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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Georgia, Trump, and Party Unity

 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.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) waved off President Trump's call for his resignation Wednesday, dismissing that demand and other complaints surrounding the presidential election in Georgia as distractions from more pressing issues.

Speaking to reporters at the state capitol, Kemp said that his top priorities remained responding to the coronavirus pandemic and reelecting GOP Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are facing competitive runoff elections on Tuesday.

Kemp’s remarks came hours after Trump abruptly called for the Georgia governor to step down. In a Wednesday morning tweet, the president called Kemp an “obstructionist” and attacked him for refusing to acknowledge that he won the presidential race in Georgia, despite President-elect Joe Biden’s roughly 12,000-vote lead in the state.


Stephen Fowler at Georgia Public Broadcasting:

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger does not have a brother named Ron who works for a Chinese tech firm, regardless of what the president of the United States says.

In a late-night tweet, President Donald Trump attacked Gov. Brian Kemp and Raffensperger for failing to overturn election results in his favor and claimed that "Brad R's brother works for China." Except, that's not true.

On Dec. 23, GPB News reported on the "Battleground" blog and on social media that Brad and Ron were not related, that Raffensperger had two sisters and no brother in debunking the claims made by the Gateway Pundit and other right-wing media outlets seeking to allege nefarious actions that somehow altered election results.


GPB News has confirmed via public documents and records that Raffensperger does have four siblings, including a brother, but none of them are named Ron, none work for Chinese technology companies nor have any ties to voting machine vendors used by Georgia to conduct its elections or to count five million votes three separate times to confirm that Joe Biden won the state's electoral votes.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Trump Legislative Failure

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's management style.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

Michael D. Shear and Catie Edmondson at NYT:
As an exercise in raw presidential power, it was a flop. As a political tactic, it backfired. And as a coda to his final weeks in office, President Trump’s threat to veto a $900 billion Covid relief and government funding bill merely underscored his tumultuous tenure in the Oval Office.

For five days, starting before Christmas, Mr. Trump virtually held the nation hostage, delaying the extension of unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans, holding up the delivery of $600 checks, and dangling the possibility of a total government shutdown even as officials raced to distribute a coronavirus vaccine.

And then he caved.

After calling the bill “a disgrace” and mocking the checks as “measly,” the president signed the legislation into law on Sunday night, claiming to have won concessions from Congress in the process, including votes to increase the individual payments to $2,000. But in truth, Mr. Trump achieved little more than a few face-saving pledges that will do nothing to substantially alter the bipartisan legislation.

“It’s another example of the story of the Trump presidency,” said Michael Steel, who was press secretary for John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, when Mr. Boehner was speaker of the House. “He achieved a few more days of chaos at the end of a chaotic presidency.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Georgia Electorate

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.

The Georgia Senate races will determine control of the Senate.

One thing helping line voters up is the decision of the candidates in both races to run as tickets, with joint appearances and advertisements. J. Miles Coleman of the University of Virginia Center for Politics said the joint effort has helped Warnock wrap up Democratic voters.

“He and Ossoff have done a better job of running as a ticket,” Coleman said. “I think overall that’s going to benefit Warnock and help him consolidate some of his support.”

With the candidates running as tickets, it’s unlikely the parties will split the seats. 
The number of Black registered voters in Georgia increased by about 130,000 between Oct. 11, 2016, and Oct. 5, 2020, the largest increase among all major racial and ethnic groups, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Georgia Secretary of State’s Office data. Meanwhile, early reports suggest that turnout in November 2020 among Black registered voters increased compared with 2016, but not as much as other groups.

The increase of 520,000 in new registered voters in Georgia since 2016 came from a variety of sources, as no single racial or ethnic group accounted for more than 25% of the newly registered. Even so, some groups of registered voters saw larger increases than others, shifting the overall racial and ethnic composition of registered voters.

The suburbs of Cobb County, Ga., boomed during white flight on the promise of isolation from Atlanta. Residents there dating to the 1960s did not want Atlanta problems, or Atlanta transit, or Atlanta people. As a local commissioner once infamously put it, he would stock piranha in the Chattahoochee River that separates Cobb from Atlanta if it were necessary to keep the city out.

