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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Unwanted Rematch

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

The nomination phase is effectively over.

The voters are unhappy.

For a while, poll after poll suggested voters didn't want a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump -- let alone one that took most of the year.

But now voters are likely to get just that, after they ended up turning out in support of both of candidates in the early nominating races, setting up a general election campaign whose length could be virtually unheard of in modern history.

"It's almost a cruel joke on the electorate that the longest presidential election potentially ever might also be the one that they're least excited about," said one Democratic pollster, speaking anonymously to candidly discuss the race.
Overall, the poll gave numerous signs that voters are not happy with their choices.
Seventy percent of respondents - including about half of Democrats - agreed with a statement that Biden should not seek re-election. Fifty-six percent of people responding to the poll said Trump should not run, including about a third of Republicans.
Biden has been weighed down by the widespread view that at 81, already the oldest person ever to be U.S. president, he is too old for the job.
Three-quarters of poll respondents agreed with a statement that Biden was too old to work in government, while half said the same about Trump, who at 77 would also be among the oldest U.S. leaders ever if returned to the White House. Just over half of Democrats saw Biden as too old while a third of Republicans viewed Trump that way.

Lydia Saad at Gallup:

Less than a third of Americans say they would be willing to vote for someone nominated by their party who is over the age of 80 or has been charged with a felony or convicted of a felony by a jury. Somewhat more, but still less than half of Americans, say they would consider backing someone nominated by their party who is a socialist.

Gallup’s latest measure of Americans’ willingness to vote for presidential candidates with different personal backgrounds finds between 60% and 74% willing to support a gay or lesbian candidate, a Muslim, someone older than 70, or an atheist, while about a quarter to a third would not. Meanwhile, 88% of the public would support a Jewish candidate, and more than 90% would back a woman, Hispanic adult, Black adult or Catholic if their party happened to nominate someone with that background.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Brahmin Left, Populist Right, and Views of the Economy

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the politics of economic policy.  Objective indicators are doing greatPerceptions, not so much.

 Ruy Teixeira at AEI:

Right now, it looks more like a “Brahmin Left” vs. “Populist Right” election.

Brahmin Left” is a term coined by economist Thomas Piketty and colleagues to characterize Western left parties increasingly bereft of working-class voters and increasingly dominated by highly educated voters and elites. The Brahmin left has evolved over many decades and certainly includes today’s Democratic Party.

As a Brahmin left party, the temptation is great for Democrats to lean into their emerging strengths and just hope for the best among working-class voters. That is the natural inclination of the elites and activists who now dominate the party.

And indeed there are a couple of potent issues Democrats are planning to run on that are dear to the hearts of their Brahmin left base: abortion rights and defending democracy (“Democracy is on the ballot”, etc.) While for sure these are good issues for the Democrats, especially for your college-educated next door neighbor who would sooner take a bath in hot coals than vote for Trump, it must be recognized that these issues are not as potent and overriding for working-class voters. They are less convinced—far less convinced—that a great analogy for America today is Weimar Germany, 1932. Their concerns are more mundane, connected to their everyday material concerns and relatively conservative values.

Economic indicators are generally looking positive. Roger Lowenstein writes at the NYT that this trend does not mean automatic political gain for Biden:

But voters aren’t economists. They often judge presidents on the basis of coincident economic performance. Jimmy Carter had to deal with serious inflation, and George H.W. Bush endured a recession; each was voted out. Mr. Bush’s successor Bill Clinton reaped the recovery; he got four more years.

Mr. Biden inherited a tough hand: an economy upset by Covid and supply chain disruptions. Yet he presided over a return to growth and dodged a much-predicted recession. (Touch wood.) Jobs came roaring back. Early last year, unemployment dipped below the prepandemic low of 3.5 percent under Mr. Trump, and it remains a still impressive 3.7 percent.

Wage inequality is also contracting under Mr. Biden. I would argue that voters care less about inequality than pundits do. What voters care most about is whether they are doing better.
And this is where Mr. Biden has fallen short. Inflation has snatched away the gains from even a very strong labor market. Over his first two years, as price hikes outran wages, real median household income fell 2.7 percent. The census has yet to report median income for 2023, but given that real wages were up about 1 percent through November, the cumulative change in household median income, adjusted for inflation, over Mr. Biden’s first three years is likely to be in the range of mildly negative to very mildly positive. In other words, in the all-important category of improving living standards, the country did not make progress.
This shows that jobs and output, while very important, are not the only economic indicators that matter. Inflation matters, too, because high inflation taxes away prosperity. This is one area in which I think the president, along with the Federal Reserve, does bear some responsibility. He was warned by voices in his own party — notably, Larry Summers — that his first budget package, enacted nearly a year after the Covid recession ended, was too big relative to the need. He went ahead, and inflation in 2022 soared to 8 percent, a 40-year high.


