Thursday, September 23, 2021

Indiana Does Not Have the Most Gerrymandered State Legislative Districts

People in Indiana often complain that their legislature is "the worst."  I actually researched the issue a few years ago and found that residents of other states say the same thing about their state's legislature.  So the description of the Indiana General Assembly by Hoosier critics is not really unusual or necessarily accurate.

Now that the states have their decennial census data, they are drawing new boundary lines for their legislative and congressional districts.  In most states, this is a partisan process, done by the state legislature.  Indiana Republicans just released their proposed maps.  It did not take long for the allegations to start that Indiana GOP leaders have drawn the most gerrymandered legislative districts in the country.  

But is that claim, like the claim Indiana's legislature is "the worst," an embellishment?  Almost certainly.

It is hard to know how gerrymandered a map is given the difficulty in obtaining election result data on a precinct-by-precinct basis and assigning that information to the newly drawn districts.  Plus, Indiana was one of the first states to develop proposed districts.  So it is hard to compare Indiana's map to other states' 2020 census legislative maps, since most do not exist yet.

But there have been extensive studies of the 2010 census state legislative maps, including a study titled "The Worst Partisan Gerrymanders in U.S. State Legislatures" issued by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy prior to the 2020 election.   The report concluded that the top 11 states with worst "legislative partisan gerrymandering" are:

1.  Virginia
2.  Wisconsin
3.  Pennsylvania
4.  Michigan
5.  North Carolina
6.  Ohio 
7.  Nevada
8.  Arkansas & Oklahoma
9.  Kentucky
10.  Tennessee

(Notably the report calls this a top 10 list, but actually 11 states are listed.)

As one can see, Indiana does not crack the top 11.  For the record, maps drawn by Republican legislators have resulted in the GOP having huge majorities in the Indiana House (71-29) and the Senate (39-11) as of the 2020 elections.  Indiana Republicans did pick up four House seats in the last election.

In analyzing the data, the Schwarzenegger Report (I'm going to call it that for simplicity's sake) compared statewide Republican and Democratic state legislative vote versus seats the party won.  The Report found that there were a handful of states which had "minority rule," the party which had a minority of the statewide legislative vote had a majority of legislators elected in the upper (Senate) and/or lower (House) legislative chambers.  Those states are:

Table 1: Minority Rule in U.S. State Legislative Lower Chambers 

State

Statewide popular vote for governing party in 2018 (%)

Party’s seats in the state house after 2018 (%)

Virginia

44.5%

51.0%

Wisconsin

44.7%

64.6%

Pennsylvania

45.6%

54.2%

Michigan

47.4%

52.7%

North Carolina

48.2%

54.2%

           

Table 2: Minority Rule in U.S. State Legislative Upper Chambers 

State

Statewide popular vote for governing party in 2018 (%)

Party’s seats in the state house after 2018 (%)

Pennsylvania       

45.5%    

52.0%

Ohio

47.2%    

58.8%

Michigan    

47.8%

57.9%

North Carolina    

44.9%58.0%

Notably these are all states in which Republicans go from minority party to majority via redistricting.  Until fairly recently, Indiana was an anomaly.  The Democrats drew the Indiana House maps in 1990 and 2000 and won a majority in the House in most elections utilizing those maps.

The Schwarzenneger Report also looked at states in which the party controlling redistricting excessively increased its margin during redistricting.

Table 3:  Worst state house legislative gerrymanders, disproportional seats relative to votes

State

Statewide popular vote for governing party in 2018 (%)

Party’s seats in the state house after 2018 (%)

Nevada

51.3%

69.0%   (+17.7 D)

Wisconsin

44.7%

64.6%   (+19.9 R)

Arkansas

58.5%

76.0%   (+17.5 R)

Oklahoma

58.9%

76.2%   (+17.3 R)



Table 4:  Worst state senate legislative gerrymanders, disproportional seats relative to votes

State

Statewide popular vote for governing party in 2018 (%)

Party’s seats in the state house after 2018 (%)

Kentucky

57.9%

89.5%   (+31.6 R)

Tennessee

58.9%

77.8%   (+18.9 R)


It is doubtful that given how well Indiana Republicans have done under the 2010 maps that the 2020 maps could be more gerrymandered in the party's favor.  The number one priority in partisan redistricting is not gaining more seats, but incumbency protection.  Cutting incumbents' comfortable winning margins to create more districts favoring the party drawing the lines forces those incumbents into competitive races they would like to avoid.  Most likely Indiana's 2020 maps are more about shoring up the numbers in Republican members 'districts rather than creating more GOP districts.  

Probably the best example of this is the 1st congressional district, which last election was won by the Democrat Frank Mrvan with just over 56% of the vote.  Indiana Republicans could have fairly easily shifted lines around and made the district a marginally Republican one.  But to do so would have meant taking GOP votes away from neighboring districts, giving those Republican members of Congress  tougher re-election battles.  As a result, Mrvan gets to keep his Democratic-leaning district.

Finally, it should be noted that having commissions, instead of partisan legislators, draw district lines does not mean the districts are more going to more closely reflect the partisan breakdown of a particular state.  The most extreme example of lopsided numbers is in Hawaii.  In 2020, Democrat Joe Biden received 63.7% of the Hawaiian vote.  Democrats though control the Hawaiian House of Representatives 47-4 (92.1%) and the Senate 24-1 (96%).  A bipartisan commission, with members appointed by Democratic and Republican legislative leaders, drew the Hawaiian maps.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

New Woodward Book Highlights Trump's Plan to Steal 2020 Election

One of the things you learn about Donald Trump is that whatever he accuses the other side of, he does so because he's guilty of the very same thing.  After the 2020 election, Trump accused Democrats of "stealing" the election via election fraud.  Trump and his crack legal team of Larry, Moe and Curly, however, could never actually produce any evidence of that fraud.  But the allegation of a stolen election did divert attention from the fact that Trump and his supporters were working behind the scenes post-election to steal Biden's victory at the polls.

A new book by Bob Woodward, Peril, details Trump's attempt to overturn the election results.

Part of the Trump Team's strategy was the work of "constitutional scholar" John Eastman who drafted a memorandum in which he laid out a plan by which the Vice President of the United States could exercise absolute, unquestioned authority over deciding who won the election.   Eastman's memo, in full, is set out below:

PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL 

January 6 scenario 

7 states have transmitted dual slates of electors to the President of the Senate. 

