Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Lyin' Bryan


Randy Bryce has been very positive during the primary, presumably because his opponent was a fellow Democrat. Now's the time to start playing little hard ball, which the Republicans have already done. This week I noticed that the DCCC-- which I don't ever expect much from-- have gone to bat for Randy. "Lyin' Bryan" refers to Bryan Steil, Paul Ryan clone who was handpicked by Ryan to try to beat Randy in November. One of the several corporately-funded PACs working for Lyin' Bryan released an ad filled with lies as soon as Randy had clenched the primary win one week ago. The DCCC was nice enough to send me the 4 lies at the base of the Lyin' Bryan ad:
LIE- "[Bryan Steil] has been a proven leader in Rock County manufacturing companies for the past 9 years"

FACT- Bryan Steil has spent the last 9 years exporting jobs from Wisconsin overseas. As a corporate lawyer working on mergers and acquisitions for Regal Beloit, Steil did legal work that allowed Regal Beloit to close factories in Wisconsin and across the country, causing countless hardworking people to lose their jobs

LIE- "Bryan Steil knows the budget process in Congress is broken, and needs fixing"

FACT- Bryan Steil learned all he knows about politics from Paul Ryan, who masterminded a broken process that produced the most devastating budget that this country has ever seen. Steil's own experience managing budgets hasn't been much better. Bryan Steil has demonstrated he’s willing to be a budget demagogue at all costs, even if it means cutting jobs and eliminating programs for small Wisconsin communities. In spite of calls to slow down a planned merger for UW Colleges and Universities until more concrete details were figured out, Steil called for the merger to go “full steam ahead.” Steil continued to advocate for the merger even after school officials said the plan would result in job losses and could jeopardize crucial programs for Wisconsin communities.

LIE- "Bryan Steil can be that fixer for a long term, process driven solution."

FACT- Bryan Steil will go to Congress for one purpose, to represent the special interest groups that fund him. In fact, Midwest Growth PAC, the PAC that released this ad, is funded by a shell company, so Lyin' Bryan can avoid disclosing all its donors to the FEC. He won't fix anything-- he will only fight for shady special interest groups and PACS.

LIE- "[Bryan Steil] is the outsider with real manufacturing experience to get the job done in Congress."

FACT- While his opponent, Randy Bryce, was working the iron in Wisconsin, Bryan Steil was working the DC swamp as a Paul Ryan staffer and practicing corporate law where he took jobs away from hardworking Wisconsinites. Steil is hardly an outsider-- as a former Capitol Hill staffer, he comes from a well-connected family, sits on the board of a nonprofit his relatives started, and has assets worth potentially more than $1.5 million. 
Goal ThermometerOK, who said this, the DCCC or Blue America? "Randy Bryce will be voice for working people who have been forgotten by their representatives, while Lyin' Bryan Steil will just be another rubber stamp for the shameful GOP agenda." Please consider contributing what you can directly to Randy's campaign-- no overhead, no consultants, no rake-off-- by clicking on the thermometer on the right. Ryan's Sheldon Adelson-funded SuperPAC has targeted southeast Wisconsin and the sewer money is already starting to flood the airwaves. Randy has raised some good money but his team is aware that they'll never going to keep up with the corporate PAC money that is being funneled into the Lyin' Bryan campaign. But Randy doesn't have to. He just needs to be able to keep getting his message out and keep fighting the slime and smear campaign that the Republican GOP is so well-known for. Remember when Ryan looked like he could be in trouble, he swapped out solid blue Beloit for... wait for it-- Waukesha.

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OH-01: Pure(val) Lesser Of Two Evils Politics


There's been a lot of silly talk by click-hungry pundits about how there's no blue wave coming. Unless, they're smart enough-- and they're not-- to be explain that there's no blue wave because it's actually an "anti-red wave," just ignore them and they'll slither back under their rocks. Ask a Republican incumbent if they feel a wave coming. Today Politico's Elena Schneider reported on how the wave is impacting once-safe GOP seats by focussing in on one, OH-01, a very carefully-drawn district which includes most of Cincinnati. She wrote that "Republicans who represented some of the safest congressional seats in their party for years are suddenly under intense pressure in 2018, with Democratic challengers threatening to overwhelm them in suburban districts where President Donald Trump has struggled." It's not the best intro for the post about OH-01 she wrote.

A little background: Ohio lost 2 seats after the 2010 census and the Republican legislature gerrymandered the state very effectively, The congressional delegation when from 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans in 2008 to 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats in 2010. Part of that was a flip in Cincinnati, The first district has basically the whole city (aside from parts of the affluent east side) and it's a Democratic city. The western suburbs aren't nor are the parts of Warren and Hamilton counties tied to the district to make sure it would elect Republicans. Romney beat Obama here 52.4% to 46.3%. But during the 2016 race the suburbs started shifting away from Trump. The PVI went from R+6 to R+5 and Trump didn't do as well as Romney did (51.2%) but Hillary was such a wretched candidate that she blew it and did worse than Obama (44.6%). The district, though, just rarin' to vote against Trump now.

Steve Chabot had been elected to Congress in the massive 1994 red wave. The 2006 blue wave shook Chabot up but he managed to hold onto his seat, narrowly-- 52.2% to 47.8%. Two years later, in the general, the blue wave was extended and Chabot lost to conservative Democrat Steve Driehaus, 155,455 (52.5%) to 140,683 (47.5%). Dreihaus, former minority whip of the state House, was an unimpressive congressman, an anti-Choice jackass unable, for obvious reasons, to inspire the Democratic base... so they didn't bother showing up for him in 2010. He voted the way the DC Democratic leadership determined a Democrat in a purple district should vote, GOP-lite. In 2010, Chabot wanted his old seat back. 103,770 (51.5%) voters agreed while just 92,672 of the 140,683 voters who had swept Driehaus into office 2 years earlier made their way to the polls. Why bother to re-elect an inauthentic Democrat who was just voting with the Republicans anyway. Too bad the DC Dems are incapable of learning anything from that.

This cycle, Hamilton County clerk, Aftab Pureval, was unopposed in the primary. His website indicates he's the kind of Democrat who will be playing defense rather than offense, working to protect the status quo rather than pushing forward with a progressive agenda. He's definately running a Republican-lite campaign that would make any progressive want to puke. If he wins it's because of the anti-red wave and because of the related Trump-exhaustion. Schneider asserts he's outraging and out-working Chabot. (As of the June 30 FEC reporting deadline, Pureval had raised $1,569,432 to Cahbot's $958,196.) He refused to sit down for an interview with Politico for Schneider's story.

