Saturday, November 17, 2018

Something’s Happening in Texas - Final 2018 Midterm Results


Congratulations Democrats and Progressives — You Won. Do not accept any narrative other than one of a big win from hard-fought campaigns.

Democrats elected an unprecedented number of women, including two Muslim women, turned at least 6 state legislatures bluedemanded the Medicaid Expansion to Obamacare in three red states, and passed referendums in favor of recreational and medical marijuana and an increased minimum wage in several states.

More than half of eligible voters in the U.S. turned out to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections, a record-high in modern history. Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, estimates that 118 million people voted in the midterms, about 50.1 percent of eligible voters. That turnout is about 11 points higher than the average for midterm turnout of 39.4 percent in at least the past three decades, since 18- to 20-year-olds became eligible to vote. In 2014, 83 million people turned out to vote. That’s the highest recorded rate for the midterms since 1914 when turnout was 50.4% and women didn’t have the vote.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Unprecedented Midterm Election Early Turnout - Is It Enough?


Americans cast in-person and absentee ballots during early voting this year at rates unprecedented for midterm elections since early voting was instituted. With the conclusion of early voting, almost 35 million ballots have already cast nationwide, with Election Day still to go.

In 22 states, including Texas, and Washington, D.C., with an early voting period more people voted early than did so in the last midterm election, reports the New York Times. That means more people have cast a ballot over 12 days of early voting in those counties than turned out for the entire 2014 midterm election. And early voter turnout has surpassed that from the 2012 presidential election.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Texas Early Turnout Day 8 - Blue Wave Yet?

Going into the second week of early voting, it has become increasingly clear Texas is in the midst of an unprecedented turnout midterm election. Texans in some Texas counties have waited in lines for hours to cast their votes. The result has been record-breaking midterm vote totals across the state.

As of Monday, day eight of early voting, 3,354,029 Texans have cast in-person and by-mail in ballots in the 30 counties where most registered voters in the state — 78 percent — live. That preliminary turnout has surpassed the total votes cast in those counties during the entire two-week early voting period in the last midterm election in 2014. So far this year, 27.4 percent of the 12.26 million registered voters in those 30 counties have voted.


We still have too little data to predict the specific election outcomes or the long-term effect of this unprecedented outpouring of voter interest, but we know for certain that Texans are fired up and ready to vote. This state generally sees fewer than 39 percent of registered voters regularly participating in midterm elections.

Voter participation in this year is nearly three times that of the 2014 midterm and is near the pace set during the 2016 presidential election. assuming turnout will continue at the pace set during early voting, total turnout for this election will likely top 60 percent of record high number of registered voters

Historically, midterms have been viewed as a referendum on the party occupying the White House. This political axiom seems magnified this year as Donald Trump has made every effort to nationalize this midterm. Trump’s name is not on the ballot, but the president clearly is casting a big shadow on this election.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Texas Early Turnout Day 4 - Blue Wave Yet?


Early voting in 2018 midterm general election turnout and enthusiasm are unusually strong among both Republicans and Democrats across the U.S., including Texas.

As of day three of early voting, 1,344,741 Texans have cast in-person ballots and 240,601 cast mail-in ballots in the 30 counties where most registered voters in the state — 78 percent — live. That turnout equals 79 percent of the total votes cast in those counties during the entire two-week early voting period in the last midterm election in 2014.

So far this year, 12.9 percent of the 12.3 million registered voters in those 30 counties have voted. If turnout rates remain at these levels, we could see presidential election year turnout levels across Texas and the U.S., which would be virtually unprecedented.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

What A Texas Blue Wave Might Look Like


Texas Democrats have been losing midterm elections by more or less a two-to-one turnout margin since Ann Richards lost her 1994 Gubernatorial re-election to George Bush. Democrats can chalk up their long losing streak to one thing: Only about one in three Texans registered to vote have cast ballots in midterm elections over the last quarter century, and it's Democrats who haven’t been turning out at the polls.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Trump Distracts While Appointees Sledgehammer Government

With nearly every utterance, Donald Trump affirms the conclusion we reached two years ago that he is temperamentally and intellectually unfit to serve as president of the United States. But there he is, a year after his inauguration, waging a war of words with the world from behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. He has denigrated fellow citizens and international allies; threatened nuclear war; undermined public faith in the judiciary, Congress, and the media; found some “very fine people” at a gathering of neo-Nazis; and dispensed utterly with the idea of presidential gravitas.

