Needed 1990
Biden 0
Booker 0
Buttigieg 0
Castro 0
Klobuchar 0
Sanders 0
Warren 0
Yang 0
Political Wire logo Peter Thiel Driving Facebook Ad Policy
Moderate Democrats Take a Leap on Impeachment
Americans Remain Split on Impeachment
Fate of Democratic Debate Hinges on Bargaining Session
A Very Swampy Spending Bill
How Republicans Got a Democrat to Switch Parties

How Trump Wins in 2020

Could Donald Trump win in 2020? His campaign certainly thinks so, and even held a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation in Arlington, VA, to explain to national reporters how that would happen. It involves a five-point program, as follows:

  • Take over the party: There were still some never-Trumpers left in the Republican Party and the first step in the plan was to crush them like bugs. There have been 42 elections for chairman of the state Republican party since the 2018 midterms, and all those positions are now filled by Trump supporters. Basically, the Republican Party is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Donald J. Trump.

  • Think small: In 2016, Trump did his best in large, rural counties with very few people. In Wisconsin, the 48 smallest counties (out of 72) contain 22% of the statewide vote. In Pennsylvania, the 45 least populous counties (out of 67) represent 20% of the statewide vote. Getting a few percent more voters to the polls in the Trump strongholds could be the difference between losing and winning a state. The campaign isn't going to forget the cities, though. By emphasizing economic growth and jobs, it hopes to pick up a couple percent among black voters. Even getting to 10% would be worth something.

  • Turn out the base: The campaign has located 9 million voters who are enthusiastic about Trump but didn't vote in 2018 because he wasn't on the ballot. These people will be precisely targeted.

  • Turn impeachment into a selling point: The campaign has raised millions of dollars by telling voters that the Democrats are trying to undo the 2016 election. They are also selling a "Bull-Schiff" t-shirt and other related merchandise. The idea here is to get the base really angry and sure to vote.

  • Build a machine: Up until now, Trump rallies have been a few hours of glory, and then it's all gone. In 2020, the idea is to turn them into multi-day experiences, with follow-up visits from Vice President Mike Pence and other Republican luminaries. The events have also proven to be a hugely successful way to collect e-mail addresses and other data from potential voters. The events are now also being used for sophisticated message testing. The events also are a great place to recruit volunteers, whose numbers have now doubled to 300,000 since 2016.

On paper it all seems great. Of course, on paper, the Titanic was an unsinkable ship. How this all plays out in practice depends on a number of factors, not the least of which are:

  • How the impeachment trial goes and who testifies at it
  • The state of the economy next November
  • Who is on the Democratic ticket and how unified the blue team is
  • How the Supreme Court rules on the various Trump-related cases before it
  • The status of the trade war with China
  • Which foreign actors get involved in the election and how good they are
  • How much money Michael Bloomberg decides to spend on politics in 2020 and in what manner

And these are only the known unknowns. There could be unknown unknowns as well. Someone could have a health crisis. A terrorist attack could occur somewhere. Other unexpected stuff could happen. (V)

Booker Asks DNC to Soften the Rules for Qualifying for the Debates

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) sent a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez asking him to make it easier for Democratic presidential candidates to qualify for the January and February debates. For Booker, this is not an abstract request. He is not going to be on stage on Thursday—assuming there is a debate on Thursday, something not clear due to union picket lines at the debate location—and probably will not qualify for the January or February debates either. If he misses all three debates, it's curtains for him.

One argument Booker made is that only one nonwhite candidate (Andrew Yang) qualified for the December debate and that wouldn't look good for the Democrats. Of course, he didn't mention that he is polling at 3% in South Carolina, a state where 60% of the Democrats are black. In other words, the reason there are so few nonwhite candidates left is that the voters didn't like any of the ones who humbly decided to run. And speaking of those folks, Booker also didn't note that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) actually had qualified for the December debate when she ended her campaign. She was in better shape than he, and yet saw no path forward, which may be instructive.

Eight of the other Democrats in the race agreed with Booker that the criteria should be loosened. Whether they actually mean it or are simply pandering to black voters by pretending to support him (while secretly hoping their primary opponents vanish stage left) is another matter. Whatever, the DNC is having none of it. A spokesperson issued this statement in response to Booker's letter:

The DNC will not change the threshold for any one candidate and will not revert to two consecutive nights with more than a dozen candidates. Our qualification criteria is extremely low and reflects where we are in the race.

Roughly translated: If you can't get 4% of the voters nationally or 6% in an early state to support you, why should we take you seriously? Many Democrats, clearly including Perez, want to winnow the field quickly so that future debates will have only candidates with a shot at the nomination. That way, they will have more time on stage to actually, well, debate.