NRCC chair Steve Stivers (R-OH) did the interview instead. "It just took a little while to get him, you know, built back up and run a race because he hasn't been targeted since 2010, and he won pretty comfortably then. But Steve never lost touch with his constituents and that's why he's in good shape... now [he] has his organization up and humming the way he used to when he was in tough races." Schneider wrote that "Another national Republican strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly, had a harsher assessment: 'The question is, can some of these incumbents, including Chabot, be defossilized?'"
Pureval is pitching himself as an independent voice to voters in Chabot's district. "As a Democrat, I reduced the size of government and saved the taxpayers nearly $1 million," Pureval said in an interview with Politico, echoing his first round of TV ads.

He is running like a lot of red-district Democrats across the country. Pureval, who got his start in politics as student body president of Ohio State University, has vowed not to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker and rejected some proposals popular among liberals-- like Medicare-for-all or abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Pureval also found some room for agreement on trade with Trump, with an eye toward the 51 percent of the district that voted for him in 2016.

"American workers have been getting a raw deal for a very long time," Pureval said, while adding that he thought Trump's approach to trade deals has been "ham-fisted."

Those attitudes aren't putting off Democratic voters hopeful of notching a win. "Being less partisan is a good thing around here," said Keri Arinsmier, a 36-year-old voter who showed up to Pureval's recent opening of a field office in Warren County. "This guy is a shooting star of a candidate because he's practical," said Valerie Naughton, another Warren County voter.

And Republicans acknowledge a close race is brewing. "Chabot is a name brand and Aftab is the new product on the market," said Mark Weaver, a Republican consultant in the state. "It'll come down to the west side of Cincinnati, who know Chabot well, but you also can't deny the Democratic enthusiasm."
Pureval's-- and the DCCC's-- theory of the race is that Democratic voters will have no choice but to vote for him no matter how crappy and uninspiring he is because they hate Trump and his rubber-stamps, like Chabot, so much. That gives Pureval the space to take Democrats for granted and just go after Republican-leaning independents and moderate Republicans. There are garbage candidates like Pureval-- lesser of two evils-- wherever the DCCC was able to prevail in the nominating process. What they don't understand is that no matter how right-of-center their policy agenda is, the Republicans will call them the most far left candidate in the history of the known universe and that no matter how much they shame themselves and make fools of themselves by denouncing Nancy Pelosi, the Republicans will always denounce them as Pelosi-puppets.
Pureval's positioning reflects Democrats' knowledge that it won't be easy to turn this seat blue. Former Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke called Chabot "a very dangerous candidate who has surprised people with the races he's won before."

But Burke added that the district was "designed to ensure that Chabot be protected, [and] he's not protected in the same way anymore."

The 2016 election foreshadowed the district's new competitiveness: While Trump romped to a 9-point victory in Ohio, he got a lower share of the vote in Chabot's 1st District than Mitt Romney did in 2012, when Romney lost the state to former President Barack Obama.

That happened in only one of Ohio's 11 other GOP-held districts: the 12th District, a longtime Republican stronghold where the GOP flirted with a disastrous defeat in a recent special election before pulling out a narrow lead that is still awaiting certification, with provisional ballots still being tallied in the Columbus-area district.

"That was a huge indicator of what's to come in the suburbs," said former Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus. "The turnout you saw in Franklin and Delaware counties, and voters moving very strongly toward the Democratic candidates, tells you a lot about the mood out there."

Chabot's campaign panned talk of a Democratic surge in the suburbs, pointing to the raw vote total in the May primary, when 20,000 more Republicans voted in the primary than Democrats.

Pureval is seeking to emulate Driehaus, who unseated Chabot in the last Democratic wave election in 2008. "Those populations shifts, happening late in the decade, 2008 and 2018, the tremendous advantage Chabot once had isn't there anymore," Driehaus said.

But Chabot and his campaign see a key difference in the 2018 campaign, believing that Pureval is the "most liberal candidate I've ever had," the Republican told the Cincinnati Enquirer in August, making him "so much more vulnerable." Pureval, unlike Driehaus, is pro-abortion rights.

Chabot's campaign spokesman Cody Rizzuto called Pureval a "far-left liberal," adding that he's "confident the voters will soundly reject his extremist views and associations."

Chabot is also taking his argument to the airwaves, attacking Pureval for his tenure at the Hamilton County clerk's office. The ad shows a clip of Pureval saying, "The era of political patronage-- of 'it's more important who you know than what you know'-- is over." Then, a narrator cuts in and says, "Aftab broke that promise on his very first day in office.

"He started firing longtime employees and used your tax dollars as hush money to buy their silence. Aftab replaced them with his own political cronies, including the son of the Democratic Party chairman."

Pureval's campaign responded with its own ad, calling the attacks "simply [not] true," adding that "it's not surprising that Chabot is running a negative campaign."

"He's a politician who's been in Congress for 22 years and has little to show for it," the narrator of Pureval's ad continued.
Predictions: Pureval will win and be as uninspiring a congressman as Driehaus was, and then lose in 2022, since 2020 will be another good cycle for Democrats.

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What to Expect from a Kavanaugh Court: Government-Funded "Religious" Education


Image: plherrera via Salon

by Gaius Publius

“There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”
—Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

This begins a short series detailing the radical changes to the way our government operates — changes to its constitution if you will — that will be force on the nation by an unelected Supreme Court containing Brett Kavanaugh as the final piece of a 5-4 radical majority.

The list of these changes is long and frightening. They include:
And finally:
  • Conversion of the country, to the greatest extent Court rulings make possible, into Charles Koch's ideal libertarian paradise
That's a hefty, scary list, especially the last, which will not be difficult at all to document. For a hint at what the "Koch network" (author Nancy MacLean's phrase) has planned for America, consider just some of the constitutional amendments they want to pass at the Constitutional Convention they're pushing so hard to create.

Some items on the list above may look small and "manageable," but others are too huge even to contemplate. Striking down Roe v. Wade will turn all states but the most liberal into virtual back alley abortion dens, a horrifying, deadly thought. I've dealt with the assault on the regulatory state in a preliminary way and will have more on it later. But needless to say, striking down the general right of the Executive Branch to regulate commerce at all will reverse the New Deal almost in its entirety.

Consider the nation which those changes will create; then consider the nation's response, once the voters, all of them, realize how much has been lost, been given away, never to be gotten back. 

So let's look briefly, one at a time, at these aspects of a "Kavanaugh Court" — a 5-4 radical right-wing-majority Court — starting with religion and religious education, which are intertwined.

The Kavanaugh Court on Religious Education

When Kavanaugh is confirmed and seated, brace yourselves. Get ready for a series of 5-4 rulings that enshrine giving government money to religious schools, especially those espousing virulent forms of what is inaccurately called "fundamentalism." Betsy DeVos' stiffled dream, in other words, will be fulfilled from the bench.