Saturday, January 27, 2024

RNC Shutters Hispanic Centers

Our 2020 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. 

 Adrian Carrasquillo at The Messenger:

During the 2022 cycle, the Republican Party made a commitment to Latino voters that hadn't been seen before, touting nearly two dozen RNC Hispanic Community Centers in a high stakes gambit to attract Hispanic voters that have drifted away from the Democratic Party.

In 2021, upon opening a center in San Antonio, Rep. Tony Gonzales said the centers were critical to unlocking wins in Democratic districts. "Many of these communities have felt forgotten by the Republican Party for a very long time," he said then.

On September 9, 2022, during the sprint to the election, the Republican National Committee opened a center in Phoenix alongside Senate candidate Blake Masters, with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel declaring: “This center is part of our party’s commitment to building relationships with the Hispanic community."

The community centers were pitched as a dream intersection of fun, civic life, candidate recruitment, and GOTV muscle, with the party touting Thanksgiving potlucks, toy drives, religious services, crypto workshops, and even an ugly sweater Christmas party with Folklorico dancing in San Antonio. Community centers continued to pop up in Hispanic communities and positive headlines continued to flow.

But four months after the grand opening of the Phoenix center, it was closed, along with most of the other centers, the RNC confirmed after The Messenger reached out. While the RNC touted opening 20 Hispanic community centers during the 2022 cycle, it said there are only five centers currently open, two of which were opened in 2023.

Friday, January 26, 2024

House Republicans' Sour Self-Image

Sahil Kapur at NBC:
When Congress began the new year, Rep. Andy Biggs gave a television interview and made a startling confession: House Republicans have done nothing they can run on.

“We have nothing. In my opinion, we have nothing to go out there and campaign on,” the Arizona Republican said on the conservative network Newsmax. “It’s embarrassing.”

Anchor Chris Salcedo responded with a bemused chuckle. “I know,” he said. “The Republican Party in the Congress majority has zero accomplishments.”

The exchange captured a dynamic that looms over Republican lawmakers heading into the 2024 election: They’ve passed little substantive legislation since winning the majority in 2022 and struggled to do the basics of governing with a Democratic-led Senate. Their first year was instead marked by fractiousness and chaos, complicating the party’s pitch to voters this fall. The challenge is accentuated by likely GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump making “retribution” against his enemies, rather than shared policy goals, the centerpiece of his comeback bid as he continues to spread fabricated claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.


The frustration over the lack of achievements boiled over for Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, around Thanksgiving when he went to the floor to deliver a fiery speech that gained national attention.

“I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing — one! — that I can go campaign on and say we did. One!” Roy yelled. “Anybody sitting in the complex, you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides, ‘Well, I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats.’”

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Trump Structure

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The 2024 race has begun. The nomination phase has effectively ended. At Axios, Mike Allen:
1. Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, the top two officials at the Palm Beach-based campaign, run a tight, lean ship.Wiles is a former top political adviser to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who left on bitter terms. LaCivita is a former Marine with decades of brass-knuckle campaign experience. Along with well-connected Trump senior adviser Brian Jack, they put in place a methodical process for Republicans to seek Trump's endorsement for congressional and statewide offices. This machine gave Trump leverage with rising stars throughout the party, along with extensive data about their home-state political operations.
Trump campaign staffers get along, stay in their lanes and don't leak like sieves — all dramatic changes from his past operations.

2. The Trump team has methodically wired obscure state Republican delegate rules to his advantage. Operatives worked state by state over the past three years to be sure he benefited from mechanics such as winner-take-all rules."This team is lean, efficient, experienced, eye on the prize — none of the backstabbing and gossip and drama," ...
Here again, Trump was greatly limited by disorganization and bureaucratic naïveté when he was in the White House. The Heritage Foundation and other groups are spending millions to make sure that doesn't happen again if he wins.