The 12th Amendment merely provides that “the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” There is very solid legal authority, and historical precedent, for the view that the President of the Senate does the counting, including the resolution of disputed electoral votes (as Adams and Jefferson did while Vice President, regarding their own election as President), and all the Members of Congress can do is watch. The Electoral Count Act, which is likely unconstitutional, provides: 

If more than one return or paper purporting to be a return from a State shall have been received by the President of the Senate, those votes, and those only, shall be counted which shall have been regularly given by the electors who are shown by the determination mentioned in section 5 of this title to have been appointed, if the determination in said section provided for shall have been made, or by such successors or substitutes, in case of a vacancy in the board of electors so ascertained, as have been appointed to fill such vacancy in the mode provided by the laws of the State; but in case there shall arise the question which of two or more of such State authorities determining what electors have been appointed, as mentioned in section 5 of this title, is the lawful tribunal of such State, the votes regularly given of those electors, and those only, of such State shall be counted whose title as electors the two Houses, acting separately, shall concurrently decide is supported by the decision of such State so authorized by its law; and in such case of more than one return or paper purporting to be a return from a State, if there shall have been no such determination of the question in the State aforesaid, then those votes, and those only, shall be counted which the two Houses shall concurrently decide were cast by lawful electors appointed in accordance with the laws of the State, unless the two Houses, acting separately, shall concurrently decide such votes not to be the lawful votes of the legally appointed electors of such State. But if the two Houses shall disagree in respect of the counting of such votes, then, and in that case, the votes of the electors whose appointment shall have been certified by the executive of the State, under the seal thereof, shall be counted. 

This is the piece that we believe is unconstitutional. It allows the two houses, “acting separately,” to decide the question, whereas the 12th Amendment provides only for a joint session. And if there is disagreement, under the Act the slate certified by the “executive” of the state is to be counted, regardless of the evidence that exists regarding the election, and regardless of whether there was ever fair review of what happened in the election, by judges and/or state legislatures. 

So here’s the scenario we propose: 

1. VP Pence, presiding over the joint session (or Senate Pro Tempore Grassley, if Pence recuses himself), begins to open and count the ballots, starting with Alabama (without conceding that the procedure, specified by the Electoral Count Act, of going through the States alphabetically is required). 

2. When he gets to Arizona, he announces that he has multiple slates of electors, and so is going to defer decision on that until finishing the other States. This would be the first break with the procedure set out in the Act. 

3. At the end, he announces that because of the ongoing disputes in the 7 States, there are no electors that can be deemed validly appointed in those States. That means the total number of “electors appointed” – the language of the 12th Amendment -- is 454. This reading of the 12th Amendment has also been advanced by Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe (here). A “majority of the electors appointed” would therefore be 228. There are at this point 232 votes for Trump, 222 votes for Biden. Pence then gavels President Trump as re-elected. 

4. Howls, of course, from the Democrats, who now claim, contrary to Tribe’s prior position, that 270 is required. So Pence says, fine. Pursuant to the 12th Amendment, no candidate has achieved the necessary majority. That sends the matter to the House, where the “the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote . . . .” Republicans currently control 26 of the state delegations, the bare majority needed to win that vote. President Trump is re-elected there as well. 

5. One last piece. Assuming the Electoral Count Act process is followed and, upon getting the objections to the Arizona slates, the two houses break into their separate chambers, we should not allow the Electoral Count Act constraint on debate to control. That would mean that a prior legislature was determining the rules of the present one — a constitutional no-no (as Tribe has forcefully argued). So someone – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, etc. – should demand normal rules (which includes the filibuster). That creates a stalemate that would give the state legislatures more time to weigh in to formally support the alternate slate of electors, if they had not already done so. 

6. The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission – either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court. Let the other side challenge his actions in court, where Tribe (who in 2001 conceded the President of the Senate might be in charge of counting the votes) and others who would press a lawsuit would have their past position -- that these are non-justiciable political questions – thrown back at them, to get the lawsuit dismissed. The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind

Of course, Eastman cites no legal authority to support his conclusion.  But there is vagueness in the Constitution and Electoral Count Act (an 1887 federal statute which attempts to add more detail to the process involved in counting and certifying electoral votes) which allows jokers like Eastman to make nonsensical suggestions like the VP is the absolute arbiter of who wins a presidential election.  

Eastman's memo isn't about law.  Rather it is about using the office of the Vice Presidency to steal an election. Eastman clearly understands that once Vice President Pence handed the election to Trump, regardless of whether it was legal to do so, it would be hard to un-ring the bell.  Notably, the process Eastman suggests cuts the Democratic-dominated House out of the process of certifying electoral votes, in favor of the VP doing so.  The House's only role, if it came to that, would be voting by delegation for the President.  Since Republicans hold majorities in 26 of the 50 House delegations, Eastman knew Trump would win.

Fast forward.  Republicans in 2022 regain the House and have a narrow majority in the Senate.  Republicans had a good election in 2022 and control the legislatures in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.  The 2024 presidential election, a rematch of Biden v. Trump, comes down, once again, to those swing states.    Biden wins the popular vote in those states.  Trump screams fraud and asks his Republican friends to throw out the election results in those states and instead select a pro-Trump slate of electors.  Or, let's say that doesn't work, and it comes down to the Republican House and Republican Senate certifying the Biden electoral votes from those states.  Are people confident those Republican members of Congress will stand up to Trump and hand the win to Biden?  I have zero confidence of that.

Trump's attempt at stealing the 2020 election was thwarted by an army of local, state and national Republican officials who decided to do their jobs honestly and with integrity.  Those "traitors" are being identified and ousted by Trump and his minions in favor of those who will do Trump's bidding next time around.  

Democrats can do little about that.  But they can help change and clarify vague rules that open the door to the next Presidential election being stolen. Priority number one needs to be amending the Electoral Count Act so it is clear that the Vice President and Congress cannot override the will of the people as reflected in the popular vote of each state.  Republicans can either agree to change the law or take the unpopular position that Congress has the right to override the will of the people.  

Amending the Electoral Count Act should be priority No. 1 for Democrats.  Instead they are obsessed about "voter suppression" laws passed by Republicans that will at best have a minuscule impact on turnout.  Democrats are not going to lose the White House to Donald Trump in 2024 because of the voters.  If they lose, it will be because of the vote counters.  

Monday, September 20, 2021

Indiana Right to Life Takes Anti-Life Position by Selecting Anti-Vaxxer as Keynote Speaker

Yesterday, I opened up my Criterion (weekly Catholic newspaper) to find an advertisement on page three for the "Celebrate Life Dinner" hosted by the Indiana Right to Life.  The speaker for the September 28th event is to be Gianna Jessen.

