Dem 49
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GOP 51
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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Harley-Davidson Will Move Jobs Out of the U.S. in Response to Tariffs

When Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, he said they were going to create American jobs. That is no doubt true in the steel and aluminum industries, but we are already seeing that it is costing jobs in other industries as other countries respond to the tariffs. Chinese tariffs on soybeans are already causing grief in Iowa and other soybean-producing states. Yesterday, Harley-Davidson, the iconic motorcycle manufacturer, announced that it was shifting some of its production out of the U.S. to avoid the European tariffs levied in response to Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum. The company said that the European tariffs would add $2,200 to each motorcycle exported to Europe, making them uncompetitive with Japanese and other bikes. The reason the Europeans chose to put a tariff on motorcycles is not exactly a secret: The Harleys are made in the district of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the company will no doubt tell him the job loss is his fault for not stopping Trump by repealing the law giving the president the authority to unilaterally impose tariffs.

The company's decision will be especially embarrassing to Trump (to the extent anything can embarrass him). He has praised the company for building its products in America. He even hosted the company's executives at the White House in Feb. 2017 and called the firm a "true American icon." Of course once Monday's news broke, he changed his tune on a dime:

As more and more foreign countries levy tariffs on American products, causing their manufacturers to move production overseas, it may become clearer to many people why trade wars are not a good thing.

One person who is already convinced is Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). He was reelected to a 6-year term in 2016, so he is not up again until 2022 and, for the next few years, can probably manage to absorb a few tweets aimed at him. Yesterday, he said: "We've crossed the Rubicon. It's going to do and is already doing real damage so I think we've got a responsibility to stand up and push back." While speaking on the Senate floor, Toomey noted that the Constitution grants the power to impose tariffs to Congress, not to the president, and he wants new legislation to enforce that. How far Toomey will get remains to be seen, but as companies move jobs overseas to escape retaliatory tariffs, more senators are likely to join Toomey. (V)

Democratic Turnout in the Primaries Is Way Up Compared to 2014

Presidential elections are about a choice between candidates. Midterms are all about which party is better at getting its base to turn out. So far this year, the energy is with the Democrats. An analysis by the New York Times shows that in 123 congressional districts, Democratic turnout has gone up compared to 2014, while Republican turnout has gone up in only 19 districts. More specifically, in 20 of the most competitive districts, Democratic turnout has gone up. Of course, what matters is not that it has gone up, but how much it has gone up, since 2014 was a terrible year for the Democrats.

When the same analysis was applied to the 2010 midterms, it showed that Republican primary turnout increased compared to the 2006 midterms in 186 districts and Democratic turnout went up in only 35 primaries. The 2010 midterms were a disaster for the Democrats. So, the historical data show that increased primary turnout compared to last time seems to be a predictor of what could happen in November, and this year's data seem to suggest the Democrats will do well in the general elections. (V)

SCOTUS Upholds Gerrymanders in Two States (Sort Of)

For reasons fully understood only by the nine folks who work at 1 First Street, NE, the Supreme Court has accepted a number of hot-button cases this term, and then declined to issue definitive rulings in most of them. On Monday, they did it again (twice), issuing semi-rulings about gerrymanders in Texas and North Carolina.

In the case of Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 last year that two of the state's congressional districts and four of its state house districts were unconstitutional gerrymanders that discriminated on the basis of race. SCOTUS voted 5-4, along partisan lines, to stay that ruling until they could take a look at it. And on Monday, they ruled 5-4, again along partisan lines, that five of the six disputed districts are ok. Samuel Alito concluded in his majority opinion that, "There is nothing to suggest that the Legislature proceeded in bad faith." Given Texas' enthusiastic use of not only the gerrymander, but also voter ID laws and other such tricks, he seems to have a definition of "bad faith" that differs from that of most other people.

In the case of North Carolina, the good news is that the Court's decision on Monday was unanimous. The bad news is that they unanimously agreed to kick the case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously had invalidated North Carolina's congressional map. SCOTUS' specific instruction to the Ninth Circuit justices was to re-examine their decision in view of yet another "punt the football" Supreme Court ruling, namely Gill v. Whitford. In that case, which dealt with Wisconsin's gerrymandered maps, SCOTUS declared that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue, and therefore the case was not valid.

In short, then, the Court has had three recent opportunities to establish a clear precedent on gerrymanders—particularly political gerrymanders—and it hasn't really taken any of them. The short-term impact of their decisions is that quite a few states will likely go into 2018's midterms with maps that experts say are gerrymandered. The long-term impact is that it's going to be much harder for anyone to bring a gerrymandering suit, which means that the Democrats who brought suit in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas are going to have to focus their energies on taking over the state house. That, of course, is a tall order when up against...a gerrymander. (Z)

First Cakes, Now Flowers

The concept of a business not wanting to serve certain customers is a tricky one. The Supreme Court, which seems to love passing the buck these days, recently punted on a case in which a Colorado baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. That one was decided on the narrow ground that the antidiscrimination commission didn't give the baker a fair hearing, but it didn't make a decision on what it would have done if it had given him a fair hearing and still found him in violation of state antidiscrimination laws.

This week a restaurant owner in Virginia told White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to go take her mouth somewhere else because she didn't like what was coming out of it and so she wasn't going to get anything to put into it. Sanders hasn't sued, but the case is analogous to the baker's case: Can a business deny service to people the owner doesn't like?