The county became a model of the conservative, suburban South, opposed to the kind of federal meddling that integrates schools, or the kind of taxes that fund big infrastructure. And then, this year, after timidly embracing Hillary Clinton in 2016 (she won the area by just two points), Cobb County voted for Joe Biden by 14 percentage points. And Democrats swept the major countywide races.

“It’s been this evolution of Cobb from a white-flight suburb to, now, I went to a Ramadan meal in a gated community in Cobb County that was multiracial,” said Andrea Young, the executive director of the Georgia A.C.L.U., and the daughter of the former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young. “This is the story,” she said, “of Atlanta spilling out into the metro area.”

Around the region, suburban communities that once defined themselves in opposition to Atlanta have increasingly come to resemble it: in demographics, in urban conveniences and challenges, and, finally, in politics. Rather than symbolizing a bulwark against Black political power, these places have become part of a coalition led by Black voters that is large enough to tip statewide races — and that could hand control of the Senate to Democrats next month.\

David Lauter and Jenny Jarvie at LAT:

But while the change in the state’s politics bloomed faster than many expected, its roots are deep, growing out of a generation-long trend of migration back to the South — and to the Atlanta metropolitan region in particular — by hundreds of thousands of Black families.

That reflects a crucial pattern in American politics, said Keneshia Grant, a political scientist at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

“Migration has been especially important to the story of Black participation in American politics,” said Grant, author of a book, “The Great Migration and the Democratic Party,” that traces the significant expansion of Black political influence that came about as a result of the move to Northern cities from the end of World War I through the 1960s.

As that pattern of northward migration began to reverse, Atlanta emerged in the 1990s as the largest destination for Black migration in the country, a trend that accelerated through the early 2000s.

“In the same way that the Great Migration is a long story, this return migration is also a long story,” Grant said. “When you want to understand what’s happening in Georgia in 2020, you have to look at it as the result of something much longer.”

Many factors have gone into the shift of Georgia’s politics, including the intensive voter registration and mobilization campaigns led by Stacey Abrams, the party’s 2018 candidate for governor who is widely expected to run again in 2022. Those campaigns, however, could succeed only because of the underlying changes in the state’s population.

Unhappy Morning in Mar-a-Lago

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonesty 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Year Is Ending Badly

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign, where Trump suggested that he would not acknowledge defeat.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.    But his base continues to believe the bogus narrative.

And he has also held up unemployment be3nefits and stimulus checks while risking a government shutdown.

Chris Strohm at Bloomberg:
Millions of Americans will see their unemployment benefits lapse, at least temporarily, after President Donald Trump let Saturday night pass without signing a bipartisan stimulus package containing various pandemic aid.

While the president dug in over the size of direct checks to be sent to many Americans, the $900 billion stimulus accord contains numerous other measures, including extended unemployment benefits, funding for food banks, rental assistance, support for small businesses and for Covid vaccination programs, and other items.

The stalemate comes as the Covid pandemic continues to worsen in many areas, and more U.S. workers are in jeopardy of losing their jobs.
After bringing some 60 lawsuits, and even offering financial incentive for information about fraud, Mr. Trump and his allies have failed to prove definitively any case of illegal voting on behalf of their opponent in court — not a single case of an undocumented immigrant casting a ballot, a citizen double voting, nor any credible evidence that legions of the voting dead gave Mr. Biden a victory that wasn’t his.


Mr. Trump and his allies have argued that the 59 losses they faced in 60 lawsuits filed since Election Day were based on procedural rulings, complaining that judges refused to look at the particulars of allegations they have sought to use to overturn an election Mr. Biden won by 7 million votes (and by 74 in the Electoral College).

But according to a New York Times analysis, they did not even formally allege fraud in more than two-thirds of their cases, arguing instead that local officials deviated from election codes, failed to administer elections properly or that the rules in place on Election Day were themselves illegal.

In the single case Mr. Trump won, his campaign challenged a state-ordered deadline extension in Pennsylvania for the submission of personal identification for mailed ballots, affecting a small number of votes.

In nearly a dozen cases their fraud accusations did indeed have their days in court, and consistently collapsed under scrutiny.

