Thursday, February 13, 2020

Democrats, it's okay to vote for Bernie

From The Week by Ryan Cooper

Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday — with 90 percent of precincts counted, he had 26 percent of the vote, and networks declared him the victor. Sanders has won the popular vote in each of the first two contests in the Democratic primary and now has a lead in national polls. He is unquestionably the frontrunner for the nomination.

The win in New Hampshire, however, wasn't as big as many polls had predicted. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in particular drastically beat expectations, coming in at nearly 20 percent against a pre-election polling average of about 11 percent, while Pete Buttigieg also gained a couple points to 24 percent. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden got absolutely destroyed, just like in Iowa. He came in fifth with just 9 percent, compared to a polling average of 11 percent — and a total collapse from 23 percent just a month ago. It appears there is a significant population of voters who are just looking for any kind of moderate candidate who seems halfway plausible.

But the odd thing here is that a big number of these voters are almost certainly fine with Sanders — they have just talked themselves into thinking that he can't possibly win. Hey Democrats! You can just vote for Bernie Sanders if you want. It'll be okay.

It can be hard to see this if you watch too much of the hysterically anti-Sanders coverage on supposedly-liberal MSNBC — Chris Matthews recently spoke of his fear that Sanders is a secret communist who might execute him in Central Park — but the fact is most rank-and-file Democrats like Sanders just fine. Indeed, the Morning Consult poll found that his favorability rating among that group is 74 percent — the highest of any of the candidates, even better than Biden.

This isn't hard to understand. While Sanders isn't technically a Democrat, he has been a loyal soldier for all the causes the party supports (rhetorically at least) — universal healthcare, higher wages, more and better jobs, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, and so on — for decades. Neither is he some loopy extremist. While he has always held uncompromising egalitarian views, he is a savvy legislative tactician who has negotiated dozens of compromises through Congress over the years, from community health center funding in ObamaCare to a bipartisan bill to end support for the Saudi war in Yemen. Sanders has been widely covered by the media since 2016, and most Democrats plainly like what he is saying.

The difference is that Sanders insists the Democratic compromises of the 1980s and 1990s are no longer necessary, if they ever were. In his view, the party does not have to bow to either the corporate class or to white reaction (as Bill Clinton did) to win. Instead, following the trail blazed by Jesse Jackson in the '80s, he proposes to assemble a multiracial coalition of working- and middle-class voters, united mainly on economic grounds, to defeat the oligarchs that have a hammerlock on the Republican Party and still cling to influence at the top of the Democratic establishment.

That Democratic elite has spent decades hammering their electorate with the idea that radicals always lose, and that a corporate- and big money-friendly moderate is the way to go. Every election is 1972, and everyone to the left of Jimmy Carter is George McGovern — despite the fact that 1972 is as distant from today as 1924 was from that year, and the fact that moderates lost in 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, 2004, and 2016.

As we see with the panicked switching between Biden, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg, this argument still clearly resonates with a lot of Democratic voters. But the truth is that you just can't know with any kind of certainty who would be the best candidate.

A Sanders nomination would be a risk to be sure, but so would nominating anybody else. Trump really might win no matter who is nominated. Biden has tons of baggage and is plainly terrible at campaigning. Mike Bloomberg has even more baggage. Buttigieg has no experience. Klobuchar is infamous for abusing her staff. And even while both the corporate media and the right-wing agitprop machine attack Sanders as a deranged socialist, he still polls well ahead of Trump in general election matchups — within 1 point of Biden and ahead of everyone else. And let's not forget that in the most recent election, the moderate candidate lost to the biggest buffoon in the history of presidential politics.

America is in a terrible fix, and there is no easy way out. As Alex Pareene writes in The New Republic, the Democratic electorate must "be given license to support what it supports." A Sanders nomination would bring along his increasingly good margins among non-white voters and his zealous base of small donors and activists. And in a crisis, gritty determination and commitment are surely more useful than timid hesitation. Who knows what dirty tricks the Trump campaign might try, or how inscrutable swing voters might react? Best to just go with a clearly good candidate and gear up for an all-out general election effort.

From Market Watchers: Bernie Sanders isn’t a radical — he’s a pragmatist who fights to un-rig the system By Mark Weisbrot

As Bernie Sanders continues to increase his standing in the Democratic primary, and his opponents in both parties feel the pain, there is an effort to paint him as an extremist of some sort. Someone who might even lose to Trump because of this alleged “radicalism.” But it’s not that easy to make the case on the basis of facts.

He has a 40-year track record as a politician. The things he is saying now are mostly what he has shouted from the mountain tops for pretty much the whole time. The main difference is that now, other Democratic politicians have joined him: on a $15 minimum wage, student-debt relief, free tuition at public universities, expanding Social Security, reducing income inequality, and some even on Medicare for All.

His actions speak even more consistently than his words: he understands that politics is about compromise. He fights hard for what he has promised to voters, but then takes the best deal he can win if it will advance the ball down the field, and prepares to fight again the next day.

That’s why he supported Obamacare when it was the best deal on the table — expanding insurance coverage to 20 million Americans, without the life-threatening exclusions for “pre-existing conditions.” This despite the fact that Obamacare was still quite a distance from Medicare for All — “health care as a human right” — that had been his passion and signature issue for decades.

But he is a “socialist,” his opponents cry, leaving out the first part of the term “democratic socialist” that Sanders always uses when this issue is discussed. There is much room to induce confusion here because the term “socialist,” in English, has a number of different definitions that have all become common usage over the years.

It can be used to mean anything from “communist,” as in the former Soviet Union, to the European social democratic or socialist parties that have governed for much of the past 70 years in countries such as France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K., not to mention the Scandinavian countries.

