Lead-up to 2018 mid-terms

Written by  //  October 17, 2018  //  Politics, U.S.  //  No comments

The Democrats/progressives 2018

`What IS a Caucus-race?’ said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.
`Why,’ said the Dodo, `the best way to explain it is to do it.’ (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)
First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out `The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?’
This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, `EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes.’  – Alice in Wonderland

17 October
Trump’s latest absurdity about the elections hints at much worse to come
(WaPost) In a new interview with the Associated Press that went live on Tuesday night, President Trump claimed that it won’t be his fault if Republicans lose control of the House. As Trump put it, in a reference to Republican House incumbents and candidates: “No, I think I’m helping people.”
This assertion isn’t just another one of Trump’s the-buck-stops-anywhere-else absurdities. It’s also a dry run for something much worse — that is, his coming effort to escape personal accountability if Democrats do win the House.
That effort will unfold on multiple fronts. New reporting on the timing of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, and on deliberations among Democrats over how to pursue Trump’s tax returns, suggests that a Democratic takeover will set up massive clashes between the Democratic-controlled House and the White House. These battles will turn in part on the meaning of the Democratic victory.

16 October
Nate Silver will make one firm prediction about the midterms. Most journalists won’t want to hear it.
(WaPost) … it’s “all but inevitable” that Democrats will win control of the House of Representatives or that there’s really no way Republicans will lose the Senate.
“I get nervous about how people overstate things” he told me. That, for example, “Saying it’s all but inevitable should signal it’s at 98 percent, not 80 percent,” which is the reality at the moment, he said. While it’s quite probable — and has become slightly more likely — that we’ll see a split decision in Congress, there’s a solid chance it doesn’t go that way.
There’s actually a 40 percent chance that both houses of Congress will end up in the hands of one party, Silver said.
That’s partly because, in each case, there’s about a 1-in-5 chance that the less likely outcome will happen: That Republicans will retain the House or that Democrats will win the Senate. (His 40 percent calculation takes into consideration that the House and Senate probabilities are not independent from each other; there’s almost no chance that Democrats will win the Senate but not the House.)

11-12 October
Beto O’Rourke shatters fundraising records with $38 million quarter
The massive haul rivals fundraising marks for presidential campaigns of the past.
(NBC) O’Rourke, who faces incumbent Republican Ted Cruz in November, has highlighted small donations from individuals and eschewed special interest PACs. His campaign noted Friday that more than 800 thousand individuals have contributed to his campaign. BUT  “O’Rourke’s fundraising prowess distracts from the reality that Cruz is ahead in the race, and appeared to have strengthened his position during the contentious and deeply partisan fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh‘s Supreme Court confirmation.”
LA Times: Rep. Devin Nunes has a very well funded opponent, but he’s focused a lot of his energy not on attacking his challenger, but fighting his district’s largest newspaper. It’s a page from Trump’s playbook, Jazmine Ulloa writes. Nunes is not alone in facing a well-funded Democratic opponent. As Evan Halper wrote, in districts across the country, Democrats are bringing in unprecedented amounts, mostly in small donations. That money could allow Democrats to challenge the GOP in unexpected places in the campaign’s final weeks.
‘Definition of a Rigged System’ as GOP Candidate for Georgia Governor Commits Massive Purge of Registered Voters “We need UN election observers in Georgia…the state, not the country.”
(Common Dreams) … a national grassroots group reported Secretary of State Brian Kemp—also the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate—to the Justice Department late Wednesday night for blatantly violating the Voting Rights Act in order to swing the upcoming election in his own favor.

Republicans Abandon Vulnerable Lawmakers, Striving to Keep House
As they brace for losses in the House of Representatives, Republican Party leaders are racing to reinforce their candidates in about two-dozen districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority. They are pouring money and effort mainly into moderate suburban areas, like Mr. Sessions’s seat, that they see as critical to holding the chamber by even a one-seat margin. And they have begun to pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind in once-competitive races.
Republicans in Congress and the White House see a Democratic takeover in the House as a mortal threat, potentially allowing the opposition party to bring the Republican agenda to a halt and launch far-reaching investigations that could put the Trump administration under siege.
There are between 60 and 70 Republican-held districts that are being seriously contested, and Democrats, boosted by strong fund-raising, have been expanding their television advertising in conservative-leaning districts in an effort to stretch Republicans thin. National polls have shown most voters favor a Democratic-led House over a Republican one, though the Democrats’ lead has varied.

