Dem 48
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GOP 52
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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Moore Developments in Alabama

Roy Moore had some good news and some bad news this week. After Donald Trump sort-of endorsed him, Moore has been trumpeting that around. Clearly talking about Trump is a lot better than talking about child molestation. On the other hand, Democrat Doug Jones is running a web ad showing the women who have accused Moore of sexual assault when they were teenagers. The idea is to make it clear that child molestation is not some kind of abstract crime, like statutory rape between two consenting 15 year olds, but that there were real victims and here they are. Jones is also pushing his bipartisan credentials, pointing out that he was confirmed as U.S. attorney by a Senate that included Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and then-senator Jeff Sessions.

The bad news for Moore is that his communications director, John Rogers, resigned yesterday. Having to find a new communications director 3 weeks before an election is generally not considered a good thing.

Assuming Moore can find someone to take a job that might last only 3 weeks, the new director will have his or her work cut out when it comes to communicating with women. It seems they don't like Moore so much, possibly because they do not regard child molestation as a good thing. A Fox poll released last Friday had Jones up over Moore by 8 points, but among women Jones led 58% to 32%. And among women under 45, Jones had a monster lead of 49 points. Turning that around will be quite a trick for the new communications director.

People on the ground in Alabama say that what Jones needs to do is convince Republican women in the suburbs around the state's larger cities, like Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, and Huntsville, to vote in large numbers for him, to counteract the Alabama men who support Moore. If Jones can do that, he will win. Otherwise, he won't. (V)

Half of All Voters Think Franken Should Resign

A new Morning Consult poll shows that 50% of voters think that Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN) should resign from the Senate as a result of the accusation of Leeann Tweeden that he groped her. Only 22% think he should stay in the Senate. The poll was taken before a second accuser came forward and said he placed his hand on her rear while the woman's husband took a photo of them at a state fair. And then two more after that.

The poll highlights the difference between Democrats and Republicans very clearly. When a Democrat is accused of misbehavior, large numbers of Democrats want the Democrat punished. In the Franken case, 49% of Democrats want Franken to resign. In contrast, when a Republican is accused of misbehavior, Republican voters shrug it off. In the case of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been credibly accused of far more serious offenses than Franken, only 46% of Republicans want to see him expelled from the Senate if he wins the Dec. 12 special election. In contrast, 73% of Democrats want to see Moore expelled.

Now consider two other high-profile politicians accused of bad behavior. Among Democrats, 65% say the sexual assault charges against Bill Clinton are credible but only 37% of Republicans say the allegations against Donald Trump are credible—even though Trump admitted to similar conduct on camera.

The conclusion is clear: Democrats don't accept sexual assault in any politician, Democratic or Republican, while Republicans believe the charges when a Democrat stands accused but don't believe them when a Republican stands accused. (V)

Calls for Conyers to Step Down or Resign Are Starting

Al Franken is not the only Democrat on the hot seat. Rep John Conyers (D-MI) is alleged to have fired a staffer who refused to have sex with him and two Democrats are already calling for an ethics investigation and for him to step down as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. The two are Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). These two are the first, but there will surely be more because Conyers has worn out his welcome as far as many House Democrats are concerned.

If Conyers were to step down, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is next in line to be ranking member. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has been angling for the slot for months, however, so it could be a battle. A problem for the Democrats is that Conyers was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. If Rep. Nancy Pelosi (who is white) were to call for Conyers (who is black) to resign his committee slot, Conyers would instantly start calling her a racist. She would need the tacit approval of the CBC before even thinking about it. So far, no permission has been forthcoming.

The Detroit Free Press, Conyers' hometown newspaper, has gone even further than the congressmen and is calling for Conyers to resign from Congress. The paper's complaints are (1) Conyers' behavior is inexcusable and (2) he used taxpayer dollars as hush money to try to get the woman he tried to bed to shut up and go away. Using taxpayer money as hush money is a violation of House ethics rules. Congressmen are expected to pay hush money out of their own pockets. Just ask Dennis Hastert. The paper said that for 53 years, Conyers has fought for equality, and is to be commended for it, but his behavior in the incident cannot be condoned. (V)

Trumps Cut Ties with SoHo Building

The Trump SoHo building in New York City is one of many construction projects where non-Trump developers paid to use the Trump name. It's been a real headache for the Trumps; see if you can guess why:

  1. It's been losing money hand-over-fist ever since it opened
  2. Celebrities, like LeBron James, have publicly embarrassed The Donald by refusing to stay there
  3. It's been connected to shady associates of Vladimir Putin
  4. It's been linked to a bribery scandal involving Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz
  5. It's gotten the Trumps sued multiple times
  6. Misleading claims they made about the building almost led Ivanka and Donald Jr. to be charged with felony fraud

The answer, of course, is all of the above. Presumably, that is why the Trump Organization has agreed to be bought out of their contract with the building, such that both the payments to the Trumps and the Trump branding will come to an end next month.

