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House Democrats Reckon with Diminished Majority

The Window for Trump Is Closing

Developments in the past few days don't look good for Donald Trump, who still falsely maintains that he was reelected. Here are some of them:

  • Georgia: On Friday, Georgia state officials certified the vote in the presidential election in accordance with state law. Joe Biden won by 12,670 votes out of about 5 million cast and thus gets all 16 of Georgia's electoral votes. Needless to say, Trump didn't accept the results, even though Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is a conservative Republican. Trump demanded a second recount. Under Georgia law, he is entitled to a second one, even though the vote has already been certified. However, unlike the first recount, this one will be a machine recount and does not involve checking the signatures on the envelopes. It will begin today. It is very unlikely that many votes will flip, and certainly nowhere near 12,670.

  • Michigan: Also on Friday, the leaders of the Michigan state legislature, Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) visited the White House at the President's request. The lawmakers took the opportunity to ask Trump for COVID-19 relief funds for their state. After the meeting, they issued a statement saying: "We have not been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan." (English translation: "No, Mr. President, we are not going to overrule the voters and pick our own slate of electors.") Trump was not happy, so on Saturday he tweeted:

    Please forgive us, but we think that if Trump had such evidence, it might have been a good idea to reveal it at the moment the two leaders of the Michigan legislature were in his office. He obviously didn't. The Michigan Board of State Canvassers meets today to certify the vote. If one of the Republicans on the board refuses to certify, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) has the power to replace that person.

  • Nevada: In Nevada, conservative activist and former U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who wants to end Social Security, the IRS, and Fannie Mae, and who believes that abortions cause breast cancer, filed a lawsuit to stop Nevada from certifying the final election tally. Angle claimed that possibly up to 8,000 people voted who should not have. On Friday, Judge Gloria Sturman heard the case and asked Angle's attorney: "You are asking me to throw out 1.4 million votes on the chance that somewhere between 250 and 8,000 people should not have voted?" Sturman was not impressed with the lawyer's answer and tossed the case. Certification will happen tomorrow.

  • Wisconsin: Trump asked Wisconsin to recount two counties, Milwaukee and Dane. Given Trump's reluctance to pay his bills, the Wisconsin secretary of state asked for, and got, the required payment of about $3 million in advance. The recount started Friday. In Dane County, Trump's lawyer asked the board of canvassers to throw out all of the more than 60,000 absentee ballots. The board rejected the request. Recounting may continue until Dec. 1, when the result must be certified. In 2016, there was a statewide recount. The difference between the original tally and the second one was 131 votes. Currently Biden leads Trump by 20,600 votes.

  • Pennsylvania: On Saturday evening, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that Trump's request to throw out the election had no basis in fact and that certification of the vote could take place today, as planned. However, Trump plans to appeal. Once the Pennsylvania vote is certified, along with Georgia's, it's pretty much game over for Trump. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said that the outcome of this court case and others "confirm that Joe Biden won the 2020 election." Toomey then congratulated Biden and Kamala Harris on their victories. If Biden is smart he will graciously thank Toomey for his courage—and then offer him the cabinet position of his choosing so that Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) can replace him with a Democrat. Given the difficulty the Democrats face in winning both Georgia runoffs, that has to be worth it for Biden. Whether Toomey—who has said he will not run for reelection in 2022—would take it is not known, but it seems to us that it is worth asking. Putting a Republican senator in the cabinet would also demonstrate Biden's bipartisan bona fides to many voters who don't follow the details of politics.

The only other state where Trump hoped to reverse the results is Arizona. His campaign withdrew its lawsuit there last Thursday because election officials noted that even if Trump won, it would change at most 200 votes, which is not enough to reverse Biden's 11,034-vote lead. So within a few days, we are likely to have certification in enough states that there is no way for Trump to change the outcome of the election. (V)

Senate Republicans Signal That Biden Can Pick His Own Cabinet

Fears that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would tell Joe Biden that unless he (McConnell) got to pick half the cabinet, he wouldn't bring the nominees up for a vote, may have been overblown. A number of Senate Republicans are now quietly signaling that they will vote for Biden's nominees. A couple of them have even gone public. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said he believes "a president ought to pick his or her Cabinet, barring someone who is out of the mainstream of either party." This gives Romney space to vote against someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). This may actually help Biden because he can now go to progressive Democrats and say: "I'd love to nominate your favorite, but I can't get her confirmed so I won't." Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) gives presidents "great latitude" to make appointments. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said: "All presidents have a right to their Cabinet." So as long as Biden avoids outspoken progressives, the 48 Democrats plus these three Republicans mean Biden can have the Cabinet he wants. Of course, if the Democrats win one of the Georgia runoffs, he won't need as much Republican support and might be able to get a couple of progressives confirmed. If they win both, he won't need any Republican support, as long as he can keep Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on board. Manchin is very pro-coal miner's union, so he would be happy with a progressive secretary of labor, but not so happy with an aggressive head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The last time a newly elected president faced an opposition Senate was in 1988, when George H.W. Bush won the White House but Democrats had a Senate majority. Bush kept part of Ronald Reagan's cabinet, thus avoiding some potential fights but his choice of John Tower for Secretary of Defense was rejected by the Senate. The Senate is far more polarized now than it was then, so Biden has to walk a fine line between giving the progressives nominees they like and getting them through the Senate. (V)

