Good Friday Morning! The Democratic primaries are Hydra; you strike one candidate down, and two more pop up. I’m not hyperbolic. Beto O’Rourke finally dropped out of the race and entered the realm of obscure political trivia. But in his place, potentially two more will fill that gap. Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg has announced his bid for the Democratic nomination. While I was editing this newsletter, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said that he had sources saying former Obama admin Attorney General Eric Holder was thinking of jumping into the race too.
For reference: the Iowa caucuses are in February — around three months away. That is both a long time in news cycles, but not long enough to build a ground network. Instead of winnowing the field, Democrats keeping entering the race. The broken field means that a smaller and smaller subsection of the vote is needed to make a significant splash and win in a place like Iowa. I’m going to get into the election dynamics below. But it’s worth noting that the larger the field, the easier it is for fringe/factional candidates to win via plurality. If Bloomberg takes away Biden voters, it’ll pave the way for a Warren or Sanders, without them having to expand their small coalitions.
- One quick hit on impeachment. When it comes to impeachment, watch two things: FiveThirtyEight’s impeachment tracker and the percentage of GOP voters supporting impeachment. My early prediction was that Democrats were on a running clock with impeachment, and if they wouldn’t do it quickly, they’d lose the public political mandate to pursue it. Around 90% of Republican voters remain against impeachment. Overall, 45% of voters oppose impeachment, with 47.2% supporting it, and support loses a little steam every day. The other interesting note is that support for impeachment among independents is falling. Finally, the most important question to me: Monmouth asked voters: Should Congress impeach or should wait and let people vote in 2020: 59% said to wait and vote with only 34% said impeach now. I remain impeachment skeptical — where is the Democratic mandate to vote on impeaching and remove?
- Subpoint: If Democrats don’t vote for impeachment, watch for this narrative shift: Pelosi will come out and say something like, “Republicans are blocking any successful impeachment in the Senate, and making a mockery of things in the House.” And she’ll declare it makes no sense to force her members to vote on impeachment when Republicans have already announced they won’t go along or vote for it. Pelosi does not want to harm her moderate coalition — they’re worth more than 50 AOC’s.
Where you can find me this week
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This week on the Beltway Outsiders Podcast host Daniel Vaughan discusses Beto’s campaign ending, Katie Hill’s white knight media defenders, Elizabeth Warren’s plan to pay for Medicare for All, the latest on the Generic Ballot and what that tells us on the impeachment front, and finally the word LatinX and why the far-left is using the term.
The media is fact-checking dog memes now – The Conservative Institute
Donald Trump posted a dog meme. And the press decided to fact-check it. This is a real thing that happened in the year of our Lord, twenty-nineteen.
Is a wealth tax constitutional? Ask John Roberts – The Conservative Institute
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are banking much of the tax burden of their ideas on the back of a wealth tax. This proposal is nothing new. We’ve seen it fail in Europe as I note in the piece. What is interesting about it is whether or not it is constitutional — and to know that, you have to go back to John Roberts’s opinion in the Obamacare case.
Are Democrats Rejecting Their Own Theory of Political Expansion?
I was talking to a friend recently about the Democratic field. I was telling her that one of the more interesting things in the Democratic race is watching how unpopular candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders are with black voters. I mentioned, as an example, that Warren held an event in South Carolina at Clinton College, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University).
When pictures of the event went up, no one, not even Warren supporters, could spot a single black person at the event. Warren has held similar events in Iowa, where she’ll tout the greatness of her plans for HBCU’s and won’t have anything close to resembling a diverse crowd — they’re always the same type of white voters.
I made the point that Warren was having a similar problem that Clinton had, in that she couldn’t excite black voters. My friend, a black voter herself, pointed out something I hadn’t considered: what white woman in the field would excite or energize black voters? I couldn’t come up with a single name — not even when I expanded and included celebrities.
And that made me think, who could pull together the Obama coalition? And if Democrats couldn’t do that, what are they doing?
But first, some history on the coalition…
In the aftermath of the 2012 election, the ascendant coalition of voters in America was the Obama coalition: young voters combined with blacks and other minorities with a helping of working-class whites. Analysts saw them as a diverse coalition capable of growing over time, as whites slowly became a majority-minority group in America as demographics continued shifting.