The situation for female candidates is almost the same. Two women are left, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and Klobuchar is polling below 5% everywhere. She will hang on until the Iowa caucuses, where she could break through since she comes from a neighboring state, but if she doesn't come in first, second, or third, her goose is probably cooked and Warren will be the only woman left. If that happens, women voters who want to see a female president may notice the situation and give Warren an extra push. (V)

Bloomberg: Boris Johnson is the Canary in the Coal Mine

Well, OK, he didn't use those exact words about Johnson and canaries. Although both of them tweet, they can be easily distinguished. Johnson is heavier. He weighs 16 stone and a canary weighs 20 grams. What Michael Bloomberg said is that the U.K. election is the canary in the coal mine for the Democrats. He also said the Democrats can't run on just not being Trump. They have to come up with specific policy proposals that speak to people. He also added that in the U.K. (and by implication, in America), people want change but they don't want the kind of radical change Jeremy Corbyn (and by implication Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Elizabeth Warren) was proposing.

Looking at two election maps of U.K. may give the Democrats some food for thought. Below are the maps for 2005 (the last general election Labour won) and 2019.

UK maps

What immediately hits the eye is how blue the 2019 map is, where in the U.K. blue indicates the Conservative Party, just as a county-by-county map of U.S. elections is very red. And it's for the same reason: low-population rural areas in both countries are conservative.

More striking is what happened to Labour since 2005. It lost huge chunks of constituencies in the North and Midlands that were once solidly pro-Labour. These are England's rust belts. Decrepit old factories lie abandoned, coal mines are closed, and people have it tough. Worse yet, the people there are tired of the elites in the big cities constantly scolding them and telling them their way of life is wrong and they should get with the program. Johnson, like Trump, is very good at telling them what they want to hear, which is bringing back coal mining and 19th century industry. It's not going to happen in either country, of course, but it is what the voters want to hear. It may take several election cycles before the voters get the message that it is not going to happen. Corbyn, for all his many faults, at least didn't call any voters a "basket of deplorables," but not doing so wasn't enough.

Getting back to Bloomberg, his main points are: (1) Democrats have to stand for something, not just be against something, and (2) they need a candidate who doesn't need on-the-job training. The latter point is more of a selling point for Joe Biden than for Bloomberg because mayors don't have their own foreign policies, but it was more a swipe at the candidates with no executive experience (ahem, Elizabeth Warren). Will Bloomberg win? It is very unlikely, but he's probably got a point (or maybe multiple points) about what the wrong kind of campaign looks like. (V)

Democrats Have Found Their 2020 Campaign Issue

Democrats picked up 40 seats in the House, largely in red districts, by emphasizing health care and not by talking all day long about what is wrong with Donald Trump. A lot of Democrats think that the key to victory in 2020 is to run that playbook again. Last week, the House took a concrete step to make that easier: It passed a bill (on a largely party-line vote) that would allow the government to negotiate with drug companies on prices, something now forbidden by law. Many other countries do exactly this, but the U.S. doesn't. Trump said that if the bill somehow got to his desk, he would veto it. But there is little danger that will happen, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won't even let it come to a vote, lest the members of his caucus have to choose between doing what Big Pharma wants and what the voters want.

Democrats hope to ride this issue to victory, saying that if the voters give them the keys to the kingdom, they will negotiate hard with the drug companies to reduce drug prices, an issue that many voters put at the top of their wish lists. This is also an issue that resonates in the red districts that the Democrats flipped in 2018.

If the Democrats take over, they will have to add one more provision to the bill, and it will be controversial. Suppose the government starts negotiating with the drug companies and they refuse to budge on price. What can the government do? To give the law teeth, it will have to say that if the government and a drug company cannot come to terms, then the government has the unambiguous authority without further ado to override drug company patents and authorize one or more manufacturers of generic drugs to produce the items in question. Under current law, the government can use patents for its own use, but whether it can authorize a generic drug company to manufacture a patented drug in large volume has never been tested in court. Such a provision will give the patent holder a strong incentive to make a deal. Needless to say, the drug companies will oppose such a provision with everything they have, including a massive television ad campaign, threats and promises to lawmakers depending which side they take, and more. (V)

Biden Is Counting on Texas

While the four early caucus and primary states get a lot of attention, they actually choose very few delegates. Relatively unknown candidates hope to make a splash in one of more of the early states and then catch fire, but the better-known candidates are already thinking about winning delegates. In particular, Joe Biden is thinking a lot about Texas. He went there on Friday to campaign in San Antonio and get the endorsement of some of the local politicos, including former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger.

