Search This Blog

Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Trump, Threats, Violence

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.   

 A filing by Jack Smith:

Evidence of the defendant’s post-conspiracy embrace of particularly violent and notorious rioters is admissible to establish the defendant’s motive and intent on January 6—that he sent supporters, including groups like the Proud Boys, whom he knew were angry, and whom he now calls “patriots,” to the Capitol to achieve the criminal objective of obstructing the congressional certification. In addition, his statements in this time period agreeing that he then held, and still holds, enormous influence over his supporters’ actions is evidence of his knowledge and intent to obstruct the certification, as he chose not to exercise that influence to mitigate the violence on January 6. Perhaps most importantly, the defendant’s embrace of January 6 rioters is evidence of his intent during the charged conspiracies, because it shows that these individuals acted as he directed them to act; indeed, this evidence shows that the rioters’ disruption of the certification proceeding is exactly what the defendant intended on January 6. And finally, evidence of the defendant’s statements regarding possible pardons for January 6 offenders is admissible to help the jury assess the credibility and motives of trial witnesses, because through such comments, the defendant is publicly signaling that the law does not apply to those who act at his urging regardless of the legality of their actions

Upholding most of Judge Chutkan's gag order, the DC Circuit finds:

Mr. Trump’s documented pattern of speech and its demonstrated real-time, real-world consequences pose a significant and imminent threat to the functioning of the criminal trial process in this case in two respects.


 Many of former President Trump’s public statements attacking witnesses, trial participants, and court staff pose a danger to the integrity of these criminal proceedings. That danger is magnified by the predictable torrent of threats of retribution and violence that the district court found follows when Mr. Trump speaks out forcefully against individuals in connection with this case and the 2020 election aftermath on which the indictment focuses. The district court appropriately found that those threats and harassment undermine the integrity of this criminal proceeding by communicating directly or indirectly with witnesses and potential witnesses about their testimony, evidence, and cooperation in the justice process. They also impede the administration of justice by exposing counsel and members of the court’s and counsel’s staffs to fear and intimidating pressure. The First Amendment does not afford trial participants, including defendants, free rein to use their knowledge or position within the trial as a tool for encumbering the judicial process.1

Thursday, December 7, 2023


 Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.   

He is planning an authoritarian agenda and would take care to eliminate any internal dissent.

David Jackson at USA Today:

Donald Trump mocked questions about authoritarianism on Tuesday, saying he would be a dictator only on "day one," and then he's going to close the border and get to drilling.

"After that, I'm not a dictator, OK?" the Republican presidential frontrunner told Fox News host Sean Hannity before a very friendly crowd in Davenport, Iowa.

Trump declined to discuss his pledges of "retribution" against political opponents, including threats to investigate President Joe Biden and others who have criticized him.

Biden and other opponents, including some Republicans, describe Trump as a grave threat to democracy, and this will likely be a huge issue in the 2024 election.

Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman and Charlie Savage at NYT:

A confidant of Donald J. Trump who is likely to serve in a senior national security role in any new Trump administration threatened on Tuesday to target journalists for prosecution if the former president regains the White House.

The confidant, Kash Patel, who served as Mr. Trump’s counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council and also as chief of staff to the acting secretary of defense, made the remarks on a podcast hosted by Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former strategist, during a discussion about a potential second Trump presidency beginning in 2025.

“We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media,” Mr. Patel said. “Yes, we’re going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections — we’re going to come after you. Whether it’s criminally or civilly, we’ll figure that out.” He added: “We’re actually going to use the Constitution to prosecute them for crimes they said we have always been guilty of but never have.”

Earlier in the interview, when asked by Mr. Bannon whether a new administration would “deliver the goods” to “get rolling on prosecutions” early in a second term, Mr. Patel noted that the Trump team had a “bench” of “all-America patriots,” but he said he did not want to name any names “so the radical left-wing media can terrorize them.”

