Thursday, November 15, 2018

Last Call For Low-Hanging Orange Fruit

Cook Political Report's Amy Walter ran the numbers on the Democratic party's blue wave last week and found that Trump's support may be a mile-wide in districts that he claimed in 2016, but only an inch deep as Trump didn't get 50% of the vote in a lot of districts.  These shallow districts are where the Democrats targeted their House wins, and they peeled the GOP apart like an orange.

Not long after the November 2017 elections, I had lunch with David Petts, a Democratic pollster and longtime veteran of congressional campaigns. He remarked that the Republican gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey performed within one to four points of President Trump in every congressional district in the state. The good news for the Republicans was that they didn’t lose districts that Trump easily carried. The bad news, even a GOPer not named “Trump” did not perform any better in districts Trump narrowly won or narrowly lost in 2016.

Petts handed me a spreadsheet that arranged the GOP-held congressional districts by Trump 2016 vote and argued Democrats should target every single district in which Trump took 55 percent of the vote or less. The theory being that Trump’s vote in 2016 would be the high-water mark for GOP candidates in 2018. As important to note were the significant number of districts that Trump won, but where his margin of victory masked his anemic vote share. Take New Mexico’s 2nd district. Trump won that district by 11 points, yet took just 50 percent of the vote. It was Clinton who underperformed there.

I tacked that chart onto the wall near my computer and watched it closely throughout the year. And, as Trump replayed his 2016 “all-base-all the time” strategy as president, it became clear he wasn’t going to be any more popular in the places that he lost, nor any less popular in the places that he won big. As such, the vote Trump took in a district in 2016, remained an accurate barometer for GOP vote share in 2018 in those districts.

Petts’ theory proved to be prescient. Of the 47 districts where Trump took less than 51 percent of the vote, Democrats have (so far) won 32 of them. If we exclude Utah’s four districts (in which Trump’s vote share was depressed thanks to the presence of third-party candidate and Utah native Evan McMullin), Democrats will have won at least 74 percent of the districts held by Republicans where Trump was the weakest in 2016.

Moreover, thirteen of those 32 districts were ones that Trump carried in 2016. In other words, using the number of seats held by Republicans that Trump lost (25) was the wrong metric. Vote share was the more appropriate standard.

For all the talk that open seats are what doomed Republicans, well-prepared incumbents weren’t any more resilient to the wave than GOP challengers. Only seven (non-Utah) Republicans outperformed Trump in their districts by more than five points. Five of those Republicans were incumbents; two were in open seats. Of those seven, only two of these strong over performers won: Reps. Mario Diaz Balart (FL-25) and John Katko (NY-24).

In two races that are yet to be called, but where the Democrat is favored - ME-02 (Poliquin) and NJ-03 (MacArthur) — Trump took just 51.4%. And, even the three ‘surprise’ wins for Democrats — SC-01, OK-05 and NY-11 — were in districts that Trump won with less than 54 percent.

In fact, at this point, there’s not one district that Democrats won that Trump carried by more than 54 percent of the vote.

Democrats took aim at the widespread weakness of the GOP nationwide and they won.  As as Trump only gets more unpopular as we head towards 2020, expect another tier of House Republican districts to become vulnerable in two years.

That Little Domestic Terrorism Problem Of Ours, Con't

At this point America needs to be asking where and when another synagogue is going to be attacked, because the overt anti-Semitism in this country is getting worse on a daily basis.

A man shouted a pro-Nazi and pro-Trump salute during a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday night in an outburst that some audience members feared was the beginning of a shooting.

Audience member Rich Scherr said the outburst happened during intermission. The man, who had been seated in the balcony, began shouting “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump.” Immediately after that, “People started running,” Scherr said. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.’ ”

The man was escorted out a few minutes later and the show continued. But Scherr, 49, said it was hard to focus on the play after that. “My heart was just racing. I didn’t even really pay attention to the second act.”

“Fiddler” tells the story of a Jewish family as it faces persecution in tsarist Russia. It’s based on “Tevye the Dairyman,” a fictional story originally written in Yiddish. The play opened Tuesday and runs through Sunday in Baltimore. A spokesman for the Hippodrome could not be reached late Wednesday.

Scherr, who is a contributing sportswriter for The Baltimore Sun, posted a video from after the incident onto Facebook. 

It's getting worse because there is an entire political party dedicated to making it so in order to try to preserve its dwindling power.

The United States has seen a recent surge in anti-Jewish incidents, including a shooting last month at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people inside.

Anti-Jewish incidents reported to police in Maryland jumped 47 percent in 2017 to 78 incidents, according to a Baltimore Sun review of records. That was amid a 35 percent increase of overall hate or bias incidents reported to police statewide last year.

Hate crimes are up under the hatemonger in the White House.  Who could have known? White nationalist rallies are now a regular feature of the American landscape.