Biden realizes that with Beto O'Rourke out of the race and Julián Castro close to being out of the race, Texas' 220 pledged delegates are up for grabs. This total is second only to California's. A recent CNN poll showed him with a 20-point lead in the Lone Star State, which could translate into a lot of delegates, especially since Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren are right on the cusp of 15%, and could get shut out in many districts. Biden's appeal is to moderate older white voters, something Texas has in abundance, so it makes sense for him to go after those votes. In fact, some polls even show him running even with Donald Trump in general election matchups, although it seems improbable that Texas will turn blue in 2020. (V)

Fox News Poll: Half the Country Wants Trump Removed from Office

A Fox News poll released yesterday shows that 50% of Americans want Donald Trump impeached and removed from office, 4% want him impeached but not removed, and 41% don't even want him impeached. Not surprisingly, the results break down along partisan lines, with 85% of Democrats in favor of removal and 84% of Republicans against it. However, support for removal among independents grew from 38% to 45% since the last poll. On the other hand, Trump's approval rating went up 3 points to 45% now.

These results are almost the same as Fox News' poll a month ago, when 49% wanted Trump to go. That means all the hearings in the House from over a dozen witnesses had almost no effect on public opinion. As long as the vast majority of Republicans want to keep Trump, it is hard to imagine many Republican senators voting to convict him at an expected trial. However, a "not guilty" vote from Republican Sens. Cory Gardner (CO), Martha McSally (AZ), Susan Collins (ME), and Thom Tillis (NC) could potentially mean the end of their Senate careers as of Jan. 2021. This puts them between a rock and a hard place, because Democrats in those states will be infuriated by a vote to acquit and will turn out in large numbers. (V)

Judge Orders 234,000 Wisconsin Voters to Be Purged from the Rolls

In October, the Wisconsin State Elections Commission sent hundreds of thousands of voters a letter asking them if they were still at their registered address, and if not, where they had moved to. They had 30 days to reply. A large percentage of the letters went to people who live in Milwaukee and to college towns, both Democratic strongholds.

Not surprisingly, the matter went to court and on Friday, Judge Paul Malloy ordered the state to remove up to 234,000 people from the voting rolls, meaning they cannot vote in 2020 unless they re-register. Many of them don't even know they are going to be removed and so won't re-register.

The ruling will be appealed, but the Judge refused to stay it until the appeal can be heard. This is fairly unusual, since if the appeals court overturns his ruling, it may be hard to undo the removals. In principle, the state has to start removing the names now. The Wisconsin secretary of state, Doug La Follette, is a Democrat, and it will be his responsibility to determine how to carry out the order. If he wants to slow down the process, he could conceivably claim that he doesn't have the personnel to do this and ask the state legislature to appropriate extra funds to hire people to carry out the judge's order. If it does so, Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) could veto the bill, leading to another court case. So far, La Follette hasn't commented on the case. (V)

New Voters Are Not Like Old Voters

Axios has conducted a study of young voters who will be eligible to vote for the first time in 2020. The demographics of the new voters differs substantially from voters 22 and older, who were eligible to vote in 2016. They are less white (53%, vs. 63% of older voters), more Latino (24% vs. 16%), and more black (14% vs 12%). Together with the millennials, they will comprise 37% of the eligible voters in 2020. All of this spells good news for the Democrats, since minorities skew highly Democratic.

However, there is also some bad news here for the Democrats. Note that we put "eligible" in italics in the previous paragraph. That is not because we love that font so much. In practice, young voters have a dreadful turnout record. What counts is not how many voters are eligible to vote, but how many actually vote. In 2016, voters under 30 turned out at a rate of 46% while among seniors (age 65+) it was 71%. Seniors skew Republican. So unless younger voters suddenly decide that voting is cool, the amount of damage the Republicans sustain from changing demographics may not be so much. (V)

Pompeo Opens a Personal Twitter Account

The writing is on the wall/monitor/phone and it says: "Mike Pompeo will run for the Senate in Kansas." Pompeo has opened a personal Twitter account (separate from his account as secretary of state). Why might he need this? A source close to Pompeo said he "needed to set up a personal Twitter account for future plans." The only future plan that might require a personal account is his running for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is vacating in Jan. 2021.

