Friday, July 10, 2020

Cook: Trump Is Dragging Down Republican Candidates With Him


Cook is usually a lagging indicator. They do not move on a dime. If they move a race from "leans Republican" to "toss up," it probably means you should expect a big loss for the GOP. Yesterday, Amy Walter, one of their top prognosticators, used the word "tsunami." It's July; I would interpret that to mean Cook foresees a mass GOP drowning in November-- an actual; threat to to basic well-being of the party's existence. This isn't just about swing states and swing districts-- you can start anticipating painful Republican losses in "solid red" states like Alaska, Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Montana. And that isn't just about electoral votes but about Republicans up for reelection-- or running for-- congressional and state and county legislative seats as well. "This election," wrote Walter, "is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue wave. President Trump, mired in some of the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency, is trailing Biden by significant margins in key battleground states like Pennsylvania (8 points), Michigan (9 points), and Wisconsin (9 points). He’s even running behind Biden in his firewall states of Florida and North Carolina."

She doesn't understand the difference between a Blue wave and an anti-red wave. There's no enthusiasm for Biden or the crappy party he "leads." All the enthusiasm is for stuffing Trump down a toilet and flushing. But the Beltway insiders will never understand that and will continue babbling like chimps about "a Blue wave." Fine, who cares; it ends up with the same results anyway.

Cook changed some of their electoral college predictions "to reflect this reality." All have moved towards the Democrats and all are laughably behind reality. Their best predictions are always the day after the election anyway. They move Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska’s 2nd district from toss up to lean Democrat. And Maine, which for whatever insane reason, was in the lean Democrat column moved to likely Democrat. Cook is so funny. They also moved Maine's 2nd district from likely Republican to just lean Republican. And she wrote that "Georgia has joined Arizona, North Carolina and Florida in the Toss Up column, although, at this point, Biden would be slightly favored to win at least Arizona and Florida."

Even Republican strategists she spoke with understand that Trump has now reached "a permanent loss of trust and faith of the majority of voters. In talking with strategists on both sides this last week, it’s also clear that Trump is dragging Republican congressional candidates with him as well. Plugged in strategists on both sides tell us that Trump is running behind in districts he easily carried in 2016. As one GOP strategist told us this week, 'I’d be surprised if any House GOP challenger is able to outperform Trump-- they are tied to him.' Meanwhile, Democratic Senate candidates-- even those in second and third-tier races-- are pulling in eye-popping second-quarter fundraising totals."

I spoke to a handful of candidates running strong in prohibitively red districts. Iowa progressive, J.D. Scholten, pointed out that his right-wing Trumpist opponent, Randy Feenstra "ran his primary campaign on the theme that he's best positioned to 'deliver' for Trump. But Trump's policies have systematically ravaged Iowa's farmers and rural communities in everything from the disastrous trade war to abuses of the Renewable Fuel Standard to corporate bailouts. Iowans don't need nor want another career politician who's beholden to corporate interests and afraid to stand up to power. We understand why folks voted for Trump-- they were looking for change and solutions, but unfortunately, that's not what we got. Our campaign is gaining traction with Trump voters, Republicans, and voters across the political spectrum because we're fighting for them: farmers, workers, and rural communities."

Goal ThermometerGeorgia progressive Lisa Ring told me that through her experiences she's concluded that the most dangerous thing we can do is assume we can predict political outcomes. "Every action," she said, "has the potential of harming or propelling a campaign but the ever-changing nature of politics renders an important development, insignificant within hours. In general, the failures of the Trump administration should be harmful to every legislator or candidate who remains loyal to it. However, it is what Democrats choose to do with the failings of the GOP that will make a difference. Or not.

"Simply pointing out that Rep. Buddy Carter is a Trump lackey who has followed his every direction in order to gain Trump’s official endorsement, is not enough," she continued. "Instead, I must remind the people of my district that Carter and Trump worked hand in hand to destroy the middle class, working class, and disadvantaged, by taking away whatever healthcare they had, letting small businesses fail, allowing our infrastructure to crumble, protections to be rolled back, and failing the millions of unemployed, as well as the millions of infected Americans who were provided no assistance and no leadership during a pandemic that is not even close to being over. 2016 and beyond, should have taught us not to rely on polls or predictors, but rather to continue to focus on the issues, and reach voters one on one. These times are unprecedented and we cannot sit back and analyze with numbers, beliefs that defy all reason. Instead let us hit the streets(virtually, if it must be) and connect truthfully to people who need answers and solutions to the very real problems they face daily."

Texan Julie Oliver shared something that has changed in a pretty big way since the 2018 campaign. "What we’ve seen over the last two election cycles is a growing number of 'independent' voters in TX-25. Some folks share that they’re former Republicans who have lost their party and will never vote for another Trumpublican, like Rep. Roger Williams, again. Sometimes we encounter these newly independent voters when we are phone-banking, or in the pre-pandemic world when we were able to canvass, but what we are seeing in this election cycle that really didn’t happen in the midterms is that many former Republicans reach out to our campaign unsolicited."

Yesterday, Astead Herndon wrote specifically about the Trumpist base in Georgia and Arizona being nonplussed about the GOP establishment Senate candidates. "Many Republican candidates face a perplexing electoral landscape this year, given that Mr. Trump’s conduct has endeared him to the party’s most conservative groups, but has soured some suburban moderates and seniors who are vital parts of any swing state coalition. These candidates are walking a tightrope, made more difficult by a voter base that doesn’t just want to elect Republicans, but rather loyal foot soldiers who take on Mr. Trump’s political and cultural enemies. It is the long-term political war over how Trumpism is best expressed-- not the short-term battle over Mr. Trump himself-- and how a party that has been driven by early-morning tweets for four years will seek to survive the next 40."
In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, a record number of House Republicans chose not to seek re-election rather than face conflict with the conservative base, and even a favorable Senate map saw Republicans lose in states like Arizona and Nevada.

With Mr. Trump on the ballot this year, it will be even harder for candidates to paper over the differences, and the uneasy relationship between the party’s most right-wing voters and the statewide Republicans like Ms. Loeffler and Ms. McSally who rely on their votes is bursting into the open.

Governors in both Arizona and Georgia are currently confronting this political challenge, after opening up their states’s economies at the urging of the president and those in the media who support him, only to face pressure to reverse course after coronavirus cases surged.

Polling also shows that Ms. Loeffler and Ms. McSally are underdogs in their respective races, facing an energized Democratic electorate in addition to their inner-party wrangling.

...A recent survey of Arizona voters from the New York Times and Siena College found Ms. McSally trailing her Democratic opponent, the former astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly, by nine percentage points.

In a recent Fox News poll of the Arizona race, just 73 percent of Republicans supported Ms. McSally, while 88 percent of Democrats supported Mr. Kelly.

“They don’t buy her as a bona fide very conservative Republican,” said Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Republican political consultant in Arizona.

