The Right-Wing Media Decoupling
Fringe Groups Splinter Online After Twitter Bans
Trump and Pence Signal President Won’t Resign
Trump Warned About Potential Civil Liability
Lawmakers Fear More Violence After Riot
This Time It’s Personal
• To Impeach or Not to Impeach, That Is the Question
• Will Big Tech Save Democracy?
• Will Trump Start His Own Media Empire?
• Second Republican Senator Says Trump Must Go
• Dominion Voting Systems Sues Trump Lawyer for $1.3 Billion
• Biden Can Raise More Revenue without Raising Taxes
• Reforms That Would Improve Democracy
• Pennsylvania Senate Race Gets Going
• Eight Senate Races Could Be Competitive in 2022
A new ABC News/Ipsos poll released yesterday shows that 56% of Americans want Trump removed from the Oval Office before his term ends. The reason is that two-thirds blame him for last week's riot at the Capitol.
The partisan split is very strong, with 94% of Democrats, 58% of independents, but only 13% of Republicans saying that Trump must go now. Among those who think Trump should not be removed now, half say he did nothing wrong, and half say he did but it is not worth the trouble since his term is over next week anyway.
Everyone is pessimistic about democracy in America. Only 30% of Americans trust Trump to protect democracy. However, that is better than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at 27% and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at 22%. Republicans who score better than Trump include Vice President Mike Pence at 39% and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) at 41%. Democrats do slightly better, with Joe Biden at 48% and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at 40%. No politician tested breaks 50%. (V)
Democrats are pretty riled up about Trump supporters trashing the Capitol last week. So far, about 190 House Democrats have signed up for Impeachment: The Sequel. Although the Democrats have an extremely small majority, they might be able to pull it off, especially if a handful of House Republicans vote for it. But the bigger question is: What's the point?
Another impeachment will make it clear to future historians and high school history students that Donald Trump was a really bad president, far worse than even James Buchanan (who wasn't up to the job but wasn't an evil person). But practically, will it have any effect?
The problem is that the Senate is in recess and won't be back until Jan. 19. Consequently, an impeachment trial won't be able to begin until then at the earliest. There are two cases to consider. First, suppose the two Georgia senators are not certified by then and cannot be sworn in on Jan. 19. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will then still be majority leader and could decide not to hold the trial until after Jan. 20 at noon, in which case Trump won't be president any more. McConnell certainly does not want his members to have to take a tough vote, so there is no reason to think he wants a speedy trial (or any trial, for that matter).
Second, if the two Georgia senators can be sworn in on Jan. 19, then the Democrats might be able to start Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) tenure as majority leader, if they can persuade one Republican (Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK?) to sit out the vote and to give the blue team a 50-49 advantage. Schumer could have a 6-hour trial with a vote the same day or even on Jan. 20 in the morning. Chief Justice John Roberts would have to preside and all the normal rules would be followed, although it is not clear what would happen if Trump's defense wants 3 days to have 30 witnesses testify. Roberts would have to rule on it on the spot. In a way, that makes everything simpler because then the hot potato of whether you can impeach a by-then-former president lands in Roberts' lap. Anything he decides is probably definitive.
But let's look at the case of McConnell still being majority leader on Jan. 19 and refusing to hold a trial that day or the next morning, a decision easily defended by saying he doesn't want to run a kangaroo court by refusing to let all of the president's witnesses testify. Then, when Schumer takes over, the issue of whether a former president can be impeached will loom large. A text message from Schumer to Roberts with the content: "Hi John, can we still do this thing?" won't do the job as Roberts will probably answer: "Hi Chuck, I gotta check the Constitution. I'll get back to you by June."
Anticipating the possibility that there will be no trial while Trump is still president, the Washington Post went and asked a number of professors of law or politics who are experts on impeachment if a former president can be impeached and potentially banned from holding public office in the future. Here is a summary of their responses.
- Keith Wittington (Princeton): There is no clear consensus on the matter. It's probably
within the bounds of the Constitution, but should only be used in extreme situations. Some early state Constitutions
explicitly provided for the possibility of impeaching officials for a limited period of time after they left office.
These provisions were based on British parliamentary practice. Conclusion: Difficult but possible.