Ten Things Biden Can Do without Senate Approval

It's nice that Joe Biden can probably get most of his cabinet approved, but bipartisanship could well end when all the secretaries (and maybe the deputy secretaries) are confirmed. Forget about judges and legislation unless the Democrats win both Georgia Senate runoffs, in which case President-of-the-Senate-elect Kamala Harris will have something to do all day. Still, if they can win one of the two races, the Republicans will have a bare 51-49 majority and from time to time, there may be a bill on something which a single Republican is willing to side with the Democrats, allowing it to pass. But if the Republicans win both Senate races, it will be very tough for Joe Biden to get anything in his program passed. Oh, and don't forget that Joe Manchin opposes abolishing the filibuster. Normally, when one senator is an obstacle, he can be bought off by giving him something important. But for Manchin, everything important is covered in coal dust, which will choke the rest of the party.

Nevertheless, there are important things that Biden can do that do not require Senate approval. With a Republican-controlled Senate, he may be forced to focus on these. Here is a brief list of them:

  • Fight Climate Change: One symbolic thing Biden can do on Day 1 is rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Actually carrying the Accord out requires some actions that Congress has to approve, but there are things Biden can do on his own as well. There are over 125 environmental rules that Donald Trump unilaterally killed that Biden could unilaterally unkill. For example, he could allow California (and other states) to set stricter emission rules for cars. If most of the blue states also do that, the car companies are going to find it easier to have one (clean) model nationwide rather than two models, one for blue states and one for red states. Biden could use the federal government's procurement system, which spends $500 billion a year, to require all products to be energy efficient. He could require that some fraction of new vehicles purchased use biofuels. He could ban oil and gas exploration on federal land, and a lot more.

  • Forgive Student Debt: More than 92% of student debt is owned by the federal government. Using a 1965 law, he could forgive all or part of it or reduce or eliminate interest on it. Doing so would be enormously popular with former students who are struggling to pay it off. They would be very grateful and would not forget this quickly. On the other hand, most student debt is held by people who went to college. Blue-collar workers who didn't go to college and have no student debt (but might have other kinds of debt) will be very angry with people they see as elite getting a freebie. Of course, doing something that your base likes and your opponents don't is a practice that Donald Trump turned into a fine art. Now the shoe is on the other foot and Biden can surely remind his critics of things like Trump giving farmers free money so they wouldn't be hurt by his own (trade) policies.

  • Expand Immigration: Trump set the cap on accepting refugees at 15,000 per year. Biden has promised to raise that to 125,000. Also on the immigration front, no more Muslim bans, no more children separated from their parents and put in cages, no more wealth test for green-card applicants, and more. He could protect dreamers from being deported. Creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would require an act of Congress, though.

  • Ease the Ban on Marijuana: Growing, buying, selling, and using marijuana are illegal under federal law, even in states that have repealed state laws against the evil weed. The federal government has five categories (schedules) of drugs, depending on how dangerous they are. Currently, heroin and marijuana are schedule 1, meaning extremely dangerous and harmful. The president cannot move marijuana to a higher schedule on his own, but together with the AG and secretary of HHS, the administration could start the process. Part of that would be to run trials to see if it has medical value, which would make it easier to move to a higher schedule, or become unscheduled, like acetaminophen. And of course, the AG could decide that prosecuting marijuana offenders has extremely low priority compared to, say, prosecuting former cabinet officials.

  • Roll Back Trump's Rules on Pollution: Air pollution kills an estimated 250,000 Americans every year, so it is right up there with COVID-19. The administration could enforce existing laws on air pollution vigorously, hitting offenders with huge fines. Another area it could prioritize is cracking down on lead pollution. There is no safe level of lead in the environment since lead doubles the risk of heart disease and causes neurological damage, including lowering IQ. Again, the administration could go after lead polluters and hit them with massive fines, changing the risk-reward ratio of companies that discharge lead into the environment.