3. In Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump built extensive ground operations that helped cement him as a formidable front-runner in both states almost a year before voting began.

4. The establishment opposition melted and proved much more amenable to his ways and plans.The shackles imposed on Trump in Term 1 are gone, especially in Congress.

5. Trump, who had flown solo his entire political life, allowed his allies to embrace the Heritage Foundation and other outside groups that are building talent banks and policy blueprints to help him swiftly staff the government to control and shrink what Trumpers call "the deep state."Heritage president Kevin Roberts recently told The New York Times that he sees the think tank's role as "institutionalizing Trumpism."

6. Maybe the biggest shocker: Trump took indictments on 91 felonies in four criminal cases — a death knell for any other candidate — and turned them into a net positive. Even many traditional Republicans see the prosecutions as piling on.

 Lulu Garcia-Navarro at NYT:
Since taking over the Heritage Foundation in 2021, Kevin D. Roberts has been making his mark on an institution that came to prominence during the Reagan years and has long been seen as an incubator of conservative policy and thought. Roberts, who was not well known outside policy circles when he took over, has pushed the think tank away from its hawkish roots by arguing against funding the war in Ukraine, a turnabout that prompted some of Heritage’s policy analysts to leave. Now he’s looking ahead, to the 2024 election and beyond. Roberts told me that he views Heritage’s role today as “institutionalizing Trumpism.” This includes leading Project 2025, a transition blueprint that outlines a plan to consolidate power in the executive branch, dismantle federal agencies and recruit and vet government employees to free the next Republican president from a system that Roberts views as stacked against conservative power. The lesson of Trump’s first year in office, Roberts told me, is that “the Trump administration, with the best of intentions, simply got a slow start. And Heritage and our allies in Project 2025 believe that must never be repeated.”

"Now, Putin and Russia deserve the blame. I’ve been very clear about that. Having said that, it was our saber-rattling about Ukraine entering NATO that is one of the many factors that led to this. "


One priority for both your organization and the Republican Party writ large is reducing the size of the federal work force. What do you envision when you say, as you have said, you want to destroy the administrative state?

I envision the destruction that I’m referring to, which I presume is the real focus of your question, as a political entity being significantly weakened. People will lose their jobs. Hopefully their lives are able to flourish in spite of that. Buildings will be shut down. Hopefully they can be repurposed for private industry. But the administrative state — most importantly, what we’re trying to destroy is the political influence it has over individual American sovereignty, and the only way to do that, or one of the ways to do that, is to diminish the number of unelected bureaucrats who are wielding that power instead of Congress.
    In a recent podcast episode, you were speaking with Jesse Kelly, the right-wing radio host, and the episode was about, and I’m quoting here, “the secret Communist movement inside America.” And you were not talking about Chinese government infiltration. You said about those employed in the U.S. government, “These men and women, these Communists, really, are in positions where they’re dictating with the power, the authority of law, what other Americans do.” You use the word “Communist” a lot to describe those you might disagree with politically inside this country.

    Well, at least a few of them must be Communists. I think there are far more Chinese Communists who’ve infiltrated our government than American Communists, but at the very least, they’re socialists. So if I were to revise that, I would say they were socialists, not Communists.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

NH: Sore Winner

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The 2024 race has begun. The nomination phase has effectively ended, but Trump is still raging.

Lloyd Greene at The Guardian:
On Tuesday night, Donald Trump emerged as the winner of New Hampshire’s Republican primary and presumptive Republican presidential nominee, handily defeating Nikki Haley. He is the first non-incumbent Republican to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. South Carolina’s contest is next month and those that follow are formalities on the road to coronation.

Haley is staying in the race.  Trump is unhappy. Politico Playbook:
He rage-posted about her speech in realtime on Truth Social. “DELUSIONAL!!!” he wrote. When he came on stage at his own event 30 miles south in Nashua, he could barely contain his anger. Gone was the sunny Trump of Iowa caucus night who magnanimously praised his defeated rivals.

Trump began his remarks with a falsehood. He claimed to have won New Hampshire in both the primaries and the general election. Nope: HILLARY CLINTON beat him there in 2016 and JOE BIDEN won in 2020. This was a particularly noteworthy claim at the top given the subject of his remarks: the fact that Haley did “a speech like she won” even 
though she lost by 11 points.

“This is not your typical victory speech,” he warned, and he was right. As the clear victor, he had one job: ignore Haley and focus on Biden and the general election. But he couldn’t let it go.

