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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Partisan Local News Sites in CA Races

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.

Freddy Brewster and Katie Licari at CalMatters:

The story twisted facts and omitted context to fit a partisan narrative. It implied then-California Rep. Gil Cisneros engaged in criminal insider trading and knowingly profited from confidential congressional coronavirus briefings in the early days of the pandemic.

Cisneros’ opponent, now-Rep. Young Kim, issued a press release featuring the story that was published Sept. 17 by the California Globe, a partisan news site. Kim also tweeted a link later that day that was retweeted 32 times and posted the story on Facebook, where it was shared 52 times and generated 40 comments attacking Cisneros. She never retracted the press release or the social media posts — not even when the Globe removed the story from its website in response to a letter from Cisneros’ attorneys. Not when Cisneros publicly called on her to do so. Nor would her spokesperson answer repeated CalMatters’ questions about it.

The damage was apparent once the votes were counted.

It happened in other CA races, too. 

The misinformation in turn was amplified not only on social media but by a handful of upstart conservative partisan news outlets such as The San Joaquin Valley Sun. As politically independent newspapers have closed or slashed reporting staff, these sites have rushed in to fill the void. The Columbia Journalism Review last August reported California has at least 74 partisan sites — the most in the country, and listed those it found. The sites became friendly landing spots for political smears like the Globe story, allowing widespread distribution of misinformation or innuendo at no cost to the campaigns.

And nobody expects that to change anytime soon. There’s a likely campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom on the horizon, and the NRCC recently released another four targets, for 2022: Reps. John Garamendi in the Sacramento Valley, Josh Harder in the northern San Joaquin Valley, Katie Porter in Orange County, and Mike Levin in San Diego County.

Dossiers posted on, an NRCC-funded website, featured information labeled as “Hits,” as well as video footage available for political advertisements. The website recently deleted the 2020 dossiers on Democrat candidates across the country, but CalMatters archived the portion of the site devoted to California congressional candidates on

See here for more on micro-sites in political campaigns.

See here for more on partisan local news sites.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Polarization Over Trump

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses Trump's legacy. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Selling Voting Limits

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses disputes over voting rights and election security.  

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Shape-Shifting Candidate

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.  A New Jersey-born former wrestler who lost a House race in Nevada is now a commie-bashing Texan.

Emily Singer at The American Independent:
\A Republican former professional wrestler is district hopping in the hopes of winning a U.S. House seat — and is totally changing his personality in the hopes of making his congressional dreams a reality.

Dan Rodimer won the GOP nomination in Nevada's 3rd District in November in 2020. He went on to lose to Democratic Rep. Susie Lee by a 3-point margin in the suburban Las Vegas-based seat.

A little more than four months later, he's back, this time running in a special election in a Dallas-based seat more than 1,200 miles away — and he's almost unrecognizable from his previously failed bid.

In his Nevada race, Rodimer ran ads painting himself as a clean-cut, family man — wearing a collared shirt and seated on a couch with his wife and five children.

In the ad, he was defending himself from reports that he had been accused of assault three times between 2010 and 2013. According to a report from the Associated Press in October 2019, Rodimer was accused of punching men "at or outside of nightclubs."

Now, Rodimer is back and running in a special election in Texas' 6th District — a Dallas-based House seat left vacant after Rep. Ron Wright died following a COVID-19 diagnosis.

And Rodimer looks like a totally different person, donning a cowboy hat and positioning himself as a rodeo bull rider with a Texas accent. The ad hits on every right-wing culture war issue of the day and is being touted by Benny Johnson — a far-right instigator who works for the conservative organization Turning Point USA. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Georgia Voting Law

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses disputes over voting rights and election security. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Newsom's Recall Gamble

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state elections.

  Jeremy B. White, Carla Marinucci and Kevin Yamamura at Politico:

It is all but certain that California will have its second gubernatorial recall ever, likely this fall, based on an official state signature tally released last week. The state's unique recall system lends itself to a delicate intraparty dance. California asks two questions: first, do you want to recall Newsom, and second, who should replace him if the recall is successful? The rules don't allow Newsom to appear on that replacement list of contenders who would take his job.