Tom Nichols at The Atlantic:

 If reelected, Trump would attempt to gain authoritarian control of the Defense Department’s uppermost levels from the very beginning. There are more Anthony Tatas and Douglas Macgregors out there, and Trump’s allies are likely already seeking to identify them. If the Senate refused to confirm Trump’s appointees, it wouldn’t matter much: Trump has learned that he can keep rotating people through acting positions, daring the Senate to stop him.
The career civil servants underneath these appointees—who work on everything from recruiting to nuclear planning—would disobey Trump if he attacked the constitutional order. These civilians, by law, cannot be fired at will, a problem Trump tried to remedy in the last months of his administration by proposing a new category of government appointments (Schedule F) that would have converted some of the most important civil-service positions into political appointments directly controlled by the White House. President Joe Biden immediately repealed this move after taking office, but Trump has vowed to reinstate it.
In his two-pronged offensive to capture the military establishment while eviscerating the civil service, Trump would likely rely on former officers such as Miller and fringe-dwelling civilians such as Patel, but he would also almost certainly find at least a few serving senior officers—he would not need many—who would accept his offer to abandon their oath. Together, they would make a run at changing the nature of the armed forces.


Kevin the Quitter

Andrew Solender at Axios:
House Republicans are already raising concerns about what the early exit of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will mean for their tenuous ability to control their narrow majority.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers are particularly fearful that the closer margins will further empower a handful of members to hijack bills for leverage – a common practice this Congress.

The state of play: 
  • House Republicans currently hold 221 seats to Democrats' 213, meaning they can afford just three defections on party-line votes.With McCarthy leaving by the end of the year and Democrats heavily targeting the seat vacated by the expulsion of former GOP Rep. George Santos, that buffer could dwindle to two votes as early as mid-February.
  • Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) is also expected to resign early next year, though his loss will likely be offset in the near term by the departure of Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.).
What they're saying: "It emboldens some individuals, at any given time, with a specific issue to hold up and stop the entire process," Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), the chair of the Republican Study Committee, said of the GOP's narrowing majority.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Deepfake Election

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the impact of social media and campaign technology.

Eva Surovell at The Messenger:

The National Republican Congressional Committee released new advertisements using images generated by artificial intelligence of national parks "overrun with immigrants."

The advertisements target Democrats who voted last week against legislation that would prevent the use of public lands for temporary housing for immigrants seeking asylum.


Oliver Knox at WP:

President Barack Obama warned us in 2018.

Or rather, a digitally manipulated video of Obama, voiced by actor-director Jordan Peele, warned us: “We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time, even if they would never say those things.”

If the Obama video seems a little clunky, consider that it’s five years old, before the latest AI tools, like ChatGPT were household names and available to pretty much anyone with an internet connection.
Back in March, my colleagues Isaac Stanley-Becker and Naomi Nix chronicled how AI-generated images of former president Donald Trump being arrested rocketed around the internet, getting millions of eyeballs.

In April, Isaac and John Wagner reported on the Republican National Committee releasing a 30-second ad built entirely with AI imagery of a dystopian future in which President Biden has been reelected and America is falling apart. (The RNC included a disclosure about AI use.)

Monday, December 4, 2023

What Trump Would Do

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun

Andrew Restuccia and and Aaron Zitner at WSJ:
As he campaigns to retake the White House, Donald Trump has increasingly tossed aside the principles of limited government and local control that have defined the Republican Party for decades.

The former president is laying plans to wield his executive authority to influence school curricula, prevent doctors from providing medical interventions for young transgender people and pressure police departments to adopt more severe anticrime policies. All are areas where state or local officials have traditionally taken the lead.

He has said he would establish a government-backed anti-“woke” university, create a national credentialing body to certify teachers “who embrace patriotic values” and erect “freedom cities” on federal land. He has pledged to marshal the power of the government to investigate and punish his critics.

It is a governing platform barely recognizable to prior generations of Republican politicians, who campaigned against one-size-fits-all federal dictates and argued that state legislators, mayors and town halls were best positioned to oversee their communities. While many of his proposals would be difficult to achieve, the second-term agenda outlined by Trump could require waves of new federal intervention, even as he calls for firing government workers, neutering the “deep state” and cutting regulations.

“If Trump wins, the days of small government conservatism may be over,” said Lanhee Chen, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who served as the policy director of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

At  WP, Robert Kagan warns of dictatorship:

A paralyzing psychology of appeasement has also been at work. At each stage, the price of stopping Trump has risen higher and higher. In 2016, the price was forgoing a shot at the White House. Once Trump was elected, the price of opposition, or even the absence of obsequious loyalty, became the end of one’s political career, as Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Paul D. Ryan and many others discovered. By 2020, the price had risen again. As Mitt Romney recounts in McKay Coppins’s recent biography, Republican members of Congress contemplating voting for Trump’s impeachment and conviction feared for their physical safety and that of their families. There is no reason that fear should be any less today. But wait until Trump returns to power and the price of opposing him becomes persecution, the loss of property and possibly the loss of freedom. Will those who balked at resisting Trump when the risk was merely political oblivion suddenly discover their courage when the cost might be the ruin of oneself and one’s family?

