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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Republicans Embrace Their Felon

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. 

Shane Goldmacher and Luke Broadwater at NYT:
A day after Donald J. Trump’s conviction, it quickly became clear that Republicans across the country would not run away from his newfound status as a felon.

They would, instead, run on it.

Echoing Mr. Trump in casting the New York case as a disgraceful sham, Republican candidates and party committees used the first criminal conviction of a former president as a rallying cry — for campaign cash, for congressional hearings and for motivation to vote in November.

Whether they were congressional leaders, potential running mates or onetime rivals, prominent Republicans’ speedy alignment behind Mr. Trump, with little dissent or discussion, was no surprise for a party that has increasingly made displays of Trumpian loyalty a nonnegotiable requirement. But their ready-made outrage was not just about lining up behind the nominee. It was also about basking in the energy of a party base that remains as adhered to Mr. Trump as ever.

“The base has never been more motivated,” said Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas, Mr. Trump’s former doctor in the White House and a close ally.

In a 33-minute speech in the same Trump Tower lobby where he began his first presidential bid nearly nine years ago, Mr. Trump denounced his prosecutors as “sick people” on Friday and criticized the key witness in the case, seeking to pivot his candidacy from the confines of a Manhattan courtroom to the campaign trail.

The Trump campaign’s announcement on Friday morning that it had raised $34.8 million online in the hours after a jury found Mr. Trump guilty on all 34 felony charges was a reminder of how thoroughly he has persuaded Republican voters that his own legal threats are a proxy for attacks on them.

Donie O'Sullivan at CNN:

On online forums that have previously been linked to mass shootings, people are threatening violence and attempting to publicly identify the 12 New York jurors who on Thursday decided to convict former President Donald Trump.

The calls for retribution began immediately after the verdict was announced.

“Hope these jurors face some street justice,” one anonymous user on a pro-Trump forum wrote. Another suggestively asked, “Wouldn’t [it] be interesting if just one person from Trump’s legal team anonymously leaked the names of the jurors?”

Anonymity is supposed to add a layer of protection for jurors doing their civic duty. Once reserved only for cases involving violent criminal enterprises, the practice is becoming more common. The judge in the Trump New York trial issued an order in March agreeing with prosecutors that most information about the jurors would be sealed. Trump’s lawyers did not disagree, according to the order.

Overnight, however, anonymous internet users on sites that are known havens of hate and harassment began sharing names, home addresses and other personal information belonging to people they say might have been members of the jury, a practice known as doxxing.


Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Public Disapproves

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.  The public is not happy.

Megan Brenan at Gallup: 

Less than six months before Election Day, Americans’ approval ratings of President Joe Biden and Congress remain well below average. Biden’s current 39% job rating is on the low end of the 37% to 44% readings he has received since September 2021, and it falls short of his 43% term average. Congress’ latest 13% approval marks its 16th consecutive rating under 21%, the average since January 2021.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Divisive GOP House Primaries

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

Bridget Bowman reports at NBC
Former President Donald Trump endorsed the primary challenger taking on House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, R-Va., saying the congressman "turned his back on our incredible movement."

Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social on Tuesday morning that he is endorsing state Sen. John McGuire, who is challenging Good in a June 18 primary. Trump made a veiled reference to Good's being one of the few members of Congress who endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary, writing that Good "was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently."

Good endorsed Trump back in January, but the former president wrote that it was "too late."

"The damage had been done!" Trump added. "I just want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, and the person that can most help me do that is Navy Seal and highly respected State Legislator, John McGuire, a true American Hero."

Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales defeated a primary challenge from gun YouTuber Brandon Herrera in Tuesday’s runoff election.

The incumbent's March primary opponents forced him into a runoff with Herrera after Gonzales failed to earn support from a majority of voters.

By 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Gonzales had 51.06% of the vote to Herrera's 48.94% — a difference of just over 500 votes.

The Texas 23rd Congressional District, which Gonzales represents, stretches from just east of El Paso to western Bexar County. It includes large swaths of the border and the town of Uvalde, where the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting took place.

Gonzales’ primary challengers went after him for his vote in support of gun control measures in Congress in the aftermath of the school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The runoff election occurred just days after the Uvalde community marked two years since the shooting.

Gonzales’ gun control vote, along with several other votes on issues like support for gay and interracial marriage, led the Texas GOP to censure Gonzales in 2023.

