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June 29, 2016

New PPP Poll: Public Not Happy with GOP Senators/McConnell Role Blocking Supreme Court Nomination



A new Public Policy Polling survey of registered voters in six swing states -- AZ, IA, NH, OH, PA and WI presents findings which are more interesting than the usual horse race polls. As the PPP memo on the surveys explains:

New Public Policy Polling surveys in 6 key battleground states where Republican Senators are up for reelection this year find that voters don't trust Donald Trump and would rather have Barack Obama picking a new Supreme Court justice than him. As a result they overwhelmingly support hearings on Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, and are inclined to punish the vulnerable Republican Senators who are holding up his selection.

...-Voters in all six states, by margins ranging from 5 to 23 points, say they don't trust Donald Trump to nominate a Supreme Court justice. Voters in WI (34% trust Trump, 57% don't) and in the home of Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley of IA (35% trust Trump, 52% don't) are particularly skeptical of Trump's ability to name a Justice.

That puts all of the hand-wringing about Hillary Clinton's "trust" problem in context. Further, the memo states "voters in all six states clearly say that they *do* trust President Obama with the responsibility of making a Supreme Court selection, especially in contrast to Trump. In the key Presidential battlegrounds of Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin Obama has at least a 9 point advantage over Trump on that question in every state.

Poll respondents said they trusted Obama more than Trump for selecting the next Supreme Court justice by the following margins in each state: AZ+1; IA+10; NH+14; OH+11; PA+9; and WI +17. In addition, "More than 60% of voters in each of these states supports hearings for Garland, by margins ranging from 38 to 46 points. That includes overwhelming support from critical independent voters, and even plurality support from Republicans in 4 of the 6 states"

The PPP surveys indicate that Republican senators in these six states are in trouble --- "5 of the 6 have negative approval ratings and the one exception, Chuck Grassley, still has his worst approval numbers in years with them coming in only narrowly on positive ground at 43/40. Voter unhappiness about obstructionism on the Supreme Court issue could be what flips all these toss up races into the Democratic column and gives them control of the Senate next year..."

Even better,

One other thing serving as a drag on these vulnerable Senate Republicans is the unpopularity of their leader, Mitch McConnell. McConnell's approval rating is under 15% in all six states, and being tied to him has the potential to damage the political standing of the members of his caucus. His net approval ranges from -26 at best to -45 at worst in this set of states.

Gratifying though it is to see Mitch McConnell paying a price for his obstructionist "leadership," there are as many as five other swing/battleground states, including FL, MI, NC, VA and ME, and some of them show close margins in the presidential contest and/or senate races.

But the margins in the six states of the PPP surveys are nonetheless impressive and indicate that the public is tiring of the GOP senate leadership's obstruction of an exceptionally well-qualified nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Put that together with the fallout following Speaker Ryan's refusal to allow votes on popular gun safety measures, and the GOP looks even more like an elitist political party that thwarts the democratic process to block even moderate progress.


June 28, 2016

Brexit's Message for Dems: Get Focused on Working Families



The following article by Democratic strategist Mike Lux, Leo Hindery, Jr. and Michael Wessel (author notes below), is cross-posed from HuffPo:

Last week's Brexit vote was just the latest example -- albeit a giant one -- in this wild political year when workers have been sending the clear message that status quo economic policies are unacceptable. Politicians here in America and in Europe ignore the concerns of workers at their great peril. For the Democratic Party in this country in 2016, the lessons are especially clear.

In the 35 years since Ronald Reagan became president, we've seen a steady erosion in the attention political leaders have given to the economic and political concerns of the working class. From the dramatic decline of union membership to the excessive deregulation of Wall Street; from trade deals that enrich multinational corporations but not American workers to a lack of antitrust enforcement that's allowed near-monopolies in too many sectors; from a lack of significant wage increases for all but the top 10 percent of Americans to ever-escalating inflation in the costs of health care, groceries and college, our political system breakdown and our persistent "trickle down" sense of economics have combined -- and conspired -- to weaken the well-being of most American working people and retirees.

And now they're angry, in ways that once hardly seemed imaginable.

A ridiculous huckster and nativist named Donald J. Trump is only days away from officially being the Republican Party nominee for president. And in the United Kingdom, Brexit has just validated that working class anger isn't only an American phenomenon and concern.

The Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign need to understand that this reality matters, and that -- in spite of some national polls showing a significant lead right now -- beating Donald Trump in 2016 will be no easy lift. For all the people Trump has offended over the last year and for all of his racism and misogyny, for all the mistakes he has made in recent weeks, he is in a near tie with Secretary Clinton in several key swing states, and is still within striking distance nationally. And don't forget that Trump outperformed his polling numbers throughout much of his primary run.

