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

Sessions Will Not Appoint a Special Counsel to Investigate the Justice Department

Many Republicans have accused the FBI of hating Donald Trump and trying to block his policies. They have loudly called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate the whole Justice Dept. to see if it is biased. Yesterday, Sessions decided not to make any such appointment. He conveyed his decision to several Republican committee chairmen in Congress, saying:

To justify such an appointment, the Attorney General would need to conclude that, "the public interest would be served by removing a large degree of responsibility for the matter from the Department of Justice."

So, he doesn't believe that it is necessary. Sessions said that investigations will be made, but by a federal prosecutor, John Huber, working within the Department structure, and not outside of it. (V)

2016 Exit Polls Were Off

Statisticians and political analysts are still chewing on the 2016 election data and it now appears that the exit polls were substantially in error. A detailed analysis shows that 44% of all votes cast in the 2016 election were from white working-class voters. The exit polls put that number far lower, at 34%. Hillary Clinton fared poorly with his group, winning only 28% of their votes. In addition, the new study showed that whites with college degrees made up only 30% of the total electorate, not the 37% reported in the exit polls. In other words, the exit polls showed that there were more college-educated voters than non-college voters, when in fact, the reverse was true. A new poll taken this month by Pew Research shows that among current Democrats, the three largest voting blocs are whites without college degrees (33%), minorities (28%), and whites with college degrees (26%).

These findings have major implications for Democrats (and Republicans) going forward. The obvious one is that the Democrats have to focus on getting more than 28% of the white working-class vote. This won't be easy, because many of these voters are culturally conservative and issues that motivate the activist base, such as gun control, transgender rights, allowing immigrants into the country, and impeaching Donald Trump, don't play well with blue-collar workers. The Democrats' challenge will be to find and emphasize issues that both blue-collar workers and party activists agree on. Health care is one such issue, although the solutions diverge. The blue-collar workers tend to like employer-based health insurance, so to woo them, promising to fix the ACA would do well. However, many activists want to abolish the current system and replace it with a single-payer system, like the one Canada has. Many internal debates will be fought over this issue in the coming months.

Also very relevant is that fact that Trump has been solidifying his support among blue-collar workers. In 2014, 42% of Americans with no college experience were Republicans. Now that figure is 47%. In retrospect, Hillary Clinton's remark that Trump's supporters (meaning blue-collar workers) were a basket of deplorables was not a bright idea, and probably contributed to her defeat.

Of course, Republicans have their own problems, too. If the actual Republicans voters are blue-collar workers but the donors are all millionaires and billionaires, there is a disconnect here. So far the GOP strategy has been to talk about culture-war issues during the campaign but govern the way the donors want. The donors are smart enough to understand this is how it has to be done and don't complain. The Party has to hope that the voters don't catch on and come to realize they are getting all talk, no action. At some point they may begin to realize it, but until then the strategy seems to work. (V)

Polling Numbers Looking Up for Trump; Everything Else, Not So Much

In nearly all the polls, Donald Trump's approval rating is on the upswing. He's now in the low 40s, according to most pollsters, which would be unhappy news for most chief executives, but definitely represents progress for him. Meanwhile, the Democrats' lead on the generic Congressional ballot has taken a serious dip, according to CNN's polling, to six points. If that holds, it would be tough for the blue team to retake the House. That's the good news for Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, there was also a lot of less positive news for the President this week, mostly of the sort that is harder to quantify (at least, until folks cast their ballots on Election Day). To start, and most obviously, there is the economy. With all the ups and downs, including two 1,000-point drops, the stock market just had its worst quarter in three years. The Dow finished down 2% for the quarter, the first time is has finished in the red since Q3 2015. It's down 9%, in total, since reaching an all-time high on January 26. CNN has a graphic that is not going to make anyone on Team Trump happy:

Stock Market ups and downs, 2018

It's not easy to predict the market, but this trendline is certainly not encouraging.

And then there are the effects of Trump's policies on the heartland. Predictably, there is considerable unease about the tariffs, since the number of people to be negatively impacted figures to be larger than the number of people who benefit, and by a large margin. Already, steel prices have risen by 10%, as American steel makers take advantage of the lack of competition. And in manufacturing towns, that's rough. For example, Chattanooga, Tenn., which gave Trump 61% of its votes, has an economy built very much around the local Volkswagen plant. Volkswagen has already announced that the tariffs "will make manufacturing in the United States less competitive, threaten job growth and result in higher prices for consumers." Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is worried about what comes next: "This is pretty simple for us," he explained. "When we sell more cars, more people get jobs ... free trade brings jobs to our community." Polls report that only about 1/3 of Americans support the tariffs, while close to 60% oppose them.

