• Bye Bye Love
• Fudge Is Out
• More Trouble for Hyde-Smith
• The Blue Wave Was Black
• Latinos Showed Up, Too
• Trump Submits Answers to Mueller
• Poll: Trump Beats All Rivals in 2020 Republican Primary
• Whitaker Was Paid over $1 Million by Conservative "Charity"
Yesterday, Donald Trump said that he would not take action against Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for murdering Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump said maybe the Crown Prince knew about it and maybe he didn't. In contrast, the CIA has said unambiguously that not only did the Crown Prince know all about the murder, he personally ordered it.
Trump's argument for letting Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader get away with murder (literally) is that Saudi Arabia wants to buy $110 billion worth of American weapons, which will create a lot of jobs in America. Military experts think that in the end, the order might be 10% of that, and no more. Fundamentally, Trump is an amoral businessman. He cares not a whit about morals or America's standing in the world. All he cares about are deals and money.
This is not the first time Trump, of course, has come out for a foreign authoritarian leader and against his own intelligence services. When the CIA said that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections, Trump refused to believe that, either.
Another factor that may play a role in this whole matter is the business ties Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have with the Kingdom. Trump once boasted of selling $40-50 million worth of apartments to Saudis and has seen a huge amount of Saudi money pour into his hotels since he was elected. Could it be that he is handling the Saudis and its de facto leader with kid gloves to avoid derailing the gravy train? Several Democrats have said the incoming House should investigate the matter, and you can bet that will be high on the agenda of, say, Rep. Richard Neal, soon-to-be-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. (V)
It's all over in Utah, as Democrat Ben McAdams has been declared the winner in UT-04, sending Rep. Mia Love (R) into retirement after two terms. Donald Trump famously declared that Love's loss was all about him, and her failure to get on board with his program. He's probably right about the first part, not so much the second part. When a Democrat wins in a district where only 15% of the voters are registered Democrats, and in a state that has consistently held the President at arm's length, the message is probably not "we want someone more Trumpy." Love's defeat means there are no black Republican women remaining in Congress.
Meanwhile, the Republicans officially picked up a +1 as well, as Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones conceded to Rep. Will Hurd (R) in TX-23. Despite Hurd's party identification, he has been very critical of Trump, which was undoubtedly key to his success in the swingiest district in Texas, with a PVI of R+1. In particular, the two men do not see eye-to-eye on immigration, which is hardly surprising given that TX-23 is 70% Latino. Hurd becomes the first person since the 1990s to hold the district, one of the biggest in the country, for three straight terms. He will need to begin immediately preparing for 2020, as he will undoubtedly be at the top of the Democrats' target list once again.
And finally, Carolyn Bourdeaux has filed a formal request for a recount for the House race in GA-07, which is in suburban Atlanta. The official tally puts Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) ahead of her by 419 votes. However, since all in-person votes are cast on electronic voting machines, there is no way to recount the vast majority of the ballots. Only the absentee and provisional ballots will be recounted by hand. This is precisely the nightmare scenario that opponents of electronic voting machines say is undemocratic. There is no way to recount the votes in a close election conducted largely on voting machines that do not leave a paper trail. There probably won't be enough absentee and provisional ballots to make a difference, and if the voting machines made errors, there is no way to know.
GA-07 is the only House race everyone agrees is unresolved (though some still have CA-21 in the "uncalled" column). Assuming Bourdeaux does not prevail and Republican David Valadao holds on in CA-21, then it will be 234 Democrats in the House to 201 Republicans, meaning that the blue team picked up 39 seats. That is their biggest gain since the 1974 post-Watergate election (+48 seats) and is their third-biggest gain since World War II (they also gained 48 in 1958). (V & Z)
To the extent that anyone was challenging Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for the position of Speaker of the House, it was Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). Fudge hadn't formally thrown her hat into the ring, but she didn't give a full Sherman when asked about the prospect, either. As a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who is somewhat moderate and is from the Midwest, she certainly presented a distinct alternative to Pelosi.
Now, however, Fudge is out of the running, and has thrown her support behind Pelosi. "I now join my colleagues in support of the leadership team of Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn," Fudge said in a statement, in which she noted that Pelosi specifically promised that black women would be given a prominent voice in the new Congress. At almost exactly the same time, and presumably not by coincidence, Barack Obama announced his support for Pelosi.