Democrats at all levels are going to need a big turnout of our base, as well as a message that appeals strongly to working class swing voters.

The good news is that the Democratic Party Convention platform being developed in advance of Philadelphia is a sign of things moving very much in the right directions. On a wide range of economic issues, the current draft sections of the Party platform are more responsive to working families' concerns than we've seen in decades. There is great language on toughening up our trade deals and making them more focused on workers and their continued fair employment and less focused on just further enriching big business. There are calls for a new Glass-Steagall Act, for breaking up "Too Big to Fail" banks, and for a Financial Transactions Tax. A $15 minimum wage indexed for inflation is demanded, as is, importantly, a new large-scale jobs program to include major spending on infrastructure through a new infrastructure bank with a 'buy domestic' demand and worker protections.

Continue reading "Brexit's Message for Dems: Get Focused on Working Families " »


June 27, 2016

Galston: White Working Class Fearful on Immigration



The following article by William A. Galston, senior fellow, governance studies at Brookings, is cross-posted from Brookings.

Although a few political analysts have been focusing on the white working class for years, it is only in response to the rise of Donald Trump that this large group of Americans has begun to receive the attention it deserves. Now, thanks to a comprehensive survey that the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) undertook in collaboration with the Brookings Institution, we can speak with some precision about the distinctive attitudes and preferences of these voters.

There are different ways of defining the white working class. Along with several other survey researchers, PRRI defines this group as non-Hispanic whites with less than a college degree, with the additional qualification of being paid by the hour or by the job rather than receiving a salary. No definition is perfect, but this one works pretty well. Most working-class whites have incomes below $50,000; most whites with BAs or more have incomes above $50,000. Most working-class whites rate their financial circumstances as only fair or poor; most college educated whites rate their financial circumstances as good or excellent. Fifty-four percent of working-class whites think of themselves as working class or lower class, compared to only 18 percent of better-educated whites.

The PRRI/Brookings study finds that in many respects, these two groups of white voters see the world very differently. For example, 54 percent of college-educated whites think that America's culture and way of life have improved since the 1950s; 62 percent of white working-class Americans think that it has changed for the worse. Sixty-eight percent of working-class whites, but only 47 percent of college-educated whites, believe that the American way of life needs to be protected against foreign influences. Sixty-six percent of working-class whites, but only 43 percent of college-educated whites, say that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities. In a similar vein, 62 percent of working-class whites believe that discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem as discrimination against other groups, a proposition only 38 percent of working-class whites endorse.

This brings us to the issue of immigration. By a margin of 52 to 35 percent, college-educated whites affirm that today's immigrants strengthen our country through their talent and hard work. Conversely, 61 percent of white working-class voters say that immigrants weaken us by taking jobs, housing, and health care. Seventy-one percent of working-class whites think that immigrants mostly hurt the economy by driving down wages, a belief endorsed by only 44 percent of college-educated whites. Fifty-nine percent of working-class whites believe that we should make a serious effort to deport all illegal immigrants back to their home countries; only 33 percent of college-educated whites agree. Fifty-five percent of working-class whites think we should build a wall along our border with Mexico, while 61 percent of whites with BAs or more think we should not. Majorities of working-class whites believe that we should make the entry of Syrian refugees into the United States illegal and temporarily ban the entrance of non-American Muslims into our country; about two-thirds of college-educated whites oppose each of these proposals.

Opinions on trade follow a similar pattern. By a narrow margin of 48 to 46 percent, college-educated whites endorse the view that trade agreements are mostly helpful to the United States because they open up overseas markets while 62 percent of working-class whites believe that they are harmful because they send jobs overseas and drive down wages.

It is understandable that working-class whites are more worried that they or their families will become victims of violent crime than are whites with more education. After all, they are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher levels of social disorder and criminal behavior. It is harder to explain why they are also much more likely to believe that their families will fall victim to terrorism. To be sure, homegrown terrorist massacres of recent years have driven home the message that it can happen to anyone, anywhere. We still need to explain why working-class whites have interpreted this message in more personal terms.

The most plausible interpretation is that working-class whites are experiencing a pervasive sense of vulnerability. On every front--economic, cultural, personal security--they feel threatened and beleaguered. They seek protection against all the forces they perceive as hostile to their cherished way of life--foreign people, foreign goods, foreign ideas, aided and abetted by a government they no longer believe cares about them. Perhaps this is why fully 60 percent of them are willing to endorse a proposition that in previous periods would be viewed as extreme: the country has gotten so far off track that we need a leader who is prepared to break so rules if that is what it takes to set things right.