Herrera, who had never held political office before, has 3.4 million subscribers on YouTube, where he primarily uses and promotes firearms and is known as “The AK Guy.”

Many of his videos are controversial, including one from 2022 where he uses a gun associated with Nazi Germany, goose-steps to a popular Nazi marching song, and refers to the gun as “the original ghetto blaster” and “Hitler’s street sweeper.”

Later in the video, he says he’s “not really a big fan of fascism” and explains that his comments throughout the video are “really f— up jokes.”

Florida Republican congressman and fierce Trump loyalist Matt Gaetz campaigned to support Herrera’s primary challenge to Gonzales.

Gonzales outraised Herrera by four-to-one, receiving more than $4 million from supporters.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Trump's Transactional Fundraising

Josh Dawsey at WP:
When Donald Trump met some of the country’s top donors at a luxurious New York hotel earlier this month, he told the group that a businessman had recently offered $1 million to his presidential effort and wanted to have lunch.

“I’m not having lunch,” Trump said he responded, according to donors who attended. “You’ve got to make it $25 million.”

Another businessman, he said, had traditionally given $2 million to $3 million to Republicans. Instead, he said he told the donor that he wanted a $25 million or $50 million contribution or he would not be “very happy.”

The remarks are just one example of a series of audacious requests by Trump for big-money contributions in recent months, according to 11 donors, advisers and others close to the former president, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe his fundraising. The pleas for millions in donations come as the presumptive Republican nominee seeks to close a cash gap with Biden and to pay for costly legal bills in his four criminal indictments.
Trump sometimes makes requests higher than his team expects to receive, sometimes surprising his own advisers because he is asking for so much money. By frequently tying the fundraising requests within seconds of promises of tax cuts, oil project infrastructure approvals and other favorable policies and asking for sums more than his campaign and the GOP can legally accept from an individual, Trump is also testing the boundaries of federal campaign finance laws, according to legal experts.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Inflation 2024

Felix Salmon at Axios:
The meaning of the word "inflation" has changed. It used to mean rising prices; now it means high prices.

The headline measure of inflation is based on something pretty arbitrary — where prices were exactly one year ago.The more salient timeframe, especially in an election year, might be what has happened to prices since the pandemic, or since Joe Biden took office.

Zoom out: A more intuitive concept of inflation is just "am I paying higher prices for things than I used to."Under that definition, inflation can be high even when prices are falling.

On a literal level, that should not be possible — prices that are deflating can't also be inflating. In quotidian usage, however, it's entirely possible for $4 eggs or gasoline to be indicia of inflation, even if they were $4.50 previously.

Between the lines: A nerdy lexicographical schism — the descriptivists versus the prescriptivists — has become a key driver of the 2024 presidential election campaign.

Voters who think that inflation is high are likely to blame Biden for it, and less likely to vote for him.

When Biden administration staffers push back by saying that inflation isn't high, they risk being seen as out of touch.

Where it stands: These days, if you read or hear something about inflation in mainstream discourse, then: Either "inflation" is being used to mean "high prices",

Or else there's an implicit or explicit "actually" in there somewhere, and you're getting the feeling that you're being mansplained to.

The bottom line: Prices are high, therefore inflation is high. Get used to it.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Libertarians Boo Trump

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.  Neither is the condition of the conservative and libertarian movements.

Brittany Gibson and Peder Schaefer at Politico: 
If Donald Trump came to the Libertarian National Convention to make peace on Saturday, it could hardly have gone worse.

Within minutes of beginning speaking — and after enduring sustained jeering and boos — the former president turned on the third party, mocking its poor electoral record in presidential elections even as he appealed to them for their endorsement.

“What’s the purpose of the Libertarian Party of getting 3 percent?” Trump asked the crowd, which proceeded to pelt him with jeers. “You should nominate Trump for president only if you want to win.”

The libertarians in attendance didn’t want to hear it, as hecklers chucked insults at Trump all night. “Liar,” they called him. “Panderer,” they shouted. “You crushed our rights,” they belted.

The raucous reception laid bare the difficulties confronting Trump in his effort to expand his base and cut off a third-party threat, not only from Libertarians, but also from independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Despite the Libertarian Party’s relatively small following, its 2020 candidate, Jo Jorgensen, drew more votes in some close states than the margin separating Trump and now-President Joe Biden.