For a taste of how that would work, consider this piece from the New York Times:
Kavanaugh Could Unlock Funding for Religious Education, School Voucher Advocates Say

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, in a speech last year, gave a strong hint at his views on taxpayer support for religious schools when he praised his “first judicial hero,” Justice William Rehnquist, for determining that the strict wall between church and state “was wrong as a matter of law and history.”

Mr. Rehnquist’s legacy on religious issues was most profound in “ensuring that religious schools and religious institutions could participate as equals in society and in state benefits programs,” Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to succeed Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, declared at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research organization.

Words like that from a Supreme Court nominee are breathing new life into the debate over public funding for sectarian education. Educators see him as crucial to answering a question left by Justice Kennedy after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for the state of Missouri to exclude a church-based preschool from competing for public funding to upgrade its playground: Can a church-school playground pave the way for taxpayer funding to flow to private and parochial schools for almost any purpose?
The answer to the last question is yes.

The purpose of that flow of funds would not be to ensure that a broad spectrum of religious ideas get funded — imagine the response from conservatives, for example, if a large group of Muslim madrassas were funded by the U.S. government or one of the states. That response would be like the response from whites if a large group of blacks in, say, Alabama exercised their Scalia-minted Second Amendment rights and took open-carry to the streets.

The purpose of that new funding would be to "save the nation" by creating an army of politically active fundamentalist true believers. 

"Confront the culture to advance God's Kingdom"

Voucher programs like the ones conservatives advocate exist to give government money to schools at the intersection of "libertarian" ideology and fundamentalist religious beliefs — schools like those that Dept. of Education secretary Betsy DeVos would like use tax dollars to finance.

The Times again:
Scott Sargrad, the managing director of primary and secondary education policy at the liberal Center for American Progress, wrote that while Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s school voucher agenda has not gained traction, “if confirmed, Kavanaugh may be the solution to her problems.”

“It is not a stretch to imagine a series of 5-to-4 decisions that slowly decimate public education in favor of voucher schemes,” Mr. Sargrad wrote.

Ms. DeVos has been among the most vocal critics of the legal prohibitions on parochial school vouchers. In a speech to leaders of religious schools this year, she called the prohibitions — born out of anti-Catholicism — “the last acceptable prejudice” that “should be assigned to the ash heap of history.”

Ms. DeVos has stalled in her efforts to create a $1 billion school voucher program, but after the Trinity decision, she has moved to loosen regulations that exclude religious colleges from participating in federal aid programs.
Here's Ms. DeVos belief about the mission of education: “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”

DeVos wants to devote government dollars to that mission. And that's the mission a Kavanaugh Court will enshrine into law. Just one of many reasons confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would be a generational disaster for a nation already in crisis.


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I still have some wealthy friends from when I was, as Andy Paley always called me, Corporate Howie. These friends are rich but progressive. I had lunch with 4 of them the other day and they said they'd like to do a fundraiser for Beto O'Rourke. Running in Texas-- with all those media markets-- costs a fortune. When Ted Cruz ran in 2012, he spent $14,031,864-- mostly in the Republican primary. Democrat Paul Sadler spent $510,439. Cruz won with around 57% of the vote and Sadler barely cracked 40%. So far this cycle (at least as of June 30), Cruz had raised $23,365,836 and Beto brought in $23,332,950. So my friends proposed during a high-dollar fundraiser fro him on the West Side. They said t it would be a six figure night. That's a big deal. I called Beto. Thanks but no thanks; I'm staying in Texas. Smart move. And except when he absolutely has to go to DC to vote of something important, he's in Texas, Texas, Texas, spending his time talking with people who sometimes say they haven't seen a Democrat since LBJ or Ann Richards. "In June," wrote Anne Petersen, "he completed a tour of all 254 counties in Texas before heading right back out on the road to do it again. The campaign proudly employs no pollsters or traditional consultants; until very recently, they’ve rejected the traditional wisdom of focusing money on television advertising. They reject PAC money, even from Democratic funding sources. Instead, they lean heavily on small donations, first-time donations, and Facebook, where livestreams from the campaign trail regularly attract between 20,000 and 80,000 viewers."

He's working it and he's working it hard: "You’ve got to work to sweat! Ted Cruz don’t sweat like Beto does!... [Beto's] energy is palpable, infectious; his sweat is the physical evidence of that energy leaving his body. And it seems to be working." He's pulled even with Cruz in the polls. I even saw one last week that had him two points ahead!

Blue America first endorsed him in 2012 when he ran against entrenched status quo Democrat Silvestre Reyes in El Paso. In a 5 person primary, Beto avoided a runoff by beating Reyes 23,248 (50.5%) to 20,427 (44%). This cycle he decided to take on Cruz and we endorsed him again. On Sunday Anne Petersen did an exhaustive piece, Beto O’Rourke Could Be The Democrat Texas Has Been Waiting For, on the bet Beto is making that grassroots energy can beat corporate dollars. During an event in Texas Hill country, long a Republican stronghold, she wrote that "By the time O’Rourke reaches the peaks of his stump speech in Kerrville-- advocating for better treatment of Texas’s teachers, arguing for universal health care, and decrying family separation at the border-- his shirt is full-on stuck to his back, and the crowd feels ready to ignite. When he announces that he hasn’t taken any money from PACs, instead raising $10.4 million (with an average donation of $33) to Cruz’s $4.6 million over the last quarter, the audience explodes."

A politician’s stump speech has the same effect as a good sermon. For those who already believe, it reenergizes the faithful. But a truly great stump speech also appeals to the skeptic-- and provides moments of near-spiritual conversion. That’s what a Beto O’Rourke speech does. It makes people believe: believe that the country doesn’t have to feel the way it does right now, that people who think differently can still have a conversation, that you can be conservative and vote for a candidate without an “R” beside their name. While we’re 30 years removed from the election of a Democrat like Ann Richards to run the state-- current governor Greg Abbott is a hardline conservative-- a Beto O’Rourke speech makes people believe that a Democrat can win a major statewide race in Texas again. And these believers can help make it happen.

...[Beto's] campaign philosophy is appealing, but it’s also contingent on the idea that the more people who hear O’Rourke’s message-- no matter how red the county, no matter how rural-- the more they’ll spread it for him. Yet the campaign faces a daunting reality: To win, O’Rourke has to spread that Beto message in a way that doesn’t just energize Democrats and attract moderates, but activates millions of voters-- many of them black and Latino-- who, for years, haven’t felt compelled to vote in Texas, either out of apathy or a feeling of futility.

