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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

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Working America: Where do Biden’s chances look strongest?

The following post by Matt Morrison of Working America is cross-posted from a Working America e-blast:

We are six days out until voting ends on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The ever-present noise machine has the volume turned all the way up, and it’s even louder if you live in a battleground state. But all of us are being buffeted by the news of the day: Everyone around Pence is COVID-positive and he is still campaigning; Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in to RBG’s seat on the Supreme Court and each day there is a new record for COVID cases in the U.S. After all that, Trump’s tax returns, which show an astonishing level of indebtedness and near complete tax avoidance, while perhaps offering a greater explanation of his motivations, are no longer a topic of discussion.

If you are wondering when it will all end, consider what battleground state voters, who don’t necessarily even like politics, think of the deluge they’re experiencing. That, in part, explains why so many have rushed to cast ballots early (they know we will stop calling them).
So, let’s look at what we know about the state of the race today.

Where Do Biden’s Chances Look Strongest?

Last Sunday, Working America surveyed 38,871 battleground-state voters who have already cast their votes and compared those results to responses from people yet to vote whom we have surveyed in the last month. This research approach means we can look beyond the simple ballot returns by voter partisanship or aggregate polling data. By dividing up survey data between those who have voted and those likely voters who have yet to cast ballots, we can get clearer insight on the range of election outcomes.

First, we compared how many ballots have been cast in this year’s contest versus the total 2016 turnout. We found that it’s likely that a majority of the total vote is already in across a handful of states, while others are moving at a slower pace. (Of course, a big unknown is whether voter turnout will surge or decrease and if it does, among which voters, in the last few days — hence we are not making projections on the final tally.)

Next, we looked at how the race breaks among early voters. One of the important distinctions between our data and some of the voter-file-based reports is that we see the Biden margin increasing more than partisan identity would suggest virtually everywhere. The difference is that we are reflecting what voters shared with us, while other reports simply use the probable vote choice based on voter file data.

We can also examine where the race stands among those who have yet to vote. Here, the picture is less favorable for Biden, (but still not bad). In states such as Arizona and Michigan, it is notable that Biden is running even with or slightly behind Trump in the remaining vote — a promising indication, especially when combined with his strong leads among early voters. But other states like Florida will be closer calls.

These data tell us that while Democrats are voting earlier and Republicans are voting later in the election cycle, Trump has a steep hill to climb in certain states.

How We (And You) Are Shaping the Outcome

But, more than simply reporting on electoral outcomes, Working America is working to shape them.

Using our 2020 playbook, Working America has fully deployed its electoral outreach program. We continue to reach voters across racial, geographic and political divides to move them to support Biden and pro-worker Democrats up and down the ballot. The map shows where the Working America program has already been making the difference this cycle. For example, if recent testing results are fully replicated on Election Day, we will add 81,212 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by 44,292 votes in 2016. This is just one part of a national program that’s adding hundreds of thousands of Biden votes, as well as down-ticket candidate supporters.

As a down payment on that substantial vote gain, we can confirm we have already banked 24,854 extra Biden votes (from just one program we evaluated) based on the survey conducted Sunday among early voters. We’re picking up every vote possible and continuing to focus on the interests and concerns of voters all the way through Election Day and beyond. Keep up the good work.

In solidarity,

Matt


Russo: Why Trump Will Lose Ohio

The following article by John Russo of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

It is always dangerous to publicly predict the outcome of a presidential election, especially in a purple state like Ohio. But I’ve done it twice, in 2011 and 2016, months in advance, when both of my predicted winners, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, respectively, were behind.

Photo by Alex Brandon, Trump speaking at a rally at the Toledo airport
This year, I am predicting that Trump will lose in Ohio. That might seem like a somewhat safe bet, since the most recent Real Clear Politics polls for Ohio show Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a very slight lead. Then again, at this point in 2016 the Real Clear Politics average showed Trump ahead by less than 2 percent, and Hillary Clinton ultimately lost Ohio by 8 points. So it’s worth considering how the Democrats will overcome the political ineptitude they displayed in 2016 and—as was not the case in the rest of the nation—2018, when the “Democratic Party left Ohio.”