He attacked her as unelectable. He suggested New Hampshire Gov. CHRIS SUNUNU uses drugs (“He’s got to be on something”). He hinted darkly that she would be under investigation (“a little stuff that she doesn’t want to talk about”). He even mocked her outfit (“the fancy dress that probably wasn’t so fancy”).

He handed the program over to VIVEK RAMASWAMY, who Trump said had helped instigate the plan to focus on Haley and was “the only person more angry” than him. (He quickly clarified, “I don’t get mad, I get even.”) Ramaswamy got a few more shots in at Haley. After 20 minutes of this, Trump explained his curveball of a speech. “I felt I should do this,” he said, “because I find in life you can’t let people get away with bullshit.”

Haley’s campaign seemed pleased to get under Trump’s skin. “Why is he so angry?” a member of Team Haley told Playbook. “For someone who’s not threatened by Nikki, he sure talks about her every chance he gets.”

The Biden team was cheered by the drama. A campaign aide texted Playbook taking note of Trump’s fit: “That’s the guy we will beat.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

DeSantis Obit

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The 2024 race has begun. The nomination phase might effectively end today.

A few weeks ago, Seth Masket made an important point at Politico. Despite his many flaws as a candidate, relatively few GOP county chairs were dead-set against DeSantis, as they were with Christie and Ramaswamy.
Trump, while not facing as much resistance as he was back in the summer, still saw his negatives notch up into the 30s. Haley’s opposition held at about 30 percent, while DeSantis’ opposition remained among the lowest in the field at 17 percent of chairs set against his candidacy.

Percent of Chairs Who Do Not Want Candidate Nominated

Monday, January 22, 2024

DeSantis Backs Down


Sunday, January 21, 2024

Pre-Mortem for the DeSantis Campaign

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.  The nomination phase may soon end.  After his weak showing in Iowa, DeSantis has canceled today's TV interviews.  He is in single digits in NH.  After speculation that Haley could win NH, weekend polls show her behind by double digits.

Matt Dixon, Dasha Burns, Allan Smith and Abigail Brooks at NBC:
NBC News spoke to dozens of DeSantis’ current and former staffers, as well as other supporters, about where the governor went wrong. They painted a picture of missteps from the very beginning:
  • DeSantis’ campaign hired dozens of staffers in the earliest stages of the race, sapping the operation of much-needed early cash. Within the first two months, 40% of initial hires were fired to conserve resources.
  • A cash-strapped campaign elevated the role of Never Back Down, which promised to spend $200 million boosting his bid but ended up mired in infighting that often spun off negative headlines overshadowing the campaign itself.
  • A near singular focus on culture war fights cost DeSantis donor support, as many of the biggest anti-Trump GOP donors who originally supported him eventually decided to give to other candidates or sit out the 2024 election cycle.
  • DeSantis’ decision to wait for six months after his massive re-election win to announce his run for president cost him valuable momentum.

He got bad advice about running against woke.  Nicholas Confessore at NYT:

Last year, Claremont officials also courted Mr. DeSantis, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination and the governor most closely associated with anti-D.E.I. policies. The institute dispatched Dr. Yenor to Florida to run a new office in Tallahassee, appointing him as its “senior director of state coalitions.”

In early April, as Mr. DeSantis prepared to announce his presidential campaign, he visited Mr. Klingenstein. In an email, Mr. Klingenstein told Claremont officials that Mr. DeSantis had agreed to give Dr. Yenor access to his top political and government aides. Mr. Klingenstein also said he’d urged the governor to do a better job explaining to voters why “wokeism” was dangerous.

Appearing on the campaign trail in subsequent weeks, Mr. DeSantis began to offer a more expansive definition of the term — while mentioning “woke” so many times that some reporters began keeping count

Curt Andersonn and Alex Castellanos at CNN:

 The myth: An army of paid doorknockers would fan out across the country, even in states beyond the early primaries, and deliver the nomination to DeSantis. It’s hilarious. If you ever believed that it was possible to affect the trajectory of a presidential campaign with underemployed losers going door to door in between puffs of strawberry-flavored vapes, you are vaping an intoxicant yourself. When skeptics noted that the advertising was not moving the polls, they were told not to worry: There was a giant, secret army of DeSantis door knockers! The absurdity was breathtaking. Yet, the news media reported that DeSantis’ ground game was his secret weapon. It was secret because it wasn’t there.