When I ran for office as a pro-life Republican, I became familiar with Jessen's story.  I even attended an event where she spoke.  I can testify that she's a dynamic speaker with a compelling story.  For those who are unaware, Jessen was born alive during a failed late-term saline abortion.  Her birth certificate was actually signed by the doctor who conducted the abortion.  Jessen, who weighed 2.5 pounds at birth, was born with cerebral palsy, a motor condition that affects various areas of body movement.  She claims this was caused by the failed abortion effort.

Recently though Jessen has carved out a very anti-life position incompatible with the right-to-life movement.  Jessen is prominently featured on Twitter announcing that she is not vaccinated against Covid-19 and urging others to not get vaccinated. 

Jessen no doubt has quite a number of Twitter followers who read her anti-vaccination tirades.  No doubt that for many of them, following Jessen's advice has cost them their lives.  Nearly 700,000 Americans have died from Covid-19.  Since early this year, virtually all those deaths could be avoided with a simple vaccination.   Yet, people like Jessen have instead chosen to spread misinformation that has proven deadly to Americans. 

In addition to opposing a vaccine that will save thousands if not millions of American's lives, Jessen has used Twitter to spread the Big Lie.  Her Twitter feed is filled with tweets and retweets with claims that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election and the presidency was stolen.  Of course, Jessen has no actual evidence to back up that claim. As I've said before, the election results show that Trump lost, not because of fraud, but because a decisive percentage of Republican-leaning voters in swing states voted for Biden, while voting for other GOP candidates down ballot.  Even Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), a leading Trump supporter who has latched on to virtually every conspiracy theory out there, admits that Trump lost not because of fraud, but because of GOP crossover vote in favor of Biden.   

It would be easy to write off Jessen's support of the "Big Lie" as the rantings of a disappointed Trump voter.  But Jessen is a public figure and her pronouncements, i.e. her lies, have the effect of undermining confidence in American elections and democratic institutions.  Her deliberately misinforming her followers about the 2020 election has real life consequences and she should be held responsible for her dishonesty.

Jessen has also tweeted positively about the Texas abortion law. 

The Texas abortion law awards bounties to private citizens for turning in people who assist a woman having an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The law, which has no chance of being upheld even if Roe v. Wade is reversed, is an abomination which puts pro-lifers in the worst possible light.  Yet, Jessen has no problem promoting a law which seems intentionally designed to make the pro-life movement look bad.

If the Indiana Right to Life truly cares about promoting the pro-life cause, it should disinvite Jessen as speaker.

****

OOP's short takes:

  • I have reached out to Indiana Right to Life to find out what, if any precautions (such as masks, social distancing, vaccinations, etc.) are going to be taken to ensure its annual dinner doesn't become a Covid-19 super-spreader event.  This should be even more of a concern since the speaker is a prominent anti-vaxxer who no doubt will attract others to the audience who refuse to be vaccinated.  I will let readers know of any response I receive.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

California Recall Results Suggest Democratic Election Strategy for Mid-Terms

With 71% of the California vote in, the "No" vote to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is running ahead of the "Yes" vote by 28%.  That margin may increase as the remaining votes to be counted are mail-in ballots which are expected to be heavily Democratic.  

The day before the election, I had planned to write an article predicting the "No" vote would win by 20%.  My feeling was that Newsom had seized control of the campaign and that prediction reflected that.  Still most polls weren't predicting a 20% margin so I'd be going out on a limb based on a hunch.  Never got around to writing the article.  Turns out my "hunch" about a bigger than expected margin was too conservative. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA

There was a time when Governor Newsom stood a real chance of losing the recall. His popularity was in the toilet as he had angered voters by going out to a dinner party at a fancy restaurant, ignoring the strict Covid-19 protocols he was demanding other Californians follow.  The story led to a resurgence of interest in the recall petition circulating at the time.  That renewed interest in recall was aided by a judge's ruling which gave Newsom's opponents more time to gather signatures due to the pandemic.

The recall works like this. There are two ballots.  The first is whether to recall the Governor.  That is a "Yes" or "No" question.  The second ballot is who will replace the Governor if the "Yes" vote is a majority.  If the "No" vote prevails on the first question on the ballot, the second is irrelevant.

Newsom had tried to nationalize the recall by making it about former President Trump who had lost California badly and is deeply unpopular there.  Newsom's strategy was not working though because the Republicans in the race were moderates, such as the former two term mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, or were conservatives who were not well-known.  

Then long-time radio host Larry Elder entered the race.

Elder is well-known among Republicans.  He had long ago carved out some very conservative views.  Then when Donald Trump ran for President, Elder became an enthusiastic champion of the reality show star.   With Elder in the race, Newsome was able to put a face on his claim that California would be taken over by Trumpism if he was removed from office.   The Governor's efforts were helped by the fact that Elder over the years, like many radio hosts, had made a number of incendiary comments that didn't play well outside his right-wing audience.

Even though the all-important first ballot was whether voters should keep Newsom in office, the Governor was able to make the election a one-on-one contest with Elder.  And while Elder did consolidate much of the Republican support, he was thoroughly trounced when compared to Newsom.

One would think Elder's complete annihilation would discourage him from running again.  But in the era of Trump, running to win an election is not as important as running to promote oneself.  In the run-off, Elder succeeded in raising his profile considerably, thus opening him up for more opportunities to enrich himself inside and outside of politics.  In the Trump World, that's a win.

The real loser last Tuesday was the California Republican Party which may be stuck with a highly unpopular gubernatorial nominee who will drag down other GOP candidates on the ballot in 2022.

For Democrats, the recall election taught them a lesson.  To have any chance of holding their own in a mid-term election which is likely to favor the Republicans, Democrats need to nationalize the election.  They need to make the election not about Joe Biden, but about Donald J. Trump.  To do that, Democrats need Trumpy, Elder-like candidates nominated.  Fortunately for them, it appears the Republican Party is going to cooperate.