It’s a biting cold Saturday morning in Little Rock and a hush has descended around the Arkansas State House. The National Socialist Movement (NSM) is in town for a demonstration.

“It’s sad,” an elderly traffic warden says as we wait for NSM’s convoy of minivans and clapped-out SUVs to arrive. “They need the Lord.”

Around two dozen black-clad NSM members eventually show up for this latest rally, supposedly to protest against “Human Rights violations in South Africa,” but police are still taking no chances. The streets surrounding the Capitol have been sealed off, armored MRAPs wait nearby and snipers line a nearby rooftop. Throughout the afternoon, a police helicopter and drone buzz around in the air, monitoring the protest and counter-demonstration.

It could be argued that the heavy law enforcement presence is giving NSM — founded in 1959 by George Lincoln Rockwell as an offshoot of the America Nazi Party, and which was present at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville — exactly the kind of attention it craves. But when you consider how heavily-armed this group is, as well as its constant threats about being ready to defend itself against the so-called Antifa threat, the police response starts to make some sense.

Actual Nazis, armed, demonstrating in public.  Trump gave them permission. They're his base, after all.

Pretty soon these guys won't stick to just protests.

We live in a country where people have now been conditioned to entertain the possibility, if not expect it, of being involved in a mass casualty shooting to kill black people or Jewish people or just a bunch of people.

Welcome to America in the Trump era.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Everything seems to be pointing to some major indictments very soon in the Mueller probe.  CBS News was reporting that the charges could be unsealed as early as last Tuesday, but so far, it's been 48 hours and nothing new.  We head into Thursday with two stories indicating that when Mueller does drop the hammer, it will be epic.  First up, I keep telling people that Roger Stone is going to spend the rest of his life in prison, and that's because his friends are idiots.

Six days before WikiLeaks began releasing Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, Roger Stone had a text message conversation with a friend about WikiLeaks, according to copies of phone records obtained exclusively by NBC News.

“Big news Wednesday,” the Stone pal, radio host Randy Credico, wrote on Oct. 1, 2016, according to the text messages provided by Stone. “Now pretend u don’t know me.”

“U died 5 years ago,” Stone replied.

“Great,” Credico wrote back. “Hillary’s campaign will die this week.” 
Credico turned out to be wrong on one count — nothing incriminating about Clinton came out that Wednesday. But two days later, on Oct. 7, WikiLeaks released its first dump of emails stolen from Podesta, altering the trajectory of the 2016 presidential election.

Stone, a confidante of then-candidate Donald Trump and notorious political trickster, has denied any collusion with WikiLeaks.

But the text messages provided by Stone to NBC News show that Credico appeared to be providing regular updates to Stone on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s plans in the days before the hacked emails were released. In the texts, Credico told Stone he had insights into Assange's plans through a longtime friend, who was also Assange’s lawyer, according to the text messages.

Reached Wednesday, Credico downplayed the text exchanges. “There's absolutely nothing there that I had any knowledge of anything that Assange was going to do because I didn't,” he told NBC News.

"Where's the smoking gun?" he added.

I'll let Robert Mueller handle that.  But trust me when I say Stone will die in prison.  Because if he doesn't go under for being the Trump regime's conduit to the Russian spy operation at WikiLeaks, he's going down for witness intimidation of Credico.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office is exploring whether longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone tried to intimidate and discredit a witness who is contradicting Mr. Stone’s version of events about his contacts with WikiLeaks, according to people who have spoken to Mr. Mueller’s investigators.

In grand jury sessions and interviews, prosecutors have repeatedly asked about emails, text messages and online posts involving Mr. Stone and his former friend, New York radio personality Randy Credico, the people said. Mr. Stone has asserted that Mr. Credico was his backchannel to WikiLeaks, a controversial transparency group, an assertion Mr. Credico denies.

Mr. Mueller’s investigators are probing whether Mr. Stone had direct contact with WikiLeaks and knew ahead of time about its release of stolen Democratic emails, as he claimed during the campaign and now denies. Mr. Stone says he is angry at Mr. Credico because his ex-friend has “refused to tell the truth” about being his conduit to WikiLeaks.

Filmmaker David Lugo, who knows both men, said in an interview he has testified before Mr. Mueller’s grand jury about a blog post Mr. Stone helped him draft that was harshly critical of Mr. Credico. Another witness, businessman Bill Samuels, said he was questioned by Mr. Mueller’s team about Mr. Credico’s reaction to allegedly threatening messages sent by Mr. Stone

Prosecutors also are examining messages between Messrs. Stone and Credico that involve the radio personality’s decision to assert his Fifth Amendment before Congress, according to a person familiar with the probe.

Ahh, what tangled webs we weave, when we leave text messages on our phones.

Stay tuned.  Stone's going in a box very, very soon.


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