- Akhil Amar (Yale): In his 2005 book on the Constitution, Amar wrote: "Textually, only
'Officers of the United States' are impeachable. Perhaps impeachment could properly extend to former officers who should
be disqualified from future officeholding, but not to Congress members generally." His view is that former officers can
be impeached. Conclusion: Possible.
- Harold Krent (University of Illinois): Unlike the first two, Krent is unambiguous. He
said: "I believe strongly (but agree as to the lack of precedents) that one can only be impeached while in office." His
point is that the main penalty is being removed from office and that the disqualification is tangential. After all, if
the voters have had enough, they can pick someone else next time. Conclusion: Not possible
- Ross Garber (Tulane): Garber is with Krent. He said: "A former office holder may not be
impeached, removed or disqualified." He also said that the primary purpose of the impeachment process is to rid the
country of an unfit office holder. Conclusion: Not possible.
- Ilya Somin (George Mason): According to Somin, this subject has been debated since the
18th century with no resolution. No court has ever ruled on it. If one did, that might end the matter. On the other
hand, the courts could throw the matter back to Congress. Conclusion: Probably permissible to prevent future office
- Frank Bowman (University of Missouri): Bowman said it is unknowable. During the Clinton
administration he wrote that what Clinton had done (lie under oath about an affair) was not impeachable. However, when
Clinton pardoned fugitive Marc Rich on his last day in office, Bowman started to write a law review article arguing for
his impeachment even though he had already left office. Conclusion: Unknowable, but not a crazy claim.
One point that nearly all of them made, and that strengthens the case that former presidents can be impeached, is this: Suppose a president is on trial and the Senate is about to start voting. If the president thinks he will lose the vote, he could get up and ask the Chief Justice for permission to speak. The Chief would probably agree. Then the president could say: "I hereby resign the presidency, effective immediately. Now you can't impeach me or prevent me from holding office in the future. Gotcha! Ha ha ha!" Does the president thereby escape conviction and being banned from future office?
Another thorny issue is whether the Senate can even vote on disqualifying a president from holding public office if the vote to convict fails to reach a two-thirds majority. If it took the second vote and he was banned, the president could argue that the vote is moot because he wasn't convicted. What would happen if the impeached-but-not-convicted president, a few years later, filed papers to be a candidate in the primaries? Would election officials make the call, on a state-by-state-basis, on whether to put the president on the ballot? Most likely in that case, as soon as some secretary said: "Not in my state you won't," it would go to the courts, eventually the state supreme court. Some of them could say: "Fine with us" and others could say: "We think not." Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court would have to make a decision, but the process could take months and lead to electoral chaos in the meantime.
Yesterday Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the majority whip and close ally of Nancy Pelosi, added a new twist to the impeachment story. He said the House could vote for impeachment now but wait several months before sending it over to the Senate. Using this strategy would achieve four goals. First, it could avoid the possibility that Mitch McConnell could use some trick to avoid a full trial. Second, it would avoid stealing Joe Biden's thunder when he takes office next week. Third, the Senate's first order of business as soon as the two Georgia senators are seated will be approving large numbers of Biden's high-level nominees. A Senate trial for Trump would take priority over that and tie the Senate in knots rather than letting it approve hundreds of nominations. Holding the trial in March or April would allow all the secretaries, deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, etc. to be confirmed in January or February, so they could hit the ground running. Well over 1,000 (!) positions require Senate confirmation. Here is a partial list. Fourth, by impeaching Trump while he is still in office, the argument that the trial can go forward after he leaves office is stronger than impeaching him after he leaves office. (V)
When the Internet was starting to get traction with a wider audience than just the academics who built it, many people thought it would encourage democracy by making it much harder for despotic governments to block unpopular views. John Gilmore famously said: "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Fast forward to 2021 and now the Internet is the problem, not the solution. Groups of people use it to plan and coordinate insurrections in a way that was impossible before the digital age. In particular, the problem is social media, which allows thousands of conspiracy-minded individuals to have a worldwide platform so they can conspire together, something that didn't exist back when America was Great. Maybe the key to Making America Great Again is getting rid of social media.
But it is here for now, and the companies who run much of the Internet are starting to get the feeling that Dr. Frankenstein got when things got out of hand. Last week, Twitter banned Donald Trump forever and Facebook shut him down until, at minimum, he is out of office. So Trump is mulling over the option of moving to Parler, a right-wing cesspool of hate with no restrictions at all. There he could tell all the lies he wanted to and he would be cheered on.