That’s a problem that afflicts most of Texas, and flummoxes Democratic organizers. If everyone in Texas voted, the state would almost certainly swing Democrat. But not everyone in Texas votes. For midterm elections, barely more than a third cast a ballot. O’Rourke uses that low turnout like a motivating club: The state is 47th in the nation in voter turnout. The implicit instruction: It’s up to all of you to make us better.

O’Rourke may actually be the once-in-a-lifetime candidate his supporters claim he is. He has a distinct presidential aura, and there’s a certain romance to his campaign, as Frank Bruni recently put it in the New York Times, that has earned him an ever-increasing national following. “There’s a reason people compare him to a Kennedy,” Sam Hatton, who’s running a scrappy campaign for the Texas House District 71, told me. “And it’s not just those Kennedy teeth.”

...Like so many other blue-wave candidates across the US during these midterm elections, O’Rourke must convince nonvoters that voting actually matters-- that they have the capacity to change their own lives and the lives of those around them. Texas is an enormous and varied state, and one that-- no matter how purple its political demographics might seem-- still votes red. How many shirts must O’Rourke sweat through to win its heart?

...Back in 2012, Cruz, then an insurgent tea party candidate, won his Republican Senate primary by doing exactly what O’Rourke is doing now: crisscrossing the state, visiting even the smallest of towns. Texas conservatives generally prioritize preserving small government, “Christian values” with a focus on abortion, and the Second Amendment. Cruz’s tea party politics convinced them he was their man. But in the Senate, he became infamously unlikable, known for being smarmy and condescending; he wasted time with dead-end legislative proposals and, true to his debater roots, loved to grandstand. Cruz spearheaded the 2013 shutdown of the government over the Affordable Care Act. He antagonized Democrats and his own party: During Cruz’s unsuccessful bid for president in 2016, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham famously quipped, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Back in Texas, Cruz seems to have developed a reputation, especially among disenchanted conservatives, as a pompous politician who doesn’t really care about the state. “They hate him in Washington,” one Abilene woman who’d voted for him in 2012 told me. “So how’s he supposed to get anything done?” Multiple people criticized his use of his Senate seat as a stepping-stone to the presidency. Others told me that, well, they just didn’t like his face. And then there’s the way he’s kowtowed to Trump-- recently asking the president to campaign for him in Texas-- even after Trump disparaged Cruz and his wife, and insinuated Cruz’s father was party to the assassination of JFK (he was not).

If O’Rourke were running against a more beloved, or even likable, GOP incumbent, the race would likely not be as close as it is. But he’s not running against a likable conservative. He’s running against Ted Cruz. “I don’t think people are energized around the Democratic Party,” Hatton told me. “I think they’re energized around justice. And people around here? They just want a reason to not vote Republican.”

...O’Rourke adds that he was just reading Lawrence Wright’s new book God Save Texas, which explores the cultural and political past, present, and future of Texas. “I just read the passage where it talks about how LBJ was actually responsible for more liberal legislation than JFK,” he said. “Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, all that big-time, like, FDR-style stuff.”

“Remember how that person in Del Rio asked ‘How socialist are you gonna be?’” O’Rourke says, pulling ahead of a string of cars with Beto stickers, all headed toward Johnson City. “A while back, we were in this small town in West Texas, and someone talked about how Lyndon Johnson and FDR established the Rural Electrification Administration. That’s an idea that really comes from Texas populism-- that we’re gonna figure out how to do stuff that big business doesn’t see a profit in, or that small towns can’t do on their own.”

Two days before, in the tiny town of Iraan, O’Rourke had responded to a question about health care access in small towns by connecting it to the Rural Electrification Act-- it’s one of his favorite talking points. Back in 1936, the federal government provided federal loans to expand electricity to thousands living without it, effectively modernizing rural life across the state. It wasn’t a profitable enterprise-- the cost of extension outweighed the revenue from new customers-- which is precisely why government intervention was needed. “It’s not profitable for rural hospitals to come in here,” O’Rourke said. “But it’s necessary if we’re going to take care of each other. It’s one of the things that government is for.”

“I’ve been a registered Republican all my life,” the president of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce told a sweaty group of around 500, packed under live oak trees at a swanky winery off the highway. “Welcome!” came a yell from the crowd. “But I’ve never voted along party lines. I’ve always supported candidates based on their positions on the issues. And it was an easy choice for me to support Beto.”

When O’Rourke took the stage, he went over the same points about LBJ we’d discussed on the drive over: “We may be the ones to lead over the next six years,” he said. “Remember it was Lyndon Baines Johnson who declared a war on poverty. It was Lyndon Baines Johnson who shepherded through the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. And it was Lyndon Baines Johnson who ensured that those who had worked every single day of their lives could look forward to a retirement where they could be healthy and live a life of dignity through the Medicare program.”

At this point, his cadence started speeding up, shifting into a kind of football locker room rallying cry. “What if, in this state-- and these other folks don’t know their history, they won’t see it coming from us-- what if we led the way to ensure universal, guaranteed, high-quality health care for every American in every single part of this country? What if we led the way?” The crowd clapped through the entire second half of the message: for O’Rourke, but also for the idea that a vote for him could return the state, and its citizens, to their progressive, populist roots.

...If O’Rourke makes it to the Senate, it will be, at least in part, because voters just flat-out dislike Ted Cruz. But he’ll also owe his victory to those 10,000 volunteers and those millions of energized voters. As the 2016 election demonstrated, most Democrats don’t just want to feel political alignment with a candidate, they want to be enthralled. O’Rourke has generated so much enthusiasm and harnessed so much hope around him, and inspired the incredibly romantic idea that Texas could once again be, if not blue, then at the very least purple-- that things could be different. In that way, he’s not unlike another young, first-time, long-shot Senate candidate who grabbed the national imagination a decade ago.

That energy is different from what collected around Trump’s campaign in 2016, which was, and remains, rooted in exclusion: the idea that only some people deserve the freedoms and opportunities this country, at its best, can offer. The O’Rourke energy-- and that of the blue wave, generally, is about inclusivity: in the identities of the candidates running, in their messaging and policy positions, and in the attempt to get more, not fewer, people to vote.

Of course, national energy and support can only do so much to move the needle in a statewide race. In previous elections, the people who do reliably go out and vote in Texas have voted conservative. And Cruz knows it: At the Republican State Convention, he told a state senator that “November is about one thing: Turnout, turnout, turnout.” As longtime Texas political analyst R.G. Ratcliffe elaborated, “the party that does the best job of whipping up its base will win.”