OOP's shorttakes:

  • Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly introduced their proposed redistricting maps this week.  Not surprisingly, CD 5 was shored up by removing heavily Democratic Marion County from the district.  The district probably will get tight again, but for at least the next three cycles incumbent Victoria Spartz should be assured of re-election.
  • I don't have the numbers in CD 1, but it doesn't appear that the Republicans changed it enough to make it a Republican-leaning district.  I am surprised.  Democratic Congressman Frank Mrvan only won the district with 56.6% of the vote in 2020.  
  • Flipping CD 1 would have required weakening nearby districts, including CD 2 currently represented by Rep. Jackie Walorski.  CD 2 has actually gotten more Republican since the 2010 redistricting, culminating in Walorski securing 61.5% of the districts vote in 2020.  Still, Walorski's close elections under the 2010 map, including 2012 when she won with just 49% of the vote, has not been forgotten.  No doubt she was lobbying behind the scenes not to weaken the Republican vote in her district to try to pick up another seat.  
  • Still the Republican mapmakers could have moved some GOP voters from neighboring CD 4 into CD 1 to give it more of a GOP flavor.  In that district, Republican candidates are regularly winning by around 30 points.  One thing that is often overlooked about redistricting is that incumbency protection is often a higher priority than the majority party trying to add seats.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Truth About True the Vote's "Voter Fraud" Investigation

A friend sent me information on the investigation an organization called True the Vote was conducting.  Included in the email were what appeared to be comments readers had made after reading about the True the Vote investigation. My friend apparently thought the comments were insightful and persuasive.  They were not.  More on that in a bit.

Some background is in order.  In conducting the 2020 election some states employed drop boxes where voters could leave their completed ballots.  In some states such as Georgia and Arizona, the law allows for people other than the voter to drop off those ballots at drop boxes, but limited such people to relatives

of the voter, caregivers, etc.   The problem is how do you enforce that law so unauthorized individuals aren't dropping off ballots?  You can't put a police officer next to the drop box and ask those dropping off ballots to prove their relationship to each of the voters.  Even if you get the name of the person delivering ballots and the name of the voters, sorting out the nature of the relationship would be extremely time-consuming and labor intensive.

During its investigation, True the Vote claims to have obtained cell phone "ping" data which shows individuals in Georgia and Arizona dropping off an excessive amount of ballots.  This suggests illegal "ballot harvesting" was going on.  

Ballot harvesting is the practice of groups or organizations collecting and turning in individual voters completed election ballots.  While the practice seems harmless, it can in fact undermine the secrecy of the ballot.   The reason voting booths are used on Election Day is so that voters can cast their ballots in private.  As more and more voters are using non-traditional options such as mail-in ballots, there is an interest in ensuring that those methods do not lead to voters being pressured or intimidated.  The ballot needs to remain secret, at least at the option of the voter.  Ballot harvesting opens the door to companies, labor unions and other organizations pressuring voters to vote a certain way.  

For True the Vote calling what is going on "ballot harvesting" is not nefarious enough.  The organization calls it "ballot trafficking" which "was occurring as part of an organized criminal enterprise."   To True the Vote's credit, however, the organization seems to avoid calling the practice "voter fraud."  A Breitbart article, however, described True the Vote as conducting a "voter fraud" investigation.  

The True the Vote investigation gave readers the chance to sound off on their own conspiracy theories, including ballot stuffing.  Here is an example:

Start with warehouse in GA.  Foreigners working with gloves and filling out false ballots.  Something else, everyone uses burner phones.  The type the mafia uses.  After months of checking cell phone traffic in five states about ready....two or three months.....to present data.  Get back to GA warehouse and burner phones.  Check, do they use rental cars?  If so, how about hotels?  After weeks you begin to be able to put a human with a name in a hotel.  Makes it easier to follow.  You identify several....after weeks.   And you begin to see patterns.  They all go to the same UPS stores; have the same traffic pattern; stop at the same places.  You begin to see the stops are at drop boxes.  Get so you can pretty well trace various people.

Now, pictures are being taken all the time.  Millions of them.  After weeks, begin to see a guy go to a drop box over and over.  Then others.  And you have their pictures.  In one state True The Vote has identified 240 people that made an average of 23 trips to drop boxes.  Can't make this stuff up....I am just glad there are smart people who can figure this stuff out.

I know there is a lot more to this story but I can only share what I was given.  Rave on airborne!

Those damn "foreigners"!  They filled out fake ballots for Joe Biden and drove rental cars to put the fake ballots into drop boxes!  They were clever to use gloves and burner phones while doing the dastardly deed!  (Yet, they apparently weren't smart enough to vote for the other Democrats down ballot.)   Why couldn't Democrats find Americans to stuff the ballot boxes?   Instead, they put up the "foreigners" in hotels to commit the fraud!  America First!  No Masks, No Jab!  MAGA!

So stupid. So incredibly dumb.

I would not be surprised if the use of unmonitored drop boxes led to illegal ballot harvesting.  In fact, I would be surprised if it did not.  But while the conduct of the harvester might be illegal, that doesn't invalidate the votes.  The remedy is not disenfranchisement of voters by disqualifying their ballots.  The remedy is prosecution of the harvester.

But the claim that the harvester is "stuffing" drop boxes with fake ballots is absurd.  When the votes are taken drop boxes they are matched, by a Republican and Democratic poll worker, to a registered voter list.  If a voter is not on the list, the ballot doesn't count.   

The "foreigner," however, could fill out a ballot for a dead voter still on the voter registration list.  (That's why I advocate for more frequent purges of non-voters and identification requirements beyond signature.)  But it's hard to cast more than a handful of votes by dead people voting.   A few dead people indeed were found to have "voted" in 2020.  Most of the time it was relatives who carried out the wishes of a deceased love one who planned to vote for Trump.

Adding votes by stuffing the ballot boxes does not work because you cannot have more ballots than voters.  But what would work is flipping votes so the totals match, but the outcome is different.  A computer bug could be inserted into an electronic voting machine to flip votes so that some Trump votes are recorded as Biden votes.  (An HBO documentary showed how this could be done.)  That is in fact what some Trump conspiracists allege was done with the Dominion voting machines.

What undoes that conspiracy theory is the paper trail.  Post-election hand counts of the paper ballots showed they matched what was on the machine.  Votes weren't flipped from Trump to Biden.  As I've written before, Trump lost because a significant percentage of Republicans in key swing states crossed over to vote for Biden instead of giving Trump a second term.

Republicans don't need to Stop the Steal.  Republicans need to Stop the Stupid.