David Ignatius at WP:

Trump’s last-ditch campaign will almost certainly fail in Congress. The greater danger is on the streets, where pro-Trump forces are already threatening chaos. A pro-Trump group called “Women for America First” has requested a permit for a Jan. 6 rally in Washington, and Trump is already beating the drum: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Government officials fear that if violence spreads, Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the military. Then Trump might use “military capabilities” to rerun the Nov. 3 election in swing states, as suggested by Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. Trump “could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election,” Flynn told Newsmax in a Dec. 17 interview.

The Pentagon would be the locus of any such action, and some unusual recent moves suggest pro-Trump officials might be mobilizing to secure levers of power. Kash Patel, chief of staff to acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller, returned home “abruptly” from an Asia trip in early December, according to Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin. Patel didn’t explain, but in mid-December Trump discussed with colleagues the possibility that Patel might replace Christopher A. Wray as FBI director, one official said. Wray remains in his job.

Another strange Pentagon machination was the proposal Miller floated in mid-December to separate the code-breaking National Security Agency from U.S. Cyber Command, which are both currently headed by Gen. Paul Nakasone. That proposal collapsed because of bipartisan congressional opposition.

But why did Trump loyalists suggest the NSA-Cyber Command split in the first place? Some officials speculate that the White House may have planned to install a new NSA chief, perhaps Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the young conservative recently installed to oversee Pentagon intelligence activities.

With firm control of the NSA and the FBI, the Trump team might then disclose highly sensitive information about the origins of the 2016 Trump Russia investigation. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe tried to release this sensitive intelligence before the election, despite protests from intelligence chiefs that it would severely damage U.S. national security. Trump retreated under pressure from then-Attorney General William P. Barr, among others.


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Georgia Senate

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.

Rick Rojas at NYT:
The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the Democratic challengers in the Senate runoffs in Georgia, have each raised more than $100 million since October — enormous sums that surpassed their Republican opponents by a significant margin and underscored Democrats’ confidence after recent gains the party has made in the state and their hopes that they might capture the Senate.

The contests have drawn a surge of attention and investment from outside of Georgia, given the stakes, and the campaigning has only intensified in the final weeks before the runoff, which is scheduled for Jan. 5.

Senator David Perdue, one of the Republican incumbents, raised $68 million in the period between Oct. 15 and Dec. 16, according to reports to the Federal Election Commission made public on Thursday. Senator Kelly Loeffler, the other Republican, raised close to $64 million during that period.

Mr. Ossoff, who is running against Mr. Perdue, became the best-funded Senate candidate in history after pulling in $106.7 million, according to the filings, and Mr. Warnock, who is challenging Ms. Loeffler, has raised $103.3 million.
Sheera Frenkel and Davey Alba at NYT:
Two weeks ago, the conservative media personalities Diamond and Silk falsely claimed on their Facebook page that people who were not eligible to vote were receiving ballots in Georgia’s special elections next month. Their post was shared more than 300 times.

A week later, the right-wing commentator Mark Levin shared a post on his Facebook page falsely suggesting that the Rev. Raphael Warnock, one of the two Democrats running in the Georgia Senate runoffs, once welcomed Fidel Castro to his church. The misleading claim was shared more than 3,000 times.

At the same time, a drumbeat of misinformation about the presidential election count in Georgia droned on. Lara Trump, President Trump’s daughter-in-law, and the Hodgetwins, a bodybuilding duo who have turned to pro-Trump political comedy, shared several false stories on their Instagram and Facebook pages that claimed suitcases filled with ballots were pulled out from under tables during the November vote count. Tens of thousands of people shared their posts.
A small group of “superspreaders” is responsible for the vast majority of that misinformation, according to new research by Avaaz, a global human rights group. Not only are those accounts responsible for most of the misinformation swirling around the vote, they are drowning out accurate reporting by mainstream media outlets on Facebook and Instagram.

Dana Ford at LeadStories:

Does a political ad showing Georgia Senate candidate Raphael Warnock saying "God damn America" present the video in context? No, it does not: When Rev. Warnock uttered the controversial phrase, he was discussing the use of those words in a famous sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. By taking Warnock's quote out of context, the ad implied he was communicating his own sentiment, which he was not.