Political Strategy Notes



Aaron Blake reports at the Fix that "...We have some bad news for the Trump campaign. Sanders supporters aren't just rallying around Clinton; they're doing it rather quickly. And it's a big reason Clinton just extended her lead over Trump into the double digits, 51 percent to 39 percent...A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that Sanders backers, who polls have shown were reluctant to jump over to Clinton and even flirted with supporting Trump, are coming home faster than we might have expected."

Having read George Will's columns for decades, I've been wondering if this might happen. Will believes Trump's policies are not genuinely conservative and Trump's utter lack of integrity, gravitas and general rectitude are repulsive an old-school conservative like Will. But in a way, Speaker Ryan's character flaw sealed Will's departure, as indicated by the video clip below. There may be soon others. Thomas B. Edsall discusses polls showing that a growing percentage of Republican rank and filers say they may sit out the 2016 presidential election.

"Clinton's campaign is advertising heavily in eight swing states with soft-focus spots designed to rehabilitate her image. These three Rust Belt states [MI, PA and WI] are not on the list, despite the campaign's organizing presence on the ground here, raising concerns among allies who fret that she cannot afford to take any of them for granted....The key for Clinton in the Rust Belt, her allies say, is to discredit Trump and to demonstrate that she has concrete proposals to better their lives -- all while connecting emotionally with people's anger." -- from "Democrats see danger signs in states where Clinton has not fully engaged" by Phillip Rucker and John Wagner of the Washington Post.

At The New York Times Sunday Review Frank Bruni spotlights "14 Young Democrats to Watch."

He doesn't address all of the counter-arguments, but HuffPo's Earl Ofari Hutchinson makes a strong case for Clinton picking Elizabeth Warren for her running mate: "Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is Hillary's best bet for VP. Why? Despite the relentless lampooning, ridiculing and name-calling of Trump, and the smug writing of his political obituary, the election will be a close run up. The big GOP donors and handlers, the hate driven passion to beat Hillary, Trump's skilled fear mongering and pander to bigotry, the never-ending media fawn over him, and GOP dominance in the majority of the state's legislatures and state houses will insure that...The fatal mistake is to assume that simply painting and then writing off Trump as a kook will be enough to scare millions to storm the polls to defeat him. Clinton's campaign is a political textbook study in business like organization, precision, and professionalism. But it's not a campaign of passion...Its passion that pushes people, especially young people, and minorities, out the door and to the polls on Election Day. These voters made the White House a wrap for Obama in 2008 and 2012. But Clinton is not Obama, and in the handful of swing states that will decide the election, the numbers and turnout will mean everything."

Writing at The Upshot, Brendan Nyhan cautions "Don't Assume Donald Trump's Supporters Believe All His Words." As Nyhan observes, "Many don't take his promises literally -- for instance, only 42 percent of Republicans believe Trump will succeed in making Mexico pay to build a wall. A number of these voters instead support him because he would move policy in their preferred direction, albeit not nearly as far as he suggests. (Some might not even want him to succeed in carrying out those proposals -- for example, a March poll found that 37 percent of Trump supporters disagree with his plan to deport all illegal immigrants currently in the United States.)"

Bloomberg View's Albert R. Hunt explains why the 2016 "Ballot Is Expected to Offer Stark Choice on Economy."

At The American Prospect Peter Dreier offers "Three Strategies to Beat the NRA: Gun safety advocates who until now have relied largely on traditional lobbying need to broaden their strategy to include partnerships with gun owners and civil disobedience." Dreier makes a compelling case that "The Orlando massacre may be a turning point in galvanizing a stronger movement for sensible gun control. Three strategies--traditional advocacy, mobilization of sensible gun owners, and civil disobedience--point the way. Even as we grieve, we can move forward. We can stop the madness."


June 24, 2016

The Labour Party's Immigration Problem



In the reaction to the British vote to leave the European Union, there have been a lot of loose analogies made between the US and the UK I discussed one of them at New York:

Anyone who has been watching the run-up to the Brexit referendum in Britain, in which controversy over EU-mandated immigration policies has been a central issue, might have been surprised by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's initial reaction to the results:
A lot of the message that has come back from this is that many communities are fed up with cuts, they are fed up with economic dislocation and feel very angry at the way they have been betrayed and marginalised by successive governments in very poor areas of the country.

So Brexit is about budget cuts and Tory social policies? Really?

Now, part of what Corbyn may be reflecting is the left's traditional tendency to view cultural phenomena as by-products of economic dynamics -- what critics call "economic reductionism." You can see a glimmer of that in the reaction to Brexit by Bernie Sanders, a pol who is often accused of economic reductionism:

"What this vote is about is an indication that the global economy is not working for everybody," he said. "It's not working in the United States for everybody and it's not working in the U.K. for everybody. When you see investors going to China and shutting down factories in this country and laying off, over a period of many years, millions of people, people are saying you know what, global economy may be great for some people but not for me."