On a similar note, and equally predictable, polls also indicate that the majority of Americans are not seeing an increase in their paychecks due to the GOP's tax cuts; 52% feel that way, compared to 32% who say that they are indeed seeing an increase, and 16% who are not sure. The reason that this is predictable is that past tax breaks, which involved larger impacts on people's paychecks, failed to move the needle. So, there is no reason to expect that a fairly tiny break (for most) would be highly noticeable.

Donald Trump's primary claim on the presidency, when he ran, was that he was a businessman who could work magic on the economy. If he does not deliver or if, even worse, the economy recedes, it's going to be tough for him and the GOP to face the voters in November. (Z)

Trump Toying with Having no Chief of Staff or Communications Director

Donald Trump just lost his Communications Director, as Hope Hicks' last day on the job was yesterday. He has a difficult relationship with his Chief of Staff John Kelly, and has considered cashiering him more than once. The President is also having difficulty attracting talent, and—as he has soured on outsiders like Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn and David Shulkin—has increasingly turned to people he knows, although he's running out of close friends who are not, you know, security risks. Adding it all up, and some of Trump's confidants have proposed an idea that has the President intrigued: That he should serve as his own chief of staff and communications director.

It's not surprising that Trump is very interested in this idea. After all, from where he's sitting, he doesn't know a single human being who is more talented, and smart, and capable than Donald John Trump. That approach might also allow the White House to reduce the number of leaks (or maybe not). There's no indication he is prepared to move forward with the idea, but we know what happens when he becomes enamored with a notion. Further, with Hicks reaching the end of the road, he's got to make a decision one way or another pretty soon.

The position of chief of staff was created in 1946, while the first communications director was appointed in 1969. In both cases, the last president who tried to get by without filling the position was Jimmy Carter, who left the former post empty from January 1977 to July 1979, and the latter empty from January 1977 to July 1978 and again from August 1979 to January 1981. Needless to say, the Carter White House was not exactly known for its smooth operation or its effective messaging. In particular, Carter was forced to admit that doing things like personally overseeing the schedule for the White House tennis courts was probably not the best use of his time, and that trying to get by without a chief of staff was a mistake. Will Trump learn from the mistakes of his predecessors? Don't bet on it. (Z)

Trump Implies Wall Construction Has Begun

Donald Trump said he would get Mexico to pay for his border wall, but that was an obvious nonstarter. Then he tried to get Congress to pay for it, but it balked. He suggested that the military use some of their $700 billion to do the job, but that would not be legal. Running out of possible sources for $20 billion or $30 billion, the President decided to move on Plan B: Lie. Specifically, Trump sent out the following tweet this weekend:

The President then followed that up with this, on Wednesday:

One might be forgiven for thinking that construction is underway. However, what these photos actually show are repairs being made to a segment of the existing wall in Calexico. Not only that, the repairs began before the $1.6 billion was appropriated, so the activity shown literally has nothing to do with the President. One senses that Trump is getting a little desperate on this front; someone must have explained to him he's not likely to get wall funding right before an election (the current budget expires September 30), and he's definitely not going to get it if the Democrats take control of the House in November. Indeed, at this point, it's getting hard to see a path forward for one of Trump's signature campaign promises. (Z)

Daniels' Lawyer Won't Be Able To Depose Trump Right Now

Michael Avenatti, counsel for porn star and alleged Donald Trump paramour Stormy Daniels, would like to move forward rapidly in the legal dispute between his client and the President. To that end, he asked for expedited discovery and the opportunity to depose Trump (and his lawyer Michael Cohen) for a couple of hours. On Thursday, Judge S. James Otero of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California announced his decision: No. The judge noted that "instant litigation is not the most important matter on the court's docket," and said that Trump and Cohen must be given time to file their expected motion to send the case to arbitration.

In other words, the judge's decision is not necessarily final, though it does mean Trump isn't going to be deposed anytime soon. After the announcement, both sides in the case promptly claimed victory, though. "This does not bode well for the President or Mr. Cohen, and all indications are that when this motion is heard on the merits, we're going to get the discovery and we're going to get the trial we've asked for," said Avenatti. "I'm not at all surprised by the judge's decision to deny the motion to compel depositions of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump," declared Cohen attorney Michael Schwartz. "This frivolous motion was denied with [sic] 48 hours of filing and I'm pleased it was denied."