5 October
Senate races move right, House races move left in political fallout from Kavanaugh confirmation fight
(WaPost) most of this year’s competitive Senate races are in traditionally red states, and as Republicans have rallied to Kavanaugh’s side, the chances of Democratic upsets there have dropped, at least for now.
Democrats are growing more concerned about keeping their seats in Indiana, Missouri, and Montana and appear to be losing ground when it comes to potential pick-ups in Texas and Tennessee. One of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who said Thursday that she would vote against Kavanaugh, has fallen far behind her Republican challenger in new polling. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another vulnerable Democrat, reached for political survival when he became the final senator and only Democrat to announce a vote for Kavanaugh.
But in the House, the Cook Political Report and other predictors have moved more than half a dozen seats in the Democratic direction in recent days, and Republican operatives are bracing themselves for an onslaught of Democratic money that they are calling “a green wave.” Gubernatorial races – in which Democrats are trying to regain territory that they’ve lost in recent years, particularly in the Midwest – are also trending left.
Amy Walter: The War That Never Ends
(The Cook Political Report) In most political battles, the losers remain more engaged and energized than the winners. Just look at how Democrats and Republicans responded to the passage of Obamacare in 2010. Republicans never stopped fighting the battle, while Democrats were never willing to engage in defending the territory they had captured.
But, this battle isn’t unique to the Trump era. It’s simply the latest in a never-ending war by both sides to justify their partisan behavior. Neither side has cornered the market on hypocrisy. It’s hard to take Republican claims of Democrats operating in bad faith seriously, when Republicans held up the nomination of Merrick Garland for much of 2016. It’s also hard to reconcile Democrats’ universal cries of “I believe her,” with the terrible treatment many showed to Anita Hill, Monica Lewinsky and/or Paula Jones. Meanwhile, voters aren’t making the distinctions on policy or procedure or hypocrisy either. Instead, they rally behind their “team.” There’s no time for nuance; there is only time for war. So, war it will be for the foreseeable future.
Reuters: One of the biggest questions for battleground Republicans is how closely they should align themselves with the president. The answer for some? Keep quiet. Republican nominees in a third of House battleground districts have offered no statements of support for Trump on campaign websites, Facebook or Twitter this year.
Special Report: The Trump trap – Republicans duck president in key House races
Trump largely enjoys strong support within his party: Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls put him at 82 percent approval among Republican likely voters. But that backing softens among Republicans with college degrees and higher incomes. In 2016, he ran poorly in many districts where those voters hold sway.
Some disenchanted Republicans take issue with Trump’s policies, particularly on immigration, the environment and U.S.-Russia relations, polling shows. More often, they condemn the president for being divisive and disrespectful.
Now, with polls and analysts favoring Democrats to win the House majority, battleground Republicans need every vote. And few questions loom larger than how closely they should align themselves with the president.
Trump won in 34 of those 56 districts in 2016, but his victories were concentrated in areas with lower incomes. He won more than 75 percent of the battleground districts with median incomes below $75,000; he won fewer than 20 percent of those with median incomes above $75,000. Trump also fared slightly worse in districts with high percentages of college-educated voters – a demographic that typically correlates with higher incomes.
Polling suggests Trump remains a harder sell with those constituencies. Among Republicans with college degrees and household incomes of $75,000 or more, 51 percent said over the last month they are “certain” to vote in the upcoming congressional elections, down 9 points from 2014, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows.

25 September
The Republican party is about to face the wrath of women
Women aren’t just mad – they’re organized and mobilized politically in a way we’ve never quite seen before
(The Guardian) “Women under Trump have been very deliberately and strategically channeling their anger into organized action, and the Kavanaugh nomination is giving huge numbers of women new reasons to join the fight. Women’s rage is shaping up to be a dangerous force in the upcoming midterms – dangerous to the political party that has fueled it.”

17 September
Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York, is actively considering running for president as a Democrat.
He has already aligned himself with Democrats in the midterm elections, planning to spend $80 million to flip control of the House of Representatives.
He has liberal views on immigration, climate science and guns. But his views on banks, stop-and-frisk and #MeToo make him an uncomfortable match for progressives.