Not a word about immigration, even as an economic issue.

Unike Sanders, Corbyn and other Labour leaders have to be very careful in talking about this subject. On the one hand, nonwhite immigrants are a strong Labour constituency. On the other hand, white native British working-class voters appear to have overwhelmingly voted for Brexit in Labour's northern English strongholds. And Labour is far more dependent on white working-class support than are our own Democrats. For one thing, the U.K. remains a much "whiter" country than the U.S.; as of the last census, 87 percent of the British population was white. And so Labour has not been able to make up for white working-class defections with a large minority voting population. There's also more competition in the U.K. for the higher-income, higher-educated voters who have been gravitating to the Democratic Party in the U.S.: The Lib Dems and Greens are serious parties, as are the regional nationalist parties, and the Tories are (or were in the last two national elections) a lot more moderate than their American counterparts.

That is not to say Brexit, or even anti-immigrant sentiment, is all about race, by any means. The immigrants most associated with EU policy are typically Eastern European (about half of the immigrant population of the U.K. is now nonwhite, and half is white, according to some estimates). But many British people fear the EU will force the U.K. to accept countless Middle Eastern migrants as a by-product of the Syrian nightmare.

In any event, Labour must balance a diverse coalition anchored in a white working class that increasingly resents diversity. It simply does not have the demographic luxury to champion diversity and acceptance of immigrants the way most Democrats -- notably presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton -- have done.

So it's safer to talk about Tory austerity and economic inequality. Corbyn's rap has the added advantage of expressing some truth. It's just not the whole truth.


Trump's First Road Trip as GOP Leader Deepens Brexit Mess



Anyone who has been wondering about Donald Trump's capacity for statesmanship and global economic leadership will find an instructive read this morning at HuffPo, Lee Moran's "Angry Scots Troll Donald Trump Over Brexit Gaffe: The Donald got his facts wrong. Again."

In his first international trip as the leader of the Republican party, Trump demonstrated remarkable insensitivity to, as well as ignorance of the serious concerns of Scots and Brits about their economic future. Trump's Scottish debacle was a consequence of his poor timing and judgement in re-opening the Trump Turnberry Golf Resort, while the Scots voted on European Union membership.

If you thought that the leader of the GOP would at least be well-informed enough to know how Scots voted on the issue, you would be very wrong. Trump tweeted "Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!" It was not well-received. As Moran writes,

Trump also faced a backlash after tweeting that people in Scotland were "going wild" following the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union...Many Scots are angry at his tweet because most actually voted to remain inside the EU.

...All 32 council areas and a total 62 percent of Scots backed the UK to remain in the EU, according to the BBC. It was in contrast to the U.K. as a whole, which voted 52 percent to 48 percent for "leave."

Dozens of Twitter users branded Trump a "moron," "weapons-grade plum" and "idiot" -- including British pop star Lily Allen, TV presenter Sue Perkins and comedian Peter Serafinowicz.

Add to all of that the callousness of opening a luxury golf resort designed to serve as a playground for the wealthy at a time when millions of working people in the UK are concerned about their economic security as their country prepares to leave the European Union. Not exactly the signature of a serious world leader. Oh well, at least they'll have a fancy golf resort for the elites.

The last thing the UK and Europe need at this political moment is a visit from the world's most famous immigrant-basher. The UK's outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron described Trump's Muslim-bashing as "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong" and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said his comments were "repugnant and offensive."

There is a fair amount of media hand-wringing about the Brexit vote and the possibility that it may mean working people in the developing countries are leaning more favoraby toward immigration restrictions and trade protectionism, which Trump has supported. It will take some better polling to verify any such trends, and Clinton has the time to tweak her message accordingly.

What is clear is that Trump has once again damaged his credibility with ill-considered comments. No doubt many Europeans are this morning experiencing enhanced appreciation for the prospect of Hillary Clinton's leadership -- instead of the disastrous alternative.


June 23, 2016

California Democrats Adopt Unity Reform Resolution



Most Democrats are aware that Bernie Sanders' campaign has been pushing for certain changes in the presidential nominating process. Unfortunately, they are so tied up in that campaign's claim that the system is "rigged" against its own candidate that perceptions of the proposals depend on which camp one is in. But last weekend in California we saw what could be the beginning of a unity push for reforms. I wrote about it at New York earlier this week:

[Sanders'] "reform" agenda is a bit self-serving, aimed as it is at features of the nominating process that hurt Sanders's prospects and helped Clinton's. Most notably, while complaining that superdelegates and closed primaries reduce the influence of actual voters, Sanders and his supporters have been largely mute on the most anti-democratic device of them all, the use of caucuses rather than primaries.