The ad (archived here) began running on Facebook on December 17, 2020. Paid for by American Crossroads, a conservative super PAC, the ad included a six-second video that showed Wright and Warnock, back to back, saying, "God damn America." Text overlaid on top of the video at one point read: "Raphael Warnock: 'God damn America.'"

Friday, December 25, 2020

House Elections

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.

David Wasserman at Cook Political Report:

In 2018, Democrats ran up the score by recruiting political outsiders, especially women with national security backgrounds, to challenge GOP "insiders." And, they won. Meanwhile, of the 29 House Republican freshmen from 2018, only one wasn't a man and only one wasn't white. But Republicans turned the tables in 2020, and it worked.

Of the 13 Republicans who flipped Democratic-held seats in 2020, all were women and/or minorities. Three are of Cuban ancestry, two were born in South Korea and one was born in Ukraine — allowing them to personalize an anti-socialism message. It helped that these candidates didn't look like Trump or GOP leaders, and many (though not all) sounded quite different from Trump too.

All cycle, the NRCC, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) worked local trenches to clear fields for these recruits and, if necessary, help them get through tough primaries. In the end, women and minorities helped Republicans win six districts Trump failed to carry. 

Wasserman at Cook:

26. Democrats would likely have lost their House majority in 2020 had it not been for lawsuits that overturned GOP-drawn congressional maps prior to 2016 (Florida and Virginia), 2018 (Pennsylvania) and 2020 (North Carolina). The new, court-ordered maps gave Democrats approximately ten more seats than they would have won under the old lines — roughly double Democrats' new House edge.

27. According to FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich, there have only been three federal elections in the last century decided by less than 20 votes. This year alone, there may be two such races: Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was certified as the winner in Iowa's 2nd CD by six votes, and Republican Claudia Tenney currently holds a lead of 11 votes in New York's 22nd CD.

28. There will be at most 17 congressional districts that split their tickets between the presidential and congressional ballots, the fewest in the past century (there were 35 such districts in 2016 and 83 in 2008).

29. The biggest overperformance of the top of the ticket by a House Democrat was by Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-07), who lost by only 13.6 points despite Biden losing his district by 29.4 points. The biggest overperformance of the top of the ticket by a House Republican was by Rep. John Curtis (UT-03), who won by 41.9 points while Trump won his district by just 25.1 points.

30. The biggest underperformance of the top of the ticket by a House Democrat was by Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05), who won by 38.5 points as Biden won the district by 55 points. The biggest underperformance of the top of the ticket by a House Republican was by Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01), who won by 3.1 points as Trump carried the district by 10.1 points.

Greg Giroux at Bloomberg Government:

Kim and Steel will be the only Republican women in the California delegation and are two of the first three Korean-American women ever elected to Congress. They targeted their districts’ large Asian-American constituencies — mostly Chinese, Korean, and Filipino in the 39th, and largely Vietnamese in the 48th.

“Even in a polarized political climate, good candidates with a strong message can win anywhere,” said Sam Oh, vice president of the Republican digital firm Targeted Victory, who was general consultant to the Steel and Kim campaigns. “Michelle Steel and Young Kim are dynamic candidates with deep roots in their communities and with proven records of getting things done and being bipartisan.”

Thursday, December 24, 2020


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

He has abused the pardon power.

Lloyd Green at The Guardian:

With hours to spare before Christmas, Donald Trump has delivered pardons to Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Charlie Kushner, a passel of war criminals and a bent congressman or two. There is no reason to believe our “law and order” president’s pardon binge is over. Too many people in his immediate orbit remain exposed to future prosecution, including the president himself.

Come noon on 20 January 2021, Trump and his inner circle will be private citizens again. Devoid of legal immunity, stripped of the air of invincibility, they become fair game for federal and local law enforcement alike. The potential for prison hovers over them like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Cyrus Vance, Manhattan’s district attorney, is circling Trump and his business. Eric Trump has testified at a court-ordered deposition conducted by New York’s attorney general. As for federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, they labeled Trump an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of Michael Cohen. The statute of limitations has not expired.

And then there is Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. According to reports, he remains on the radar of federal law enforcement in connection with possible election law violations, and doesn’t like it one bit. On Wednesday Giuliani lashed out, calling investigators “secret police” and accusing them of toadying to Joe Biden, the president-elect.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Trump v Senate GOP

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.

