Biden 303
image description
Trump 235
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description
  • Strongly Dem (208)
  • Likely Dem (18)
  • Barely Dem (77)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (46)
  • Likely GOP (63)
  • Strongly GOP (126)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2019 2015 2011
New polls: (None)
the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: (None)
Political Wire logo The United States vs. Donald Trump
Trump Could Face Years in Prison
The Long Game
Congress’ September Policy Cliff
Gingrich Testified Before January 6 Grand Jury
Lauren Boebert Accused of Seducing Woman’s Husband

Some Bad News and Some Good News for Trump Yesterday

It is a good thing for us that we abandoned the poop emojis, because we had them only up to five and yesterday's news would rate about 10. On top of that, Donald Trump also got some good news and we didn't have an emoji for that. Maybe we could have used a Big Mac with double fries?

First, the bad news. In a letter, federal investigators have notified Trump that he is formally the target of an investigation. In DoJ-speak, a target is someone for whom there is "substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant." When it gets to this point, it almost always means that the "target" is about to be indicted. Also, other signs point to an imminent indictment. Special counsel Jack Smith's grand jury was called back in session and Trump's lawyers spoke with the DoJ. At this point, the chance of the DoJ of dropping the Mar-a-Lago documents case is virtually zero. It is an open-and-shut case of violating multiple laws. It is just a matter of Smith deciding which laws to use. It matters for various reasons, which we will get into shortly. The indictment could come at any time now, maybe even this week.

Now the good news for Trump. If charges are brought in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, they will be mostly br brought in federal court in Southern Florida, not in D.C. (some charges, such as perjury, might be brought in D.C.). The reason for choosing Florida is that DoJ guidelines specify bringing charges where the crime was committed. The illegal possession of classified documents occurred in Florida, not in D.C.

This is good news for Trump because the jury pool in Florida is much Trumpier than in D.C. In Florida, Trump got 47.9% of the vote. In D.C. he got 5.4% of the vote. In practice, this means that a D.C. jury would probably not have any sneaky Trumpy voters whereas a Florida one might. Of course, the prosecutors will question every potential jury member diligently during the voir dire and ask if they will ignore their personal views and base their decisions on the law and facts blah blah blah. But a diehard Trump supporter who wanted to get on the jury might lie to all the questions and act like a good upstanding citizen who will follow the judge's instructions. The DoJ knows this, of course, and has experience trying to weed out biased jurors. But short of having the FBI do a full background check on every potential juror the chance of a diehard Trumpist sneaking onto the jury is far greater in Florida than in D.C., where they are scarce on the ground.

At the voir dire, prosecutors can ask "innocuous" questions like: "What is your highest level of education?" "Do you own a pickup truck?" "Do you own a gun?" "Do you have an American flag outside your house?" "Do you watch Fox News?" This might work to indicate who might be a Trumper, but each side gets only so many peremptory challenges (challenges that don't need the judge's approval). Once they are used up, the prosecutor will have to convince the judge that a gun-owning, pickup-truck driving, flag-waving, high school dropout shouldn't be allowed on the jury because he or she might be biased.

Since this would be a federal case, it is possible that a judge nominated by Trump could get the case. That would put the judge on the spot, knowing the entire world was watching and 100 top lawyers would be analyzing his or her every move on television every day. This might even make a Trump appointee bend over backwards not to help Trump to prevent massive criticism. Of course, if Judge Aileen Cannon gets the case, forget it. Hell, she might throw the case out on day 1.

Nevertheless, a decision to hold the trial in Florida has at least one disadvantage for Trump. It would be very unwise for him to dispute the venue and make a motion to move the trial to D.C. Consequently, one way to stall would be removed if the DoJ proposed Southern Florida. The DoJ has some flexibility by carefully formulating the charges. If the charges are about "unauthorized removal of classified documents," then that occurred in D.C. If the charges are about "unauthorized possession of classified documents," that occurred in Florida. Removal and possession occurred in different jurisdictions.

Another potential disadvantage of a Florida Trial for Trump is that if a Florida jury finds him guilty, it will be much harder for him to spin that as a jury biased against him. That will be doubly or triply true if after the trial, one or more jurors comes forward and says: "I love Trump. I voted for him twice. But the facts show that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." No such juror is likely to be on a D.C. panel.

Some other Trump legal action happened yesterday in Florida. A federal grand jury in Miami heard testimony from Taylor Budowich, a top adviser at the super PAC that is supporting Trump. He was a Trump spokesman involved in issuing a statement after the National Archives found 15 boxes of material, some of it classified, at Mar-a-Lago in Jan. 2022. The questioning was likely about that.