In fact, there’s been so much public attention paid to his tweets, to his character and temperament, to the ongoing investigations into how he came to power, that close scrutiny has sometimes lagged into what this administration has actually done.

Click here to read the rest of the story at the LA Times:


Trump Promised To Defend Forgotten Americans - Then He Forgot Them

The Donald Trump presidency is now one year old and in many respects ― the unhinged tweeting, the contempt for democratic norms, the potential collusion with a hostile foreign power ― it has been unlike any presidency in history.

But there is one respect in which Trump’s tenure in office has been rather ordinary: his administration’s year-long effort to push familiar Republican initiatives that shift money and power towards corporations and the rich, and away from everybody else.

No, this is not the kind of presidency that Trump promised. As a candidate, he portrayed himself as a different sort of Republican, one who would attack the financial industry, govern independently of wealthy special interests, and protect public programs on which poor and middle-class Americans depend.

Click Here to read the rest of the story:


Ten Ways Trump And Congress Have Hurt Workers

The tax cut law that President Trump boasts will make his wealthy friends “a lot richer” is just the latest in a series of betrayals of working people by the administration and Congress since Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017. In addition to passing a massive tax cut for wealthy business owners, Trump and Republicans in Congress have rolled back important worker protections, advanced nominees to key administration posts who have a history of exploiting working people, and taken other actions that further rig the system in favor of corporate interests and the wealthiest Americans.

Click Here for the 10 worst things Congress and Trump have done to undermine pay growth and erode working conditions for the nation’s workers.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Key Voting Law Faces Big Test At U.S. Supreme Court

In November of 2015, Larry Harmon, a software engineer then in his late 50s, went to the polls to vote against an Ohio ballot initiative to legalize marijuana.

It had been a few years since Harmon voted. He cast a ballot for President Barack Obama in 2008, but didn’t particularly care for the candidates in 2010, 2012 or 2014, so he didn’t vote. When he went to the polls for the marijuana initiative in 2015, officials said he couldn’t vote. He had been removed from the voter rolls. Even though he had lived at the same address for well over a decade, officials wouldn’t let Harmon cast a provisional ballot and so he left his polling place without voting, went home and later wrote an angry letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R).

Ohio officials removed Harmon from the voter rolls in part because he failed to vote in federal elections over six consecutive years. One of the ways Ohio polices its voter rolls is by sending a confirmation notice to anyone who fails to vote in a federal election after two years. If the person fails to respond to that notice and also fails to vote over the next four years, they get removed from the rolls.

That process is being challenged in a consequential case the Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday: Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute. Harmon and civil rights groups argue the Ohio process violates federal law, which explicitly says people can’t be removed from the rolls just because they haven’t voted. Husted and others who defend the law say Ohio’s process is reasonable because people aren’t removed just for not voting ― they have to fail to respond to the mailer as well.

A Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the process could help clarify how aggressively states can purge their rolls and the limits the federal government can set on how states maintain lists of eligible voters.

Read the full story at Huffington Post

Monday, January 8, 2018

Decline of the American Middle Class

The nation's middle class, pillar of the U.S. economy and foundation of the American dream, has declined over the last 38 years to the point now where it no longer constitutes the majority of the adult population. As families increasingly struggle to pay the bills from month to month the American middle class is continually shrinking. It has become exceedingly clear that “the American Dream” is dying and the future is dimming for ordinary hard-working Americans.

Republicans loudly tell American voters they want to “make American great again.” But it is the conservative trickle down Reaganomics agenda that has increasingly enriched the rich by relentlessly reducing the ability of government to provide a fair and level economic playing field for American middle class workers. Government now works for the wealthiest Americans and multinational corporations, not American middle class workers.