Except, oops. It turns out that Parler doesn't own the ecosystem it depends on. Most people access Parler using an app on iPhones or Android phones. They get those apps from the App Store and Play Store, respectively. Or they did. Over the weekend, Apple removed the Parler app from the App Store and Google removed the Parler app from the Play Store. Both companies said that Parler had violated its terms and conditions by not policing posts advocating illegal activity. The previously downloaded apps will continue to work, but in due course of time, the iOS and Android operating systems will evolve and eventually the apps will cease working. At that point, which could be a couple of years, it will be fini for Parler.
Then it got worse. Much worse. Running a service like Twitter or Parler requires thousands of servers to handle its millions of users. Parler doesn't own any servers. It just rents them from Amazon, which has millions of servers available for rent to companies that don't want to run their own IT infrastructure—like Twitter and Parler and thousands of others. Renting servers isn't Amazon's biggest moneymaker by volume (retail is), but it did generate $35 billion for the company in 2019. Parler needs Amazon but Amazon doesn't need Parler. Effective this morning, Amazon is turning off Parler's servers, effectively shutting it down. If you visit parler.com you will get a message like the one below. The message is generated by the browser when DNS tells it there is no entry for parler.com, so the exact message you get is browser dependent. This one is from Firefox.
Amazon sent a message to Parler's CEO John Matze listing nearly 100 violations of Amazon's terms and conditions, largely focusing on how Parler spreads hate and allows "tweets" (parles? bon mots?) encouraging violence. For example, L. Lin Wood, a lawyer who sued to overturn Trump's election loss, recently posted: "Get the firing squad ready. Pence goes FIRST." Amazon is a private-sector company and can pretty much decide on its own that it doesn't want Parler as a customer. Getting a court to force Amazon to take a customer that Amazon says has repeatedly violated Amazon's stated policies would be next to impossible, even if Amazon weren't the second biggest company on the Fortune 500 list (Walmart is #1). It's not going to happen.
Amazon isn't the only company that rents servers, but it is the biggest. Parler is now frantically looking for new hosting capacity. If it can't find it, the company is toast. Microsoft also runs huge server farms but there is no way that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (an immigrant from India) is going to help Parler spew its xenophobia, racism, and hate. The third big player in the hosting market is Google, but Google has already made it clear what it thinks of Parler by removing its app from the Android store. There are plenty of other hosting companies, but Parler will need a fairly large one and it could be tricky to find one that is willing to accept the blowback that it will get if it takes on Parler. Maybe Matze can ask Vladimir Putin if he knows of any Russian hosting companies he can recommend.
Trump himself has toyed with setting up his own microblogging service, to compete with Twitter and Parler. But to do so, he will also need to rent a lot of servers. In addition to the problem of most big companies not willing to touch him with a 10-foot pole, he has the extra problem of everyone's knowing that he doesn't pay his bills. Any company that is willing to do business with him is probably going to demand the first year's rent for the servers paid in full in advance before turning them on. That would cost millions of dollars Trump doesn't have (though he could raid his PAC's bank account). As far as we know, Parler pays its bills on time (with Rebekah Mercer's money), and if it has trouble finding a hosting company, it will be that much harder for Trump given both the content issues and his reputation for stiffing his vendors. While it is unlikely Trump will be totally muzzled, getting the word out will be a lot more difficult going forward. Maybe the President should look into smoke signals or skywriting. Don't need a server for those. Or he could use the U.S. mail. Too bad that someone slowed its delivery down. (V)
Now that it is increasingly clear that Donald Trump is not going to dominate existing social media channels any more, he is flirting with the idea of building his own media empire. Politico's senior media writer, Jack Shafer, took a look at the possibilities and concluded that it isn't going to happen. Trump might try, but Shafer notes that Oprah Winfrey, who has more money, more talent, more patience, and more appeal to more people, wasn't able to become a cable powerhouse, so he thinks Trump's chances of success are very low if he tries. He also notes that Glenn Beck, a former Fox star, created his own channel and it failed miserably.
