• What Happened in Virginia?
• Cohn: Democrats Shouldn't Be Counting Their Chickens Quite Yet
• Election Day Brought Numerous Firsts to Many States
• Trump Kowtows to Xi
• The Tax Bill Has Winners and Losers
• Tax Bill Hits Rough Waters
• Why Trump Will Never Lose His Supporters
Takeaways from the Election
Yesterday we had election takeaways from The Hill. Here are some more:NPR:
- The resistance can win
- Trumpism has limits
- The shift in Virginia continues, with Northern Virginia becoming bluer and southern Virginia becoming redder
- Progressives were elected to a number of offices
- This week was just a warmup for extremely contentious elections in 2018 and 2020
- Democrats have to be careful not to read too much into off-year elections
- Sometimes (as in Virginia's legislative races) a handful of votes is the difference between winning and losing
- A suburban rebellion propelled the Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey, Charlotte, and elsewhere
- Trumpism without Trump doesn't work, as Ed Gillespie learned the hard way
- Trump is allergic to accepting the blame for anything
- Northern Virginia has become the state's power center
- Pragmatism beats purity, as demonstrated by Ralph Northam's huge win
- Red counties stay red
- The era of Chris Christie's smash-mouth politics is over
- The Democrats' blue wave will give them a huge psychological and financial boost
- Trumpism without Trump didn't work
- Republicans lost the culture war
- Obama and Biden helped the Democrats
- McAuliffe 2020 has already started, despite his very close ties to the Clintons
- Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) is going to think about running for president, despite being Hillary Clinton's best friend
- Democrats do extremely well in middle-class and affluent suburbs
- The Democratic landslide in the Virginia House of Delegates bodes well for House races in 2018
- More Republicans are going to look at Tuesday's results and decide to retire
- House Republicans are going to see Donald Trump as a paper tiger and not be afraid to cross him
- Northam won big among educated white women, married women, and millennials; they will be a force next year
- Virginia is no longer a swing state; it is now a blue state, like Maryland
- Northam ran way ahead of Clinton, suggesting her loss was a personal defeat, not one for the Democratic Party
- Northam was a boring, but qualified, candidate; expect more of them next year
- Lt. Gov elect Justin Fairfax, who is black, beat a far right candidate and clearly is a rising star in Virginia
- Barack Obama campaigned hard for Northam and could be very helpful to Democrats next year
- Virginia has low crime and a good economy under a Democratic governor and the voters noticed
- Gillespie pushed hard for a 10% tax cut and it got him nowhere
- Progressive primary loser Tom Perriello campaigned his heart out for Northam and won a ton of goodwill
- The biggest motivator for Democratic turnout was Gillespie's demonizing Latinos, race baiting, and xenophobia
- Tuesday was an absolute tidal wave for Democrats in Virginia
- Top-of-the-ballot Republicans in Virginia all lost, but in different ways
- Democrats are finally focusing on state legislative races, which should terrify Republicans
- A Democratic surge next year seems more likely than a Republican surge, but a year is forever in politics
- Republicans had better start delivering on their campaign promises
The majority opinion seems to be that the elections, especially in Virginia, were no fluke and if the Democrats can keep up their enthusiasm (which Trump may help them do), they could surf a blue wave next year. (V)
What Happened in Virginia?
Politico had a slightly different take on the "takeaways" bit, asking more than a dozen close watchers of Virginia politics to share their thoughts in a single sentence, and then in a brief essay. Here are some of the highlights:
- April Ponnuru, Conservative Reform Network: Republicans need to reckon with the fact that they have elected a deeply unpopular president.
- Jacob Heilbrunn, National Interest: The real winner was Robert Mueller.
- Scottie Nell Hughes, RightAlerts.com: Republicans must figure out if they want establishment or pro-Trump candidates.
- Terry Sullivan, political consultant: Paul Ryan should be losing sleep over this.
- Stuart Stevens, political consultant: The culture wars excite a certain section of base—but also alienate many voters.
- Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon: Republicans would be wrong to ignore the eagerness of affluent whites with college and graduate degrees to rebuke this president.
- Tim Miller, former Bush spokesman: These forces were driven by a loathing of Trump.
- Ron Bonjean, GOP strategist: Congressional Republicans should see this as a warning shot.
- Howard Dean, former DNC Chair: The under-30 crowd mobilized.
Again, there is a clear majority opinion that the Democrats are on the upswing, and that Tuesday night was a little bit about the Republicans, and a lot about Donald Trump.