The answer lies in changing demographics, Trump’s failures, the shifting views of some evangelicals, and problems in the Ohio Republican Party.


Teixeira: The White Noncollege Shift to Biden by Age

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

I have frequently noted here the large scale and political significance of the white noncollege shift toward Biden relative to Trump’s performance in 2016. It’s an interesting question what parts of the white noncollege voting pool are responsible for this shift. One way to look at it is by age–is it younger or older white noncollege voters who are driving this shift?

I looked at this using the UCLA + Democracy Fund Nationscape survey data (which includes about 1800 likely white noncollege voters per week) since September 1 and comparing the white noncollege Trump-Biden vote by age to the Trump-Clinton white noncollege by age split from 2016, as estimated by the States of Change project.

What I found is quite eye-opening. At least by this comparison, the shifts we are seeing are by no means uniform across the white noncollege population.. Older white noncollege voters, especially seniors, are heavily driving the shift, while the shifts among younger white noncollege voters are much more modest.

white noncollege 18-29: +6 toward Biden
white noncollege 30-44: +3 toward Biden
white noncollege 45-64: +19 toward Biden
white noncollege 65+: +32 toward Biden

Political Strategy Notes

In “A Crusade for Something Noble: Americans are coming together to save our Republic, right now. And it means something” at The Bulwark, James Carville writes, “I know it’s difficult for so many of us to feel hope in this moment, which seems so incomprehensibly dark. We are a nation deeply wounded from a liberated virus. We’re struggling with systemic racism. And we’ve endured lashing mental abuse, time and again, from the president of the United States. But it is not a darker moment than what Ike saw when he looked across the English Channel on June 6, 1944 at the continent of Europe, dominated by the Nazis…So I see a light ahead. Just days away, a unified and electrified coalition of Americans, coming together like our country did in World War II, standing united to send a message that will be heard around the world to all those who look with expectant hope to the America that led the crusade more than half a century ago: That America has not succumbed to a demagogue and would-be autocrat. That we have overcome. And that Donald J. Trump is not who we are…In just a short time, America will go from its darkest hour to its finest hour.”

From Harry Enten’s “9 days to go: Biden’s lead over Trump is holding, while Clinton’s was collapsing at this point” at CNN Politics: “The clock is running out on President Donald Trump’s chances for a comeback. He continues to trail former Vice President Joe Biden nationally and in the key swing states with just nine days to go…But perhaps most worrisome for the President: Trump’s clearly behind his 2016 pace. By this point four years ago, he was rapidly closing the gap with Hillary Clinton. No such advancements can be seen in the 2020 polling against Biden…Right now, Biden is up by about 9 to 10 pointsnationally, depending on the average you examine. He is, importantly, over 50%. Biden’s edge may be down a point or so from early October, though it is well within the historical average from the beginning of the year.”

Thomas B. Edsall writes in “What if Beating Trump Is the Easy Part? If Biden holds on, keeping the Democratic coalition intact will take an unusual level of political skill” at The New York Times: “Winning control of the Senate is critically important, of course, and will shape what happens as much as anything else an election can decide…FiveThirtyEight estimates the odds of a Democratic takeover of the Senate at 74-26, or three to one…David Card, an economist at Berkeley, posed the question, “How crucial for the success of a Biden presidency is a Democratic Senate?” and answered the question himself: 100 percent. Obama came in after 2009 with a lot of troubles but Biden is taking over with nearly impossible deficit, pandemic and completely gutted federal government…Not only does Biden need a Senate majority, the size of the majority will also be crucial…If he only has a cushion of one or two votes, Gary Burtless, an economist at Brookings, argues,

it would greatly reduce the chances Democrats could enact sweeping political and regulatory reforms, including major climate change legislation and rationalization of the Affordable Care Act.