Trump knows how to put together a television program about real estate, but running a news network is a whole different ball of wax, about which he knows nothing. He needs the likes of Roger Ailes to help him. But Ailes is dead. Are there any living media wizards who might want to bet the farm by cozying up to a disgraced ex-president who thinks he knows everything and doesn't take advice from anyone?
Suppose Trump tries to start a new cable channel to go up against Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to even start out. Where would he get that? People with that kind of money tend to invest in projects that they think will give them a good return on investment. All of them know that Trump was actually a terrible businessman who went bankrupt six times. And even if he starts a GoFundMe page and raises $300 million, who would carry his channel? He fought bitterly with AT&T, trying to block its merger with Time Warner. Nobody there will give him the time of day. Besides, it now owns CNN and doesn't want any more competition. Comcast owns MSNBC and also does not want another competitor.
Suppose he manages to get started somehow, maybe on a shoestring. How do you think Fox News will respond when he poses a threat to its viewership and revenues? Not so well. OANN and NewsMax won't be any friendlier.
He could go to Fox and ask for an hour-long slot in the evening. Whom will Fox dump: Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, or Sean Hannity? Try none of the above. Each of them has a loyal following and good ratings. They interview guests and talk about all kinds of news. Trump can't interview people and talks only about himself. After 2 weeks, people will get very tired of that. Fox knows this. He might be able to get a slot at one of the smaller right-wing cable channels, but Fox would do everything in its power to take him down and Fox has a much bigger and more loyal audience. In short, it would take a miracle for Trump to pull this off. It's just talk. (V)
Last week, Lisa Murkowski said that Trump should resign now or be removed. Yesterday, a second Republican senator, Pat Toomey (PA), told CNN's Jake Tapper that Trump should resign now and might face criminal liability in the future. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) is on record saying that he would consider voting for impeachment. This means that if Trump is impeached and there actually is a trial, a majority of the Senate could vote to convict, even if the two new Georgia senators haven't been seated yet. While that is not enough to remove him from office, when future high school students learn that a majority of the Senate voted to convict him, including several members of his own party, all they will remember is: "Trump was a bad president." Don't think so? Name anything you know about Warren Harding that doesn't involve teapots or mistresses. (V)
On Friday, Dominion Voting Systems voted with its lawyers. It sued Sidney Powell for defamation to the tune of $1.3 billion. Powell has been claiming that Dominion's voting machines were rigged to help Joe Biden by converting Trump votes into Biden votes. She also claimed that Dominion has been working with Venezuelan intelligence agents and George Soros, neither of which is true. She additionally claimed that Dominion paid off Georgia election officials to use their machines so the company could swing Georgia.
Dominion probably has a reasonable case here if it can show that sales have dropped of late, which they may have. After all, what election official wants to place an order for machines that half the voters think are rigged? Dominion knows that Powell is not worth $1.3 billion, and probably picked that number to make it clear they are not going to settle for her giving $10,000 to her favorite charity plus a mealy-mouthed statement that "mistakes were made." In fact, they have no intention of settling at all. They want to put her on the witness stand and ask her for the proof of her accusations. An official legal verdict that she was lying is more important than any amount of money they could squeeze out of her.
But Dominion has said this lawsuit may not be the last one. It has specifically not ruled out suing Donald Trump, who may not have the $10 billion he claims he has, but surely has more than Powell. He also claimed Dominion's machines were rigged. More telling is the letters its lawyers sent to Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, and other Fox News personalities demanding that they keep any evidence they have that would be relevant in a potential lawsuit. Fox has a lot deeper pockets than Powell or Trump.
Trump and Fox might not be the only other potential targets. OANN, NewsMax, and Sinclair Broadcasting have also spread lies about Dominion and could get sued. If Dominion were to win such suits, it could change the media landscape. Fox could probably absorb a $1 billion judgment and survive, but the smaller ones might go under as a result.
So if we combine this item with the one above on big tech, the left's new heroes are (in alphabetical order): Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, and Dominion Voting Systems. Who knew? (V)
Now that the Democrats will have control of the Senate, they can raise taxes using the budget reconciliation process, which cannot be filibustered. Joe Biden has said that he will raise taxes on people earning more than $400,000 per year. He probably will do that.