“If we unite, we are unstoppable,” Trump told a crowd split between Libertarians and Trump supporters. “You have to combine with us.”

In response, the Washington Hilton ballroom erupted in boos. Trump was met with a chant to “debate” Libertarian candidates, and every time Trump fans in the room tried to start a “We want Trump” chant, libertarians yelled “End the Fed,” referring to the Federal Reserve.

“If he thinks he is going to win our nomination, he’s more delusional than I thought,” said Chase Oliver, one of the presidential candidates for the Libertarian Party, at a press conference after Trump spoke.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Special Counsel: Trump Is "Putting a Target on the Backs" of Law Enforcement

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 secessionTrump has accused the Biden Administration of trying to kill him.


The Government moves to modify defendant Donald J. Trump’s conditions of release, to make clear that he may not make statements that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case.1 The Government’s request is necessary because of several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Those statements create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents—falsely suggesting that they were complicit in a plot to assassinate him—and expose those agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial, to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment. The Court has an “independent obligation to protect the integrity of this judicial proceeding,” ECF No. 101, and should take steps immediately to halt this dangerous campaign to smear law enforcement.


 Those deceptive and inflammatory assertions irresponsibly put a target on the backs of the FBI agents involved in this case, as Trump well knows. Indeed, Trump “himself recognizes the power of his words and their effect on his audience, agreeing that his supporters ‘listen to [him] like no one else.’” United States v. Trump, 88 F.4th 990, 1012 (D.C. Cir. 2023) (quoting Transcript of CNN's Town Hall with Former President Donald Trump, CNN (May 11, 2023)). And his “documented pattern of speech and its demonstrated real-time, real-world consequences,” id., have often posed significant, imminent,and foreseeable threats to witnesses, particularly where, as here, they include deceptive and inflammatory claims. See id. at 1010-12 (collecting examples of Trump’s inflammatory statements and resulting threats). Those risks have justified restrictions on Trump's extrajudicial speech in other proceedings precisely to prevent threats, harassment, and other harms that undermine judicial proceedings. See 1010-19. Indeed, an armed attack on an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, was carried out by one of his supporters in the wake of Trump’s Truth Social statements inflaming his supporters regarding the search of Mar-a-Lago.3


 1 The Government has contacted counsel for defendant Trump, who stated that they object to the Motion and the timing of the conferral on a holiday weekend; it is their position that the Government has not provided an opportunity for meaningful conferral. They do not believe that there is any imminent danger, and asked to meet and confer next Monday. However, within just the last few hours, Trump has continued to issue false statements smearing and endangering the agents who executed the search. See (“reTruthing” statement claiming that the FBI was authorized to use “‘Lethal Force’ on Trump or anyone at MAL – WHILE the FBI/DOJ plants evidence to frame Trump!!!”).

 3 See FBI Cincinnati Statement, August 11, 2022, available at; see also Meryl Kornfield, Spencer S. Hsu, & James Bikales, Gunman killed after trying to breach FBI office in Ohio, authorities say, Wash. Post, Aug. 11, 2022,; Paul P. Murphy, Josh Campbell, & Brynn Gingras, Account bearing Ohio FBI standoff suspect’s name encouraged violence against the agency in posts on Trump social media platform, CNN, Aug. 12, 2022,


Friday, May 24, 2024

Trump Apocalypse Now

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

Juliette Kayyem at The Atlantic:

When Donald Trump insinuated this week that his successor and the FBI were out to kill him, he showed how central violence has become to his conception of political leadership. The former president declared Tuesday on Truth Social, his social-media platform, that he “was shown reports Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL FORCE).”

Trump has a way of projecting his own vices onto others. His view of presidential power is absolute—to the point that his lawyer recently argued before the Supreme Court that ordering the military to assassinate a political rival “could well be an official act.” There is probably some limiting principle to this particular argument, but the fact that the issue is even under discussion is not a good sign for our democracy. Perhaps he believes that Biden was out to shoot him because he thinks that’s an order that presidents can freely give.

The genesis of the former president’s complaint is that, when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in August 2022 to obtain classified documents that were at the center of an investigation, agents were explicitly authorized to use force. This was not remotely unusual: FBI agents are routinely armed. The “reports” that Trump saw misinterpreted the parameters of the search, which—as the security analysts Asha Rangappa and Tom Joscelyn explained in Just Security—was guided by elaborate restrictions on when weapons could be used. The FBI subsequently said it followed a “standard policy statement limiting the use of force.” Attorney General Merrick Garland noted today that similar conditions were used in a search related to classified documents at Biden’s home in Delaware.