But, Burtless continued,

Even a bare majority would allow Democrats to enact sensible fiscal policies, provide adequate relief to the unemployed, confirm centrist and liberal federal judges, and give the Democratic President greater leeway to reverse Trump-era regulations/deregulations.”

Enlarging the Supreme Court is the only answer to the right’s judicial radicalism,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in The Washington Post: “The truly scandalous lack of institutional patriotism on the right has finally led many of the most sober liberals and moderates to ponder what they opposed even a month ago: The only genuinely practical and proper remedy to conservative court-packing is to undo its impact by enlarging the court…Note the language I just used. Court-packing is now a fact. It was carried out by a Republican Senate that was cynically inconsistent when it came to the question of filling a court seat during an election year…And conservatives are as hypocritical about court enlargement as they are about Garland and Barrett: In 2016, Republicans expanded the state supreme courts of Georgia and Arizona to enhance their party’s philosophical sway…Court enlargement will be a long battle, but those of us who support it should be encouraged, not discouraged, by Joe Biden’s call for a bipartisan commission to study a court system that is, as Biden put it, “getting out of whack.”…Biden is a long-standing opponent of enlargement, so his statement is an acknowledgment that this crisis can’t be avoided. His commission would help the public, which usually doesn’t want to worry about judges, understand the danger of a judiciary dominated by reactionaries.”


CNN Poll: Biden Beats Trump in Last Presidential Debate

Jennfier Agiesta writes at CNN Politics that ” according to a CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers. Overall, 53% of voters who watched the debate said that Biden won the matchup, while 39% said that President Donald Trump did.” In addition,

Viewers once again said that Biden’s criticisms of Trump were largely fair (73% said they were fair, 26% unfair), and they split over whether Trump’s attacks on Biden were fair (50% said yes, 49% no)…That’s a more positive outcome for Trump. In a CNN Instant Poll after the first presidential debate, just 28% said they thought the President had won the debate, and 67% called his criticism of Biden unfair.

All told, though, the debate did not do much to move impressions of either candidate. Favorable views of Biden before the debate stood at 55%, and they held steady at 56% in post-debate interviews. Likewise, Trump’s numbers held steady, with 42% saying they had a favorable view of the President in interviews conducted before Thursday’s debate and 41% saying the same afterward.

More debate watchers, though, said Trump’s performance raised concerns about how he would handle the presidency (55%) than did Biden’s (41%).

Thursday’s debate watchers preferred Trump over Biden on the economy (56% say they think Trump would better handle it vs. 44% who say Biden would), and divided about evenly between the two on foreign policy (50% prefer Biden, 48% Trump). Biden held a wide edge as more trusted to handle the coronavirus (57% Biden to 41% Trump), climate change (67% Biden to 29% Trump) and racial inequality in the US (62% Biden to 35% Trump).

In terms of demographic breakdown, Agiesta notes:

Women were more likely than men to say that Biden did the better job in the debate (60% of women said Biden won, 35% Trump, while among men, 47% said Biden won, 44% said Trump did). Independents also largely felt Biden won (55% Biden to 36% Trump), as did moderates (56% Biden to 37% Trump) and White voters with college degrees (64% Biden to 29% Trump). Among those 65 and older — a group backing Biden in greater numbers than they did Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to most polls — the verdict was a split decision, with 46% saying Biden won, 43% Trump and 10% saying they both did equally well. Younger voters broadly saw Biden as the winner, 66%, to 27% for Trump among those under age 45.

The poll of 585 voters has a m.o.e. of 5.7 percentage points.


How Bloomberg May End Up a 2020 Hero for Dems

At Politico, Mark Caputo and David Siders write,

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s $100 million investment in Florida to defeat Donald Trump is recasting the presidential contest in the president’s must-win state, forcing his campaign to spend big to shore up his position and freeing up Democratic cash to expand the electoral map elsewhere.