All in all, Trump surely has to be very nervous now. All signs point to an imminent indictment on the documents case, with the insurrection case still in progress. And an indictment in Georgia in mid-August also seems likely. Plus there's Alvin Bragg, and a potential federal investigation into the Trump Organization's foreign dealings while Trump was president. Trump may not understand how serious all this is, but his lawyers certainly do. Maybe they will try to sit him down and explain it all to him, but they know that he hates to hear bad news, so maybe they won't. (V)

The Decapitator Speaks

Chris Christie threw his hat in the ring yesterday. With a vengeance. It's really not clear if he thinks he has a chance to win the GOP presidential nomination, but he definitely wants to try to take down Donald Trump. For over 2 hours at the New Hampshire Institute for Politics, Christie spoke to the crowd, mostly about Trump. He compared the former president to Voldemort. He called him [Trump, not Voldemort] self-serving and self-consumed. He lit into Trump in many other ways that no other candidate dares to even contemplate. Here are five takeaways from Christie's launch:

  • Trump Has a New A**hole: Christie is positioning himself as The Decapitator. He previously said he would not enter the race as a paid assassin. True to his word, he is not. He is an unpaid assassin. What Christie fully understands is that pulling no punches and speaking his mind will get him tons of free media exposure. For example, one question he was asked is whether he would pardon Trump. He replied: "I'm not going to dodge the answer. But I will tell you as a prosecutor, if I believe someone has gotten a full and fair trial in front of a jury of their peers, and especially someone in public life, who committed those crimes when they held a public trust, I can't imagine pardoning him." That is the kind of direct answer the media love. And then he added that when a person accepts a pardon, they must acknowledge their guilt. Christie will not want for free air time.

  • He acknowledged his imperfections: After he dropped out in 2016, Christie supported Trump. This will come back to haunt him. In an attempt to get out in front of this, Christie admitted that he is not a perfect candidate. He said if you are looking for that, please leave the room now. He admitted that he lost in 2016 due to the people of New Hampshire rejecting him. But he also said: "But beware of the leader who won't admit any of those shortcomings, because you know what the problem is with a leader like that? A leader like that thinks America's greatness resides in the mirror he's looking at."

  • His 2024 Strategy: Christie understands retail politics in a way Casey DeSantis wishes her husband did. In 2016, he held over 100 town halls in New Hampshire. Yesterday, he spent 90 minutes answering questions. This time he is going to skip Iowa and focus on New Hampshire, where a lot of Republicans have an independent streak. If he can beat Trump in New Hampshire, it will shake the campaigns to their foundations.

  • Sununu Thinks Christie has a shot: Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) was not present when Christie made his announcement, but he said Christie is authentic and New Hampshirites love that. He also noted that Christie has good name ID in the state from his previous run and he is willing to go door to door and talk to the voters. It is hard to imagine Trump or Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) doing that. If Sununu endorses Christie later on, that could give him a real boost.

  • Christie compares himself to DeSantis: Christie pointed out that he had to work with a Democratic-controlled legislature so he had to compromise to get anything done. He notes that DeSantis has a Republican-controlled state legislature and never compromises. That won't work if DeSantis is president, even if the Republicans control the trifecta, because Senate Democrats will filibuster all his plans. He won't be able to deal with that because he won't be able to bully them. In effect, Christie is saying that DeSantis won't be able to govern at all because he is used to getting his way. When he tells the Senate Democrats to jump, not only will they not say "how high?," they will say "nope, not doing it."

Christie's attacks were not limited to Trump himself. He also went after Ivanka and Jared, saying: "The grift from this family is breathtaking. It's breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House, and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis. You think it's because he's some kind of investing genius? Or do you think it's because he was sitting next to the president of the United States for four years doing favors for the Saudis?" If this is a sample of what is to come, we predict that Christie will be in the news—a lot. And he will meet the requirements for the first debate. If Trump shows up, Christie will call him out to his face, resulting in an, er, interesting evening. If Trump doesn't show up, Christie won't lay off him, but the sparks won't fly as much. (V)

Pence Calls for New Leadership--for Example, His

Mike Pence kicked off his pointless campaign on Wednesday. Yesterday, we described why this is a waste of everyone's time, so we won't repeat it here and won't devote a lot of time to him going forward unless he does something very unexpected (e.g., announces that any woman donating $10,000 to his campaign gets to have dinner alone with him).