It should be clear to anyone who is not trying to frighten voters that Sanders is a social democrat of the latter, European variety. There will be no U.S. government takeover of the means of production under a Sanders administration.

The biggest expansion in government will be in public funding of health insurance. Like traditional Medicare, where less than 2% of expenses are administrative costs, public health insurance will be much more efficient than the current six times as much spent by the private insurance industry. And we won’t have 8 million people falling into poverty every year due to medical expenses, or worse, tens of thousands actually dying because of lack of access to affordable health care.

Sanders’ program is targeted at correcting a very harmful transformation of the U.S. economy that has taken place over the past 40 years.

Unlike the first three decades after World War II, when income gains were broadly shared as the economy grew, most of the increase in income has gone to those who already had much more than their share. Since 1993, for example, the top 1% of families captured an astounding 48% of the growth in this country’s income.

No wonder so many Americans feel like the system is rigged against them.

That right-wing transformation was mostly launched by the Reagan team, but it came to be accepted, and even deepened by some liberal political leaders as well. Perhaps this normalization of the radical changes of the past few decades is why some commentators perceive Bernie’s program — designed to reverse this damage — as “radical.”

Here it is important to note that the fight over this right-wing transformation has never been so much about “the market” versus “the state.” Almost every economy in the world is a mixture of both.

But the Reagan “revolution” and the counter-reforms that followed (e.g., the WTO, NAFTA, financial deregulation, permanent normal trade relations with China, anti-labor legislation and practices) were not so much about changing the relative weight of market and government.

Rather what changed most is that both markets and government were harnessed vastly more to redistribute income and wealth upward. The result is an America that is unique among high-income countries in the percentage of people who are employed full-time and yet struggling to get by, not to mention the more than 10 million children in poverty and more than half a million homeless people.

Sanders, in his reform program, seeks to use both markets and government to reverse this massive upward redistribution of income and wealth.

Of course, government has to take the lead with public investment where private investment would not be forthcoming — as in the transformation of some energy infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions.

But other important parts of Sanders’ program move the economy away from government toward more market-based solutions: for example, reducing the role of government-granted-and-regulated patent monopolies in driving up the price of pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and health-care costs. Or breaking up other monopolies in favor of more market competition, in the technology and financial sectors.

Sanders also favors a less interventionist role for the Federal Reserve in the labor market, as the Fed has triggered almost all U.S. recessions since the end of World War II (except for the last two) by raising interest rates when this was unnecessary.

And he has led the way to reduce one of the most powerful and destructive abuses that our government has unleashed upon Americans and the world: the terrible, unnecessary, “forever wars” that most Americans now reject. Some of his best allies in this fight have been conservative Republicans who are skeptical of this aspect of “big government” — as has been true in the historic fight to stop U.S. military participation in Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen.

In short, Sanders is much more pragmatic and less ideological than his opponents would like to admit. But we can expect to hear more — from various quarters — of this labeling him as a “radical,” if he continues to gain on his competitors in the Democratic primary.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

New Hampshire Done - On To Super Tuesday

The New Hampshire primary is done - on to Nevada and South Carolina, then Super Tuesday. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leaves NH with a win. South Bend Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg leaves NH with a strong showing. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar heads to NV with hopes of building on her momentum move in IA and NH. Sanders and Buttigieg each came out with nine delegates from the state, and Klobuchar gained six. NH voters were not high on former Vice President Joe Biden or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Neither crossed the 15% threshold needed to receive any pledged delegates.

Perhaps Biden and Warren can kickstart their campaigns with Nevada caucus goers and the South Carolina primary voters. Nevada’s caucus is held on February 20, a day after the next debate on Feb 19, just a week away.
Candidate Pop
Percent Delegate
Bernie Sanders 121,579 26.10% 21
Pete Buttigieg 115,297 24.75% 23
Amy Klobuchar 79,455 17.06% 7
Elizabeth Warren 62,132 13.34% 8
Joe Biden 48,428 10.40% 6
Tom Steyer 11,058 2.37% 0
Tulsi Gabbard 9,594 2.06% 0
Results through New Hampshire

But, by the time South Carolina primary voters go to the polls on Saturday, February 29, early in person and by-mail voting will have run its course in Texas, Colorado, California and many other Super Tuesday states. More than half - and up to 70 percent - of voters in most Super Tuesday states will have already cast their ballots early, in-person or by mail, by SC primary Election Day. Indeed a good portion of SC voters will have already cast their ballot early by SC Election Day too.

Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Democrats Abroad, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia will all hold their presidential primaries on Super Tuesday. 1,357 of the 3,979 total available pledged delegates will be awarded to candidates in the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. More than one third of the U.S. population is expected to vote across the Super Tuesday states.

It may well be too late for any candidate to kickstart their campaign by the time SC voters go in-person to the polls on their primary Election Day on February 29. By then, it will be all but over for all but the top two or three leading contenders - at least for any hope of winning nomination on the first round of national convention delegate voting.

Billionaire, former NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg has been much in the news this month for his late entry to the race and the $200 million he has spent to date on massive TV and social media ad buys across the Super Tuesday states.

So far, Bloomberg has not accumulated any pledged delegates or national votes. His campaign to amass votes and delegates effectively starts with the SC primary. He will have to accumulate mass qualities of votes and delegates during the Super Tuesday early voting period - already underway in several Super Tuesday states - to be anything more than a spoiler at the national convention by making impossible for any candidate to accumulate enough pledged delegates to win nomination on the first round of national convention voting.

Bloomberg’s late entry to the race makes it more than likely he will be able to, at best, suck up just enough pledged delegates to throw the national convention into multiple rounds of contentious broker nominating voting.   —

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Electoral College’s Racist Origins

More than two centuries after it was designed to empower southern white voters, the system continues to do just that. Is a color-blind political system possible under our Constitution? If it is, the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 did little to help matters. While black people in America today are not experiencing 1950s levels of voter suppression, efforts to keep them and other citizens from participating in elections began within 24 hours of the Shelby County v. Holder ruling and have only increased since then.

