Election 2018

Teflon Don? Not So Much

Politico, this morning:

Teflon Don confounds Democrats

Democrats tried attacking Donald Trump as unfit for the presidency. They’ve made the case that he’s ineffective, pointing to his failure to sign a single major piece of legislation into law after eight months in the job. They’ve argued that Trump is using the presidency to enrich himself, and that his campaign was in cahoots with Russia.

None of it is working.

Data from a range of focus groups and internal polls in swing states paint a difficult picture for the Democratic Party heading into the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election. It suggests that Democrats are naive if they believe Trump’s historically low approval numbers mean a landslide is coming.

Really?

In focus groups, most participants say they’re still impressed with Trump’s business background and tend to give him credit for the improving economy. The window is closing, but they’re still inclined to give him a chance to succeed.

More than that, no single Democratic attack on the president is sticking — not on his temperament, his lack of accomplishments or the deals he’s touted that have turned out to be less than advertised, like the president’s claim that he would keep Carrier from shutting down its Indianapolis plant and moving production to Mexico.

Voters are also generally unimpressed by claims that Trump exaggerates or lies, and they don’t see the ongoing Russia investigation adding up to much.

Well, these are the same pollsters who told us Trump would lose in the first place. Maybe they are overcompensating?

If you read further into the article, it almost seems to contradict itself:

“The question has to be what counts as working — the guy’s approval ratings are in the mid-30s,” Burton said of Trump. “So the other way of looking at this is, everything is working.”

Fortunately, we don’t have to guess.

Throughout the country, there have been 35 special elections in statewide races since Trump was elected.  In twenty-nine of them, the incumbent party (whether D or R) held the seat.  In the six that flipped, they ALL flipped from Republican to Democrat (three in OK, two in NH, and one in NY).  Two of these elections were yesterday.

More importantly, in almost all the special elections, the Democrat fared better — an average of 13% better — that Clinton did over Trump — even when they lost.  And 9% better on average than Obama over Romney in 2012.

Here’s the data (you might want to enlarge it):

That’s not a focus group.  That’s real data from real elections.

So yeah. Maybe Trump still is president. But he’s not helping Republicans.

GA-6 Fallout

Ossoff lost in the 6th District of Georgia last night. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Handel leads Ossoff 53 percent to 47 percent in a race that many expected to be much closer. Handel had 127,021 votes to the Democrat’s 114,390 ballots.

And so now the Republicans are gloating…

… and the Democrats are engaged in a circular firing squad.

What’s the lesson?  Why did the Democrats lose Georgia 6th and South Carolina 5th?  And the other two special elections that were supposedly referenda on Trump?

I said it yesterday…. WHEN YOU ARE NOT EXPECTED TO WIN, YOU SHOULDN’T MOURN THE LOSS.

The story isn’t “Dems Lost”. It is “Dems Making Huge Gains Into Republican Districts”.

Look at these special election results:

The GOP drops by double digits since Election Day 2016.  That’s double digit drop in seven months!!

Nate Silver does a lot of number crunching and concludes:

As compared to the 2016 presidential results, Democrats have outperformed their benchmarks by an average of 14 percentage points so far across the four GOP-held districts to have held special elections to date. As compared to the 2012 presidential election, their overperformance is even larger, at almost 18 points. They’ve also outperformed their results from the 2016 and 2014 U.S. House elections by roughly 11 points, after one accounts for the fact that the special elections were open-seat races rather than being held against incumbents.

DEMOCRATIC SWING IN SPECIAL ELECTION RELATIVE TO BENCHMARK*
DISTRICT 2016 PRESIDENT 2012 PRESIDENT 2016 HOUSE 2014 HOUSE
Kansas 4 +22.5 +22.6 +17.8 +15.8
Montana +16.6 +11.5 +2.7 +7.3
Georgia 6 -0.1 +23.5 +12.5 +17.5
South Carolina 5 +17.4 +12.2 +10.1 +3.6
Average +14.1 +17.5 +10.8 +11.1
Democrats continue to substantially outperform their benchmarks
* Result relative to national popular vote, also adjusted for incumbency in the case of congressional incumbents.

How might this translate for Democrats next November, when all 435 seats are up for grabs? The results simultaneously suggest that an impressively wide array of Republican-held seats might be competitive next year — perhaps as many as 60 to 80 — and that Democrats are outright favorites in only a fraction of these, perhaps no more than a dozen. To some extent, this configuration is a result of Republican-led gerrymandering in 2010. Republicans drew a lot of districts where their members are safe under normal conditions, but not in the event of a massive midterm wave.

In order to win a net of 24 seats next year — enough to flip the House — Democrats may therefore need to target dozens of Republican-held seats and see where the chips fall. They can variously attempt anti-Trump, anti-Republican or anti-incumbent messages depending on the district.

They say the same thing over at The Cook Political Report:

Measured against the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index (PVI), Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean of their districts by an average of eight points in the past five elections:

A Smarter Way to Interpret 2017’s Special Elections

If Democrats were to outperform their “generic” share by eight points across the board in November 2018, they would pick up 80 seats. Of course, that won’t happen because Republican incumbents will be tougher to dislodge than special election nominees. But these results fit a pattern that should still worry GOP incumbents everywhere, regardless of Trump’s national approval rating and the outcome of the healthcare debate in Congress.

Yes, I like the way this looks.

Good News In The Offing

(1)  Georgia On My Mind

In Georgia 6th district, the special election to replace Tom Price in the House, Jon Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the vote, just short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat, and he will face Karen Handel, the top Republican vote-getter, in a June runoff.