His announcement video is quite snazzy and emotional:

It demonstrates clearly that he knows who to hire to make an impressive and patriotic 3-minute video that mentions God a whole bunch of times. But it won't help. The problem isn't the quality of the video. The problem is quality of the candidate. He's the wrong person for this moment. In fact, he's the wrong person for just about any moment since, oh, Jan. 1, 1850 or so. He has the wrong stuff. It would take a monumental collapse of half a dozen other candidates for him to get the nomination.

Unlike Chris Christie, who is going to focus on New Hampshire, Pence will focus on Iowa. The former VP might even ignore New Hampshire entirely. He has a chance to do well in Iowa because the state is full of evangelicals. But once Pence has to compete is states not chock-a-block with evangelicals, like New Hampshire and Nevada, he is going to tank. (V)

Doug Who? Is In

Gov. Doug Burgum (R-SD) also announced yesterday that he thinks he would be a fine president. Lots of governors and all senators think this, but what separates Burgum from the pack is about a billion dollars. If he is serious, he could buy up all the commercial slots in Iowa and New Hampshire from now until their nominating events, thus depriving everyone else of any paid air time.

What makes him think that carpet bombing his opponents into oblivion might work? Well, that's how he got the Republican nomination for governor. He bought it. Not every billionaire can buy a nomination. Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg can attest to that. But sometimes it does work. FiveThirtyEight has a nice table of candidates who had $50 million (in 2023 dollars) at this point and how they did in terms of actual delegates acquired:

Candidate Party Year Receipts (millions) Self-funded (millions) Rank
Tom Steyer Dem 2020 $244 $240 Tie-8th
Michael Bloomberg Dem 2020 $238 $238 4th
Hillary Clinton Dem 2008 $173 $0 2nd
Barack Obama Dem 2008 $151 $0 1st
Hillary Clinton Dem 2016 $147 $0.5 1st
Mitt Romney GOP 2008 $131 $0.1 3rd
Steve Forbes GOP 2000 $129 $120 4th
Bernie Sanders Dem 2020 $129 $0 2nd
George W. Bush GOP 2000 $125.0 $0 1st
Elizabeth Warren Dem 2020 $97 $0 3rd
Bernie Sanders Dem 2016 $96 $0 2nd
Rudy Giuliani GOP 2008 $90 $0 Tie-8th
Mitt Romney GOP 2012 $77 $0 1st
Joe Biden Dem 2020 $72 $0 1st
Ben Carson GOP 2016 $69 $0 5th
Howard Dean Dem 2004 $68 $0 3rd
John Edwards Dem 2008 $64 $0 3rd
John McCain GOP 2008 $61 $0 1st
Ted Cruz GOP 2016 $60 $0 2nd
Al Gore Dem 2000 $52 $0 1st
Marco Rubio GOP 2016 $50 $0 3rd
Bill Bradley Dem 2000 $50 $0 2nd

The last column in the table above shows where the candidate ended up in terms of number of convention delegates racked up. Seven of the big spenders won the nomination, but was that due to the money? Hillary Clinton was a senator and former first lady and everyone knew who she was. George W. Bush was governor of Texas and son of a president. Everyone knew who he was, too. Joe Biden was a six-term senator and former vice president. He didn't have to introduce himself to anyone. Al Gore was the sitting vice president. Everyone knew him, too.

But Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and John McCain were not household names when they started their campaigns. The money definitely helped. Still, Obama and McCain were sitting senators and Romney was a former governor and son of a former governor and presidential candidate. So even these were fairly high profile, certainly higher than Burgum. Nevertheless, if Burgum decides that at 66 he really doesn't need a billion dollars to fund his retirement and decides to dump, say, $100 million into Iowa and another $100 million into New Hampshire AND decides to campaign in the two states in person full time and let Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller (R-ND) run North Dakota, he might make the top three in each state. (V)

Chris Licht Is Out at CNN

CNN's now-former CEO, Chris Licht, made a whole bunch of mistakes in a very short time. The biggest of them was giving extensive access to The Atlantic's Tim Alberta, who is a force unto himself. The resulting 15,000-word profile presented Licht as a lightweight and a total failure, lacking support from his employees, being a bad manager, giving Donald Trump a platform to lie his head off and insult CNN's Kaitlan Collins while the audience cheered him on, and much more. Yesterday, Licht's boss, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, fired Licht.

Licht was hired in Feb. 2022 after Jeff Zucker was kicked out for having an affair with another CNN executive. However, most of the staff was still loyal to Zucker. After a round of layoffs, including prominent journalists like John Harwood and Brian Stelter, morale suffered badly and Licht became very unpopular within the company.