  • Cut Back on Factory Farming: Trump recently speeded up processing lines at chicken plants, something that endangers workers there. Biden could slow them down. He could also reinstate speed limits at pig processing plants. He could also sign executive orders to restore many of the exemptions to labor, animal welfare, and climate rules Trump bestowed on factory farms. These actions would probably reduce the number of animals slaughtered every year, which could also raise some food prices. Biden could also change the rules on fishing to protect the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna and decrease hunting of wolves and bears.

  • Create a Postal Banking System: Here's a big one. How about the Postal Service providing low-cost banking to compete with the big banks? Some of this can be done without new legislation, like the USPS offering a "postal card" that would function like a refillable prepaid debit card. The Postmaster General could probably create such a thing on his own. Needless to say, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy would never approve of such a thing. However, three seats on the USPS board of governors are currently vacant and two more will become vacant in the next two years. If Biden were to fill them with pro-postal banking advocates, they could fire DeJoy and then Biden could nominate a pro-postal banking PG. Alternatively, the AG could take a really good look at whether DeJoy violated any election laws when he slowed down the mail and if so, prosecute him. Plea bargaining could get interesting there.

  • Crack Down on Wall Street: The Biden justice department could go after the big banks, using the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act or even long-standing antitrust law. Dodd-Frank forces the big banks to set up plans for their orderly dissolution in the event of a crisis. Biden could require execution of these plans, making the banks divest themselves of some lines of business. He could also invoke the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 to force divestitures if the government considered the bank to be a threat to the stability of the financial system. Biden could also get the comptroller of the currency to tighten the definition of "banking," and force the big banks to get out of commodities and derivatives. Current law gives federal officials plenty of power to tighten the screws on the banks. All that is needed is the will to do it. In addition, Biden could repeal rule 10b-18, which allows public companies to buy back their own stock. Doing so raises the stock price and thus rewards investors. Before rule 10b-18 was enacted, stock buybacks were considered illegal stock manipulation.

  • Go after Monopolies: The Sherman Antitrust Act goes back to 1890, but how aggressively it is enforced depends on who is in power. Many Democrats would love to see the government break up Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and perhaps other tech companies. The administration could ban future mergers in the hospital, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries and maybe go after and break up some of the larger current players. The administration could also go after concentrations of power in the agricultural sector. In many areas, farmers are effectively forced to sell their products to a single entity that can set the price at will. Breaking up some of these Big Ag companies might actually win Biden some friends among people in rural areas, otherwise known as Republicans.

  • Expand Access to Health Care: Biden could have the government make a big effort to get people to enroll in the ACA, something Trump tried to discourage. For example, he could extend the enrollment period. There is also an IRS rule that states that people whose employer offers a health-care plan are ineligible to apply for ACA subsidies—even if the employer's plan is genuinely crummy. Biden could have the IRS repeal that rule, which would make 2-6 million people eligible for ACA subsidies. Biden could also give states more power to create their own health-care plans.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. In his first week as president, Biden could make huge changes to the government simply by repealing every one of Donald Trump's executive orders. Then once the Cabinet was in place, the Cabinet officials could begin repealing all of the Trump Cabinet's (de)regulations and making their own regulations. None of this is wildly sexy, but combined, executive orders and rule making can affect a lot of areas and people. (V)

Many Republicans Believe that Trump Was Cheated Out of Victory

Reuters recently interviewed 50 people who voted for Donald Trump—effectively a largish focus group—to see how they are taking the news that Joe Biden won the election. In short: All of them said the election was rigged or otherwise illegitimate. And only 20 of the 50 said if proof were forthcoming that the election was honest, they might consider accepting Biden as the president.

Most of the people interviewed repeated debunked conspiracy theories that Trump has expounded. For example, some said that millions of Trump votes were switched by computers, poll workers, or hackers. Many of them formed their opinions by watching Newsmax or One America News Network, which have amplified Trump's false claims. Some have boycotted Fox News because it has called the election for Biden and some of its news anchors have been skeptical of Trump's claims of fraud.

Indeed, Fox is losing viewers to OANN and Newsmax. Charles Herring, president of OANN said that the network has had 3 weeks of record ratings. Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a friend of Trump's, said that viewership has exploded since the election. The channel is now getting 3 million viewers per night on cable television and video streaming over the Internet.

What do Trump voters have to say? Raymond Fontaine, a hardware store owner in Connecticut, said that Biden's vote total makes no sense because Biden didn't campaign and seems to be in mental decline. Janet Hedrick, a former teacher in West Virginia, said: "There's millions and millions of Trump votes that were just thrown out. That computer was throwing them out." Rory Wells, a New Jersey lawyer, said: "I like that I get to hear from Rudy Giuliani and others who are not immediately discounted as being crazy." Mayor Jonathan Strickland of Sundown, TX, said: "There's no way in hell Biden won fairly." The only way he'll believe it is if Trump himself says so.