Mitch McConnell desperately wants Pompeo to run because if he doesn't, the Republican nomination will probably go to firebrand Kris Kobach, the only Republican in all of Kansas who could lose a Senate election in a state where no Democrat has been elected to the Senate in over 80 years. While Donald Trump hasn't ground up and spit out Pompeo yet, he does understand the importance of holding the seat, and would probably be happy to see him run for it. So in short, the odds are very great that Pompeo is in and will be the next senator from Kansas. (V)

Jefferson Takes a Stand

Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D?-NJ) is a man who knows what is important, just like his namesake, Thomas Jefferson. And what is important for a congressman is being reelected. Since his district (NJ-02) leans slightly Republican (PVI R+1), Van Drew will announce this week that henceforth he is a Republican and will vote against impeaching Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Van Drew said: "It was supposed to be bipartisan, it was supposed to be incontrovertible. It was supposed to be something that was always on the rarest of circumstances. Well, it's not bipartisan." He didn't mention that it is not bipartisan because Republicans are willfully ignoring evidence in front of their eyes, including the redacted transcript of the infamous July 25th phone call.

Republicans have been very excited about welcoming a new member to their caucus. His popularity might last a whole week, because once the vote happens, he will be just another Republican backbencher, and one who is not really trusted to boot.

The reason Van Drew switched teams is polling that shows that only 28% of Democrats in his district want to see him as their nominee in 2020. In other words, the chances that he would be primaried successfully were fairly high. Now as a Republican, he hopes he won't be primaried, but he is going to be disappointed. Since there is no Republican incumbent and NJ-02 is a swing district, three Republicans have already filed to run in the Republican primary. One of them is wealthy businessman David Richter, who can self-fund. Undoubtedly, one or more of the other Republicans in the mix will start saying to the GOP voters: "Why vote for a fake Republican when you can have a real one?" And even if Van Drew manages to pull the nomination out of the fire, he will have to compete with some Democrat in the general election in an R+1 district.

In short, it is doubtful that this move actually increased his chances of being reelected because local Democrats are furious with him and Republicans will see him as an opportunist and turncoat. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec15 Sunday Mailbag
Dec14 Supreme Court to Take Up Trump Taxes
Dec14 House Judiciary Committee Makes it Official
Dec14 Saturday Q&A
Dec13 No Articles of Impeachment, Yet
Dec13 Democratic Primary Debate Dates Announced
Dec13 Beshear Restores Voting Rights to 140,000 Felons
Dec13 Senate Recognizes Armenian Genocide
Dec13 About that Trump Family Hypocrisy...
Dec13 Boris Johnson Wins Big
Dec13 Is the Third Time the Charm in Israel?
Dec12 House Judiciary Committee Debates Impeaching Trump
Dec12 Biden Might Serve Only One Term
Dec12 Biden Leads in California and Texas
Dec12 Bloomberg Donates $10 Million to Vulnerable House Democrats
Dec12 Senate Again Won't Pass Bill Fighting Foreign Meddling in U.S. Elections
Dec12 Horowitz Goes after Barr
Dec12 Republicans May Not Call Witnesses at the Impeachment Trial
Dec12 Powell Ignores Trump and Says Interest Rates Won't Drop in 2020
Dec12 Democrats Exploit Trump's Achilles Heel
Dec12 I Am Not a Crook: A Look at History's Most Scandalous Scandals, Part VII
Dec11 Democrats Unveil Two Articles of Impeachment
Dec11 Federal Judge Bars Major Source of Wall Funding
Dec11 Trump to Declare Judaism a Nationality
Dec11 Buttigieg Releases Client List
Dec11 Yang Makes Cut for the Seventh Debate
Dec11 Rep. Ted Yoho Will Retire
Dec11 Brits Head to the Polls Tomorrow
Dec10 Impeachy Keen
Dec10 Horowitz Releases His Report
Dec10 Full Speed Ahead on NAFTA v2.0
Dec10 Buttigieg-Warren Spat Looks to Be Winding Down
Dec10 Another Bush Enters the Fray
Dec10 Top Cop Slams Top Senators
Dec10 The Wrong Side of History
Dec09 Judiciary Committee Issues Report Describing the Impeachment Process
Dec09 How to Fix the Impeachment Process
Dec09 Trump Appeals Tax Return Case to the Supreme Court
Dec09 Warren and Buttigieg Are Fighting with Each Other
Dec09 Booker Rakes in Big Bucks
Dec09 Maine Group Launches Massive Campaign against Collins
Dec09 North Carolina Congressman Won't Run in 2020
Dec09 Duncan Hunter to Resign from Congress
Dec09 Dixville Notch May Not Go First
Dec08 Sunday Mailbag
Dec07 Saturday Q&A
Dec06 Pelosi Marches Forward
Dec06 Joe Loses His Cool
Dec06 Kim Promises "Christmas Gift"
Dec06 Warren Has Definitely Fallen Off