A FiveThirtyEight.com chat session responds to the question, “Will Voters Give Trump Credit For North Korea?” Among the possibilities, as Perry Bacon, Jr. sees it: “I don’t think the agreement reached this week means a ton. If there are no North Korean nuke tests between now and Election Day 2018 but also no big deal between Trump and Kim, then North Korea is not a real Election Day factor. It recedes from the news. I don’t think this summit itself changes the midterm dynamics that much….The media will move on from this issue back to Mueller/Pruitt/Trump scandals/tweets, etc. People just don’t think about foreign policy that much in general.” Micah Cohen adds, “How’s this for a starting point: Voters will view Trump’s North Korea policy through their normal partisan lens … unless (i) it very clearly goes south and a substantial portion of elected Republicans begin to criticize it, or (ii) it very clearly goes well and even the commenters in the media are praising it?…But the 90 percent confidence interval of likely outcomes probably fails to break partisan biases….And you can see those biases in the pre-summit polling:” Clare Malone suggests, “I agree about the midterms. It could affect 2020 more, or at least play a part.”
I’m a fan of both Robert DeNiro and Samantha Bee. But Frank Bruni makes a good point in his ‘open letter’ column, “How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump” at The New York Times: “I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning….Many voters don’t hear your arguments or the facts, which are on your side. They just wince at the din…It’s about maturity, pragmatism and plain old smarts — and the necessity of all three when the stakes are this high…“When they go low, we go high,” said another first lady, Michelle Obama, at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. It’s a fine set of marching orders, disobeyed ever since.” Of course actors and entertainers should have their say, like everyone else. But Bruni’s column should be a keeper for all public figures who want their comments to be strategically-sound.
Vox’s Dylan Scott says polls indicate “Democrats have a good shot at turning Ohio blue again in 2018,” and notes that, “Brown, a popular two-term incumbent, should already be viewed as the favorite, but both polls showed him running far ahead of Renacci:…Quinnipiac: Brown leads Renacci, 51 percent to 34 percent…Suffolk: Brown is again way ahead of Renacci, 53 percent to 36 percent…DeWine had been considered the slight favorite in a state that has been trending red, with no statewide elected Democrats except Brown, and where Donald Trump won by 8 points in 2016. But both surveys actually found Cordray ahead:…Quinnipiac: Cordray narrowly led DeWine 42 percent to 40 percent…Suffolk: Cordray had a bigger lead over DeWine, 43 percent to 36 percent…But the findings were striking enough that after their release, the University of Virginia’s Crystal Ball said it was shifting the Ohio governor’s race from Lean Republican to Toss-Up and the Senate race from Lean Democrat to Likely Democrat.”
At The Upshot, Neil Irwin addresses a question of enormous consequence that doesn’t get enough coverage, “If the Robots Come for Our Jobs, What Should the Government Do?” Trump’s antagonistic trade policies are a distraction from more immediate, real-world causes of job loss. It’s less about the role of tariffs than automation and U.S. industry’s investing too much in other countries. Regarding automation, Irwin writes that “Some of the potential answers are big, bold ideas that have gained traction in particular ideological circles. A universal basic income — the idea that the government simply give each citizen enough money every month to support basic needs — has fans among both free-market libertarians and socialists….But other ideas starting to percolate in economic policy circles may have advantages in terms of cost and political viability.” Irwin flags several other ideas emerging from think tanks, including shorter terms for patents and trademarks, shorter work-weeks (work-sharing), expanding subsidized re-training and “life-long learning accounts,” greater ‘portability’ of benefits, and expanding the earned-income tax-credit. It would be good to see more Democrats developing proposals that include some of these measures and addressing the rvages of automation more directly.
