Friday, August 19, 2016

Last Call For Feeling The Miami Heat

House Republicans in Florida are starting to crumble on blocking President Obama's request for Zika funding now that the state is ground zero for the mosquito-borne infection in the mainland US, and the fact that Congress is taking a nearly two month vacation after skipping town without approving any funding at all hasn't been lost on voters there.  It's getting so bad now between the virus and Trump's scorched earth campaign to destroy the GOP that the Republican delegation from the Sunshine State wants House Speaker Paul Ryan to convene an emergency session to pass funding.

When Republicans left town this summer, they abandoned a billion-dollar Zika rescue package that had become mired in partisan infighting. But now some rank-and-file Florida Republicans — who represent scared constituents clamoring for Washington to do something — are pressuring their leaders to get a deal done, no matter what it takes. 
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) asked Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to convene an emergency session of Congress to pass a Zika bill immediately. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) is worrying that Congress’ lack of action could cripple him in an already tough re-election battle. And a number of Florida Republicans, including Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), want their party to fully fund President Barack Obama's larger $1.9 billion Zika request.

Since Congress split town in mid-July, the mosquito-borne virus situation has worsened: The first locally transmitted cases in Florida appeared at the end of July, with infections there now totaling more than 400 cases (though most were transmitted by people who had traveled abroad). On Thursday, Florida newspapers reported that parts of Miami beach had been infected. And last Friday, the White House declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico, projecting 25 percent of residents will likely contract Zika this year — all just a few miles from Florida’s sandy coasts. 
I don’t care how it gets passed, it just needs to get passed,” Curbelo said in a phone interview Wednesday. “There is so much anger and frustration in our country because most Americans feel they cannot count on the government to do very simple things… Congress has to show competence — and funding a response to a serious public health threat seems to me a very simple stand for ‘competence.'"

Now Rep. Curbelo especially is not a Trump fan, and I'm betting he's seeing some pretty worrying numbers from his district, where he narrowly won 2 years ago against Joe Garcia. Charlie Cook has Curbelo's district, Florida's 26th, as dead even on the partisan scale and a toss-up in November.

So suddenly, Carlos Curbelo is worried about Zika, and he now knows that blaming the Democrats while the Republicans control both the House and Senate isn't going to fly with voters in southwest Miami-Dade County, the southern tip of Florida, and the Keys where Zika (and its effect on pregnant women and tourism) is starting to become a problem.

The House isn't going to reconvene until after Labor Day, and they have 4 weeks to get a Zika funding bill passed, otherwise I'm betting strongly that Carlos Cubelo will be kicked to, well, the curb, and rightfully so.

We'll see.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

"So," people ask me. "Zandar, you live in Kentucky. Trump will probably win here by 10-12 points.  Clinton can't possibly win, so why aren't you voting for Jill Stein and the Green party?"

Well, let me think about it...

I'm going to go with "no."

The Coming Av-Hill-Lanche, Con't

At this point, even the relatively careful Sabato's Crystal Ball political forecast maintains a Hillary Clinton win in November, the question now being what her margin of victory will be.

What about the overall picture? As our regular readers know, we’ve been the Rock of Gibraltar when it comes to a Clinton victory. Our first electoral map, issued at the end of March, showed Clinton at 347 EVs to 191 EVs for Trump, and all subsequent maps have maintained those totals — until now. After looking carefully at Nebraska’s 2nd District — Nebraska being, along with Maine, a state that awards one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district — we’ve decided that NE-2 is leaning toward Clinton. It isn’t much of a lean, and it’s possible that if Trump can tighten up the contest, this one will wobble back to the Republicans. But for the moment, adding NE-2 to the Democrats makes Clinton’s total 348 EVs and Trump’s total 190 EVs. As you’ll recall, Obama carried this district in 2008 but lost it in 2012, so it’s on the margins — yet it also ranks 49th out of 435 congressional districts for percentage of non-Hispanic whites with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Moreover, not only is Clinton investing ad money in Omaha, which also bleeds into the western parts of swing state Iowa, she is also spending actual campaign time in the city, a sign that her campaign believes it can win this extra electoral vote. And did we mention Warren Buffett, a huge Hillary fan, dominates the economic landscape there?

We’ve heard from many of you asking why we haven’t switched Arizona and Georgia to Clinton. The answer is simple: There’s not enough evidence yet to justify doing so. The polling averages are basically tied in both, so we’ll keep watching. Probably these states would be the next on our map to change color if a blue tide is in the Nov. 8 forecast. On the other hand, if Trump manages a modest recovery, Arizona and Georgia would remain in his column.

By the way, we’re lowering Kansas and South Carolina from Safe Republican to Likely Republican after recent closer-than-expected surveys surfaced. In the former, the latest statewide poll from SurveyUSA had Trump ahead by just five points, 44%-39%, and notably it showed Clinton ahead 45%-35% in the Kansas City region. Echoing that finding, an internal survey for Rep. Kevin Yoder (R, KS-3) showed Clinton up 44%-38% over Trump in a district that is mostly in the Kansas City area. In addition, KS-3 was a 54%-44% Mitt Romney district in 2012, further confirming our views of NE-2, which voted for Romney by 53%-46%. Meanwhile, a Public Policy Polling survey found Trump up only 41%-39% in South Carolina, and it is a state with a high Democratic floor (but a low ceiling) because of a large black population and the Palmetto State’s racially polarized voting. We certainly don’t expect either Kansas or South Carolina to vote Democratic. Still, we have noticed that many deep red states may be preparing to produce lower-than-usual pluralities for Trump. It won’t matter in the Electoral College, of course, but it will be reflected in the national popular vote total.

Sabato's map is pretty much exactly what my map would look like if I made a forecast for November today, with the exception of Missouri moving into only Likely territory for Trump, and sliding the upper Midwest Great Lake states from Likely Clinton to Safe (or at least Minnesota.)

Trump again is heading for a beatdown, this is the Obama 2008 drubbing of McCain minus Missouri and Indiana, and both are definitely in play for Clinton.  But how cool would that be if Clinton picked up Arizona and Georgia as well?  That's the direction we're heading right now.

We'll see.  Word at this hour is that Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort is now out.


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