Trump has not exactly been helpful to the Senate GOP in recent days.

Hannah Miao at CNBC:
In the crucial Georgia Senate runoff races, Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are using President Donald Trump’s latest push for larger stimulus checks to bash incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

In video posted to Twitter Tuesday night, Trump called the $900 billion Covid relief bill passed by Congress an unsuitable “disgrace” and urged lawmakers to make a number of changes to the measure, including increasing the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000.

The two Democratic candidates, who have advocated for larger direct payments, wasted no time in responding to Trump’s move and criticizing their opponents.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Final Days

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign, where Trump suggested that he would not acknowledge defeat.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.    But his base continues to believe the bogus narrative.

It's getting weird out there.

Jonathan Swan at Axios:

Top officials are trying to stay away from the West Wing right now.
  • Trump is lashing out, and everyone is in the blast zone: At this point, if you're not in the “use the Department of Homeland Security or the military to impound voting machines” camp, the president considers you weak and beneath contempt.
  • Trump is fed up with Cipollone, his counsel. Some supporters of Cipollone are worried that Trump is on the brink of removing him and replacing him with a fringe loyalist.
A source who spoke to Trump said the president was complaining about Pence and brought up a Lincoln Project ad that claims that Pence is "backing away" from Trump. This ad has clearly got inside Trump’s head, the source said.
  • Trump views Pence as not fighting hard enough for him — the same complaint he uses against virtually everybody who works for him and has been loyal to him.
Pence’s role on Jan. 6 has begun to loom large in Trump’s mind, according to people who’ve discussed the matter with him.
  • Trump would view Pence performing his constitutional duty — and validating the election result — as the ultimate betrayal.

Monday, December 21, 2020


In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign, where Trump openly encouraged violence.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.    But his base continues to believe the bogus narrative.

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, Dan Lamothe and Matt Zapotosky at WP:
President Trump has intensified efforts to overturn the election, raising a series of radical measures in recent days, including military intervention, seizing voting machines and a 13th-hour appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Sunday, Trump said in a radio interview that he had spoken with Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) about challenging the electoral vote count when the House and Senate convene on Jan. 6 to formally affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory...Trump’s conversation with Tuberville is part of a much broader effort by the defeated president to invalidate the election. He is increasingly reaching out to allies like Giuliani and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro for ideas and searching his Twitter feed for information to promote, according to Trump advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

In total, the president talked to at least 31 Republicans, encompassing mostly local and state officials from four critical battleground states he lost — Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. The contacts included at least 12 personal phone calls to 11 individuals, and at least four White House meetings with 20 Republican state lawmakers, party leaders and attorneys general, all people he hoped to win over to his side. Trump also spoke by phone about his efforts with numerous House Republicans and at least three current or incoming Senate Republicans.

And it all occurred in parallel to his campaign’s quixotic efforts to launch recounts and file lawsuits demanding ballots be tossed.

Trump’s efforts to cling to power are unprecedented in American history. While political parties have fought over the results of presidential elections before, no incumbent president has ever made such expansive and individualized pleas to the officials who oversee certification of the election results. Trump even used his presidential perch to compel officials to talk with him, summoning state officials to the White House on a few-hours notice and insisting that his outreach was simply part of his presidential duties.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Dark Winter

 IDefying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 race, which unfolded in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.  The latest vaccine news is good.  Other COVID news is bad.

Yasmeen Abutaleb, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker at WP:

The catastrophe began with Trump’s initial refusal to take seriously the threat of a once-in-a-century pandemic. But, as officials detailed, it has been compounded over time by a host of damaging presidential traits — his skepticism of science, impatience with health restrictions, prioritization of personal politics over public safety, undisciplined communications, chaotic management style, indulgence of conspiracies, proclivity toward magical thinking, allowance of turf wars and flagrant disregard for the well-being of those around him.


The best chance to control an outbreak is at the very beginning. But U.S. officials squandered that opportunity in February for two key reasons. The first was the CDC’s failure to deploy a working coronavirus test, and the second was the task force’s almost singular focus on repatriating Americans from China and cruise ships, rather than on preparing the United States for an inevitable outbreak.
Scott Atlas outmaneuvered Dr. Birx:
Birx met either in person or virtually with Fauci and other doctors on the task force at least once a week to discuss the science and support each other as they were being ignored at the White House. They plotted alternative ways to get their messages to the public, including through Birx’s travels to states.