Anyone near a campaign recently knows how this works: In 2023, no one in America wants a stranger coming to their door for any reason. And if they were given the choice between door knockers who were selling politicians or membership in a cult, it would be a close call. Also, as fun as it is to take a phone call from a politician during dinner, imagine the joy of opening your door to a political doorknocker, especially in the balmy Iowa or New Hampshire winter.

Certainly, there have been times in campaign history when person-to-person contact methods, including door-knocking, have delivered results. But in those cases, campaigns used door-knocking to turn out existing supporters on Election Day, not to create new ones. The volunteers were turnout machines, not armies of persuasion. Ground-game organizations are not candidate-building mechanisms. Visits from paid strangers build brands the same way Joe Biden plays hacky sack: They don’t. If they did, Dollar Shave Club would have rung your doorbell, and Budweiser would have knocked to sell you something icy in a can

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Trump Trashes Haley

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

Charisma Madarang at Rolling Stone:

AFTER ANNOUNCING TO the state of New Hampshire that he had aced his cognitive test, Donald Trump incorrectly blamed Republican rival Nikki Haley for being in “charge of security” during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection on the Capitol.

During a rally in Concord, New Hampshire on Friday evening, Trump spiraled into a bizarre rant about crowd sizes and the Capitol riot. “Look at all the people back there. You got a lot of people. This is supposed to be a quaint little area. This is not quaint at all,” Trump titillated before a crowd of supporters. “You know when [Haley] comes here she gets like nine people, and the press never reports the crowds you know.”

Trump then appeared to confuse the former South Carolina governor with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who he has previously used as a scapegoat for the Capitol attack. “By the way, they never report the crowd on Jan. 6. You know Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley… You know, they — do you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything? Deleted and destroyed all of it. All of it,” Trump falsely claimed. “Because of lots of things… like Nikki Haley is in charge of security — we offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guards, whatever they want. They turned it down. They don’t want to talk about that. These are very dishonest people.”

Friday, January 19, 2024

Congressional GOP Woes

Our 2020 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. 

 Eleanor Mueller at Politico:

Rep. Patrick McHenry, the longtime adviser and interim successor to ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, sharply criticized Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday over his handling of the budget, the border crisis and more during his first months in the job.

“We wish him great success,” the North Carolina Republican told reporters. “But he needs to widen the group of advisers he has. The loudest members of our conference should not dictate the strategic course of a smart majority — especially in the most complicated bits where those loudest voices are least likely to participate in the votes necessary.”
McHenry, who served as acting speaker after McCarthy was voted out last year, specifically cited Johnson‘s decision to split government funding bills into two packages and advance stopgap spending legislation.


“If we keep extending the pain, creating more suffering, we will pay the price at the ballot box,” he said. “At this point, we’re sucking wind because we can’t get past the main object in the road. ... We need to get the hell out of the way. Cut the best deals we can get and then get on with the political year.

 Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer at WP:

Yesterday, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt demanded that House Republicans reject a Senate-negotiated border deal. Hewitt says the only feasible border security is to build a 900-mile wall along the southern border. “If Democrats won’t, that’s the campaign,” Hewitt tweeted, referring to the upcoming presidential election in which Donald Trump is expected to be the Republican nominee.

Lankford acknowledged that he’s having to work against conservative forces who don’t want to see a deal in an election year in which the border is a liability for President Biden, who could get credit for changes.
“There are some that are saying, ‘Hey, we don’t want Biden to actually get credit for doing anything on the border, because obviously, he’s made a huge mess,'” Lankford said.

Alexander Bolton at The Hill:

Republican senators think that Trump wants to deny President Biden a policy victory 10 months before the 2024 election — a victory on Trump’s signature issue of border security, no less.

But they think it would be a major policy and political mistake to miss an opportunity to reform the nation’s asylum laws and give the president greater expulsion authority to deter the flow of migrants from Central America.

They also warn that it would be a strategic disaster to abandon Ukraine in its war against Russia. They worry if Russian President Vladimir Putin wins in Ukraine, it will pose a serious threat to U.S. allies and economic interests in Europe.  