We are closer to that point today than we have ever been, yet we continue to drift toward dictatorship, still hoping for some intervention that will allow us to escape the consequences of our collective cowardice, our complacent, willful ignorance and, above all, our lack of any deep commitment to liberal democracy. As the man said, we are going out not with a bang but a whimper.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Trump Job Application

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.   

He is planning an authoritarian agenda and would take care to eliminate any internal dissent.

Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen at Axios:

We told you in a "Behind the Curtain" column last month that Trump allies are pre-screening the ideologies of thousands of potential appointees and employees in case he wins back the White House. Now we have copies of the exact questionnaires Trump allies are using — and that then-President Trump used himself during his final days in office.

Why it matters: These future Trumpers would staff an unprecedented effort to centralize and expand presidential power at every level of the administration.Trump insiders are planning a far more targeted and sophisticated sequel to his haphazard first term, when internal feuding deterred policy wins or permanent changes to government.
The 2020 questionnaire — paired with the application the Heritage Foundation is currently collecting from job prospects for a future administration — points to a top-down government-in-waiting that would be driven more by ideology than by policy expertise or innovation.
Trump, the overwhelming favorite for the Republican nomination, is being explicit about his plans for retribution and disruption if he wins the 2024 election. So how he would staff his government is of immense consequence.

Driving the news: The 2020 "Research Questionnaire," which we obtained from a Trump administration alumnus, was used in the administration's final days — when most moderates and establishment figures had been fired or quit, and loyalists were flexing their muscles. Questions include: 
  • 'What part of Candidate Trump's campaign message most appealed to you and why?"
  • "Briefly describe your political evolution. What thinkers, authors, books, or political leaders influenced you and led you to your current beliefs? What political commentator, thinker or politician best reflects your views?"
  • "Have you ever appeared in the media to comment on Candidate Trump, President Trump or other personnel or policies of the Trump Administration?"
Between the lines: An alumnus of the Trump White House told us both documents are designed to test the sincerity of someone's MAGA credentials and determine "when you got red-pilled," or became a true believer."They want to see that you're listening to Tucker, and not pointing to the Reagan revolution or any George W. Bush stuff," this person said.

See for yourself: As an exclusive for Axios readers, at the bottom of this story you can read both the Trump questionnaire and 2025 application in full.

Both documents are striking for their emphasis on what you believe rather than your credentials or accomplishments.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

House Republicans Are Unhappy (with One Another)


Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good.  George Santos was an embarrassment and source of discord for House Republicans.

Andrew Solender and Juliegrace Brufke at Axios:

House Republican leadership is facing some internal backlash over their last-minute opposition to expelling former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress.

Why it matters: The historic vote to expel Santos was prompted by a report from the bipartisan House Ethics Committee which alleged a "complex web" of wrongdoing by the embattled Long Islander.Beyond the Ethics Committee, Santos has also been twice criminally indicted. He pleaded not guilty and maintains that he is innocent.

Driving the news: The House voted 311-114 on Friday to pass a resolution expelling Santos from Congress. Republicans split almost evenly, with 105 voting for expulsion and 112 voting against – compared to just two Democrats who voted against expulsion and another two who voted "present."
The push to rescue Santos gained 11th hour momentum when Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and other members of leadership came out against expulsion the morning of the vote.
Santos' removal winnows the House GOP majority to a three-vote margin, while also giving Democrats an opportunity to pick up Santos' seat.

What we're hearing: Ethics Committee members Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) and John Rutherford (R-Fla.) both floated to colleagues the idea of resigning from the panel if the vote failed, according to two lawmakers and an aide familiar with the discussions.


And it is not just the Santos vote.  Olivia Beavers at Politico reports that Speaker Johnson's honeymoon is over:
“He continues to play games,” a livid Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) said in an interview. “We are talking about a man [who] 30 days ago said that he was an anti-CR guy. We are talking about a man 30 days ago that was anti-Ukraine funding. ... It shows me he was never really morally convicted in his positions to begin with.