7 September
Obama Lashes Trump in Debut 2018 Speech. President’s Response: ‘I Fell Asleep.’
(NYT) Former President Barack Obama re-entered the national political debate on Friday with a scathing indictment of President Trump, assailing his successor as a “threat to our democracy” and a demagogue practicing the “politics of fear and resentment.”
In a dramatic break from the normal deference former presidents usually show to incumbents, Mr. Obama ended a long period of public reticence with a lacerating assessment of Mr. Trump. Sometimes by name, sometimes by inference, he accused him of cozying up to Russia, emboldening white supremacists and polarizing the nation.
The speech was meant to kick off a two-month campaign blitz to help Democrats take control of Congress in the November midterm elections. His first public event will take place this weekend in Orange County, a traditionally conservative-leaning part of California where Democrats are hoping to pick up several House seats.
But Mo Elleithee, a longtime Democratic strategist who is now executive director of the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service, said Mr. Obama seemed to be providing a message for Democrats to retake the mantle of populism by arguing that Mr. Trump’s version has actually elevated the interests of the wealthy and powerful.
“He filled a leadership vacuum for the opposition party,” Mr. Elleithee said after the speech, “but what I thought was more interesting is he started to draw a road map for Democrats who are looking for a different way of engaging this populist era and bring us back to a more hopeful approach.”
Read the speech
Obama to Join Midterm Battle, Starting in California and Ohio

28-29 August
Well, at Least Sheriff Joe Isn’t Going to Congress
Arpaio’s loss in Arizona’s Senate Republican primary is a fitting end to the public life of a truly sadistic man.
In the closing weeks of the race, his campaign had begun melting down. His staff was in chaos, and polls showed him trailing both Representative Martha McSally, Tuesday’s victor, and Kelli Ward, an anti-immigration firebrand also courting the right wing of the party.

Andrew Gillum, a Black Progressive, and Ron DeSantis, a Trump Acolyte, Win Florida Governor Primaries
Florida Democrats nominated Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, and Republicans tapped Representative Ron DeSantis for governor Tuesday, setting the stage for a ferocious general election in the country’s largest swing state between one of President Trump’s most unabashed allies and an outspoken progressive who would be Florida’s first black governor.
Mr. Gillum’s defeat of the former congresswoman Gwen Graham, the front-runner, marked one of the most significant upsets of the primary season and was a major victory for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

26 August
Arizona race becomes a Trumpian hugfest. Will it cost the GOP a Senate seat?
(LA Times) For Democrats, who need three seats to gain Senate control, Arizona is vital. Sen. Jeff Flake, one of Trump’s harshest GOP critics, chose to step aside rather than risk losing a primary, creating a rare open-seat election at a time Arizona, once solidly Republican, has grown increasingly competitive.

22 August
Republicans Urge Embattled Incumbents to Speak Out on Trump
(NYT) Senior Republican Party leaders began urging their most imperiled incumbents on Wednesday to speak out about the wrongdoing surrounding President Trump, with Representative Tom Cole, a former House Republican campaign chairman, warning, “Where there’s smoke, and there’s a lot of smoke, there may well be fire.”
Democrats face their own pressure to shed their cautious midterm strategy and hammer the opposition for fostering what Democratic leaders are labeling “a culture of corruption” that starts at Mr. Trump and cascades through two indicted House Republicans to a series of smaller scandals breaking out in the party’s backbenches.
By urging some candidates to speak out or at least stay silent, Republican leaders who gravely fear losing control of the House risked opening the first significant rift between the Trump White House and the Republican-controlled Capitol.

11 August
Poll: Trump is as strongly disliked now as Nixon was before he resigned
(CNN) The intensity of the disapproval for Trump has translated to a significant enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans in midterm polling and special elections. It could drive Democrats to their greatest House seat gain in a midterm since the last time a Republican president had such a high poor rating in that midterm year. That of course was in 1974.

9 August
Trump blows up GOP’s formula for winning House races
A POLITICO analysis of the vote breakdown in Ohio’s special election shows that the party’s suburban problem might be even deeper than feared.
Deep suburban antipathy toward President Donald Trump has turned the old GOP electoral coalition inside-out in many areas in 2017 and 2018 … It’s a shift that was underway before Trump arrived on the political scene — but the president accelerated it. … Many House Republicans hope to hold back the tide by virtue of long records and personal appeal in their districts, along with key support in rural stretches. But many of them will also be running in suburbs that already tilt more heavily Democratic than the double-digit Trump districts. … The shift away from Democrats in rural areas fueled the party’s decline during the years of President Barack Obama’s administration. But now, Democrats hope that the reverse trend in the suburbs will drive a resurgence — and that 21 months of off-year and special elections foreshadow the November midterms.