Asked by the Reuters reporter if Trump might just be duping his followers, Caleb Fryar, who is conducting firearms training in Texas in case civil war breaks out, said: "If I'm being manipulated by Trump...then he is the greatest con man that ever lived in America." There you have it. Stop saying that Trump supporters don't know what they are talking about. (V)

Parler Has Become the Hot New Destination for the MAGA Set

As should be clear from the item above, a lot of Republicans don't like the regular facts. They prefer alternative facts. Unfortunately for them (see first item above) Twitter sometimes labels Donald Trump's lies as such. Even Facebook, which is more Trump friendly than Twitter, has tried to clean up its act a little bit. Trump and MAGAworld really don't like their lies being called out, so they are rapidly migrating to a Twitter competitor, Parler, which advertises itself as defending free speech. By that it implies there is no content moderation, so lies, right-wing propaganda, racism, anti-semitism, and all forms of hate speech are common, tolerated, and not flagged in any way. This is partly true, but is also partly slick marketing; while Parler allows a lot of stuff that Twitter won't, it also has limits (no posts encouraging terrorism or marijuana legalization, for example), and it also forbids certain things that Twitter does not (swearing and pornographic images, for example). The service, which was largely funded by right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, has 10 million users, including the Proud Boys, QAnon supporters, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and increasingly many Trump supporters who are tired of Twitter flagging their lies. Extremism expert Chip Berlet said of founder and CEO John Matze: "He's encouraging people who basically don't like other folks in the country...this is a place for people to fester in their own bigotry."

Hashtags like #Dominion, #QAnon, and #Sharpiegate trend freely and stories with baseless allegations about voter fraud are not flagged. It has become a consequence-free echo chamber that confirms everyone's worldview that a rigged system gave Biden a win and leftist thugs are taking to the streets to make sure no one can stop him. It is a safe space for right-wingers who complain about leftists as snowflakes who need safe spaces. Many of the millions of new Parler users are former Twitterers who have been kicked out for hate speech or other violations of Twitter's terms and conditions.

As more extreme right-wingers move over to Parler, the net effect will tend to make Twitter the place to spout off for Democrats and Parler the place for extreme far-right Republicans, with no obvious place for moderate Republicans. So far, Trump is still on Twitter, but if he leaves and goes to Parler, there will be two parallel universes, each with its own worldview and set of facts, with no overlap between them.

However, there are some significant downsides to Parler for Trump in particular, and for any would-be users in general. The platform has only a tiny fraction of the reach of Twitter, and just about zero reach beyond folks who are already members of the choir. That's fine if you just want affirmation and ego-stroking, but it's not too helpful if you're trying to mount a political campaign. Further, Parler requires a valid cell phone number to create an account (for most other social media sites, it's optional). When you sign up, Parler sends a confirmation code that is needed to complete registration to the phone, so using a fake number won't work. That should be a bright, red flashing warning sign that the site is substantially a grift designed to harvest and sell working cell phone numbers. That said, if you want to get a dozen spam calls a day offering you Alex Jones products, then go ahead and sign up. (V & Z)

Democrats' Latino Problem is Bigger than Just Florida and Texas

Last week we had a story on how Joe Biden did worse than Hillary Clinton in Miami-Dade County and also in South Texas. The former can be somewhat explained due to the large Cuban-American community there. The latter can be explained due to the fact that many of the Tejanos in South Texas come from families that have been there for hundreds of years and don't identify at all with recent immigrants from Mexico, especially not undocumented ones.

As more data comes in, it now appears that the Democrats' problem is much bigger than those two states. In 78 of the country's 100 majority-Latino counties, Trump did better in 2020 than he did in 2016. He also did better in the top 10 battleground states. Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia and Mexican Americans in Milwaukee also moved toward Trump this time.

Part of his gain is no doubt because in 2016 he attacked Mexicans as rapists and made building a wall on the southern border and opposing immigration in all forms the centerpiece of his campaign. He didn't do that in 2020. Maybe the Latinos forgot because these issues weren't in the news. Or maybe they thought he had mellowed (unlikely).

Politico interviewed over a dozen experts on Latino voting patterns and came to the conclusion that Latinos largely identify as blue collar, not as Latino. Interestingly, 97% of Latinos never use "Latinx" as a term. This is an invention of white activists who prize political correctness above all else. One Latino interviewed said "What is this garbage? It's a thing from academia that isn't relevant to people." Many Latinos view Democrats as moralistic snobs: No one wants to come home after a long day of work to be wokesplained that they need to change their language.

