020 suburban gains in a presidential race in which Republicans put up someone less divisive than Mr. Trump, they would need to recalibrate their messaging.

“A lot of the suburban districts that you’re trying to flip, you can’t win by just turning out your base,” she said. “We could get every Democratic vote in those districts and you’re still not going to win. You have to be able to turn out independents and Republican voters for your message.”


Friday, November 27, 2020

Trump Loses His Cool, Loses His Case

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.   

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Trump's Legacy, in Numbers

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  

Trump claimed credit for the Dow hitting the "sacred" number of 30,000.  At WP, Catherine Rampell notes some other numbers:
  • 261,000 (and growing): If anything is “sacred,” it is human life. This number is the minimum tally of U.S. lives lost to the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday night. By the time Trump leaves office it will be higher. Even by Thanksgiving morning, it will be higher.
  • $750: The amount Trump reportedly paid in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. He paid the same amount his first year in the White House, too.
  • 14.7 percent: The unemployment rate in April 2020. Also the highest unemployment rate on record since modern statistics on joblessness began in 1948 and likely the highest rate since the Great Depression.
  • $421 million: The amount of loans and other debts for which Trump is personally responsible, with most of it reportedly coming due within four years — that is, a period when Trump had hoped to serve his second presidential term.
  • 100.1 percent: Federal debt held by the public as a share of gross domestic product, in the fiscal year that recently ended, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The last time this measure exceeded 100 percent was just after World War II.
  • $1.9 trillion: The 10-year cost of Trump’s 2017 tax cut. (This is “dynamic” cost — that is, it accounts for the effects of economic growth.) This contributes to the debt number above.
  • $130,000: The amount Trump paid an adult-film actress with whom he had an affair; this bought her silence ahead of the 2016 election.
  • 26: The number of women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
  • 26 million: The number of American adults who reported that their household didn’t have enough to eat just ahead of Election Day.
  • Eight: The number of Trump associates to date charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. The former aides and advisers are: onetime 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort; 2016 deputy campaign chair Rick Gates; former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump pardoned Wednesday; foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; informal Trump foreign policy adviser George Nader; political adviser Roger Stone; personal attorney Michael Cohen; and strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
  • 666: The number of separated migrant children whose parents still have not been found, because the Trump administration didn’t keep sufficient records.
  • 23,035: The number of false or misleading claims Trump had made as of mid-September, according to the Washington Post Fact Checker team. Presumably that number will continue to grow during Trump’s final weeks in office.
  • $3: The amount that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club charged taxpayers for a glass of water served to Trump.
  • 289: The number of times Trump visited a golf course while president. So far.
  • 15: The number of times that people have to flush their toilet, according to Trump. (Why he made this claim on the campaign trail I do not know.)
  • One: The number of viewers Trump officials sought to reach during their TV appearances (the infamous “audience of one”).
  • 49 percent: The peak share of Americans who said they approved of Trump’s performance as president, according to Gallup.
  • 306: The number of electoral college votes Trump won in 2016, which he called a “landslide.”
  • 306: The number of electoral college votes Joe Biden won in 2020.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ticket-Splitting in 2020

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

Tarini Parti and Chad Day at WSJ:
Nebraska is one of two states that divides its Electoral College votes, and Mr. Biden earned one of them by beating President Trump by nearly 7 percentage points in the Second Congressional District, where Mr. Jackson lives. At the same time, voters there stuck with Mr. Bacon, the incumbent Republican, who won 51% to 46% over Democrat Kara Eastman.

Surveys have found that splitting votes between parties has been on the decline in recent years as the electorate grows more polarized. The 2020 election showed there are still enough people who vote that way to matter in places like eastern Nebraska and Maine, where Mr. Biden and Republican Sen. Susan Collins both won statewide.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of county-level election results found that, as in the Omaha area and in Maine, Mr. Biden tended to outperform Democratic Senate candidates in cities, suburbs and exurbs.

Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster at Public Opinion Strategies, said his firm found in a survey that 11% of voters nationally split their ticket—a thin slice but one that matters when contested races are decided by a few percentage points. “That number is really pretty deceptively small, but still, I think, really important in understanding where the Republican gains came from.”

There is another voter behavior that could play a role. In every election some people don’t vote in all contests on the ballot. It’s not clear whether that mattered in any close races this year; it doesn’t appear to have been significant in the Maine or Nebraska races.

In an election with record turnout, Mr. Biden won by stitching together a coalition of support from Black voters and white liberals, as well as people in traditionally right-leaning suburbs who were dissatisfied with Mr. Trump.

Some Republicans anticipated that strategy would lead to ticket-splitting. Brad Todd, an adviser to GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, said his campaign sought to encourage it among suburban, right-leaning men. “In this case, the ticket splitting was largely driven by the fact that Biden’s strategy involves borrowing Republicans,” he said.

A puzzle persists:  if congressional Republicans did so much better than Trump, why did they bow to him?  The answer is not that they feared Trump, but that they feared his supporrters.  Cross Trump, and face harassment and defeat in primaries. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Failure of the Base Strategy

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In our next book (title TBA), we discuss how these divides played out in 2020

In the 2018 updates, we point out that Trump was a "base president" -- that his political strategy involved motivating his core supporters instead of broadening his support.  The strategy failed.

Amy Walter at The Cook Political Report:
As I'd written about a lot during the campaign, Trump had a 50 percent problem. In 2016, Trump won six states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — with less than 50 percent of the vote. Without a significant third-party candidate or candidates on the ballot this year, getting a plurality of the vote would not be enough to win a state. Back in June, I wrote: "Biden doesn't need to win all of these states to win. He just needs a combination of three of them to get to 270... That's why it's more important than ever to understand if Trump's vote share in 2016 was his ceiling, or whether he has room to grow."

The results show that he did grow his showing — but only slightly — and not enough to get to 50 percent in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin or Arizona. Moreover, he actually lost ground (1.1 percent) in Georgia — a state he had carried with just 50.4 percent in 2016.

All of the talk about Trump's improving margins among Latino voters in Texas and Florida has obscured the bigger, more salient lesson of this election: running a base-only strategy was a losing one for the president. Yes, the battleground states were close. But, the bottom line was that Trump's approach turned off more voters than it attracted. And, even improving margins among Latinos in the border counties of Texas didn't make much of an improvement in Trump's overall showing in the state. In 2016, Trump won Texas with 52 percent. He carried the Lone Star state this year with 52.1 percent.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Iron Law of Emulation: CA GOP Ballot Harvesting

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

Tobias Hoonhout at National Review:
Former state Republican chair Shawn Steel echoed Ryan’s sentiments in an op-ed at the time. “How does a 14-point Republican lead disappear? Merciless and unsparing, California Democrats have systematically undermined California’s already weak voter protection laws to guarantee permanent one-party rule,’’ he wrote, referencing Young Kim’s loss to Democrat Gil Cisneros in Orange County’s open seat for the 39th District.

But in 2020, California Republicans are singing a different tune, even as California governor Gavin Newsom signed a Democrat bill requiring that every registered voter in the state receive a mail-in ballot for the November elections.

Of the seven seats that Republicans lost two years ago, two in Orange County have flipped back to red — Steel’s wife, Michelle Park Steel, won in California’s 48th, while Kim defeated Cisneros in a second try — and Republicans lead by narrow margins in two more.

So what changed?

I think one of the big areas is ballot harvesting,” California GOP spokesman Hector Barajas told National Review, crediting the pragmatic leadership of state chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson to emphasize the practice in several key races.

“We were either going to do two different things,” Barajas said of the state party’s shift in attitude. “We were either going to continue to whine, oppose valid harvesting, and lick our wounds after the election, or we were going to figure out the rules, look at the chessboard that was put before us, and figure out how to play the game.”