As the prospect of a Villaraigosa candidacy gained steam in recent weeks, other Newsom allies tried to blunt that momentum. Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez declined to share his private conversations with Villaraigosa and stressed that he does not speak for the former mayor, but Núñez predicted that “at the end of the day, all of the Democratic establishment and Democratic activists are going to be on the side of Gov. Gavin Newsom.”

“We can’t make the same mistake twice,” Núñez said, invoking the ill-fated entry of Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in the 2003 recall won by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I don’t see Democrats repeating that exercise again.”

If Democrats play their cards wrong and Newsom is recalled without a leading Democrat on the ballot as an option, a high-name ID Republican could take the top job with a quarter of the vote in one of the nation’s bluest states.

“The only time I worry about a Republican [not] winning this seat is if one credible Democrat gets in,” said Anne Dunsmore, who runs one of the recall committees that are on the verge of qualifying the election.

One Democratic lawmaker said this week that California's two-question approach needs an overhaul. "The crazy thing about our system is that many more people can vote to keep the incumbent in office than the person who ends up replacing the incumbent," said Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).

At EdSource, Sydney Johnson suggests one source of Newsom's problems:

California is one of the slowest states to invite students back for fully in-person instruction amid the pandemic, data released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education shows.

State and local education officials have been pushing for a swift and safe reopening of schools across California through a combination of financial incentives, vaccine priorities and access to safety supplies. But the new data shows that much of the state remains in distance learning, even as the majority of the country’s schools have started welcoming students back to campus in some capacity.

California is among states with the highest percentage of schools that are not yet offering fully in-person instruction, according to the department of education data, which was collected Feb. 22 through March 12 of this year. About 82% of elementary schools are not open for fully in-person instruction in California, topped only by Washington (91%), Oregon (92%) and Maryland (92%).

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Anti-Intellectualism on the Right

Bruce Bartlett last year at TNR:
Although Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan also adopted anti-intellectualism as a political strategy, for them it was just a cynical way to cater to widespread distrust of expertise and learning as a brand of elitism. As president, they routinely deferred to experts, scientists, and other intellectuals in developing and implementing their policies. Nixon famously reached out to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a professor of government at Harvard and well-known Democrat, to work for him in the White House. According to Reagan biographer Lou Cannon, he used the columnist George Will, who studied at Oxford and holds a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton, as a sort of emissary to the intellectual community. And George W. Bush had as his vice president Dick Cheney, a man who had pursued a doctorate in political science at the University of Wisconsin, where his wife, Lynne, got a Ph.D. in British literature.
The problem is that adopting faux populism and anti-intellectualism for purely political purposes eventually leads practitioners to take their own rhetoric literally and denigrate expertise as something to be distrusted per se. This is why the great conservative philosopher Russell Kirk rejected populist rhetoric as a path for conservative victory, even though the populist message might overlap with the conservative program to some extent. As he explained in a 1988 lecture at the Heritage Foundation:
Populism is a revolt against the Smart Guys. I am very ready to confess that the present Smart Guys, as represented by the dominant mentality of the Academy and of what [sociologists Peter and Brigitte Berger] call the Knowledge Class today, are insufficiently endowed with right reason and moral imagination. But it would not be an improvement to supplant them by persons of thoroughgoing ignorance and incompetence.
In a forthcoming article in Public Opinion Quarterly, political scientist Eric Merkley explains how populism and anti-intellectualism lend themselves naturally to the rejection of scientific expertise. As Republicans have tied themselves to the pseudo-populist Tea Party movement over the last decade, as well as to evangelicals and other fundamentalist Christians, their trust in scientific expertise has fallen. According to a 2019 article in Public Opinion Quarterly, in 1973 more Republicans had a great deal of trust in scientists than did Democrats (41 percent of the former, 35 percent of the latter). But by 2016, those percentages had reversed. The latest data from Pew show that 43 percent of Democrats have a great deal confidence in scientists to act in the best interests of the public, while only 27 percent of Republicans do. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.

Tim Elfrink at WP:
Nearly three years ago, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens left the state capitol in disgrace as he faced down two criminal charges, an ethics probe, and public fallout over reports that he’d had an affair with a hairdresser and then allegedly tried to blackmail her with nude photos.

Now, the criminal charges have been dropped, the ethics case has been closed, and Greitens is aiming for a Lazarus-esque comeback.