Right now, that seems to be O’Rourke’s party. Their primary turnout (1 million) was less than the Republicans (1.5 million), but 27% of those who voted in the Democratic primary had not voted in the last two midterm primaries. “That suggests there are a lot of Democrats who usually don’t turn out for midterm elections who might be inspired by their anger at Trump to show up at the voting booth in November,” Ratcliffe explains. Still, for O’Rourke to win, he needs to take the rhetoric of inclusion and expand it into strategy, creating a coalition of voters who, even if their views line up with Cruz on abortion and economics, can’t abide the rest of what he and Trump stand for.

Objectively, it shouldn’t be this hard for a Democrat to win this race. O’Rourke shouldn’t have to sweat through this many shirts. But voter apathy is not a uniquely Texan problem-- and no candidate can persuade every potential voter to believe that their participation matters. What I saw on the ground, then, was O’Rourke’s best attempt to tailor his appeal to so many different types of Texans, including, especially, ones who don’t fall into the neat categories of Republican or Democrat. His message: You matter. Your town matters. Your problems matter. And to convince them, he didn’t alter his own message so much as alter the way he conveyed that he has been listening to their worries all along.

On the stump across Texas, it certainly feels like the “election of our lifetimes” that O’Rourke likes to evoke. The stakes feel so much higher than this one political office. At its heart, his campaign is less about vanquishing Republicans than regaining what had once, accurately or not, felt like the core of our national identity: that we are a country of decency, a place where people care for one another. For supporters of O’Rourke or any of the dozen other candidates hoping to make up a “blue wave,” taking back the House-- or the Senate-- has become a tangible means of returning to that understanding of who we are as Americans. Within this understanding, if O’Rourke wins, some piece of that identity will be redeemed. But what about the very real, even probable, chance that he loses?

For thousands of O’Rourke’s volunteers, people who told me that their political lives began when they woke up on the morning of Nov. 9, 2016, this is their first campaign. When they wake up after Election Day, if their candidate has lost, will those political lives and the energy that fuels them be over? It’s easy to convince people to fight a battle. It’s much harder, and requires a different sort of endurance-- from both leaders and those who support them-- to try to win a war.
Goal ThermometerThe thermometer on the right is all about helping progressive Texas candidates raise money. Getting Democrats out to vote is likely to help other Democrats running in November, particularly Democrats who are working their asses off and making sure voters in their districts know what they stand for and what they want to do for working families. Yesterday, one of Texas' best congressional candidates, Mike Siegel, who's taking on Michael McCaul is a gerrymandered district stretching from the exurbs of Houston into northern Austin, reminded me that he had been on the road with Beto. "I joined Beto for a town hall in Katy, Texas, about ten days ago, when over 1,100 showed up in a town that has a 'red' reputation. Local activists could not remember there being a gathering of that many Democrats in Katy, ever. It was a great opportunity for my campaign-- as a warm-up speaker, I was able to share my message, and sign up dozens of new volunteers. And it was a great opportunity for me as a candidate-- to hear Beto and his stories from the campaign trail, to observe his inclusive way of responding to questions. And to soak in his vibe: essentially, Beto's campaign is a love-letter to Texas, to all 254 counties and our diverse histories and perspectives.
"In the general election, I've distilled my message to two goals: protecting our safety net and restoring common decency to our government. The second point often resonates more strongly than the first. We are hungry for human decency, for discourse, for optimism and hope. And as candidates, we make that possible by showing up, in person, and connecting with voters in a human way. In my campaign, I've showed up to meetings in places like Brenham and Hempstead and Brookshire, Texas, and folks are amazed to see a Democratic nominee for Congress. At Beto's town halls, hundreds of people attend who are Republican and independent, but who are drawn to the inclusive atmosphere. He says, 'don't y'all know I'm a Democrat running for United States Senate?' And they say, 'we haven't seen a Democrat here in forty years, we wanted to see what one looks like.'

"What is happening this year in Texas is much different than a few years ago, when Wendy Davis ran for governor. She was an inspirational individual, but didn't have support up and down the ticket. This year, strong Democratic candidates are challenging for just about every seat, and at the same time the grassroots is stepping up. There's a lot of optimism in the air. We've just got about 80 days of hard work left to do."
Houston area progressive Dayna Steele told us that she's "been running on common good since day one early last year. Healthcare plus education equals jobs is resonating in the traditionally 'red' district that extends from the suburbs of Houston to the Louisiana border. And, I have an incredible team over the almost 8,000 square miles reaching voters not traditionally touched by Democrats (or anyone for that matter) and the response has been incredible. It is very exciting to be running in one of the reddest districts in the country for all the right reasons. To be on the ballot just under Beto, is the icing on the cake."

Dayna and Beto in Liberty, Texas August 12

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Gee, it's been a week or so since the news broke about that reported pedophile ring of Pennsylvania priests sodomizing over a thousand kids, and that's just the 1000 kids the investigation found out about. You know there's a probably ton more where those came from. You can read the graphic details, homemade church porn, whips and chains, and sodomy with crucifixes, at the provided link. Imagine a bunch of Jeffrey Dahmers in clerical collars who did everything but actually murder the their victims.

So, I've been waiting. I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for Republicans to get all up in arms about this. I mean, where's Pat Robertson? We all know this is the the kind of thing that causes things like Katrina and 9/11! How do we know? Pat Robertson told us so! Hell, every Republican knows by age five that, if two guys kiss somewhere, then, somewhere else in America, a bald eagle falls from the sky deader than a doornail. That's just fact in Republican World. So, what gives with their wall of silence? Surely, Republicans care about this, no? Where are the congressional Republicans running and tripping over themselves as they race to the microphones for a photo-op on this matter? Did Putin tell them not to?

Wheres's the mass demonstration tonight's meme alludes to? Where's Chick-fil-A on this? Is that freak in Colorado gonna stop baking cakes for Catholics? Surely, Sean Hannity must be planning a big rally on the Washington mall to combat this just like he did with the evils of Obamacare! With a surname like Hannity, he must have grown up a nice little Catholic boy. Well, forget about the nice, but, you know what I mean. And, surely, President Crazy Pants must be tweeting up a storm about this! But, I guess the "Deep State" has found a way to intercept his tweets about the subject. And, don't call me Shirley. After all, I'm a guy.

I know! the righties must think this whole thing about pedophile priests is fake news! Alex Jones is right! All these horrors involving kids are just hoaxes pulled off by the mainstream media! FOX "News" is right! The sodomized kids are just child crisis actors, just like in Parkland High School!

But, you know... the whole thing gets weirder. You see, Republicans are still going on about some pedophile ring that Hillary Clinton runs from the basement of that suburban Maryland pizza shop that doesn't even have a basement! Why do they care so much about that but not but about not this? Will someone please ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders? I'm sure we'll get a straight answer from her! She's a Christian so she'd never lie about anything, would she?

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Do You Think Fox Is A Reliable News Source?