Robert Atkinson argues in “The Pro-Growth Minimum Wage” at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, however, that automation is a desireable consequence of raising the minimum wage, in part because somebody has to make and service the new machines. But mostly Atkinson is concerned with better progressive messaging in support of the minimum wage. “If progressives want to break through this frustrating stalemate and get a higher minimum wage over the finish line—at least in more states, if not in Congress—it’s time for them to make the case for a higher minimum wage on the grounds of growth first, and fairness second. In other words, not only should progressives stop ceding ground to opponents when it comes to jobs and GDP growth, they should rightly assert that a higher minimum wage would actually improve both. In other words: If we want to grow the U.S. economy, not just redistribute more of its fruits to low-income workers, we need to raise the minimum wage. This argument is much more likely to prevail…what’s truly important is how many jobs there are in the U.S. economy after raising the minimum wage…There are too many low-wage, low-skill jobs, too little investment by companies in new machinery and high-performance work organizations, and too little support by government for those organizations, including skills development. Getting out of this trap will require a wide range of policies, including better programs to boost worker skills. But no policy change is more vital here than a higher minimum wage. And, as such, progressives will need to champion such a move, by highlighting the essential role it will play in creating a robust economy and growth for all.”
Democrats have been gifted ample material for a powerful ‘weathervane’ ad in the Trump Administration’s decision to gut the highly-popular pre-existing health care provision of the Affordable Care Act. WaPo’s Fact Checkers Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly document the history of Trump’s comments supporting pre-existing condistion coverage on at least ten occasions — in stark contrast to his recently authorizing the gutting of the measure. As the authors conclude, “With no explanation or warning, the president now supports an effort to nullify the provisions that make it possible for millions of people to purchase affordable insurance. Thus this new position, directly contradicting his repeated stance as a candidate and as president, qualifies as a flip-flop.”
Some insights from Meredith Ferguson’s “Cracking the Code of Young Voter Turnout” at Campaigns & Elections: “Consider who young people are today, and for whom they’re being asked to vote. They’re the most racially and culturally diverse generation in American history. Forty-six percent identify as a race or ethnicity other than white. Yet, women and minorities each make up less than 20 percent of lawmakers in the 115th Congress. According to the CDC, eight percent of high schoolers identify as LGBTQ, while only one percent of Congress does. The average member is 57 years old — that’s among the highest average in recent history…Young people also refuse to be bound by the traditional ideological boxes. The plurality — 46 percent — of our survey respondents said they identify as independent or unaffiliated and 50 percent view themselves as moderates. While young people may be considered liberal on many social issues, those positions reflect more of a societal shift than a political philosophy…For example, even a majority of our respondents who identify as conservative support universal background checks for gun purchases and believe that the government has a responsibility to ensure health coverage for all.”
In his Washington Post column, “Trump’s America goes full Charles Dickens,” Dana Milbank spotlights the glaring contradiction between GOP elected officials mouthing of cliched concern for opiate addicts and migrant children and their failure to support anything resembling substantial legislation to address the crises. “This is why the show of compassion rings hollow: Republican lawmakers aren’t willing to stand up to the source of their Dickensian dilemma. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) spoke out against Trump — and lost his primary Tuesday. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) once expressed concern about Trump — and was forced into a runoff. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is retiring, complains his GOP colleagues won’t defend their own trade principles because they don’t want to “poke the bear…Republicans may be afraid voters will see them as heartless — but they are more afraid of crossing Trump.”
“The problem with this administration is that everything it does is a distraction from everything else it does,” writes Eric Alterman at The Nation. “Trade? Immigration? Economic equality? Education? Environmental protection? Workers’ rights? Women’s rights? Diplomacy? Whatever it is, to borrow from Groucho Marx, they’re against it. And they will also lie about it. And they will complain about being asked about it…Trump’s genius for distraction, self-pity, and entertaining idiocy succeeds not only in normalizing his psychopathic behavior and malevolent prejudices but also in hiding the fact that institutions that protect our freedom and democratic rights are teetering beneath a ferocious assault…Trump supporters and their media apologists complain that news coverage of this administration is overwhelmingly negative. In fact, it’s nowhere near negative enough. That’s because it is piecemeal and professional, and cannot help itself from trying to be fair to “both sides,” bending over backward to treat Trump as somehow normal.” Well put. Now Dems could use some fresh ideas for addressing the media coverage problems associated with Trump’s distractions and false equivalency journalism.