The candidates’ struggles speak to how real divisions among Republicans have been obscured by Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016, and could erupt again should he lose in November.

...Several Republicans in Arizona and Georgia said in interviews that the problem is not with Ms. Loeffler’s or Ms. McSally’s messages, but whether the base is buying the candidates as authentic.  As a sign of their shared troubles among Republicans, some of the most negative publicity for both senators in the past year has come courtesy of Fox News, the cable outlet that is often sympathetic to the president.

...“The electorate has changed a lot,” Mr. Coughlin said, adding that the current Republican Party has “moved away from that narrative that people were originally attracted to. And in my view, has become one that’s reactive to the identity politics of the left.”

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah
We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.

-The infamous 14 Words slogan coined by David Lane, founder of the white supremacist organization known as The Order.
It's official, the KKK is broadcasting in plain sight, on national TV no less. Just compare the chyron in the screen capture above to the "14 Words" of the quote. KKK or FOX. Both stand for the same thing. I suppose we can be generous and give Tucker "Tiki Torch" Carlson credit for cutting the historic slogan down to his own "10 Words" or "best words." And, of course, for extra messaging, Tucker Tiki Torch combined his "10 Words" with the photos of two prominent non-caucasian American women who were elected to office by their constituents, one a Representative, the other a Senator. He literally called them vandals in order to terrify his republican audience. He even manages to verbally add his ongoing questioning of their patriotism, evilly and cynically glossing over the fact that one of them even gave both of her legs for this country. For this Mr. Tiki Torch says she doesn't love America. As an extra measure of his miniscule brain power, the irony of Tucker Tiki Torch preaching the gospel of the draft-dodging Cadet Bone Spurs while so denigrating a woman who sacrificed so much doesn't even occur to him or anyone else at FOX.

It's not like we needed any more evidence of the Murdoch family mission but FOX "News" is getting bolder by the week. No doubt they are operating in concert with our white supremacist president. We already know Traitor Don hires FOX "News alumni, talks directly with the current FOX people and has stepped up his white supremacist rhetoric, even channeling the words of Adolf Hitler in two speeches this past weekend as he decried, just like Tucker Tiki Torch, the very existence of the notion that Black Lives Matter. FOX "News" and the White House feed on each other's negativity, nihilism, and, most of all, racism. This is a Republican team approach. Already, many Republicans are talking up their Tiki Torch god as "presidential material" for 2024. This is who they are. This is the Republican Party brand, their platform is built on this.

The ratings for the Tucker Tiki Torch show are rising. Every night now, Mr. Tiki Torch sits there on camera and whines into the homes of America like some adolescent Grand Wizard. Republicans flock to their TVs for comfort and reassurance that someone is in their corner, a dark, dank, fetid, stinking corner at that. It's only a matter of time before Tucker Tiki Torch takes a pillow case from his last remaining sponsor, the My Pillow guy, cuts a couple of eye holes in it, puts it over his head, and broadcasts his show to the rapturous cheering and applause from every republican in the land. The rest of the FOX "News" staff will follow Tucker and President Trump in goose step. Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham will be kicking themselves for not doing the broadcasting in a hood thing first, even though they've obviously thought about it for years. If the current president gets another four years, the Murdochs will be giving him at least an hour of his own every night to read from his legendary well-worn book of Adolf Hitler's speeches.

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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Trump And His Enablers Are Making Everything Worse-- And Now It E


5-Watt Bulb by Nancy Ohanian

Getting COVID-19 can be extremely serious to your health, even if you don't die. NPR rerouted yesterday that as the pandemic continues, we're learning more about what it means to survive the disease. "For many patients who fall seriously ill, the virus' impact does not end upon discharge from the hospital. Some are struggling with a host of residual symptoms and challenges... Even two to three months after leaving the hospital... many patients who were seriously ill have only recovered a fraction of their former strength. Some suffer from daunting neurological challenges as well."

What we don't know is where this leads for these people. Obviously no one knows what happens a year or ten years from now. Will people recover over time? But we do know this: "The amount of inflammatory response that [the virus] creates that causes significant damage in various organs of our body is unprecedented."

That said, the last thing we need is untrustworthy politicians consumed with their own careers, making decisions for society. Public health experts should be making these calls, not slime like Trump or, in California, Gavin Newsom. This week, the L.A, Times reported that 77% of Californians worry that they could come down with the disease and that a significant number of residents believe Newsom reopened the state's economy too early. Here in L.A., as the surge of cases started rising, it became harder and harder to get tested. Last month was a breeze. I don't know if it's Mayor Eric Garcetti or Newsom pulling the strings, but now it's virtually impossible.

Neo-liberals behaving like Republicans is pretty depressing-- although not something that should surprise anyone who knows anything about Newsom besides that fact that in the gayest city in America he was pro-LGBTQ. Yesterday Bloomberg News reported how another always disappointing neo-liberal, Joe Biden "will call for a moderate approach toward reviving the U.S. economy if elected president that includes spurring manufacturing and encouraging innovation, shelving for now the more ambitious proposals pushed by progressive Democrats." Wow-- and the same day the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Forces submitted recommendations to the DNC Platform Committee and to Biden directly on working together on key economic policies. No one can ever say DWT didn't warn you from day-one that the only sack of putrid shit worse than Biden was Trump.

And meanwhile, California is bracing for a spike in coronavirus deaths, which is what inevitably follows big increases in infection rates. On Tuesday, California reported another 8,631 confirmed new cases (7,277 cases per million Californians). Wednesday it was another 8,561 (7,493 cases per million). Today another 7,248 cases (7,677 per million residents). Or, as the L.A. Times put it, "New coronavirus cases roughly doubled in California over the last month. Hospitalizations have soared 88%, filling some medical centers close to capacity. Now, public health officials are bracing for the grimmest phase of the cycle: a spike in COVID-19 fatalities... Experts say it can take three to four weeks after exposure to the virus for infected people to become sick enough to be hospitalized, and four to five weeks after exposure for some of the most vulnerable patients to die from the disease.
More younger people are also testing positive for the virus, a trend that has become apparent as the economy has reopened and working-age adults returned to jobs and resumed social gatherings.

Early in the pandemic, in March, about half of California’s new infections were identified among people ages 18 to 49, a Times data analysis found. In June, as the number of new cases began to climb sharply, that share increased to nearly 62%. So far in July, roughly 65% of new infections have been diagnosed among those 18 to 49. That’s despite the fact that just 45% of Californians fall into that age range.

“These are individuals who tend not to be as likely to get serious disease or require either hospitalization or to die from COVID-19,” said Timothy Brewer, professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCLA. “So particularly the 18- to 50-year-old age group is a group that has relatively low mortality rates, but there has been a big surge in infections.”
These kids today! Judd Legum's PopularInformation explained how Facebook and YouTube have been masking reality. Despite all the scientific proof that masks are the only viable option we have to slow down the pandemic, both platforms keep disseminating false information about masks being useless or even harmful. After all, the Republican Party has spent 2 decades and countless amounts of money persuading people with low IQs that science is their enemy and not to be trusted. Now they think some moron with a MAGA hat on YouTube is a better person to get medical advise from than a professional or, God forbid-- expert. Only 65% of Americans say they were masks "most of the time" when inside a business.