Lt. Col. Ralph Peters used to be a Fox News military analyst and was a regular guest. Fox loved him because referred to Obama as "a total pussy" in 2015. He stopped being a regular guest-- or even irregular guest early this year-- when he told his Fox colleagues why he wasn't interested in appearing on the station any long and why he was "ashamed" that he ever had. He said sticking with Trump despite the Russian collusion Fox was "wittingly harming our system of government for profit." He wrote in an e-mail to Fox employees that "Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed. Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration... When prime-time hosts-- who have never served our country in any capacity-- dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller-- all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of ‘deep-state’ machinations-- I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove."

Yesterday, Brian Stelter had him on CNN's Reliable Sources (above) and he went even further, going after Fox News with great vigour. "Fox," he said, "isn’t immoral, it’s amoral. It was opportunistic. Trump was just a gift to Fox and Fox in turn was a gift to Trump... it’s a closed loop, so people who only listen to Fox have an utterly skewed view of reality." He also called Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson "prostitues... what Fox is doing is causing real harm to our country right now."

Not a big Trump fan either: "As a a former Russia analyst, I am convinced that the president of the United States is in thrall to Vladimir Putin."


Conservative Billionaires Think They Can Buy Democratic Primaries-- Can They?


The day after the New York congressional primaries, geniuses in the mass media, including in New York City, were running around asking how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spells her name. They missed the boat on that one-- missed it entirely. Now they're missing the boat on another big story-- that Republican billionaires are spending heavily in Democratic primaries. They want to pick the Democratic nominees, just the way they pick the Republican nominees. I sent one of the smartest mainstream media guys a tip-off about it. His response was "hey man, will def take a look and give it some thought! maybe not today, buried. but this week. will be in touch." Let's see, that was on August 8 so it's no longer "this week," nor even the week after.

The money is being funneled into Democratic primaries by one of the shadiest conservative operatives in American politics, Nancy Jacobson who controls a network of SuperPACs through her No Labels/Problem Solvers outfits. I first noticed when she was up to when she dumped a ton of last minute sewer money into the IL-03 race pitting progressive Marie Newman against right-wing Blue Dog Dan Lipinski. Marie was winning the race when a tidal wave of Jacobson slime flooded the district, one smear after another. In the end all the No Labels garbage ads saved Lipinski's neck. He beat Newman 48,675 (51.1%) to 46,530 (48.9%). Who put up the millions of dollars for a Democratic primary? Republicans and conservative Democrats. One name I noticed today was in a letter from progressive candidate for Rhode Island Lt. Governor, Aaron Regunberg, running against a conservative Republican with a "D" next to his name, Dan McKee (who took $150,000 from the Walton family and from Jonathan Sackler, the big Bobby Jindal and Joe Lieberman financial backer and the pharmaceutical billionaire behind the nation’s OxyContin crisis. The name I recognized from the Wall Sreet billionaire campaign to save Lipinski was Tony Davis,m a Rahm Emanuel ally who founded and is president of Linden Capital Partners. He just dumped $50,000 into the relatively low-profile Rhode Island race.

"We think," wrote Regunberg, "this is just the beginning of the corporate dark money coming into our state to support Dan McKee... I’m proud to run a campaign that doesn’t take money from Wall Street, corporate PACs, fossil fuel interests, drug manufacturers or the gun lobby. We don’t have out-of-state millionaires and billionaires, because we have something more powerful-- the people. And in a fight with Big Money, the people can win."

I hope he's right because billionaire Republicans are spending big to defeat progressive Democrats in every part of the country. And that trend is accelerating right now. James Rupert Murdoch-- yeah, the Fox guy-- gave Jacobson SuperPACs to support conservative Democrat Darren Soto against Alan Grayson in their primary. Jacobson is also spending dark money in favor of Arizona conservative Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in her primary against Matt Heinz. Sad Horrifying that the DCCC and EMILY's List and the Republican billionaires-- including James Murdoch-- behind the Progress Tomorrow right-wing PAC, are all spending money against the progressive in the Tucson primary, Matt Heinz, and trying to bolster Kirkpatrick. So far they've spent half a million dollars to make sure the Democratic nominee is a conservative. Ironically, the ugliest and most vicious and untruthful of all the ads are from EMILY's List, a group that never used to but now absolutely hates progressive men even more than the DCCC or the GOP does.

Jaconson's web of sleazoid SuperPACs include innocuous-sounding outfits like United for Progress, United Together, Forward Not Back, Progress Tomorrow, Patriotic Americans PAC, Citizens for a Strong America, etc, but they are entirely funded by contributions from 5 and 6-figure right wing donors, such as Rupert Murdoch and his son, Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan Selig and Wheels Inc. executive Jim Frank. As of Friday they had poured almost $600,000 into the smear campaign against Grayson. Jacobson has already lost in primary races for right-wing Democrats John Morganelli (PA) against Susan Wild (PA) and against Debra Haaland for No Labels DINO, Damon Martinez in Albuquerque.

Darren Soto is exactly the kind of fake Democrat Jacobson, the Murdochs and other GOP billionaires want to see beat progressives like Grayson. Soto voted to prosecute all abortions as murder and voted to force women who want an abortion to undergo a humiliating procedure called "transvaginal ultrasound." Since being primaried by Grayson he's been apologizing for those votes, saying he "made a mistake." He hasn't apologized for the votes that earned him "A" ratings from the NRA-- twice. And because of those hair-raising votes, the NRA endorsed him. He voted for Trump-sponsored laws 58 times in Congress and both times impeaching Trump came up in Congress, Soto voted NO. The reason No Labels is so enthusiastic about him is because he has said that he is "open-minded" about phasing out Social Security benefits or eliminating them altogether, No Labels' top issue.

Meanwhile, Soto is one of Congress' most corrupt Democrats, well known for partying with lobbyists, spending taxpayer money and campaign money illegally on personal items for himself and his wife. He has even accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign support from Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her charter school allies. Generally speaking he's been a big waste of a solidly blue seat in Congress, accomplishing nothing for anyone... but himself. That compares badly with Grayson's record:

During a debate with Grayson two weeks ago, Soto claimed "to be a great champion of women’s rights," a lie Grayson directly challenged, bringing up the specifics of Soto's shameful voting record-- like voting twice to criminalize abortion so that doctors could be charged with murder for performing one. Soto had no answer... except to say he regrets those votes. He doesn't regret them enough to turn down the help he's getting now from the anti-Choice extremists who are flooding central Florida with lies against Grayson and nonsensical assertions of Soto's grandeur.