In Shelby County’s oral argument, Justice Antonin Scalia cautioned, “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get them out through the normal political processes.” Ironically enough, there is some truth to an otherwise frighteningly numb claim. American elections have an acute history of racial entitlements—only they don’t privilege black Americans.

For poll taxes and voter-ID laws and outright violence to discourage racial minorities from voting. (The point was obvious to anyone paying attention: As William F. Buckley argued in his essay “Why the South Must Prevail,” white Americans are “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally,” anywhere they are outnumbered because they are part of “the advanced race.”) But America’s institutions boosted white political power in less obvious ways, too, and the nation’s oldest structural racial entitlement program is one of its most consequential: the Electoral College.

Commentators today tend to downplay the extent to which race and slavery contributed to the Framers’ creation of the Electoral College, in effect whitewashing history: Of the considerations that factored into the Framers’ calculus, race and slavery were perhaps the foremost.

Read the full story at The Atlantic: The Electoral College’s Racist Origins

Read more: The Electoral College was terrible from the start

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Open Letter to the DNC From an American Centrist

Dear DNC officials:

I come from a long line of Democrats. My grandparents survived the Great Depression because of FDR’s New Deal, and both of my parents were loyal Democrats as well. In my adult lifetime, I proudly registered as a Democrat at age 18, in the 1990s. Since then, I have become extremely disillusioned, watching the Democratic Party become more and more corporate-funded and corporate-aligned to the point where I do not recognize it anymore.

What the corporate media calls left-wing is actually moderate, by any recent polling on these basic social issues.

Today, our centrist candidates, like Bernie Sanders, have been labeled and sidelined by the mainstream media as “radical,” “fringe,” and “extreme.” Should we trust this characterization given that the mainstream media is largely owned by giant corporations, whose key motives are protecting their own profits? Meanwhile, social and economic inequality has sky-rocketed in the United States and worldwide in recent decades. In 2020, the world’s billionaires control more wealth than the poorest 4.6 billion people combined. The middle class continues to shrink in the US, and many Americans are just struggling to survive. Under these conditions, proposals like maintaining social security, increasing the minimum wage, providing universal healthcare coverage, protecting the environment for future generations, and making college accessible to young people are not radical positions! These are centrist positions because a majority of Americans support them. These positions would have formed a basic policy platform for an FDR administration. What the corporate media calls left-wing is actually moderate, by any recent polling on these basic social issues. Americans have really not moved so far to the left in their support for Bernie Sanders. But the Democratic Party has moved consistently and unrelentingly to the corporate right. In its alliance with the corporate, neoliberal ruling-class, the Democratic Party is now hardly distinguishable from the Republican Party in its level of corporate corruption. It’s no wonder voter turnout rates in this country have been so pathetically low.

Thankfully, the US public is getting harder and harder to fool. Like millions of other Sanders supporters, I was awake during the 2016 presidential primaries. And I was enraged when the news came out that the DNC had colluded with various mainstream media outlets to smear and destroy the Sanders campaign. We watched… as the AP and these same mainstream media outlets, not the state of California, called the results of the Democratic Primary for HRC before California even finished counting its votes. We watched… as super-delegates cast their votes for Clinton in states like Colorado, after Sanders won the caucus by a wide margin. We watched… in disgust as Sanders delegates were sidelined at the Democratic Convention. We now understand the role the DNC has played in subverting democracy and pledging allegiance to the corporate elite.

And so it’s little surprise to read this last week that as Bernie Sanders gains momentum in towns and cities throughout this country, that the DNC is contemplating reversing the 2018 rule-change restricting super-delegate votesuntil the second ballot at the Democratic Convention. Or the fact that all of sudden, the debate rules have changed so that Billionaire Bloomberg can participate in the debates, when candidates of color like Julian Castroand Cory Booker were eliminated from the debate stage for not meeting polling requirements and small-donor thresholds that have now been suddenly eliminated after Bloomberg gave the DNC $300K. The corporate, profit-driven allegiance of the DNC is painfully clear. It’s also painfully clear that the DNC would much rather lose this election to Donald Trump than to support actual democracy in the USA.

We saw it play out in 2016. If the DNC reverts back to the 2016 rules, allowing super delegates to vote in the first round at the Democratic Convention, and the frontrunner is Bernie Sanders, these corporate party hacks will cast their vote for a more corporate candidate, making much less likely that Sanders is the party’s nominee. And even if Sanders has an overwhelming majority of pledged delegates, when the super delegates participate at the Convention, we can be sure the DNC will do everything possible to weaken the democratic-party platform so that party positions are more corporate friendly. In either case, the DNC is fighting against the public opinion of the majority. And we know what happens when there is a weak democratic nominee in a general election who fails to inspire a large voter turnout. It looks like 2016 all over again.

But today, the stakes are even higher. The American people are suffering under oppressive levels of poverty and lack of access to basic human rights. The climate crisis is on the brink of global catastrophe. People will live or die as a result of US presidential policy. Whatever progressive policies or candidates become weakened as a result of DNC manipulation, the blood is on your hands.

I respectfully encourage the DNC to abandon its corporate allegiance, re-configure its membership and shift into alignment with the will of the people. Abandon your corporate donors and get behind the rising tide of small “d” democracy in this country. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will forfeit any last shreds of its legitimacy.

Erin McCarley
Denver, Colorado

by Erin McCarley is an independent photojournalist and writer based in Denver, Colorado. With a master’s degree in photojournalism from UT Austin, her still photography, videos and writing have been published by the Westword, teleSUR English, Free Speech TV in Boulder, CO, KLRU TV in Austin, TX, CounterPunch, Yes! Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, the MIT Press, the Ford Foundation, Science Daily, The Daily Texan, and others.