The Republican announced on Fox News on Monday that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat opening next year with the retirement of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — a move that quickly froze out some other GOP figures angling for the seat.

Greitens, 46, has tied his political fortunes to former president Donald Trump, backing Trump’s false claims about mass election fraud and promising on Twitter that he would “continue Trump’s America First policies.” His candidacy has left some in the state party, which essentially forced him from office in 2018, wringing their hands about his entry to the race, Politico recently reported.

Monday, March 22, 2021


Our new book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection. 

Katie Benner at NYT:
Evidence the government obtained in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol most likely meets the bar necessary to charge some of the suspects with sedition, Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, said in an interview that aired on Sunday.

The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government.

But in an interview with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Sherwin said prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.

“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Mr. Sherwin said. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”

The last time federal prosecutors brought a sedition case was 2010, when they accused members of a Michigan militia of plotting to provoke an armed conflict with the government. They were ultimately acquitted, and the judge in the case said the Justice Department had not adequately proved that the defendants had entered a “concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the United States government.”

The statute on seditious conspiracy also says that people who conspire to “oppose by force the authority” of the government or use force “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States” can be charged with sedition.


From the start, Mr. Sherwin oversaw the investigation as the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, a role that he ceded to a new interim leader in early March. He stepped down from leading the investigation on Friday and returned to Miami, where he had been a line prosecutor.

Keith Zubrow at CBS:

Prosecutor Michael Sherwin described what he saw at the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol as "the dark side of human nature." 

Wearing running clothes and a baseball cap, the then-Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia accompanied the D.C. Metropolitan Police to President Donald Trump's rally on the Ellipse. He described seeing a "carnival environment" that quickly turned angry. Then a mob of protesters, some wearing military-grade tactical gear, headed toward the U.S. Capitol.

By day's end, Sherwin would launch the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history.

In his first television interview about the attack on the Capitol, Sherwin, an appointee of former Attorney General William Barr, told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that over 400 criminal cases have been filed and he expects at least 100 more people will be charged.

"What makes this case so monumental, there are hundreds of defendants in a limited area, dispersing," Sherwin told 60 Minutes. "And a variety of crimes being investigated, everything from murder to assaults to theft of government property, the theft of art." 

 NYT Video:

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Trump and the California Recall

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state elections.

George Skelton at LAT:
Newsom will try to pollute the recall effort with the stench of former President Trump, who lost by nearly 2 to 1 in California. That shouldn’t be hard. All the major GOP candidates so far supported Trump.

Recall officials say that more than a third of the voters who signed recall petitions were non-Republicans. Many independents and Democrats are angry at Newsom’s pandemic decisions.

But their final choice will be between keeping a Democrat or installing a Republican Trump supporter. In this hyperpolarized atmosphere, the best bet is they’ll stick with Newsom — and make him stronger.


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Ron Johnson as the Model of a Trump Republican

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.


Friday, March 19, 2021

How Trump Fanned Anti-Asian Prejudice


Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses Trump's rhetoric about COVID.

Laura Kurtzman at UCSF:
In the week after former President Donald J. Trump tweeted about “the Chinese virus,” the number of coronavirus-related tweets with anti-Asian hashtags rose precipitously, a new study from UC San Francisco has found.

The study examined nearly 700,000 tweets containing nearly 1.3 million hashtags, the week before and after the president’s tweet on March 16, 2020, to see whether his use of the term “Chinese virus” – an expression that public health experts warned against using – may have led others to use anti-Asian language on Twitter.

They found that users who adopted the hashtag #chinesevirus were far more likely to pair it with overtly racist hashtags.

By contrast, those who adopted #covid19, the WHO’s official name for the disease and the term recommended by public health experts, were far less likely to include racist hashtags in their tweets.

The study, published March 18, 2021, in the American Journal of Public Health, comes as the country has experienced a rash of violent attacks on people of Asian descent and lends support to warnings by public health experts that naming a disease after a place or a group of people is stigmatizing.

“These results may be a proxy of growth in anti-Asian sentiment that was not as prevalent as before,” said Yulin Hswen, ScD, MPH, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF and a member of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute. “Using racial terms associated with a disease can result in the perpetuation of further stigmatization of racial groups.”