Over the last 38 years, Americans have been working harder, producing increasing levels of economic growth, but they’re not getting rewarded with any extra pay.

Between then and now, productivity, or the amount of economic output generated by an average hour of work, grew 72.2 percent. On the other hand, pay for the typical worker rose just 9.2 percent.

Things have gotten even worse since 2000: net productivity has grown 21.6 percent since then, yet inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker grew just 1.8 percent.

How the GOP Tax Cut Will Shrink Your Paycheck

When Republicans cut taxes, wages go down or stay flat for working people. Ultra-rich billionaires who own the Republican Party know that when working/middle-class people get a tax cut, it means that over time working-class wages will go down – which is why they’re more than happy to give us all a temporary tax cut.

This is what wealthy people know that most Americans don’t: Tax cuts for truly wealthy people increase their income and wealth; tax cuts for working people actually decrease their income and wealth over time. This is because of what economist David Ricardo referred to as the “market for labor,” as well as the different ways working class versus rich people use their “extra money.” Here’s how it works: Read the rest of the story at AlterNet: How the GOP Tax Cut Will Shrink Your Paycheck

Is Manufacturing’s Future All Used Up?

Of all the titans of our new Gilded Age, the only one to attain the status of culture hero was—and still is—Steve Jobs. This wasn’t simply a function of his personal magnetism, though he certainly outshone such apparently amiable schlubs as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and the cipher that is Jeff Bezos. It was also because, unlike his fellow creators of cyberspace, Jobs produced the tactile, palpable portals into cyberspace. He made things—handheld objects that changed people’s lives.

And yet, few of his fans think of Jobs as a manufacturer. Certainly, his biographer, Water Isaacson, doesn’t. In his lengthy 2011 biography of Jobs, there’s only one glancing reference to the massive Chinese factories where iPhones and other Apple products are assembled—a stray remark that Jobs once made to President Obama, saying that “Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China.”

If those 700,000 were employed directly by Apple, of course, then Apple would be the world’s largest manufacturer. Instead, Apple conceals its factories—and responsibility for the working conditions there—behind two Chinese walls. First, it subcontracts its production work to Foxconn, a Taiwan-based company. Second, as Joshua Freeman notes in Behemoth, his fascinating history of factories from 18th-century Lancashire to 21st-century Guangdong, the massive factories of Foxconn City in Southern China are off-limits to journalists and other prying eyes. It was only the wave of worker suicides there in 2010 (many committed by workers hurling themselves from the roofs of their dormitories, which Foxconn sought to counter by installing nets beneath the roofs) that brought, however briefly, this immense complex of factories to public notice.

Read the full story at The Prospect - Is Manufacturing’s Future All Used Up?

Telling Voters What Democrats Stand For

Democrats stand for many things that are popular with a majority of Americans. They oppose cutting tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers and multinational corporations. They oppose changes to Medicare and Social Security that would reduce future benefits or notably alter eligibility requirements. They oppose laws that disenfranchise voters and restrict reproductive healthcare access and choices. And they want some immigrants, known as "dreamers," to be able to stay in this country.

But there are hard questions for the Democrats.

What exactly is their health-care policy likely to be in the future? Expand Medicare and Medicaid benefits for senior citizens? Stand pat with the 2010 Affordable Care Act that still leaves at least 30 million Americans without healthcare, or move toward a Medicare-for-all type of plan.

What is their economic policy, other than rhetoric about helping working families? What is their response to concerns among many workers about the impact of automation and globalization that leaves increasing numbers of Americans without employment. What is their response to the weight of student load debt carried by so many, and tution costs that put college and trade school access increasingly out of reach of young Americans.

Democrats see a divided Republican Party led by Trump as an easy target for criticism. For now, that will remain the principal focus heading into the midterm elections. But as they begin what amounts to a three-year campaign cycle of midterm elections followed by a critically important 2020 presidential race, will Democrats be forthright in assessing and dealing with their own vulnerabilities?