OOP's short takes:

  • A number of reporters have pointed out the hypocrisy of Republican Governors in their rationale for opposing vaccine mandates for Covid while their states have vaccine mandates for a wide assortment of other diseases.   Here is a list of vaccines and what states require them.
  • Indiana's Governor Eric Holcomb also came out against the Covid-19 vaccine.  Here is a 2021-2202 list of the vaccines that Indiana requires that school children get.   Most of these diseases, unlike Covid-19, won't kill you.
  • Here's the thing...I am deeply concerned there is going to be a push by Republicans to repeal all these vaccine requirements.  So pointing out their hypocrisy might backfire.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson Contradicts Trump's Election Fraud Claim, Says Trump Lost Because Republicans Voted Against Him

Yahoo reports:

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, one of Donald Trump's most loyal allies in Congress, was caught on video blaming the former president for his election defeat in 2020.

Mr Johnson made the comments to a liberal activist pretending to be a conservative while she questioned him during an event in Milwaukee. The woman pretended to buy into Mr Trump's election conspiracy theories, and suggested that voter fraud was the reason the former president lost in Wisconsin.

Mr Johnson tells the woman that he disagreed, noting that there was "nothing obviously skewed about the results”.

“If all the Republicans voted for Trump the way they voted for the Assembly candidates, he would have won. He didn’t get 51,000 votes that other Republicans got, and that’s why he lost,” Mr Johnson said.

Senator Johnson is 100% correct.  Previously I examined the election results in three swing states.  I found that in every one of those states now President Joe Biden not only received more Republican votes than Trump received Democratic votes, the difference in the cross-over votes was so large it cost Trump those states and the election.  

While the Never Trump Republican contingent has never been large, it was big enough and committed enough to ensure Trump's tenure in the White House was limited.  While Trump was losing the election, Republicans up and down the ballot ran ahead of Trump because those Never Trump Republicans, after scratching for Biden, were voting for the rest of the GOP ticket.  Let's look at the swing states results versus the exit polls in those states:

WISCONSIN (10 Electoral Votes)
Biden won the Badger state by 20,567 votes.   Partisan breakdown in the state according to 2020 exit polls was 37% Republican, 32% Democrat and 32% Independent.  Of the Democratic voters, 4% voted for Trump and, of the Republican voters, 7% voted for Biden.  If Republican Wisconsin voters would have matched the Democrats support for their presidential candidates, Trump would have had 36,401 more votes and won the state.  

ARIZONA (11 Electoral Votes)
Biden won Arizona by 10,377 votes.  Partisan breakdown in the state was 34% Republican, 27% Democrat, and 39% Independent.  Of the Democratic voters, 3% voted for Trump while 10% of the Arizona Republican voters voted for Biden.  If Republican Arizona voters would have mirrored their Democratic counterparts, Trump would have had 69,058 more votes and fairly easily won the state.  

GEORGIA (16 Electoral Votes)
Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes.   Partisan breakdown in the state in the 2020 election was 38% Republican 34% Democrat, and 28% Independent.  Democrats voted for Trump at a 4% clip, while 6% of Republicans voted for Biden.  Not much of a margin, but enough.  If Republican Georgia voters had simply matched the Democrats support for Biden, Trump would have had 37,576 more votes and won the state.

If Trump had  won Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, the electoral college count (assuming no faithless electors) would have been 269-269, thus handing the election to Trump since the House of Representatives, which has a majority of delegations dominated by Republicans, would have decided the presidential contest.

Trump's party crossover vote trailed Biden's in the other swing states including Michigan (-3), Pennsylvania (-1), Nevada (-1) and New Hampshire (-4) though Trump's simply matching Biden's performance wouldn't have put him over the top in those states.. Noteworthy too is that Trump lost the cross-over vote contest in even red states.  For example, Indiana (-1), Missouri (-2), Nebraska (-3).   In blue states, the divide was even greater:  California (-8), New York (-15).  

Despite Trump's supposed appeal to Democratic-leaning working class voters, I could find no state in which Trump beat Biden in cross-over votes.  In 2016, Trump and Hillary Clinton tied in getting cross-over votes.  

Senator Ron Johnson is absolutely right.  Fraud didn't elect Biden, Republicans did.  If Trump would have simply matched the performance of down ballot Republicans, he would have been re-elected.  Trump lost because a significant share of Republican voters simply did not like him.

Biden's working strategy was always that he could get less educated, white working class voters to return to the Democratic fold after years of drifting toward the Republican Party.  Despite considerable effort, Biden barely moved the needle on that demographic.

Instead, Biden won the election by performing much better in America's suburbs than Democratic presidential candidates before him.  While Biden's outreach effort to white, working class voters failed, he did spectacularly well with well-educated, wealthy suburbanites who couldn't stomach another four years of Donald Trump.

Biden though seems disinterested in exploiting and expanding the suburban electoral shift toward Democrats, a trend which actually began a decade ago.  Biden's Lyndon Johnson-esque domestic policies seem a continuation of his outreach to the very white working class voters who shunned him in 2020.  Meanwhile, the fiscally conservative suburbanites whose votes ousted Trump find themselves at the prom alone.  Their date is across the room trying to hook up with someone else.

With redistricting and history against them, the Democrats have little chance to hold on to the House in 2022.  But if Democrats want to hold their losses to a minimum, and retain control of the Senate, Biden would be well advised to reverse policy course, and start courting the fiscally conservative suburbanites who made him President.

OOP's short takes

  • On Saturday, I received seven emails from the Trump campaign wanting money.  Friday, it was five emails, Thursday six and Wednesday seven.  I remember last year when apparently someone from the campaign saw my critical Trump blog posts and removed me from the email list. Somehow I am now back on the list.  
  • I see that the Trump campaign is continuing with the fraudulent practice of claiming that political donors' contributions will be matched up to 500%.  Because of campaign contribution limits, there is no way to actually match contributions.  The Trump campaign is certainly not alone in lying to contributors about matching.  Other Republican and Democratic campaigns have made the fraudulent matching claim.   The Federal Election Commission needs to put a stop to the practice which has been going on for at least two years.  And if the FEC won't do it, state attorneys general need to step in and take action.
  • Reports out of Afghanistan is that the Taliban has not allowed four planes filled with Afghans and Americans evacuees to leave the country for days.  The planes are being held up as leverage by the Taliban to get more from the United States, quite possibly formal recognition as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.  
  • The odds that the months ahead will be filled with stories of Americans held hostage and our Afghan allies slaughtered by the Taliban are about 100%.  The overwhelming majority of Americans supported pulling out of Afghanistan and ending our misguided attempt at nation-building. The problem was not that decision, but rather the bungled evacuation effort.  Biden can rightfully put some of the blame on Trump's disastrous Taliban policies, but it was Biden's choice to continue those policies which led to the evacuation failures.
  • A week before the recall election, California Governor Gavin Newsom appears to, finally, be in a good position to win the vote to stay in office.   California's recall election works like this. Once a recall petition is signed by enough voters, an election is held.  The election consists of two votes.  One is whether the incumbent should be retained in office.  The second is a vote for his/her replacement.  In the event there are enough votes to remove Governor Newsom from office, you go to see who wins the second ballot.
  • The problem with the law is that the second ballot is that the replacement candidate can be elected with a small plurality of the vote.  Projections are that conservative radio host Larry Elder, running as a Republican, might lead the field of Republicans and Democratic replacement candidates with as little as 18% of the vote.  
  • The recall election process is right now the only realistic way a Republican can be elected statewide in California.  Which begs the question why the Democrats, who control all the branches of California's government, do not simply change the recall election law.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Will the Politics of Abortion Finally Benefit the Democrats?