Creative Commons license

Texas Democrats Mirror Nation

Republicans have dominated Texas politics for more than two decades, but as the state’s population trends younger and becomes more diverse, Democrats are having greater success. In 2018, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat, came close to beating Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and brought national attention to the state’s changing politics. That same year, Democrats flipped two suburban congressional districts and picked up a dozen seats in the Texas House, putting Democrats just nine seats away from taking control of the chamber — and just ahead of the next redistricting process.

The challenge and opportunity for Texas Democrats in 2020 is to extend their 2018 successes at getting more Texans registered and to the polls. As Texas Democrats increase the turnout rate of their voters, the state looks increasingly less like the red Texas of old and more like the rest of the nation.

According to the latest poll from Texas Lyceum, the state of the race in Texas much more closely mirrors the state of the race nationally—with Joe Biden holding an extremely narrow lead over Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren trailing the two white male septuagenarians (and with a third, Mike Bloomberg, on her heels). The organization finds Biden at 28 percent, Sanders at 26 percent, Warren at 13 percent, and Bloomberg at 9 percent. (Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard all poll between 2 and 6 percent.)

The Texas poll is fairly similar to the national polling averages. Texas, after all, is fairly representative of the nation at large - it’s just the voter turnout rate in Texas has rank below every other state in the nation.

The Lyceum poll reveals the makeup of Texas Democrats, despite Texas’s conservative reputation, don’t appear to be any more prone to a moderate like Biden or averse to a self-described democratic socialist like Sanders. The two-point difference between Biden and Sanders falls fully within the margin of error in the Lyceum poll, and suggests that any Texas firewall the Biden campaign may be banking on for Super Tuesday is an uncertain proposition.

The Lyceum poll suggests that in a matchup against Trump, Sanders polls the highest in Texas, with 47 percent of the vote compared to Trump’s 50 percent. Biden trails Trump, 51-46, followed by Warren (50-43), and Buttigieg (51-43).

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Lyceum poll is that any nationally competitive Democrat on Super Tuesday is probably going to be competitive in Texas, too. That hasn’t always been the case. In the heated 2016 primary race, Sanders won four Super Tuesday states—but in Texas, got thumped by Hillary Clinton by more than thirty points.

As Texas early voting is poised to start on February 18th, with Nevada and South Carolina primaries turning in their caucus and primary results while early voting is underway, there’s still opportunity for the specifics of the 2020 campaign to change. Maybe Bloomberg, who’s been advertising steadily and hiring field organizers who are working out of 17 offices around Texas, pulls ahead of the current leaders. Bloomberg has moved into fourth place in national polling averages. Or, maybe, Biden’s campaign collapses before Super Tuesday Election Day on March 3rd, or, maybe, Sanders comes out of the early states with runaway momentum.

But whatever happens, the latest polling of the state of Texas suggests that Texas Democrats are more likely to reflect the trends happening nationally than they are to buck them, if Democratic voter turnout is strong for the November election.

When you boil it down, modern American elections are rarely shaped by voters changing their minds on which party’s candidate(s) get their vote, but rather by shifts in who decides to go vote — that turnout explains everything.

To the political scientist Rachel Bitecofer, all of that is almost certainly true. Bitecofer, a 42-year-old professor at Christopher Newport University in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, forecast almost to the number (42 — only one more than the actual number of seats Democrats ended up winning) which U.S. House districts Democrats’ would flip in November 2018.

Bitecofer‘s 2020 model tells her the Democrats are a near lock for the presidency in 2020, and are likely to gain House seats - 6 seats in Texas alone - and even have a decent shot at retaking the Senate. Texan John Cornyn’s Senate seat is up for grabs, and even Texas’ 38 electoral college votes for the next president are no longer a sure lock for Republicans.

The classic view is that the pool of American voters is basically fixed: About 55 percent of eligible voters are likely to go to the polls, and the winner is determined by the 15 percent or so of “swing voters” who flit between the parties. So a general election campaign amounts to a long effort to pull those voters in to your side. Bitecofer has nicknamed this classic view, the Chuck Todd theory of American politics:
The idea that there is this informed, engaged American population that is watching these political events and watching their elected leaders and assessing their behavior and making a judgment. And it is just not true.

Bitecofer says the actual percentage of swing voters in any given national election is closer to 6 or 7 percent, rather than the 15 or 20 most analysts think are out there under the Chuck Todd theory. The 6 percent or so of true swing voters, she says, tend to vote for whoever promises a break with the status quo.
Bitecofer’s view of the electorate is driven, in part, by a new way to think about why Americans vote the way they do. She counts as an intellectual mentor Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University who popularized the concept of “negative partisanship,” the idea that voters are more motivated to defeat the other side than by any particular policy goals.

In a piece explaining his work in Politico Magazine, Abramowitz wrote:
“Over the past few decades, American politics has become like a bitter sports rivalry, in which the parties hang together mainly out of sheer hatred of the other team, rather than a shared sense of purpose. Republicans might not love the president, but they absolutely loathe his Democratic adversaries. And it’s also true of Democrats, who might be consumed by their internal feuds over foreign policy and the proper role of government were it not for Trump.”
Bitecofer took this insight and mapped it across the country. As she sees it, it isn’t quite right to refer to a Democratic or Republican “base.” Rather, there are Democratic and Republican coalitions, the first made of people of color, college-educated whites and people in metropolitan areas; the second, mostly noncollege whites, with a smattering of religious-minded voters, financiers and people in business, largely in rural and exurban counties.
In the polarized era, the outcome isn’t really about the candidates. What matters is what percentage of the electorate is Republican and Republican leaners, and what percentage is Democratic and Democratic leaners, and how they get motivated to go vote.
The electorate that elected Donald Trump in 2016 and the electorate that gave Democrats control of the House in 2018 might as well have been from two different countries, Bitecofer says. The first was whiter, had less college education and lived in more rural parts of the country than the second, which was more diverse, better educated and more urban than its counterpart from two years prior. That change had nothing to do with Democrats luring swing voters with savvy messaging, and everything to do with a bunch of people, who were appalled by the president, showing up at the polls, wanting to make their feelings known.