"How," asked Legum, "did so many Americans become misinformed about the efficacy of masks? Some of the confusion is driven by Trump, who has refused to wear a mask publicly and questioned their efficacy. He has also resisted calls to impose a national mask mandate. Another factor is that false information about masks is proliferating on social media. Facebook and YouTube announced strong policies banning misinformation about COVID-19 transmission and prevention. The platforms recognize this kind of misinformation puts lives at risk. But these policies are not being effectively enforced, exposing millions to false and dangerous information.
[O]n June 30, Ohio State Representative Nino Vitale posted a lengthy rant on Facebook that claimed masks "drop oxygen below danger levels in 5 seconds." The post was tagged #masksdoharm and #masksdonotwork. In just a few days, the post was shared more than 13,000 times across Facebook.  The claim that masks interfere with your ability to get enough oxygen is false. Christopher Labos, a doctor affiliated with McGill University, explains:
There are actually only two ways to develop low oxygen levels in the blood. One is to deliver less oxygen into the lungs, and the other is to impair the lungs’ ability to allow oxygen to diffuse into the bloodstream. A mask will obviously not impair gas exchange within the lungs, and the cloth face coverings advocated by public health experts do not provide an airtight seal that would impair oxygen delivery into the airways. Furthermore, masks are designed to filter out large particles, like water droplets, and cannot stop tiny molecules like oxygen that can infiltrate between the weave of any fabric...It is frankly implausible to think that wearing a mask is dangerous. Think of all the surgeons, nurses, anesthetists, and perfusionists that have worn masks during long operations and suffered no ill effects.
In response to a request for comment by Popular Information, Facebook removed Vitale's post and two others with similar claims. “We removed several of these posts for violating our policies against making false claims about COVID-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm, including the suggestion that wearing a mask can make you sick," a Facebook spokesman told Popular Information.

But the fact that these kinds of posts were able to make dangerously false claims about masks-- and rack up more than 13,000 shares-- suggests that Facebook's enforcement of its policy is ineffective. Moreover, Facebook left up two posts by Vitale that also claimed masks are dangerous, including a post from July 3, claiming "there is overwhelming scientific evidence showing masks actually do harm."

A Facebook spokesperson said this post did not make a specific enough claim about the harms of masks to be removed.
YouTube has been full of insane videos by Vitale and other Trumpist Death Cult freaks. When Legum complains, YouTube removes them, but when he doesn't catch them in time, hundreds of thousand of morons view them. Vitale is upper reelection in November, but the geniuses who called themselves the Ohio Democratic Party are probably the ones who admire Vitale's videos and screeds; they aren't bothering to run anyone against him. (They didn't even run someone against him in 2016 when the GOP refused to endorse him! Fed up, a high school student finally ran against him in 2018.) He's the chair of the Ohio House's Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Over 90% of his district (HD-85)-- Champaign County and portions of Logan and Shelby counties-- is white. The closest thing to a city is Champaign's county seat, Urbana (pop- 11,400); Gym Jordan was born there. Since 1856, when it was established, Champaign Co. has only voted for 3 Democratic presidential candidates, once for Woodrow Wilson (1912), once for FDR (1932) and once for LBJ (1964). Trump beat Hillary 69.2% to 25.2% and that should give you an idea about why someone like Vitale is in public office.

Vitale says he refuses to wear a mask in the Ohio House because it interferes with his religious beliefs. "This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles. One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask." Outside of his own district, most people consider him certifiably insane and more than a few people think also criminally insane, since he seems to delight in endangering the health of everyone he comes into contact with.

Ohio had another 1,250 confirmed new cases yesterday and 1,114 more today-- 5,247 cases per Ohioan. Vitale doesn't appear to give it a second thought, other than how to use it to boost his own career with far right extremists and GOP morons by whining about his liberty... liberty to spread the contagion far and wide with no constraints from society. This is a video he posted as part of his absurdist war against the Ohio Republican establishment.

Earlier today, CNN reported that Nino is at it again-- on Facebook, trying his damn best to cause more death and destruction in Ohio. Nino Vitale is a plague Ohioans brought on themselves. Facebook hasn't removed the series of memes yet, like these two:

The second is the kind of misleading pandemic news that Facebook has pledged to remove. What set nutty-Nino off this time was DeWine's new announcement of a mask mandate. "This is what happens when people go crazy and get tested. STOP GETTING TESTED!," Vitale shrieked. "It is giving the government an excuse to claim something is happening that is not happening at the magnitude they say it is happening." People will die in Ohio because of Nino Vitale and his sick brain. Voters in his district should take responsibility for defeating him in November by writing in someone else's name.

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What Happens When A Democratic Socialist Party Turns Neo-Liberal... In A Pandemic?


Not counting postage stamp-sized counties like Vatican City, Andorra and San Marino, Sweden has had the worst pandemic of any European country. These are the confirmed cases per million people in the dozen worst hit of the countries in the European Union:
Sweden- 7,312
Spain- 6,408
Belgium- 5,360
Ireland- 5,172
Portugal- 4,400
U.K.- 4,227
Italy- 4,005
Netherlands- 2,961
France- 2,596
Germany- 2,372
Denmark- 2,227
Austria- 2,055
Sweden's closest neighbor's-- Norway (1,651 per million Vikings), Finland (1,311 per million Finns) and Denmark (2,227 per million Danes)-- all fared much better than the Swedes. What went wrong in Sweden? They wound up with as many cases, proportionally, as Michigan and North Carolina. Peter Goodman, a NY Times European economics correspondent took a look into how Sweden became the world's cautionary tale and why their failed model should not be followed by the Republican Party. "Ever since the coronavirus emerged in Europe," he wrote, "Sweden has captured international attention by conducting an unorthodox, open-air experiment. It has allowed the world to examine what happens in a pandemic when a government allows life to carry on largely unhindered. This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better." If that sounds exactly what would attract a certain kind of officeholder. Do you know much about governors Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Greg Abbott (R-TX), Henry McMaster (R-SC), Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Bill Lee (R-TN), Brian Kemp (R-GA), Kay Ivey (R-AL), Tate Reeves (R-MS), Doug Ducey (R-AZ), Kim Reynolds (R-IA)? These are how many cases of COVID-19 each of these governors has given their states per million residents.
Doug Ducey- 14,922 cases per million Arizonans
Tate Reeves- 11,051 cases per million Mississippian
Pete Ricketts- 10,443 cases per million Nebraskans
Ron DeSantis- 10,419 cases per million Floridians
Kim Reynolds- 10,339 cases per million Iowans
Kay Ivey- 9,578 cases per million Alabamans
Henry McMaster- 9,499 cases per million South Carolinians
Brian Kemp- 9,785 cases per million Georgians
Kristi Noem- 8,186 cases per million South Dakotans
Asa Hutchinson- 8,366 cases per million Arkansans
Bill Lee- 8,198 cases per million Tennesseans
Greg Abbott- 7,919 cases per million Texans
Every one of them is doing worse than Sweden, but many of them are just getting started. Sweden "literally gained nothing," said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. "It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains."
The results of Sweden’s experience are relevant well beyond Scandinavian shores. In the United States, where the virus is spreading with alarming speed, many states have-- at President Trump’s urging-- avoided lockdowns or lifted them prematurely on the assumption that this would foster economic revival, allowing people to return to workplaces, shops and restaurants.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson-- previously hospitalized with Covid-19-- reopened pubs and restaurants last weekend in a bid to restore normal economic life.

