Showing posts with label Senate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Senate. Show all posts

Monday, November 30, 2020

2020 Election: Biden Won and the Democratic Party Lost


“A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.”

-Winston Churchill

That President Trump was going to lose this election was a foregone conclusion in my mind because he lost his one and only advantage - a strong economy. The historically unprecedented job and wage growth, especially among women and minorities, was wrecked by a global pandemic. This coupled with Trump’s inept leadership and lack of national strategy to manage the spread of the virus doomed his re-election bid. In addition to a struggling economy, Trump had a historically low approval rating, with which no incumbent, other than Harry Truman, has ever won re-election.

Going into the election, the Democrat’s also had an unprecedented fundraising advantage at every level. Biden’s campaign raised $809 million; more than any candidate in history, and entered the last month of the race with a three to one advantage over Trump. In Senate races, Democrats raised $716 million, to Republicans' $435 million, giving them an advantage of more than $280 million.

In Maine, Sara Gideon raised $69 million compared to Senator Susan Collins's paltry $26 million. In South Carolina Jaime Harrison raised $57 million in a bid to unseat Senator Lindsey Graham, achieving the highest quarterly fund-raising total for any Senate candidate in U.S. history. In Kentucky too, Amy McGrath consistently outraised and outspent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. History tells us that candidates who spend more in Senate races overwhelmingly win their races; Democrats were confident they would retake the Senate.

For four years the media and the left have painted Trump supporters as bigots. Liberal coastal elites in newsrooms across the country had convinced themselves that once the vast majority of the country saw Trump’s true colours, thanks to their efforts to unmask him, the majority of Americans, apart from a small and shrinking rural, uneducated white base, would come to their senses.

For this reason Democrats and the mainstream media assured us that we would witness a historic Blue wave that would result in Democrats winning the White House, retaking the Senate, growing their majority in the House, winning back Governorships, flipping state and local legislators. They were even confident of turning deep red states like Texas, blue, thanks to the growing number of Latino voters; even though Texas has been reliably Republican since 1980.

Along with an unprecedented campaign war chest, in 2020 Democrats also had a likeable candidate and America was facing an out of control pandemic, a struggling economy, historic unemployment and a President with a dismal approval rating – how did it go so wrong for Democrats, again?

The story on election night turned out far different from the confident narrative we heard going into the 2020 election and far from seeing a blue wave, the opposite transpired. 

Not only did Democrats fail to unseat Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham, but in Kentucky, Amy McGrath lost to Mitch McConnell by 20 points, making it the worst loss in that race since 2002. Republican Senators Joni Ernst, Dan Sullivan, John Cornyn, Steve Daines and Thom Tillis are all still standing. In races where Democrats outspent their opponents, they won 13 and lost 9. In races where Republicans outspent them, they won 8 races and lost zero.

 

(Data: FEC, Edison Research for the National Election Pool. Graphic: Reuters)

The story in the House is no better. Democrats lost their 35 seat advantage, with a Republican gain of 10-15 seats, and are now left with the smallest House majority in more than two decades.

At the local level where Democrats expected to chip away at the three-fifths majority of the 98 local legislative chambers that Republicans controlled, not only did they fail to flip even one, but they lost New Hampshire. The same story was repeated in Governor’s races. Republicans not only successfully defended all seven seats but flipped a Democratic one; giving them a 27 to 23 state advantage as new terms begin.

Yes, Biden won the White House but this too happened after five nerve wracking days, with far too many races too close to call for many days after the election. His victory is less than resounding or convincing and this should concern us all. Consider that if just 44,000 more votes had gone Trump’s way in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin, we would have a tie.

The truth is that the election felt more like a red surge. The Democrats' claim that Trump’s surprise 2016 win was in large part due to Hillary Clinton being a flawed and polarising candidate herself does not hold true when we see that the President earned nearly 10 million more votes than in 2016, gaining six million more votes than Mrs. Clinton.

Latinos are the fastest growing group in the United States and this year for the first time in a presidential election, they numbered more than eligible African-American voters. Far from losing ground, the man who put immigrant children in cages actually increased his support winning a 32 percent share of Latino voters. 