Researchers chose to analyze hashtags, rather than the content of the tweets themselves, because hashtags have been shown to act as a predictor of the formation of hate groups and the occurrence of hate crimes.

The researchers manually coded each of the hashtags, labeling a hashtag anti-Asian if it expressed hostility towards the region, people or culture of Asia; demonstrated fear, mistrust and hatred of Asians; supported restrictions on Asian immigration; or used derogatory language or condoned punishment of Asian countries and people.

The results showed a large difference in anti-Asian sentiment between the kind of hashtags that appeared in tweets with #covid19 and those that appeared in tweets with #chinesevirus. About 20 percent of the nearly 500,000 hashtags with #covid19 showed anti-Asian sentiment, but anti-Asian bias was apparent in half of the more than 775,000 hashtags with #chinesevirus.

When they looked to see whether the timing of the president’s tweet had any effect, they saw that the number of anti-Asian hashtags associated with #chinesevirus grew much faster after his March 16 tweet, which said, “The United States will be powerfully, supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!”

Hswen said the results of the study demonstrate how important it is to use neutral language when naming diseases and other threats to public health. And she expressed alarm that as recently as March of 2021, former president Trump referred to the Covid-19 vaccine as the “China Virus Vaccine.”

“Chinese virus, China virus, Wuhan virus, or any derivative of these terms is not something we should be using,” she said. “We should not be attaching location or ethnicity to diseases.”

Authors: Joining Hswen in the study were Xiang Xu, MS, Jared B. Hawkins, PhD, and John S. Brownstein, PhD, all of Boston Children’s Hospital; Anna Hing, MPH, of the University of California Los Angeles; and Gilbert C. Gee, PhD, of Harvard Medical School.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Debunking Mail Ballot Fraud

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses Trump's bogus charge of widespread voter fraud.

Jacob Bogage and Shawn Boburg at WP:
U.S. Postal Service investigators found no evidence to support a Pennsylvania postal worker’s claim that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots, according to an inspector general’s report — allegations cited by top Republicans to press baseless claims of fraud in the presidential election.

Richard Hopkins, a mail carrier in Erie, alleged in November that he overheard the local postmaster discussing plans to backdate ballots received after the Nov. 3 vote and pass them off to election officials as legitimate. Working with Project Veritas, a nonprofit entity that seeks to expose what it says is bias in the mainstream news media, Hopkins publicly released a sworn affidavit recounting those allegations.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) cited Hopkins’s claim in a letter to the Justice Department in November calling for a federal investigation into election results in Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 81,000 votes, and Democratic candidates outperformed GOP challengers in votes submitted by mail.

Graham and many other congressional Republicans refused to accept the outcome of the election for weeks, even after states audited and certified results.

Then-Attorney General William P. Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to open investigations into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud before results were certified, a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.

The report of the postal inspector.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Russia Helped Trump in 2020

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracy.

llen Nakashima at WP:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials in Moscow sought to influence the 2020 election by spreading misleading information about Joe Biden through prominent individuals, some of whom were close to former president Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community said in a report Tuesday.

The report does not identify those individuals by name, but it appears to reference Trump’s onetime personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose repeated meetings with a suspected Russian agent came under scrutiny by U.S. officials.


 Indeed, Russia undertook a range of activities to influence the outcome, and to a far greater degree than any other country. And it was Putin and the Russian state, the document said, who authorized operations aimed at undercutting Biden’s campaign for president.

A key element of the strategy, according to the report, was to use Ukrainians linked to Russian intelligence to “launder” unsubstantiated allegations against Biden through U.S. media, lawmakers and prominent individuals, an apparent reference to Giuliani.

The intelligence community, for instance, assessed that Putin “had purview over” the activities of Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach, who played a prominent role in advancing the misleading narrative alleging corruption between Biden and Ukraine. Giuliani met with Derkach, whom the United States has sanctioned as an “active” Russian agent, in Ukraine and in the United States in 2019 and 2020 as Giuliani sought to release material that he thought would damage Biden. Last year, Derkach disclosed edited audio snippets of conversations Biden had as vice president with Ukrainian officials in an attempt to cast aspersions on him.

Text of the report here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Anticorporate Republicans

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.