Since the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Trump has become more and more apocalyptic in his language. This week, he sent another dangerous signal to his supporters: FBI agents are an armed enemy, ready to assassinate the former president. Unless, of course, Trump and his mob get to them first.

JD Wolf at MTN:

On Truth Social Thursday, Trump posted a video containing a clip of a “Trump or Death” flag being waved. The flag has been making appearances outside Trump New York criminal trial.

The person behind the flag is a Trump flag vendor who does pro-Trump banner drop stunts at sports stadiums. Trump recently praised his mugshot being unfurled during the national anthem at a Yankees game.


Thursday, May 23, 2024

Messaging Votes in the House and Senate

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.  House and Senate leaders try to influence these elections by staging messaging votes, which usually do not result in laws.

Tina Nguyen at Puck:

Perpetually embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson appears to have found an unlikely unifying message on one of the most polarizing issues of our time: Israel’s war in Gaza. In recent weeks, Johnson has pushed a flurry of legislation aimed at bolstering support for Israel while combating antisemitism, including non-binding resolutions as well as a bill outlining prosecutable antisemitic hate crimes. Last month, of course, Johnson also went to Columbia University, the epicenter of the debate over antisemitic speech on college campuses. He followed up that culture war pilgrimage by empowering multiple congressional committees to investigate antisemitism in academic institutions across the country.

Johnson, according to those close to him, hasn’t launched this campaign cynically. A pedigreed member of the Christian Right, Johnson has long been a righteous believer in the concept that defending Israel and the Jewish people is a mandate from God, as I’ve written about recently. But there’s no question that Johnson’s pro-Israel crusade has also had the added benefit of putting his enemies on defense, both on the left and on the right.

House Democrats, for example, are consistently voting against the antisemitism bills, whether because of a perceived First Amendment issue, or language that equates any criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government with antisemitism. Nevertheless, one senior Democratic aide told me he’s been working overtime to reassure constituents that yes, his boss does support Israel’s right to exist. “What was it Barney Frank said?” he asked rhetorically. “If you have to explain yourself, you’re losing.”

On the G.O.P. side, Johnson’s Israel advocacy has also helped box out the hardliners gunning for his job, such as far-right Christian nationalist Marjorie Taylor Greene (who voted against an antisemitism bill because she was worried it would prevent Christians from saying that Jews killed Jesus) and Paul Gosar, who had signed on to Greene’s attempt to vacate Johnson (and has an unfortunate habit of hiring people fond of antisemitic conspiracy theories). Other Johnson antagonists who have since found themselves on the wrong side of AIPAC and the Republican Jewish Committee, which are deploying many tens of millions of dollars this cycle, include Bob Good and Thomas Massie.

Carl Hulse at NYT:

In losing big votes, Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, believes his party stands to win.

Despite certain defeat, Mr. Schumer has scheduled a floor vote for Thursday on a bipartisan border security measure that collapsed almost as soon as it was made public in February, when Donald J. Trump torpedoed it as “lunacy” and “a gift to Democrats.”

Mr. Schumer sees his maneuver as a way to remind voters upset about chaos at the southern border that it is Republicans who are blocking a solution, even after they reached a deal with Democrats that could solve the problem. He insists that the potential political benefits to Democratic candidates in tough races in Ohio, Montana and elsewhere are merely a bonus.

“It’s good for the country,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview, about the legislation. “But obviously, look, if it has electoral consequences, so be it.”

With most of the heavy legislative lifting done for the year and the election that will decide control of Congress fast approaching, Senate Democrats are turning to the “electoral consequences” part of their agenda, and messaging votes will be a regular feature. Mr. Schumer, who has long played a central role in mapping his party’s political strategy, has a two-pronged plan that will unfold in the coming weeks with a focus on abortion rights and border security.

“In the next two months,” Mr. Schumer said, “we have a sword and shield.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Perceptions of the Economy, May 2024

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.