In short, the political chess grandmaster is manipulating her pieces with great skill. First Pelosi locked up her loyal allies, then she got the progressives, and now it's the CBC. The odds are pretty good she's got the votes she needs, and she hasn't even moved her rooks or her bishops yet. Meanwhile, the first vote on the new Speaker is next week, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and the opposition doesn't even have a candidate to put forward. In other words, Pelosi might as well place her order for new business cards, because unless she makes a lynching joke or poses for pictures with a Confederate hat on (see below), she's a slam dunk to regain the speaker's gavel. (Z)
Last week, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) managed to get into some hot water when a recording surfaced in which she joked she would sit in the front row if invited to a public hanging by one of her supporters. This was interpreted as a clear reference to lynching, in a state that's had more of those than any other. Hyde-Smith's refusal to apologize or back off the remark did not help her situation one bit.
Now, of course, people are looking under rocks for more dirt on Hyde-Smith, and on Tuesday they found it, courtesy of—wait for it—her Facebook page. After a 2014 visit to the home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, which is now a museum and library dedicated in his honor, she posted several pictures of herself posing with Confederate artifacts, including one in which she was wearing a CSA hat:
This is not quite as problematic for her as it would be if she posed with, say, a Confederate battle flag, or a picture of Nathan Bedford Forrest. However, it's not good, either. It also does not help that the comment she posted with the pictures was, "Mississippi history at its best!" Given that Davis was a slaveowner who led a slaveholding republic in a fight to preserve slavery, that remark can easily be interpreted as a dog whistle. Assuming it's subtle enough to qualify.
Mike Espy (D), and those who support him, recognize that racism is now her Achilles heel, and so the Mississippi airwaves are full of commercials juxtaposing images of Hyde-Smith with images of lynchings. Nobody seems to be polling the race right now, so we may have to wait until next Tuesday to find out if the Senator managed to blow an easy election. One bad sign: Wal-Mart has asked her to return all donations that they made to her campaign. Given that they are only slightly to the left of Chick-Fil-A and the NRA, it's not too easy for a Republican to lose them. But Hyde-Smith has. (Z)
Speaking of black voters, a new poll shows that a goodly part of the Democrats' blue wave was powered by them, especially women. It found that 90% of black voters supported Democratic candidates for the House (vs. 53% of all voters). This is not surprising considering that 91% of black women and 86% of black men think Donald Trump is using toxic rhetoric to divide the nation.
Black voters were anything but apathetic. Over twice as many black voters showed up at the polls this year as in 2014, which will allow the Congressional Black Caucus to add nine members in January, potentially becoming a major force in the Democratic majority.
The survey also found:
- 72% of black voters think the Democrats are doing a good job for black constituents; 21% disagree
- 12% of black voters think the Republicans are doing a good job for black constituents; 55% disagree
- 8% of black voters think Trump has a positive impact on blacks; 29% think he has a negative impact
- 89% of black women and 83% of black men think Trump will cause a major setback for racial progress
- 82% of black women and 76% of black men think the Republicans are normalizing sexual harassment
It is clear that one of the Democrats' main tasks in 2020 is to fight against barriers that keep black voters from casting their ballots. (V)
As the numbers from the midterms are crunched, it is clear that turnout from various ethnic groups was way up across the board. The black vote (see above) jumped by 157% over the previous midterm, while the Latino vote was up an impressive 174%. This helped elect an unprecedented number of Latino and Latina members to the House: 42 in total (34 Democrats and 8 Republicans).
The Democrats, under the leadership of DCCC chair Ben Ray Luján, who is himself Latino, invested $30 million getting out the Latino vote, and it clearly worked. "Latinos showed up to the polls because we talked to them, we listened to them, our candidates connected with their personal stories, we knocked on their doors and we reached out to them online," he said. Although Latino voters do not break Democratic quite so aggressively as black voters, they do still skew pretty far leftward, so it is very good news for the blue team if they are becoming more engaged with politics. After all, the single biggest predictor of "are you voting in this election?" is "did you vote in the last election?"(Z)
Donald Trump has turned over written answers to the questions that were posed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump claimed that he wrote the answers himself, and that he did so "very easily." If either of those things is actually true (unlikely), then Trump has made a very grave error. Mueller is a sharp cookie, and a lawyer, and his questions were undoubtedly a minefield designed for the President to trip.
