Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Last Call For The Return Of The Blue Wave

Enough of the doom and gloom. Several of you made the point that 2018 was where Trump's racism lost.  There is one unalloyed, really good piece of news for Democrats right now, and that's a large number of House Republican retirements in 2019 heading into 2020.

Three House Republicans said last week they would not seek another term next year, catching party strategists off guard. Those announcements came earlier than in a typical election cycle, when members who are ready to hang up their voting cards usually wait until after the August recess or after the Christmas break.

Republicans in Congress strategizing to win back the House say the rush to the exits reflects the depressing reality of life in the minority and a pessimistic view of the GOP’s chances of regaining the majority.

“We are in the minority. That is never much fun in the House,” said one senior Republican member of Congress, who asked for anonymity to provide a candid assessment. “The odds are against us retaking the majority.”

Transitioning from the all-powerful majority to the back-bench minority can refocus one’s outlook on public service, said Tom Davis, a former Virginia congressman who ran the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

“Moving from the majority to the minority changes your mindset about why am I here, am I getting things done,” Davis said. “It’s a very frustrating life for some of these members right now. There’s been no pay raise for 11 years. You’ve got to maintain two households.”

The job of serving in Congress itself has changed in recent years. Members of Congress now routinely skip town hall meetings to avoid being confronted by angry constituents, they are frequently asked to defend President Trump’s Twitter habits and the House Republican Conference is increasingly influenced by a small group of hard-right conservatives.

Serving in the era of Trump has few rewards. He has made an already hostile political environment worse. Every day there is some indefensible tweet or comment to defend or explain. It is exhausting and often embarrassing,” the member of Congress said. Even if Republicans were to win back the majority, “our edge would be narrow which means we would live under the tyranny of the Freedom Caucus. Frankly I wonder if this conference is capable of governing.”

Republican strategists say they are bracing for a new wave of exits after members check in with their families over the August recess. Two dozen Republicans won their reelection bids in 2018 by fewer than 5 percentage points; another 25 won by fewer than 10 points.

There are going to be a lot more [retirements] to come,” said one consultant who works for House Republicans. “Between people finding themselves having to actually work hard for the first time in their long, lazy careers and members who came in in the majority and now hate life in the minority, it's just getting started.”

2018 did prove that defending Donald Trump is a losing proposition.  House Democrats had their best midterm in decades, and turnout was through the roof.  Unlike the polls, the retirements and the 2018 wins are facts.

Having said that, with Trump on the top of the ticket in November 2020, things could be different enough that  Republicans could easily win the House back and then some.  There are a lot of swing districts that Democrats are going to have to defend, and the gerrymandering issue is still a problem that Democrats will have to fight in states like Ohio and Michigan, Florida and North Carolina, where even massive Democratic margins will break against gerrymandered firewalls.

But defending Trump is becoming increasingly impossible for Republicans not named Trump, and that toll is becoming higher and higher for Republicans both in the White House, and increasingly in Congress.

[UPDATE] And another Republican, Mike Conaway of Texas, announced his retirement tonight.

The Racism Is The Point, Con't

Yesterday I made the case why Trump's racism will only get louder and more overt, because it will work and he will draw in people who didn't vote in 2016 in a dark mirror, twisted version of Obama increasing turnout in 2008.

Demographics aren't going to save us.  White Millennials are even more racist than previous generations and they love Trump, and what's more, they love that whole "glibertarian nonsense" angle where they profess no love for either party as independents, but vote Republican in even higher numbers than any other generational cohort.

Most of all, they want an authoritarian leader like Trump.

Authoritarian-style leadership is much more attractive to white working-class Americans than to white college-educated Americans. Six in ten (60%) white working-class Americans, compared to only 32% of white college-educated Americans say we need such a strong leader; two-thirds (67%) of white college-educated Americans disagree.

Greg Sargent today argues that white non-college educated women are actually turned off by Trump's racism, and that 2020 will be much more like 2018, as in the latest Quinnipiac poll, these women are starting to turn on Trump.

And once again, per the data Quinnipiac sent me, this is driven by women:

That’s also striking: A bare plurality of non-college-educated white women disapprove of Trump. (And again, the depth of alienation among college-educated white women is really something to behold.)