Lauren Aratani at The Guardian:

Nearly three in five Americans wrongly believe the US is in an economic recession, and the majority blame the Biden administration, according to a Harris poll conducted exclusively for the Guardian. The survey found persistent pessimism about the economy as election day draws closer. The poll highlighted many misconceptions people have about the economy, including:

  • 55% believe the economy is shrinking, and 56% think the US is experiencing a recession, though the broadest measure of the economy, gross domestic product (GDP), has been growing.
  • 49% believe the S&P 500 stock market index is down for the year, though the index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year.
  • 49% believe that unemployment is at a 50-year high, though the unemployment rate has been under 4%, a near 50-year low.
Many Americans put the blame on Biden for the state of the economy, with 58% of those polled saying the economy is worsening due to mismanagement from the presidential administration.

The poll underscored people’s complicated emotions around inflation. The vast majority of respondents, 72%, indicated they think inflation is increasing. In reality, the rate of inflation has fallen sharply from its post-Covid peak of 9.1% and has been fluctuating between 3% and 4% a year.

In April, the inflation rate went down from 3.5% to 3.4% – far from inflation’s 40-year peak of 9.1% in June 2022 – triggering a stock market rally that pushed the Dow Jones index to a record high.


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

"Unified Reich"

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.  A recent post discussed anti-semitic tropes in GOP rhetoric.

Rebecca Falconer at Axios:Rebecca Falconer at Axios:

A video reposted to former President Trump's Truth Social account on Monday discussing what would happen if he won the 2024 election referred to "a unified Reich."

Why it matters: Although Trump's campaign emphasized that this wasn't a campaign video and a staffer inadvertently reposted it without seeing the words, President Biden's campaign seized on it in a post to X, saying: "Trump posts a new ad foreshadowing a second Trump term that says he will create a 'UNIFIED REICH,' echoing Nazi Germany."

Context: The word "Reich" typically refers to German empires, though it's now largely associated with Adolf Hitler's Third Reich during Nazi Germany.

Driving the news: In the 30-second video that was posted on Trump's Truth Social account during his New York hush money trial's lunch break, a narrator discusses "what's next for America" if Trump wins as mock headlines and other text are displayed on the screen, including "the creation of a unified Reich."

AP first reported that the text in one of the headlines seemed to be taken verbatim from a Wikipedia entry on World War I that states "German industrial strength and production had significantly increased after 1871, driven by the creation of a unified Reich."

Other headlines in the video that was still posted on Trump's Truth Social account early Tuesday included "IT'S A LANDSLIDE! TRUMP WINS!!" At times the headlines echo the narrator's comments, including when the voice says "the economy booms."

Repeating the narrator's comments "the border is closed," text is displayed below the headline stating "15 MILLION ILLEGAL ALIENS DEPORTED" — in an apparent reference to Trump's plan for the mass deportation of undocumented migrants if he's elected.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Left and Right

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the ideological, 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.  

David Leonhardt at NYT: David Leonhardt at NYT:
Americans lean left on economic policy. Polls show that they support restrictions on trade, higher taxes on the wealthy and a strong safety net. Most Americans are not socialists, but they do favor policies to hold down the cost of living and create good-paying jobs. These views help explain why ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage and expand Medicaid have passed even in red states. They also explain why some parts of Biden’s agenda that Republicans uniformly opposed, such as a law reducing medical costs, are extremely popular. “This is where the center of gravity in the country is,” Steve Ricchetti, a top White House official, told me.
The story is different on social and cultural issues. Americans lean right on many of those issues, polls show (albeit not as far right as the Republican Party has moved on abortion).
The clearest example in the Biden era is immigration. A core tenet of neoliberalism, once supported by both parties, is high immigration. Along with the freer movement of goods and capital, neoliberalism calls for the freer movement of people.
Most voters, especially working-class voters, feel differently. The soaring level of immigration during Biden’s presidency, much of it illegal, has become a political liability, and it nearly led to another piece of neopopulist legislation this year. Senate Democrats and Republicans put together a plan to strengthen border security. It was the mirror image of Republicans’ agreeing to support the semiconductor and infrastructure bills: This time, some Democrats abandoned a policy stance that was out of step with public opinion.




Sunday, May 19, 2024

Battle for the Senate

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

Harry Enten at CNN:
Republicans need a net gain of one seat to win the Senate if Donald Trump wins the presidency (with his vice president casting any tie-breaking votes). They need a net gain of two seats for a majority regardless of who wins the presidential election.