“He just did a 180 on everything he believed in,” Miller added, “and that to me is disgusting.”

Miller, an ally of McCarthy and former President Donald Trump, called Johnson a “joke,” describing the speaker’s decision to attach IRS cuts to Israel aid as “a slap in the face to every Jew” and a “fucking dumb” choice that set a precedent of tying domestic policy to foreign aid. He made clear that his complaints stemmed from the speaker’s decision to not take up funding bills this week, as a shutdown deadline looms.

Friday, December 1, 2023


Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.  The DeSantis campaign has been troubled

Rachel Sharp at The Independent:

Ron DeSantis left viewers baffled – and grimacing – in a particularly bizarre moment during his fiery debate with Gavin Newsom.

The Florida governor came face to face with the California governor on Fox News on Thursday night in what appeared to be a practice session for an unlikely presidential debate, where the two men sparred over Covid-19, the 2024 race and LGBT+ rights.

But there was one moment in particular that got viewers talking, when Mr DeSantis curiously brandished a so-called “poop map” showing apparent dump sites across the city of San Francisco.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Trump v. TV

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun

He has said similar things before: At the time of the earlier threatPolitico reported:

It’s unclear exactly how Trump could directly challenge a media outlet’s broadcasting license, if he chose to follow through on his veiled threat.

The FCC, an independent federal agency, issues broadcast licenses to stations and oversees license holders. It does not license networks. NBC is owned by Comcast, which holds broadcast licenses for several stations. NBC also airs on affiliate stations owned by other companies.

Local residents or competitors can file a challenge to a station’s license renewal, but the basis for such a challenge is extremely limited — it must be a case where the station systematically violated the FCC’s rules or lacked the requisite “character” to hold the license. That is usually defined as a felony conviction, said Andrew Schwartzman, a communications lawyer with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center.

“It’s an empty threat. The last thing that NBC is going to worry about is whether its broadcast licenses are in jeopardy,” Schwartzman said.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Difficult Politics of the Israel-Hamas War

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.  The Gaza war is politically dangerous for Biden. A shocking percentage of young people think that the October 7 massacre was justified.  And Arab Americans in the key state of Michigan may be turning away from the president. 

Russell Contreras at Axios:

Arab American and Muslim American anger over President Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war could be endangering his re-election in the majority of 2024 swing states.

Driving the news: MichiganVirginiaGeorgiaArizona and Pennsylvania all have notable pockets of these populations. There aren't reliable statistics on how many are registered voters — but even tiny shifts of support in any of these super-tight states that Biden won in 2020 could make a difference.
Driving the news: Michigan, Virginia, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania all have notable pockets of these populations. There aren't reliable statistics on how many are registered voters — but even tiny shifts of support in any of these super-tight states that Biden won in 2020 could make a difference.

Why it matters: It's another case of Biden facing possible defections from heavily Democratic groups that in 2020 helped him take down former President Trump, Biden's likely opponent again next year.Like with young voters, Biden faces the prospect of having to devote time to saving part of his base in addition to courting swing voters.

Zoom in: An Axios review of 2020 results in these crucial states shows that if even a sliver of the Arab American and Muslim American vote were to stay home or defect to Republicans, Biden could be in a deep hole.
  • In Michigan, for example, Biden won in 2020 by 154,000 votes. Census estimates put the state's Arab American population around at least 278,000..
  • Biden won Arizona by 10,500 votes. The Arab American population in the Grand Canyon State is estimated to be 60,000.
  • Biden took Georgia by 11,800 votes. The Arab American population there is at least 57,000.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Haley Goes Better With Koch

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.  The DeSantis campaign has been troubledNikki Haley is emerging as the top GOP rival to Trump, who is still far ahead.

Erin Doherty at Axios:

The political network backed by billionaire Charles Koch announced Tuesday that it is supporting former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in the 2024 Republican primary.

Why it matters: The endorsement is a boon for Haley as she looks to chip away at former President Trump's commanding lead in the race for the GOP nomination with less than two months until the pivotal Iowa caucuses.

