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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Biden's Next $2 Trillion "American Families Plan" Will Be Released This Week
      •  Redistricting Is Upon Us
      •  Biden Is Still Popular
      •  Poll: Reaction to Chauvin Verdict Is Partisan
      •  Walker Freezes Georgia
      •  Caitlyn Jenner Is Running for Governor of California
      •  Carter Beats Peterson in Louisiana
      •  The "Great Replacement Theory" Has It Backwards

Biden's Next $2 Trillion "American Families Plan" Will Be Released This Week

Joe Biden seems to like the number 2 trillion (or 2,000,000,000,000, or 2 × 1012 if you are into scientific notation). First came the $2-trillion COVID-relief plan, then the $2-trillion infrastructure plan. This week he will unveil the $2-trillion "American Families Plan."

If enacted, the plan will direct hundreds of billions of dollars to national child care, prekindergarten, paid family leave, free community college and other Democratic priorities, dragging the U.S., kicking and screaming, up to the level most other developed countries have been at for years. Much of the screaming will be from rich people and investors, who are going to bear the brunt of the funding and who are already starting to oppose it. Getting such a controversial bill through Congress will be 100x more difficult than getting the COVID-19 bill through and 10x harder than the (not yet passed) infrastructure bill. Republicans haven't seen the proposal yet, but we guarantee they will not be amused when they do. If Biden can get all of his bills through Congress (which will almost certainly require using the budget reconciliation process over and over), history will put JRB right up there with FDR and LBJ.

Getting the new bill through Congress will depend largely on Biden's ability to sell it to voters. The COVID bill was easy; many people were suffering economically from the pandemic and everyone saw that. The infrastructure bill will be a lot tougher, but even Republicans don't like driving over potholed roads and nobody likes LaGuardia Airport. But funding soft Democratic priorities like child care is a whole different ball of wax. Many Republicans believe that if you decide to have children, then you are responsible for taking care of them, not the government. The battle over it is going to be immense.

Here is a partial breakdown of where the money will theoretically go, but the sausage is being made as you read this, and what comes out of the other end might be quite different.

Amount Will pay for
$400 billion Child tax credit
$300 billion Education (including free community college)
$225 billion Child care
$225 billion Paid family and medical leave
$200 billion Prekindergarten school
$200 billion Additional subsidies for the Affordable Care Act

However radical these ideas may seem to Republicans, they have been standard for years in most European countries. The U.S. is the only wealthy nation with no paid maternity leave and one of about five wealthy nations with no paid paternity leave. If Biden emphasizes this point, he is going to get a lot of support from women who are or might become pregnant and men and women with a daughter who is or might become pregnant. The OECD rates the U.S. as the worst developed country for spending on families.

The problem with the bill isn't the bag of goodies. Even Republicans become pregnant. The problem is the funding. It is expected to include raising the top tax rate to 39.6%. Biden clearly is too chicken to go to 40%. The nutty 39.6% number goes back to a surtax Bill Clinton introduced in 1993. Historically, the top marginal tax rate has varied from 7% to 91%, so 39.6% isn't all that high historically. For example, the marginal rate was 91% during the Eisenhower administration and 50% during the first 6 years of the Reagan administration. But, of course, those were socialist presidents, so it was to be expected, right? (As an aside, the economy did quite well in the 1950s and 1980s, thank you very much.)

The plan also includes raising the corporate tax rate, raising the cap on the FICA tax, taxing capital gains at ordinary rates for people making more than $1 million and a higher estate tax, among other changes to the tax code. However, Congress can (and probably will) make lots of changes when the plan lands there. (V)

Redistricting Is Upon Us

The Census Bureau is expected to release the Big Nose Count this week. Once that is out there, the redistricters and gerrymanderers in 43 states will head off to their computers to start drawing the maps. Seven states are expected to have only one representative, so they can't join in the fun at the federal level. Still, there are state Houses and state Senates to gerrymander, even there. If you want to try your hand at gerrymandering, take a look at the instructions we provided in February.

With the House closely divided, every seat matters. Version 2.0 of Horace Greeley's (alleged) advice ("Go West, young man!") seems to be "Go South, young man!" In general, the Rust Belt is going to lose seats and the South is going to gain them. In particular, the big losers are going to be blue states in the North and the big winners are going to be red states in the South. To make it worse for the Democrats, the Republicans will control the redistricting almost everywhere that matters. New York is the only big state where the Democrats control the process and New York is going to lose one or two seats. Republicans control the process in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. The table below shows which party controls the process by state. In the states not listed, an independent commission draws the maps or there is only one district.