Republicans have a lot of options to net those one or two seats. Senate Democrats (including independents who caucus with them) hold 23 seats up for election this year; Republicans hold 11.

This brings us to the map.

Eight of the 23 Democratic seats up for election this year are in states either where Trump won in 2016 or where he is up by at least 5 points in the polls now. Five of them are in states where Trump holds at least a 5-point advantage. Three are in states where Trump won by at least 8 points in 2016 and 2020 and where the incumbent senator is the only Democrat in nonjudicial statewide office.

One of those three is West Virginia, where Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is retiring. Trump won the state by 39 points in 2020, and every respectable nonpartisan handicapping outlet views the seat as a safe Republican pickup.


No, we can’t call it just yet, and it’s not just because we’re still months before the general election. It’s because if President Joe Biden does win – a real possibility – it’s not entirely clear which second Senate seat Republicans will pick up to gain control.

Among the eight Democratic Senate seats mentioned above, there are no states beyond West Virginia where the polls (or expert judgment) show Republicans with a solid lead, despite the fundamentals favoring their party this year. Democratic Senate candidates seem to be at least tied or ahead in Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

RFK Jr. and Ballot Access

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

:Katherine Koretski at NBC:
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s first reaction to this week’s debate agreement between President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and CNN was to accuse them of “colluding” against him. But within hours, the independent presidential candidate changed his tune: He was going to try to win a one-month sprint to meet CNN’s criteria and crash the stage.

The question is whether both Kennedy’s ballot-accessballot-access machine and the state government offices that will process his petition signatures are capable of moving quickly enough to get him on enough state ballots by mid-June to meet the debate criteria — and what exactly the cable network’s criteria, which have been used for autumn presidential debates for decades, mean in a different context at the beginning of summer.

Kennedy’s campaign has long aimed to get on the ballot in all 50 states before Election Day, but the debate accelerated its timeline because one of the criteria for participation is being “on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency prior to the eligibility deadline” a week before the debate.

JJessica Piper at Politico:

A major cash infusion from his running mate helped Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s longshot presidential campaign substantially ramp up spending on ballot access in April.

An $8 million donation from Silicon Valley lawyer Nicole Shanahan helped the Kennedy campaign spend $6.5 million in the month of April, up nearly 50 percent from March. A firm that works on ballot access accounted for more than one third of the monthly expenditures, according to a campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission Friday evening.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Biden and Black Voters

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.  The Democratic Party is a coalition of minorities and college-educated whites

  Cameron McWhirter at WSJ:

President Biden is courting Black voters this weekend in a flurry of high-profile events, in a bid to reclaim support among a once-reliable voting bloc now showing a lack of enthusiasm.

The marquee event is delivering the commencement address at Morehouse College, the prestigious, all-male historically Black college and the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday. After his speech at Morehouse, the president is flying to Detroit to speak at a large NAACP chapter dinner there.

Before leaving Washington, Biden will give remarks Friday at a dinner marking the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The decision banned segregation in public schools. He and Vice President Kamala Harris will also meet with the leaders of the “Divine Nine,” historically Black sororities and fraternities, of which Harris is also a member.

Michael Williams, Kevin Liptak and Arlette Saenz, at CNN:

In a radio interview taped Tuesday, Biden urged Black voters to “remember who Trump is.”

“He falsely accused the Central Park Five,” Biden told Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan on V-103.3 in Atlanta. “He’s a founder of birtherism, he tried to repeal Obamacare the first time – now he’s promised to do even more damage.”

Sharpening the contrast with Trump has been of vital importance for Biden as he works to improve his standing in polls. Nowhere is that imperative more critical than with Black Americans. Many polls have found them more disconnected from the Democratic Party than they have been in decades.

Biden often cites issues like infrastructure investments and canceling student debt when promoting his record to Black voters. He’s also taken steps on loosening rules on marijuana, including Thursday when the Justice Department formally began the process of rescheduling the drug.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Working-Class Vote

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.  The Democratic Party is a coalition of minorities and college-educated whites.  They have problems with rural and white working-class voters.