Read more at WaPo - Democrats think 2018 will be a good year, but are they realistic about their own problems?

The 7 Most Pressing Issues Facing Rural Texas

In 2017, rural schools lost crucial funding, two hospitals closed and natural disasters wreaked havoc in what some regard as “flyover country.”

Read the full story at the Texas Observer

The Formula for a Blue Texas

A formula you say? There’s a formula for a blue Texas? Well, sort of. I mean this in the sense that a sober quantitative accounting of the challenge Democrats face in Texas provides a useful guide to how the blue Texas goal can actually be attained. More useful I think than the countless breathless accounts of grassroots Democratic organizing in Texas, which make little effort to explain which groups have to move and by how much to be successful.

So here’s the “formula”. In 2016, Clinton improved over Obama in Texas, reducing his 16 point deficit in the state to 9 points in 2012. How did she do this? The dataset developed at CAP for our Voter Trends in 2016 report indicates that Clinton improved over Obama among both white non-college-educated and college-educated voters. The Democrats’ deficit among Texas’s white non-college-educated voters fell from 60 points in 2012 to 55 points in 2016. The shift toward Clinton among white college graduates in the state was even larger—from a 30-68 percent deficit in 2012 to 37-57 percent in 2016, a margin improvement of 18 points. The white college-educated improvement cut Clinton’s deficit in the state by about 4.5 points and the white noncollege improvement moved things in her direction by about 1.5 points, for a total shift of 6 points toward Clinton from better performance among whites. The rest of Clinton’s gains relative to Obama were accounted for by improvements in Latino turnout and support.

Secure Elections Act

A bipartisan group of six senators has introduced the “Secure Elections Act,” to eliminate insecure paperless voting machines from American elections while promoting routine audits that would dramatically reduce the danger of interference from foreign governments.

The bill reads like a computer security expert’s wish list. Computer scientists have been warning for more than a decade that these machines are vulnerable to hacking and can't be meaningfully audited. States have begun moving away from paperless systems, but budget constraints have forced some to continue relying on insecure paperless equipment. The Secure Elections Act would give states grants specifically earmarked for replacing these systems with more secure systems that use voter-verified paper ballots.

Click Here to read “New bill could finally get rid of paperless voting machines”

Planning For 2020 Democratic Party Primaries

The Democratic National Committee Unity Reform Commission was created by the delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The Commission was chartered to review the Party’s presidential nominating process.

The commission held meetings through 2016 and adopted a report of recommendations during its final meeting in December 2016. These recommendations on how the Party will select delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, who will select the Party’s next presidential nominee, will now proceed to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee for consideration.

The rules committee will meet through 2018 and create its report of 2020 delegate selection rules to the full body of DNC members by August 2018. Those rules will specify how the Party will conduct 2020 state primaries and caucuses, and to what extent superdelegates will have a role in selecting the Party’s next presidential nominee.

Click Here For URC’s report details:

Dems Wonder: Is Opposing Trump Enough To Win Primaries?

One of the most significant questions facing Democratic candidates and voter in House races this year is whether running against Donald Trump — something nearly every House Democratic candidate will promise to do — will be enough to secure primary victory when two or more Democrats are running for the same congressional seat, or state legislative seat? Can congressional and legislative hopefuls win over primary voters on criticism of Trump alone, or are the increasingly influential (millennial) progressives right when they say Democratic voters demand something more?

The 2016 presidential campaign generated a daily Republican reality show of theatrics that drove up voter registrations and turnout in Texas that year. In Texas, a record-breaking 15 million people registered to vote before the November 2016 presidential election. According to the Texas Secretary of State, that was 78 percent of our voting-age population, and more than 1.3 million additional registered voters than four years earlier.

Voter turnout for the 2018 Texas Democratic Primary likely will exceed turnout numbers of past midterm primary years. If the more progressive millennial voters really care about their issues, they will have to register and vote for primary the candidates who support those issues. If millennials don’t bother to vote in the 2018 Texas Primary, they are likely to end up with “me too conservative” Democrats on their November 2018 ballots.