But Licht's biggest problem was his plan to attract more Republican viewers by putting more Republicans on the air and letting them spew whatever they wanted to, unchallenged. That didn't sit well with many people at CNN and also not with many viewers, some of whom felt that if they wanted to watch Fox News, they could just watch Fox News. Ratings plummeted. The company made $750 million last year, but that was down from $1.25 billion a year earlier. Also, the CNN+ stream service was a complete debacle. Licht pulled the plug 3 weeks after it launched.

Some of the biggest names at CNN, including Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, and Erin Burnett, all criticized Licht to incoming COO David Leavy. Among Licht's other problems is that he was aloof and was rarely in the newsroom, in contrast to Zucker, who was there all the time. Having the top talent diss their boss no doubt made an impression of Leavy, who surely conveyed that message upstream.

The chaos at CNN brings into question how well it will be able to cover the 2024 elections. If it tries to appease Republicans by putting more of them on the air and letting them lie to their hearts' content, it is going to lose many viewers. That will aggravate viewers who don't like spin, and it will aggravate viewers who are left-leaning and don't want to be subjected to a right-wing propaganda barrage.

To its credit, CNN covered the story of Licht's ouster in detail. Business reporter Oliver Darcy wrote the online story and Kate Bolduan covered it on the air.

Zaslav is already looking for someone to replace Licht. Longtime CNN executive Amy Entelis will take over as the interim CEO until Zaslav finds someone. (V)

Is DeSantis Making a Faustian Bargain with the Electorate?

The general outlines of how Ron DeSantis is going to campaign are becoming clear now. He spends a little time talking about how awful the economy is and why it's Joe Biden's fault. Then he launches into the real red meat his campaign is wallowing in. He wants to ban abortions after 6 weeks, ban books that mention LGBTQ people, and declare war on woke, whatever that is. There is no doubt that he wants to outflank Donald Trump on the right and make the election all about the culture wars. It is all an act, but it is a very carefully prepared and rehearsed act. But it could be a flop.

Much of the reason that Republicans did so poorly in 2022 is that many independent voters don't really like the Democrats but considered the Republicans so extreme they voted for the Democrats anyway. While DeSantis' strategy could possibly work in the primaries, it could come home to roost in the general election, with independents rejecting DeSantis en masse.

Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican pollster, said that inflation, the border, and crime "are really good for swing voters. But by trying to out-MAGA Trump, DeSantis is very much in danger that he finds himself in the same category as Trump with these swing voters who will not like a six-week abortion ban, and who will not like his unrelenting focus on culture war fights." In other words, the nature of the Faustian bargain here is the very thing that might get him the nomination is the same thing that will destroy him in the general election.

And this isn't idle speculation. There is plenty of evidence that moving far to the right doesn't work in general elections. Just ask Sen. Blake Masters of Arizona, Gov. Tudor Dixon of Michigan, and Gov. Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania. DeSantis is obviously aware of what happened in 2022, but maybe he is blinded by his own easy win in Florida. Or maybe he fully understands everything perfectly well but has decided the only way to win the nomination is to tack hard to starboard, full speed ahead, the general election be damned. After all, using a strategy that will work will in the general election is useless if he can't beat Trump in the primaries. In other words, first things first, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said: "DeSantis' campaign and the entire Republican primary is now about how do they appeal to this narrow, very extreme, very on-line base of a party in order to win the nomination without regard for what it does to their brand for winning the general election." Maybe the candidates think they can pull a bait-and-switch on the voters and be hard right during the primaries and all rainbows and unicorns in the general election. Good luck with that, as the Democrats are busily recording everything DeSantis and the others are saying on the trail and building ads around the clips for potential future use. If DeSantis gets the nomination he can focus entirely on inflation and crime but how will that work when the Democrats run ads with video clips showing him saying "I want to ban all abortions after 6 weeks" to cheering crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire? One of Mitt Romney's advisers famously said of the campaign: "It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again." How well did that work for Romney? (V)

Candidates Use T-shirts to Qualify for Debate

Minor Republican candidates for president, which are all the candidates not named Trump or DeSantis, have to make it to the debate stage or they are toast. To qualify they need to poll 1% in certain national or state polls and also have 40,000 donors. Getting to 1% will be tricky for some of them, but getting to 40,000 donors may be even harder. For example, Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) is well known in North Dakota and maybe in parts of northern South Dakota, but that is probably about it. OK, maybe in East Grand Forks, MN, just across the state line, but that is really it. That said, he is also a billionaire. How do you get people to donate to a billionaire who has zero chance of getting the nomination? There are also the candidates who are not billionaires and also have the problem of getting people to donate to a hopeless cause. What can they do?

