Sunday, April 10, 2016

Last Call For Do Red State Democrats Matter?

So many of the commenters have been dancing around this particular question over the primary season.  Do Democrats in places like Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, Alaska, etc matter when it comes to presidential contests?

In a brutally pragmatic sense only, no.  Electoral votes are winner take all except in Maine and Nebraska.  Looking at the 2012 electoral vote map:

Dems in red states don't matter, Republicans in blue states don't matter, but supposedly they roughly balance each other out.  So that brings us down to representation in the House and Senate.  Gerrymandering in the House and staggered six-year Senate terms again make some places very depressing for red state Dems.

KY-4 is a good example, it's where I live, it's heavily Republican and has Mitch and Rand as Senators and Thomas Massie as the Representative. Boone County has 31k plus registered Dems, Kenton County next door has 50k Dems.  Overall it's 95% white, Charlie Cook rates it as a very partisan  R+16.

I have little to no political power as a Democrat here, admittedly.  But do I matter?

I'd like to think I do at least as a primary goes.  But here's the thing: if you're going to try to convince voters like me to vote in the primary, browbeating me with "Your vote doesn't matter in November" really isn't the way to go about doing it.

Putting out a plan to get more Dems in Congress to help me at the state and local level is.

Berning Bridges With The Southern Vote

I do not understand why Bernie Sanders keeps saying stuff like this when he's supposedly trying to convince voters to join him.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — who has run off an impressive string of primary victories — dismissed actual vote totals that show former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead, saying those votes “came from the South.”
Host George Stephanopoulos noted Clinton’s lead in delegates and asked the senator if he would take his fight for the nomination to the floor of the convention.

“Well, here’s what I think,” Sanders replied. “I think at the end of the day, what Democrats all over this country want to make sure is that somebody like a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz does not end up in the White House. And I think what more and more Democrats are seeing is that Bernie Sanders is the stronger candidate.”

“She’s getting more votes,” the host pressed.

“Well, she is getting more votes. A lot of that came from the South,” Sanders parried. “But if you look at the polling out there, we do a lot better against Trump and the other Republicans in almost every instance — not every one — than she does. And the reason is that we both get a lot of Democrats, but I get a lot more independents than she does.”

Sanders comments fall in line with statements made by his own campaign that Clinton is doing well in states that might not fall into the Democratic column in the November election despite inroads made by President Obama in 2012.

I just do not understand this constant antagonistic attitude towards red state Democrats, the vast majority of which are black voters, voters that Sanders admits he has trouble reaching.  If you know you have trouble reaching black Democrats, and you're trying to unite the party behind you, then why keep dismissing them?

Sanders also addressed the controversy from earlier in the week when he claimed Clinton is not “qualified” to be president, blaming his response on her campaign questioning his competency.

“Well, she didn’t quite say that. But her surrogates implied that,” he responded. “And all that I meant by that is that if you vote for the war in Iraq, which turned out to be the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of America, if you take, through your super PAC, tens and tens of millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests, if you support almost every disastrous trade agreement in this last 30 years…”

“Well, President Obama supported that,” the host interrupted. “Is he not qualified?”

No, he is very qualified. But my point is, it is a question of judgment. It is a question of judgment,” Sanders replied.

That is also a cop out, and really, really bothers me.

Trump Cards, Con't

The behind-the-scenes fight for delegates on the GOP side is getting ugly.  Ted Cruz may have won Colorado yesterday while nobody was looking:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has swept the Colorado GOP convention, winning all 13 of the state’s at-large delegates. 
And after also winning all 21 delegates awarded at the congressional district conventions throughout the week, the Texas senator leaves Colorado with a complete shutout of his opponents.

In a statement Saturday night, Cruz said the win proves that Republicans are coming together behind him.

"Today was another resounding victory for conservatives, Republicans, and Americans who care about the future of our country," Cruz said in the statement. "Utah, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and tonight’s incredible results in Colorado have proven this: Republicans are uniting behind our campaign because they want a leader with real solutions who will bring back jobs, freedom, and security."