Another way to look at the Virginia gubernatorial election is just to note the raw numbers of votes the Democratic and Republican candidates have gotten in recent years. Here they are, rounded to thousands:
What we see is clear: The Republican vote on Tuesday was about where it normally is. The Democratic vote jumped by over 300,000 votes. In other words, the Democratic enthusiasm carried the day for the blue team. If they can hold onto this for a year and get turnout to jump in 2018, they might be able to take over the House. (Z & V)
Cohn: Democrats Shouldn't Be Counting Their Chickens Quite Yet
Many pundits, including those listed above, see a Democratic wave coming up next year. The New York Times' number cruncher, Nate Cohn, isn't so sure. In the five special House elections this past spring, the dominant party won all of them, although the Democrats did better this year than in the 2016 House elections. Before Democrats get too excited about Virginia, Cohn points out that it has become a blue state, with both senators and four of the past five gubernatorial winners being Democrats. Also, Hillary Clinton carried the state and so did Barack Obama, twice. Cohn also notes that in 15 of the 16 House of Delegates districts where the Democrats currently lead, Clinton won. In essence, just as the Democrats lost four special House elections because they were playing in deep red territory, their successes on Tuesday may be due to their playing on a blue field instead of a red one.
Cohn notes that while the Democrats are making great inroads with affluent formerly Republican suburbanites, they are making little progress in white working-class areas. These are still Trump territory and unless the Democrats can find a way to move the needle there, in his view, they may make modest gains in 2018, but not enough to flip the House. (V)
Election Day Brought Numerous Firsts to Many States
The big news on election day happened in Virginia and that overshadowed numerous firsts in other elections, major and minor, all over the country. Traditionally, the overwhelming majority of elected officials have been white men, but that is starting to change. Here is a list of some "firsts," that is, elections in which someone broke a new barrier, however small.
- Brendon Barber won election as the first black mayor of Georgetown, SC
- Ravinder Bhalla was elected mayor of Hoboken, NJ, the first Sikh American to govern a major city
- Melvin Carter will be the first black mayor of St. Paul, MN, which is 67% white
- Wilmot Collins became the first black person elected as mayor anywhere in Montana
- Joyce Craig won election as mayor of Manchester, NH, the first woman to do so in its 266-year history
- Laura Curran will be the first female county executive of New York's Nassau County
- Janet Diaz won election as the first Latina member of the Lancaster, PA, city council
- Jenny Durkan will soon be Seattle's first lesbian mayor
- Booker Gainor was elected mayor of Cairo, GA, the first black person to win that office
- Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala were the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates
- Andrea Jenkins became the first openly trans woman of color elected to a city council, in her case, Minneapolis
- Vi Lyles became the first black woman elected mayor of Charlotte, NC
- Jonathan McCollar will soon become the first black mayor of Statesboro, GA
- Lisa Middleton is the first trans person to win a nonjudicial office in CA, in her case the Palm Springs city council
- Cathy Murillo is about to become the first Latina to hold the office of mayor of Santa Barbara, CA
- Sheila Oliver won election as New Jersey's lieutenant governor, the first black woman to do so
- Mary Parham Copelan will become the first female black mayor of Milledgeville, GA
- Danica Roem became the first transgender state legislator in America, beating a very conservative incumbent in Virginia
- Mazahir Salih will be the first Sudanese-American on the city council in Iowa City
- Yvonne Spicer, who is black, became the first mayor of the city of Framingham, MA (it used to be a town)
- Tyler Titus won a seat on the Erie, PA, school board, the first openly transgender person ever elected in PA
Some of these are pretty small and others are big (like mayors in Hoboken, Seattle, and St. Paul), but they show that America is changing, however slowly. This, of course, is what Donald Trump's supporters see all around them and fear. The America they grew up with is no more, and is not coming back. (V)
Trump Kowtows to Xi
Donald Trump delivered a much-anticipated address in Jina...er, China, on Wednesday, and he was quite laudatory when it came to business practices he had previously slammed:
I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit of their citizens? I give China great credit. But in actuality I do blame past administrations for allowing this out of control trade deficit to take place and to grow. We have to fix this because it just doesn't work; it is just not sustainable.
This portion of the speech has excited much comment, but really the only surprising thing is that anyone is surprised by what Trump said, as he is the world's most famous paper tiger (complete with the correct hair color). Of course he is full of piss and vinegar when he's on Twitter or ensconced in the safety of the White House. But when was the last time he stared down a world leader (or, for that matter, a member of Congress) and told them what's what face-to-face? You could count the number of times that's happened on one hand, and have roughly five fingers left over. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Trump's election; at this point we know what we've got, and anyone who cannot foresee what he will do has not been paying attention. (Z)
The Tax Bill Has Winners and Losers
We now have our first official notification that the Republicans' tax bill has winners and losers. The original plan was to have only winners (i.e., cut everyone's taxes, even if only by a small amount). However, to make the bill nearly revenue neutral (give or take a trillion dollars), some tax expenditures had to be killed and people who used them heavily may end up with higher taxes. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has released a report detailing the winners and losers. It is a patchwork, because it matters who uses which of the deductions that have been axed, but some general patterns have emerged.