They have figured out how to game the system: Use loss leaders. This is a tactic sometimes used by stores. They offer a product for sale below its cost to get people into the store, in the hope they will buy something else while there. What candidates are doing is offering "free" T-shirts, books, signs, or other items for anyone who makes a "donation" of $1. Of course, giving away 40,000 T-shirts for $40,000 is going to be a large financial hit for any campaign, but if they don't make the stage, it's game over. For someone like Burgum, buying 40,000 T-shirts for, say, $400,000, is not a problem. He can just write his campaign a check. For some of the other candidates, it could be a big problem. They might offer cheaper freebies, like a bumper sticker or yard sign. This is obviously not what the RNC had in mind when it set the rules, but it is technically legal.

A few of the candidates are either too high-minded or too broke to play this game. Asa Hutchinson, for example, is not giving away swag in return for donations. Instead he has a button on his website saying: "Donate to get Asa in the Debate."

Will the qualifying rules work? From the point of RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, she wants to have the appearance of being fair to all candidates while also winnowing the field. As a result, this might not be such a crazy idea. If a candidate can't get 40,000 donors in 2 months, how can he go up against Trump, who has a massive base, or DeSantis, who has $86 million in his state account that he would like to transfer to his presidential account, although the legality of this might be questioned.

When the Democrats put up a donor requirement in 2020, half the field spent more than they raised early in the cycle. Many of those dropped out before Iowa or New Hampshire. Candidates like this simply aren't viable at all. To seriously compete, you need either national name recognition, as Mike Pence and Chris Christie have, or be self-funding, like Burgum and the other two rich guys whose names we can never remember. If you have neither, you might want to start your political career running for city council or if you are really ambitious, the state House, and not for president. (V)

What Are the Easiest Paths for the Republicans to Win the Presidency in 2024?

There isn't a lot of general-election horse race polling yet, although with Donald Trump the overwhelming favorite so far, Biden-Trump polling can't far behind. Once this starts, we will constantly remind you that it's the electoral vote, not the popular vote, that matters. To win the election, Democrats need 270 electoral votes. In contrast, to win the Republicans need only 269 because in the event of a 269-269 tie in the electoral college, the House gets to pick the president, with each state getting one vote. In almost every conceivable scenario other than a category 9 blue hurricane, the Republicans will control at least 26 state delegations, so getting 269 EVs will do the job for them.

As you can see on the map above, with the 2020 electoral votes for each state, the Republicans would need to get an additional 269 - 235 = 34 electoral votes somewhere to win. There are various ways they could do this. An analysis from Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball shows some of the ways. But which are the easiest? Let's take a look.

One way for the Republican to get 34 more EVs would be to hold all the red states from last time and win California. Easy. Only one state needed. The problem here is winning California isn't happening given that Trump lost the state by 5,104,121 votes in 2020. So clearly we need to account for not only how many EVs a state has, but how easy it would be to flip it. The metric the article uses is the "cost" of an EV—that is, how many votes you have to flip to get one additional EV. The fewer votes you have to flip per EV, the more attractive a state is.

If we look at the closest states in 2020 and keep going down the list until we get 34 EVs, we come up with this table:

State Vote margin (2020) EVs (2024) Cost per EV
Georgia 11,779 16 736
Arizona 10,457 11 951
Wisconsin 20,682 10 2,068
Total 42,918 37 1,160

So Georgia is the low-hanging fruit for the Republicans. An EV costs only 736 votes there. If they can get an additional 11,780 votes, they get a big, juicy 16 EVs. Note that this requires flipping more votes than in Arizona (more work) but the payoff is bigger. However, Arizona is a better target than Wisconsin, which is about the same size, because the cost per EV is more than double in Wisconsin.

To us, this seems like a good starting point for evaluating different paths to victory for the Republicans. However, it is worth mentioning that the three states are very far apart and very different demographically. Talking about rebuilding heavy manufacturing will go over well in Wisconsin but not at all in the other two states. Finding a single message that works for all nationally and for all three of them may not be so easy.

While the above is one path, it is not the only one. There might be reasons why winning a state is hard. For example, the governors of Arizona and Wisconsin are Democrats and they will use all the state machinery they can to help their team win. Georgia may be easier than the table above shows, because Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) will help the red team out.

