Good Friday Morning, especially to those of you who have done this thing called sleeping. I hear it’s a great thing, this sleep. I haven’t done much of it because I’ve been glued to reading election results and doomscrolling Twitter. As I’m writing this, there have been no calls of any new states, though based on how certain elections analysts are reacting, I suspect there will be a Biden call for Pennsylvania sometime soon. While everything about this process has been both shocking and a mess, I did say this was the road we were likely to head down, from my Monday CI column:
My final prediction: Trump 279 – Biden 259, with Pennsylvania and Arizona delivering the White House back to Trump, and I expect Pennsylvania’s final results to end up back before the Supreme Court.
I was watching FoxNews when they made the Arizona call, and I’ve never disagreed more rapidly with a call in my life. Normally I’m on the same page with Fox and the AP. But based on what I knew at the time, it was clear there was a ton of election day vote outstanding. The projections I’ve seen suggest Trump is on the way in Arizona. The problems for his immediate path are Pennsylvania and Georgia. Nevada is an issue too, but that’s only an issue if he’s for certain lost Georgia.
Pennsylvania is the key, though. Everything for Trump rides on that state. And it’s where I expect the most litigation. The question is will that litigation impact the results? The last person I saw make a projection on Pennsylvania said that they believed Biden would finish somewhere between 50,000 to 98,000 votes. If true, that’s quite a hill to climb for Trump.
All the states involved here are going to a recount, for certain. That will delay any official results until after those are complete, and then the lawsuits really get going. All this presumes Trump fights it the whole way, which I think he will, and should, do. But it’s impossible to write anything lasting on the Presidential side of this race until we know more. This week I’m writing on the down-ballot successes of Republicans and why that leaves me extremely optimistic, no matter the result at the top of the ticket. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Road to the White House goes through Pennsylvania, again – The Conservative Institute.
Emerging strains of COVID-19 in Europe complicate victory over virus – The Conservative Institute.
Why I remain optimistic about the election.
Sometimes when I start writing one of these newsletters, I have a general idea of what I’m about to do. But with the election insanity, a coherent plan is harder to pull off. I just wrapped up my Conservative Institute column and sent it off to my editors. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, you’re stuck with me and my sleep-deprived, post-Election Day, they’re-still-counting-ballots-and-the-race-isn’t-over-WHATISEVENHAPPENING!? brain. So we’ll see where this goes.
Since the last issue, I’ve practically lived with my mind hooked up to the RealClearPolitics averages, Twitter, and the Decision Desk HQ results page non-stop. I feel a little bit like the squirrel in the animated movie Hoodwinked, where they give the hyperactive squirrel coffee, and he’s bouncing all over the forest. Or if you’re a Futurama person, when Fry consumes 100 cups of coffee in a single day and hits nirvana and becomes The Flash.
That’s me, right, but it’s excel spreadsheets and county totals. For instance, I just glanced up at tabs I had open yesterday and realized I was comparing state and county results in New York to 2020.
Why New York? Because once you go past the top-line of this ticket, Trump versus Biden, you confront what can only be described as a mirror filled horror-house of carnage and despair for Democrats. The Democratic Party in the Year of our Lord, Two-Thousand and Twenty, got obliterated at every level of government. If Republicans and Democrats were running for dog catcher in some podunk town in [insert state here], I’d bet the Republican likely won by a minimum of 8-10 points.
Early on in the day, I thought the apt description was two waves smacking each other, a red wave, and a blue wave. The more I study the down-ballot races, though, it’s pretty clear there was only one wave, and it was red. And by red, I mean Alabama Crimson Tide red, complete with some dude in an elephant costume surfing on the front end. As a Tennessee fan, that hurts my heart to write. But you can pick your a description of red, be it a bloodbath, the Red Wedding, or something else because this was an old-fashioned curb-stomping. The post-explosion radiation from this election and Nancy Pelosi’s rage will warm my heart as readily as the thought I had after 2016: “Hilary Rodham Clinton lost the Presidency to reality TV show host Donald John Trump.”
Why the Republicans Won Big, Ignoring the Trump/Biden race.
I know you’re probably not hearing this kind of talk in the mainstream media, so stick with me a moment. The press is depressed over these stories, plus they’re hyperfocused on Trump and Biden. Let’s go through the numbers. Then we’ll hit the Democratic dysfunction I predicted would come, and is appearing, and that I might need Narcan to survive if I enjoy it anymore (I told you this newsletter would be fun). And then talk New York.
Republicans won the following:
- Of the 98 partisan chambers, Republicans will control at least 59 next year (good for 60%). As of late Wednesday, Republicans had flipped control of two chambers, the New Hampshire state House and Senate. Arizona’s state Senate and House were too close to call. I think there’s another flip coming in Alaska. – WSJ
- Republicans will control both legislative chambers in 24 of the 36 states in which legislatures draw district lines for US Congress, the state legislature itself, or both. – WSJ
- The DCCC (Democratic committee that focuses on electing House Democrats) targeted 51 Republicans to defeat this cycle. Republicans won 50/51. Seriously. Go scroll the DCCC’s Twitter page. It’s just them celebrating the seats they held, except that single victory.