Caitlin Opyrsko at Politico:

HOW GOP POPULISM COULD PLAY OUT FOR BIG BUSINESS: Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton today unloaded on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, blasting the business lobby in an interview on the “Hugh Hewitt Show” as a “a front service for woke corporations” while asserting that the business lobby had “purged … real Republicans” in its top leadership and lost its influence with the party by endorsing Democrats, per The Hill’s Alex Gangitano. (In a statement to The Hill, the Chamber called Washington “confused” and doubled down on its intention to back “pro-free enterprise, pro-business, pro-governing members of Congress in both parties.”)

— The interaction is emblematic an ongoing realignment in the GOP that signals “trouble ahead for the tried-and-true coalition of Republicans and corporate America,” particularly when combined with the recently announced retirements of lawmakers like Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the Republican lobbying firm CGCN Group wrote in a memo to clients this morning.

— For corporate America, the shift means the party is “increasingly unwilling to listen simultaneously to corporate priorities on, say, tax and trade policy” when viewed alongside the type of “woke-ism” Cotton, a potential 2024 contender, targeted the Chamber over, according to the memo. The retirement of more business-minded lawmakers, it argues, paves the way for populist ones who have “tapped into the party’s anti-Big Business bent, which seems relatively indifferent to an increase in capital gains and corporate income taxes.”

— “It’s not clear what this tendency suggests over the long-term,” the memo reads. “But for now, the business community needs to rethink how it engages the GOP on issues they consider fundamental. Because their list of priorities and the GOP’s may not always overlap in the same way it once did.”

Monday, March 15, 2021

GOP Vaccine Hesitancy

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the politics of COVID.

 Caitlin Owens at Axios:

Driving the news: Nearly half of Republican men — 49% — say they won't choose to be vaccinated if a vaccine is available to them, according to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey.
  • Among those who said they supported Trump in 2020, 47% said they wouldn't choose to be vaccinated.
  • In contrast, 6% of Democratic men and 10% of Biden supporters said they wouldn't get the shot.
  • 25% of Black respondents, 28% of white respondents and 37% of Latino respondents said the same.
What they're saying: NIAID Director Anthony Fauci yesterday told "Fox News Sunday" that "it would make all the difference in the world" if former President Trump urged his supporters to take the coronavirus vaccine, Axios' Orion Rummler reports.
  • "I'm very surprised that the high percentage of Republicans say they don't want to get vaccinated," Fauci said. "I don't understand where that's coming from. This is not a political issue. This is a public health issue."
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said on Friday that the state is seeing vaccine hesitancy among white Republicans, and said partnerships between pharmacies and churches or civic clubs will be important, CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.

Go deeper: 25% of House not vaccinated as some members refuse to get shot

Sunday, March 14, 2021


Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.

 Maggie Haberman at NYT:

The Republican Party in the era following Donald J. Trump’s presidency is comprised of five “tribes” that have ranging affinity for the former president and different desires when it comes to seeing him continue to lead the party, according to a new survey by Mr. Trump’s former pollster.

The survey of 1,264 voters, who are registered Republicans or identify as Republicans, is the first comprehensive one conducted about G.O.P. voter sentiment since Mr. Trump left office, and as he considers running again in 2024. It was conducted by the Republican polling firm Fabrizio and Lee — which worked for Mr. Trump in his 2020 campaign but does not any longer.

The former president “still wields tremendous influence over the party, yet it is not universal or homogeneous,” the pollsters wrote in their summary. “We found that there are clear and distinct ‘tribes’ of Trump supporters within the G.O.P. and, not surprisingly, a small Never Trump group.”

Those “tribes” were identified as “Trump Boosters,” “Die-hard Trumpers,” “Post-Trump G.O.P.,” “Never Trump,” and “Infowars G.O.P.” The latter group, among other things, was described as viewing QAnon conspiracy theories favorably and believing in many of them.

From the PowerPoint: 


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Insurrection Update

Our new book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection. 

Seb Walker at VICE:
One of the most senior Cabinet officials in the Trump administration, Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, has told VICE on Showtime that he believes the speech made by former President Donald Trump on the morning of January 6 was responsible for causing the mob to violently attack the Capitol later that day.