What many Latinos prize is pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps and owning your own business. What they don't like is socialism, the boycott of Goya Foods, and defunding the police. That language just doesn't speak to them. But even in Latino-heavy districts where socialism is not a bugaboo (like that of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY) Trump did better this time than in 2016, getting 29% of the vote this time (vs. 20% last time). On the other hand, Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-CA) lost to an opponent who ran on a platform of opposing socialized medicine and whose mailers included a photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

During the Black Lives Matter protests, the Trump campaign discovered that Latinos were almost as receptive as whites to a pro-police and pro-jobs message, so they pushed these, both in English and Spanish.

This revelation has important implications going forward. Democrats tend to play identity politics—my tribe against your tribe. In contrast, Republicans are moving toward class politics—the working class against the elites. This is more than a little ironic, of course, since the people who actually run the Republican Party, and to whom it really responds are millionaire and billionaire donors. But on cultural issues (abortion, guns, gay rights, the military, etc.) Latinos are much closer to the Republicans than they are to the Democrats. One of the few "Democrats" who gets the identity vs. class thing is Bernie Sanders, and he's not actually a Democrat (what's the opposite of a DINO? An ONID?).

In short, with respect to Latinos, one size definitely does not fit all and Democrats need to recognize that they need to talk to different groups in different states in different ways. And perhaps even more, Latinos tend to identify as working class more than they identify as "Latino." Getting their respect and votes will require a different approach in the future. (V)

The Cabinet Is Leaking

President-elect Joe Biden plans to announce some of his cabinet choices tomorrow. Actually, that is too late. They are already leaking out. D.C. is not very good at keeping secrets. Three people have told Bloomberg News that Antony Blinken (58) will be the new secretary of state. Linda Thomas-Greenfield (68) will be named ambassador to the United Nations and the post will be returned to cabinet-level status, which it had until Donald Trump degraded it. Finally, Jake Sullivan (43) will be the new NSA (which is a key foreign policy position but is not part of the cabinet).

Blinken has a bachelor's degree from Harvard and a J.D. from Columbia. He has worked closely with Biden for 20 years, including a stint as the top staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was a deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration. Blinken is a strong believer in global alliances and will immediately throw Donald Trump's "America First" policy into the dustbin of history. He will have his work cut out for him telling America's friends in the world that America is back and you can trust her. He will also have some choice words for America's enemies.

Sullivan has a bachelor's degree and a J.D. from Yale. In 2008, he helped prep Hillary Clinton for the primary debates and Barack Obama for the general election debates. When Clinton became secretary of state, Sullivan became her deputy chief of staff and traveled with her to 112 countries. He also helped negotiate the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Thomas-Greenfield has a bachelor's degree from Louisiana State and a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has held many foreign policy positions for 35 years, including ambassador, director general of the foreign service, and deputy assistant secretary of state. She also has the honor of being fired by Donald Trump in 2017. She will be the second Black woman to serve as U.N. ambassador (Susan Rice was the first).

From these three appointments, it is already clear that Biden's criteria for choosing high-level officials is going to be knowledge and experience in the field, not willingness to toady up to the president or advance his interests. People who were hoping to upset the applecart with wild picks, like an oil company executive as secretary of state, are going to be disappointed. (V)

Do the Republicans Have a Small-State Advantage in the Electoral College?

It is widely said that Republicans have a big advantage in the Electoral College. The poster child that is generally trotted out is Wyoming, which has 579,000 people and 3 EVs, or one EV per 193,000 residents. This in contrast to California, with 55 EVs for 39 million people, or 1 EV per 709,000 residents. How big is this effect actually? Let's take a look at the states, sorting them by EVs:

State EVs Winner Dem EVs GOP EVs Cum. Dem Cum. GOP
Alaska 3 GOP   3 0 3
D.C. 3 Dem 3   3 3
Delaware 3 Dem 3   6 3
Montana 3 GOP   3 6 6
North Dakota 3 GOP   3 6 9
South Dakota 3 GOP   3 6 12
Vermont 3 Dem 3   9 12
Wyoming 3 GOP   3 9 15
Hawaii 4 Dem 4   13 15
Maine 4 Dem 3 1 16 16
New Hampshire 4 Dem 4   20 16
Rhode Island 4 Dem 4   24 16
Idaho 4 GOP   4 24 20
Nebraska 5 GOP 1 4 25 24
New Mexico 5 Dem 5   30 24
West Virginia 5 GOP   5 30 29
Arkansas 6 GOP   6 30 35
Iowa 6 GOP   6 30 41
Kansas 6 GOP   6 30 47
Mississippi 6 GOP   6 30 53
Nevada 6 Dem 6   36 53
Utah 6 GOP   6 36 59
Connecticut 7 Dem 7   43 59
Oklahoma 7 GOP   7 43 66
Oregon 7 Dem 7   50 66
Kentucky 8 GOP   8 50 74
Louisiana 8 GOP   8 50 82
Alabama 9 GOP   9 50 91
Colorado 9 Dem 9   59 91
South Carolina 9 GOP   9 59 100
Maryland 10 Dem 10   69 100
Minnesota 10 Dem 10   79 100
Missouri 10 GOP   10 79 110
Wisconsin 10 Dem 10   89 110
Arizona 11 Dem 11   100 110
Indiana 11 GOP   11 100 121
Massachusetts 11 Dem 11   111 121
Tennessee 11 GOP   11 111 132
Washington 12 Dem 12   123 132
Virginia 13 Dem 13   136 132
New Jersey 14 Dem 14   150 132
North Carolina 15 GOP   15 150 147
Georgia 16 Dem 16   166 147
Michigan 16 Dem 16   182 147
Ohio 18 GOP   18 182 165
Illinois 20 Dem 20   202 165
Pennsylvania 20 Dem 20   222 165
Florida 29 GOP   29 222 194
New York 29 Dem 29   251 194
Texas 38 GOP   38 251 232
California 55 Dem 55   306 232

If you look first at the seven states and D.C. with 3 EVs, indeed the Republicans came out ahead 15 EVs to 9. But if we now also include the five states with 4 EVs, the Democrats are ahead 25 to 15. Now let's add in the three states with 5 EVs. The Democrats are still ahead slightly, 30 to 29. Now if we throw in states with 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 EVs, the Republicans take the lead. But once we get to Virginia with 13 EVs, the Democrats take the lead again and keep it until the end.

So it is not quite true to say the smallest states are the ones powering the Republicans. It's the 6-12 EV states where the Republicans take the lead, though they lose it again at 13 EVs. Kentucky is the midpoint in the table. It is true in the states above Kentucky, 10 are blue and 15 are red. Cumulatively in those states, the Republicans have a 16-point edge. But in the bigger states (below Kentucky) the score is 15 blue and 10 red. When we add in Kentucky, the Republicans win 26 to 25.

Another way to look at this is among the 13 smallest states (the 3s and 4s), the Republicans have an advantage 7 to 6. However, among the 13 biggest states, the Democrats win 9 to 4. All things considered, it's better to win the big states than the small ones.

It's also worth noting that the founding parents didn't design this system to help the Republicans. After all, the Party wasn't even formed until 1854. And the map wasn't always like it is now. Here is the 1976 election map: 1976 electoral-vote map

As you can see, things were a tad different then, with Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Virginia, and most of New England Republican, while the South was solidly Democratic. In fact, between 1976, which was a competitive election with Jimmy Carter beating Jerry Ford 297 to 240, and 2020, 28 states flipped. Stuff changes. (V)

What's Next for Trump?

Donald Trump is addicted to power and especially publicity. Quietly exiting the scene stage right to paint like George W. Bush, run an actual charitable foundation like Bill Clinton, or build houses like Jimmy Carter, is not in the cards for 45. So what will he do when Joe Biden has the lock on the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue changed and a "No Trespassing" sign posted?

Privately, Trump has been discussing a 2024 run with aides. He might even announce it this year. That would make it difficult for any other Republican to run in the "Trump lane," although it might not affect Republicans who want to restore Reaganism, such as Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD). Still, making a formal announcement would freeze out the Mikes (Pence and Pompeo) and maybe Nikki Haley, at least for now. Making an announcement doesn't necessarily mean Trump will run in 2024, though. He could change his mind at any time—for example if he were convicted of tax evasion, bank fraud, and/or insurance fraud, crimes that Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance is investigating.

If Trump announces a 2024 run, he will probably spend a lot of time attacking Joe Biden as sleepy, senile, and corrupt. But that effort might go down the drain if Biden doesn't run in 2024 and the Democrats nominate Kamala Harris or some governor or senator.

One thing that is certain is that Trump will continue tweeting and scaring the daylights out of Republican politicians. Suppose Biden and Mitch McConnell reach agreement on a major infrastructure bill that includes $50 billion to provide 1 Gbps Internet to everyone in rural Kentucky. And then Trump tweets: "SELLOUT. NO DEALS WITH SLEEPY SENILE BIDEN." Will Republican senators dare vote for the bill and risk the tweet of death? In this way, Trump can try to make sure Biden gets little accomplished so the Democrats have nothing to run on in 2024.