Implicit in these approaches is the assumption that governments must balance saving lives against the imperative to spare jobs, with the extra health risks of rolling back social distancing potentially justified by a resulting boost to prosperity. But Sweden’s grim result-- more death, and nearly equal economic damage-- suggests that the supposed choice between lives and paychecks is a false one: A failure to impose social distancing can cost lives and jobs at the same time.

Sweden put stock in the sensibility of its people as it largely avoided imposing government prohibitions. The government allowed restaurants, gyms, shops, playgrounds and most schools to remain open. By contrast, Denmark and Norway opted for strict quarantines, banning large groups and locking down shops and restaurants.

More than three months later, the coronavirus is blamed for 5,420 deaths in Sweden, according to the World Health Organization. That might not sound especially horrendous compared with the more than 129,000 Americans who have died. But Sweden is a country of only 10 million people. Per million people, Sweden has suffered 40 percent more deaths than the United States, 12 times more than Norway, seven times more than Finland and six times more than Denmark.

The elevated death toll resulting from Sweden’s approach has been clear for many weeks. What is only now emerging is how Sweden, despite letting its economy run unimpeded, has still suffered business-destroying, prosperity-diminishing damage, and at nearly the same magnitude of its neighbors.

Sweden’s central bank expects its economy to contract by 4.5 percent this year, a revision from a previously expected gain of 1.3 percent. The unemployment rate jumped to 9 percent in May from 7.1 percent in March. “The overall damage to the economy means the recovery will be protracted, with unemployment remaining elevated,” Oxford Economics concluded in a recent research note.

This is more or less how damage caused by the pandemic has played out in Denmark, where the central bank expects that the economy will shrink 4.1 percent this year, and where joblessness has edged up to 5.6 percent in May from 4.1 percent in March.

In short, Sweden suffered a vastly higher death rate while failing to collect on the expected economic gains.

The coronavirus does not stop at national borders. Despite the government’s decision to allow the domestic economy to roll on, Swedish businesses are stuck with the same conditions that produced recession everywhere else. And Swedish people responded to the fear of the virus by limiting their shopping-- not enough to prevent elevated deaths, but enough to produce a decline in business activity.

Here is one takeaway with potentially universal import: It is simplistic to portray government actions such as quarantines as the cause of economic damage. The real culprit is the virus itself. From Asia to Europe to the Americas, the risks of the pandemic have disrupted businesses while prompting people to avoid shopping malls and restaurants, regardless of official policy.

Sweden is exposed to the vagaries of global trade. Once the pandemic was unleashed, it was certain to suffer the economic consequences, said Mr. Kirkegaard, the economist.

“The Swedish manufacturing sector shut down when everyone else shut down because of the supply chain situation,” he said. “This was entirely predictable.”

What remained in the government’s sphere of influence was how many people would die.

“There is just no questioning and no willingness from the Swedish government to really change tack, until it’s too late,” Mr. Kirkegaard said. “Which is astonishing, given that it’s been clear for quite some time that the economic gains that they claim to have gotten from this are just nonexistent.”

Norway, on the other hand, was not only quick to impose an aggressive lockdown, but early to relax it as the virus slowed, and as the government ramped up testing. It is now expected to see a more rapid economic turnaround. Norway’s central bank predicts that its mainland economy-- excluding the turbulent oil and gas sector-- will contract by 3.9 percent this year. That amounts to a marked improvement over the 5.5 percent decline expected in the midst of the lockdown.

Sweden’s laissez faire approach does appear to have minimized the economic damage compared with its neighbors in the first three months of the year, according to an assessment by the International Monetary Fund. But that effect has worn off as the force of the pandemic has swept through the global economy, and as Swedish consumers have voluntarily curbed their shopping anyway.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen gained access to credit data from Danske Bank, one of the largest in Scandinavia. They studied spending patterns from mid-March, when Denmark put the clamps on the economy, to early April. The pandemic prompted Danes to reduce their spending 29 percent in that period, the study concluded. During the same weeks, consumers in Sweden-- where freedom reigned-- reduced their spending 25 percent.

Strikingly, older people-- those over 70-- reduced their spending more in Sweden than in Denmark, perhaps concerned that the business-as-usual circumstances made going out especially risky.

Collectively, Scandinavian consumers are expected to continue spending far more robustly than in the United States, said Thomas Harr, global head of research at Danske Bank, emphasizing those nations’ generous social safety nets, including national health care systems. Americans, by contrast, tend to rely on their jobs for health care, making them more cautious about their health and their spending during the pandemic, knowing that hospitalization can be a gateway to financial calamity.

“It’s very much about the welfare state,” Mr. Harr said of Scandinavian countries. “You’re not as concerned about catching the virus, because you know that, if you do, the state is paying for health care.”
Sweden's Social Democratic Party is no longer a real socialist party and have adopted an ugly -liberalism and all the garbage that goes along with that. The once-proud socialist party has reduced the welfare state and aggressively privatized public services. Only a strong union movement has kept them from turning even further right. The party leader (and prime minister), Stefan Löfven, led his party to the worst electoral results since 1911 (28.3%) in the 2018 elections and now heads one of the weakest and least competent governments in Swedish history. Politically, he has no chance of surviving his bungled leadership during the pandemic. I hope the same is true for losers like DeSantis, Ducey and Abbott.