Trump installed Miller after firing his predecessor Mark Esper in the days after the election. Speaking exclusively to VICE on Showtime, Miller said, “Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.”

Friday, March 12, 2021

Governors in Trouble

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discussed state elections.

California's Gavin Newsom faces a recall effort.

 Sophia Bollag at The Sacramento Bee:

The most recent polls measuring Newsom’s approval ratings, including the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll DiCamillo runs, show a decline in support for Newsom after a dramatic high early in the pandemic.

“He’s seen as higher up in the social strata than other Californians,” DiCamillo said. “That could be a longer term issue for him even if he improves his job rating.”

Pollsters say voters’ views of politicians are more often shaped by partisan preferences and their own sense of well-being.

The last time voters soured so much on Newsom was in fall 2019, when a series of wildfires blanketed the state in smoke, according to polls conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Newsom’s fortunes are now tied to the pandemic, especially after he set himself up as the face of California’s coronavirus response with his daily COVID-19 news conferences, DiCamillo said.

In its latest polling on Newsom, the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found 46% of Californians approve of the job he’s doing, while 48% disapprove. Meanwhile, 44% have an overall favorable view of him, while 49% have an unfavorable view.

Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair:

He was a self-styled pandemic hero, purporting to fill a leadership void left by Donald Trump. Even as that myth began to crumble, he still seemed unlikely to lose his grip on power. But a new misconduct allegation, one that has reportedly been referred to Albany police, has put Andrew Cuomo’s governorship in even greater peril, with a majority of New York state legislators calling for his resignation, and Democrats opening an impeachment investigation into the man who had been, just last summer, a party star. “The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement authorizing Judiciary Chair Charles Lavine’s probe Thursday. “I have the utmost faith that Assemblymember Lavine and the members of the committee will conduct an expeditious, full and thorough investigation.”

Cuomo has been at the center of two massive scandals—one for apparently covering up the real toll of COVID-19 on New York nursing home residents, and one for alleged sexual harassment and misconduct. As he faced scrutiny from New York Attorney General Leticia James and others over nursing home deaths, several women came forward to accuse the governor of unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior. He denied wrongdoing, vowing not to resign and digging in his heels. But an explosive new accusation this week may have changed the calculus: A current aide to Cuomo told the Albany Times-Union that he summoned her to the executive mansion in late 2020 and groped her underneath her blouse in the second-floor residence. The allegation, the most serious to date, has been referred to Albany police, marking the first time an accusation against Cuomo has resulted in potential legal exposure. As in the other alleged incidents, Cuomo has adamantly denied the accusation. “I have never done anything like this,” he said.

But the new allegation opened the floodgates wider. The chorus of state lawmakers demanding his resignation grew to more than 120. “All of us are extremely disappointed,” Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther told the Associated Press. “I think there’s no room in the world right now for that kind of behavior.” It also triggered the impeachment investigation and is yet another item on Tish James’ radar. “Our investigation will continue,” the AG said.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

One Year Ago Tonight

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the political impact of COVID.

On March 11, 2020, Trump addressed the nation about the crisis.

He screwed up.  The next day, Ellie Hall reported at Buzzfeed:

President Donald Trump addressed the nation Wednesday night to announce how the government plans to combat the spread of the coronavirus. He spoke for about 9.5 minutes during primetime television — and got three huge things wrong, spreading confusion and sending his aides and experts scrambling to get the right information out.
1. The 30-day European travel ban DOES NOT apply to US citizens or permanent residents.
2. The European travel restrictions actually DO NOT apply to cargo.
3. Insurance companies are waiving copayments for COVID-19 testing, NOT treatment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

GOP Abandons Policy Ideas

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.