Another path is through Pennsylvania and Georgia. Pennsylvania is the biggest swing state that went blue last time and could conceivably flip in 2024. While harder than those above, it is also the biggest prize. Here's how that path looks:

State Vote margin (2020) EVs (2024) Cost per EV
Pennsylvania 82,166 19 4,325
Georgia 11,779 16 736
Total 93,945 35 2,684

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have tended to vote the same way in recent cycles, so a pitch that works in one might work in the other. Given that Pennsylvania has a bigger haul, this route could be worth considering, even though Pennsylvania is more "expensive" than Wisconsin. Remember than campaigns really have to decide which states to prioritize in terms of buying television time, paying workers on the ground, and deciding where the candidate should spend time. In effect, a campaign has to pick a path and then follow through.

Here is another path:

State Vote margin (2020) EVs (2024) Cost per EV
Pennsylvania 82,166 19 4,325
Arizona 10,457 11 951
Wisconsin 20,682 10 2,068
Total 113,305 40 2,833

This path is slightly more expensive than the Pennsylvania + Georgia path, but, as noted, issues that resonate in Pennsylvania also resonate in Wisconsin, so campaigning may be easier. Also, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are close together, reducing travel time and travel costs. Further, this route does not involve Georgia, where the Democrats not only won the presidential race in 2020, but three Senate races there in the past three years. It seems to be becoming a purple-blue state very quickly.

If Georgia looks too hard to get, here is another route around it:

State Vote margin (2020) EVs (2024) Cost per EV
Pennsylvania 82,166 19 4,325
Arizona 10,457 11 951
Nevada 33,596 6 5,599
Total 126,219 35 3,506

The attraction here is that while Georgia is trending blue, Nevada is trending red. It just replaced a Democratic governor with a Republican one, for example. It's perhaps more of a wild card than some of the other states.

Now what about this?

State Vote margin (2020) EVs (2024) Cost per EV
Pennsylvania 82,166 19 4,325
Wisconsin 20,682 10 2,068
Nevada 33,596 6 5,599
Total 35 136,444 3,898

The advantage here is that it doesn't require winning Georgia or Arizona, two states that having been turning blue recently. In Arizona, for example, the governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and both senators were elected as Democrats.

Now here is one last, oddball, way to get to 34: Pick off NE-02, Omaha. Now Omaha isn't a state, of course, but it does have its very own electoral vote (NE-02). Here is the table for this route:

State Vote margin (2020) EVs (2024) Cost per EV
Georgia 11,779 16 736
Arizona 10,457 11 951
Nevada 33,596 6 5,599
NE-02 19,810 1 19,810
Total 34 75,642 2,225

Why might this route to preferable to the others? Well, suppose the Republican campaign concludes that 2016 was a fluke with Trump barely winning Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and that the upper Midwest is going to revert to its historical blue color in 2024. Democrats have since won most statewide elections in all of them, including the gubernatorial races in all three in 2022. Then the question comes up: Can the Republicans win the White House while losing them all? The above scenario shows that it is possible, but it runs through Nebraska, of all places, and the stars really have to align. Alternatively, substitute ME-02 for NE-02, but that's probably a tougher climb. There is not a lot of margin for error if the Upper Midwest is lost.

There are other scenarios, like flipping Michigan or New Hampshire, for example, but if that happens we are probably in the middle of a huge red wave and those states don't even matter.

One thing we didn't look at, but which can't be ignored, is the Democrats flipping a red state. The easiest one by far is North Carolina. Barack Obama even did it in 2008. Here is the little table for it:

State Vote margin (2020) EVs (2024) Cost per EV
North Carolina 74,483 16 4,655

Again, campaigns don't just run ads and hope for the best. They have limited resources and have to decide how to allocate them. For the Republican candidate, he (sorry Nikki, but no "or she" here) has to make decisions where to put resources. Is Nevada worth it? Is Pennsylvania worth it? This is what campaign managers have sleepless nights thinking about. (V)

The Democrats House Plan Has Leaked Out

In politics, not a lot stays secret very long. Specifically, Politico got a copy of the DCCC's plan to take back the House. Here is the story about it and here is the actual text of the plan.