Once you know the shape of the electorate, she argues, you can pretty much tell how that electorate is going to vote. And the shape of the electorate in 2018, and 2020, for that matter, was determined on the night of November 8, 2016. The new electorate, as she forecasts it, is made up mostly of people who want a president named anything but Donald Trump, competing with another group that fears ruin should anyone but Donald Trump be president.

The first group, the Democratic universe of voters, now includes some very strange bedfellows, everyone from former Bush speechwriter David Frum to Susan Sarandon. It includes Al Sharpton and also the chief strategists for both Mitt Romney and John McCain’s failed presidential bids. It is Americans who are college-educated, who are not white or who live in or near a major urban center. This group turned out in force in the 2018 midterms, much the same way Tea Party voters showed up in 2010 to express their unhappiness at Obama. The more candidates talked about Trump and what a threat he was to their way of life, the more partisans were activated.

Although the ranks of independents are growing, over 40 percent by some surveys, Bitecofer thinks campaigns have spent entirely too much time courting them, and the media has spent entirely too much caring about their preferences. The real “swing” doesn’t come from voters who choose between two parties, but from people who choose to vote, or not.

Bitecofer has already released her 2020 model, and is alone among election forecasters in giving the Democrats—who, of course, do not yet have a nominee—the 270 electoral votes required to claim the presidency without a single toss-up state flipping their way. She sees anyone in the top tier, or even the second tier of candidates, as strong enough to win back most of the Trump states in the industrial Midwest, stealing a march in the South in places like North Carolina and Florida, and even competing in traditional red states like Georgia, Texas and Arizona. The Democrats are likely to pick up seats again in the House, she says, pegging the total at nine pickups in Texas alone, and have a decent chance of taking back the Senate.

And in a view that goes against years of accepted political wisdom that says the choice of a running mate doesn’t much matter, the key she says, to a 2020 Democratic victory will lie less in who is at the top of the ticket than in who gets chosen as veep. A good ticket-mate would be a person of color like Julián Castro, she suggests, someone who can further ignite Democratic partisans - in states like Texas - who might otherwise stay home.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Unity Candidate Elizabeth Warren

Ben Mathis-Lilley in his “Scared of Bernie? Not Feeling Pete? The Unity Candidate Has Been Right Here the Whole Time” piece at Slate magazine makes the case for a candidate who matches Bernie Sanders’ level of ambition and outraged concern for inequality with the interest in “practical solutions” and ability to “unify” that the party’s more status quo–friendly voters say they are drawn to? And perhaps that candidate is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Warren doesn’t participate in the typical mainstream Democratic-politician practice of using the words practical, solutions, and unity as a means of signaling her distance from the left. is a practical-minded center-left candidate with a plausible case that she will get useful things done.

Voters Are Still Looking For The Hope And Change President

In a rant on MSNBC that went viral on Tuesday evening, longtime centrist Democratic strategist James Carville vented his concerns about the party’s prospects for beating Donald Trump, taking particular aim at the party’s leftward lurch with particular aim at Sen. Bernie Sanders. His diatribe took place against the backdrop of an Iowa caucus where old guard centrist Democrats’ favorite candidate, Joe Biden, placed a weak fourth after Sen. Bernie Sanders, South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and just ahead of Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

In his rant, Carville uses the narrative framework for the Democratic primary campaign in 2020: There's a fraught and difficult choice between nominating an "electable" centrist or choosing a more progressive candidate who will motivate the base but supposedly will have a much harder time defeating Donald Trump in the general election.

Carville’s message is clear — Democrats have to choose between progressive economic and social programs and winning elections — a sacred doctrine in old party leadership members and mainstream media circles. There is no real evidence for this proposition. Yet this is precisely why former Vice President Joe Biden has been held out as the most "electable" candidate for the general election, on the grounds that he appeals to the supposed moderate voters who are viewed as the key to a Democrat winning the White House in 2020.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Bernie Won Iowa

Bernie won Iowa. IDP released the latest caucus results late Thursday, representing 99.9% of Iowa Democratic caucus precincts. Sanders beat Buttigieg in the first and final alignments of popular vote, 6,114 votes and 2,631 votes respectively, according to the Des Moines Register. The New York Times published its prediction giving Sanders a 54% probability of also winning the Delegate Equivalent count once IDP corrects all the inconsistent tabulations across 100 precincts the paper flagged in its analysis.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Trump Has “Betrayed Our National Security”

Saying Donald Trump has "betrayed our national security" and will do so again, Rep. Adam Schiff used his final summation argument to the Senate in the president's impeachment trial on Monday to urge Senators to take a stand against "a man without character."
"We must say enough — enough! He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again," Schiff, D-Calif., told the Senate. "He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What's right matters even less, and decency matters not at all." "You are decent," he added. "He is not who you are.”
Schiff, the lead House manager in the trial, said Trump has clearly abused his power and would continue to do so unless the Senate stands up to him.
"Can we be confident that he will not continue to try to cheat in [this] very election? Can we be confident that Americans and not foreign powers will get to decide, and that the president will shun any further foreign interference in our Democratic affairs?" Schiff asked. "The short, plain, sad, incontestable answer is no, you can't. You can't trust this president to do the right thing. Not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can't. He will not change and you know it."