Oren Cass at American Compass:

Trumpism cannot be declared a “success” or a “failure” because it did not exist. The administration, which neither emerged from nor erected institutional infrastructure or an intellectual framework, lacked both overarching vision and an integrated policy agenda.  For most statements, appointments, and policy actions there exist equal and opposite ones.
Ron Brownstein at CNN:
Although every House and Senate Republican voted against the rescue plan, it has not generated anything like the uprisings against new government spending and programs that engulfed Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama during each man's first year in office. Indeed, throughout the legislative fight, congressional Republicans and conservative media outlets like Fox News appeared more interested in focusing attention on peripheral cultural issues, like whether Dr. Seuss had become a victim of liberal "cancel culture."
That stress on cultural complaints reflects the shifting source of motivation inside the GOP coalition, with fewer voters responding to the warnings against "big government" once central to the party's appeal and more viscerally responding to alarms that Democrats intend to transform "our country," as former President Donald Trump often calls it, into something culturally unrecognizable.
"Concerns about cultural influence, political power and status are really overwhelming other ideological concerns on the right," says Daniel Cox, a research fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who recently published an exhaustive national survey of attitudes among GOP voters. "Traditional conservative principles, whether it's commitment to a strong national defense or support for limited government, do not animate Republican voters."

As in the famous Sherlock Holmes story, the most revealing dynamic in the legislative debate over the Covid plan may have been "the dog that didn't bark": in this case, the absence of a grassroots conservative uprising against the plan, even though its price tag vastly exceeded the Clinton and Obama proposals that ignited more resistance. Polls have consistently found significant majorities of Americans support the Covid relief plan, with Gourevitch's firm releasing one survey last week that showed it winning support from more than two-thirds of adults, including a plurality of Republicans.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

House GOP Plans for 2022

Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  It includes a chapter on congressional elections.

 Jonathan Swan at Axios:

House Republicans will reclaim their majority in 2022 by offering candidates who are women, minorities or veterans, a memo obtained by Axios says.

Why it matters: The document, drafted by a super PAC blessed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, names top Democrats to target — Jared Golden of Maine, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Ron Kind of Wisconsin — and the type of Republican candidates to beat them.
  • The Congressional Leadership Fund spent $140 million during the 2020 cycle, helping Republicans defy the odds and come within five seats of winning the House. The group now plans to play a key role in shaping the 2022 contests.

The details: The memo, written by CLF President Dan Conston, singled out Golden, Cartwright and Kind because they live in Trump-friendly rural and working-class districts.
  • Conston recommends "star Navy SEAL" Derrick Van Orden seek a rematch with Kind but says the GOP needs to find new, "stronger recruits" to take on Golden and Cartwright.

The memo is blunt about candidate recruitment.
  • "In 2020, all 15 of the seats Republicans flipped were won by a woman, a minority or a veteran," Conston writes. "Continuing to recruit similar candidates is a foundational building block to the majority in 2022."

Monday, March 8, 2021

CA Recall

Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.

 Carla Marinucci at Politico:

Conservatives are taking a page from the playbook of former President Donald Trump by raising, without evidence, the specter that Democrats are trying to block a California recall election by manipulating the elections process.

Recall organizers have expressed confidence in California's system and believe they have enough valid signatures to qualify a recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. But Republican members of Congress are attacking California's signature verification process, while conservatives with large social media followings are magnifying those arguments ahead of the March 17 deadline to submit 1.5 million valid signatures.

"I expect them to lie, cheat and steal," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in an interview, adding that Democrats could "take all the friendly registrars of voters they can find... and just challenge every signature."

California has plenty of experience with signature-driven ballot fights, given that the initiative process is a well-worn path for interest groups trying to circumvent the state Capitol. As those in the ballot measure industry know, every petition drive must aim to collect hundreds of thousands more signatures than required because there are always invalid submissions. Serious players build enough room in their budgets to overshoot the valid signature goal by 20 percent or more through paid gatherers and outreach.

Some conservatives have already posted false claims on social media, like actor Kevin Sorbo, perhaps best known for his title role on the 1990s "Hercules" TV series. "So California is requiring signature verification for Gavin Newsom’s recall, but didn’t require it for the mail in ballots. How strange," Sorbo tweeted last month in a claim that was false because registrars are required to check signatures on mail-in ballots — one reason election results can take so long to emerge in California.

The tweet — shared and liked more than 120,000 times — was amplified without correction by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has backed the recall and donated more than $100,000 to the campaign.

In other cases, Republicans are using election integrity fears in a bid to collect more signatures. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) last month sent supporters an email saying Democrats "plan to toss any signatures they can render as invalid (surprise surprise)."