Latino voters powered Trump to a convincing win in Florida. A state that Democrats had expected to win going into the election. In Miami-Dade, which is 70 percent Latino, Trump picked up 200,000 more votes and closed a 30 point gap to 9 points. While it is true that about a quarter of Miami-Dade residents are Cuban-born, this group has historically supported Republicans, so their support alone cannot explain the gains Trump made here.

In Texas, counties with Latino majorities favoured Trump, marking a massive swing from just four years ago when Democrats dominated all these counties. Zapata County in Texas, which is 95 percent Latino, and one Mrs. Clinton won by 33 points in 2016 - Trump flipped in 2020, winning it by 6 points. A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that Mr. Trump improved his performance in every Texas County with a Latino population over 75 percent.

Even in the neighboring state of New Mexico, which is nearly half Latino, Mr. Trump picked up many more votes from four years ago. Counties like San Juan in the Northwest and Otero County in the Southeast with heavy Latino populations all moved closer to Trump.

Mr. Trump also measurably increased his vote share among Black, gay and Asian Americans. It is pretty remarkable for a man who has been labelled a white supremacist to grow his support to 12 percent of Black people, including over 18 percent of Black men, not to mention 34 percent of Asians and 28 percent of the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Amazingly, the President’s LGBTQ vote share doubled from 2016.

If all these facts were not damning enough, in dozens of interviews with the New York Times, African-American voters who chose Biden say they voted for the Democratic Party with great trepidation and a longstanding concern of feeling underappreciated by the party they have stood by for decades. One voter summed up what many African-Americans are feeling about Democrats, saying that they have not “earned his vote — or his loyalty.” He added that “my vote is open for bid — what will you do for me and my kind now that the election is over?”

Even in California, one of the most liberal states in the country, while Biden trounced Trump as was expected, what came as a shock is that Democrats lost many down ballot races. Republicans are now expected to win back at least four of seven seats they lost in 2018. The last time Republicans managed to defeat an incumbent Democrat in California was in 1994. In this election they have already done it three times with a few races still too close to call.

Californian voters also handily rejected progressive ballot measures around raising business taxes, instituting rent controls, protecting gig workers and reinstating affirmative action. They also helped the GOP regain their status as the second largest party in the state after falling behind “no party preference” registration in 2018. With the 2020 election results, Republicans in California can claim their best year in more than a decade.

The 2020 election map also shows a more entrenched and divided electorate compared to 2016, with fewer counties flipping from one party to the other. In the last election 237 counties changed allegiances from Obama to Trump, in this election only 77 counties flipped, with Biden winning 59 of them.

The bottom line is that the election results show that Mr. Trump’s appeal is more resonant and broader than most people understood. Not only did he manage to grow his base, but he actually found new voters. This reality contradicts the Democrat’s claim about Trump’s 2016 win was a fluke and that the 2020 result would be a total rebuke of this President and his policies – Trump has expanded his appeal by bringing in new and non-white voters.

Rather than try to spin the results as a victory, the Democratic Party should view them as a warning sign that their message is not connecting with many working class voters; white and non-white.

In addition to figuring out how they will tangibly deliver on promises to Black voters, which will not be easy, they should be extremely alarmed by the fact that so many Latino voters chose Trump. This is the fastest growing demographic in the country and if the Democratic Party were to lose their support, it would cost them elections for years to come.

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 Midterm Election Results: A Non-Partisan Commentary

 
(Image: thepawprintdaa.com)
 “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Neither side was humiliated; both can claim victory to some extent, which is extremely rare for a midterm election, especially one with such a polarizing and unpopular President. However, both parties should feel a sense of humility and that means it was a good night for America.

There was no blue wave as Democrats not only failed to flip the Senate but actually lost seats, and while they made some gains in Governor races, they came up short in key swing states like Florida and Ohio. Also, the majority of House seats they picked up were in districts that Hillary Clinton won, meaning there was already a built-in anti-Trump voting block there. They failed to flip many of the districts that Obama and Trump both carried, which a blue wave would have done. Meanwhile, Republicans were also sent a clear message by the electorate that people want a check on this President and a return to balance of power in Washington. No more one party rule.