State Current Governor Senate House Control
Alabama 7 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Arkansas 4 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Connecticut 5 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
Florida 27 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Georgia 14 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Illinois 18 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
Indiana 9 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Kansas 4 Democratic (but override) Republican Republican Republican
Kentucky 6 Democratic (but override) Republican Republican Republican
Louisiana 6 Democratic Republican Republican  
Maine 2 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
Maryland 8 Republican (but override) Democratic Democratic Democratic
Massachusetts 9 Republican (but override) Democratic Democratic Democratic
Minnesota 8 Democratic Republican Democratic  
Mississippi 4 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Missouri 8 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Nebraska 3 Republican   Nonpartisan De facto Republican
Nevada 4 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
New Hampshire 2 Republican Republican Republican Republican
New Mexico 3 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
New York 27 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
North Carolina 13 Democratic (but no veto) Republican Republican Republican
Ohio 16 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Oklahoma 5 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Oregon 5 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
Pennsylvania 18 Democratic Republican Republican  
Rhode Island 2 Democratic Democratic Democratic Democratic
South Carolina 7 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Tennessee 9 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Texas 36 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Utah 4 Republican Republican Republican Republican
West Virginia 3 Republican Republican Republican Republican
Wisconsin 8 Democratic Republican Republican  

As you can see, in Kansas, the governor is a Democrat but the Republicans in the state legislature have the votes to override her veto. The reverse is true in Maryland and Massachusetts. All in all, Republicans are free to gerrymander all they want in 20 states and Democrats in just 10. In only four states (Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) will the parties have to negotiate in good faith because neither one controls the process. If any of them gain or lose seats, it will be a real mess.

It is pretty obvious that Republicans have a big advantage, probably enough to change control of the House unless there is a strong Democratic wave in 2022. There will be blood all over the floor throughout the Midwest, with Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania likely to lose seats.

An interesting peculiarity of the process is that there is a close battle between New York and Alabama for the 435th seat. If New York gets it, it will lose only one seat and Alabama will also lose one. If Alabama gets it, it will hold steady and New York will lose two. If the latter happens, the Democrats will make damn sure that two of the eight NY House Republicans will be kicked out of Congress. It is also possible, but slightly less likely, that either Florida or Texas could snag the last seat. Or maybe even Minnesota or Ohio. It's a game of inches, but with the House so closely divided, every inch matters.

It is likely that California will lose a seat for the first time ever. If that happens, it is hard to say which party will lose out, since an independent commission draws the map in California.

The new numbers may not affect the Electoral College so much, though. States that were won by 10 points or fewer had 203 electoral votes in 2020 and will probably have 206 in 2024. Nevertheless, the combination of the North losing seats, the South gaining seats, and the Republicans controlling the process almost everywhere that matters is certainly going to work to the Republicans' advantage. Of course in a Democratic wave in 2022, the blue team could still hold the House, but they will need a wave (at least, a small one) to stay in charge. (V)

Biden Is Still Popular

A new WaPo/ABC News poll has Joe Biden's approval rating at 52% and his disapproval at 42%. Compared to previous presidents close to the 100-day mark, this is worse than all previous presidents post-World War II except Donald Trump. The reason is the intense partisanship that dominates everything nowadays. It may be hard to believe, but none of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson had disapproval ratings above 10% at this point in their presidencies. Back in those days, almost everyone rooted for the president and wanted him to succeed. Now, independent of who is president, 45% of the country wants the president to fail miserably. Here are the numbers:

Presidential approval at 100-day mark since Truman

For the 14 presidents from Truman to today, the average approval was 66%. Nevertheless, Biden has won broad approval for his actions including the pandemic relief economic package (65%), handling of the pandemic itself (64%), the proposal to raise corporate taxes (58%), and the infrastructure package (52%). What drags him down is immigration, with just 37% approval. But that is a lose-lose battle for him. Republicans want him to simply refuse entry to everyone showing up at the border and Democrats want him to admit genuine refugees seeking asylum. There is no immigration policy that could possibly get majority approval.

A key indicator of why Biden isn't doing better than he is, despite good ratings on most of his policy issues, is that 48% of the voters want smaller government, fewer services, and lower taxes. This says that 48% of the people are fundamentally Republicans at heart, no matter how they vote. However, this is the smallest number on this question in 30 years of polling. The Reagan effect is slowly wearing off. Maybe government isn't the enemy after all.