Bloomberg’s massive advertising and ground-game spending, which began roughly a month ago, has thrown Trump into a defensive crouch across the arc of Sunbelt states. As a result, the president‘s campaign has scaled back its TV ad buys in crucial Northern swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — a vacuum being filled by a constellation of outside political groups backing Joe Biden.

“It’s forced the Trump campaign to retrench in Florida. You can see it in the spending habits, in television and digital. They’re investing more at the expense of places they need to win,” said Steve Schale, who leads the pro-Biden Unite the Country super PAC.

More specifically, Caputo and Siders note,

Schale said his group and the other major Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA, have been able to focus their dollars in other parts of the country, particularly the Upper Midwest. Democratic super PACs, meanwhile, have been able to focus more attention on Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia — once-reliably red states where the president has also had to commit additional resources for the past month, in addition to Florida.

This is not just Democratic wishful thinking.

David Johnson, former Florida GOP executive director, said the Bloomberg money has had a clear effect on forcing Trump to withdraw to his core states, instead of competing across a wider national map.

“This is not your 2016 election, so abso-freaking-lutley the Trump team knows they have to maintain something closer to parity in [gross rating] points and spots in the home stretch,” Johnson said. “You best not be massively outspent in Florida the last two weeks and expect to perform well on Election Day, where Republicans have to turnout in vastly larger numbers to win.”

Bloomberg took a lot of hard hits during the presidential debates. But, if Democrats win Florida’s electoral votes, or even lose FL closely but win the election, Bloomberg will have made a tremendous contribution to ending the Trump nightmare and perhaps even saving countless lives that would be lost because of Trump’s continuing mismanagement of the pandemic. In either event, he will have earned the gratitude of his country.


Teixeira: America’s Electoral Future – The Coming Generational Transformation

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

It’s out! The new States of Change report on the potential effects of generational change on future elections. And they’re huge! This should put a smile on your face.

In this report, we show that incorporating generational cohorts into one’s analysis has a potentially substantial impact on the political landscape of future elections. We do this using four scenarios:

* No generational effects. This simulation assumes voting and turnout patterns from the 2016 presidential race remain the same in future elections for all demographic groups defined by race, age, education, gender and state. The only thing that changes is the size of these various groups among eligible voters. Such a scenario takes no account of the changing generational composition of the electorate and serves as a baseline for judging the impact of incorporating generational preferences.

* Full generational effects. This simulation assumes that generational political preferences will remain the same in future elections. Put simply, instead of assuming that younger voters vote exactly like older groups as they age, this scenario assumes that each generational cohort will continue to vote in future elections like they did in the 2016 presidential election. Like the first scenario, this scenario also accounts for changes in the underlying composition of the electorate by race, education, gender, and state. Age-related turnout rates for various groups are held constant at the levels assumed in the age-based simulation.

* Generation effects decline with age. This simulation assumes that generational political preferences will carry forward into future elections, as in the second simulation, but also assumes that generations will become more conservative as they age. Like the first two scenario, this scenario also accounts for changes in the underlying composition of the electorate and holds the age-related turnout rates of groups constant over time.

* Post-Millennial generations more conservative. This simulation assumes that generational political preferences will fully carry forward into future elections but assumes that Gen Z and the as-yet unnamed generation following them will be more conservative than the Millennial generation. As in our other scenarios, this scenario also accounts for changes in the underlying composition of electorate and holds the age-related turnout rates for various groups constant going forward into future elections.

There are two key findings from these scenarios.

First, the underlying demographic changes our country is likely to experience over the next several elections generally favor the Democratic party. The projected growth of groups by race, age, education, gender and state tends to be more robust among Democratic-leaning groups, creating a consistent and growing headwind for the Republican party. This will require the GOP to improve their performance among key demographic groups, election after election, just to keep their vote share competitive as illustrated by our first, age-based simulation that includes no generational effects. That simulation finds Michigan and Pennsylvania moving Democratic in 2020, with later elections in the 2020s adding Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, and North Carolina to the Democratic column.