If you look at the graphic below, the visual shows a balance between red and blue, across the board. These mixed results tell me two things.
First, and most importantly the country rejected Trump’s dangerous vilification of immigrants (which was his closing argument on the campaign trail) by giving Democrats the power to stop unconscionable policies like separating and detaining children. Second, while even his supporters disagree with the President’s most extreme policies and sharp elbows, they are willing to support initiatives that make sense like re-negotiating trade agreements to better protect US wages, infrastructure spending to create jobs and efforts to bring down the ridiculous cost of life-saving prescription drugs. And Democrats would do well to remember that if the majority of the electorate supported blind resistance to this President, there would have been a blue wave flipping many more states and local races.

Democrats should also consider that midterms are historically a rebuke of the President and the majority party and much less a vote of confidence in the opposition. So the party that had been hollowed out under Obama, losing the US Senate, the House, the majority of Governorship's, and state and local legislatures, will now need to work to regain the trust of the electorate, based on their actions leading up to 2020, and not by simply being blindly partisan or obstructionist.

The other important factor to support my conclusion is that the majority of Democratic congressional candidates who won campaigned as centrists. Majority are newcomers who said they were tired of the partisan gamesmanship and were running to fix Washington by reaching across the aisle. Importantly, not one of these candidates ran on the promise to remove the President from office or ever mentioned impeachment.

What we are seeing from albeit a divided electorate is a mandate for both parties to work together and low tolerance for blind partisan resistance and political payback. They want their elected representatives to find solutions to non-partisan issues that are important to all Americans. Frankly, I believe government works better when both sides are forced to compromise and neither has a complete majority; it seems many Americans agree.

I was glad to see Nancy Pelosi strike a conciliatory tone after seeing the results described above. She talked about unifying the country by working together with the President for all Americans, while ensuring they would also be a check on his worst instincts. The President also called Ms. Pelosi to congratulate her and Mr. Schumer, expressing a desire to work with Democrats.

Now Ms. Pelosi will need to ensure that her caucus shows the same maturity and steers clear of frivolous subpoenas and investigation like Benghazi, or wasting taxpayer money trying to impeach the President (unless Mr. Mueller finds something incriminating). Instead, Democrats need to focus on delivering on the promises that their young and historically diverse group of Congress women and men made to their constituents – that of working with the President to secure the future of DREAMERS, funding infrastructure to create jobs and fixing Obamacare once and for all, issues that a majority of Americans agree on.

Of course, none of this means that the President will change his behaviour or that both parties will forgive, forget and put aside ideological differences and divisive rhetoric. However, I believe that the party that makes an effort to reach across the aisle and is genuinely seen to be fighting for all Americans will reap the rewards in 2020.

Monday, November 5, 2018

After Kavanaugh, Democrats Need to Take a Long Hard Look in the Mirror

Senator Booker at the Kavanaugh Hearing (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"There is a battle of two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. Which wolf wins? The one you feed." 
-Cherokee proverb

A few months after the 2016 US election I was at a café in New York and there were two men sitting next to me, talking loudly. I did not recognise either man but the younger one was boasting about his press interviews and TV appearances. They were talking animatedly about the election and how Democrats needed to fight back against Trump. The thing that stayed with me about their conversation was both men having a good laugh at Michelle Obama’s expense, saying she was stupid and naïve in saying “When they go low, we go high”; the younger guy suggested that Democrats needed to go, not high, but subterranean, when Republicans went low.

After watching Mr. Kavanagh’s recent confirmation process it is clear that the left has taken a page out of the above operatives’ playbook and left the wise words of the Obamas far behind. To say that the Democrats behaved shockingly would be an understatement. Not only did they abandon all pretenses of civility and fairness, but most dishearteningly they started to emulate the same bullying and fearmongering tactics that I have always despised in Mr. Trump. This was not so much about the political gloves coming off, which would have been fine, as it was about abandoning core principles of decency, impartiality and objectivity, which are values that should be considered even more sacrosanct by Democrats in the age of Trump.

From the outset the left made it clear they would blindly block any person without considering their record. Even before the nominee’s name was announced protestors had assembled outside the Supreme Court building and a reporter from ABC news noticed that in many instances the signs were already filled out...except for the name.”