Thursday, January 18, 2024

"Total Immunity"

In Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politicswe look at Trump's dishonesty and disregard for the rule of law

Trump thinks the president should have total immunity from prosecution for crimes.  The same for "rogue cops."  Literally, he is saying that policy should be able to commit crimes on the job.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

God and Trump

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

 Thomas Edsall at NYT:

Trump, his family and his supporters have been more than willing to claim that Trump is ordained by God for a special mission, to restore America as a Christian nation.

In recent weeks, for example, the former president posted a video called “God Made Trump” on Truth Social that was produced by a conservative media group technically independent of the Trump campaign. He has also screened it at campaign rallies.


Jim Guth, a political scientist at Furman University and an expert on the role of religion in politics, published an article in 2019, “Are White Evangelicals Populists? The View From the 2016 American National Election Study.” The essay describes the basis for the strong affinity of white evangelicals for Trump’s conservative populism.

“White evangelicals,” Guth found, “are invariably the most populist: more likely to favor strong leadership (even when that means breaking the rules), to distrust government, to see the country on the wrong track and to think that the majority should always rule (and minorities adapt).”

Guth also found that
another salient trait of populist politics is the willingness to ignore democratic civility. We constructed a “rough politics” score from three A.N.E.S. items: whether protesters deserve what they get if they are hurt in demonstrating, whether the country would be better off if it got rid of rotten apples and whether people are “too sensitive” about political discourse. Here the usual pattern recurs: Evangelical affiliation, evangelical identity and biblical literalism predicts agreement with those assertions, while religious minorities, secular folks and progressives tend to demur.
The most common explanation [for evangelical support] , according to Guth,
is that white evangelicals have a transactional relationship with the president: As long as he nominates conservative jurists and makes appropriate gestures on abortion and sexual politics, they will support him.
“The evidence here,” he wrote, “suggests a more problematic answer”:
White evangelicals share with Trump a multitude of attitudes, including his hostility toward immigrants, his Islamophobia, his racism and nativism, as well as his political style, with its nasty politics and assertion of strong, solitary leadership. Indeed, Trump’s candidacy may have “authorized” for the first time the widespread expression of such attitudes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024



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

Lloyd Green at The Guardian:
Donald Trump romped to victory in the Iowa caucus. Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis vie for a distant second. Haley may best Trump in next week’s New Hampshire primary, but she won’t derail him. Her candidacy is a magnet for disaffected Republicans and high-end independents, constituencies too small to matter in this year’s nominating process but who may determine the outcome of the general election.

She is the wine-track candidate in a Joe Six-pack Republican party, out of step with the party’s working-class and white evangelical base. Her backers emphatically oppose a national six-week abortion ban, which Iowa Republicans embrace. In a similar vein, a majority of Haley voters believe Joe Biden legitimately won in 2020, placing them at odds with the rest of caucusgoers.

As ever, class and culture count. Haley nearly matched Trump with college graduates. By contrast, she only eked out the support of one in eight voters without a four-year degree. Jesus and Nascar get you the “W” in Trump-centric Iowa. Pearls and garden parties, not so much.

Looking ahead, a Trump loss in New Hampshire would be a mere speed bump. In 2000, George W Bush won Iowa, slipped in New Hampshire, then rallied in South Carolina. He never looked back. This year, Haley trails Trump by nearly 30 points in South Carolina, her home.
Meanwhile, the 45th president’s legal woes remain the soundtrack of 2024’s political calendar. In the coming hours, his latest defamation trial will kick off in Manhattan.. His sexual assault of E Jean Carroll haunts decades later.

Monday, January 15, 2024

DeSantis Admits That Conservative Media Outlets Are For Trump

Our most recent book, Divided We Stand, looks at the role of conservative media in the 2020 election.  This segment of the press is just as significant in 2024.  After the first indictment, it swung decisively for Trump.

Jonathan Chait at New York:
Meeting with reporters Friday, Ron DeSantis blurted out something every Republican politician knows, but never says: Conservative media does not hold Republicans accountable. “He’s got basically a Praetorian Guard of the conservative media — Fox News, the web sites, all the stuff — they just don’t hold him accountable because they’re worried about losing viewers,” he said of Donald Trump. “And they don’t want to have their ratings go down.”

DeSantis is running through the bitter final days of an immensely disappointing presidential campaign that saw him transformed from the shining knight of the post-Trump party to a punch line. And so he is understandably lashing at at the conservative media, which is now operating mainly as a public-relations vehicle for the candidate who is destroying him.