However, there is another method to get more revenue for his various programs that may be just as potent as raising the rates. And he can do that without new legislation. The key is to enforce existing law much better. In particular, the IRS rarely audits midsize businesses and closely held partnerships (especially those involved in real estate). Nor does it do well at auditing the very rich: Fewer than 7% of tax returns showing income of more than $10 million were audited in 2018. This lack of auditing has allowed these people and entities to get away with large deductions that are probably illegal.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that increasing the IRS' audit budget by $20 billion over a decade would increase revenue by $60 billion. That is $40 billion for free. Other people believe the payoff would be far larger. A study by former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti, University of Pennsylvania professor Natasha Sarin, and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers projects that an additional $100 billion in enforcement spending combined with a change in strategy, could bring in $1.2-1.4 trillion in new revenue, a multiplier of 12x to 14x. A trillion dollars is serious money, even if Biden raises taxes on the rich.
Amping up enforcement would require initially spending more money to hire more auditors. However, more money for the IRS could be in the budget, which can pass the Senate using the reconciliation process and thus does not need Republican buy-in. The IRS also has to change its strategy, something Biden can achieve by appointing a commissioner who wants to do that. In particular, midsize corporations used to be organized as "C corporations," which the IRS understands. Now many are being reorganized as "S corporations," which operate using different rules and which the IRS barely understands. In 2017, only 0.3% of S corporations were audited. Biden should aim to increase that tenfold. That will require hiring new people who understand how they work and retraining IRS auditors to deal with them. Part of the problem is that the law is very complex, but Congress could simplify the law. Republicans and accountants will fight simplification tooth and nail so that will be impossible unless the filibuster is abolished.
On the subject of the filibuster, one approach Chuck Schumer could take might be called the cheese slicer approach. Rather than abolishing it completely, which might be difficult, the Senate could take a lesson from how that worked for judicial nominations. First nominees to the lower courts couldn't be filibustered. Later nominees to the Supreme Court couldn't be filibustered. Why not change the rules saying that bills relating to statehood can't be filibustered? Then later change them again saying bills changing tax law can't be filibustered. By doing it that way, in the end, only bills relating to minimizing the use of coal will be filibusterable (if that's a word).
Although it wasn't its original goal, when the House Ways and Means Committee finally gets its hands on Trump's tax returns, possibly a week after Janet Yellen is confirmed as treasury secretary, it can study how Trump avoided taxes and then use that knowledge to produce new legislation to counter it. In particular, Trump's treatment of his Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, NY, could be instructive. Trump treats it as a business and gets deductions of millions of dollars in property taxes, but it is actually a family retreat. Tax law could be changed to make it impossible to call your vacation house a business unless it was actually operating as a hotel, advertising as such, taking in strangers as paying guests, and doing the things hotels do. (V)
Sometimes periods of great turmoil lead to reforms. The Great Depression led to the New Deal. Racial protests in the late 1950s and early 1960s led to the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. Watergate led to many reforms. Some observers think that the Trump presidency will also usher in reforms now that the Democrats are about to take control of the White House and Congress. Beverly Gage and Emily Bazelon have written a piece arguing that this is the moment to enact a number of much-needed reforms, including these:
- Fix the electoral process: The 1887 Electoral Count Act is very murky and needs to be
clarified. It could specify the only circumstances in which the legislatures could directly choose the presidential
electors; for example, if a natural disaster makes it impossible to hold an election on Election Day or a fire or flood
destroys the ballots before they are counted. It could detail (and limit) the specific circumstances in which Congress
can refuse to count the electoral votes from a state; for example, if a certificate of vote submitted to the Archivist
of the United States lacks the governor's signature.
- Establish national voting practices: These could include 4 weeks of early voting from 6
a.m. to 8 p.m. directly prior to Election Day, absentee ballots upon request (no excuse required), the ability to vote
in person anywhere in the voter's county, and protections from being improperly purged from the voting rolls. States
should also be required to build an infrastructure that is state-of-the-art in terms of repelling hackers. The law could
also specify the conditions under which released felons can vote and procedures for 17-year-olds to preregister to vote.
Also in this category is an expansion of the "motor voter" rules, allowing people to register to vote on most contacts
with the government. Even eligible felons could be registered just as they are leaving prison.