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Rep. Adam Schiff Urges Senators, “Give America A Fair Trial”

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) provides closing arguments in the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial. He tells senators, "And this is why he needs to be removed. Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies." He goes on to say, "That makes him dangerous to us, to our country." Rep. Schiff concludes by saying, "It doesn't matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn't matter how brilliant the framers were … If right doesn't matter, we're lost. If truth doesn't matter, we're lost. The framers couldn't protect us from ourselves if right and truth don't matter."

Rep. Schiff urged senators to “give America a fair trial” in his final argument in the GOP-controlled Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump over his Ukraine misconduct on Friday.
All over the world, those living under oppressive regimes look to us. They look to us because we have a rule of law. Because in America, no one is above that law. To my Senate colleagues, I implore you: Give America a fair trial. She's worth it.

Schiff’s ‘Moving’ Closing Argument In Trump Trial

Thursday, January 23, 2020

12 GOP Senate Seats Democrats Could Flip

Republicans currently hold 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats; Democrats will need a minimum net gain of three seats with a new, Democratic vice president to flip partisan control of the body. Of the 23 Republican-controlled Senate seats up for election this year, there are currently 13 seats in 12 states that offer plausible prospects for Democrats to defeat their Republican opponent.

Three Republican held Senate seats up for reelection in 2020 are rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report. Those at risk Republican seats are held by Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner, Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, and Arizona’s Martha McSally — and the list of “at risk” Republican Senators is growing as members of the Party of Trump.

The impeachment trial in the US Senate is clearly a constitutional and moral moment of truth. Lead House impeachment manager Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, not only made a compelling factual narrative case for convicting Trump in the Senate impeachment hearings, he presented a political narrative that the president’s party in the Senate is complicit in a cover-up. Schiff eloquently blasted McConnell’s obstruction of witnesses and evidence and urged the senators to stand up for democracy and America’s security. At Alternet, Cody Fenwick provides “5 of the strongest moments from Adam Schiff’s opening statement of Trump’s impeachment trial.” Here’s a video clip of Schiff’s presentation from Time:

Syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains “Why Democrats owe a debt to Mitch McConnell” in The Washington Post:
“By working with Trump to rig the trial by admitting as little evidence as possible, McConnell robbed the proceeding of any legitimacy as a fair adjudication of Trump’s behavior. Instead of being able to claim that Trump was “cleared” by a searching and serious process, Republican senators will now be on the defensive for their complicity in the Trump coverup…It gets worse. Thanks to assertions by Trump’s lawyers that he did absolutely nothing wrong, an acquittal vote, as The Post editorialized, “would confirm to Mr. Trump that he is free to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to induce such interference.” Is that the position that Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.), among others, want to embrace as they run for reelection this fall? Good luck with that.”
It is not out of the question that Democrats could hold the House (or add a few seats), win the White House and win the Senate majority in 2020. It does not mean it’s very likely, but chances of a clean sweep improve every day as Republicans become increasingly chained to Donald Trump through Senate impeachment proceedings.

The impeachment trial may not result in President Trump’s removal, but it could well result in Republicans’ removal from the Senate majority. Many Republican incumbents were below 45 percent approval even before the trial began, including Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Martha McSally (Arizona), Cory Gardner (Colorado) and John Cornyn (Texas). In their refusal to allow new witnesses and documents, their determination to acquit even before the trial began and their conduct during the trial, provides rich source content for opponents’ media and YouTube Ad makers.

The anti-Trump Lincoln Project
has already launched one
against Collins:

In the coming months we will udoubtedly see video ads that highlight the lack of professionalism by senators who read books, doodle, wander off, fall asleep and sneer at the House managers.

The Senate certainly is in play. This year 23 GOP seats up to only 12 for Democrats, which is the opposite of 2018, when Democrats had 26 seats up to just nine for Republicans. It is true that while Democrats in 2018 had a lot of red-state seats to defend, Republicans this time, theoretically, do not have vulnerable senators in deep-blue states. However, they’ve got plenty to worry about.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado run in states Trump lost in 2016. Both are vulnerable as their party moves far to the right and they choose to march in lockstep. Both face strong challengers, Maine’s Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon and former Democratic governor John Hickenlooper, respectively.

Democrats also have an increasingly good shot at flipping additional Republican Senate seats, with impeached Pres. Trump at the top of their party’s ticket.

Republicans in Georgia will have to defend one vacant seat, and the other just recently filled with a rich businesswoman, Kelly Loeffler, who President Trump did not favor. North Carolina’s incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis likely will face a strong challenger in Cal Cunningham, who led Tillis by 2 points in a Public Policy Polling poll last fall. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who lost her race in 2018 but was appointed to the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain, is trailing a strong opponent in polling (former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s husband and astronaut Mark Kelly) in an increasingly purple state.

If things really go Democrats’ way, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who has been running from impeachment questions, could be vulnerable. As could Sen. John Cornyn in Texas (where a slew of Republican House members are retiring thanks to the state’s increasing Democratic tilt), where Cornyn’s approval was well below 50 percent. Indeed, not a single incumbent in these states had an approval rating in last year’s Morning Consult poll over 44 percent.