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Epic Takedown in Pennsylvania and a Lunatic Conspiracy Theory in Georgia

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.  


In this action, the Trump Campaign and the Individual Plaintiffs (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”) seek to discard millions of votes legally cast by Pennsylvanians from all corners – from Greene County to Pike County, and everywhere in between. In other words, Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated. One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.

That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more. At bottom, Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Therefore, I grant Defendants’ motions and dismiss Plaintiffs’ action with prejudice. 


 Plaintiffs’ only remaining claim alleges a violation of equal protection. This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together from two distinct theories in an attempt to avoid controlling precedent. The general thrust of this claim is that it is unconstitutional for Pennsylvania to give states discretion to adopt a notice-and-cure policy. Invoking Bush v. Gore, Plaintiffs assert that such local control is unconstitutional because it creates an arbitrary system where some persons are allowed to cure procedurally defective mail-in ballots while others are not.


 Moreover, even if they could state a valid claim, the Court could not grant Plaintiffs the relief they seek. Crucially, Plaintiffs fail to understand the relationship between right and remedy. Though every injury must have its proper redress, a court may not prescribe a remedy unhinged from the underlying right being asserted. By seeking injunctive relief preventing certification of the Pennsylvania election results, Plaintiffs ask this Court to do exactly that. Even assuming that they can establish that their right to vote has been denied, which they cannot, Plaintiffs seek to remedy the denial of their votes by invalidating the votes of millions of others. Rather than requesting that their votes be counted, they seek to discredit scores of other votes, but only for one race. This is simply not how the Constitution works. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Latinos in 2020

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In our next book (title TBA), we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.

Marc Caputo at Politico:
Joe Biden still won Latino voters overall. But as post-election data trickles in, Democrats are growing concerned. Trump’s notable gains weren’t limited to Miami's Cuban Americans or border-region Tejanos. Although Florida and Texas stood out for the notable shift, Puerto Ricans as far away as Philadelphia and Mexican Americans in Milwaukee drifted Trump-ward.

Trump improved his showing among Latinos by scaling back some of his immigration rhetoric and engaging in a sustained bilingual social media and TV ad campaign that courted Latinos based on place of origin, gender and religion.

But, in interviews with more than a dozen experts on Hispanic voters in six states, no factor was as salient as Trump’s blue-collar appeal for Latinos.

Most Latinos identify first as working-class Americans, and Trump spoke to that,” said Josh Zaragoza, a top Democratic data specialist in Arizona, adding that Hispanic men in particular “are very entrepreneurial. Their economic language is more aligned with the way Republicans speak: pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, owning your own business.”

And then there’s the way the left spoke — or were framed by Trump’s campaign for speaking. Calls to “defund the police,” a boycott of Goya Foods and the threat of socialism turned off some Latino voters. And even using the term Latinx to describe Latinos in a way that’s gender-neutral only served to puzzle many Hispanics.

“About 97 percent of Latinos don’t say ‘Latinx,’” Zaragoza said, referring to a Pew Research poll on the subject. “We’re building strategies around young progressive activists and organizations — and they’re necessary and we appreciate what they do.

“But a lot of Latino voters are focused on ‘I’m a hardworking American trying to feed my family or build a business,’ and a lot of this language doesn’t speak to them.”

“Let’s face it, ‘defund the police’ is just not the best slogan, especially in a place like Miami, where a lot of people work in law enforcement, or along the border of Texas, where Latinos are in Border Patrol,” said Jose Parra, founder of the consultancy Prospero Latino and a past adviser to Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada....Parra, who dislikes the “defund” slogan but not its goal of stopping police violence, said Trump’s improved standing with Latinos amid the protests reflects a little-discussed problem in Hispanic communities: anti-Blackness. That’s an opinion held by other Latino commentators as well Black Lives Matter demonstrators.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Remarks to Temple Beth Israel

Historical Context:

On the one hand, Biden won 306 electoral votes -- exactly the same as Trump in 2016 (until he lost two faithless electors).  That total is on the low side for a winning candidate.