By 2027, when all the changes in the bill go into effect, almost 20% of all taxpayers would see a tax increase. Of the people making between $50,000 and $75,000, 9% would see a tax increase of between $100 and $500 and 14% would see their taxes go up by more than $500. In the $75,000 to $100,000 range, by 2027 only half the people will get a tax cut of $500 or more, but 18% would see a tax increase of more than $500. Among the top 1%, 66% would get a tax cut of more than $500 but 33% would see a tax increase of more than $500. Of course, all this is subject to change as the House Ways and Means Committee engages in some high-stakes sausage making this week. (V)
Tax Bill Hits Rough Waters
From the beginning, the Republicans' grandiose plans for changing the tax code were going to be a tall order. And as we get closer to the end of the year, and thus GOP leaders' announced deadline, things do not appear to be getting any easier.
To start, the Senate will release its version of the tax bill today, with a lot of differences from the House version. The Senators want to keep some amount of estate tax (as opposed to eliminating it), create five or six or seven tax brackets (as opposed to four), and will cut corporate taxes even more aggressively. Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is that the Senate bill will eliminate all deductions for state, local, and property taxes. This reflects the different imperatives of the Senate versus the House. There are essentially no Republican senators who fear the voters' wrath when it comes to killing these deductions, since the people who would be affected are represented almost exclusively by Democrats (CA, NJ, NY, MD, and MA would be the five hardest-hit; all have two Democratic senators). On the other hand, there are plenty of GOP Representatives in blue states who know they'll get killed if these deductions go the way of the dodo. Given that the House passed their tax bill by only four votes, a version that eliminates all of these deductions seems unlikely to make it.
And speaking of House members, Tuesday's election results have some of them feeling skittish. And skittish politicians generally do not like to stick their necks out on controversial legislation. So, many GOP members have begun pushing back against the bill. For example, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is usually a reliable vote for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), but who is also staring down the barrel at a tough re-election campaign, announced on Wednesday that, "I cannot endorse changes that may make the tremendous burden felt by California taxpayers even worse. Tax reform should lower taxes for all taxpayers, regardless of where they live."
There's also blowback from stakeholders outside Congress, like the conservative Club for Growth, the National Association of Realtors, the National Federation of Independent Business, the American Forest and Paper Association, and the libertarian Americans for Prosperity (AFP). AFP is mostly just a front for the Koch Brothers, who were furious about the elimination of a loophole that they like to use very much. House GOP leaders, who pretty much take their marching orders from the Kochtopus, have agreed to dramatically roll back the proposal. Now, a change that was projected to produce $140 billion in revenue will instead produce just $7 billion. Needless to say, that blows a big hole in the finances that will need to be patched with $133 billion from somewhere else.
And finally, Donald Trump is trying to sell the bill, at least a little bit, by declaring that he's a "big loser" under the GOP plan. This is not remotely true. Either he (1) is lying, (2) doesn't actually know anything about "his" tax bill, or (3) is simply taking this opportunity to advise us that he's a big loser, and the tax bill is incidental. It's probably not number 3, but numbers 1 and 2 are even money. In any event, a "woe is me" pitch that is also incorrect/dishonest is probably not the most effective way to win the hearts and minds of voters. At this point, there is no question that GOP leaders would prefer he just kept quiet. One wonders if it is a coincidence that his staff arranged for the President to be on the other side of the world while all this sausage-making is underway. (Z)
Why Trump Will Never Lose His Supporters
Politico Magazine has a long piece on why Donald Trump will never lose his core supporters. Its reporter spent time in places like Johnstown, PA, a depressed coal mining town that went solidly for Trump because he promised to bring back coal and steel jobs. Now 10 months into his presidency, the people there see that he is never going to bring back those jobs, but they don't blame him for it. When the reporter asked people how they would feel if, after 4 years, nothing changed, they said they would still love him. When pressed about what his has done for them, the answer was that he hates and battles people they hate, including Democrats, establishment Republicans, the media, Black Lives protesters, and most of all, kneeling NFL millionaires, whom they see as ungrateful and disrespectful. In other words, it is all about the culture wars, not economics or even policy. It's all about hate and he hates the people they hate. You can't eat hate, but it is a good second choice after food.
Many of the respondents don't have a clue what they are talking about. One of them said: "Everybpdy I talk to realizes it's not Trump who is dragging his feet. Trump's probably the most diligent, hardest-working president we've ever had in our lifetimes. It's not like he sleeps in till noon and goes golfing every weekend, like the last president did." When the reporter told him that Trump golfs a lot more than Barack Obama, he was surprised. He added that 99% of his TV time is on Fox News. He thinks CNN is definitely fake news. Interviews with many more people gave the same impression, with others saying that his declarations of success are what matter, not actual success. For people who don't understand why his supporters aren't shaken by anything Trump says or does, this article is valuable reading material. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
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