Second, incorporating generational cohorts into this analysis dramatically accelerates the rate at which America’s political terrain could potentially shift, as shown by our second, generation-based, scenario. That scenario finds Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona moving Democratic in 2020, with later elections in the decade adding Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio to the Democratic tally.

Even under scenarios where cohorts grow more conservative as they age or younger generations are substantially more conservative, these changes are still far faster than with simulations that consider only age groups and ignore the way generational changes can reshape the electorate.”


Democrats Consider Options on High Court Expansion

In “There Is Only One Solution to the Amy Coney Barrett Debacle: Yes, Democrats must expand the courts. Here’s why, and here’s how,” Elie Mystal writes at The Nation:

…There’s not a single Democratic law or program that a court controlled 6-3 by conservative justices cannot frustrate or block. A Republican-appointed court will smack down voting rights legislation, gun reformlegislation, climate change protections, LGBTQ rights, and abortion rights. It will nullify the Affordable Care Act and block the merest whiff of a public option or Medicare for All. Republicans wanted the court as a hedge against their waning popular support, and now they have it.

The obvious—and only—solution to this Republican power grab is for Democrats to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

…We cannot go on like this. We cannot continue to exist in a polity in which the death of an octogenarian begets a generation-defining game of tug-of-war. We cannot endure under a legal system in which the death of one or two people opens the door to wild changes in our laws or the devastation of the rights of people living under them.

Mystal envisions a dramatic expansion of the Supreme Court far beyond what most Democrats are currently pondering, if they win the presidency and a Senate majority:

The way to free ourselves from the random wheel of death is to have more justices on the court. Ginsburg’s passing would have had significantly less impact on the fate of women’s rights if she had been but one of 19 people instead of nine. By the same logic, it wouldn’t have made sense for Republicans to block Garland’s appointment if it would have changed just one seat on a court of, say, 29 individuals. Every Supreme Court justice would still be important but not nearly as important as each one is now.

It would be a tough sell, even with Democrats. But reducing the power of individual justices by increasing the size of the court makes sense, as Mystal explains:

Moreover, a much larger court would likely lead to more moderate opinions (if not more moderate judges, since those don’t really exist). That’s because Supreme Court opinions have to be agreed to by a majority of the court…Trying to get a majority of your colleagues to agree with you on a 29-person court is just a different beast from trying to get your four archconservative buddies to sign on to your ruling. Decisions made for the benefit of more people tend to be watered down. That’s basically how Olive Garden stays in business.

Mystal envisions including some Republicans in the larger court expansion, to get some “buy-in” from Republican senators. Mystal’s large expansion proposal may make more sense as a longer-term strategy — it would require a major effort to educate the public, since many people seem to believe that expanding the court is a radical idea, despite historical facts to the contrary. However, if Dems win both the white house and a senate majority, they will have to move quickly to reduce the damage a 6-3 Republican court would do their policies. They could start with a smaller  expansion, from 9 to 13, and then use their leverage to create a larger court with Republican representation and buy-in.

Former congressman and MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough has a Washington Post column, “There’s nothing more originalist than packing the court,” which clarifies the history of Supreme Court expansion in light of Judge Barrett’s likely confirmation. As Scarborough notes,

As Amy Coney Barrett said in Senate testimony this week, the Constitution has “the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it.” Even before every state ratified America’s founding charter, George Washington signed a bill that placed just six justices on the Supreme Court. The second president, John Adams, reduced that number to five. Thomas Jefferson increased that number to seven. And the man who inspired the term “Jacksonian Democracy” added two more justices in 1837.

…Abraham Lincoln confirmed his opponents’ worst suspicions when he moved against the Supreme Court by signing the Judiciary Act of 1862, adding a 10th justice to the court. Following his assassination, Republicans in Congress reduced that number to seven in an effort to thwart Lincoln’s Democratic successor. Republicans then added two justices after winning back the White House in 1869.