But ...

  • Biden's raw popular vote total (79.8 million as of today) was the largest in history.
  • Biden's popular-vote percentage (51 percent as of today) was the highest for a challenger since FDR in 1932.  
  • Biden won a larger percentage than Trump in 2016, Bush in 2004 or 2000, Clinton in 1996 or 1992, Reagan in 1980, Carter in 1976, Nixon in 1968, Kennedy in 1960, or Truman in 1948.
  • Biden was the first challenger to defeat an incumbent since Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992.
  • Trump was the first president since Benjamin Harrison in 1892 to lose the popular vote twice in successive election cycles.
  • And when the count is final,  Biden's percentage will probably be a little higher than Obama's in 2012 and Trump's will be a little lower than Romney's
How did it happen?

Then came the triple crises:


  • Economy

  • Civil Unrest

BUT the election was not a repudiation of the GOP

Democrats did not take the Senate (yet)

Legal Challenges

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.  

 Glen Johnson at Axios:

President Trump's frantic post-election challenges are having the opposite effect of what he intended: He's documenting his demise through a series of court fights and recounts showing Joe Biden's victory to be all the more obvious and unassailable.

Why it matters: The president’s push to overturn the election results is dispelling the cloud of corruption he alleged by forcing states to create a verified — and legally binding — accounting of his election loss.

  • "Each loss further cements Biden's win," says election law expert Richard Hasen.
  • "History shows that any leader who constructs a major myth, that is later shown to be false, will eventually fall," says Harvard science historian and "Merchants of Doubt" author Naomi Oreskes. "The risk is that he takes his country down with him."

That point is true for people who follow the details.  The general public is a different story.

President Trump’s repeated — and baseless — insistence that widespread fraud undermined this month’s presidential election has left a mark on Americans’ faith in the voting process, a postelection USC Dornsife survey has found.

Using a 0-100 scale to measure their confidence that all ballots were tallied correctly, the average ranking from voters was a middling 58. Democrats gave higher marks — 79 — that the vote count was accurate, while Republicans on the whole rated their confidence in the election results’ accuracy at just 34.

“What’s really very clear is that the large group of voters who voted for Donald Trump in this election have absorbed the message that the vote may not have been completely, fairly counted,” said Jill Darling, the director of the USC Dornsife survey. Democrats, she said, may have lost confidence because of concerns about voter suppression or problems with the U.S. Postal Service.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Legislatures and Redistricting

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

At FiveThirtyEight, Nathaniel Rakich and Elena Mejía note that Republicans won nearly every 2020 election in which control of redistricting was at stake:
  • The GOP kept control of the redistricting process in Texas by holding the state House. Given that Election Data Services estimates Texas will have 39 congressional seats for the next decade, this was arguably Republicans’ single biggest win of the 2020 election.
  • Republicans successfully defended the Pennsylvania legislature from a Democratic takeover, although they’ll still need to share redistricting power over its projected 17 congressional districts, as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has veto power.
  • Republicans held the majority in both chambers of the North Carolina legislature, which will enable them to draw an expected 14 congressional districts all by themselves.
  • Amendment 1 passed in Virginia, taking the power to draw the state’s 11 congressional districts out of the hands of the all-Democratic state government and investing it in a bipartisan commission made up of a mix of citizens and legislators.
  • In Missouri (home to eight congressional districts), Gov. Mike Parson was elected to a second term, keeping redistricting control in Republican hands.
  • In an upset, Republicans managed to keep their majority in the Minnesota state Senate, thus ensuring Democrats wouldn’t have the unfettered ability to draw the state’s projected seven congressional districts. The parties will share redistricting responsibilities there.
  • The GOP kept control of the state House in Iowa, with its four congressional districts.
  • Republicans maintained their supermajorities in the Kansas Legislature, enabling them to pass a new congressional map (worth four districts) over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto.
  • Finally, Republicans surprisingly flipped both the state Senate and state House in New Hampshire (worth two congressional districts), seizing full control of both the state government and the redistricting process.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Attacking the Outcome: Legal Failure, Political Success

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

NRCC Recruitment: The Iron Law of Emulation

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

House Republicans did a strong job of recruitment.