27 July
Trump’s farm bailout is burning bridges in blue states
If farmers support politicians who don’t want to help pay for mass transit infrastructure in my part of the country, it’s hard to see why I should pay for the damage farmers have suffered because the guy they helped elect has caused them problems that they could have protected themselves against.
(WaPost) There was joy in large parts of the land when the Trumpublican Tax Bill of 2017 (which wasn’t tax reform) limited deductions for state and local taxes to $10,000 a year.
That limit was an intentional attack aimed at hurting high-tax, high-cost states like New York, California and New Jersey that, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.
… those of us targeted by the Trumpublican bill are supposed to stand by quietly while Trump gives $12 billion of our money to farmers affected by his policies. People who — not coincidentally — tend to live in areas that were pro-Trump in 2016.
But while Trump can find $12 billion for farmers, he and his fellow travelers are unwilling to find anything like $12 billion to fund Uncle Sam’s piece of the badly needed New York-New Jersey Gateway rail project designed to keep Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the whole Boston-Washington rail corridor from suffering a catastrophic collapse.

27 June
A top House Democrat loses in upset; Trump extends his winning streak in GOP primaries
(WaPost) Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, a top-ranking Democrat and a rising star in the party, lost in a stunning upset Tuesday to a little-known primary challenger, sending shock waves through the party out of power less than five months before the midterm elections. The result marked the first knockout blow against the establishment wing of the Democratic Party by the restive liberal movement that has erupted in the era of Trump
Crowley is the first sitting Democratic House member to lose renomination since 2016. … [He] was one of several veteran House Democrats facing insurgent challengers Tuesday in races that thrummed with generational and racial differences. All but Crowley survived.
Tuesday night, Trump extended a string of primary wins that have underscored his firm hold on his party.
In New York, Rep. Daniel Donovan won the GOP primary after Trump endorsed him over former congressman Michael Grimm, who was seeking the office he surrendered after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2014.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, another Trump ally, on Tuesday won the Republican runoff for his seat… In Utah, another of the seven states with primary contests Tuesday, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had Trump’s endorsement despite their troubled history, took a giant step closer to returning to the national stage. He defeated state legislator Mike Kennedy in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat being relinquished by Republican Orrin G. Hatch.
Deadweight Donald – Polls show the president is an albatross on his party heading into November.
(Slate) These surveys bode ill for Trump and the GOP. They suggest that his base is well below his approval rating, that many of his nominal supporters can be picked off, and that the more he makes himself the focus of the midterms—which he works to do, congenitally, every day—the more he hurts his party. He turns a narrow popular-vote deficit into a landslide. Maybe these polls are misleading, as early polls were in 2016. Or maybe voters have had time to see what kind of president he is, and they don’t like it

17 May
The Democratic Wave May Depend on Millennials Becoming Unusually Motivated to Vote
(New York Magazine) Close observers of political trends are familiar with a phenomenon usually called the “midterm falloff.” Voters generally participate less in midterms than in presidential elections. But there are categories of voters — notably young and minority (especially Latino and Asian-American, and to a lesser extent African-American) voters — who regularly become a smaller percentage of the electorate in midterms. This “falloff” has become a big Democratic Party problem lately as young and minority voters have assumed a more central role in the party’s base. At the same time, Republicans have benefited in recent midterms from their strong position among the voters most likely to participate in midterms: older white voters. This disparate turnout pattern was a significant contributing factor to the GOP midterm wins in 2010 and 2014. The last time Democrats had a midterm “wave,” in 2006, they were performing much better among older voters (actually winning half the senior vote).

15 May
POLITICO’s guide to Tuesday’s primary elections
Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon and Pennsylvania head to the polls Tuesday, with major ramifications for the battle for the House.

10-11 May
Trump uses rallies to tell his supporters to vote for him — even if other names are on the ballot
The rally provided a snapshot look at the role that the president hopes to play in the midterm elections this fall. He has cast this election as a referendum on his presidency and stressed that a vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for Trump.