But Birx was undermined there, too. After she advised Florida’s political leaders in August to close bars and restrict indoor dining, Atlas visited the state and contradicted her. Atlas told Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other local leaders to focus less on widespread testing and instead to direct their efforts to opening the economy back up and opening schools, according to two senior administration officials.

Trump's behavior did not help.

Night after night, the Trumps had party guests congregate inside the White House residence to mix, mingle and hear the president speak — each clinking of champagne flutes a potential superspreader moment.

“Here, you have Fauci and Birx saying: wear a mask, keep your distance, avoid congregate settings and indoor crowds, particularly indoors,” a senior administration official said. “And then you have these events at the White House where nobody is wearing a mask, they’re having an event inside and then coming outside, if there ever was a complete confusion of messages.”

His current priority: 


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Trump and Mormons

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.

 McKay Coppins at The Atlantic:

In the past few years, Mormons have become a subject of fascination for their surprising resistance to Trumpism. Unlike most of the religious right, they were decidedly unenthusiastic about Donald Trump. From 2008 to 2016, the Republican vote share declined among Latter-day Saints more than any other religious group in the country. And though Trump won back some of those defectors in 2020, he continued to underperform. Joe Biden did better in Utah than any Democrat since 1964, and Mormon women likely played a role in turning Arizona blue.


According to one survey, Latter-day Saints are more than twice as likely as white evangelicals to say they welcome increased immigration to the United States. When Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration, the Church, hearing an eerie historical echo, issued a blistering condemnation. Later, when Trump signed an executive order allowing cities and states to veto refugee resettlement, Utah was the first red state in the country to request more refugees.


[Trump in 2016] finished dead last in Utah’s Republican primary, and consistently underperformed in Mormon-heavy districts across the Mountain West. When the Access Hollywood tape leaked, the Church-owned Deseret News called on Trump to drop out. On Election Day, he received just over half of the Mormon vote, whereas other recent Republican nominees had gotten closer to 80 percent.

Trump did better in 2020, owing partly to the lack of a conservative third-party candidate like Evan McMullin. (Full postelection data weren’t available as of this writing.) But the Trump era has left many Mormons—once the most reliable Republican voters in the country—feeling politically homeless. They’ve begun to identify as moderate in growing numbers, and the polling analyst Nate Silver has predicted that Utah could soon become a swing state. In June, a survey found that just 22 percent of BYU students and recent alumni were planning to vote for Trump.

Robert P. Jones, the head of the Public Religion Research Institute, says this Mormon ambivalence is notable when compared with white evangelicals’ loyalty to Trump. “History and culture matter a lot,” Jones told me. “Partisanship today is such a strong gravitational pull. I think what we’re seeing with Mormons is that there’s something else pulling on them too.”
The hard parts of Mormonism—huffing up hills in a white shirt and tie, forgoing coffee, paying tithes—might complicate the sales pitch. But they can also inspire acts of courage. After Romney voted to remove Trump from officestanding alone among Republican senators—he told me his life in the Church had steeled him for this lonely political moment, in which neither the right nor the left is ever happy with him for long. “One of the advantages of growing up in my faith outside of Utah is that you are different in ways that are important to you,” he said. In high school, he was the only Mormon on campus; during his stint at Stanford, he would go to bars with his friends and drink soda. Small moments like those pile up over a lifetime, he told me, so that when a true test of conscience arrives, “you’re not in a position where you don’t know how to stand for something that’s hard.”

Friday, December 18, 2020

Partisanship and COVID Stay-at-Home

IDefying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 race, which unfolded in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.  The latest vaccine news is good.  Other COVID news is bad.

J. Clinton, J. Cohen,  J. Lapinski and M. Trussler have an article at Science Advances titled: Partisan pandemic: How partisanship and public health concerns affect individuals’ social mobility during COVID-19." The abstract:

Rampant partisanship in the United States may be the largest obstacle to the reduced social mobility most experts see as critical to limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyzing a total of just over 1.1 million responses collected daily between April 4th and September 10th reveals not only that partisanship is more important than public health concerns for explaining individuals’ willingness to stay-at-home and reduce social mobility, but also that the effect of partisanship has grown over time – especially among Republicans. All else equal, the relative importance of partisanship for the increasing (un)willingness of Republicans to stay-at-home highlights the challenge that politics poses for public health.