- Democratic donors sent nearly $2oo million to Kentucky and South Carolina to defeat Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham. Neither Democrat will hit 40% in their race. Here’s how poorly Democrats did in those races. Dick Durbin in Illinois and Mark Warner’s in Virginia, both thought safe Democrats, had closer races. Durbin’s challenger will finish at approximately 41.5% and Warner’s at 44.4%.
- Susan Collins of Maine led zero polls. ZERO. Quinnipiac said she’d lose by 12 points. Collins is going to win by 8.5 points and avoid a run-off. For those who can’t do the math, that’s a 20.5 point difference.
- Of the ten governorships up for election this year, Republicans won eight of them. They lost North Carolina and Washington state. Republicans won LANDSLIDE victories on this level in New Hampshire and Vermont (yes, THAT Vermont, that elects Bernie Sanders). Chris Sununu won with nearly 64%, and in Vermont, Phil Scott won with almost 69%. The last governor’s race in Tennessee was closer than these states!
- Donald Trump won Florida so decisively some people on the left are beginning to think of it as a red state. Most of them aren’t going to contest Ohio that much anymore either, which gives the GOP a permanent foothold in the heart of the Midwest.
- Exit polls show that Trump won the highest share of the non-white vote for a Republican since 1960. Trump and Republicans obliterated Biden and Democrats in majority-minority districts across the Florida, Texas, Midwest, and South. Things flip back in Democrats favor the further west you go. These figures are so thoroughly shocking that Vox writer Matt Yglesias already wrote a shocked retrospective.
- The Democratic House is in full meltdown mode, leaking audio of a private phone call with House Democrats where they unleash on each other, Pelosi, AOC, and more. One of them was practically yelling into the phone that “defund the police” nearly killed her campaign. Let me repeat this: Democrats are leaking audio of their phone calls to the press because they hate each other.
Yes. I’m counting that last one as a Republican victory. States are still counting ballots for Donald Trump, but if Trump does end up losing, Democrats will be like Thanos. When people ask Democrats what it cost to get what they wanted, the answer is everything. Because Republicans, in a massive turnout election, showed up and dominated the 2020 election that will have lasting consequences.
As an aside, that domination down-ballot is partially why I’m still bullish on Trump’s chances to win outright. It’s hard to imagine a red wave year where Republicans dominate at every level except the top of the ticket. Is this possible? Sure. But it’s also enough evidence to push some of these lawsuits to see what’s there in some of these states.
During my senior year of college, I was sitting in a political science senior seminar. A political philosophy professor taught that class. I devoured three things in college: political philosophy, elections statistics and history, and Taco Bell. This prof would open up the class by asking questions about current events. One day, he walked in and asked what the most important story was at the time. He answered and said it was Obama’s week, getting Obamacare passed with some other small successes that week. I answered and said “redistricting,” and said Democrats were behind in money, the polls, and any preparation for that, and it’d cost them the rest of the decade. He laughed and said I was wrong.
I was right. The GOP won the House in 2010 and a monster number of state legislatures that allowed them to redraw lines and make winning easier across the country. And now, Republicans have done the same thing again in 2020, right as the census is wrapping up. Drawing districts isn’t a perfect science, and you can get too cute with it. But the GOP is setting itself up for more success for the rest of this decade. So when I say this election costs Democrats everything if they defeat Trump (the jury is out on that), I genuinely mean it will cost them everything, potentially for the decade. For reference, Democrats held the House for two years out of the last ten.
And on the Senate side, Republicans look poised to keep their majority, pending the Georgia run-off results. If that happens, they’ll be set to endure in the more challenging year of 2022. After that, the map reopens for them in 2024, and Democrats face a bleak landscape. Let me put it this way: there’s a non-trivial chance Democrats never hold a Senate majority this upcoming decade. Events, candidates, and elections will dictate much of this, but there is a political path where this happens.
Democratic dysfunction will rule.
So, when I say I’m wildly optimistic for the next few years of Republican politics, this is what I mean. The Republican Party is coming out of this election more unified than ever. If you haven’t, I recommend reading last week’s issue, where I predicted the fierce in-fighting on the way for Democrats.
Here’s what’s about to happen. Democrats are about to take every wrong lesson from 2016 and 2020. The progressive left, looking at this bloodbath down the ballot, and being the only group left in-tact, will want power. The moderates within the coalition, weakened by losses and the prospect of losing the majority in 2022, are livid at Pelosi and the far-left. They want control over the party too.
The progressives/socialists are going to say, “The Party lost all these races playing a moderate card. We need to stop hiding who we are! Look at Stacey Abrams, she’s made Georgia a thing for Democrats! We need to do the same everywhere!” I’ve already seen this line of thought from prominent journalists on the left. They think Stacy Abrams is now the national model. They’re missing how that exact model, pushed over this past summer and fall, single-handedly is going to cost them this election. The rioting and far-left activism/progressivism may energize the base; it repels everyone else.
And so, the Democratic Party is going to toy with doing the same that happened under Reagan and George H. W. Bush, nominating the most radical parts of their coalition. The Republican Party will become a multi-ethnic working-class party that wants none of the craziness. They want a focus on jobs, trade, and a more economically populist platform.