Even Kansas may be in play for Democrats. Yes, Kansas. Democrat Laura Kelly won the governor’s race in 2018 against a Stephen Miller-type anti-immigration firebrand, Kris Kobach. Kobach will be running for the open Senate seat, and Mike Pompeo will not be (for now). “National Republicans have outright said that the controversial Kobach can’t win a general election after losing the 2018 governor’s race by 5 points to Democrat Laura Kelly,” writes the Cook Report’s Jessica Taylor.
“In private polling, Republicans have Kobach losing to likely Democratic nominee Barbara Bollier, and Kobach leading every other Republican in a head-to-head except Pompeo. Add in the fact that Democrats have a strong recruit in Bollier ⁠— a former Republican state senator who cited Trump as one of the reasons she switched parties in Dec. 2018.”
Democrats certainly cannot bet on winning all of these, but if they win the White House, they only need a net pickup of three in the Senate (with the vice president breaking 50-50 tie votes). They have really only one vulnerable incumbent, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.). They have an expanding playing field (with real shots in Lean Republican or toss-up seats at risk for Republicans in Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina) that will force Republicans to defend lots of seats — cutting off the ones who are in the worst shape when money gets tough.

Today’s Pew Research poll confirms other recent polling in two key respects: President Trump remains deeply unpopular, and most voters think he did what he is accused of doing.
While the public’s preferences for the outcome of the Senate trial are closely divided, 63% of Americans say Trump has definitely (38%) or probably (25%) done things that are illegal, either during his time in office or while he was running for president. A larger majority (70%) say he has definitely (45%) or probably (26%) done unethical things …

Similarly, an Insider SurveyMonkey Audience poll this week found:
  • Among Americans aged 18-29, 63% said Trump should be removed from office, compared to 24% who think he shouldn't be, and 13% who didn't know.
  • For Americans aged 30-44, 56% said Trump should be removed from office in contrast with 28% who think he should not be removed, and 15.8% who don't know.
  • Among those aged 45-60, 47.6% think that Trump should be removed from office compared to 42% who think he should not be removed, and 10% who don't know.
  • For Americans aged 60 and older, a narrow majority of 51% believed Trump should be removed from office in contrast to 40% who think he should not be removed, and 8% who don't know.
Pew found a surprisingly significant percentage of Republicans think Trump has acted illegally or unethically. “More than nine-in-ten Democrats (91%) and about one-third (32%) of Republicans say he has definitely or probably done illegal things, while 90% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans say he has definitely or probably done things that are unethical.”

The above referenced polls were completed before the impeachment hearing began on Jan. 21. Opinion was mixed as to whether the Senate Republicans would conduct a fair trial. “About half of Americans (48%) are at least somewhat confident that Senate Democrats will be fair and reasonable, while slightly fewer (43%) say the same about the Senate GOP.” After watching Republicans’ antics and refusal (so far) to allow witnesses, voters may take a dim view of their handling of the trial. Over half (51 percent) want Trump removed, while 46 percent do not.

Trump’s approval/disapproval remains relatively steady at 40 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove, with 52% saying they trust what Trump says less than previous presidents, 26% saying they trust what Trump says more, and 22% saying they trust what he says about the same as they trusted previous presidents.

The numbers tell us that a significant percentage of Republicans approve of Trump’s performance (80 percent) for reelection even if they think he acted illegally (32 percent) or unethically (47 percent). That is what blind loyalty to a cultlike leader looks like.

Trump’s approval/disapproval remains badly underwater with women (37/62 percent), college grads (35/64 percent) and whites with college degrees (36/63 percent). Whites without college degrees, one of his strongest sources of support, are still in his corner (59/40), although white women, who supported him in 2016, have drifted away (48/51).

More alarmingly for Trump, he trails several Democratic contenders in head-to-head matchups. In a recent poll from CNN, he loses to former vice president Joe Biden by 9 points, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 7 points and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts by 5 points.

There are several takeaways from this batch of data. First, voters are more divided on whether to remove him than on whether he did something illegal. That may be because they think the illegal things are not impeachable or simply because they are queasy about removal. Second, the conduct of the impeachment trial, on top of other negative feelings about Trump, might move opinion about Trump more negatvely, and, more importantly for Senators up for reelection in 2020, impact voters’ feelings about the Senators.

Finally, hardcore Republican voters will not break with him even if they are compelled to admit he broke the law or acted unethically. He is their guy, crook or not. That does not mean, however, that there aren’t Republicans (and Democrats and Independents) who voted for him in 2016 who will stay home in 2020 rather than vote for Trump - and Republican Senators on the ballot.

The Nation Magazine factors in four key criteria — past electoral results, demographic developments, existing civic engagement infrastructure, and incumbent favorability ratings — rank 12 states with a Republican incumbent (and one state, Alabama, with a vulnerable Democrat) with scores that illustrates their respective winnability. Read, “12 States Where Democrats Could Flip the Senate,” at The Nation .

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Can Democrats Extend Their 2018 State Government Trifectas?

Nationally, Democrats lost a lot of ground in statehouses under Barack Obama’s presidency, with about 1,000 legislative seats across the nation flipping to Republican control from 2009 through the 2016 election.

After the 2016 election, Republicans controlled a record 67 (68%) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation — 36 senate chambers and 31 house chambers — more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats had majority control, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

During 2017 and 2018, Republicans held more total state legislative seats in the nation, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920. Democrats held total control of just 13 state legislatures. Republicans held state government trifectas — where one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house — in 26 states, and Democrats held trifectas in only 8 states, with divided partisan control in the remaining 16 states.

From 2009 through the 2016 election, Republicans had gained control of the gubernatorial office in 33 states, a record high last seen in 1922, and flipped 69 Democratic seats in the U.S. House seats to Republican control, and flipped 13 Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate to Republican control.

Analysis: How Bernie Could Win Texas

In Texas, a state still undergoing seismic demographic and political shifts of its own, the question for anxious Democratic voters in Texas seeking to make 2020 a decisive year is this: Could Sanders carry the state, and just as importantly, could his political revolution bring the down-ballot energy needed to oust Republicans?