Meanwhile, Trump's staffers continue to deny that the President ever had an affair with Daniels, though Trump himself remains uncharacteristically silent. The White House has explained the silence by declaring, "He also has a country to run." Interesting explanation; that doesn't seem to stop him from speaking up on everything else under the sun. (Z)

Atlanta Will Bid for the 2020 Democratic National Convention

Atlanta will will make a bid to be the site of the Democratic National Convention in 2020. It will be competing against Milwaukee and possibly other cities. Atlanta has a number of things going for it. For one, it has the busiest airport in the country (and the world), due to being Delta's main hub, so delegates can get to it from almost everywhere. It also has a surfeit of hotel space (93,000 rooms). It played an important role in the civil rights movement, and showcasing that history may help bolster black turnout. Georgia is moving toward becoming a purple state, and holding the convention there might speed the process along.

On the other hand, if Democrats are serious about trying to get blue-collar voters from the Midwest back, having the convention in Milwaukee might be a good idea, even if the logistics aren't as good. It's airport ranks 50th in the country in terms of traffic and it has many fewer hotel rooms than Atlanta. The DNC has to somehow balance logistics with the political message it wants to send. Milwaukee sends the message: "We care about white voters," whereas Atlanta sends the message: "We care about black voters." On the other hand, the DNC doesn't want news stories about delegates camping out in a park somewhere because all the hotels were full. (V)

Gov. Scott Walker Will Call Special Elections After All

After three judges ordered him to call special elections to fill vacant seats in the state senate and state assembly, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) threw in the towel yesterday and scheduled primaries for May 15 and special elections June 12. Walker didn't want to hold the elections for seats vacated by Republicans who had joined his administration because he was afraid Democrats would flip them, as Patty Schachtner (D) did in January. The Republicans in the state legislature were planning to hold an emergency session in order to change the law regarding special elections, but that plan is now dead and the elections will take place. The filing deadline is April 17. (V)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar29 Another One Bites the Dust
Mar29 Mueller Plays Another Card from His Hand
Mar29 Trump's Allies Are Starting a Campaign against Mueller
Mar29 Judge Allows Emoluments Case to Go Forward
Mar29 Appeals Court Orders Wisconsin to Hold Elections for Vacant State Legislature Seats
Mar29 Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Wants to Depose Trump
Mar29 Former Disney Star to Work in the White House
Mar29 Joe Arpaio, One-Trick Pony
Mar28 Trump Wants the Pentagon to Pay for His Wall
Mar28 Two More Top Conservative Lawyers Say No to Trump
Mar28 Can a President Be Indicted?
Mar28 Trump Strikes His First Trade Deal
Mar28 Republicans Are Taking Nothing for Granted in AZ-08 Special Election
Mar28 Rick Scott Getting Close to Announcing; Already Has Baggage
Mar28 What Goes Up Apparently Must Go Down
Mar27 Takeaways from Stormy Daniels Interview
Mar27 Trump Ignores Daniels
Mar27 Daniels Expands Her Lawsuit to Include Cohen
Mar27 What Is Gates Telling Mueller about Trump?
Mar27 Does Team Trump Really Threaten to Rough People Up?
Mar27 No Trade War? Wall Street Is Thrilled
Mar27 Trump's Approval Is Climbing
Mar27 Citizenship Question To Be Included on 2020 Census
Mar27 Is Sean Hannity an Idiot?
Mar26 Stormy Rains on Trump's Parade
Mar26 Trump's New Lawyers Quit
Mar26 More White House Personnel Changes Are Likely
Mar26 Gun Advocates, Manufacturers Are Feeling the Pinch
Mar26 Cambridge Analytica Scandal Deepens
Mar26 Democrats Discover the State Legislatures
Mar25 Guns Under Fire
Mar25 Trump Midterm Message: I Need Allies
Mar25 Rep. Ryan Costello Won't Run Again
Mar25 Today in Voter Suppression...
Mar25 Stormy Unleashed
Mar25 Landrieu for President?
Mar25 Trump Could Cost the U.S. World Cup
Mar24 White House Staffers Don't Know What to Do
Mar24 No Wonder Trump is Angry about the Budget He Just Signed
Mar24 White House Announces Transgender Ban
Mar24 McGahn Wants to Quit, Sooner or Later
Mar24 Everyone Has an Opinion on Bolton
Mar24 Nine Takeaways from Karen McDougal's Interview
Mar24 Andy Taggart May Challenge Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi Senate Race
Mar24 Wisconsin GOP Bends over Backwards to Avoid Special Elections
Mar23 Trump Levies Tariffs on China; Market Tanks
Mar23 Trump's Lead Lawyer Quits
Mar23 McMaster Out, Bolton In
Mar23 Congress Passes $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill
Mar23 McDougal Dishes on Trump