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Did You Ever Imagine Supporting A Nixon For Office? It's Hard To Imagine NOT Supporting Angie Nixon


Back in May when Blue America endorsed Angie Nixon for a Jacksonville-based state legislative seat, much of our decision was based on the wretched incumbent, arguably the worst member of the Florida legislature. Since then, we have gotten to know Angie better. Every discussion with her has confirmed my original impressions:
1- Angie will be an outstanding progressive leader in a legislature that doesn't have many
2- Angie would be an incredible candidate even if her opponent was not such a villain
3- Angie is going to win this race
The last time we spoke she told me that she hadn't been able to attend to any of her campaign duties because she had spent the whole day at the hospital dealing with her pregnancy. A few days later she told her supporters-- including me-- that she had tested positive for COVID-19. In an e-mail, she wrote that "It has been a very eventful June/July. Heck, all of 2020 has been one for the record books! I intended my latest email to be about how my daughter Natalie just turned 13, how I was organizing against the RNC coming just 4 blocks away from our smoothie/sandwich shop, how I am smashing it in my fundraising goals and have racked up A TON of endorsements for my campaign. Unfortunately, I come bringing pretty crappy news. My opponent just dropped a ton of her own money into the race, (very interesting to say the least)." Then the bombshell:
AND, I recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Since the outbreak, I have been wearing and advocating for the mandated use of masks in public spaces. I have traced my exposure back to someone that came within my personal space with no mask and tested positive prior to me.

Over the past few months, our state and community’s leadership in the response to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 has been a complete failure to say the absolute least.

As many residents in our community, I am a full-time mom, expecting my second child at the end of August. I am a small business owner. I work a second job full-time. And I am running for office to represent our community.

We must do better and mandate the use of masks so we can all stay safe and healthy.

My frustration is not just for me and my family. My frustration is primarily for those who don’t have access to quality healthcare. Those who can't afford a mask and those who do not have the means to travel to a testing site.

My frustration is for those who work at jobs that are not required to provide them PPE or have socially distant standards in place.

Goal ThermometerMy frustration is for people who can not take one single day of paid sick leave so they can be healthy for their coworkers and their families. The system is broken. And we must come together to fix it.
Blue America has endorsed 9 candidates for state legislative seats around the country-- out of the 1,972 state senate seats and 5,411 state House seats across the country. Angie is one of them-- and a future leader of Florida and the U.S. Please consider contributing to her campaign by clicking on the 2020 state legislative thermometer on the right.

NOTE: Angela is going to be on the radio with Nicole Sandler and I at 5:30 today (2:30 PT). Tune in.

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What Theory of Change Will Win the Progressive War?


by Thomas Neuburger

When the Social contract breaks from above, it breaks from below as well.
     —Yours truly

A "theory of change" in modern progressive parlance is the method by which one gets from A to B, from a world with employer-controlled health care, for example, to Medicare for All, a universal, government-controlled program. It's the nuts and bolts by which the goal is achieved.

One theory of change, if we keep with the Medicare for All example, may be to mobilize grassroots pressure via petitions, letters and demonstrations, then couple that with the election of so many House and Senate progressives that the bill would have to pass. Another theory of change would be to elect a strongly pro-M4A president (a Sanders, say) and let him use the hammer of the Executive Branch to pass the legislation. Or both. A third might be to elect a Medicare For All "practicalist," an Elizabeth Warren, who proposed taking the M4A path in a sequence of chunks, with phase two, the real move, occurring after the midterm congressional election.

But theories of change have to be likely, or at least convincing. For the Medicare for All example, the counter-argument would be that none of the first two methods has worked (witness the Sanders campaign, who lost to Medicare For All opponent Joe Biden), or will work (just how fast to do we have to replace those House members and senators again?). As for the practicalist, you'd have to believe that phase two would actually be likely to occur.

Collapse as a Theory of Change

I recently argued, with respect to global warming, for a theory of change that essentially surrendered the field, admitted that any "practicalist" solution was doomed to fail, and opted instead for that last hope of the desperate — massive, sudden events-driven change, the kind of chaos that, admittedly dangerous, might still open the door to previously locked-out solutions. (See "Poised on the Brink: A Tale of Hope and Change" for that argument.)

Thinking more broadly (as if climate destruction wasn't broad enough), a progressive theory of change would have to be able to head off the kind of electoral revolution that brought Donald Trump to power in 2016, or worse, the kind of extra-electoral revolution that a partial or total meltdown of the economy — with no solution in sight that wasn't pro-corporate — would cause. A real, national, in-the-streets revolt, in other words.

But not a Paris Commune–type revolt with barricades. More like a rolling mashup of George Floyd-Fergusson protests cum national rent–student debt strikes, dogged by police and FBI provocateurs, with a heavy dose of Boogaloo Boy anger and nihilism thrown in. Look again at the graphic at the top and see if you don't see a potential Boogaloo Boy in one of the shots. Those people are angry too, and we're making more of them daily.

What Does the Devil Say?

Horrible to consider such a route, chaos as a theory of change. Yet the "devil's advocate" argument that this is all we have left goes something like this.

The devil asks:

What's the argument that says what progressives are doing now to change Democratic Party leadership is working?

Today we have Pelosi and Schumer. Tomorrow we'll have, post-Pelosi, some corporate vassal running things in the House, and as president (if we're "lucky") an old pro-corporate conservative Party hack, a husk these days, whose policies will be driven by young pro-corporate conservative Party hacks eager to advance their careers "advising" him. 

To make things worse, much of his base will include anti-Trump Republicans, people who actually like him, and who see him as the Jeb! they never got, thus completing the transformation of the Democratic Party into the competent wing of the Republican Party.

On the opposition side, our high-profile progressive champion, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just bent the knee, calling Pelosi the "mama bear" of the Party, a comment widely noticed by the already disillusioned who had high hopes for her.

Looking at that landscape, where are we winning?

I'm not sure how to answer him. I'm not sure how to say, "It's working this way; it's working because of this."

I don't want to say the situation is hopeless (though others do). I just want to find a way out that actually works. Otherwise, we're left with "hope for sudden change" — a collapse that opens doors for everyone, the best and the worst — and the absolute last choice any sane person would pick as a way to fix the world.

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In Case You Haven't Noticed Yet, Trump Is Now Directly And Viciously Attacking Dr. Fauci; It Was Inevitable


USA Today reported that the news that the creepy Orange Menace will hold a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, this Saturday "has raised concerns among some local medical experts about what his visit will do to the relatively low COVID-19 numbers in the area. Compared to other states, like Florida and Texas, the Northeast seems to be managing the pandemic fairly well. Some fear a large, crowded rally will reverse that positive trend. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu urged residents to wear masks and practice social distancing at the outdoor rally. 'It is imperative that folks attending the rally wear masks,' he said." Sununu also told the media that though he's "going to go and greet the President as the governor, I will not be in the crowd of thousands of people, I'm not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people, if that's your question specifically. I try to-- unfortunately, you know, I have to be extra cautious as the governor, I try to be extra cautious for myself, my family." Sununu may well lose his reelection bid because of his strange refusal to mandate masks.

The progressive Democrat challenging Sununu this cycle, Andru Volinsky, was terse and to the point regarding the rally he obviously isn't attending. "I am calling on Gov. Sununu to publicly state that Donald Trump is not welcome in New Hampshire. The public health risks are far too great to use New Hampshire for a photo op."