Opinion: Tuesday’s Senate primaries put Republicans in a good position for the midterms
By Boris Epshteyn*
Here is the bottom line: Tuesday night was a good night for the Republican Party. Republicans didn’t hurt themselves with any of the candidates who won the primaries. Instead, the GOP positioned themselves to widen the very slim, 51-49, majority the party currently holds in the Senate.
(Sinclair Broadcast Group) – The most watched race was the West Virginia Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. State Attorney General Patrick Morrissey won the contest with controversial candidate Don Blankenship coming in third. With Blankenship out of the picture, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) appears to be very vulnerable. He received about 10 points less in Tuesday’s Democrat primary than he did in the primary for his seat in 2012.
In Indiana, Republican businessman Mike Braun won the primary and will take on the current Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are heading to Indiana on Thursday to back Braun. That is a sign of things to come in terms of active support from the White House for Mike Braun.
In Ohio, Republican Congressman Jim Renacci will now take on current Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. Brown has moved hard to the left in his time in the Senate and is now widely seen as more progressive than his state of Ohio, which Trump won by over 8 percent in 2016.
* Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

9 May
Primary Concerns: The outsider candidate Don Blankenship’s loss in West Virginia’s Republican Senate primary is, on the one hand, good news for the party’s establishment. On the other hand, three sitting Republican House members were also defeated in Tuesday night’s elections, which could be a warning sign for the GOP. The mainstream candidates who succeeded in West Virginia and Ohio had embraced some of the president’s harsh rhetoric on immigration, illustrating how the center-right has been influenced by Trump.

7 May
President Trump waded into West Virginia’s Republican primary race for the Senate.
(NYT evening brief) At the urging of Senator Mitch McConnell, Mr. Trump implored voters to oppose the former coal executive Don Blankenship, who was convicted of conspiring to violate mine safety rules after a 2010 explosion that killed 29 people.
A number of states are holding primary elections on Tuesday that carry big implications for this fall’s midterms, which could see Republicans lose control of Congress.
The president signaled that anxiety on Twitter, lashing out at prosecutors leading the Russia inquiry and asking if “this Phony Witch Hunt” would affect the elections.
(The Atlantic) Political Connections: As West Virginians and Indianans prepare to vote in their states’ Republican Senate primaries on Tuesday, candidates with footholds in the Washington, D.C., establishment are facing strong challenges from political outsiders—yet those outsiders could hurt the party’s chances in the midterms this fall.

6 May
Cordray-Kucinich primary serves as Democrats’ first Midwest test of 2018
(Politico) Cordray has led in sparse public polling, but Kucinich has lurked within striking distance in the Ohio gubernatorial primary.
Democrats are looking to November for an opportunity to re-stake their claim to the Midwest after President Donald Trump painted it red in 2016. But first, they need to figure out who — and what — they want to put forward.
Ohio’s primary on Tuesday is the party’s first test along that road, with former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray and former Rep. Dennis Kucinich brandishing different brands of populism before Democratic voters, as well as different theories about how to win the swing state, where GOP Gov. John Kasich is term-limited.
Cordray has plenty of establishment backing, but his consumer-watchdog brand and support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeals to the party’s progressive wing. But Kucinich, backed by the Bernie Sanders-aligned nonprofit Our Revolution and several key 2016 allies of Sanders (though not Sanders himself), is betting his longtime support for single-payer health care and other progressive priorities can galvanize not only primary voters but an unsettled general electorate featuring a swath of Democratic-turned-Trump voters.

5 May
At His Ranch, John McCain Shares Memories and Regrets With Friends
(NYT) some of his associates, though not his family, have started to quietly put out word that they want a “McCain person” eventually appointed to fill his Senate seat, a roster that includes his wife, Cindy.
Mr. McCain, 81, is still in the fight, struggling with the grim diagnosis he received last summer … But his health has become a matter of immediate political interest. Mr. McCain’s future may determine whether Republicans retain their single-seat Senate majority: Should the senator die or resign before the end of May, there will most likely be a special election for the seat this fall. But under Arizona law, if he remains in office into June, there will probably not be an election for the seat until 2020, which Republicans would prefer given Democratic enthusiasm this year.
Blankenship surging on eve of West Virginia Senate primary
Establishment Republicans are fretting about a late surge by the convicted coal baron.
(Politico) Blankenship’s rivals and other Republicans are alarmed. Many are convinced that a Blankenship win, coming just months after the disastrous Alabama Senate race, would destroy the party’s prospects of defeating Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November.

19 March
California’s free-for-all primary election rules could surprise everyone in 2018 … again
(LA Times) For the third consecutive election cycle, state and congressional races on California’s primary ballot will feature large pools of candidates no longer subdivided by partisan labels. Only the two contenders with the most votes in each race advance to a showdown in November, even those from the same party. The rest go home.

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