Trump can't spend all day tweeting, however, as he's got a problem that will take up at least some of his time and energy. He has over $400 million in loans due in the next few years and he has no cash in the bank. He is probably going to have high legal fees in the coming years as Vance, NY AG Letitia James, the IRS, and others close in on him. Fighting the lawsuits from Summer Zervos and E. Jean Carroll will also take money. Selling off money-losing properties at fire-sale prices is probably not something high on his agenda, so he needs lots of income, preferably without requiring much work. He could have someone ghostwrite a book for him and use it to stay in the news, get back at his enemies, and make money at the same time. Sounds like a winner. He could also give paid speeches to companies grateful for the help he provided them during his administration and he could also sell tickets to rallies. Monetizing his fame to raise $400 million is going to take some effort, though.

Confidants say that one thing he really wants is to get even with Fox News for blindly supporting him above all else for only 45 months. When Fox called Arizona for Biden, his love affair with Fox was over. It's total and complete subservience or you're in the doghouse. He could get a gig on OANN, Newsmax, or some other television channel where he could blast Fox, Biden, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and his other enemies to his heart's content. Insiders think joining forces with an existing right-wing network is more likely than starting a new one because: (1) an existing one would have to pay him big bucks and (2) starting a new one requires a lot of capital he doesn't have. Also arguing against starting a new network is that even if Trump had a program from 8 to 10 p.m. every night, he would need more "talent" for the other hours and he would be bidding against Fox, OANN, and Newsmax to get said talent. Also, the whole venture could go bankrupt, just like six of his earlier businesses, and potential financers certainly know that.

Fox is not the only enemy Trump has in his sights. He has also attacked two Republican governors, Brian Kemp (GA) and Mike DeWine (OH), for not backing his claims that he was robbed. Both of them are up for reelection in 2022. If Trump were to support primary challengers, that would cause the GOP to have bitter and expensive fights in two major states. If the governors won the primaries, Trump, who could win an Olympic gold medal in bearing grudges, might not support them in the general election, possibly giving Democrats a shot at winning the governors' mansions. That is especially problematical in Georgia if Stacey Abrams, who almost won in 2018, runs again.

In addition to interfering in these races, there are many other races up and down the ballot where Trump could support primary challenges to sitting Republicans and generally cause the Party a lot of headaches. He has already promised to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), for example. While the "out" party generally does well in the first midterm of a president's term, a series of bitter primaries that tear the Republicans apart could give the Democrats a needed boost in 2022.

One thing Trump needs to do is keep control of the Republican Party's apparatus. To do this, he has supported Ronna Romney McDaniel's bid for another term as chair of the RNC. She was a strong ally when he was president, but she is no Trumpist and her real loyalty is surely to the Party, and not to Trump personally. With Uncle Mitt blasting Trump on a regular basis now, she could easily decide that her uncle is right and go rogue on Trump. That could end up in a nasty fight, since other Republicans might feel obligated to defend her as titular head of the Republican Party. There are many known unknowns, not to mention unknown unknowns, and you know what they say about the best-laid plans of rodents and people. (V)

Squad, Meet the Anti-Squad

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other women of color, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), known collectively as the Squad, got disproportionately more attention than four junior House members normally get. They're going to get some competition shortly. Rep.-elect Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), whose mother emigrated from Cuba, is forming an anti-squad of first term Republican House members hostile to socialism. Besides herself, they include María Elvira Salazar (FL), Carlos Giménez (FL), and Victoria Spartz (IN), all of whom are Republicans who don't like socialism one bit. Salazar and Giménez are Cuban Americans. Spartz grew up in Ukraine. Here are the two squads:

The two squads

Starting in January, the two squads will duke it out. Not a lot of sports have four players on a team. Polo anyone? Or perhaps some curling or baton relays? (V)

Loeffler Is Quarantining

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday and then had an inconclusive test on Saturday. She has no symptoms but is quarantining herself nevertheless. Needless to say, not being able to campaign during a hotly contested Senate runoff with Raphael Warnock is not what the doctor ordered.

Loeffler was on a bus with Mike Pence most of Friday and was near him and also with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and his cousin, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), at some events. She wore a mask part of the time in public, but may not have on the bus. The temperature in much of Georgia is in the 60s, so Loeffler had been holding her rallies outdoors, but many of the rally attendees were not masked and she could have picked up the virus from one of them or from someone on the bus. Her campaign hasn't said when she will be back on the trail. As a precaution, David Perdue is also in quarantine and not on the campaign trail either.

Yesterday, Ron Klain, Joe Biden's chief-of-staff-designate, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that Biden will campaign in Georgia for Loeffler's opponent, Raphael Warnock, and the Democrat in the other race, Jon Ossoff. Klain also said that the Biden campaign has already moved people down to Georgia to help the two Democrats.