Goal ThermometerBlue America members have been helping Grayson with his election campaigns since 2006. And he's never let us down-- always one of the 2 or 3 best members of Congress and living up to his promises. He needs us again now. The primary is August 28 and he really needs to get on the air and respond to the lies Jacobson and Murdock are flooding TV and radio with. Please consider contributing what you can by clicking on the Blue America 2018 congressional elections thermometer on the right. As of yesterday another dark money PAC had bought ads on one of the big Spanish language radio stations-- one ad every hour until election day! That's called brain-washing. It's what fascists do; it's what Republicans do. Republican billionaires know their party is going to lose control of Congress in November. So they are working to defeat progressives and make certain friendly conservative DINOs become the nominees of the Democratic Party. We can't let this happen. It's our party, not theirs.

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Look At Jimmy Carter, An Admirer Of Jesus-- Now Look At Donald Trump, A Worshipper Of Mammon


I don't know a better observer of life in America's evangelical communities than author and filmmaker (and former evangelical) Frank Schaefer. He and I are both working on a project called VoteCommonGood, "an effort to dislodge control of Congress from the Republican Party by inspiring Christians to vote on November 6, 2018 according to what our faith tells us is the Common Good. This is the answer to the white evangelicals who put Trump in power and thereby demoted Jesus. We at VCG," he continued, "are brokenhearted and angry about the turn our nation has taken, and the role many of our fellow Christians have played in that turn in electing a thug. The Trumpism take-over of the Republican Party departs from America’s best norms and principles. This is lynch mob America, not Lincoln’s country. Trumpism is an affront to the teachings of Jesus. Put plainly, the Republican-led Congress lacks the moral standing to do its work as a check and balance on the Presidency. Vote Common Good is hitting the road in a 35 city tour to work for candidates out to flip the House, encouraging and equipping you to do your part to help dislodge Congress from Republican Trump enablers’ clutches and restore it to patriotic humane people."

Ice, Ice by Nancy Ohanian

Many of these white Christians are now regretting their Trump votes. They didn't sign on for endless lies, payments to porn stars,  crying children, and a Congress refusing to do its job. Significant numbers of these voters have changed. They are ready to say enough is enough. VoteCommonGood is working to help progressive Democrats reach out to them. Writing these voters off is understandable, but a critical mistake being made by Democrats across the board especially because the Republicans are also taking them entirely for granted. Speaking to these voters about shared values, emphasizing Democrats' ability to stop Trump when it matters most is attractive to some evangelicals who still put Jesus before Trump. On Sunday, Frank penned a piece on his own blog, Compare Jimmy Carter's Idea Of Christianity And Leadership To What Comes Next: The Republican/Evangelical/Trump Turn To Theocratic Fascism. Harsh!
Thirty-seven years after leaving office, Jimmy Carter, 93, still bypasses the wealth and perks that flow so freely to other former presidents. White evangelicals hate this Christian who lives like Jesus and follow a lying pervert as he demolishes American democracy.

The Republican Party is only in power and Trump is only “president”-- not because of the Russians, but because of white evangelical supporters. The Republicans ARE the evangelicals and vice versa.

Take Betsy DeVos. She’s a Republican, white and an evangelical leader. DeVos is also the first secretary of education with a $40 million family yacht that’s registered in the Cayman Islands to avoid American taxes. Just another unpatriotic white evangelical right wing thief, right up there with con-artists like Pat Robertson.

DeVos is today’s white evangelical ideal, not Carter. Humility is out. Honesty is out. Trump’s greed for money and power is in.

DeVos is worried about the government making “burdensome” demands on the for-profit schools run by Trump-like con-artists offering valueless “education” to those duped into giving them money for nothing. DeVos has stuffed her department with people from the for-profit education industry. The guy supposed to be overseeing fraud investigations is a former dean of a for-profit named DeVry University, which paid $100 million to settle a lawsuit over misleading marketing tactics.

That’s nothing compared to what comes next in the Republican Evangelical Trump turn to theocratic fascism: Kavanaugh will reverse Roe. Then the Gorsuch-Kavanaugh court will use the Constitution to ban all abortions, striking down state laws as a violation of a fetus’s “right to life” under the 14th Amendment. That’s the long-held plan antiabortion constitutional scholars have been pushing. These are the same people who have compiled the lists of potential far right judges Trump is appointing to keep his white evangelical base-- led by Franklin Graham-- happy.

Republicans in Congress and their evangelical sycophants are acquiescing in Trump’s corruption, his incitements to violence, and his abuse of power, up to and including using the power of office to punish critics; they’re even increasingly vocal in cheering him on. Republicans, white evangelicals and Trump are now one and the same.

Make no mistake: If Republicans still hold both houses of Congress after November Trump will go full authoritarian, abusing institutions like the I.R.S., jailing opponents and journalists on false charges, and he’ll do this with full support from the Republican Party and white Evangelicals.

Republicans in Congress must be destroyed in November for the same reason World War II had to be won. And the stakes are just as high. Republicans in Congress have made a coldblooded calculation that the demise of democracy is worth it if it means lower taxes on the rich and the freedom to pollute. Republicans are not just wrong but evil.

With Trump as the lens we’re looking through we’re seeing what the enabling Trump-Republican Party is made of: White supremacist, pro-billionaire, anti-environmental, racist and sexist fascism. American democracy will die unless Democrats take back the House.
As far as I know, the VoteCommonGood tour is scheduled to kick off in Bangor, Maine on September 29 and head to a big event with Rev. William Barber in Raleigh on October 5 via Syracuse, Scranton, and Allentown. After that, it's right into the heart of "Trump country," with events in West Virginia and Kentucky. There are lots of stops in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas and over a week in "red" parts of California. We'll be giving more information about this effort as the kick off date gets closer.

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An Anti-Red Wave Is Far More Likely Than A Blue Wave-- And That's Mostly What We're Seeing


The same clowns who didn't see a that Ocasio was about to eviscerate Crowley don't even understand that WI-01 is a key House race. Credibility: zero

Recently, Bill Maher invited Lawrence O'Donnell on his show to talk about Deadly Force a book he wrote in 1983 but that is about to be re-released with a new preface and afterward. The segment wasn't exactly electrifying but when Maher asked O'Donnell to predict what's going to happen in the midterms, O'Donnell was savvy enough to explain he doesn't knowing that his knowledge of electoral politics doesn't give him any special abilities to add to common wisdom. That kind of self-awareness is rare in his field.

On Sunday, CBS News ran a piece by their chief pollster, Anthony Salvanto, Democrats in stronger position to take the House: CBS News Battleground Tracker. But Salvanto ins't joining the crowd predicting an historic 50-80 seat flip, not even close. "Democrats have improved their standing in the fight for control of the House of Representatives," he wrote. "Our House model now shows the party poised to win 222 seats if the election were today, up from our estimate of 219 earlier this summer. The range on that estimate is plus or minus 11 seats, or 5% of House seats. It reflects the political reality that many contests are still toss-ups and that Republicans are still in a position to hold the House, if a less comfortable one. Even if Democrats' seat gains are in the double digits, there are plausible scenarios in which Republicans hang on to control."