Now, to be fair, this is only one poll. But this dovetails with the extensive amount of data and focus grouping Brownstein reported on, so it’s plausible that this is a real thing.

And if this broader dynamic is right, it could be a big deal. This has been a Republican-leaning demographic for many election cycles now, which alone makes this seeming shift striking. More specifically, Trump’s racist attacks are all about three states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — where Trump hopes to supercharge turnout and vote share among non-college-educated whites from non-metropolitan areas, allowing him to win the electoral college, even plausibly amid a larger popular-vote loss than last time.

But as Democratic pollster Greenberg told Brownstein, this becomes a taller order if the women in that demographic are getting alienated, even if the men are as gung-ho for Trump as ever. “White working-class men look like they are approaching the 2016 margins for Trump,” Greenberg allowed, but he added, “it only works if women are part of the story.”
As Brownstein summarizes it, Trump’s hopes of pulling an electoral college miracle again by winning those “blue wall” states a second time will turn heavily on “whether Democrats can fan doubts about Trump that have surfaced among blue-collar white women." That’s because those women cast slightly more than half the overall votes cast by working-class whites.

In the background of all this, the electorate continues to diversify. And it seems obvious Trump will struggle to win back the college-educated and suburban whites, particularly women, who defected from the GOP in 2018. Which may only increase Trump’s need to squeeze more electoral juice out of the non-college-educated white demographic. And if the women are not there for Trump to the degree they were last time, that means Trump’s hopes depend to an even greater degree on non-college-educated white men.

In other words, if Trump can make up what he loses with white working-class women with college-educated white men, he still wins.

Unless, of course, Democrats are able to increase their turnout by more.

We'll see who's right, but betting on Trump's racism being a losing proposition in 2020 is a sucker's bet, 100%.

Saudi Arabia, Coca-Cola

And now we know why Donald Trump specifically attacked House Democratic Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings over the weekend with a barrage of racist tweets: Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has been selling nuclear technology to the Saudis.

A longtime Trump insider has been pushing a proposal to build dozens of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia while seeking to avoid restrictions on the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology and has at times stood to profit from the effort, according to an investigative report by the House Oversight Committee.

“Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates Committee whistle-blowers and exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the committee.

The 50-page report, which relied on 60,000 documents and statements from whistle-blowers inside the administration, was made public Monday. It focuses on the actions of Thomas Barrack, a wealthy Los Angeles businessman who oversaw President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, as well as earlier efforts by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to push a Saudi nuclear energy plan. Investigators said they found evidence that “private parties with close ties to the President wield[ed] outsized influence over U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia.”

“These new documents raise serious questions about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons,” according to the report.

The investigative report was completed late last week but is being released on the heels of a barrage of critical tweets by President Trump targeting the Maryland Democrat and his Baltimore district. There is no indication Trump knew the report was imminent.

The White House did not cooperate with the investigation, providing none of the documents requested. Congressional investigators said documents they did recover showed that some Trump administration officials used personal email accounts to communicate with executives from private companies pushing the plan. In several instances, it was “unclear” if those officials “took steps to preserve this email as required by the Presidential Records Act,” the report said.

The White House declined to comment.

Committee Republicans, in a report issued last week, pushed back on the Democrats’ review, saying the Trump administration did not act inappropriately in contemplating the potential transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Republicans also argued that Barrack had no conflicts by promoting the nuclear proposal because he ultimately did not join the administration.

The investigation focuses on company called IP3 International, which is run by a group of retired American generals, and their years-long effort to promote a plan to sell dozens of nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The company has been aided in its efforts by two well-known Trump advisers: Flynn and Barrack, a California investment executive who has deep ties in the Middle East.

The report alleges that Flynn and later Barrack helped push the proposal during the 2016 campaign, in the White House and later during briefings with senior White House officials including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and ultimately President Trump. IP3 officials also briefed cabinet officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, according to the report.

Once again, pay-for-play corruption is endemic to this regime.  Jared Kushner especially would be prison right now if he wasn't married to Trump's daughter.


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