A case that did make it to the Supreme Court though, is Arlene's Flowers Inc. v. Washington. In this case, a same-sex couple asked the owner to provide flowers for their wedding and she refused. In yesterday's ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court sent the case back to the Washington Supreme Court to review, to make sure the owner of the flower shop got a fair hearing. If the state court says, "yes, she got a fair hearing but she still broke the law," it will go right back to the Supreme Court. Sooner or later Kennedy is going to have to make a decision on the merits of one of these cases, and not on the process. (V)

Trump Slams the Red Hen

Speaking of Sarah Huckabee Sanders' unpleasant night trying to get dinner, Donald Trump has, of course, decided to wade right into the middle of the situation. He sent this tweet on Monday:

Even 18 months in, it remains quite remarkable that a United States president is willing to involve himself in such trivialities, particularly since every one of his 43 predecessors would have seen this matter as beneath the dignity of the office (well, ok, maybe not Harry S. Truman). As to Trump's "review" of the restaurant, it's hard to imagine he's ever been there, which means he's presumably making his criticisms up. Certainly, photos of the establishment do not support his assessment:

The Red Hen at Night

If the restaurant actually is dirty, then Trump has inadvertently revealed something about the standards of Sanders, since she tried to eat there.

Actually, there is a better way of telling whether a restaurant is dirty inside than checking the canopies: Look at its health-inspection report. The Washington Post did exactly that and found that since April 2014 it has been dinged four times, the worst of which was storing meat above cookies, a no-no in the restaurant business. All were immediately corrected. Out of curiosity, the Post also got the health-inspection report of the restaurant at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. It is far worse, with nine violations, including that food was not stored at the correct temperatures, nor marked properly as to its expiration date.

As with so many things, Trump does not seem to have thought through the implications of his actions. One would think that he, of all people, would realize that he is giving the restaurant oodles of publicity: Trump haters now have a new restaurant they can eat at, maybe buy a hat, take a selfie, tell their friends. In other words, there's every reason to think this could be a boon for the Red Hen, long-term.

At the same time, Trump does not seem to know, or maybe he doesn't care, that this isn't the only restaurant in the country with that name. The controversy has caused some people to direct death threats and threats to burn his building to Michael Friedman, who owns an unrelated restaurant named the Red Hen in D.C. In fact, a restaurant as far away as New Jersey has also been targeted because it is also called the Red Hen. The bottom line here is that anonymous trolls on the Internet, armed with their misinterpretation of the facts, can cause a lot of damage to innocent people who have no recourse. Trump is not solely responsible for these bad actors, but he's certainly not helping. And what we are seeing is an example of Brandolini's Law: "The amount of energy necessary to refute bullsh*t is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it." (Z & V)

Democrats Will Go after Mark Sanford's Seat

An item above discussed primary turnout as a harbinger of November, but congressional elections are won one district at a time. Remember former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford? And how he was going to hike the Appalachian Trail but somehow got lost and ended up in Argentina with his then mistress? He resigned the governorship and later ran for Congress and won. But, he was not nice to Donald Trump and was defeated in the primary in SC-01 by Katie Arrington, who is 100% for Trump. She was in a serious car accident, but her doctors say she will recover completely. Unrelated to the accident, Democrats saw an open seat in a district in the southeastern part of the state along the coast that is rapidly becoming bluer and are going to target it.

Going after any district in South Carolina, other than that of Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), will be a challenge, but the Democrats think they have a candidate like Conor Lamb in Joe Cunningham. Trump won the district in 2016 with only 53% of the vote. Cunningham is already going after Arrington on local issues, rather than national ones. A key one may be fracking and oil drilling along the South Carolina coast, where the main industry is tourism. Arrington supports more fracking and drilling and Cunningham says an accident could destroy the beautiful coast and wipe out the tourist industry on which so many jobs depend. Cunningham has some credibility here since he is an ocean engineer. Arrington had a real estate development company but later she started a defense contracting company.

Cunningham also has something unusual for a South Carolina Democrat—endorsements from some local Republicans. The district is R+10, about the same as the Pennsylvania district Lamb won. Also, Arrington is going to be out of action for a while due to her accident, so Cunningham will get a head start. All of that said, South Carolina is not Pennsylvania, so running Lamb's playbook is still a long shot. (V)

Democrats Also Think They Have a Shot at John Carter's Seat

Speaking of R+10 districts that Donald Trump won with 53% of the vote, we give you TX-31, which is currently represented by Rep. John Carter (R). There, the Democrats have come up with another Conor Lamb-type candidate in the person of MJ Hegar, one of the first female pilots to fly missions (and to be shot down) in Afghanistan. She has produced a real humdinger of a campaign ad; one so good it's been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube:

"Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who knows a little something about winning over an audience, described it as "the best political ad anyone's ever seen." He may be right about that. It's really worth watching in its entirety, but for those who are not so inclined, the title of the spot is "Doors," and it dramatically recreates certain key "doors" that have played a role in Hegar's life. Like the glass door that her abusive father threw her mother through when she was a child. Or the door she kicked down in order to land a job as a combat pilot. Or the door from the helicopter in which she was forced to make a crash landing. Without making a frontal assault, the ad very effectively reminds viewers of which party has a certain tolerance for mistreating women. It also reminds them of the fact that Carter had no interest in helping Hegar out when he was her congressman and she was a decorated, but injured, veteran trying to return to the war front.

As with SC-01, the Democrats face an uphill battle in TX-31. Still, with such a strong candidate, and with a state that is slowly moving into purple territory, Carter is in the fight of his life. And if a blue wave materializes, he could be among the Republicans that gets washed out to sea. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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