February 5th is the last day you can register to vote in Texas primaries. Early voting for the Tuesday, March 6, 2018 primary election will begin on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 and run through Friday, March 2, 2018.

Read more here: McClatchyDC - Dems wonder: Is opposing Trump enough to win primaries? 

Decline and Fall of Neoliberalism in the Democratic Party

From the late 1980s to 2016, “centrist” neoliberal ideas held hegemonic sway among the Democratic elite. But the economy created by this ideology — and the ensuing crises — is a major reason why Clinton lost to Trump and the party is completely out of power today. This obvious failure has provided an ideological opening that the American left has been eager to fill.

Now Democrats must decide how to move forward. Should it follow Elizabeth Warren's lead and promise a return to the trust-busting ways of the early 20th century? Or should it emulate the more sweeping, Nordic-style politics of Bernie Sanders? Or perhaps the Democratic Socialists of America are right and something even more extreme is needed. The Week is publishing a four-part series to examine the Democratic Party‘s failures and analyze the potential for Democrats to transform the country.

Click Here to read part one of The Week’s four part series:

Monday, January 1, 2018

Collin County 2018 Primary Ballot

Early voting for the Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Democratic and Republican primary elections will begin on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 and run through Friday, March 2, 2018. All of Texas' state executive officers and state representatives, and half of the state senators will be up for election, as well as a United States Senate seat, and all of Texas' thirty-six seats in the United States House of Representatives. A number of county level offices will also be on 2018 ballots.
March 6, 2018 Primary Election Information
Additional Election Information
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In the final weeks of 2017, voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama turned out in record numbers for off-year and special elections that, perhaps, forecast the mood of voters nationwide for 2018 midterm elections. Voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama altered the United States Senate. Lone Star State Democrats and Republicans will next test the mood of voters with the earliest primary election in the nation. Only one other state, Illinois, holds a primary in March, two weeks after Texas' primary.

Texas Democrats will decide who will carry the Democratic party's banner into the battle for governor and a record number of other congressional, statewide and legislative, and county offices in the nation's biggest GOP stronghold. Texas has 10 Democrats running to determine who will take on Gov. Greg Abbott, who himself faces minor opposition from two Republicans in the GOP primary. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Andrew White, the son of former Gov. Mark White, are two of the best known names in the race for Democrats.

At the federal level, Democrats have the opportunity to remake the state's Congressional delegation with 8 open congressional seats up for grabs, even though most are in districts heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans.  Democrats are running in all 36 of Texas' U.S. House races, for the first time in 25 years. One of the most watched races in Texas will be for the U.S. Senate where Ted Cruz faces his first re-election test since his stunning 2012 victory against Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. Four lesser known Republicans are running against Cruz in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, El Paso Democrat Beto O'Rourke first needs to get through a primary with two other Democrats to get to his highly anticipated battle with Cruz.
Many races up and down Democratic and Republican primary ballots across Texas have multiple Democrats and multiple Republicans running against each other. At least one, and often two or more, Democrats are running for 133 of the state's 150 House of Representatives seats and 14 of the state's 15 state Senate seats.

More than 346 Young Democratic Texans have filed to represent Texans in county courts, county parties, the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, and U.S. Congress. Of the more than 346 Young Democrats running: 36 are running for Congress, 55 are running for the Texas House of Representatives, 5 are running for the Texas Senate, and Many other offices up and down the democratic ticket. Young Democrats are poised to run the largest youth targeted voter turnout plan for 2018. We know that young voters are more progressive and will soon be the largest voting block- we’re prepared to get folks voting now, not later.

Most of the races with 3 or more Democrats running for the same office are likely to go to a runoff election on May 22nd, when no candidate gets above 50 percent of the vote.

What the turnout looks like in the Texas primary will tell a lot about what lies ahead for Republicans and Democrats in Texas and the nation in 2018. If there is big Democratic voter turnout — traditionally low in Texas gubernatorial cycles — it could signal that the higher than expected turnout among those Democratic voter cohorts for Doug Jones in Alabama’s special election to fill that state’s open U.S. Senate seat is in fact a developing trend nationally that could have significant impact on the November election.