Is it possible for this to fall apart? Sure. Nothing is static in politics, and both parties can change. And events will, unquestionably, drive much of these things. But I suspect these lines will hold, primarily because the hard-left and the press that fluffs them will want those progressive policies. And the in-fighting in the Democratic Party will divide these factions apart, making it easier for the broader GOP coalition to win.
This last point will be my wrap up because I think it’s an exciting look into the future. You’re going to see a lot of really dumb handwringing on the left and right that the Republican Party has to fight over a state like Georgia. This issue shouldn’t be a surprise. Battleground states come and go on the national election front. Ohio is red now, and Florida is trending red. That population shift means new swing states emerge. The battlegrounds are places like Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas for the GOP. For Democrats, the entire Midwest sans Illinois are coming online new battlegrounds.
New battlegrounds don’t bother me. In electoral politics, you always have to be looking to the horizon. After this election, you know where we should look to the future?
A couple of conservative elections analysts started pointing to some of these results, and they are fascinating. In one of the highest turnout elections in history, in New York, Donald Trump is currently holding close to 43% of the vote, which would be the highest of any Republican this century (for comparison, in Minnesota, Trump will end up around 45%). One of the things you notice if you study electoral maps in the Midwest, what happened first was the rural counties started turning a deep red. One county would start, and everything around it would follow.
Compare 2004 New York, to 2012, to 2016, and what we so far for 2020. New York state is looking a lot like a typical rust-belt state. You can find similar dynamics out on Long Island and Staten Island. Dan McLaughlin noted on Twitter:
As of votes counted so far, Trump in NY carried:
- NY state outside NY City limits (51.6%)
- Both Nassau & Suffolk Counties (52.9% on Long Island)
- Outer-ring NY: Nassau-Suffolk-Westchester-Rockland-Staten Island (50.6%)
Turns out that Donny from Queens actually still speaks to the bridge-and-tunnel New York crowd circa 2020.
The killer for Republicans is New York City, which determines the rest of the state. It’s the biggest, densest, and most wealthy and entrenched mega-city in the United States. And when you get into the core of NYC, you see Democrats winning by 80+% margins in Manhatten, the Bronx, and Queens. The wealthiest and whitest part of the city, Manhatten, is where Trump performs the worst. Interestingly, his best part of the city is Brooklyn, which is more diverse, and Trump gets up to 25% there.
In a nutshell, this is where the two parties are headed. Republicans are a multi-ethnic working-class party that wins those rural counties and union-worker areas. The increases with Hispanic voters of all stripes hopefully portends better gains with Black voters down the road. Democrats are the rich, white urban cores of these cities, full of progressive and socialist radicals. FiveThirtyEight did a series talking about how the wealthiest counties in America are now Democratic. Democrats are also trying to add some of these suburban counties that don’t like Trump but aren’t necessarily on board with the progressive agenda.
It will be interesting in the years to come how much of this shift is permanent and how much each party is merely renting these coalitions for a brief moment in time. I thought Damon Linker at The Week, no Trump fan, had a good summation of election day. After describing the walloping Democrats received, Linker said:
And that should give Democrats serious pause. For four years Donald Trump has proven himself a corrupt, mendacious ignoramus utterly unfit for the position he holds. He’s led the nation through a pandemic that has left nearly a quarter million dead, is currently surging unchecked across the country, and has devastated the economy. And yet, the current tally shows him beating his showing from 2016 by 3.7 million votes. Trump may well come up short where it counts, but he still gained ground with the electorate relative to four years ago.
So please, Democrats, look in the mirror and show a little humility. You’re not nearly as self-evidently wonderful or widely loved as you’d like to believe. You are not destined to prevail anywhere. You share a country with a large group of people who hate your guts, and who aren’t going to submit to your rule or go along with your giddy plans to remake the nation in your image. It’s time to start acting like you understand this implacable fact and all it implies about the limits of your power and the parameters of the possible.
American politics is a war of attrition right now. The sooner Democrats learn to live with that fact, the better.
These are my preliminary thoughts on the election. It’s impossible to write anything about where the Presidential vote is headed. At the time I’m writing this, nothing is determined. But when I look at the down-ballot results here, I remain optimistic about the future regardless of the outcome.
Links of the week
Leaked Audio shows Democrats lashing out at each other – Washington Post
Which is the Real “Working Class Party” Now? Donald Trump self-immolated, but the results of Tuesday’s election show the seeds of a profound switch in roles for the Democratic and Republican Parties – Matt Taibbi
An Oversimplified Theory, Surely – Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review
The pollsters were wrong again — why do we listen to them? – John Podhoretz, NYPost
Win or lose, Trump is here to stay – Rich Lowry, NYPost
The Media Had 4 Years to Figure Out Trump Voters. They Blew It. As independent thinkers exit mainstream institutions, groupthink and blind spots are likely to get worse. – Robby Soave, Reason Magazine
A Warning Sign for Democrats – William Saletan, Slate
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Rioters Patiently Wait For All The Votes To Be Counted – Babylon Bee
Thanks for reading!