- Make registration automatic: The "motor voter" rules could be dramatically expanded by
automatically registering voters when they get or renew a driver's license unless they specifically ask not to be
- Make people vote: Registration is only the first half. Then people have to vote. The
easiest way to get people to vote is to make it mandatory, as it is in Australia. Failure to vote would result in a
fine. A voter who didn't like any of the candidates could turn in a blank ballot, which would count as voting.
Alternatively, a carrot instead of a stick could be used. Everyone who voted would get a reward of some kind, such as a
tax credit or entry into a statewide (or national) lottery with a substantial prize.
- Make D.C. and Puerto Rico States: The structure of the Senate favors rural, white,
Republican states. Wyoming, with fewer people than Baltimore, has two senators, just as California, with 40 million
people, does. Admitting D.C. and Puerto Rico as states would go a small way toward addressing this problem. It will also
give full representation to Americans who now lack it.
- End gerrymandering: The only way to take politics out of drawing congressional and state
districts is to take the process out of the hands of the politicians. Almost a dozen states have done this by creating
independent commissions to draw the maps. This is probably a job for the states rather than the federal government, but
federal law could provide incentives (e.g. money) for doing it and possibly disincentives for not doing it.
- Shorten the transition: Until the 20th Amendment was passed, presidents were inaugurated
on March 4. Now it is January 20th. That's more than a month after the electors voted and more than 2 months after
Election Day. The lame-duck period is much too long. A new constitutional amendment is needed to move the date before
Christmas to keep aforementioned duck from creating a mess for his or her successor to clean up.
- Eliminate the Electoral College: This is a biggie, of course. But winning the Electoral
College while losing the popular vote has happened twice within the past 20 years. It is no longer a crazy abstraction.
It happens. One way would be a constitutional amendment. Another is to get states with 74 electoral votes to join the
National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. It already has states (and D.C.) with 196 EVs signed up.
None of these will be especially easy, but neither was giving Black people or women the vote. But if there is a will, it can be done. (V)
Nov. 8, 2022, is only 667 days away, so the Senate races are naturally heating up. In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is gearing up for the race to sit down in the seat that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) no longer wants to sit in. This is probably the Democrats' best pickup possibility in the whole country. Fetterman has some practice in running for this seat. He ran for it in 2016, but lost the primary to Katie McGinty, who went on to lose to Toomey in the general election.
Fetterman is a rough-hewn progressive going back to his days as mayor of Braddock, PA, a hardscrabble steel town outside Pittsburgh. He also dresses the part and at 6-foot 8-inches, is a towering figure. His platform includes a minimum wage of at least $15/hr, marijuana legalization nationwide, and the union way of life.
Since Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) is term limited in 2022, it would have been more natural for the Lieutenant Governor to try for the top slot. However, Fetterman is only 51 and the governor can serve only 8 years, whereas as a senator he could probably serve 40 years if he does a good job and his health holds out. Heck, he could serve 50 years if the good people of Pennsylvania follow South Carolina's lead, and don't mind a senator who's basically catatonic at the end.
The state has plenty of ambitious Democrats, so no doubt some will jump into the gubernatorial race and others will challenge Fetterman for the Senate nomination. Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro is likely to run for governor, so they won't face off. However, there are nine Democrats in Pennsylvania's House delegation and some of them are interested in statewide office, so Fetterman won't be alone in the race. One of his possible challengers is Conor Lamb, who is a moderate, so the primary could be Bernie vs. Hillary all over again. Of course, Wolf is the 800-pound gorilla in Pennsylvania and he hasn't announced his 2022 plans yet. If he and Fetterman both enter the senatorial race, it will be a very high profile primary.
The Republican side of the race, meanwhile, looks like it will be a slugfest between Trumpy candidates. The Republicans in the Pennsylvania House delegation all just made a big show of objecting to Pennsylvania's electoral votes. Those folks will make the voters in the "Alabama" part of Pennsylvania happy, not so much the Republican moderates/independents in Pittsburgh/Philadelphia and environs. Donald Trump Jr. has also made noise about moving to the Keystone State and running, which would make the Alabamylvanians delirious with joy, but again wouldn't do much for the non-Trumpy Republicans in and near the cities. Meanwhile, the moderate Republican bench in the state is pretty thin. If the Pennsylvania GOP ends up with a fire-breathing Trumpster as a candidate, it could turn the Democratic primary into a coronation for the state's next U.S. senator. (V & Z)
We're not the only ones looking at the 2022 Senate already. Nathan Gonzales at Rollcall has also taken a look. Gonzales sees eight states as competitive. The map below shows all the 2022 Senate races, with Gonzales' picks for being competitive shown in the ovals.