Facing defeat, he is finally venting about Trump himself:


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Republicans Agree with Trump, Even on the Rough Stuff

 Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.  Many Republicans agree with Trump's most controversial statements.

Kabir Khanna et al. report on a new CBS poll:
On immigrants: One of those is his use of the phrase "poisoning the blood of the country" when describing immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally. While most voters overall disagree with this language, eight in 10 Republican primary voters say they agree with it — and that includes majorities of both MAGA voters (97%) and non-MAGA voters (65%) in the GOP electorate.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

House GOP Chaos Continues

Our 2020 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. 

Tina Nguyen at Puck:
So on Wednesday, when Johnson walked his conference through the contours of his deal with Schumer, his right flank revolted. “Drivel,” said Rep. Warren Davidson, who described the terms as “surrender.” Rep. Chip Roy has already suggested that Johnson, like McCarthy before him, could face a vote of no confidence. And on Wednesday afternoon, 13 hardline members, including Roy, began their assault on the budget, voting against a rule to consider debate on the bills in the budget—effectively grinding the process to a halt.

 Viewed through “D.C. math goggles,” as one MAGA-aligned aide described it to me, the Johnson-Schumer deal makes a certain amount of sense for most normie Republicans: Yes, Democrats get their bills funded, but Republicans can technically say they decreased the overall topline spending through $16 billion in offsets, and more importantly, it keeps the government open. But in Freedom Caucus math, this current proposed budget is $30 billion more than the bill initially proposed by Nancy Pelosi for FY23. “It’s actually bad, if not worse, than what we would have got in a different deal,” the aide said. 


If Johnson does not deliver, or appears to cave to Democrats, two potential options are on the table. The first is to instigate a two-week shutdown in protest, commencing on January 19, which was set into motion earlier today by the 13 holdouts. Failing that, Roy, Johnson’s loudest critic, has privately told allies that he reserves the right to call a motion to vacate, leading to yet another leadership election. “It’s war,” the Republican close to the conservative wing told me.
David Jordan and David Lerman at Roll Call:
A dozen Republicans joined House Democrats to vote down a rule for floor debate on unrelated legislation Wednesday out of anger over Speaker Mike Johnson’s budget accord with Democratic leaders and lack of movement on border restrictions.

The vote on the rule was 203-216, with 13 Republican “no” votes, though one, from Blake D. Moore of Utah, was simply a procedural move so the chamber could reconsider the rule at a later time.

Johnson, R-La., was seen in heated discussions during the vote with lawmakers including GOP Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, with lots of finger-pointing. Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., were seen defending Johnson. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, R-Va., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., were also part of the conversations.


It was the second rule that’s gone down to defeat under Johnson’s tenure, after a rule in November that would have allowed debate on the fiscal 2024 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill as well as an Iranian asset freeze bill.

The beginning of the end for McCarthy came last June, when Freedom Caucus members and other conservatives started voting against unrelated rules for floor debate in protest over the debt limit deal that set the initial fiscal 2024 spending numbers.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Audio: Roger Stone Called for the Death of Nadler and Swalwell

Our most 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. Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

Roger Stone called for the death of Representatives Eric Swalwell and Jerry Nadler.  He denied doing so.  he lied.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Christie Out

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

Michael C. Bender at NYT:
Chris Christie closed out his second presidential campaign much as he began it, with a blistering and personal takedown of Donald J. Trump designed to prompt a reckoning in his party.

Anticipation had been building all day for the remarks from Mr. Christie, a former governor of New Jersey, after news had spilled out hours earlier that he was telling close allies about his decision.

With all three major cable news networks airing the speech live, Mr. Christie used the rare spotlight — something that had largely eluded his campaign — to make an urgent appeal to the better angels of his party. He framed his animosity toward Mr. Trump in sweeping, historical terms and cast himself as the experienced party elder warning of the possible dangers ahead.

“Imagine just for a moment if 9/11 had happened with Donald Trump behind the desk,” Mr. Christie said. “The first thing he would have done was run to the bunker to protect himself. He would have put himself first before this country, and anyone who is unwilling to say that he is unfit to be president of the United States is unfit themselves to be president of the United States.”

Mr. Christie also grappled with his own role in Mr. Trump’s rise, acknowledging that he had capitulated to ambition when he ended his 2016 presidential bid and surprised much of the political establishment at the time by backing Mr. Trump. Mr. Christie described his second campaign as something of a redemption tour.