“In Texas and across the country, we are building a multiracial, multifaith grassroots movement of working-class Americans to engage and turn out voters of all backgrounds, especially those who are most marginalized,” Chris Chu de León, the campaign’s Texas Field Director, told the Signal. Since the start of his campaign, Sanders has received 230,000 donations totaling nearly $4 million from Texas, the campaign said. More than one-third of those donations, 87,000, arrived only during the last quarter.

Read the full article at “The Texas Signal.”

Are Texas Republicans Running Out Of Voters?

Texas is on a record setting pace adding new voters to the state’s poll books for the 2020 election cycle. Adding new voters faster than its population is growing, the state has this month topped 16 million registered voters with the voter registration deadline for the March 3rd primaries, still two weeks away.

On this record pace of new voter registrations the state will have two million more registered voters for the primary than it did just four years ago when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 807,179 votes. Most of those two million new voters are younger more left-leaning voters who, if they turn out to voter, will largely vote for the Democrats on their ballot.

Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney by sixteen percentage points in 2012 and Clinton narrowed the gap to just a nine percentage point loss to Donald Trump in 2016.

Texas Democrats, fueled by the party’s nearly quarter-century search to find a way to win any elected office from Republican control, are executing the largest “left-leaning” voter registration operation in the state's history.

At the core of the registration operation, which is a cooperative effort between state and county level Party organizations, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for U.S. House Democrats, is an ambitious goal to register at least 2.5 million left-leaning Texans, using data-driven voter targeting tools, deploying more than 1,000 field organizers and canvassers on the ground, and mailing hundreds of thousands of voter registration applications to unregistered voters across the state.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

70% of Americans Say U.S. Economic System Rigged

The notion that the U.S. economy is “rigged” to benefit the wealthy and special interests was a major rallying cry in the 2016 presidential election and is already resurfacing in the 2020 race.

This message is likely to resonate with many Americans. Seven-in-ten U.S. adults say the economic system in their country unfairly favors powerful interests, compared with less than a third who say the system is generally fair to most Americans. Wide majorities of Americans also say politicians, large corporations and people who are wealthy have too much power and influence in today’s economy.

These findings are part of a larger Pew Research Center survey on economic inequality. The survey finds, among other things, that most Americans believe there is too much inequality in the United States, with a majority of those who hold this view saying that major changes to the economic system are needed in order to address inequality.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, January 15.

The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968, and the idea was strongly supported by labor unions. After King's death, United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) first introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage.

The bill was finally passed by Congress and Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed on January 20, 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What A Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Look Like

What an Elizabeth Warren Presidency Would Look Like

Elizabeth Warren’s ambitions for the presidency are not small. Warren proposes to rewrite the rules of the economy by reining in capital, empowering labor and significantly expanding the welfare state.

To understand how Warren would create big structural changes as president, it’s helpful to look at how she has made change in the past.

THE STANDARD ADVICE TO FRESHMEN SENATORS IS THIS: Keep a low profile and suck up to your senior colleagues. As a newly elected senator in 2013, Elizabeth Warren did neither.

Instead, Warren used her perch on the Senate Banking Committee to excoriate ineffectual regulators, duplicitous CEOs, profiteering student lenders and other financial industry ne’er-dowells (interrogations made famous in videos that went viral). She publicly clashed with establishment Democrats such as Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.). She even took on President Barack Obama, leading the fight against several administration priorities, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and a pharmaceutical bill she described as “a bunch of special giveaways” to Big Pharma. Warren succeeded in getting under Obama’s skin to such an extent that he took the rare step of criticizing her repeatedly by name.

Progressive strategist and Warren supporter Murshed Zaheed says Warren was able to buck the Democratic establishment because she “came to the Senate with a movement behind her.”

Read the full article at “In These Times.”

What a Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Look Like

Sanders’ proposals go beyond piecemeal liberal solutions by targeting the unjust economic system that fuels climate change and pushing an agenda that simultaneously empowers workers and saves the planet. This agenda would help millions of workers join unions, give workers an ownership stake in major corporations, provide universal healthcare and tuition-free higher education, build millions of affordable homes and protect (rather than target) immigrants.

Though President Sanders could execute parts of this agenda on his own, much of it would require Congress. How could it pass, given Republican extremism and likely pushback from even a Democrat-controlled House and Senate? The question poses a serious problem for any program that meets our challenge. And it is one Sanders is uniquely positioned to solve.

Sanders understands that change at this scale will require mass movements to pressure Congress and every level of government—and to change their composition. Americans isolated and atomized by cutthroat capitalism must engage in massive collective action. His political program isn’t just about policy, then, but about the capacity of ordinary people to participate in democracy.

Read the full article at “In These Times.”

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Year of Texas Democrats — 2020 Primary

There aren’t 20 Senate Republicans with enough integrity to remove the most corrupt president in American history, so we’re going to have to get rid of Trump the old-fashioned way – by electing a Democrat next 3 November. Texas Democrats have the motivation to have Texas add the state’s 38 electoral votes to electing that Democratic president - and more.

Texas has been slowly but steadily trending Democratic for years. Democrats have moved the ball further down the court each election over the last few election cycles as the demographics of Texas’ population slowly but surely evolve to their advantage.

The case for Democrats winning Texas in 2020 begins with this: Texas hasn’t been a red state, so much as it’s been a non-voting state for left-leaning Texans. For more than a generation, left-leaning Texans lack motivation to go to their polling places to vote for Democrats. They believed Republicans had such a lock on Texas politics that Republicans would win, each election, no matter what. So they didn’t “waste their time” by dropping by their local polling place to vote for Democrats on the ballot, who, in there mind’s eye, could never win. But that has been changing with each passing election - and accelerating each passing day since since Donald Trump moved into the White House. Increasingly, left-leaning Texans are seeing in their mind’s eye that it is possible for Democrats to win Texas - and that’s Texas Democrats’ most powerful secret weapon in 2020.