Now that the identity of the Democratic presidential nominee is no longer in question, it should be possible for supporters of both Sanders and Clinton to consider reforms without this kind of candidacy-driven tunnel vision. That's exactly what happened this last weekend at an executive-board meeting of the California Democratic Party:

The California Democratic Party on Sunday called for a broad overhaul of how the party nominates its presidential candidates, including the elimination of caucuses and most super-delegates.

The resolution urging the Democratic National Committee to change the nominating rules for the 2020 contest has no official power, but is a symbolic statement from the largest state Democratic party in the nation.

Many of the changes were sought by supporters of Bernie Sanders, but Hillary Clinton backers also endorsed the effort, resulting in the resolution being unanimously approved at the state party's executive board meeting on Sunday.

The resolution specifically called for limiting superdelegates to the membership of the DNC and then binding them to actual primary results. It also called for an upending of the traditional calendar rules that have given four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina -- disproportionate influence. If achieved at or after the convention (Democrats tend to defer nomination-process reforms to postelection "commissions"), these changes would represent the largest reforms in the process since the 1980s.

This reform effort represents what is often called "logrolling" in a legislative context, and it can provide powerful impetus to the achievement of big compromises when it encompasses multiple objectives of multiple interests. Partly because of California's reputation as a trendsetter, and partly because it no longer affects the outcome of the nomination race, it's entirely possible this combo platter of reforms could gain momentum as the convention approaches, to the probable horror of some governors and members of Congress and a lot of Iowans.

Indeed, another compromise is readily available on the remaining bone of contention over the nomination process between Sanders and Clinton supporters: open versus closed primaries. Virtually all Democrats favor liberal voter-registration rules. The national party could support closed primaries only in those states that adopted same-day registration and reregistration opportunities. Thus the primaries would be open only to Democrats, but it would be easy for voters to become Democrats after they've formed the intention of participating in a Democratic contest. One of the states that provides for same-day registration right now is Iowa. Maybe it could be officially named "the Iowa reform" to mitigate the agony and grief of Iowans if their first-in-the-nation caucus is delegitimized.

That was a joke. But the possibility of joining the passions of both presidential campaigns to a unity agenda of reforms is quite serious.


Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research: Latinas on Trump, Policies, and Voting in 2016



Findings from a National Survey of Hispanic Women

A recent poll of Latina voters commissioned by American Women, Voto Latino Action Network and iAmerica Action[1] highlights the important role of Hispanic women in this year's presidential elections.

These women are strongly positive toward Hillary Clinton and Democrats; meanwhile, they view Donald Trump very hostilely, not surprising in the wake of his incendiary rhetoric on immigration.

Latinas face a great deal of stress around money and family, with a diverse set of concerns that covers not only economic challenges but also family and balancing their responsibilities at work and at home. Latinas, and particularly millennial Latinas, are more likely to report earning less than $15 an hour. They want to support candidates whose policy agenda will allow them to achieve a bright future, including equal pay, college affordability, paid sick days and family leave, affordable childcare, and reproductive rights.

Moreover, Latinas express more enthusiasm for voting in the 2016 elections than in the 2014 mid-term elections, driven by very polarized feelings about the political parties and candidates.

The following are key findings from a national telephone survey of 400 Latina registered voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The survey was run in parallel with an online survey of 800 registered voters nationally.

84% of Latinas View Trump Negatively

These women come to this election with very polarized feelings toward the political parties and candidates at the top of the ticket. Latinas express strong favorable feelings for the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton alike, while white men and women view them negatively. At the same time, Latinas hold a negative view of the Republican Party generally, but reserve their harshest sentiments for the presumptive Republican nominee. An overwhelming 84 percent of Latinas view Trump negatively.

Latinas Clinton.png

Latinas show intense support for pay equality, college affordability, and reproductive health policies

Given the concerns facing Latinas and their hope for the future, it is not surprising that they strongly favor candidates who advocate for college affordability, pay equality, and paid sick and paid family leave in the workplace. The intensity of support is notable here, with nearly 8 out of 10 Latinas who say they would be "much more likely" to support a candidate for elected office who took these positions.

Latinas Pay.png

Latinas also strongly support policies to protect women's reproductive health, with large majorities more likely to vote for a candidate who will protect women's access to birth control and abortion. This includes 69 percent of Latinas under the age of 50 and 54 percent of older Latinas. Likewise, half of Latinas say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports defunding Planned Parenthood and passing a ban on abortion

Overwhelming support for immigration reform policies among Latinas

Not surprisingly, strong majorities of Latinas favor policies that would provide not only allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and gain legal resident status, but also provide a path to citizenship. Two-thirds of Latinas strongly favor a path to citizenship, with more than nine out of ten (92 percent) favoring the policy overall. Just 13 percent of Latinas support building a fence along the border with Mexico; 83 percent oppose the plan.