…Given such a powerful legacy, originalists, Republican politicians and right-wing bloggers would never dare suggest that adjusting the Supreme Court’s size was anything other than constitutional and consistent with the republic’s oldest traditions. To do so would condemn as un-American the Father of our Country, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the first president to live in the White House.

At The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner urges Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to get out front on Supreme Court expansion:

Joe Biden has been getting pummeled by Republicans, both for the demands of many Democrats to expand the Supreme Court, and for ducking the question of whether he supports the idea. He can blunt these attacks by facing the issue head-on.

Expanding the Court is a legitimate idea because Republicans have been engaging in court-packing for decades. For starters, they have imposed extreme ideological litmus tests on their own court appointees, and shamelessly delayed or blocked Democratic appointments.

…Today’s Republicans have so politicized the Court that its very legitimacy is in question. Biden needs to say that he has not ruled out expanding the Court, and that he will begin a process of consultation with scholars and jurists to consider several alternatives, including fixed terms for justices, mandatory retirement ages, and a larger Court.

The political reality is that Biden does not yet have a consensus on how to proceed even among Democrats. With the likelihood of a closely divided Senate, he will need to build support for whatever reform project can command backing both among scholars and the citizenry and in Congress.

Kuttner concludes, “It’s time for Biden to make a virtue of necessity, and address the issue of court expansion in a principled and candid fashion. Candor is in rare supply these days. Voters appreciate it in a political leader when they see it.”


Political Strategy Notes

Alan I. Abramowitz writes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Over the past three decades, U.S. Senate elections have become increasingly nationalized. Presidential coattails have always been a factor in Senate elections, but the connection between presidential and Senate elections is much closer now than in the past. This trend reflects rising partisan polarization and straight-ticket voting. Thus, in 2016, for the first time in modern history, the candidate of the winning presidential candidate in the state won every Senate contest…There is every reason to expect that the 2020 Senate elections will continue this trend. The overwhelming majority of voters have strong opinions about President Trump, and Republican and Democratic Senate candidates are generally emphasizing their support or opposition to the president and his policies in their campaigns. We expect to find a very close connection between the 2020 presidential and Senate elections, and we expect this connection to become stronger over time. Therefore, it should be possible to use polling data on the presidential contest to predict the outcome of the U.S. Senate election even in states for which little or no polling data is available on the Senate contest…Senate elections have become increasingly tied to presidential voting results. This shows up in this year’s polling, as the margins for states’ presidential and Senate races are closely linked…An analysis of these polling data suggest that Democrats are likely to achieve a net gain of between one and eight seats with the most likely result a net gain of five seats, enough to give them a small Senate majority.”

In his Washington Post column, “How Joe Biden — yes, Joe Biden — could revolutionize American politics,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “Joe Biden may be running a safe and centrist campaign, but beneath the methodical calm is a genuinely innovative ideological appeal. The former vice president is updating and bringing back the long-dormant Democratic tradition of labor liberalism…He is doing so rhetorically and with union hall visits, but also through an agenda that seeks to spark economic growth through substantial public investments…Steve Rosenthal, a union strategist with access to labor polling, said Biden was “running a solid 10 points ahead of where Hillary Clinton was in union households nationally,” and even better in swing states…He would build infrastructure, fight climate change, raise wages, guarantee health insurance coverage and expand child-care and pre-K programs…And he is creating the sort of multiracial electoral coalition that has always been the only workable path to progressive governance…Understanding how the pieces of Biden’s strategy interact is the best way to square two seemingly contradictory facts: That Biden is running as a moderate, and that he has put forward the most progressive platform a Democrat has offered in years.”