That's the most conservative analysis I've read from any non-partisan source. In fact, the New York Post version of Salvanto's work on Saturday, CBS News pollster reveals why ‘blue wave’ is unlikely is even more dismal. I agree that there's no blue wave coming, but, unlike Salvanto, I see a massive anti-red wave, something he isn't considering.

His current thinking seems to be determined by his new book, Where Did You Get That Number?, the story of why the pollsters were wrong in 2016. "In 2016, a lot of us assumed we knew what would happen in Michigan and Wisconsin," Salvanto told The Post. "It was a great lesson for us pollsters: Even if you think you know what will happen, poll it if you can." Salvanto doesn't take Kremlin interference into account in Wisconsin and Michigan, something that Trump and the GOP have made certain could easily happen again.
Blame it on the Blue Wall. Since 1992, in six consecutive presidential elections, a solid block of 18 states had voted for the Democrat every single time. They would have given Clinton 239 electoral votes-- 89 percent of the way to victory-- if she had held on to them all.

Few bothered to ask those states’ voters what they thought, though. “Pre-election polling in the Midwest . . . just wasn’t there,” Salvanto said. When Trump knocked out Michigan and Wisconsin, two of Clinton’s critical Rust Belt supports, her Blue Wall crumbled.

Late deciders made the difference. CBS’s final 2016 poll gave Trump a substantial lead among voters who made up their minds at the last minute. In another Blue Wall state that went red in 2016, 10 percent of Pennsylvanians made their choice in the campaign’s closing week, netting Trump 97,000 votes-- more than twice his margin of victory there.

But that vital indicator was buried under the headline news from the same CBS poll that Clinton held a 4-point lead over Trump nationally.

“The horse-race analogy is compelling but it’s wrong,” Salvanto said. In racing, he pointed out, the distance already run gets your horse closer to the finish line, but “in a campaign, everything can change tomorrow.”

If voters see the election as a dynamic instead of a race, we can use polls the way campaign managers do: not as a crystal ball, but as a tool. “That means asking where a candidate or party is weak, where they’re strong, and which groups may be moving in what direction,” Salvanto said.

That’s why Salvanto is relying more on CBS’s ongoing tracking poll and less on random-sample telephone polling, ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

“That decision is very much informed by 2016,” Salvanto said.

A tracking poll sets up a panel of thousands of voters and returns to them repeatedly over months. That lets pollsters discern the factors driving voter decisions-- and gauge how attitudes change as the campaign wears on. In 2016, only two major surveys’ final predictions foresaw a Trump victory. Both of them-- from the LA Times/USC and IBD/TIPP-- were tracking polls.

“It gives us a great advantage in trying to explain the meaning of the poll results,” Salvanto said.

This year, the CBS Battleground Tracker “is concentrating on the districts that we think will make a difference,” he said. “Remember, in a midterm, you have to watch each congressional seat-- don’t pay attention to national numbers.”

Just as a presidential race is not a national contest but a collection of 51 separate elections (one for each state and for the District of Columbia), November’s midterm involves elections for 435 House districts and 35 Senate seats. The collective result will determine which party gains enough seats to control each congressional chamber.

“For pollsters, midterms are the most interesting and difficult challenge we face,” Salvanto said.

Not only must they consider 470 unique races, “there’s never more than a third or at best 40 percent turnout in midterm elections,” he noted. “So we’re looking for a subsample of a subsample” of voters.

...Salvanto’s polling currently indicates that few House seats will change hands in November-- and that the GOP could very well hold its majority in the House. “In this era, a district’s voting patterns from the past tend to stay that way,” Salvanto said. “Not as many partisans today are willing to cross party lines.” Of the nation’s 435 House districts, fully 85 percent will almost certainly stick with its current party affiliation come November, Salvanto projects.

Salvanto's model falls apart because, despite the fancy title, he doesn't really know much more about electoral politics than Lawrence O'Donnell does. These aren't living, breathing races for him, just theoretical numbers. Otherwise he would know and have factored in, for example, that Ed Royce (CA-39) had announced his retirement months ago and that the Orange County seat is open. Same for MI-11, where David Trott announced his retirement long ago, leaving an open seat. Salvanto doesn't know squat about the individual races beyond his theories. He doesn't understand the idea of taking who the candidates are into account and he doesn't understand what a wave is-- whether we're talking about a blue wave (which I agree isn't likely or an anti-red wave, which is coming, whether he recognizes it or not). He's the wrong person for the job he's got. Sorry, but numbers geeks are idiots when it comes to politics, whether they know how to sound bright-- he does-- or not.
“Overall, the districts in play tend to be more suburban and more affluent than the rest of the country,” he said. “But no single district will tell the national story.

“Right now I think this election looks like a toss-up,” Salvanto said. “We see a Democrat pickup in the House of Representatives in the 20-odd seat range, but Republicans could certainly hold on to the House.” The GOP holds a slim 43-seat House majority, with six vacancies.

“Even though Republicans have not fared well in special elections so far this cycle, it does look like they will be turning out for the midterms,” Salvanto said. “So far we do not see a large number of Republicans saying they will flip and vote for a Democrat.”

GOP voters in the past have been much more likely than Democrats to turn up and cast ballots in midterm elections, regardless of each party’s enthusiasm level ahead of Election Day.

So Democrats are literally betting the House on their ability to capture large numbers of voters who don’t normally vote in midterm elections. “They have to bring new voters in,” Salvanto said.

Democratic anger against President Trump gives them a shot at doing just that. “A large number of Democrats are contesting districts they have not contested before,” Salvanto pointed out. “That has new people coming into politics-- younger, more women, more ethnicities-- making for some interesting dynamics.”

But, according to his tracking poll, “voters say the Democrats need to do more than just oppose Trump,” he said. “They’re asking, ‘What are they arguing we’ll get if they take the majority?’”

A key indicator to watch is whether voters are thinking nationally or locally when they choose their congressional representative.

“I think we are picking up a shift of more voters looking to national issues,” Salvanto said, a startling departure from the old truism that all politics is local.

That’s another change that can be chalked up to Trump.

“Views of the president are a major factor,” he said. “The more intensely you feel about him, the more important you think the midterms are”-- a correlation that’s equally strong on both sides of the aisle.
Yep, Democrats will vote for Democrats and Republicans will vote for Republicans but what Salvanto doesn't take into account is that independent voters have swung strongly towards the Democrats and away from Trump and that that's the reason we are going to experience an anti-red wave in November.

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