Latinas Immigration.png

Latinas express strong intention to vote in 2016

Latinas have an opportunity to be a key bloc in this year's elections. In this survey, 59 percent of Latinas report voting in 2014; now, nearly 81 percent say they are "almost certain" to vote in 2016.

Latinas Voting.png

Read more at GQR here.


Political Strategy Notes



Speaker Paul Ryan adjourned the House, but the Democrats conducting the sit-in to protest GOP/NRA obstruction of even a vote on popular gun safety measures will continue. More details are expected today, report Deirdre Walsh, Manu Raju, Eric Bradner and Steven Sloan at CNN Politics. "The tension exploded onto the floor just after 10 p.m. ET when Republican Speaker Paul Ryan gaveled the chamber into order to hold a procedural vote on an unrelated matter. A dramatic scene unfolded as throngs of Democrats -- some holding signs with the names of victims of gun violence -- remained in the House well chanting "no bill, no break" and "shame shame shame." They also sang the protest anthem "We Shall Overcome."...They could keep their protest going on a smaller scale between now and July 5. Democrats vowed to restart their protests in full once the House returns in July, and they could look for other ways to force Republicans' hands..."When we come back in July, we will start all over again," [Rep. John] Lewis said..."We made some progress. We crossed one bridge, but we have other bridges to cross," he said just after 3:30 a.m., calling the effort "a major down-payment on ending gun violence in America ... and we will continue to fight."... Overall, more than 170 Democrats took part in the sit in, lawmakers said."

The Democrats' strategy is to dramatize the fact that Speaker Ryan won't even allow a vote on enormously popular gun safety measures, some of which are supported by upwards of 80 percent of Americans in opinion polls. Ryan is providing cover for his cowardly fellow Republicans who meekly do the NRA's bidding, but don't want to be held accountable for it by voters. The Democrats are committed to making sure that the NRA Republicans can no longer hide in the shadows and escape voter accountability.

At The Fix Chris Cillizza's "Five things House Democrats' sit-in on guns will change. And one it won't" mulls over some of the possible ramifications of the sit-in. I hope he is right about his first assertion: "The Democratic base will be energized beyond belief...The organic nature of the sit-in -- most Democratic members outside of Reps. John Lewis (Ga.) and Katherine Clark (Mass.) were unaware of it before it launched Wednesday afternoon -- is just the sort of thing that will thrill rank-and-file Democrats. The Democratic party committees will fundraise like crazy off of this event. So will Hillary Clinton, who will highlight it the next time she speaks publicly. Democrats had been privately concerned about the enthusiasm of their party base when compared to Republicans during the primary voting process. A high profile event like this one should help narrow that gap."

Richard Gonzales reports at NPR that "The owner of Orlando's Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were shot and killed on June 12, says she and her staff will host a "Latin Night" street party on Thursday." But to make it more meaningful, they should launch a statewide voter registration campaign at the event, since Florida is one of the worst states for voter suppression.

The Atlantic's associate editor Clare Foran explores a question on the minds of many "Can Hillary Clinton Turn Red States Blue?" and reports on Clinton's efforts to launch a '50-state strategy.'

At Sabato's Crystal Ball Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley have an updated projection, "The Electoral College: Map No. 2: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." The authors still see the Democrtatic nominee, Clinton's most likely electoral vote total as 347 (270 needed to win the election), vs. Trump's 191. The authors add, "...Party unity within the Republican family is a non-starter. Two former presidents (both Bushes), the previous party nominee (Romney), and a host of other top GOP officials, donors, and commentators will never get on the Trump bandwagon. News media coverage is bound to stress who does not come to Cleveland, not just who does...As much as many Republicans dislike Trump and fear he will lead to catastrophic losses in the fall, he won the nomination fair and square...Bluntly put, the GOP is stuck with Trump. And a substitute nominee, should one be installed somehow, would be asked to lead a viciously divided party with no real chance of victory."

At New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer Ed Kilgore explains why "Why Trump Can't Afford to Let Clinton Dominate the Political-Ad War." Kilgore notes, "it should serve as a warning to Team Trump that one of the political scientists most associated with disrespect for paid ads in presidential elections, Lynn Vavreck, also insists that letting one's opponent run uncontested ads is a path to a slow, but sure, political death. Kilgore sums up Vavreck's key points, "Unopposed ads do indeed shape impressions of candidates, and those impressions affect polling numbers which in turn affect actual voting in the end."