While various Republican pooh-bahs are campaigning for Loeffler and Perdue, some Trump supporters are so angry with the Republicans who have congratulated Joe Biden as president-elect that they are calling for a boycott of the runoffs to punish the Party. This is like a terrorist who threatens to shoot himself if his demands aren't met. The protesters (on Parler) call the Republicans who think Biden won RINOs and worse. One post said victories of Warnock and Ossoff were a small price to pay to teach the Republicans a lesson. Many Democrats would have agreed had they been on Parler. (V)

Mark Walker Will Run for Burr's Senate Seat in 2022

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) will retire in 2022. An open Senate seat in a swing state will be a free for all. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) is expected to announce his entry into the race in December. Walker is #4 in the House Republican pecking order. Also noteworthy is the fact that White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, a former representative from North Carolina, has ruled out a run. No matter what happens in the two Georgia runoffs, the Senate will be closely divided, so an open seat in a swing state is going to be bitterly fought, no matter who the candidates are.

What makes Walker's announcement especially important is that Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is considering a run for the seat as well. She was born in North Carolina, went to school there, and graduated from North Carolina State University, so she won't be accused of being a carpetbagger. The big question is whether Trumpiness is contagious. What happens when a Trump-by-marriage runs against a genuinely conservative Republican like Walker? Will the Donald's endorsement be enough to carry his daughter in law, who has never run for public office, to victory over a three-term representative? If Walker gets the nomination (or if other Republicans enter the fray and one of them wins), what will that say about 2024? Could Eric (Lara's husband) run in 2024 and win?

If Lara loses, it suggests that Trumpiness is not contagious and you can't acquire it merely by being in the presence of Donald Trump (unlike COVID-19 and, we would guess, an STI or two). Of course, she is not a descendant of the current president, merely married to one, so if she loses, some people will explain it that way. Nevertheless, a match between a Trump and a very conservative non-Trump Republican might shed some light on the viability of the Trump clan in 2024. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov22 Sunday Mailbag
Nov21 Saturday Q&A
Nov20 Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
Nov20 Biden Manages the Best Transition He Can
Nov20 The "Deep State" Strikes Back
Nov20 Trump Plotting a Senate Run
Nov20 Senate Republicans Also Overperformed the Polls
Nov20 COVID-19 Diaries: Dark Days
Nov20 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of the Interior
Nov19 Seventeen Percent of Republicans Think Trump Should Concede the Election Now
Nov19 Biden Assembles a Team to Handle Senate Confirmation Battles
Nov19 The 2020 Election Was Closer Than the 2016 Election
Nov19 Cheapskate Trump Wants a Partial Recount of Wisconsin
Nov19 Will Trump Hamper Vaccine Distribution so Biden Won't Be Able to Deliver?
Nov19 Biden Has His Work Cut Out for Him Dealing with COVID-19
Nov19 The 2024 Presidential Race Has Started
Nov19 Chasing the Latino Vote Was Not a Good Idea
Nov19 House Democrats Have Chosen Their Leadership Team
Nov18 The Walls Continue to Close In on Trump
Nov18 Biden Unveils More of His White House Team
Nov18 Trump's Golden Fed Pick Turns to Lead
Nov18 Loeffler Will Debate Warnock
Nov18 Obama Makes It Official
Nov18 The Biden Cabinet: Attorney General
Nov18 Today's Senate Polls
Nov17 Trump's Legal "Strategy" Continues to Implode
Nov17 Trump Administration Announce Troop Drawdown
Nov17 We Have a (Second) Vaccine
Nov17 Democrats Headed Back to the Drawing Board on Messaging
Nov17 The Right-Wing Media Bubble Is about to Get More Complicated
Nov17 Nudity Less of a Problem in Philadelphia than Feared
Nov17 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Defense
Nov16 Trump Tweeted that Biden Won
Nov16 Trump Is Doubling Down on Legal Action
Nov16 Trump is Setting Booby Traps for Biden
Nov16 Why Didn't Biden Do Better in Cities?
Nov16 Georgia's Recount Is 30% Done and Nothing Has Changed
Nov16 The Battle for the Georgia Suburbs Is On
Nov16 Democrats Are about to Have a Civil War
Nov16 What about 2022?
Nov16 COVID-19 Could Help Biden
Nov16 Trump Overperformed the Polls
Nov15 Sunday Mailbag
Nov14 Saturday Q&A
Nov13 What Is Trump's Endgame?
Nov13 Stealing the Election Is Not Plausible
Nov13 Don't Count on a "Normal" Inauguration
Nov13 What Happened with Latino Voters?
Nov13 McDaniel Likely to Keep Her Job
Nov13 The Pandemic Rages, Unchecked