The Supreme Court's decision to let stand, for now, a Texas "heartbeat" abortion law that proscribes abortion after six weeks has ignited a political firestorm.  Several political commenters are convinced this decision, a possible precursor to the outright reversal of Roe v. Wade, will usher into a new day in politics, a day in which women energized to protect abortion rights will vote Democratic, turning formerly red states blue.

Sorry, but color me skeptical.

Roe was handed down in 1973.  For decades I have heard Democrats talk about how the abortion issue is a good one for them, citing polls which seem to show a majority of people consider themselves pro-choice.

While polling on abortion is actually all over the place, and often contradictory, it is easy to get fooled by the significance of poll results.  Polls don't mean squat unless it is a voting issue for the poll respondent.  A voting issue, by the way, is an issue that affects one's vote.  

The fact is, despite Democrats' never-ending hope, abortion has never been a good political issue for them. Early in politics, I learned that pro-life people vote on the issue while pro-choice people have other priorities.

I tell the story of in 2000 running for a House seat on the northwest side of Indianapolis. I had a hotly contested primary and knocked on hundreds of Republican doors. Voters would often ask me about my views on an issue they felt passionately about. Then they would tell me their opinion on that issue. During the primary round, the No. 1 issue was abortion and every voter who asked my views on abortion revealed themselves as pro-life.

I won the primary. Leading up to the general election, I focused on knocking on the doors of independent voters and those with a soft Democratic voting history. Again, the No. 1 issue I was asked about was abortion. Now here is what is stunning. Every independent and soft Democratic voter who asked me about my position on abortion revealed themselves to be a pro-life voter.   Of the thousands of doors I knocked on, not one person who raised the abortion issue with me identified themselves as pro-choice. Not a single one.  And this was in a highly urban area!

Oh, and probably 90% of the passionate pro-life voters I met were women. That men are on one side of the abortion issue and women on the the other is a myth. It makes a nice narrative that abortion is just about men controlling women’s bodies.  But in the real world, women are the driving force in the pro-life movement.  They have always been.

It is quite possible the repeal or replacement of the framework of Roe might change that political dynamic. After all, when one side “wins” a political issue, the other side typically gets motivated. So, if Roe is overturned,  it’s possible pro-choice voters might finally become activated and vote on the abortion issue.  But, given the history of the abortion issue being fool’s gold for Democrats, I am not sure that political dynamic will change.

There is also a potential political landmine for Democrats.  Roe established abortion on demand as a constitutional right for six months of pregnancy.  In 1973, viability (the ability of the fetus to live outside the womb) was around six months.  Medical advances have moved viability to earlier in the pregnancy, a development recognized in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision which scrapped Roe's strict trimester approach in favor of an examination of viability.  Since 1992, viability has continued to move earlier into the pregnancy.

But there is no reason to pick viability when drawing the line as opposed to some other measure. My guess is the Supreme Court is going to ditch viability as the standard, thus tossing out Roe and Planned Parenthood.    But the danger for Democrats is if the Court, instead of simply turning the issue over to the states, sets a new framework which results in abortion still being constitutionally protected for, say the first three months.  

90% of abortions take place in the first trimester.  After that first trimester, public support for abortions drops dramatically.  The Democrats could be put into a position where they are defending unpopular second, and even third, trimester abortions.   That is not a winning political hand.

Of course, that's down the road.  Right now, the Democrats are in the best political position they've been in for decades - the strong possibility that Roe will be overturned, turning the issue over to states, some of which might ban abortion completely.  If that doesn't, finally, activate pro-choice voters to elevate abortion to being a voting issue for them, nothing will.

OOP's short takes:

  • Possibly the biggest problem with the Texas abortion law is the empowerment of private individuals to enforce the law.  While I generally support creating "private causes of action," this doesn't seem like the kind of law that private individuals should be enforcing.
  • Senator Machin just announced that he favors putting the 3.5 trillion dollar "human infrastructure" on hold.  The regular infrastructure bill is popular, and a home run.  Why can't Democrats take that win and let the chips fall where they may on the more unpopular bill?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Congressman Cawthorn Discusses Taking Up Arms Against Fellow Americans

Members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Paul Gosar receive the most coverage for their nutty, anti-democratic comments, but the King of the Crazies may actually be North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn.  During a Macon County Republican event on Monday, Cawthorn offered these gems:

  • "I will remove Joe Biden from office, and then when Kamala Harris inevitably screws up we will take them down one at a time."
  • While holding a weapon, Cawthorn said "these people [Democrats] do not have your best interests at hear...we all need to be storing up some ammunition."
  • "The things we are wanting to fight for, it doesn't matter if our votes don't count  Because, you
    Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)

    know, if our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it's going to lead to one place - and it's bloodshed."
  • "I will tell you, as much as I am willing to defend our liberty at all costs, there is nothing that I would dread dong more than having to pick up arms against a fellow American.:
  • Cawthorn called the January 6th insurrectionists "political hostages" and "political prisoners" and that they should be busted out of mail.  To which Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance tweeted "Correct."
  • Regarding the January 6th insurrection, Cawthorn was asked "When are you gonna call us to Washington again?"  To which Cawthorn replied, "We are actively working on that one."
  • Cawthorn ranted against "experimental" Covid vaccines and questioned the science behind mask mandates.
One would think suggesting violence against fellow Americans would get Cawthorn disciplined by the House Republican Caucus.  Let's see if Speaker-wannabe Kevin McCarty has the balls to do that.  My guess is "no."

While I first saw the Cawthorn story elsewhere, I found more detail in the Charlie Sykes newsletter which comes with a Bulwark subscription.  I would highly recommend becoming a member of the Bulwark and listening to Sykes' daily podcast, which is available even without a subscription.