Driving the news: "The moment we face requires a tested leader with the governing judgment and policy experience to pull our nation back from the brink," said Emily Seidel, the senior adviser to AFP Action, the leading political arm of the Koch network, in a memo on Tuesday.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The DeSantis Case Against California

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

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will debate Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Fox News at 6 pm Pacific (9 pm Eastern). “DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate,” will be 90 minutes long. DeSantis will probably say:

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Mike Johnson's Visibility and Worldview

After multiple tries and candidates, the House GOP finally settled on a speaker: Mike Johnson of Louisiana.  He had never chaired a committee or held a high leadership post.  He got the job because his lack of experience (elected 2016) left him with few enemies.  He was largely unknown outside of his district and the House GOP.  

Ivana Saric at Axios:
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), despite being in his role nearly a month, remains relatively unknown, per an NBC News poll released Wednesday.


The big picture: When voters were asked about their opinion of Johnson, 43% said they did not know him or recognize his name — the most common response among respondents.14% of voters said they viewed Johnson positively while 23% had a negative view of him. Another 20% said they were neutral when it came to Johnson.
When asked about Johnson’s post-Roe comments, a spokesman for the congressman told CNN that Johnson “views the cases as settled law.”

Still, CNN’s review of more than 100 of Johnson’s interviews, speeches and public commentary spanning his decades-long career as a lawmaker and attorney paints a picture of his governing ideals: Imprisoning doctors who perform abortions after six weeks; the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in public buildings; an elimination of anti-hate-crime laws; Bible study in public schools.

From endorsing hard labor prison sentences for abortion providers to supporting the criminalization of gay sex, his staunchly conservative rhetoric is rooted in an era of “biblical morality,” that he says was washed away with the counterculture in the 1960s.

 Laura Jedeed at Politico:

For the last 10 years, the “Convention of States” movement has sought to remake the Constitution and force a tea party vision of the framers’ intent upon America. This group wants to wholesale rewrite wide swaths of the U.S. Constitution in one fell swoop. In the process, they hope to do away with regulatory agencies like the FDA and the CDC, virtually eliminate the federal government’s ability to borrow money, and empower state legislatures to override federal law.

As far-fetched as this idea might sound, the movement is gaining traction — and now, it believes, it has a friend in the speaker of the House.

“Speaker Mike Johnson has long been a supporter of Convention of States,” Mark Meckler, co-founder of Convention of States Action (COSA), told me when I asked about Johnson’s ascension. “It shows that the conservative movement in America is united around COS and recognizes the need to rein in an out-of-control federal government which will never restrain itself.”

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Nasty Attack on Haley

Josephine Harvey at  HuffPo:
A conservative website has been accused of racist dog-whistling after it posted a bizarre poll about Nikki Haley’s background.

“Did you know that Nikki Haley’s parents are immigrants from India and her birth name is Nimarata Randhawa?” The Florida Standard posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday.

The site, which has a small following of just under 7,700 followers on X, is known for its flattering coverage of and friendly relationship with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is battling to keep his place ahead of Haley in the Republican presidential race.

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, was given the name Nimarata Nikki Randhawa at birth. She has not hidden this fact. She married Michael Haley, and has reportedly gone by her middle name Nikki since childhood.

A community note added to the Florida Standard’s post pointed this out.

Haley has repeatedly invoked her Indian heritage during her campaign, albeit while downplaying the existence of deep-rooted racism in the U.S. She has faced numerous racist attacks and questions about her name throughout her political career.

More here on partisan local news sites. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

The Stakes of a Trump Presidency

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein says that the Biden release sums up the president's strategy.  It is not a referendum on the incumbent as much as a choice between two incumbents.

The silver lining for Biden is that in Trump he has a polarizing potential opponent who might allow him to do just that. In the 2022 and 2023 elections, a crucial slice of voters down on the economy and Biden’s performance voted for Democrats in the key races anyway, largely because they viewed the Trump-aligned GOP alternatives as too extreme. And, though neither the media nor the electorate is yet paying full attention, Trump in his 2024 campaign is regularly unveiling deeply divisive policy positions (such as mass deportation and internment camps for undocumented immigrants) and employing extremist and openly racist language (echoing fascist dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in describing his political opponents as “vermin”). Eventually, Trump’s excesses could shape the 2024 election as much as Biden’s record will.
If the GOP renominates Trump, attitudes about the challenger might overshadow views about the incumbent to an unprecedented extent, the veteran GOP pollster Bill McInturff believes. McInturff told me that in his firm’s polling over the years, most voters usually say that when a president seeks reelection, their view about the incumbent is what most influences their decision about whom to support. But in a recent national survey McInturff’s firm conducted with a Democratic partner for NBC, nearly three-fifths of voters said that their most important consideration in a Trump-Biden rematch would be their views of the former president.