The main theme, to paraphrase in the manner the DCCC would paraphrase, is "attack the Republicans as extremists who have an agenda that doesn't work for ordinary Americans." Roughly summarized, it looks like this:

What Republicans want What Democrats want
Giveaways for rich people while protecting tax cheats Cutting taxes for middle-class Americans
Ban abortion nationwide Protect abortion and make healthcare more affordable
Play stunts like holding FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt Make sure law enforcement is properly funded
Wasting time impeaching DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Seek bipartisan compromise on immigration reform
Impeach Joe Biden for creating 13 million jobs Build an economy that works for all Americans

The plan will be rolled out in 31 districts where the Republican looks vulnerable. In 18 of these, Joe Biden carried the district in 2020. The others are swing districts. Most likely, the major focus will be on abortion and taxes as most Americans probably have no clue who Mayorkas is. (V)

What Might a New York Gerrymander Look Like?

After the North Carolina Supreme Court threw out a highly gerrymandered map, the Democrats let out a sigh of relief. But it was not to last. After the composition of the North Carolina Supreme Court changed in the Nov. 2022 election, the new Supreme Court simply threw out the decision of the previous court to allow a new gerrymandered map. Why? Because they can.

The New York state legislature has taken keen note of this development and may try to repeat it. It also drew a highly gerrymandered map, this time to favor the Democrats, but the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, threw it out. Now there has been a change in membership in the Court of Appeals—in a direction more favorable to the Democrats. And indeed, Democrats are talking about creating a new map to counter the North Carolina one. Just in case anyone thinks that the courts are neutral arbiters who base their decisions on the law and the Constitution, wake up. This is the 21st century.

David Wasserstein, of The Cook Political Report, has played a bit with Dave's Redistricting Website to see what the New York legislature might do now. He came up with a map that is not as aggressive as the original map, which might give plausible deniability to the Court of Appeals if they approved it, but could still net the Democrats five or six seats, thus balancing out North Carolina. This is not to say that the New York legislature will use his map, but it shows what they could do. And after what happened in North Carolina, the Republicans don't have much of a case complaining if the Democrats do it since they did it first.

Wasserstein's hypothetical map is shown and discussed here (note: paywall). Let's start with the map. The full state is on the left and an enlarged part for New York City is on the right:

David Wasserstein's hypothetical New York House map

The Republican seats that the map goes after are those of Reps. "George Santos" (NY-03) and Anthony D'Esposito (NY-04) on Long Island, those of Reps. Mike Lawler (NY-17) and Marc Molinaro (NY-19) in the Hudson Valley, and that of Brandon Williams (NY-22) near Syracuse. It doesn't go after Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), since that would really be pushing the envelope and might cause the Court of Appeals to kill the whole thing. In the original map the Democrats went after her and drew a map that would have made Elbridge Gerry blush and that did make the Court of Appeals say "No!"

Here is a rundown of the various seats the Democrats are going to have to think hard about as they whip up a potential gerrymander:

  • NY-01 (Nick LaLota): The Democrats could try for this one, but LaLota beat a well-funded Democrat, Bridget Fleming, by 12 points. It is probably a bridge too far and would complicate taking over the nearby NY-03 and NY-04 districts. So probably they would leave LaLota alone.

  • NY-03 ("George Santos"): "Santos" won't be the Republican candidate next time. There is no way he could win the GOP primary. The Democrats could ditch parts of Long Island, jump the Long Island Sound, and include parts of Democratic Rye, Mamaroneck, and New Rochelle in Westchester County. It would be weird, but weirder maps have passed muster. Former representative Tom Suozzi (D) wants his old job back, and the Democrats could help him by throwing in southeast Westchester County to turn a Biden+8 district into a Biden+21 district he could easily win.

  • NY-04 (Anthony D'Esposito): Former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen (D) is going for a rematch against D'Esposito again. He won 52% to 48% in 2022. The new map removes heavily Jewish Orthodox Lawrence-Cedarhurst and replaces it with heavily Black and Latino Westbury. That could do the job for Gillen.

  • NY-11 (Nicole Malliotakis): In 2022, Democrat Max Rose was crushed by Malliotakis 62%-38% due to the Trumpiness of Staten Island. Fixing this would lead to a dreadful map that might make the Court of Appeals barf. Probably not worth trying. Keeping the current map in this area would also help newly elected Rep. Dan Goldman (D) in NY-10, who was the lead lawyer in the first impeachment of Donald Trump. A lot of Democrats see him as a hero, so conceding NY-11 and helping Goldman a bit is likely in the cards.