The poll also poses a problem for Biden, with 60% saying he should seek bipartisan support for his legislation. But once again, keep in mind that most people do not understand that most Republican members of Congress don't want legislation and certainly don't want Biden to succeed. They want him to fail. Under these conditions, it is nearly impossible for him to work with Republicans since they are negotiating in bad faith. On the other hand, the COVID-19 relief bill is very popular, even though the Democrats rammed it through without a single Republican vote.

The reality is very few voters understand what is really going on, but they do like the results, even if they don't like the process. Biden has been around the track a couple of times and understands this perfectly well. This means that his best strategy is to act like he wants to work with the Republicans, invite them to the White House for tea and cookies often, and praise Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT) from time to time. But in the end, ram as much through the Senate as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough will allow. (V)

Poll: Reaction to Chauvin Verdict Is Partisan

Perhaps it is not surprising, but the reaction to the conviction of Derek Chauvin on murder and manslaughter charges breaks strongly along partisan (and also racial) lines. Among Democrats, 90% think the jury was right to convict Chauvin, with 10% disagreeing. Among Republicans, 54% think the jury got the right verdict and 46% think the jury blew it. Among all U.S. residents, 75% back the jury and 25% don't.

By race, there is also a big divide. 93% of Black folks think Chauvin is guilty while 7% think he is not. However, among white folks, it is 70% for guilty and 30% for not guilty.

The people who believe the jury got it wrong strongly disagree with the ideas of the Black Lives Matter movement. This group is largely male, white, and conservative. On the whole, 48% of Americans support the BLM movement, 38% oppose it, and 13% aren't sure what it is, exactly.

Views on local policing vary by race, with 39% of white people rating it as very good, 43% rating it as somewhat good, and 18% rating it as bad. Among Black people, the numbers are 17% very good, 53% somewhat good, and 30% bad. (V)

Walker Freezes Georgia

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is up for reelection in 2022 and Donald Trump wants former football player Herschel Walker to run for the job. Such is Trump's power that the Republican field is effectively frozen until Walker makes a decision about running. Walker doesn't even live in Georgia now (he lives in Texas), but he was born in Georgia, grew up there, and attended the University of Georgia, where he was a star athlete. Some consider him to be the greatest college football player in history.

However, not every Georgia Republican thinks Walker would be a great candidate. He was once very good at running on a football field, but running for public office requires different skills, which no one knows if he has. As a candidate, Walker, who is Black, is going to be asked what he thinks about Black Lives Matter. If he says "I hate 'em," there goes much of the Black vote, since his opponent is also Black. If he says "I love 'em" there goes much of the rural white vote, because many of those voters will stay home. It is clear now that Black candidates can win Senate seats in the South, since Warnock did it and so did Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), but that hardly makes Walker a shoo-in against a Black incumbent.

Walker doesn't seem to be in any hurry to make a decision, which is causing local Republicans to grumble as Warnock rakes in the money. Walker is going to need a lot of it because he is unlikely to clear the field. Most likely, former representative Doug Collins will enter the Republican primary and maybe former senator Kelly Loeffler as well. Collins is undoubtedly very miffed that the Georgia Republicans tried to sabotage him in 2020 because they thought all those suburban housewives would immediately identify with near-billionaire Loeffler, whose husband runs the New York Stock Exchange. He ran against the express wishes of the Georgia Party and could do it again. It could be a very nasty and expensive primary, so Walker will need a lot of money.

Trump's interest in Walker goes back to 1984, when Trump owned the New Jersey Generals football team, which was part of the now-defunct United States Football League. Walker was the star of the team. With Trump, the fact that he is "friends" with someone (to the extent that he actually has any friends) clouds his vision about who is electable and who is not.

Also a factor here is Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who is chairman of the NRSC. He has surely seen the recent poll showing that Collins is the strongest Republican candidate and certainly the most motivated. He has the fire in the belly that Walker probably doesn't have, not to mention that he has run campaigns and won elections in Georgia before. Scott has said that he will keep out of open-seat primaries, but if he comes to believe that Collins (or even Loeffler) could knock off Warnock and Walker cannot, don't count on his staying neutral. But until Walker makes a decision, probably nobody else is going to announce—and Warnock will continue to raise millions from small donors. (V)

Caitlyn Jenner Is Running for Governor of California

The signatures are still being counted in the petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), but so far 1.2 million of the 1.5 million needed have been declared valid. Probably there will be enough, so a recall election will be held. And so, reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner has announced that she is running in the recall election as a Republican. No doubt she well remembers that another Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, won a recall election in 2003 and served as governor for a little more than 7 years.

