Thursday, October 8, 2020

Last Call For House Afire

 We've talked endlessly about the White House and Senate races, but how is the House shaping up in 2020? There are vulnerable incumbents in both parties, and the general consensus is that the Dems may pick up 5-10 seats overall, but if Trump's collapse down the stretch in the suburbs and with Seniors turns into a downticket disaster, the Dems could end up with a whole lot more House seats. 538's House gurur, Nate Rakich:

Now, Democrats must defend 30 seats in districts won by President Trump in 2016 (as opposed to only six Republicans who sit in districts that Hillary Clinton carried). Yet Democrats are on offense once again this year: 28 of the 50 House districts that the Deluxe version of our model considers most likely to change parties are held by Republicans.

There are a few explanations for why Democrats still have room to grow. The first is that they are virtually guaranteed to flip two seats right off the bat thanks to redistricting. After a court declared in 2019 that North Carolina’s old congressional lines showed signs of “extreme partisan gerrymandering,” the state legislature passed a new map that reconfigured two Republican-held seats as Democratic strongholds: the 2nd District and 6th District. Their current occupants, Reps. George Holding and Mark Walker, announced they would retire from Congress soon after, and now the seats are Democrats’ two best pickup opportunities in the entire nation. Our model gives the party a greater than 99 in 100 chance of winning both races.

Another is that, though Democrats picked most of the low-hanging fruit in 2018, there are still a few easy pickup opportunities left: That is, there are a few Clinton districts still represented by Republicans. In Texas’s 23rd District, Rep. Will Hurd defeated Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones by just 0.4 points in 2018, but this year, Hurd was one of many Texas Republicans who decided to retire. As a result, Ortiz Jones (who is running again) has a 74 in 100 chance to win in 2020 against Republican Tony Gonzales. And Democrats did win California’s 25th District in 2018, but a sex scandal forced Rep. Katie Hill to resign, and Republican Mike Garcia flipped the seat back in a special election. Our model considers the rubber match to be a toss-up, giving Democrats a 56 in 100 shot. Finally, Democrats aren’t in quite as good a position to defeat Rep. John Katko in New York’s 24th District, but Democrat Dana Balter still has a 33 in 100 chance. (The one Republican in a Clinton district who seems pretty safe is Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania’s 1st District; with an 89 in 100 chance to win, he doesn’t even make the table above.)

But the biggest factor may be the continued leftward march of American suburbs. After Democrats cleaned house in the suburbs in 2018 — three-quarters of their 2018 gains came in predominantly suburban congressional districts — they are back this year for the many suburban districts they left on the table. Their best such pickup opportunity is New York’s 2nd, a dense suburban district on Long Island where Republican Rep. Peter King is retiring after surviving his closest electoral call since 1992. Our forecast gives Democrat Jackie Gordon a 59 in 100 chance of victory there. Republican Rep. Susan Brooks is also retiring from Indiana’s 5th District, which covers the northern Indianapolis suburbs and went from voting for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by 17 points in 2012 to narrowly voting for Democrat Joe Donnelly in the state’s 2018 Senate election. The race to replace her is almost a pure toss-up.

Similarly, Georgia’s 7th District, a suburban Atlanta district that Romney carried by 22 points, hosted the closest House race in the country in 2018. Republican Rep. Rob Woodall opted to retire (sensing a pattern?), and now Democrats have a 45 in 100 chance to win it in 2020. I could go on — Democrats have between a 30 and 40 percent shot in Nebraska’s 2nd District in metro Omaha, Texas’s 24th District in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth and Ohio’s 1st District around Cincinnati — but my editor does put word counts on these things.

Of course, Republicans have pickup opportunities too. They’re favorites to flip just three House seats vs. Democrats’ five. And their likeliest win would represent the end of an era in the House: Republican Michelle Fischbach has a 74 in 100 chance to defeat Rep. Collin Peterson, the powerful chair of the House Agriculture Committee. Peterson represents by far the Trumpiest district currently held by a Democrat — the Minnesota 7th voted for Trump by 31 percentage points in 2016. While Peterson’s conservative views have helped him survive in recent election cycles, the district is getting redder and split-ticket voting is becoming rarer.

Another likely Republican pickup is a seat the party held until July 4, 2019, when Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan’s 3rd District announced he was leaving the GOP. Facing a difficult reelection bid as a third-party candidate, Amash has since decided to retire, and Republican Peter Meijer now has a 68 in 100 chance of taking the seat back for the GOP. (That said, Democrats also have a 32 in 100 chance to flip the seat into their column.)