In his NY Times column published around the same time Sununu was making an ass out of himself, David Leonhardt noted that "There is no country in the world where confirmed coronavirus cases are growing as rapidly as they are in Arizona, Florida or South Carolina. The Sun Belt has become the global virus capital. The only countries with outbreaks as severe as those across the Sunbelt are Bahrain, Oman and Qatar-- three Middle Eastern countries with large numbers of low-wage migrant workers who are not citizens. These workers often live in cramped quarters, with subpar social services, and many have contracted the virus."

These are Tuesday's and Wednesday's numbers conparing Sun Belt states' two one day increases of confirmed cases with the the 10 European countries experiencing the most severe spikes right now.
Texas +9,414 ---> 10,199
California +8,631 ---> 8,561
Florida +7,347 ---> 9,989
Arizona +3,653 ---> 3,520
Georgia +3,406 ---> 3,420
Louisiana +1,936 ---> 1,888
North Carolina +1,748 ---> 1,028
Tennessee +1,359 ---> 2,472
Missouri +1,135 ---> 755
South Carolina +972 ---> 1,557
Mississippi +957 ---> 674
Alabama +907 ---> 1,177
Nevada +876 ---> 516
Oklahoma +858 ---> 673
U.K. +581 ---> 630
Ukraine +564 ---> 807
France +475 ---> 663
Romania +397 ---> 555
Spain +341 ---> 383
Serbia +299 ---> 357
Germany +298 ---> 410
Portugal +287 ---> 443
Poland +257 ---> 277
Moldova +235 ---> 330
Trump lied (again) on Twitter, claiming, absurdly, that coronavirus deaths are "down tenfold." Someone in the White House forced the ignorant pig to delete the tweet. Trump also went on the attack against Dr. Fauci, belittling him and his assessment of the battle against the pandemic. Señor Trumpanzee to Greta Van Susteren: "Well, I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him. Dr. Fauci said don't wear masks and now he says wear them. And he said numerous things. Don't close off China. Don't ban China. I did it anyway. I didn't listen to my experts and I banned China. We would have been in much worse shape. We've done a good job. I think we are going to be in two, three, four weeks, by the time we next speak, I think we're going to be in very good shape."

Fauci on Monday had specifically pointed to "a series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up" too early as a key factor in the virus's surge and emphasized the US "should use the public health effort as a vehicle and a pathway to get to safe reopening."

"So we've got to make sure that we don't create this binary type thing of 'it's us against them,' " he said of public health efforts and the US economy.

"It's not. We're all in it together."

Trump conceded Tuesday that there are spikes in the virus in "some areas that looked like we were going to escape, that they were going to escape, and all of a sudden it became hot."

"But I think you're going to see with all of the things that we're doing, and with all of the therapeutics that are coming out, and then ultimately the vaccine, we're going to be in very good shape very soon," he claimed.

Fauci's assessment built on the stark warning he had issued to lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week, telling them he wouldn't be surprised if the US sees new cases of coronavirus rising to a level of 100,000 a day.

"We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned," Fauci told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

He specifically expressed dismay over people congregating in crowds and not wearing masks and inadequate attention being paid to guidelines on reopening.

"We're going to continue to be in a lot of trouble," he said. "And there's going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Ghislaine Maxwell, the one in the photo standing next to Jeffrey Epstein while emulating Michael Jackson for some reason, has been transferred to a dodgy prison in New York from her temporary quarters in New Hampshire where she was finally arrested. Not to worry, her new digs aren't the same as the one where Jeffrey Epstein breathed his last. She has been moved to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, a facility that, although new by appearance has been rife with environmental problems and now has an unusually high rate of COVID-19 cases. Maxwell is scheduled for a July 14th court date, emphasis scheduled. She faces charges of procuring girls as young as 14 for Epstein to abuse and we've all heard that he wasn't the only one. Gee, I'd love to see the contacts list on her personal pedo-phone! How many $enators and CEOs in that little treasure? Maxwell reportedly literally hung around outside middle schools scouting "talent." The court proceedings will be via video, not in person. That's a video that, depending on how events transpire, could be a number one seller! The Bureau Of Prisons has declined further comment. Prosecutors have said Maxwell, with her three passports, "poses an extreme flight risk."

Will she last until Monday? Numerous betting houses will quote you the latest odds. Currently, the odds of Maxwell being murdered are generally listed at 4 to 1 but I bet a lot of people of various corporate and political persuasions are hoping that the coronavirus floating around the Brooklyn MDC will find its target quickly. Until then, I'm sure her new cell has been provided with a noose or at least a few extra belts, a Make America Great Again smallpox blanket, or maybe a set of keys and a fully gassed up 1971 Ford Pinto getaway car waiting outside.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Florida Is Once Again At The Legal Vortex Of A Potential Stolen Election


-by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Florida has long been a vortex for stealing elections. Now a Florida-based legal case that is likely to go to the US Supreme Court could once again decide the presidency.

The case centers on how our votes will be counted in an election that will be conducted largely with mailed-in paper ballots. In particular, its focus is on electronic scanning machines that are in at least 80% of US precincts.

From a paper ballot, the scanners produce a digital image. That image can then be electronically read, yielding an overall election result in less than ten seconds. The paper ballots themselves are preserved for recounts.

But according to a lawsuit filed July 1, election boards are illegally choosing to discard the images. The plaintiffs want the courts to stop that.

Signed by three Florida Democratic legislators, the suit demands that electronic ballot images be preserved in accordance with federal law.

By federal law the ballot images are considered part of the public record and, like the actual paper ballots, must be retained at least 22 months. The machines are used in at least 80 percent of the nation's voting stations.

But many Secretary of States and/or State election boards around the country simply erase the images, allowing local officials considerable leeway in determining the vote count. In Florida, which has been notoriously fluid in the accuracy of its outcomes, only 27 out of the 67 counties that we know of are preserving the ballot images.

This suit was filed under the leadership of John Brakey, founder and director of AUDIT Elections USA, a nationwide election protection coalition specializing in digital imaging.

"These records called ballot images will help verify the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election," says State Representative Joseph S. Geller (D-Aventura). Geller is joined in the lawsuit by State Representative Geraldine Thompson (D-Windermere) and State Senator Victor M. Torres (D-Kissimmee) as well as Dan Helm, a candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Pinellas County. Geller said the destruction of these images is clearly in violation of state and federal law.

"Governor DeSantis has just signed a new law that allows digital ballot images to be used in recounts," says Susan Pynchon, Director of Florida Fair Elections Coalition, "and yet there is nothing in the law requiring the ballot images to be preserved for 22 months. This new law adds urgency to the preservation of ballot images as vital election records."

Says Brakey: "Florida been the scene of numerous razor-close elections, including the 2000 presidential election decided by just 537 votes and the 2018 U.S. Senate election decided by only 10,033 votes.

Preservation of voting materials has been a widespread problem. In 2004 the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civic organization sued the state of Ohio to preserve ballots for audits and a recount. Ohio’s then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner ordered all county election boards to bring all ballots and other related materials to a special repository in Columbus. The demand was supported by the federal courts.