“I have never seen a number like this NBC result between an incumbent and ‘challenger,’” McInturff told me in an email. “If 2024 is a Biden versus Trump campaign, we are in uncharted waters.”

 Philip Bump at WP:

I was driving with my kids on Sunday, mind wandering as I steered. I was looking at a cluster of leafless trees when the first words from a social media post by Donald Trump popped into my mind.

“2024 is our final battle.”


Trump has used this expression a lot this year. He used it at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He used it at his first campaign rally in Waco, Tex. — an event that came during the 30th anniversary of the deadly standoff between government agents and a religious cult in that city. He used it again when speaking to Turning Point Action this summer. Over and over, the same framing: The final battle is nigh.


So we arrive at the final battle. If your immediate point of reference for that phrase wasn’t to the Book of Revelation’s depiction of the apocalypse, you are probably not a Trump supporter. (A 2012 poll from PRRI found that the religious group most likely to say that the end times as predicted in Revelation would occur during their lives was evangelicals.)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

DeSantis Internal Drama

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.

The DeSantis campaign has been troubled.

Dasha Burns, Matt Dixon, Natasha Korecki and Jonathan Allen at NBC:
Leaders of Ron DeSantis' Never Back Down super PAC met privately last Tuesday to hash out a strategy for fighting Nikki Haley's rise in the polls. Instead, two of them nearly came to blows.

Jeff Roe, the top consultant for the super PAC, got into a heated argument with longtime DeSantis confidant Scott Wagner while a small group of nine board members and senior staff were discussing budgeting.

“You have a stick up your a--, Scott,” Roe fumed at Wagner, who is a member of the Never Back Down board.

“Why don’t you come over here and get it?” Wagner responded, rising from his chair. He was quickly restrained by two fellow board members. The interaction was relayed to NBC News by a source who was in the room.

The infighting represents an escalation in the long-running war between Never Back Down's professional political operatives and DeSantis’ Tallahassee-based inner circle over who is to blame for the governor’s failure to compete effectively with front-runner Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. DeSantis’ monthslong tumble created an opening for Haley, whose surging poll numbers and newfound affection from megadonors pose an existential threat to the Florida governor’s campaign.

DeSantis and his wife, Casey, have been among those increasingly upset at Never Back Down's leadership, according to two sources familiar with their thinking.

On Wednesday, after NBC News reported on the internal turmoil, Never Back Down CEO Chris Jankowski resigned. In a statement shared by the super PAC, Jankowski said: “Never Back Down’s main goal and sole focus has been to elect Governor Ron DeSantis as President. Given the current environment it has become untenable for me to deliver on the shared goal and that goes well beyond a difference of strategic opinion. For the future of our country I support and pray Ron DeSantis is our 47th president.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Unhappy with the Choices

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The 2024 race has begun Voters are not happy about having to choose between Trump and Biden.

Mark Murray, Bridget Bowman and Alexandra Marquez at NBC:

Voters have been saying for months that they aren’t excited about a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

And our latest NBC News poll shows both men greatly underperforming a generic opponent.A generic Republican leads Biden by 11 points among registered voters, 48% to 37% (when Trump is ahead of Biden by just 2 points in the poll’s head-to-head matchup).

What’s more, the generic GOPer has a 27-point advantage among men (when Trump’s actual lead vs. Biden is +20), a 26-point edge among independents (when it’s Trump +11) and a 10-point lead among Latinos (when it’s D+2 vs. Biden).

And a generic Democrat is ahead of Trump by 6 points (46% to 40%) — leading by 22 points among women (when Biden’s actual lead over Trump is +13), by 16 points among seniors (when Biden’s lead is +12) and by 10 points among voters ages 18-34 (when it’s Trump +4 here). Yes, a generic candidate is almost always going to best an actual candidate in a poll, because generic candidates aren’t defined and don’t have real records.

But for Biden and Trump, both are significantly trailing how a generic D or R would ordinarily perform.

Some polls show double-digit support for RFK Jr. -- a sign that many people want "none of the above." 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

No Longer the Party of ideas

In my essay in The Elephant in the Room, I write: "Trumpism reversed Lyndon Johnson's famous summary of the Great Society: he was against a lot of things and in favor of mighty few.'"