Li Zhou at Vox:

There’s also a historic number of women of color who’ve been elected to Congress: According to CAWP, newly elected Black women, Latina women, and Asian American and Pacific Islander women all broke records in the House. Some outlets have also noted that Rep. Yvette Herrell — a member of the Cherokee Nation — adds to the number of Native American women in Congress as well, though Herrell has told CAWP that she identifies as white

Republican wins this year stood out, especially after the number of GOP women in the House dipped dramatically in 2018. That year, the ranks of Republican women in the lower chamber went from 23 to 13, while Democrats’ grew from 64 to 89. (Republicans will have at least 27 in the new term.)

At the time, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said that Republicans had reached a “crisis level” of women in the House.

That “crisis” has since spurred more GOP groups — including Stefanik’s Elevate PAC — to boost women candidates, particularly at the primary level where there hasn’t historically been as much support. On the Democratic side, Emily’s List has been integral to backing candidates at the primary stage of the race, and Republican organizations are increasingly working to replicate that model.

This year, that effort ramped up, according to Kodiak Hill-Davis, a founder and political director of Republican Women for Progress, a group dedicated to providing training for GOP candidates. “Without getting these women through the primaries, you can’t get them through the general election,” she told Vox.

A growing number of organizations — including Winning for Women, VIEW Pac, and E-PAC — are among those dedicated to this effort, which includes financial investment and endorsements that highlight women candidates. “In addition to any funding they’ve been able to provide, they also send a signal,” [Rutgers politicsl scientist Kelly] Dittmar said.
In 2019, Bridget Bowman reported at Roll Call:
Indiana Rep. Susan W. Brooks made a point of telling her Republican colleagues this week about several new candidates who are women and people of color.

“It’s important that we, as a conference, do a better job of looking like America, and better representing the very diverse country that we have,” Brooks, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s recruitment chair, told Roll Call after Tuesday’s meeting of the GOP conference.

Brooks said she told lawmakers it was important to recruit a diverse group of challengers for the 2020 election following devastating losses in 2018. She said she is well aware that just 13 of the 197 House Republicans are women and just nine are not white.

In February of this year, Brooks wrote:

That plan started with changing the way our Party recruited candidates.  With help from my fellow Members of Congress serving as Recruitment Captains, we went out looking for candidates who uniquely fit their district, reflect the diversity of America, and can win competitive races.  We didn’t stop because one person announced they were running.  We kept looking for the best candidates in these districts to win in November.  Our Recruitment Captains prioritized creating a Republican conference that better reflects our diverse national Republican Party.


With support from Chairman Tom Emmer and others like Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, whose leadership PAC, Elevate-PAC, is designed to help elect Republican women, we are putting ourselves in a position to elect more Republican women to the House of Representatives.  A record 200 women have filed to run for the House this cycle which demolishes the previous record.

Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR:

Stefanik has become the face of efforts to boost Republican women in Congress. She was in charge of recruitment for House Republicans in 2018, an abysmal year for GOP women. Among the 13 women elected to the House from the Republican Party in the midterms, there was just one nonincumbent candidate.

After that, Stefanik clashed with National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Emmer over whether the party should do more to boost women in primaries. Emmer told a reporter that would be a "mistake." Stefanik, for her part, focused her energy on building up her leadership PAC, E-PAC.

Her committee promoted more than two dozen candidates and gave $415,000 to Republican women, including Fischbach.

Stefanik credits the candidates with their wins, but she also feels that she played a key role.

"What I believe is different this cycle is I publicly made this a priority for the Republicans I served with in Congress," Stefanik said. "I very publicly said at the end of the midterms in 2018 that we needed to do better."