From the article:

While our analyses do not identify the source for the partisan differences we identify, they do rule out some important plausible explanations. In particular, the fact that partisan differences we identify persist regardless of the partisanship of the governor, differences in the regulatory environment of the state, regional differences, local differences (at the zip code level) and media consumption suggests that they are due to either national stimuli (e.g., cues being provided by national partisan leaders such as President Trump and/or partisan-related differences in the beliefs and values of partisans. In either case, it is clear that national leadership seems required to help bridge the partisan differences we identify.

Thursday, December 17, 2020


IDefying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 race, which unfolded in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.  The latest vaccine news is good.  Other COVID news is bad.

Dan Diamond at Politico:

A top Trump appointee repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a "herd immunity" approach to Covid-19 and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, according to internal emails obtained by a House watchdog and shared with POLITICO.

“There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD," then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote on July 4 to his boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.

"Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected…" Alexander added.

 Noah Weiland at NYT:

Kyle McGowan, a former chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his deputy, Amanda Campbell, were installed in 2018 as two of the youngest political appointees in the history of the world’s premier public health agency, young Republicans returning to their native Georgia to dream jobs.

But what they witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic this year in the C.D.C.’s leadership suite on the 12-floor headquarters here shook them: Washington’s dismissal of science, the White House’s slow suffocation of the agency’s voice, the meddling in its messages and the siphoning of its budget.

In a series of interviews, the pair has decided to go public with their disillusionment: what went wrong, and what they believe needs to be done as the agency girds for what could be a yearslong project of rebuilding its credibility externally while easing ill feelings and self-doubt internally.

“Everyone wants to describe the day that the light switch flipped and the C.D.C. was sidelined. It didn’t happen that way,” Mr. McGowan said. “It was more of like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you realize that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the C.D.C.”

Last week, the editor in chief of the C.D.C.’s flagship weekly disease outbreak reports — once considered untouchable — told House Democrats investigating political interference in the agency’s work that she was ordered to destroy an email showing Trump appointees attempting to meddle with their publication.

Ben White at Politico:

The pace of jobs coming back from the 22 million we lost to Covid-19 is way down and potentially headed to zero this month. Weekly initial jobless claims are creeping back toward 1 million, a massive number still well above the pre-Covid record. Retail sales tanked a worse than expected 1.1 percent in November, the second monthly drop in a row as household incomes continue to fall without more federal support.

There’s a very good chance the U.S. is about to repeat the very slow recovery from the financial crisis of 2008-2009. That one, you may recall, helped launch populist uprisings like Occupy Wall Street on the left, the Tea Party on the right and eventually helped elect President Donald Trump.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Trump and Georgia

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.

 Alex Isenstadt at Politico:

President Donald Trump couldn’t make it any clearer: He needs his supporters to fork over cash for the all-important Georgia Senate runoff elections.

“We MUST defend Georgia from the Dems!” he wrote in one recent text message. “I need YOU to secure a WIN in Georgia,” he said in another. “Help us WIN both Senate races in Georgia & STOP Socialist Dems,” he pleaded a few days later.

There’s just one hitch: Trump’s new political machine is pocketing most of the dough — and the campaigns of the Georgia senators competing in the Jan. 5 races aren’t getting a cent.

Trump’s aggressive fundraising blitz appears to be devoted to helping the party defend Georgia’s two Senate seats and, with them, the Senate majority. But the fine print shows that most of the proceeds are going toward Trump’s newly launched PAC, which he plans to use to fund his future political activities. Only a fraction is going to the Republican National Committee, which is investing $20 million into the runoffs.

A stampede of political figures from both parties are emailing their donors with links to donate directly to the Georgia candidates, but the president is not among them.

Trump’s fundraising ploy has rankled senior Republicans, who worry small-dollar donations are being redirected away from the runoffs. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has reached out to the White House and RNC to express its concern and to question the decision, according to two people familiar with the discussions.