That solves the Trumps' problems going forward. On the other hand, it doesn't fix what's already happened there. And Robert Mueller has already taken a great interest in what's already happened there. So, the family isn't going to be able to put Trump SoHo in the rearview mirror quite yet. (Z)

Trump-Ball Feud Continues

The volley of insults between Donald Trump and LaVar Ball, father of shoplifting UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, has entered its fifth day. Trump started it, Ball fired back, then Trump, then Ball, and now The Donald has fired the latest shot across the bow:

That was immediately followed by another NFL tweet:

One might be left with the impression that the NFL/national anthem is the most pressing issue facing America right now, since 12% of the President's tweets in the last month have been on that subject. If the NFL players were smart, they would make a pass at a 14-year-old girl immediately before kneeling; then Trump presumably wouldn't say a thing.

These days, a Trump twitter tantrum is hardly newsworthy. The only reason this one is worth mention is that the remarks are beyond the pale, even by The Donald's standards. He hates to be challenged, and it is quite clear he hates it even more when it's coming from a black man. It is under those circumstances that the dog whistles start to morph into dog sirens—the Don King reference, for example, or the "ungrateful fool" bit. And it's surely not a coincidence that when LaVar Ball gets Trump hot under the collar, the President's mind turns to the NFL—more ungrateful (black) fools. Of course, Trump will pay no price for his none-too-subtle racism, since the base is 100% on the same page with him about these subjects. (Z)

One Megadonor Funded a Huge Campaign to Support Making the Courts Conservative

McClatchy has uncovered documents that show that a single conservative megadonor gave $28.5 million to the Wellspring Committee, which in turn funded the Judicial Crisis Network. That network poured millions of dollars into blocking the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and then turned around and spent additional millions to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed. By using multiple layers of secret organizations, a single donor can have a huge policy effect while giving the impression that millions of grass-roots donors are combining their efforts to back some conservative cause.

McClatchy also discovered that the American Future Fund, a Koch brothers "dark money" nonprofit, spent nearly $13 million on federal elections in 2016. Wellspring supplied $2 million of that. McClatchy was not able to determine the big donor behind Wellspring, simply that there was a single major donor, not thousands or millions of small donors. It wasn't for lack of trying, though. Wellspring went to a lot of effort to hide its sources. For example, $750,000 of its payments went to a firm called BH Group LLC, whose address is a virtual office in Arlington, VA. The company that manages the building where the virtual office is located said that all they do is forward mail to a different address, which it refused to disclose "for security reasons." If Donald Trump is truly interested in draining the swamp, bringing an alligator gun to Arlington might be a good start. (V)

DNC Having Trouble Raising Money

In 2003, campaign finance laws were changed to require political parties to file monthly financial reports. And the DNC just had the worst October it's had since monthly filing began, collecting a fairly paltry $3.9 million. By way of comparison, the RNC hauled in 2-1/2 times as much, with $9.2 million.

So what does this mean? While the Fox Newses and the Breitbarts of the world think it's all gloom and doom for the blue team, that's simply not the case. There is only so much money to be had from Democratic donors, particularly in an off year. It's no surprise that the DNC is doing particularly badly in this off year, since much of the base is angry at the Committee due to the shenanigans in 2016, and also since a donation to the DNC is commonly regarded as a donation to the leader of the Party, and the Democrats don't have a leader right now (Tom Perez doesn't count, since he's not running for office).

Meanwhile, in a development that isn't the slight bit coincidental, the DCCC and DSCC reported record hauls last month. And this year, individual Democratic candidates like Jon Ossoff and left-wing activist groups like EMILY's List and the ACLU have also broken records. So, the flow of money hasn't stopped, it's just been directed to other places. Given that Donald Trump just won the presidency by largely doing a financial end run around the RNC, that might actually be a good thing for the Democrats. (Z)

Schneiderman Is Probing Fake Net Neutrality Comments

The FCC is planning a massive change to the way the Internet operates, in part based on millions of comments the commission has received from millions of people. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman believes that a substantial number of the anti-Net Neutrality comments are fake, sent by bots, and wants the FCC to give him the comments so he can investigate if any New York laws (especially about impersonating people) were broken.

So far, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has refused to give Schneiderman any of the data he wants. Instead, Pai blasted Schneiderman, a Democrat, for the heavy-handed utility-style regulation he says the Democrats have imposed on the Internet. Schneiderman countered that since it is known that foreign governments have interfered with U.S. elections and have tried to influence public policy in other ways, federal and state governments should be cooperating to catch lawbreakers. Don't hold your breath waiting for Pai to cooperate. (V)

The Shortest Thanksgiving...Ever?