Republicans have also set their sights on winning back several House seats they lost in 2018, although our model thinks they’re favored in only one — and even then, just barely. Oklahoma’s 5th District produced the biggest upset of 2018 (according to the Deluxe version of our 2018 model), as Democrat Kendra Horn prevailed in a district that voted for Trump by 13 points in 2016. Here in 2020, Horn (49 in 100) and Republican Stephanie Bice (51 in 100) have almost the exact same chance of winning the seat. Also too close to call is California’s 21st District, where Republican former Rep. David Valadao is seeking a comeback in a district he lost by just 862 votes in 2018. Although Clinton won this district by 16 points, it is more Republican in down-ballot races, and Valadao has a 48 in 100 chance of winning. Finally, Republicans are almost even money to defeat Rep. Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st District, which also voted for Trump by 13 points in 2016. Republican Nancy Mace has a 46 in 100 chance of victory here.

Beyond those seats, Republicans have a fighting chance in several other Democrat-held districts whose names you might recall from 2018: the Georgia 6th, New York 22nd, Iowa 2nd, California 48th, New Mexico 2nd, Utah 4th, New York 11th, Texas 7th, New Jersey 7th, California 39th, Florida 26th and Nevada 4th, to name (more than) a few. But they are clearer underdogs in these races. And they would need to win all of the races I have mentioned in the last four paragraphs — without surrendering a single other seat to Democrats — in order to flip the 17 seats5 they need to attain a House majority
In other words, Republicans would somehow have to have the perfect night to win back the House.
It won't happen.
Locally, pay attention to Cincinnati Republican Steve Chabot. He's run OH-1 for all but two years since 1988, but this time it looks like he's in real trouble against Democratic challenger Kate Schroder, and she doesn't look like she's going to blow it like Aftab Pureval did two years ago.

Kamala Versus The Lie Fly Guy

Basically there's three things about last night's vice-presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence last night: first, men thought the debate was a forgettable, inconsequential tie, and women thought Harris won by an historic landslide

More Americans said Sen. Kamala Harris did the best job in the vice presidential debate Wednesday night, according to a CNN Instant Poll of registered voters who watched. About 6 in 10 (59%) said Harris won, while 38% said Vice President Mike Pence had the better night. 
Those results roughly matched voters' expectations heading into the debate. In interviews conducted before the debate, 61% of those same voters said they expected Harris to win, 36% thought Pence would.

Read the full poll results here 

There was a stark gender gap in the results, with women saying Harris did the best job in the debate by a 69% to 30% margin. Men, meanwhile, split about evenly between Harris (48%) and Pence (46%). 
Harris did improve her favorability rating among those who watched, according to the poll, while for Pence, the debate was a wash. In pre-debate interviews, 56% said they had a positive view of Harris -- that rose to 63% after the debate. For Pence, his favorability stood at 41% in both pre- and post-debate interviews. 
Harris' numbers went up among men (from 49% favorable before to 56% afterward) and women (from 63% favorable before to 70% post-debate), and she even boosted her favorability rating among Trump supporters (from 4% favorable pre-debate to 12% after). Pence's numbers held steady among men and women (50% of men had a favorable view in both pre- and post-debate interviews, among women it was 33% pre-debate and 32% after). 
As after the first presidential debate, though, most voters who watched said Wednesday's event hasn't changed their minds about whom to support. Overall, 55% say it had no effect on how they are likely to vote, while those who did choose a side tilted narrowly toward Joe Biden. 
Both vice presidential candidates are broadly seen as qualified to be president: 65% said Pence is qualified to serve as commander in chief should that become necessary, 63% said the same of Harris. 
Most debate watchers said Harris did the better job defending her running mate (64% Harris to 34% Pence), that she seemed more focused on uniting the country (62% to 34%), was more in touch with the needs and problems of people like you (61% to 38%) and that she expressed her views more clearly (57% to 39%). Most said Pence spent more time attacking his opponent (56%) than thought the same of Harris (36%).
Second, Pence, like Trump before him last week, refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power, stating that he and Trump were "fighting every day" to stop Biden and Harris from a "massive opportunity for voter fraud".

At the tail end of Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate—one that was noticeably less fiery and chaotic than last week’s presidential clash—Vice President Mike Pence completely avoided answering what he would do if President Donald Trump refuses to step down if he loses the election.

Late last month, the president explicitly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. At last week’s debate, Trump again declined to commit to accepting the outcome of the election should he end up losing, instead undermining public trust in the voting process by declaring that because of mail-in balloting the 2020 election is “going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen.”