The Obama Coalition was based on the emerging Democratic majority, after the work of John Judy and Rudy Teixeira. The theory was that the Republican Party was mostly white, and as the number of whites as a share of the overall population shrank — and minority groups replaced them — that the Democrat coalition of non-whites would create an impenetrable group of voters that would kill the Republican Party.
The theory was the dominant theory of the Democratic Party and everyone in it. Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst over at RealClearPolitics, was one of the few skeptics of the argument and offered several rebuttals. His work identified ways that the GOP could stay competitive in the field.
2016 was the apex of the challenge to both of those theories, and Trende ended up being right — and when I say right, he identified the counties and townships that ended up delivering the White House to Donald Trump. Instead of playing towards a more diverse crowd, the GOP could double down on getting more white voters, driving up numbers in rural areas. A contributing factor was that Hilary Clinton couldn’t hold together the Obama coalition, and the minority groups that voted for Obama in droves did not vote for Clinton, they stayed home.
Back to the current Democratic Primaries…
The Democratic Primaries begin in Iowa and New Hampshire — which is stupid as far as party coalitions go because these are two of the whitest states to start the nomination process for a party dependant on diversity to drive its appeal. If the race started with, let’s say, South Carolina and Nevada, the next two states which are far more representative of the overall party demographics, we’d be talking about a different national race.
In South Carolina, Biden has nearly a 20 point lead on the field (strong black vote), and in Nevada, it’s Biden by an average of 6.5 points (strong Hispanic vote). If you go back to Iowa and New Hampshire, Warren and Sanders have far stronger positions, and Pete Buttigieg is actually in the conversation.
Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are almost an anathema to black voters in particular, and not much stronger with any other minority group. Bernie Sanders struggles the same, and you can trace his issues back to 2016 when he couldn’t get anyone who even had a tan to join his campaign.
The only way for someone like Warren, Sanders, or Buttigieg to win — both the primaries and the general election — is to follow a Trump-like path: drive up white vote totals. Though instead of driving up white voters in rural places, they have to focus on both the cities and suburbs.
It’s not a crazy strategy if you’re judging methods of winning by the overall electoral path.
The 2019 off-year elections
The 2018 and 2019 elections both proved one thing, loud and clear: Republicans are losing the suburbs. Along with losing the cities, Republicans are missing the one area that helped keep them competitive for ages.
The results in Kentucky weren’t that interesting. Republicans won five out of the six statewide races, while Governor Matt Bevin lost narrowly to the Democrat in a tight race. Bevin had one of the worst approval ratings for a Governor in the entire country. Had the Kentucky GOP voted for the establishment pick over Bevin four years ago, they’d have carried this seat easily.
What was telling were the seats lost by Republicans in Virginia. The suburbs continued fleeing the party in droves — across the state. Sean Trende said this after the races:
In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, David Byler and I wrote a series suggesting that the urban/suburban/rural divide was a fast-emerging, and understudied, cleavage in American politics. This cleavage has widened into a chasm, with previously Republican suburbs swinging toward Democrats and throwing elections into disarray.
At the same time, Democrats continue to lose ground in rural areas. In most states east of the Mississippi River, there are a lot of votes cast in rural areas, which can keep Republicans afloat for some time.
But that’s not all the story here. These aren’t just any suburbs that are flipping. They’re predominantly white suburbs. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report wrote a piece for NBC explaining there was one red-flag for Democrats in the election results: low black voter turnout. He pointed to these numbers:
It wasn’t shocking that Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves defeated Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood by 6 points for Mississippi’s top job. But it was surprising that turnout in the Magnolia State’s first competitive gubernatorial race since 2003 was so low. In Kentucky, turnout — as measured by total votes cast— surged a massive 51 percent over 2015’s heated race, but in Mississippi it rose just 20 percent over 2015’s uncompetitive contest.
In fact, turnout in Mississippi was down from last November’s special Senate election, when GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy 54 percent to 46 percent. The reason? Hood, a conservative white Democrat who had long served as the state’s attorney general, failed to mobilize Mississippi’s black voters to the same extent as Espy, who is African American and had represented the Mississippi Delta in Congress in the 1990s.