But Jenner is not Schwarzenegger and 2021 is not 2003. First of all, Gray Davis, who was recalled in 2003, was not popular with Democrats or Republicans. Newsom is reasonably popular with Democrats, who make up the vast majority of the California electorate. Polls show that only 40% of Californians support recalling Newsom. If he is not recalled, then it doesn't matter who is running for governor as the gubernatorial election will not count. If Newsom gets 50% + 1 votes, he will remain governor until the end of this term. Period.

Second, Jenner's background has some similarity to Schwarzenegger's. Schwarzenegger was a champion bodybuilder who won many contests. Jenner, who used to be Bruce Jenner, won the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics. So both of them have a history of being very manly men. This could attract a certain number of votes from people who are impressed by physical strength and power. Both also had lengthy and successful careers as entertainers once their athletic careers concluded. This could attract votes from those voters who are wowed by celebrity.

There are also some pretty major differences between the two. Most obviously, in April 2015, Jenner came out as a trans woman. The effect of this on voters is impossible to measure because any poll is going to run into a massive "Bradley effect." Specifically, Jenner is a Republican and there are more than a few Republicans whose views on trans people are less than positive. If she were running as a liberal Democrat, that might be different, but she is a Republican who supported Donald Trump until she broke with him in 2018 over his definition of gender. He saw it as a hardware issue; she saw it as a software issue. As a group Democrats are more positive toward trans people, but few of them are likely to vote for Jenner, because she is a Republican.

Another problem for Jenner is that Republicans have a history of running inexperienced "celebrities" for statewide office in California, and with the exception of Schwarzenegger, failing miserably. In 2010, Carly Fiorina ran for the Senate in California. Barbara Boxer crushed her by 10 points. In the same year, Meg Whitman ran for governor. Her drubbing by Jerry Brown was even worse than the one Fiorina got. And both Fiorina and Whitman were successful business leaders in Silicon Valley, in a state where that counts for a lot.

And it isn't that Republicans will have no choice. There are several well-known Republicans already running, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA), and John Cox, who came in second in the 2018 California gubernatorial election. So far, no high-profile Democrats have entered the race out of fear of causing Democrats who are only lukewarm on Newsom to vote to recall him under the motto: "I have a small preference for the other Democrat." If no well-known Democrat enters the race, Democrats will be forced to either support Newsom or take a great risk that some Republican will win. That may keep most of them loyal to the party. (V)

Carter Beats Peterson in Louisiana

When Cedric Richmond resigned from the House to take a job in the Biden administration, Democrats weren't too worried about losing the special election triggered in LA-02. After all, the district, which covers most of New Orleans, is D+25. Further, Louisiana has a jungle primary system and the top two finishers were a moderate Black man, Troy Carter, and a progressive Black woman, Karen Peterson. So, when it came time to cast the final ballots on Saturday, the only question was which Democrat would win. It was Carter, who claimed a decisive victory over Peterson, 56% to 44%.

Progressive Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), strongly backed Peterson and filled her coffers with money. She had over a million dollars in outside money working for her. But despite the big financial edge, she went down to defeat. The loss is a painful one for progressives, who thought they could win this one and were beaten badly.

One factor that probably played a role is an artifact of jungle primaries: There was no Republican in the race. Consequently, Republicans who voted in the runoff probably picked the least progressive candidate and that was Carter. So we have a clear demonstration here of how jungle primaries can work against progressives. If Louisiana had partisan primaries, Peterson and Carter would have duked it out in the Democratic primary, without any Republican ratf**kers taking part. If Peterson had won the primary, she would also have won the general election easily.

Progressives are clearly disappointed by this loss. Their next shot at picking up a House seat is the August Democratic primary in OH-11, which is Marcia Fudge's old seat. The district is D+32, so whichever Democrat wins the primary can start measuring the drapes for her House office. The main candidates are Nina Turner and Shontel Brown, two Black women. There are five other candidates, but none of them have a chance. It is Turner or Brown. The district illustrates gerrymandering at its finest:


Progressives are working hard for Turner, who was a co-chair of the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2020. She is a no-holds-barred progressive firebrand. She is also a charismatic speaker with a national profile and good at small-donor fundraising. If elected, she would instantly be inaugurated into...the Squad. With five members instead of four, would it then become the Squint?

Brown is the chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party and a member of the county council. Brown is a more establishment politician and no bomb thrower. Many local Democrats, union leaders, and pastors back her. It's Bernie vs. Hillary part 613, with a Black woman playing the part of Bernie and another Black woman playing the part of Hillary.