Today, of course, is Thanksgiving (in the United States, at least; in Canada it was several weeks ago, eh). This means certain social inevitabilities, to wit:

  • Across America, people of different political persuasions will be gathered around the same table
  • The majority dread the moment that the conversation turns to politics
  • The conversation will turn to politics nonetheless

Thanks to scholars M. Keith Chen and Ryne Rohla, what was just a Thanksgiving cliche has now been put on a numerical basis. Using mountains of data from smartphone location services, and comparing that data to the politcal makeup of 172,000 precincts, they were able to demonstrate that politically-divided families tend to conclude their Thanksgiving celebrations more quickly than those families who are on the same page. In fact, they found that every 1,000 political commercials aired in a market (since most commercials are aired in divided, swing districts) correlates with an average 1.5-minute reduction in the length of Thanksgiving dinner. Further, the folks who rush dinner to its conclusion generally appear to be Democrats eager to flee their Republican relatives.

Now, if political division generally tends to shorten Thanksgiving dinner, we might expect a particularly divisive president like Donald Trump to have an especially strong effect. And, indeed, Chen and Rohla say that families divided between Clinton and Trump supporters tended to end their 2016 Thanksgiving dinners 20-30 minutes more quickly than non-divided families. Given that Trump has only gotten more controversial in the last year, and has consistently generated very strong feelings among both supporters and opponents, there is every reason to believe the effect will be even more profound this year, which could very well make Thanksgiving dinner 2017 the shortest ever. We could have millions of Democrats across the country foregoing their pumpkin pie. Maybe even their turkey. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov22 Trump Supports Moore
Nov22 New Poll Shows Moore Slightly Ahead of Jones
Nov22 House Moves to Investigate Conyers
Nov22 Murkowski Says She's Open to Killing Obamacare Mandate
Nov22 Say Farewell to Net Neutrality...Maybe
Nov22 Trump's Likely Pick to Oversee the Census is Dubious
Nov22 Democrats Have a Fighting Chance in PA-18 Special Election
Nov22 The Russians Love Rohrabacher
Nov21 Leigh Corfman Gives Her First Television Interview
Nov21 Kellyanne Conway Wants Moore's Vote on Taxes
Nov21 GOP Tax Plan Gets Another Bad Review
Nov21 Another Woman Accuses Franken
Nov21 Two Journalists Accused of Harassment
Nov21 Trump Administration Working Hard to Fulfill Anti-Immigrant Agenda
Nov21 McMaster Said Trump's Intelligence is Comparable to that of a Kindergartner
Nov21 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti May Run for President
Nov21 Virginia House of Delegates Still Up in the Air
Nov20 Alabama's Biggest Newspapers Endorse Jones
Nov20 Moore Is Already Affecting the 2018 Races
Nov20 Franken Won't Resign
Nov20 Seven Senators Are on the Fence on the Tax Bill
Nov20 White House: Tax Bill Trumps Repealing Obamacare
Nov20 Republicans Desperately Want the Tax Bill to Pass; Democrats, Too
Nov20 Trump Fires Back at Ball
Nov20 How to Keep Trump Happy? Lie to Him
Nov20 NRCC Lottery Offers a Weekend at Trump's Hotel in D.C. as the Prize
Nov19 Trump Jr. Linked to Yet Another Friend of Putin
Nov19 What is Donald Trump's Foreign Policy?
Nov19 USA No Longer Number One
Nov19 Trump's Ability to Launch Nukes May Be Limited
Nov19 Donald Trump to Pay Donald Trump's Legal Bills
Nov19 Alabama Pastors Slam Moore
Nov19 It's Ball Vs. Trump
Nov18 Murkowski Wants to Stabilize Health-Care Market Before Voting on Tax Bill
Nov18 Russiagate Plot Thickens Even More
Nov18 Trump Building in Panama Under Scrutiny
Nov18 Jones' Strategy in the Alabama Senate Race
Nov18 Moore's Polling Is Trending Downward
Nov18 Would a 51-49 Senate Be Different from a 52-48 Senate?
Nov18 Cook Political Report Predicts a Democratic Wave in 2018
Nov18 Female Staffers Rush to Franken's Rescue
Nov18 Aides Give Up on Trump Tweeting
Nov17 House Passes the Tax Bill
Nov17 More Trouble for Kushner
Nov17 Six Possible Outcomes for the Alabama Senate Race, Ranked
Nov17 Not Everyone Is Fleeing from Roy Moore
Nov17 Republicans Are Getting Nervous about 2018
Nov17 Menendez Escapes--For Now
Nov17 Franken Groped and Kissed a Woman Without Her Consent
Nov16 Health-Care Industry Gets Involved in the Tax Bill