“I would rather lose by telling the truth than lie in order to win, and I feel no differently today, because this is a fight for the soul of our party and the soul of our country,” he said.

Mr. Christie paced the stage as he spoke and at times appeared emotional, including when he talked about the supporters who had urged him to remain in the race. His voice cracked when he quoted Benjamin Franklin’s warning that Americans had been given “a republic, if you can keep it.”

“Benjamin Franklin’s words were never more relevant in America than they are right now,” Mr. Christie said. “The last time they were this relevant was the Civil War.”

The Diploma Divide and the GOP Nomination Contest

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses voter demographics and the diploma divide.

Jonathan Martin at Politico:

The most memorable feature of Haley’s otherwise forgettable gathering was not what she said but the nature of her audience — and how it explains why Trump is poised to win overwhelmingly in Iowa on Monday but will face the same general election challenges in 2024 he did in 2020.

I struggled to find a single attendee in the suburban strip mall tavern who was not a college graduate. Similarly, the day before, I couldn’t find a Haley admirer who showed up to see her in Sioux City who was not also a college graduate.

“She’s reasonable,” Jim Maine, a Waukee resident, said of Haley. “Originally I was favoring DeSantis, but he just hasn’t connected.”


That’s how Democratic primaries have been covered, and rightfully so, for the last 40 years. The candidate able to emerge as the beer-track hopeful almost always emerges as the nominee while the wine-track hopeful is limited to pinot-sipping precincts (hat tip to Ron Brownstein for the terminology).


Consider the new CNN-University of New Hampshire poll there: Haley is now only down to Trump by single digits because she is soundly defeating him among voters there with a college degree and even more heavily among those with an advanced degree.

Haley’s challenge is that New Hampshire may only represent a false dawn, a blip before the primary returns to states with a downscale demographic more like Iowa. She may find hope in New Hampshire, but that would only tempt her to return home to South Carolina and discover that she’s Hootie and the Blowfish to Trump’s Taylor Swift.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Threat Level: Trump

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  

Isaac Arnsdorf at WP:

Republican polling leader Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened unrest if the criminal charges against him cause him to lose the 2024 election.

Speaking to reporters after an appeals court hearing in which Trump’s lawyers said he should be immune from prosecution for trying to overturn the 2020 election, Trump claimed without evidence that he was being prosecuted because of polls showing him leading President Biden. He warned that if the charges succeed in damaging his candidacy, the result would be “bedlam.”
“I think they feel this is the way they’re going to try and win, and that’s not the way it goes,” Trump said. “It’ll be bedlam in the country. It’s a very bad thing. It’s a very bad precedent. As we said, it’s the opening of a Pandora’s box.”

 The former president did not take questions and walked away as a Washington Post reporter asked him to rule out violence by his supporters.

 At Mediaite, Tommy Christopher reports on a court hearing where Trump attorney John Sauer argued for absolute presidential immunity:

JUDGE PAN: Could a president order Seal Team Six to assassinate a political rival? That’s an official act, an order to Seal Team Six.

JOHN SAUER: He would have to be and would speedily be, you know, uh, impeached and convicted before the criminal prosecution–

JUDGE PAN: But there would be no criminal prosecution, no criminal liability for that?

JOHN SAUER: Chief Justice’s opinion in Marbury against Madison and, uh, uh, and our Constitution and the plain language of the impeachment judgment clause all clearly presuppose that what the founders were concerned about was not.

Diana Falzone at Mediaite:

Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, infamous political operative Roger Stone sat across from his associate Sal Greco at a restaurant in Florida.

At the time, Greco was an NYPD cop working security for Stone on the side. Their conversation, at Caffe Europa in Fort Lauderdale, focused on two House Democrats for whom Stone harbors particular animosity, Jerry Nadler and Eric Swalwell.

In audio of the conversation obtained exclusively by Mediaite, Stone made threatening comments about the two lawmakers.

 “It’s time to do it,” Stone told Greco. “Let’s go find Swalwell. It’s time to do it. Then we’ll see how brave the rest of them are. It’s time to do it. It’s either Nadler or Swalwell has to die before the election. They need to get the message. Let’s go find Swalwell and get this over with. I’m just not putting up with this shit anymore.”

A source familiar with the discussion told Mediate they believed Stone’s remarks were serious. “It was definitely concerning that he was constantly planning violence with an NYPD officer and other militia groups,” the source said.