Gonzales sees four Democratic seats and four Republican seats as competitive because pundits who want to be seen as experts don't like to take sides. We don't buy into that model. It is possible that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) might be in trouble, but only if some big-name Democrat challenges him and we don't see who that might be. The only statewide elected Democrat is Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and she is probably going to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) instead of running for the Senate.
Similarly, unless Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) decides to challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), we don't think she is in much danger, and perhaps not even if he does. Also, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) is probably safe unless the Republicans can find a well-known challenger.
One other seat that could be competitive is in Iowa, if Chuck Grassley, who will be 89 on Election Day 2022, retires. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) won reelection last year by 6 points, but without Donald Trump on the ballot in 2022, a strong Democrat might have a chance. However, it is not obvious who that might be.
Ohio used to be a swing state but of late has become a red state. If Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who is not very Trumpy, gets hit by a tough primary, the race could become competitive if the Democrats can find a strong candidate.
One thing to keep in mind is that in most races, that little (D) or (R) after the candidate's name is everything. Ticket splitting has gone the way of the dodo. In the last two presidential cycles, there were 69 Senate races. In every one except Maine last year, the party that won the electoral votes also won all the Senate races. However, in an off year, and especially with an open seat, all bets are off. What also could matter is what happens to the Republican Party going forward. Will it be the party of Donald Trump? Will there be a civil war in the party? These things could matter. (V)
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Jan09 Impeachment, Part Deux
Jan09 Twitter to Trump: "Bye!"
Jan09 Saturday Q&A
Jan08 Calls for Trump's Removal Are Now Out in the Open
Jan08 Facing Potential Removal, Trump Reads Speech from Teleprompter
Jan08 Electoral College Challenge Could Backfire
Jan08 Is There a Double Standard on Police Response to Protests?
Jan08 Other Fallout from Wednesday's Events
Jan08 Trump Is Working on His Pardon List
Jan08 Pence Will Attend the Inauguration
Jan08 Who Will Run the Senate?
Jan08 How Stable Is Control of the Senate?
Jan08 Bowser Is Hopeful that D.C. Will Become a State
Jan08 Liberals Are Already Pressuring Stephen Breyer to Retire
Jan08 Biden Fills the Last Two Cabinet Positions
Jan08 A Way to Stimulate the Economy and Bypass Congress
Jan07 The Insurrection WILL Be Televised
Jan07 Ossoff Wins
Jan07 It's Garland for AG
Jan07 Reader Predictions
Jan06 Georgia on Everyone's Mind
Jan06 Republicans Plot Their Electoral Vote Challenge Strategy
Jan06 Thanks, Lindsey
Jan06 EPA Administrator Creates Roadblock for Biden
Jan06 Bush Will Attend Biden's Inauguration
Jan06 In the Year 2021, Part II: Our Predictions
Jan05 The GOP Is a House Divided
Jan05 Trump May Have Crossed the Line This Time
Jan05 Trump Is the X Factor in Today's Senate Runoffs
Jan05 About Those Pro-Trump Protests...
Jan05 Trump Wasn't Cheated
Jan05 In The Year 2021, Part I: Pundit Predictions
Jan05 Today's Senate Polls
Jan04 Trump Tries to Blackmail Raffensperger
Jan04 2020 Is not 1876
Jan04 Former Secretaries of Defense: The Election Is Over
Jan04 Congress Convenes
Jan04 Trump Calls the Georgia Senate Races "Illegal and Invalid"
Jan04 Warnock Is Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Jan04 The Homes of McConnell and Pelosi Have Been Vandalized
Jan04 Mississippi Has the Largest Percentage of Black Voters, But Is One of the Worst States for Democrats
Jan04 Another Big 2021 Election: Mayor of New York City
Jan04 Today's Senate Polls
Jan03 One Becomes a Dozen
Jan03 Sunday Mailbag
Jan02 Missed It By That Much
Jan02 Missed It By a Mile
Jan02 Saturday Q&A
Jan01 Over 100 Republicans Are Planning on Challenging Biden's Victory