One unusual factor, at least for an August special election primary in Cleveland, is Israel. The district is 5% Jewish, mostly concentrated in Shaker Heights and Beachwood. The local Jews are very active in Democratic politics and are sure to turn out at a disproportionate rate. They strongly support Brown, who is a devout Christian. When Brown visited Israel in 2008, she expressed her appreciation for how the government has protected Israel's Christian holy places. She is also opposed to pressuring Israel to abandon the settlements on the West Bank. Turner, in contrast, supports the U.S. pressuring Israel to change a number of its policies. (V)

The "Great Replacement Theory" Has It Backwards

Ron Brownstein has written an interesting piece about the "great replacement theory." This "theory" is very popular in far-right circles. Very briefly, it says that Democrats are trying to import many pliable immigrants to "replace" the "regular" Americans and win elections that way. Some whites, fearful of demographic and economic change, are buying into this story. Republican politicians don't like to talk about this out loud, but their dog whistles point to it. And some media personalities, especially Tucker Carlson, are much less shy about pushing the idea.

But according to Brownstein, these people don't understand the consequences of what they want, namely, to stop immigration. He points out that with or without immigration, the white share of the population will decline in the coming decades. That is already irreversible unless vast numbers of Norwegians suddenly decide that with Donald Trump out of the way, they want to become Americans. This is very unlikely. Without immigration, the U.S. population will become older, which will slow economic growth. In addition, there will be many fewer working-age adults paying FICA and Medicare taxes, so the trust funds will dry up. That will greatly increase pressure to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, which will be devastating to the whites whose retirement depends heavily on them.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said: "It's a matter of math. I never understood why people who are anti-immigration can't understand the math of the whole thing, because it's quite simple." Actually it isn't that simple because many people think that their Social Security contributions go into a big sock somewhere, and when they hit 65 or so, they can take their contributions out of the sock. In reality, current retirees are paid out of the contributions made by current workers (although there is a buffer, the trust fund). But if there aren't enough workers, benefits will have to be cut or the tax on current workers (most of whom get to vote) will have to skyrocket.

Here's math that is easier to understand: Currently, 60% of the population is white. With immigration levels as they were 5 years ago, by 2060, only 44% of the population will be white. Even if all immigration is stopped completely, only 51% of the population will be white in 2060. This is the kind of math demographers do all day.

The reason for the decline is that the number of white children born is declining. In 44 states, there were fewer white children in 2019 than in 2010. If there are fewer white children, there will likely be fewer white babies down the road. This has obvious implications for the workforce. An expanding workforce is needed right now to handle the surge in baby boomers who are retiring and need to be supported, both physically and economically. Oh, and seniors are very good at voting and have no problem at all detecting which politicians want to cut their benefits.

Currently, there are about 27 seniors who are being supported per 100 workers. Even at the higher-level Obama-era immigration rate, by 2050, there will be 37 seniors that each 100 workers would have to support. With no immigration, that number would be more than 40. That would translate into either much higher taxes on the workers or lower benefits for the seniors. But given the fact that seniors vote in large numbers and understand their situation all too well, the former is more likely than the latter. The blue-collar whites, who oppose immigration now, don't have this down pat quite yet. In effect, there is no security for the gray without more opportunity for the brown. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr25 Sunday Mailbag
Apr24 Saturday Q&A
Apr23 House Passes D.C. Statehood Bill
Apr23 Biden Announces Ambitious Plans on Climate Change
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Apr23 Black Democrats Prioritize H.R. 4 over H.R. 1
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Apr22 Senate Democrats: Republican Infrastructure Proposal Is a Non-Starter
Apr22 Whither the Republicans, Redux, Part III: The Conspiracists
Apr22 Whither the Republicans, Redux, Part IV: The Faces of the Party
Apr22 Whither the Republicans by the Numbers, Part I: The Evangelicals
Apr22 Whither the Republicans by the Numbers, Part II: National Trends
Apr21 Guilty, Guilty, Guilty
Apr21 Republicans May Blow their Shot on Infrastructure
Apr21 Whither the Republicans, Redux, Part I: The Environment
Apr21 Whither the Republicans, Redux, Part II: Corporate America
Apr21 Elections Have Consequences
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Apr20 Rep. Steve Stivers Will Step Down
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Apr19 A Hells Angel in the Senate?
Apr19 2024 Fundraising Has Started
Apr19 McDaniel Urged to be Less Trumpish
Apr19 America First Caucus Is Dead
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Apr17 Saturday Q&A
Apr16 Bipartisanship Theater
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Apr16 Chauvin Trial Is Almost Over
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Apr16 Nikki Haley for President?
Apr16 Former Cold War Foes News, Part I: Russia Hit With Sanctions