Marco "AWOL" Rubio missed another important Senate Foreign Relations Comttee hearing -- this time to announce that he has changed his mind and will now run for senate, despite numerous recent statements to the contrary. "Democrats immediately circulated opposition research on Wednesday showing Rubio has missed the bulk of his committee hearings in addition to the votes he missed while running for president. That's likely to be a theme of the Senate campaign against him," reports Burgess Everett at Politico. Ed Kilgore notes, "There are two very recent polls of this race that point in different directions. Quinnipiac has Rubio up 47-40 over Murphy (and 48-4o over Grayson). But PPP has Murphy up 42-41, with Rubio well underwater with a 30-49 job approval rating and his ability to stay even with Murphy depending on the temporary phenomenon of higher name ID."

In his NYT op-ed article, "How Low Can the GOP Go?", Thomas B. Edsall notes, "Polls are also showing an increase in the percentage of Republicans who are indicating that they might sit out the 2016 election. The Reuters-Ipsos tracking poll measures how many voters refuse to say whether or how they will vote. Among Republicans, the percentage of these voters has risen since early May from 17.2 percent to 26.6 percent. Among Democrats, the percentage has remained relatively constant, fluctuating between 19 and 21 percent."


June 22, 2016

Rep. Lewis, Dems Lead Sit-in in House to Protest GOP Inaction, NRA Obstruction of Gun Safety



"We have a mission, a mandate, and a moral obligation to speak up and speak out until the House votes to address gun violence. We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the innocent and the concern of our nation. We will use nonviolence to fight gun violence and inaction." - Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
Lewsi Sit-in.jpg
Above, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joins Rep. John Lewis and other Democratic members of congress during their sit-in to protest Repubican inaction and NRA obstruction of gun safety.






Editor's Corner

by Ed Kilgore



June 24: The Labour Party's Immigration Problem

In the reaction to the British vote to leave the European Union, there have been a lot of loose analogies made between the US and the UK I discussed one of them at New York:

Anyone who has been watching the run-up to the Brexit referendum in Britain, in which controversy over EU-mandated immigration policies has been a central issue, might have been surprised by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's initial reaction to the results:
A lot of the message that has come back from this is that many communities are fed up with cuts, they are fed up with economic dislocation and feel very angry at the way they have been betrayed and marginalised by successive governments in very poor areas of the country.

So Brexit is about budget cuts and Tory social policies? Really?

Now, part of what Corbyn may be reflecting is the left's traditional tendency to view cultural phenomena as by-products of economic dynamics -- what critics call "economic reductionism." You can see a glimmer of that in the reaction to Brexit by Bernie Sanders, a pol who is often accused of economic reductionism:

"What this vote is about is an indication that the global economy is not working for everybody," he said. "It's not working in the United States for everybody and it's not working in the U.K. for everybody. When you see investors going to China and shutting down factories in this country and laying off, over a period of many years, millions of people, people are saying you know what, global economy may be great for some people but not for me."

Not a word about immigration, even as an economic issue.

Unike Sanders, Corbyn and other Labour leaders have to be very careful in talking about this subject. On the one hand, nonwhite immigrants are a strong Labour constituency. On the other hand, white native British working-class voters appear to have overwhelmingly voted for Brexit in Labour's northern English strongholds. And Labour is far more dependent on white working-class support than are our own Democrats. For one thing, the U.K. remains a much "whiter" country than the U.S.; as of the last census, 87 percent of the British population was white. And so Labour has not been able to make up for white working-class defections with a large minority voting population. There's also more competition in the U.K. for the higher-income, higher-educated voters who have been gravitating to the Democratic Party in the U.S.: The Lib Dems and Greens are serious parties, as are the regional nationalist parties, and the Tories are (or were in the last two national elections) a lot more moderate than their American counterparts.

That is not to say Brexit, or even anti-immigrant sentiment, is all about race, by any means. The immigrants most associated with EU policy are typically Eastern European (about half of the immigrant population of the U.K. is now nonwhite, and half is white, according to some estimates). But many British people fear the EU will force the U.K. to accept countless Middle Eastern migrants as a by-product of the Syrian nightmare.

In any event, Labour must balance a diverse coalition anchored in a white working class that increasingly resents diversity. It simply does not have the demographic luxury to champion diversity and acceptance of immigrants the way most Democrats -- notably presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton -- have done.

So it's safer to talk about Tory austerity and economic inequality. Corbyn's rap has the added advantage of expressing some truth. It's just not the whole truth.