But 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties failed to comply, claiming they were missing all or some of the necessary election material needed for a recount. There were no ensuing prosecutions.

Allen County claimed some of its materials got water damage, and then all were destroyed by a contractor. Guernsey County said a trash collector picked up the ballot boxes in error. The Mahoning County Board of Elections blamed environmentalists who "accidentally" picked up ballots when recycling. Hamilton County "accidentally" shredded its ballots. Holmes County took the "dog ate my homework" prize by claiming a carafe of coffee spilled on the ballots as they were stored in a vault.

Goal ThermometerIn Florida, 2018, Broward County "lost" 2,040 ballots. Brakey noted that the voting machine companies themselves have marketed digital voting equipment that creates ballot images that can help in "auditing and adjudication….Had Broward County saved their ballot images in 2018, the mystery of the missing 2,040 ballots could have been solved."

Florida defendants include the Supervisors of Elections in Broward, Miami-Dade, Duval, Orange, Lee, Pinellas, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough Counties, who say they have no legal obligation to save the ballot images, and admit to destroying them.

"The ballot images are a critical component for system diagnostics," said Ray Lutz, an electrical engineer who is one of the nation's top experts on ballot images. "If errors or discrepancies are discovered, the images are needed to pinpoint the source of those errors, whether it's faulty equipment, software bugs, or other external reasons.

"Ballot images can also be a check on the paper ballots," Lutz added. "Paper ballots can be modified with a pen, accidentally destroyed or inappropriately shredded. Having the original image created when the vote is cast protects against modification of the paper ballots."

Ballot images are public records that can easily allow anyone to verify election results. Some places, such as Dane County, WI, and San Francisco, CA, and 15 counties in Florida, provide ballot images with a public records request or post all the ballot images on their websites so that voters can verify election results for themselves.

“Unfortunately, at least one vendor has built a self-destruct mechanism into their voting systems that allows election officials to destroy evidence that is public records that can help determine if election results are accurate,” Brakey said. “Our success in this lawsuit will go a long way towards reducing cynicism about elections. Our country needs elections that are transparent, trackable, and publicly verified.”

Links to Case # 2020 CA 001238:

The Complaint Filing # 109701662, E-Filed 07/01/2020 09:55:22 PM

This Complaint with Hyperlinks to all Exhibits.

UPDATE From Howie:

I asked three of the most prominent Democratic challengers running for office, congressional candidates Adam Christensen and Cindy Banyai and Bob Lynch who is running for a Republican-held state legislative seat in a south Florida swing district, about the danger of election theft Wasserman and Fitrakis are warning about. Adam told me that "the largest election frauds that have occurred in history involved the incumbent governments (and dictatorships) burning the boxes of ballots so that no one could ever verify that the votes were counted correctly. This is the digital version of burning ballots to hide results. If you care about living in a democracy then destroying election results is something that we cannot allow to happen."

Dr. Cindy Banyai has been raising awareness on issues in Florida elections since earlier this year recognizing that the DeSantis administration could use the COVID-19 pandemic to suppress votes. "We absolutely need to check every process and ensure there is integrity in our elections in Florida. There are simply too many people trying to skirt the system and use the bureaucracy to eliminate votes. These types of backups are needed to dissuade any potential vote suppression and check any discrepancies."

Bob Lynch noted that "Of all the people who have been spot on about what is happening right before our eyes, there has been no bigger Cassandra than Jenny Cohn. She has been talking to everyone about this since At least 2018. I realize that the cable news stations have decided that Malcolm Nance and Sarah Kendzior are bad for business, but Jenny never even got on. She has written the manual on all of the different ways our voting machines can be hacked or compromised and yet nobody on either side seems to care. It makes you wonder. There is a Pulitzer out there for any half-assed reporter who wants to chase down this story. Follow the money and the patents."

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If The Democrats Win State Legislatures, Will They Gerrymander States The Way Republicans Do? Or Will They End Gerrymandering?


And it all depends on...

Sure, the GOP stole the racism issue from Democrats long ago and there is no longer any doubt which is the party of bigotry and hatred. But no one supposed to talk about it outlaid the way Trump does. And he's making other Republicans nervous-- not that minorities aren't going to vote for them-- they're not-- but that educated white people who don't like overt racism won't. Yesterday a team of NBC News reporters, Geoff Bennett, Peter Alexander and Carol E. Lee, looked into how this racism and divisiveness are playing itself out now.

They wrote that "Trump allies are telling him that he has a better argument to make and to focus on his accomplishments in office and offer sharp criticism of his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. But Trump is 'going with his gut' and 'relying on instinct.' "Instead of touting wins, Trump has opted to zero in on the national debate about race and side with supporters who view themselves as victims unfairly cast as racists in the renewed national discussion about discrimination targeting minorities."
Trump has heard from some political allies encouraging him to embrace a divisive tone likely to further inflame civic unrest seen across the country over the past month and deliver political wins by rallying his supporters.

But other aides have pushed him to temper his rhetoric.

A second White House official said Trump is making a mistake by stoking racial divisions and continuing to revive the kind of grievances he also aired in 2016, when he stoked racial animosity targeting immigrants. This official says the president’s attack lines no longer have the same resonance as they did four years ago.

...[Trump] believes divisive rhetoric helped him win the White House, and could do so again. And two officials said he is largely eschewing the political advice to shift his message because he blames the coronavirus pandemic and his campaign's strategy-- and not his own approach-- for his polling plunge.

As a result, he’s tapping more deeply into the perceived anger and resentment of his white supporters.

The president, for instance, has gone from obliquely describing an effort to take down Confederate statues as an assault on “our heritage” during his campaign rally in Oklahoma last month to defending the Confederate flag and attacking NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver Monday on Twitter.

Some of the president’s allies worry he is out of step with public sentiment during this moment of national reckoning over racial justice, even if they agree he has a case to make that demonizing historical figures like George Washington goes too far.

The president “senses victimization that a lot of Americans feel” in scenarios where they’re deemed racist if they don’t denounce the Confederate flag, one of the officials said.
Yeah... like nearly the whole Mississippi state legislature and Republican governor, who just finally shit-canned the Confederate battle flag from their own state flag. The Democrats aren't going to win Mississippi-- or Wyoming for that matter. But other than that... the sky's the limit.