Nathaniel Rakich explains why “Why Rejected Ballots Could Be A Big Problem In 2020” at FiveThirtyEight: “Mail-ballot rejections don’t disenfranchise all voters equally, though. Voters of color and young voters, who also tend to have less experience voting by mail, are more likely to have their votes go uncounted. In North Carolina, Black voters’ mail ballots are already being rejected at a higher rate than white voters’ ballots. A similar trend was identified in Florida and Georgia in the 2018 midterms. And in Florida in 2016 and 2018, voters age 21 and younger had a rejection rate more than eight times greater than voters over age 65…It’s possible, though, that the problem of rejected mail ballots is overstated. People often find themselves unable to vote in in-person elections as well — just in ways that are harder to measure. For example, some people may want to vote but lack the proper identification to do so; others may not be able to find their polling place on Election Day. And even among people who do make it to the polls, some may be deterred by long lines, and others may be turned away because of problems with their voter registration (e.g., it was out of date, or the voter was purged from the rolls). Stewart’s Survey of the Performance of American Elections estimates that about 955,000 votes were “lost” in one of these four ways in the 2016 general election.”

From “Should we restructure the Supreme Court?” by Russell Wheeler at Brookings: “Is anything sacrosanct about a nine-seat Supreme Court?”…The Constitution specifies no size for the Supreme Court, which has varied from five to 10 justices, depending on the number of judicial circuits…Blame rising partisan polarization for the broken process. But Republicans should bear extra responsibility for their unprecedented stonewalling of President Obama’s judicial nominees after Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015. GOP senators took hostage Justice Scalia’s vacated seat and have used verbal contortions to justify confirming a nominee for any 2020 vacancy that might occur…Pack-the-court proposals that would normally seem bizarre are understandable in today’s partisan climate. If the federal judiciary becomes a 21st-century version of the 1930s judiciary that thwarted a popular push for change, they may even become necessary.”


Georgia Emerges as Key State in 2020 Election

Anne Branigan reports “Georgia Sees Unprecedented Turnout, Long Lines on First Day of Early In-Person Voting” at The Root:

Georgia is being closely watched by elected officials from both parties, as well as voting and civil rights activists, for a number of reasons: It is widely considered a battleground state and its recent history of voter purges, as well as allegations of voter suppression in the 2018 midterms, led many to question the integrity of the Peach State’s voting processes even before the coronavirus pandemic shifted the way many Georgians plan to vote.

Georgia’s election is of increasing media interest, as Democrats approach “toss-up” margins in two U.S. Senate races and the state assembly, as well as the presidential race. And a strong Black voter turnout could provide Dems with the margin of victory. Branigan notes,

Early voting typically favors Democrats, and polling from this year suggests that Black people, in particular, prefer voting in person over casting a ballot via mail, despite concerns about spreading the novel coronavirus. CNN, citing data from Catalist, which tracks voter databases across the country, reports that among competitive states for the 2020 presidential election, Georgia has the largest share of ballots cast by Black voters. Black voters—considered one of the most stalwart and influential voting blocs of the Democratic party—also represent a greater share of pre-Election Day votes in Georgia than they did four years ago, Catalist’s numbers show. In 2016, they made up 29 percent of all early voting; so far in 2020, Black voters have comprised 35 percent of all early ballots. In total, 425,000 votes have been cast in the state thus far.

Branigan notes that “some accused state election officials of trying to suppress the vote. One Cobb County voter reported waiting more than 9 hours in line, while singer and songwriter Johntá Austin wrote on Twitter that he stood in line for 11 hours on Monday waiting to cast a ballot.”

Georgia Republicans, who control balloting through the Governor, Secretary of State and state legislature majorities, blame the pandemic and a shortage of poll workers for the disproportionate problems experienced by Black voters in their state. The question is, will at least one of of four white voters give Dems the support needed to pick up two senate seats and Georgia’s electoral college votes? Democrats have every reason to invest more resources in that possibility.

No pressure or anything, but it’s not hard to see how a healthy turnout of Georgia progressives and moderates could prove instrumental in ending the Trump/McConnell nightmare — and set the stage for a new era of hope and opportunity for the nation.