Similarly, primary turnout among suburban white men and women, with and without college degrees, who helped elect Donald Trump in 2016, will tell Republicans, and Democrats, much. If those traditional Republican voters turnout in numbers for the the primary, it signals they will likely turnout again in November to help Republicans comfortably carry that Election Day. But if those Republicans don’t turnout, Republicans on November ballots face an usually tough midterm year, not just in Texas, but nationwide.

For the 2016 primary election, Collin County had 501,000 registered voters. Registrations increased to 540,000 for the November 2016 election. Projecting from historic averages, Collin County will likely have about 560K registered voters for the 2018 primary election and 585K registered voters for the Nov. 2016 election.

High Democratic voter enthusiasm this year, combined with higher voter registration numbers and Democratic primary ballots packed with candidates,  will likely drive record turnout numbers for the Democratic Party of Collin County's 2018 midterm primary election. With the exception of the 2008 Primary election, Republican Primary Election turnout has far outpaced Democratic Primary turnout in Collin County for the past quarter century.

But Democratic Primary turnout this year could well approach Republican turnout numbers of past midterm elections. Republican Primary turnout for the last midterm election in 2014 generated 46,459 Republican ballots cast. That's compared to 9,584 Democratic ballots cast in the Democratic Primary that year.

Total primary election turnout could top 80,000 with about 40,000 ballots cast by Republicans and an equal number of ballots cast by Democrats - and it could be more. That would equal or exceed the 40,185 ballots cast by Democrats in the 2016 Presidential Primary Election.
My assumption is this is a Democratic wave year. Wave elections have that special designation because like a tsunami swamps land they swamp voting trends set by past elections. Like a tsunami, they are driven by energy generated from a major seismic event in national politics. This year, Trump is that seismic event. We can’t look at Collin in isolation.

Exceptionally high Dem turnout and lower GOP turnout for all the 2017 special and uniform elections around the US suggests 2018 is a Dem wave year.

Consider 2010 GOP wave election turnout in context to prior midterm elections. GOP Primary turnout that year was more than triple prior midterm years. 2010 GOP turnout was even higher than 2008 GOP primary turnout. GOP turnout jumped an energy state in that wave year.

Consider too Collin’s jump in registered voters since the 2014 midterm. The registration count for the Nov 2017 Election was 540K - and that was after the county purged 40k registration records preparing for the 2018 Registration Card mailing. I think the registered voter count will increase to 560K before the Feb 5th cutoff date. (Our 2014 primary registration count was a lackluster 435K.) Our registration count on Feb 5th and last minute registration application activity during January will be predictive of turnout too.

Total primary turnout of 15 percent lines up with the last few primary years, including the 2010 GOP wave year. I think that is reasonable, and perhaps low in context of election turnout trends through 2017. Turnout of 15 percent pegs our total primary turnout at 84K ballots cast. I’ll be shocked of that skews mostly to GOP ballots cast.

And, more Dem candidates are on primary ballots for more offices in Collin, and across TX, than any time in nearly a generation. If all those candidates are actually out campaigning and canvassing voters to GOTV, (like Republican tea party activist did in Collin 2010 like republicans never had before) that will add to Dem turnout enthusiasm already generated by the Trump effect.

I think GOP turnout enthusiasm will be generally down this year, as it was through all the 2017 elections. And, I think Dem Primary turnout will at least equal 2016 Primary turnout, just as 2010 GOP wave Primary turnout more than equaled 2008 Primary turnout.
There isn’t much time for candidates on primary ballots to gain name recognition  —  early voting starts on Tuesday Feb. 20th. Half or more of in person voters cast their ballots during early voting in Collin County and other suburban counties around the state. Thousands of senior Texans and Texans in the military and overseas, will begin marking their absentee mail ballots by mid-January. Military and overseas ballots must be out by Jan. 20th according to the Texas Secretary of State's election calendar.

Offices on the 2018 primary ballot in Collin County