"We need it to be beyond the margin of Democrat trickery," LaMalfa said of recall efforts before urging supporters to sign the petition.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Thoughts on Trumpism

He did not have a coherent policy platform, because he was the policy platform, the middle finger to perceived enemies and the bulwark against real or imagined progressive assault. Many Republican presidents would have moved the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem or supported a capital-gains tax cut or attempted to wage a Kulturkampf against “cancel culture” or any other wedge issue that provided an unwinnable and unlosable political war to be fought in the Twitter trenches. It is telling that as president, Mr. Trump became a remarkably standard Republican on many issues (his opposition to raising the minimum wage, for example) and received no penalty from his voters or allies. He did not need to fulfill the promises of Trumpism to win their support. He merely needed to be Donald Trump.

At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson quotes Jennifer Hochschild:

“A lot of nonreligious liberals can’t tune into the frequency on which Donald Trump is speaking to the right,” Hochschild said. Throughout his term, the president has been laser-focused, not so much on the day-to-day tasks of the job, but rather on calling out his political enemies—the press, the bureaucracy, the far left, the impeachers, the vote-counting software. But although liberals might see pathological anger here, Hochschild’s sources have told her they perceive something deeper than rage. They see suffering. “‘I’m suffering for you,’ is a profound message,” she said. “Suffering consolidates and strengthens belief. It puts an ism to the word Trump and gives a political project the shape of a religious movement.” Perhaps in part because Trump considers himself godlike, he is absorbing the underlying religious paradigm of voters who are seeking some new creed to explain the broken line and mend it.


Dana Milbank at WP:

You don’t have to study demography to see that race is at the core of the GOP’s tilt toward the authoritarian. You need only look at what happened this week.

On Monday, the Georgia state House passed a bill brazenly attempting to deter Black voters. The bill proposed to scale back Sunday voting — taking direct aim at the longtime “Souls to the Polls” tradition in which Black voters cast their ballots after church on Sundays. The bill also would increase voter I.D. requirements — known to disenfranchise Black voters disproportionately — and even would make it illegal to serve food or drinks to voters waiting in long lines outside polling places; lines are typically longer at minority precincts.
Georgia Republicans clearly are hoping they can suppress enough Black votes to erase the Democrats’ narrow advantage that gave them both of the state’s Senate seats and Joe Biden its electoral votes. But Georgia is just one of the 43 states collectively contemplating 253 bills this year with provisions restricting voting access, according to a tally by the Brennan Center for Justice.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s majority signaled it would be open to more such voting restrictions. In oral arguments, the conservative justices indicated they would uphold two Arizona laws that would have the effect of disproportionately disqualifying the votes of non-White citizens. One law throws out ballots cast in the wrong precinct, a problem that affects minority voters twice as much as White voters because polling places move more frequently in minority neighborhoods. The other law bans the practice of ballot collection — derided by Republicans as ballot “harvesting” — which is disproportionately used by minority voters, in particular Arizona’s Native Americans on reservations.

Representing the Arizona Republican Party in Tuesday’s argument, lawyer Michael A. Carvin explained why the party supports laws tossing out ballots: “Politics is a zero-sum game.”

Panel Study of the MAGA Movement:

Turning to perceptions of the 2020 election cycle, we find that the MAGA movement refuses to accept the election results. We assess this in a number of ways, from survey questions that invoke fraud claims made by Trump, to perceptions of the congressional elections. When we asked our respondents about whether or not they agreed with Trump’s fraud claims, 98 percent believed them valid. We then asked, absent Trump’s claim, whether or not they trusted the election results. Again, 98 percent of respondents distrust the results. However, when we shift to perceptions of the congressional elections, the attitudes move a bit. Instead of 98 percent who take issue with the election outcome at the presidential level, distrust of the down-ballot (congressional) results decline by roughly 20 percentage points to 78 percent. The disparity between our findings on the first two questions, and the last one, suggests that movement members are less upset with gains made in the House versus losing (illegitimately) the presidency. We were also curious about other issues surrounding the 2020 election cycle: attitudes surrounding making it easier for people to vote, and if they’d support Trump for a third term. Recall that, at the time the first wave was in the field, the outcome of the election remained in doubt. In response to the first question, roughly 90 percent of our respondents disagreed with making it easier for people to vote. Replying to the second, it’s clear that, were it possible, roughly 70 percent would’ve supported Trump for a third term.