OOP's short takes:
  • Rudy Giuliani's spokesperson Christianne Allen has resigned.  Allen has been by Guiliani's side for nearly 2 years, traveling extensively with him.  I was perplexed at how a person in his or her early 20's could have risen to become the chief communications person for the President's attorney.   So I researched the issue.  According to a December 2019 Politico article, Ms. Allen did a lot of embellishing on her resume.  I am sure being very attractive didn't hurt, especially when it came to catching and keeping Giuliani's attention.
  • The Afghan war is finally over.  But was it really a "war" the last six or seven years when there was little fighting going on?  The American military was merely preserving the status quo, keeping the peace.  Regardless, the Biden administration clearly bungled the evacuation and the President's steadfast refusal to accept that fact hurts his credibility.  I'm no expert, but I would think the people without guns should have been gotten out before the people with the guns.  Closing down the American-controlled Bagram Airfield early on was a huge error.  Leaving behind Americans and our Afghan friends is a disaster in the making.  Our Afghan allies are going to be slaughtered and the Americans may end up being hostages.
  • Those people who suggest Trump would have handled better choose to ignore the former President's history. The Trump administration cut the surrender deal with the Taliban and arranged to let Taliban fighters kept as prisoners' of war go.  If anything, Trump would have made an even quicker exit from Afghanistan and left Americans behind in the process. Certainly Trump would not have evacuated any of our Afghan allies.  After all, Afghans have brown skin and many are Muslim.  Not Donald Trump's kind of people.
  • Speaker wannabe Kevin McCarthy actually threatened that, should tech companies comply with congressional subpoenas relating to the investigation into the January 6th insurrection, those companies will face retaliation should Republicans get the majority come 2022.  Specifically McCarthy said doing so would be a violation of federal law and those companies could lose their ability to operate in the United States.    McCarthy did not identify the law he thinks overrides a congressional subpoena.   McCarthy is desperate to cover up what happened on January 6th and is willing to stoop to any level to accomplish that goal.   

Friday, August 27, 2021

Trump Attorneys Sanctioned by Michigan Federal Judge for Filing Frivolous Election Lawsuit

Over the past four years plus, I have watched Trump and his attorneys repeatedly abuse the legal process. They ignore subpoenas, make baseless arguments, then make baseless appeals of those losing arguments.  The goal is often not success in court, but DELAY.   Too often judges have assisted Trump and his attorneys in accomplishing that goal.  

Probably the worst area has been with regard to congressional subpoenas.  I have criticized Congress for not exercising the option of enforcing their own subpoenas.  Instead congressional leaders go to court for an order that will come months down the road, which order will inevitably be further delayed by appeals.

Contrary to what lay people think, and the media report, courts can act with alacrity.  What it takes is a commitment by judges to expediate matters, especially when one party is clearly using the legal process to "win" by delaying enforcement.  Too often, justice delayed is justice denied.

Judge Linda Parker

On Wednesday, A Michigan federal judge handed down some "justice" to Trump attorneys on Wednesday.  In her 110 page opinion sanctioning the attorneys for filing a frivolous lawsuit to decertify the election results in Michigan, a state Biden won by 150,000 votes, Judge Linda Parker addressed each and every argument for fraud offered by attorneys in a bid to overturn the election results.  It turns out the "evidence" cited by the attorneys was merely speculation and conjecture.  No tangible evidence of election fraud was ever offered by the attorneys. Go figure.

Of course, the lawsuit was not filed with the expectation of success in court.  Rather, the lawsuit was filed to help advance a false public narrative of a "stolen election."  Judge Parker, rightfully, thought courts should not be used as pawns in a disinformation campaign.

Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade wrote about the decision for Microsoft News:

These lawyers most certainly were aware they lacked the evidence to win this lawsuit. And yet they filed it anyway because it advanced an affirmative disinformation campaign designed to convince the public that the election had been stolen. As Parker wrote, “This case was never about fraud—it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.”

Filing a lawsuit without any factual basis sounds a lot like the strategy that a book by two Washington Post reporters said another Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, articulated on election night in November: “Just say we won.”

...

Similarly, Powell and her colleagues did not need to win their lawsuits in Michigan and elsewhere; they just needed to file them to give Trump and his allies the talking points they needed to perpetuate the big lie. Parker wrote, “Many people have latched on to this narrative, citing as proof counsel’s submissions in this case.”

In imposing sanctions, Parker called out the lawyers who are willing to kill truth to advance a political agenda. Sanctions, she wrote, were necessary in this case to deter “future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted.”

OOP's short takes:

  • In other legal developments, seven U.S. Capitol police officers have sued former President Donald Trump, his longtime adviser Roger Stone, and members of far-right extremist groups over the January 6th insurrection which resulted in hundreds of police officers injured, including several deaths.  While I certainly side with the U.S. Capitol police officers filing the lawsuit, I also realize these types of cases are difficult to win.  Unfortunately, if the case gets dismissed, Trump and his extremist allies will consider it a victory.
  • Speaking of the Capitol Police, the officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt finally spoke out in public after being cleared of wrong doing.   There were 60-80 House members and staffers barricaded in the House chambers awaiting rescue.  The insurrectionists had broken out a window and were intent on getting those people still in the chamber.  The officer warned the insurrectionists with a raised gun to stop their efforts to enter the House chamber, but he was ignored.  Babbitt was the first person who climbed through the window and the officer reacted by shooting her in the shoulder. She later died of the gunshot.  
  • The shooting stopped the intrusion giving the people inside the House chamber time to get out.  The officer no doubt saved countless lives.  He is a hero. Babbitt might have been a hero during her previous service to the country, but on January 6th she was engaged in a violent act that endangered lives.  For some Trumpers to treat her as some martyr is laughable.  On January 6th, Ashli Babbitt was playing the role of a violent thug and her being shot was 100% justified.
  • An interesting side note, Trump's often attorney former New York City Mayor and former federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani was spotted shaving while eating a meal at an airport restaurant.  I kid you not.   I'm not laughing though.  I have long suspected Giuliani might have a form of dementia that affects one's judgment and decision-making.  I have that type of dementia in my family and know that shaving while one is eating in a public restaurant is the type of behavior you see from people suffering from that affliction. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Odds (Slightly) Favor Democrats Gaining Seats in the Senate in 2022

While Republicans are likely to win back the House in 2022, thanks to redistricting and historical trends, the Democrats' chances in the U.S. Senate are substantially better.  Let's look at the most competitive races.