But meanwhile, Kasich and Trump returned the favor in the much larger Michigan:

Ted Cruz suffered a rare convention loss Saturday after delegates backing John Kasich and Donald Trump boxed him out of key positions in the Michigan delegation. 
The Texas senator's campaign ran eight delegates for eight committee spots and lost every one, alleging it was "double-crossed" by Kasich supporters. 
The Michigan delegation picked one Trump supporter, Matt Hall, and one Kasich supporter, Judi Schwalbach, for the two seats on the powerful rules committee. The Cruz campaign lost votes for both seats. 
The rules committee seats have become highly coveted prizes for their role in shaping a contested convention in Cleveland. After the delegates are selected in each state, they meet as a group and pick the members of four convention committees, the most important of which is the rules committee, which will ultimately decide who can be nominated president. 
Michigan Cruz leader Saul Anuzis said they were "double-crossed" by Kasich's campaign. The Kasich delegates were supposed to vote with Cruz delegates, he said, but switched sides and voted with Trump behind closed doors Saturday afternoon. 

The reality is that the GOP's contested convention in July in Cleveland is actually already being contested now at the state-level conventions following the primaries.  These battles are being fought in state GOP rules committees ahead of Cleveland.  The real race is controlling these committees ahead of a contested convention.

We'll see which Republican can play the game the best.

Sunday Long Read: The Department Of Voter Suppression

You'd be forgiven if you've never heard of the Federal Election Assistance Commission, the agency formed after Bush v Gore to help people register for federal elections.  The reason you've probably never heard of it is because since 2010, the agency has been mutated by Republicans in Congress to the point of becoming an agency that in 2016 is now actively trying to unilaterally enforce a de facto national voter ID law that doesn't exist.

The election commission is in federal court this month, essentially accused of trying to suppress voter turnout in this November’s election. The Justice Department, its nominal legal counsel, has declined to defend it. Its case instead is being pleaded by one of the nation’s leading advocates of voting restrictions. The agency’s chairman has disavowed its actions.

The quarrel exemplifies how the mere act of voting has become enmeshed in volatile partisan politics. Seventeen states will impose new voting restrictions for November’s presidential election. Many are the object of disputes between those who say they are rooting out voter fraud and those who say the real goal is to keep Democratic-leaning voters from casting ballots.

The lawsuit’s origin is straightforward. The agency’s executive director, Brian D. Newby, had been in his job less than three months in January when he unilaterally reversed a policy that the body’s commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, had endorsed since the agency’s creation in 2002: that people registering to vote need offer no proof, beyond swearing an oath, that they are American citizens.

That decision gave Kansas, Georgia and Alabama officials a blessing to alter the federal voter registration applications handed out in motor vehicle offices and many other state agencies, replacing the oath with something stiffer: a demand for proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

There was but one problem, critics say: Mr. Newby had no authority to make policy, a power reserved for the agency’s four commissioners.

Mr. Newby calls his decision an administrative matter, not policy. He has said that he did not change the registration form, but merely its instructions, although federal administrative code calls the instructions part of the form.

“It wasn’t a ruling so much as a response to a request,” he said. “I wasn’t looking at it through the lens of proof of citizenship. I was looking at it as state law that necessitated changes in the instructions.”

Critics see something different.

“It’s trench warfare in the battle of voter suppression,” said Lloyd Leonard, the advocacy director of the League of Women Voters, the leader of the lawsuit against the commission.

The agency was effectively shuttered in 2010 when House Republicans took over, holding up appointments of commissioners for more than three years.  When a GOP Senate came along in 2015, the agency suddenly got new plans going forward, resulting in Demby's hiring and his nasty little sleight of hand in January.

It's a chilling story to read.  And the name that keeps popping up again and again is Kansas GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is on a national crusade to disenfranchise as many Democrats as possible.

Keep an eye on him.
Related Posts with Thumbnails