In Mississippi counties where white residents outnumber African Americans, 2019 turnout was down just 3 percent versus last fall and Hood took 39 percent, up from Espy’s 37 percent. But in Mississippi counties where African American residents outnumber whites, 2019 turnout was down 8 percent and Hood took just 68 percent, down from Espy’s 69 percent. In Jackson’s Hinds County, the largest in the state, turnout was down 11 percent.
In other words, Democrats are regaining seats — or getting close — in states and legislatures without the much-vaunted Obama coalition. That matters.
Are Democrats rejecting the Obama coalition?
Back to my friend’s question: what white woman could energize black voters? Can you think of one? Because I can’t.
Elizabeth Warren is currently underperforming Hilary Clinton’s numbers with black voters, and Hilary underperformed Obama. Bill Clinton had a connection with the black community in a way that Hilary never did. Warren not only doesn’t have that connection, she got called Rachel Dolezal by one of the higher-profile podcasts in the black community, the Breakfast Club. There’s no trust there. Sure they may support her if she wins Iowa — but that doesn’t mean they’ll turn out in a general election — because they didn’t vote for Hilary Clinton.
The only two people I can see having a shot at winning black voters and bringing together something resembling the Obama coalition is Joe Biden and Corey Booker — and that’s it. And neither of those two is well-liked enough by whites to give them anything beyond a punchers chance right now (Biden continues sinking in Iowa).
If the emerging Democratic Majority is the future — it seems that Democrats could be abandoning it right now as they gobble up territory in the suburbs. If they move to win white suburbs, that means there’s an opening for Republicans. They could return to their roots, become the Party of Lincoln again, by retaking prominence with minority groups and cities. Seem far-fetched? So did the current political environment ten years ago.
All of this would be the post-Trump era, of course. And we’re talking long-term trends. But if Democrats abandon the Emerging Democratic Majority, take on a more Warren/Buttigieg/Sanders focus, that means they’ve abandoned the coalition that delivered them massive majorities in 2006, 2008, and 2012. It’s a striking change of pace. And Republicans will eventually have to figure out another group to pair with all the rural voters they’re piling up.
It’s all worth watching as we move forward. Nothing is ever static in elections or politics. Coalitions and parties change over time. And, weirdly enough, right now, it appears both parties are fighting over white voters and ignoring everyone else. That’s a bad strategy that will have ramifications for trust in institutions.
Links of the week
Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump have more in common than you’d think – Jonah Goldberg, The LA Times
John Crist Cancels 2019 Tour Dates After Reports of Sexting, Harassment, Manipulation – Taylor Berglund, Charisma News
Nonvoters Are a Source of Hope for Democrats. But Maybe a False Hope. – Nate Cohn, The New York Times
The Trump-era realignment is a death sentence for the GOP – Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner
A Michigan Man Underpaid His Property Taxes By $8.41. The County Seized His Property, Sold It—and Kept the Profits: A state law allows counties to effectively steal homes over unpaid taxes and keep the excess revenue for their own budgets. – Eric Boehm, Reason Magazine
ABC’s Excuse for Failing to Report on Jeffrey Epstein Makes Absolutely No Sense – David Harsanyi, National Review
Reminder from 2010: Prince Andrew, Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, Charlie Rose, Woody Allen, and Chelsea Handler all attended a party by Jeffrey Epstein in 2016 – Page Six, The New York Post
NBC News Is Facing Internal Rebellion Over Mishandling Sexual Misconduct: Current and former staffers are calling out NBC’s troubling history of protecting powerful men — and some say president Noah Oppenheim should step down. – Emily Peck, The Huffington Post
Historian: New evidence shows FDR’s bigotry derailed many Holocaust rescue plans: In his book about Franklin Roosevelt and the Holocaust, Rafael Medoff finds links between the US president’s anti-Japanese stances and his policies against Jews fleeing Hitler – Matt Lebovic, The Israel Times
The Hard Questions About Young People and Gender Transitions – Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
HANFORD, CA—Authorities are looking for a woman who gave birth to a stillborn baby with toxic levels of methamphetamine in his system. “This is a complete horror,” said Hanford Mayor Carl Eggburn. “She didn’t even use calipers to rip the child to pieces like a decent human being.”
“We have methods in order for this sort of thing. Like this brain-sucking vacuum. Why reinvent the wheel?” said Hanford superintendant Mario Waldorf.
Thanks for reading!