Monday, July 25, 2016

Last Call For An Old Friend

It was good seeing Jon Stewart back at the desk last week as Stephen Colbert pulled his friend out of retirement Thursday night on the Late Show to sum up the Republican National Dumpster Fire and the departure of FOX News head vampire Roger Ailes.

At that point, a bearded, T-shirt-wearing Stewart appeared beside Colbert. “I was wondering if I could just maybe talk about the election for a little bit,” he said, asking the Late Show host to step aside so he could take over. After strapping on a jacket and clip-on tie, he seemed to finally feel back at home delivering the type of scathing political commentary we haven’t heard from Trevor Noah or Colbert since Stewart entered retirement last year.

Starting with the RNC, Stewart said, “The Republicans appear to have a very clear plan for America. One, jail your political opponent. Two, inject Rudy Giuliani with a speedball-and-Red Bull enema, and, three, spend the rest of the time scaring the holy bejesus out of everybody.”

But instead of that, Stewart said he wanted to focus on the “contortions many conservatives will have to do to embrace Donald J. Trump, a man who clearly embodies all the things that they have said for years that they have hated about Barack Obama.” After playing a series of Fox News pundits ripping the Democratic president, he said, “A ‘thin-skinned narcissist’ with ‘no government experience?’ Yes, that sounds exactly like Barack Obama.”

To trace the journey of how the conservative media have been and will continue to “justify” the choice that Republicans have made, Stewart homed in on a single target: Fox News host Sean Hannity, whom he referred to as “Lumpy.”

Watch the clip, and remind yourself just how much we miss the guy.

The Roads Past Obama

Jonathan Martin of the NY Times asks where do the Democrats go should they win in 2017, and the best he can come up with is "maybe we'll have roads."

It is hardly the stuff of the Great Society, a moonshot or even “a chicken in every pot.” But there is a view among Democrats that rebuilding the country’s roads, bridges, airports and railways represents an opportunity to use government in a way that can create jobs, appeal to both wings of their own party and win over some Republicans, who may have a difficult time saying no to an infusion of money for their states and districts.

“Who’s against infrastructure?” Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia said.

Mr. McAuliffe, a close friend and ally of the Clintons, said that in his new capacity as chairman of the National Governors Association he would convene an infrastructure summit meeting with the nation’s governors immediately after the election to build momentum for a bill and exert pressure on congressional Republicans.

Yet beyond this short-term objective, there are clashing views about how to further the cause of economic equality at a moment of technological transformation. Centrist Democrats are focused largely on changes to the tax code, work-force development and other incremental steps to help people adjust to a shifting workplace.

“We all believe in economic opportunity for everybody,” Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware said. “The difference between myself and Senator Sanders and Senator Warren,” he added, referring to Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, “is they think that’s not happening because the system is rigged, and I think it’s not happening because the system is changing.”

The strength of Mr. Sanders’s campaign, however, has emboldened liberals and made them unwilling to settle for small-bore changes to the political system.

“Many working people were inspired by his message of aiming higher, not for continuity,” said Larry Cohen, the former president of the communications workers’ union and a prominent backer of Mr. Sanders. Echoing the former candidate, Mr. Cohen said major changes were needed to the country’s campaign finance laws, banks and trade laws.

“The way we put food on the table and higher education within reach is to create a democracy where working people count as much as wealthy people,” he said.

Mary Kay Henry, the president of the service workers’ union, said the party’s liberal platform reflected Democrats’ “choice to meet the moment” and the pressure that progressive activists have applied to the party elite.

“We think that government now has to play a role in backing the collective action happening all across the progressive movement,” Ms. Henry said, pointing to efforts to organize fast-food workers as one example.

Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of the progressive, said it would be incumbent on Mrs. Clinton to fight for the parts of Mr. Sanders’s populist agenda she has embraced. “If she runs on those ideas, forces Republicans to take tough votes, then ultimately the voters will reward the party that speaks to their economic concerns,” he said.

But for Democrats facing re-election in two years, especially in more competitive parts of the country, there is more of an appetite for conciliation than for confrontation.

“It’s important to show the American people that Washington can work,” said Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. “I personally feel urgency about getting some things done.”

The problem is as long as Republicans control either or both chambers in Congress, or God help us the White House, government will not work.  Really, all the heavy lifting President Obama did came in 2009 and 2010, when the Democrats were in charge.

I'm much more worried about a post-meltdown GOP than I am a post-Obama Democratic Party. As i keep saying, the 60 million or so people who will vote for Trump aren't magically going to vanish on November 9th.

Keeping bridges from collapsing may be too much to hope for.

Bouncy House Of Cards

It looks like Donald Trump's message of fear and loathing in America at last week's convention has given him the campaign boost he was looking for, particularly among white voters, according to CNN's latest polling.

Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups. 
There hasn't been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN's polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.

The new findings mark Trump's best showing in a CNN/ORC Poll against Clinton since September 2015. Trump's new edge rests largely on increased support among independents, 43% of whom said that Trump's convention in Cleveland left them more likely to back him, while 41% were dissuaded. Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31% Trump, with sizable numbers behind Johnson (22%) and Stein (10%). Now, 46% say they back Trump, 28% Clinton, 15% Johnson and 4% Stein.  
Trump's newfound lead is also boosted by a sharp increase in support from whites without college degrees. In the new poll they break 62% for Trump to 23% for Clinton, while whites who hold at least a bachelor's degree have actually tilted more pro-Clinton since the convention (from a 40% to 40% split pre-convention to a 44% Clinton to 39% Trump divide now). 
The poll also reflects a sharpening of the education divide among whites that has been prevalent throughout the campaign. Among white voters with college degrees, Clinton actually gained ground compared with pre-convention results, going from an even 40% to 40% split to a 44% to 39% edge over Trump. That while Trump expanded his lead with white voters who do not hold a college degree from a 51% to 31% lead before the convention to a 62% to 23% lead now.
Beyond boosting his overall support, Trump's favorability rating is also on the rise (46% of registered voters say they have a positive view, up from 39% pre-convention), while his advantage over Clinton on handling top issues climbs. He now holds double-digit margins over Clinton as more trusted on the economy and terrorism. Trump also cut into Clinton's edge on managing foreign policy (50% said they trusted her more, down from 57% pre-convention). 

So yes, Trump actually scared off white voters with college degrees and gave Clinton a five-point edge from a tie, but he effectively doubled his 20-point lead among white voters without a college degree to nearly 40 points.

That's what he was shooting for, and that's what he got.  Despite the notion that the GOP convention was a dumpster fire, it was actually extremely successful in solidifying the working-class white vote behind Trump.  The 50-state Southern Strategy is starting to pay off.

Fear.  It works, at least in the short term. Morning Consult's polling finds a similar bounce for Trump as a result.

Now we'll see what Clinton can do to in order to swing things the other way as we head into the final three months of the campaign.  I have some issues with CNN's sampling that raises a few questions too,

Finally, after saying all that some perspective here: if this is the best Trump can do after his convention bounce, then he's still in trouble come November.

You're up, Madam Secretary.


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