June 23: California Democrats Adopt Unity Reform Resolution


Most Democrats are aware that Bernie Sanders' campaign has been pushing for certain changes in the presidential nominating process. Unfortunately, they are so tied up in that campaign's claim that the system is "rigged" against its own candidate that perceptions of the proposals depend on which camp one is in. But last weekend in California we saw what could be the beginning of a unity push for reforms. I wrote about it at New York earlier this week:

[Sanders'] "reform" agenda is a bit self-serving, aimed as it is at features of the nominating process that hurt Sanders's prospects and helped Clinton's. Most notably, while complaining that superdelegates and closed primaries reduce the influence of actual voters, Sanders and his supporters have been largely mute on the most anti-democratic device of them all, the use of caucuses rather than primaries.

Now that the identity of the Democratic presidential nominee is no longer in question, it should be possible for supporters of both Sanders and Clinton to consider reforms without this kind of candidacy-driven tunnel vision. That's exactly what happened this last weekend at an executive-board meeting of the California Democratic Party:

The California Democratic Party on Sunday called for a broad overhaul of how the party nominates its presidential candidates, including the elimination of caucuses and most super-delegates.

The resolution urging the Democratic National Committee to change the nominating rules for the 2020 contest has no official power, but is a symbolic statement from the largest state Democratic party in the nation.

Many of the changes were sought by supporters of Bernie Sanders, but Hillary Clinton backers also endorsed the effort, resulting in the resolution being unanimously approved at the state party's executive board meeting on Sunday.

The resolution specifically called for limiting superdelegates to the membership of the DNC and then binding them to actual primary results. It also called for an upending of the traditional calendar rules that have given four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina -- disproportionate influence. If achieved at or after the convention (Democrats tend to defer nomination-process reforms to postelection "commissions"), these changes would represent the largest reforms in the process since the 1980s.

This reform effort represents what is often called "logrolling" in a legislative context, and it can provide powerful impetus to the achievement of big compromises when it encompasses multiple objectives of multiple interests. Partly because of California's reputation as a trendsetter, and partly because it no longer affects the outcome of the nomination race, it's entirely possible this combo platter of reforms could gain momentum as the convention approaches, to the probable horror of some governors and members of Congress and a lot of Iowans.

Indeed, another compromise is readily available on the remaining bone of contention over the nomination process between Sanders and Clinton supporters: open versus closed primaries. Virtually all Democrats favor liberal voter-registration rules. The national party could support closed primaries only in those states that adopted same-day registration and reregistration opportunities. Thus the primaries would be open only to Democrats, but it would be easy for voters to become Democrats after they've formed the intention of participating in a Democratic contest. One of the states that provides for same-day registration right now is Iowa. Maybe it could be officially named "the Iowa reform" to mitigate the agony and grief of Iowans if their first-in-the-nation caucus is delegitimized.

That was a joke. But the possibility of joining the passions of both presidential campaigns to a unity agenda of reforms is quite serious.


June 18: McCain's Shameful Claim Obama "Directly Responsible" For Orlando Massacre

A lot of intemperate things were said in the wake of the massacre in Orlando, many of them by Donald Trump. But John McCain took the shameful cake, as I discussed this week at New York:

[Y]ou'd figure the presumptive Republican nominee has reasserted his leadership of the Obama-haters of America. But then came this astounding attack today:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the elder Republican statesman, said President Obama was "directly responsible" for the terror attack in Orlando due to his failure to combat the rise of the Islamic State terror group.

Wow.

McCain's "reasoning," so to speak, for this remarkable statement involved the stacking of dubious premises to reach an absurd conclusion:

When pressed by a reporter on the claim that Obama was "directly" responsible, McCain reiterated his point -- that Obama should not have withdrawn combat troops from Iraq and should have made a more determined effort to intervene in the Syrian civil war.

Keep in mind that so far as anyone knows, ISIS had nothing to do with the Orlando massacre other than taking "credit" for it ex post facto thanks to the murderer's apparently independent decision to dedicate his evil act to the evil actors in the Middle East.

Shortly after spouting this insanity, McCain issued a statement on Twitter saying that he "misspoke": "To clarify, I was referring to Pres Obama's national security decisions that have led to rise of #ISIL, not to the President himself."

So that's reassuring: McCain was not accusing the president of being personally involved in the planning or execution of the attacks in Orlando. But that he felt the need to clear that up is telling.

It's worth remembering that if John McCain had somehow beaten Barack Obama in 2008, he might still be in office today, actively waging wars instead of merely longing for them and bitterly lashing out at a commander-in-chief who is, to his view, insufficiently bloodthirsty. He's convinced himself that the case for an expanded and eternal Iraq War was strong when he championed the "surge" and, if possible, is even stronger today. And he wants a new war or two now to make up for Obama's horrific decision to bring that great folly to a close. Perhaps because he knows Donald Trump won't make this particular argument, McCain felt the need to make it himself.

If the myth of McCain the Maverick Good Guy still survives in some quarters, it's time to consign it to the history books for good.


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