Ruy Teixeria:
As Timothy Noah has remarked:
For the past 100 years, no Democrat—with one exception—has ever entered the White House without winning a majority of the working-class vote, defined conventionally as those voters who possess a high school degree but no college degree. The exception was Joe Biden in 2020, under highly unusual circumstances (a badly-mismanaged Covid pandemic, an economy going haywire). It’s unlikely in the extreme that Biden can manage that trick a second time. He must win the working-class vote in 2024.
As the Times data (and much other data) show, that objective seems quite far away for Biden at this point. And that’s a problem: you can’t hit the target unless you’re aiming at it. That’s why I think that the Biden campaign’s notorious “polling denialism” might well be viewed as “working class denialism.” The Biden campaign would rather think about this election as “the democracy election” and/or “the abortion rights election”; advocates tell the campaign it should be “the climate election” or “the student loans election” or “the Palestinian rights election” or the “racial justice election.” But in the end, the outcome will be determined by how the working class assesses the choice between Trump and Biden and casts their vote. That fact should not be denied—and the fact should be faced that none of the above issues provides the key for turning the election in Democrats’ favor.

What would? The answer may be quite mundane if challenging to implement, not least because it goes against the grain of the Democrats’ shadow party and their amen corner in the media and academia. A recent memo from the Blueprint strategy notes:
We tested messages that Biden could use to expose Trump’s vulnerabilities, and the ones that voters found most compelling focused on economic fairness and how that should be reflected in public policy—not on Biden and Trump’s respective characters, biographies, and backgrounds….

Blueprint’s latest survey, conducted in partnership with The Liberal Patriot, showed that many of the policies that are most popular with voters can be used to make the case that Biden is the candidate for average Americans while Trump is the candidate who advocates for the interests of the very rich. Among the 40 policies we tested, the most popular ones are those that crack down on corporations, lower the prices of health care and other things, and protect Medicare and Social Security.


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Biden Proposes Debates

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

Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
President Biden is willing to debate former President Donald J. Trump at least twice before the election, and as early as June — but his campaign is rejecting the nonpartisan organization that has managed presidential debates since 1988, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.

The letter by the Biden campaign lays out for the first time the president’s terms for giving Mr. Trump what he has openly clamored for: a televised confrontation with a successor Mr. Trump has portrayed, and hopes to reveal, as too feeble to hold the job. In a Truth Social post on Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump quickly agreed to the two dates proposed by the Biden campaign, although it was unclear whether he would agree to Mr. Biden’s other terms.

Mr. Biden and his top aides want the debates to start much sooner than the dates proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates, so voters can see the two candidates side by side well before early voting begins in September. They want the debate to occur inside a TV studio, with microphones that automatically cut off when a speaker’s time limit elapses. And they want it to be just the two candidates and the moderator — without the raucous in-person audiences that Mr. Trump feeds on and without the participation of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or other independent or third-party candidates.
Note the jump cuts:

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Biden and Polls: Confidence? Denialism? Delusion?

Hans Nichols and Alex Thompson at Axios:
President Biden doesn't believe his bad poll numbers, and neither do many of his closest advisers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The dismissiveness of the poor polling is sincere, not public spin, according to Democrats who have spoken privately with the president and his team.That bedrock belief has informed Biden's largely steady-as-she-goes campaign — even as many Democrats outside the White House are agitating for the campaign to change direction, given that Biden is polling well behind where he was four years ago.
The public polling simply doesn't reflect the president's support, they say.

Driving the news: In public and private, Biden has been telling anyone who will listen that he's gaining ground — and is probably up — on Donald Trump in their rematch from 2020."While the press doesn't write about it, the momentum is clearly in our favor, with the polls moving towards us and away from Trump," Biden told donors during a West Coast swing last week.

A few days earlier, confronted with some of his bad poll numbers in a rare interview with CNN, Biden offered a more sweeping indictment of polling methodology."The polling data has been wrong all along. How many — you guys do a poll at CNN. How many folks you have to call to get one response?"

Zoom in: The latest polling in the six battleground states likely to decide the presidential race — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — doesn't paint a rosy picture for Biden.A new New York Times/Siena survey, which sampled more than 4,000 people across the swing states, had Trump winning five of them among registered voters.
A Bloomberg News poll last month similarly found Biden trailing Trump in six of seven swing states (they also polled North Carolina).

Reality check: Some national polls have shown Biden ahead or tied with Trump — and in several other polls the president is within the surveys' margins for error. That's given Democrats and Republicans alike ammunition to claim they have momentum.Biden likes to cite his numbers in a recent PBS/Marist poll, which show him ahead.

A  Substack called "Hopium Chronicles" focuses on survey data that reinforce optimism.