This is a terrific showing from a young 30 year old Democratic for a seat once held by Newt Gingrich. Combined with Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in a special House election in Kansas last week, the Georgia result will be an immediate boon to Democratic groups, lifting their fund-raising and bolstering candidate recruitment efforts, while sobering Republicans who are assessing whether to run in Mr. Trump’s first midterm election.

Ossoff still has to win the runoff,  against Handel. Handel, who took 19.8 percent, is a former Georgia secretary of state and chair of the Fulton County Commission who has unsuccessfully run for governor and Senate. But in recent years, Handel is probably best known—and notorious—for her time at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which ended after her failed, politically motivated effort to get the organization to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood to perform cancer screenings.

But win or lose in the runoff, the Ossoff win last night shows that Democrats can compete even in non-swing districts.

And don’t believe the White House spin that this was not a rebuke of the President. It clearly was. The more closely aligned a candidate was with President Trump, the worse that candidate did.

(2)  The No-Bill Zone

Many anonymously-sourced news stories are out there that say the following:

A well-placed source said Tuesday afternoon that representatives for Fox and O’Reilly have begun talking about an exit. But this prompted a denial from sources in O’Reilly’s camp.

Even one person close to O’Reilly, however, said he will probably not be back on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

The original well-placed source said an announcement about O’Reilly’s fate was likely by the end of the week.

The fact that none of these sources were willing to go on the record speaks to the delicate maneuvering underway.

The network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox (FOX), will hold a board meeting on Thursday, a spokeswoman told CNNMoney. One of the sources said O’Reilly will be a primary topic.

The Murdochs, the men who control 21st Century Fox, are pointedly not commenting on any of this.

But conversations inside Fox have already turned to possible O’Reilly successors.

The Murdochs have had loyalty to O’Reilly, but they have greater loyalty to money. And with advertisers fleeing O’Reilly by the dozens (he had virtually none in his last aired show, and had to end 10 minutes early), it is hard to see how O’Reilly survives this.

Good riddance.  He was an out-and-out liar.  And pervert.  Next stop, Sean Hannity.

UPDATE: From NY Mag

The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.

Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.

Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.

According to sources, Fox News wants the transition to be seamless. Executives are currently debating possible replacement hosts. Names that have been discussed include Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, and Tucker Carlson, who would move from his successful 9 p.m. slot and create a need for a new host at that time. One source said Sean Hannity is happy at 10 p.m. and would not want to move.

Vote Your Ossoff

Voters in a suburban Atlanta congressional district will decide today whether Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff will win outright a special election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, in a district the Republican Party has held since 1979. The closely watched contest has drawn national attention as the first political bellwether of the Trump era, after the district nearly split its vote between the Republican leader and Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election. It even drew the president’s personal attention Monday, when the White House occupant criticized Ossoff in a tweet.

Clearly, Republicans are nervous — as Trump fired off two more tweets this morning:

In order to avoid a runoff, Ossoff must get more than 50%. Republicans hope he fails to reach 50%, thus placing him against a Republican around whom all the GOP will unite.

Nate Silver does not see this happening:

And his answer to that question? Ossoff will win the runoff by 4 percentage points, but that “win” has a large margin of error (8 points).

This is more than about one seat in the House obviously. It will show Democrats that they can win in 2018 — even take back the House.

I expect early returns to be misleading. Georgia 6th has early voting — and motivated Dems will have come out for that. That will be reflected in the early voting.  I don’t expect a win today for Issoff, just the runoff.  But if he gets the win sans runoff, that would be…. yuge.

SIDENOTE: I am a bit concerned about this and wondering why others aren’t:

COBB COUNTY, Ga. – Channel 2 Action News has learned that critical voting machines were stolen just days before polls will open for a special election.

State officials are investigating after equipment was taken from a Cobb County precinct manager’s vehicle. According to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the equipment was stolen on Saturday evening while the vehicle was parked at the Kroger on Canton Road.

Was Trump Wrong About Orlando Shooter Motive? (Were We All?)

Just a second there, stupid politician man.

Palm Beach Post:

A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out.

Officials say Mateen shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 others at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning.

The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.

“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used.

He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.

“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” he said. “He was always socially awkward.”

L.A. Times:

The gunman who attacked a Florida LGBT nightclub had attended the club before the attack and had used a gay dating and chat app, witnesses said.

Kevin West, a regular at Pulse nightclub, said Omar Mateen messaged him on and off for a year before the shooting using the gay chat and dating app Jack’d.

But they never met – until early Sunday morning.

West was dropping off a friend at the club when he noticed Mateen – whom he knew by sight but not by name – crossing the street wearing a dark cap and carrying a black cellphone about 1 a.m., an hour before the shooting.

“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’” and nodded his head, West said. “I could tell by the eyes.”

At least four regular customers of Pulse, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender nightclub where the massacre took place, told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday that they believed they had seen Mateen there before.

“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” said Ty Smith, who also uses the name Aries.

He saw Mateen at the club at least a dozen times, he said.

And the Daily Mail quotes his ex-wife as saying he had “gay tendencies“.

It would be unusual for an ISIS adherent to be gay.  And it suggests that Mateen’s motive was based, at least in part, on self-loathing.  There is nothing to suggest that ISIS personally recruited him.  This was a lone wolf.  He may have simply latched on to ISIS as the reason, simply because self-loathing gays aren’t that aware of the self-loathing.  He was trapped between two worlds — the rigid tenets of his faith (perhaps buttressed by his anti-gay father), and his inner desires.  He chose one — violently.  (Not an excuse, of course.  Just a possible explanation).