Monday, November 16, 2020

Year of the Republican Women

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

 Melanie Zanona at Politico:

YEAR OF THE GOP WOMAN -- After a successful effort to recruit and elect more GOP women, one key outside group is looking to grow its influence in the next election. Roll Call with the dispatch: “Winning for Women, which also has an independent expenditure arm known as WFW Action Fund, noted in a memo that is being sent to donors, board members and advisers that it surpassed its goal of electing 20 GOP women to the House.

“The memo touted 27 Republican women who have won House races, and that number could grow with several races still not called. That figure includes GOP Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose race The Associated Press has not yet called. Democratic Rep. Max Rose conceded to Malliotakis on Thursday. The group sees women candidates as key to winning over suburban women voters, a bloc that has fled the GOP after President Donald Trump’s election.” More from Bridget Bowman:

Related read: “Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year,” via The Hill’s Tal Axelrod:

Nick Gerda at Voice of OC:

Orange County Republicans are celebrating a second victory in flipping back a Congressional seat they lost in 2018, with Young Kim declaring victory Friday night after Democrat Rep. Gil Cisneros conceded the north OC-based 39th District.

“Our community is such a wonderful place because we come together to look out for one another. I will take that spirit with me to represent you in Washington, D.C.,” Kim said in a video released Friday evening.

“Following the results of this election, I want to congratulate Congressman Gil Cisneros on a hard-fought race. I want to thank him for his service to our country and to the 39th District.”

Cisneros publicly conceded earlier Friday evening.

“I called to congratulate Young Kim on her victory,” Cisneros said in a statement.

“For the benefit of the district and the country, I wish her nothing but the best and hope she will stay true to her word and protect those with preexisting conditions, work to lower prescription drug prices and reinstate the [state and local tax] deduction.”

Kim’s victory comes on the heels of Republicans flipping the coastal 48th Congressional District, with OC Supervisor Michelle Steel winning the seat from Democrat Rep. Harley Rouda.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

House Democratic Woes and "Defund the Police"


In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

Some Democrats think that the controversy over "defunding" the police cost their party seats in the 2020 congressional elections.

Sarah Ferris, Heather Caygle, and Ally Mutnick at Politico:
A dozen races remain uncalled, and Democrats caution they won’t have all the answers for months. But many in the party are warning that the biggest priority for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee must be overhauling its message. They say it needs to craft a proactive campaign that counters GOP attacks on everything from Medicare for All to fracking — if they have any hopes of keeping their majority in 2022.

"There were ads being run all over the country about socialism and about the Green New Deal and in some parts of the country that didn’t help,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said in an interview. "I think it would be irresponsible for a person in our family — in the Democratic Caucus family — who is concerned about it not to mention it."

Others were more blunt: "From my standpoint, as a moderate Democrat ... it’s crystal clear we need a different message than what we’ve been having,” added Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.).

Top Democrats had braced for the GOP police-focused ads. DCCC polled the issue over the summer as nationwide protests over social justice began dominating the headlines, finding it “incredibly damaging,” according to a Democratic strategist familiar with the data.


 Most endangered Democrats struggled to counter the flood of GOP ads on the issue: Republicans aired roughly 70 different broadcast ads that mentioned “defund the police,” according to data from Advertising Analytics, a media tracking firm.

From Ballotpedia:

In the weeks after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, nationwide demonstrations and protests were held calling for changes to policing. Officials responded by issuing executive orders and passing legislation to eliminate certain policing tactics, such as chokeholds, and implement new community policing strategies.[1][2]

This page tracks police-related local ballot measures proposed in the wake of Floyd's death that make changes related to the following policy areas:
  • police oversight;
  • the powers and structure of oversight commissions;
  • police practices;
  • law enforcement department structure and administration;
  • law enforcement budgets and funding allocation;
  • law enforcement training requirements; and
  • body and dashboard camera footage.
Ballotpedia identified 20 local police-related ballot measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020, that qualified following the death of George Floyd.

All 20 measures were approved.