E.J. Dionne at WP:
Donald Trump has proposed shooting shoplifters, as NBC News noted in a report on GOP “bloodlust.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to kill drug smugglers who cross the Mexican border. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, in more organized fashion, proposed sending Special Forces into Mexico to go after drug cartels. Oh, and DeSantis said last August that he wanted to “slit the throats” of federal bureaucrats on Day 1 of his administration. But don’t be alarmed, civil servants. He explained later that he was “being colorful.”

If killing various kinds of people is a legitimate solution for various problems, then sure, the party’s presidential candidates have plenty of policies to offer.

Occasionally, the party’s hopefuls go beyond vague but sweeping calls for cuts in government spending to spar about something substantive. At a debate earlier this month, Haley proposed raising the retirement age for younger workers, while DeSantis said he wouldn’t. Some deficit hawks will no doubt cheer Haley, but there’s nothing pathbreaking about this argument.

Beyond that, the party is offering little in the way of problem-solving and policy innovation. Culture war battle cries and symbolism are the order of the day.

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Akin Ploy in the Arizona Senate Race

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

In the 2012 Missouri  Senate race, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill ran ads during the GOP primary campaign saying that Todd Akin was "too conservative."  The idea of the "attack ad" was to drive GOP voters to Akin, her weakest potential foe.  It worked.  Other campaigns have tried variations of the "pick your opponent" ploy.

Democrats meddled in some 2022 GOP primaries in hopes of drawing weak opponents.  Now Republicans are trying to paint independent Kyrsten Sinema as a liberal Democrat in hopes of driving liberal voters to her corner, undercutting Democrat Ruben Gallego.

Rachel Bade, Eugene Daniels, and Ryan Lizza at Politico:
NRSC BOOSTS SINEMA, BLASTS GALLEGO — Senate Republicans are rolling out a provocative new strategy this morning as they try to boost the GOP’s chances in Arizona next year: propping up incumbent Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA.

NRSC operatives have been fretting about polls that have shown Sinema, an independent, pulling in nearly twice as many Republican voters as Democrats in a three-way race. So in a bid to keep GOP voters behind the GOP nominee while splitting the Democratic vote, they’re going live with a new digital ad today boosting Sinema’s liberal bona fides while hammering Rep. RUBEN GALLEGO, the likely Democratic nominee.

The new ad, titled “A Choice,” paints Sinema as being firmly behind President JOE BIDEN and his legislative agenda, voting with the president “100%” of the time and backing his climate initiatives in the Inflation Reduction Act. Not mentioned are the multitude of headaches and setbacks she dealt to Biden as she successfully worked to trim the IRA’s ambitions and preserve the Senate filibuster. Watch the ad

Conversely, the ad slams Gallego — whom the NRSC has nicknamed “Rotten Ruben” — in intensely personal terms. The spot points out that Gallego divorced his ex-wife, Phoenix Mayor KATE GALLEGO, in 2016 just a few weeks before she gave birth to their first child, then blasts him for marrying a lobbyist, SYDNEY BARRON, several years later. The ad closes by calling him a “deadbeat dad,” without evidence to support the claim.

Gallego declined to comment on the attack — one that suggests that Republicans are intensely worried about the early strength of his candidacy in a three-way race. The attack is risky — a Marine veteran of the Iraq War, Gallego has long been forthright about his struggles with PTSD and “survivor’s guilt,” which he blamed in his memoir for the unraveling of his first marriage.

A person close to Gallego also noted that he and his ex-wife remain “good friends” and share custody of his now 6-year-old son, who is often spotted at his side on the House floor and on the campaign trail — including in this NYT picture last month. It’s not hard to imagine the personal attack backfiring.

Casting Sinema as a “liberal Democrat,” meanwhile, might generate chuckles here in Washington, where she’s seen as a centrist spoiler. But it makes good political sense back in Arizona, where she has carefully built an aisle-crossing image — and used it to pick up support from traditional GOP voters who have been alienated by far-right candidates like KARI LAKE, the bombastic former gubernatorial nominee who’s expected to win next year’s GOP Senate primary.

Sinema, we should note, has yet to even announce a 2024 run. But Republicans are preparing as if she will appear on the ballot. One GOP strategist told Playbook that the party’s mission is straightforward: Make any three-way race into a Republican-vs.-two-Democrats battle rather than Democrat-vs.-two-Republicans one.