The veep first said that he thinks his ticket will win re-election before accusing Democrats of not accepting the outcome of the 2016 election, bringing up the Russia investigation and the impeachment of the president. After invoking former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s advice that Joe Biden shouldn’t concede on election night if the results are close, Pence reiterated his belief that Trump would be re-elected.

“President Trump and I are fighting every day to prevent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from changing the rules and creating a massive opportunity for voter fraud,” he concluded. “If we have a free and fair election, we’ll have confidence in it.”
As with Trump, the heavy implication is that only a Trump win will be considered the results of "a free and fair election" and a Biden win will be challenged in every way possible. 

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will not participate in the second presidential debate with Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates said the event will be held virtually in the wake of the President's positive coronavirus diagnosis
"I am not going to do a virtual debate," Trump said on Fox Business. "I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate." 
Biden's campaign on Thursday swiftly agreed to the virtual format. But Trump's comment throws the debate into question after the commission took the significant step to wholly remake the event. The move was seen as needed by members of the debate commission given the uncertainty around the President's health. 
Frank Fahrenkopf, head of the debate commission, told CNN that the commission spoke with both campaigns "just before" they announced that the second debate would be held virtually. 
"We did not consult with them," he said, adding that their decision is "supported by the Cleveland Clinic," the commission's health advisers. 
Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager, accused the commission on Thursday of "unilaterally canceling an in-person debate" to help Biden and said the President will be holding a rally instead of attending the debate. 
The commission said the debate moderator, Steve Scully, and the attendees who will ask Trump and Biden questions will appear from Miami, the original site of the debate.
Remember, the second debate was supposed to be a town hall format. A remote debate in the regular format was a real win for Trump avoiding questions from American voters, but Trump burned it down anyway

As I said last night, Biden may have a decisive lead, but all bets are off as to what happens next.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Apparently Senate Republicans have made it clear that Trump killing COVID-19 aid will cost the GOP the Senate and any cover to save Trump's ass, and that's enough to motivate him to come crawling back to the bargaining table with Nancy Pelosi.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday tried to salvage a few priority items lost in the rubble of COVID-19 relief talks that he blew up, pressing for $1,200 stimulus checks and new aid for airlines and other businesses hard hit by the pandemic.

In a series of tweets, Trump pressed for passage of these chunks of assistance, an about-face from his abrupt and puzzling move Tuesday afternoon to abandon talks with a longtime rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The California Democrat has rejected such piecemeal entreaties all along. But Pelosi did talk with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Wednesday evening, her spokesman said, about stand-alone airline rescue legislation as the industry is shedding tens of thousands of jobs.

Trump’s tweets amounted to him demanding his way in negotiations that he himself had ended. Trump, who absorbed much political heat for abandoning the talks, is the steward of an economy whose continued recovery may hinge on significant new steps such as pandemic unemployment benefits. His tweets seemed to move the financial markets into positive territory, though it was far from certain whether they would impress voters demanding more relief.

He called on Congress to send him a “Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200)” — a reference to a preelection batch of direct payments to most Americans that had been a central piece of negotiations between Pelosi and the White House.

“I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday evening. He also urged Congress to immediately approve $25 billion for airlines and $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses.

The stock market fell precipitously after Trump pulled the plug on the talks but was recovering Wednesday after he floated the idea of piecemeal aid.

Trump’s decision to scuttle talks between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi came after the president was briefed on the landscape for the negotiations — and on the blowback that any Pelosi-Mnuchin deal probably would have received from his GOP allies in Congress.

“It became very obvious over the last couple of days that a comprehensive bill was just going to get to a point where it didn’t have really much Republican support at all,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday on Fox News. “It was more of a Democrat-led bill, which would have been problematic, more so in the Senate than in the House.”

Pelosi told reporters that “all the president wants is his name on a check” for direct aid payments.

The unexpected turn could be a blow to Trump’s reelection prospects and comes as his administration and campaign are in turmoil. Trump is quarantining in the White House with a case of the coronavirus, and the latest batch of polls shows him significantly behind Democrat Joe Biden with the election four weeks away.
Trump's increasingly erratic and destructive behavior is one of those things where normally you'd say "If your opponent is busy destroying themselves, don't interrupt" but the problem of course is that he's taking tens of millions of Americans to hell with him.

We'll see wha happens here, but Trump's all over the place at this point with his own lunacy and the steroid cocktail he's on and the illness, so who knows at this point.


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