It was not just liberal pressure groups who behaved badly. Senior Democrats also lined up and vowed in effect to make this an unethical and unprincipled fight. Mr. Schumer, the Senate Minority leader, went on CBS News and announced that he was ready to oppose the President's Supreme Court nominee with "everything I've got". The problem with purely partisan and blind ideological battles is that you only end up talking to a small zealous minority within your own base and nobody else. Many other senior Democratic Senators, instead of taking the high ground, followed suit, vilifying and attacking Mr. Kavanaugh personally.

Mr. Booker and Ms. Warren, both 2020 Presidential hopefuls, held a press conference where they stated that senators “who don’t oppose President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are complicit in the evil.” I understand that politics is a messy business and not for the faint of heart, and have absolutely no issue with brawls based on policy and a nominee’s judicial record; this is fair game in a confirmation process, but what Democratic Senators did was to take a page out of the book of the same unprincipled President that they claim to be fighting against. All this transpired months before Ms. Ford came forward with her allegations.

Given this irresponsible fearmongering by senior party leaders, it is no surprise that an intern working for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was arrested after being caught illegally “posting private information of several Republican U.S. senators on Wikipedia.”  There were also numerous instances of protestors angrily cornering and haranguing Republican Senators all over the Capitol. Some of the harassment was perpetrated even when lawmakers were at dinner with their families.

Susan Collins's staff shared with The New York Times copies of letters and multiple voice mail messages addressed to the senator using vulgar language and outright threats. One caller told a 25-year-old female staff member at one of Ms. Collins’s Maine offices that “he hoped she would be raped and impregnated.”

The behaviour of Democratic Senators during the hearings also left a lot to be desired. They came across like clowns and petulant children, often behaving in the way Mr. Trump does at his political rallies. Senator Booker compared himself to Spartacus, only to look like a buffoon, when he begged to be punished for releasing documents already cleared for release. He did succeed in ensuring I will not vote for him in 2020. Another Presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris, was seen pouting like a three year old who had just been told the family trip Disneyland was cancelled. Rather than stand her ground and make a case like a mature adult and US Senator, she childishly stormed out of a committee meeting when Republicans refused to direct the FBI to conduct an additional background check.

Interestingly, a Harvard University CAPS-Harris poll conducted after Ms. Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh had given their public testimonies found that 60% of voters supported the confirmation of Kavanaugh, provided the FBI supplemental investigation found no corroborating evidence. With the majority of Americans agreeing the need for a supplemental investigation, the Democrats could have come out with a win ahead of a crucial midterm election where flipping the Senate would have allowed them to provide a serious check on a reckless President. Instead, their behaviour galvanised the Republican base and likely squandered any chance of their flipping the Senate. This sad event was a huge lost opportunity to show the nation that Democrats can be the grown-ups in the room with a President who behaves like a spoiled brat.

The same CAPS-Harris poll found that a majority of voters believe the confirmation process was politicized and mishandled by both sides, with 69% calling it a “national disgrace". Had Democrats acted like mature, rational adults they would likely have softened many independents and perhaps even won over the large number of Republicans who despise Mr. Trump and are actively looking for reasons to vote Democrat. Instead, Democrats came out looking childish, hysterical and cartoonish to all but a small group who will vote for them even if they started shooting people on Fifth Avenue.

A few days after Justice Kavanaugh was sworn in, Mr. Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, said at a campaign rally "Michelle [Obama] always says “When they go low, we go high…"No. No. When they go low, we kick them." I understand that many Democrats feel Obama was weak in the face of Mitch McConnell’s bullying and that this cheated them out their nominee. It is true that Mr. McConnell played dirty politics and politically outmaneuvered the Democrats, but he never went after Mr. Garland’s reputation or tried to discredit him personally; unlike what Democrats did with Mr. Kavanaugh.

What Democrats need to remember is there are some lines they should never be willing to cross, no matter how great the cause. If they continue to cross these lines with impunity, and at every turn, then there will come a point when the wider electorate will no longer be see any difference between Mr. Trump and an opposition that claims to be better than him.