Pennsylvania:  The incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is retiring.  The state tilts to the Democrats, but is still highly competitive.  Democrats have two strong candidates, moderate Rep. Conor Lamb and the more progressive and more charismatic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.  The Republican candidates, including Jeff Barttos, Sean Parnell (who lost a congressional seat to Lamb) and former congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, are much lower profile.  Assuming Lamb and Fetterman don't kill each other in the primary, the Democrat nominated will probably win the general election.  Democratic Pickup.

Wisconsin:  Much hinges on whether Republican Senator Ron Johnson announces he is running for re-election.  But unlike in most races, the incumbent choosing to run for re-election would be a major negative for the party holding the seat.  Senator Johnson has become of the leading conspiracists in the Senate, a person on the outer fringe of respectability.  He has zero appeal to Democrats or independents.  Running strictly on the GOP base in Wisconsin is not enough to win a general election.  Democratic Pickup

Arizona:  Astronaut Mark Kelly is running for a full-six year term after defeating Republican Martha McSally.  While Kelly's election in 2020 was much closer than observers expected, I doubt Republicans will be able to muster a credible candidate against Kelly who has fashioned himself as a moderate.  You see, the Arizona GOP has gone full tin-foil hate crazy.  Any Republican candidate winning the nomination would have to embrace the Arizona GOP lunacy which would doom him or her for the fall.  Democratic Hold.

Georgia:  Like Kelly, Senator Raphael Warnock is looking for a full six year term after being first elected in a special election.  While the Georgia GOP is not as crazy as the Arizona Republican Party, it has its share of crazies.  These include Georgia members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Green, Jody Hice and Andrew Clyde, who infamously said the insurrection of the Capitol was a "normal tourist visit."  Unfortunately for the Republicans, crazy may be required to win the Senate nomination.  Right now the leader for the GOP nomination is former football star Herschel Walker who has a troubled background, including being diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (not sure if he will claim his 12 different personalities each get a vote in the Senate), having been accused of violence against his ex-wife, and his playing Russian Roulette with visitors.  With the lower turnout of a midterm, Republicans should have been able to pick up this seat but are unlikely to do so.  Democratic Hold.

North Carolina:  Republican Senator Richard Burr is retiring.  But North Carolina is still a Republican state, even more so in a lower turnout mid-term election.  Trump has weighed in behind congressman Ted Budd's effort to win the GOP nomination.  He's facing off against Trump apologist Pat McCrory, a former Governor.  Former Rep. Mark Walker is also running.  The Democratic candidates are much lower profile.  Unless the Democrats can find a bigger name moderate to nominate, you have to put this one in the GOP column.  Republican Hold.

Ohio:  Republican Senator Rob Portman is retiring.  Republicans should win this, but they have a problem.  The GOP nomination has become a contest to see who can be the most extreme. "Hillbilly Elegy" author JD Vance and former state treasurer Josh Mandel right now are leading the pack when it comes to crazy.  Former state Republican chairwoman Jane Tinken though has been leading the polls.  If Timkin wins the nomination, the Republicans should be favored to win.  But if Vance or Mandel wins, you have to think to think the Democrat Tim Ryan, a moderate in the mold of the other state's senator, Democratic Sherrod Brown, might be favored.  While Tinken is desperately  trying to head off a Trump endorsement of Vance or Mandel, I don't think she will be successful.   Democratic Pickup.

Missouri:    The incumbent Roy Blunt, a Republicans with a temperament similar to Portman's, has decided to call it quits.  Missouri though is even a more Republican and Trumpy state than Ohio.  The GOP would have to completely blow the nominating process to lose a Missouri Senate seat to the Democrats. The Republican Party though is working on that.  Leading in the polls is former Governor Eric Greitens who resigned from office following allegations of sexual and campaign misconduct which were so bad that the Republican-dominated legislature was ready to impeach him.  The problem for Republicans is compounded by the fact that there may be so many other Republicans in the race that Greitens wins the nomination with a small plurality of the vote.  Democrats meanwhile are struggling to find a strong candidate to take advantage of the GOP nominating mess.  Former Governor Jay Nixon and Rep. Ann Wagner though took a pass.  Republican Hold.

Florida: 
Democrats did very well on candidate recruitment in the Sunshine State.  Rep. Val Demmings, who raised nearly $4.7 million last quarter, is a strong contender..  Some months ago, Demmings decided to pass on taking on popular Governor Ron DeSantis to instead focus on beating Senator Marco Rubio.  That now looks like a mistake.  While Rubio's numbers have held, DeSantis' poll numbers have fallen dramatically.   I have to give the edge to Rubio.  Republican Hold.

Nevada:  Republicans spun the candidate roulette wheel and won.  Former Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced he will take on Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Mastro.  While Mastro has considerable money in the bank, she is a lower profile Senator who is not as flashy as some of her Senate colleagues.  Nevada is also one of the few states which has become more Republican during the Trump era.  I think in a good Republican year, Laxalt wins this race.  Republican Pickup.

New Hampshire:  Republicans desperately want Governor Chris Sununu to take on the incumbent Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan.  If he doesn't, former Senator Kelly Ayotte, who barely lost to Hassan in 2016 might toss her hat into the ring.  While New Hampshire is a Democratic state, it is still competitive and an independent-minded Republican could win the state.  I reserve the right to change this prediction, but right now I have to give it to Hassan. Democratic Hold.

To sum, right now I would guess the Democrats have a 52-48 majority after the midterms. 

***

OOP's short takes:

  • A funny thing happened on the way to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis winning the 2024 GOP presidential nomination...he lost his 2022 re-election bid.  That could very well happen.  DeSantis has tried so hard to placate the Trump base that he forgot that Florida is a competitive state and that, to win re-election, he needs the votes of some independents and maybe even a few Democrats. 
  • DeSantis' poll numbers have fallen dramatically.  A recent Political Matrix/The Listener Group poll has Charlie Crist, a former Republican Governor who became a former Democratic congressman, leading DeSantis 57% to 43%.  Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the highest elected Democrat in Florida, leads DeSantis 54% to 46% in the same poll.    In the middle of June, this same polling outfit had DeSantis with a 9 point lead on Crist and a 22 point lead on Fried.  So in two months DeSantis' numbers have slid 23 points against Crist and 30 points against Fried.  Someone pull the fire alarm in DeSantis' re-election headquarters.  These polls are in line with others conducted in the state.