Goal ThermometerAnd the DLCC-- a less toxic version of the DCCC and DSCC but for state legislatures-- is aiming high and allowing themselves to dream about keeping the GOP from gerrymandering key swing states in 2021. And they thank Trump for what is looking more and more like an anti-red tsunami. Natasha Korecki and Christopher Cadelago reported that "they’re imagining a rout that extends all the way down the ballot... From Pennsylvania to Texas to Minnesota, cash-flush Democrats are working to win back legislative chambers needed to take control of drawing congressional maps-- or at least guarantee a seat at the table. If they succeed, it would correct an Obama-era down-ballot shellacking that handed Republicans House control and resulted in the loss of more than 900 Democratic legislative seats. The devastating results for Democrats in 2010-- part of a multi-million dollar effort by Republicans and Karl Rove to zero in on winning governor’s offices and battleground statehouses-- gave the GOP total control in 19 states and allowed them to draw 213 congressional districts." The 2020 Blue America state legislative thermometer above, is for carefully vetted progressives running for legislative seats. The thermometer below is for just the state of Florida and-- again-- just progressives, not run of the mill Democrats or crooked careerists.
The new maps were a disaster for Democrats and spawned a bevy of groups and fundraising efforts intent on preventing a repeat in 2020. Most notably, Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder created the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a centralized redistricting hub on the Democratic side “to make sure that what the Republicans did last time was not possible again,” said John Bisognano, the NDRC’s executive director. “We weren’t going to get caught off guard again.”

Goal ThermometerBut the opportunity in November is even more profound, Democrats say. It represents not only a once-every-20-years occurrence when reapportionment falls in a presidential year, but perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity when an incumbent president appears so weak.

Joe Biden has long said he thinks it’s part of the job as the presumptive nominee to bolster down-ballot races. His campaign is coordinating with local campaigns in battleground states, where building out infrastructure and organization can help drive Democratic control at lower levels of government.

If Trump’s dismal polling extends into the fall, Democrats say it's even more likely Biden’s campaign will contest territory once unfriendly to the party.

“We are a campaign aggressively looking to expand the map as we move forward,” said senior adviser Anita Dunn. Naming Texas and Georgia as “expansion targets,” she added, “Right now, we’re not ruling anything out.”

Simon Rosenberg, who worked as a senior consultant for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2018, when the party swamped Republicans en route to the House majority, said the environment is just as ripe this year.

“The rationale for going big is clear: it can help flip the Senate, create a more powerful mandate for governing, and lock in wins for the coming reapportionment,” he said. “From a governing and party perspective, there will be a powerful case for going big, and trying to get to 400-plus Electoral College votes.”

Republicans say Democrats should curb their enthusiasm. The GOP is pursuing its own state legislative fundraising efforts to stave off Democrats. In Texas, Rove has returned to serve as treasurer of Leading Texas Forward PAC, aimed at maintaining a Republican state House. They also paint Democrats as hypocritical, saying the party complained about gerrymandering by Republicans only to take part in it themselves in blue states, like Illinois.

Former Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the financial chair of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, dismissed talk of a Democratic rout.

"They were making similar predictions in 2016 while Hillary Clinton ignored Wisconsin after our primary and tried to run up the score in other states," he said.

Adam Kincaid, the group's executive director and a veteran of the GOP's 2010 redistricting efforts, said it won’t be easy for Democrats to flip legislative chambers in states where they came up short four years ago. “If the Biden campaign is talking about winning in Texas and Arizona and Georgia," he said, "they need to go back and read the clips from four years ago."

Some Republicans, however, acknowledge the party faces a genuine threat in longtime conservative bastions like Texas.

“The switch was flipped on in the November 2018 midterm elections. It was, 'Oh boy, this is real, we better get our act together,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a Republican strategist in Texas. “But I’m also not sure the party has figured it out.”

...National groups are eyeing Texas not only because Biden is polling close to Trump, but because Democrats need to gain control of at least one chamber of the state legislature to have a say in the state’s congressional map.

Texas stands to gain a handful of new congressional seats after the Census. In 2018, Democrats flipped two state Senate seats and 12 in the state House. The nine state House seats Democrats are eyeing to flip the chamber were all carried by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke when he ran for Senate two years ago.

In an interview, O’Rourke said years of litigation over the state’s maps-- and claims those maps have diluted the power of voters of color-- are motivating Democratic voters.

“Folks are talking about this and they get that if we have a Democratic majority, not only can we help decide what those new congressional districts look like, we can help to redraw existing state House, state Senate, U.S. Congress districts to include instead of exclude Black and brown voters in this state,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke is among the higher-profile Democrats working to direct resources and attention to obscure statehouse races in states like Texas and North Carolina.

So, too, is Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem, who in 2017 was the first openly transgender person to be elected to a U.S. statehouse. Roem said she’s held Zoom calls to help raise money for candidates or state parties in places like North Carolina and Texas.

In some areas, Democrats don’t need to win outright to advance their cause. In Kansas, they’re aiming to break the GOP’s statehouse supermajority so Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly can wield her veto power over congressional maps. To do that, they need to flip one seat in the state House and two in the state Senate.

Democrats are zeroing in on races in states with independent redistricting commissions that have come under fire from Republicans. They include Michigan, where Republican lawmakers have tried to take control of funding for the redistricting commission, and Arizona, where legislators have tried to split a legislative district that is the only majority Native American one in the state.

North Carolina is important for another reason. Despite having a Democratic governor, state rules prevent him from vetoing maps crafted by the majority GOP legislature.

Several factors make Democrats believe this time will be different. They’ve already made important strides to thwart Republican map-making in 2021, including winning the governorships in Wisconsin and Michigan and reelecting Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. They also forced the redrawing of some old maps that put them in better position in places like North Carolina, and are encouraged by recent turnout in primaries in Wisconsin and Georgia during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, with so much attention focused on the presidential election and control of the Senate, many Democrats still worry that down-ballot races will get short shrift.

“The question is... given the extraordinary and appropriate emphasis on the presidential race and the extraordinary emphasis on winning back the Senate, are we going to miss the third leg of this stool, which is losing control of the states and having this extreme congressional and legislative gerrymandering for another decade,” asked Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist who ran for president and has spent hundreds of millions to elect Democrats.

Steyer said he’s encouraged by the grass-roots activity on the ground. Yet taken together, he’s still concerned about the broader “Republican playbook”-- which he said includes redistricting, voter suppression and preventing vote-by mail expansion-- if Democrats don’t remain vigilant.

Dave Abrams, deputy executive director of the Republican State Leadership Committee, predicted that Democrats are “going to fail again" at the state level despite their renewed efforts. He said voters would "definitively reject the liberals’ new radical agenda that dismantles our nation and replaces it with a lawless society.”

But Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, who lost his state seat to remapping in 2010 and was later reelected, said that recent polls showing Trump and Biden virtually tied in Texas suggests the president is slipping in the suburbs. That alone, he said, is plenty of incentive for national Democrats to play in the Lone Star state.

“We’re very bullish about 2020,” he said, pointing to the party's gains in Texas in the 2018 midterms. “It’s a complete train wreck of an environment for the Republican Party right now.”
My guess that the Democrats 7 most realistic shots at flipping chambers are the Minnesota state Senate, the Pennsylvania House, the Iowa House, the Michigan House, both the North Carolina chambers, the Arizona House and, if things really rock for the Democrats, the West Virginia, Texas and Kentucky Houses.

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