Trump's television lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, declared some of Mueller's questions "beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry." He did not specify what the nature of those questions might be, nor did he explain whether or not Trump provided answers to those questions. In any case, Mueller is surely not done with Trump yet. The questions that were asked covered only the period before the inauguration. Undoubtedly, the Special Counsel would like to know a few things about what's happened since then, particularly as regards obstruction of justice. The odds are good that Mueller uses this first round of questions to decide what to do next, specifically whether it is worth it to try to do another round of written responses, or if it's better to just subpoena Trump and fight it out in court. (Z)
An American Barometer poll of GOP voters pitting Donald Trump against various potential challengers shows Trump wiping the floor with all of them. Trump gets 65-70% no matter who his opponent is. Here is how the various challengers score: Paul Ryan (20%), Mitt Romney (19%), Ted Cruz (17%), John Kasich (14%), Nikki Haley (13%), Jeff Flake (9%), and Ben Sasse (8%). With numbers like these, it is unlikely Trump will face a challenge unless something changes. At the moment, the GOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trump Organization. However, if Robert Mueller issues a report stating that Trump committed one or more crimes, or if the economy enters a serious recession, all bets are off. (V)
From 2014 to 2017, the Acting Attorney General was paid more than $1.2 million by a group called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. His work was apparently to appear on radio and television to skewer liberals. In its application for tax-exempt status, the group said it would study the impact of environmental regulations on business. In reality, it took no action and issued no reports. That is not surprising, since it had no employees other than Whitaker. In addition, one man listed as a board member said he never agreed to be on the board. Nor did the group report who its donors were. The whole thing doesn't pass the smell test for a legitimate charity. (V)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov20 Troops at Border Are Headed Home
Nov20 Acosta Wins
Nov20 Trump Causes General Irritation
Nov20 Pelosi Opposition Comes into Focus
Nov20 Another Whitaker Lawsuit
Nov20 Everybody Is Waiting to See What Beto Will Do
Nov19 Nelson Concedes
Nov19 Republicans Are Concerned about the Mississippi Runoff
Nov19 Trump Slams McRaven
Nov19 It Wasn't All about College-Educated Suburban Women
Nov19 Texas May Be in Play Sooner than Expected
Nov19 Ohio and Colorado May Not Be Swing States Anymore
Nov19 A Battle Looms among Aspiring Ranking Members of the House Judiciary Committee
Nov19 An Early Look at the 2020 Senate Races
Nov19 Monday Q&A
Nov18 Election Updates: Gillum Concedes, Cisneros Wins
Nov18 Progressives Back Pelosi
Nov18 Trump Wonders about Pence's Loyalty
Nov18 Trump Threatens Shutdown...Again
Nov18 Trump May Take His Ball and Go Home
Nov18 Another Facebook Scandal
Nov18 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Eric Holder
Nov17 Election Updates: Abrams Concedes, Love Leads, Nelson Bleeds
Nov17 Senate Republicans Want to Get Rid of Whitaker
Nov17 Texas Businessman Sues, Challenges Whitaker's Legality
Nov17 Trump's Lawyers Have Finished Answering Mueller's Written Questions
Nov17 Federal Judge Orders Trump to Restore Jim Acosta's Press Pass
Nov17 CIA: Khashoggi Killed on Mohammed's Orders
Nov17 Lindsey Graham Will Chair the Senate Judiciary Committee
Nov17 If Not Pelosi, then Who?
Nov16 Latest Election Updates
Nov16 Trump Growing (More) Unhinged
Nov16 Pelosi Faces Resistance
Nov16 Trump Nominates Lana Marks as Ambassador to South Africa
Nov16 U.S. Sanctions 17 Saudis for Khashoggi Murder
Nov16 No Ruling in Acosta Case
Nov16 U.S. Wants to Prosecute Assange
Nov15 Updates on House Races
Nov15 There Must Be Something in the Water
Nov15 Trump Intervenes in House Leadership Fight
Nov15 Cornyn Steps Down from Whip Role
Nov15 House Democrats Are Writing Their First Bill
Nov15 Outgoing Republican Legislatures Could Thwart Incoming Democratic Governors
Nov15 Fox News Backs CNN
Nov15 Flake Threatens to Block Judges if Mueller is Not Protected
Nov15 Avenatti Booked for Domestic Violence
Nov15 Thursday Q&A
Nov14 Maryland Sues Trump over Attorney General Pick
Nov14 CNN Sues Trump