  • NY-17 (Mike Lawler): Lawler knocked off DCCC Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney last time. In Wasserstein's map, the Jewish Orthodox parts of Rockland County are removed from the district and replaced with White Plains and Scarsdale, which are extremely blue. When (V) was growing up in White Plains, a Democrat couldn't get elected deputy assistant dogcatcher. Then things changed and Nita Lowey (D) represented White Plains in the House for 32 years, finally retiring as chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. This change would require Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) to absorb some Trump territory, which progressives would definitely not like. But if Albany Democrats want to take back the House, this might be needed. NY-17 is going to have one hell of a primary no matter what. Former representative Mondaire Jones, who likes to go district shopping, may run here after losing in the NY-10 primary to Dan Goldman last year. But Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's sister, Liz Whitmer Gereghty, a long-time resident of the district, is already in. (Note to Liz: Drop the Gereghty; starting now, you are Liz Whitmer.)

  • NY-18 (Pat Ryan): In a special election in Aug. 2022, Democrat Ryan won the seat and held it. In 2022, Lee Zeldin ran for governor and lost. His running mate, Alison Esposito is running in NY-18. She is a gay veteran of the NYPD. The map sheds a bit of rural area and picks up liberal Peekskill shifting the district from Biden+8 to Biden+11.

  • NY-19 (Marc Molinaro): This was a close race in 2022, with Molinaro winning 50.8%-49.2%. Democrat Michelle Hinchey, a state senator and daughter of former representative Maurice Hinchey (who held the seat for 20 years), may run and Democrats could give her a little boost here.

  • NY-22 (Brandon Williams): In the past, moderate Republicans have held this seat, but in 2022, conservative Texas transplant Williams won the GOP primary and the seat. With minor alterations, the district could be made unwinnable for a conservative Republican. If it becomes very blue, plenty of Syracuse Democrats will get interested in running for it.

Again, this is not a draft map, but merely an exercise Wasserstein did to see what the Democrats could do if they decided to change the map this year. Since they have the trifecta and a friendlier Court of Appeals, the temptation to monkey with the map will be very great. (V)

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.

To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun07 More Legal Trouble for Trump
Jun07 The Freedom Caucus Strikes Back
Jun07 LIV Golf, PGA Tour Merge
Jun07 What Mike Pence's Presidential "Lane" Looks Like
Jun07 "George Santos" Ordered to Reveal Bond Co-Signers
Jun07 Approval Ratings Are a Mystery, Worldwide (Part III)
Jun07 Maybe This Explains Biden's Approval Rating
Jun07 Tracking Poll, June 2023, Senate Edition
Jun06 The Presidential Field Looks to Be (Almost) Set
Jun06 DeSantis May Cede One of His Biggest Advantages over Trump...
Jun06 ...And DeSantis Has Another Big Problem in Comparison to Trump
Jun06 Anti-Drag Law Struck Down
Jun06 Churchgoers Are Losing Their Grip on the Republican Party
Jun06 Talking about Abortion, Part IX: P.S.' Story
Jun06 Tracking Poll, June 2023, Presidential Edition
Jun05 Biden Clinches the Deal
Jun05 Political Winners and Losers from the Debt Deal
Jun05 It's Cattle Call Time
Jun05 DeSantis' Fundraising Is from Rich Donors
Jun05 Trump and DeSantis Are Already Getting Nasty with Each Other
Jun05 Jack Smith's Grand Jury Will Meet Again This Week
Jun05 Willis Is Now Looking Beyond Georgia for Trump's Crimes
Jun05 RNC Issues Criteria for Making the Debate Stage
Jun05 Iowa Will Require Caucusgoers to Be Present in Person
Jun05 The Economy Is Roaring
Jun05 Both Parties Hope to Rebound in 2024
Jun05 How Can Biden Handle It If His Son Is Indicted?
Jun04 Sunday Mailbag
Jun03 Saturday Q&A
Jun02 Our Long National Nightmare Is (Almost) Over
Jun02 DeSantis Blows His Lid
Jun02 The Pride Goeth During the Fall
Jun02 California Republicans May Try Something Different
Jun02 Talking about Abortion, Part VIII: They Lived It
Jun02 This Week in Schadenfreude: Teach Your Children Well
Jun02 This Week in Freudenfreude: The Show Must Go On
Jun01 Debt-Ceiling Bill Advances
Jun01 What about That IRS Funding?
Jun01 DeSantis Hits the Trail
Jun01 Jack Smith Has Tape of Trump Discussing Classified Documents
Jun01 Chris Christie Is Probably In
Jun01 There Could Be Up to Four Black Women in the Next Senate
Jun01 David Cicilline Will Leave Congress Today
Jun01 Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Two Laws Banning Abortions
May31 Onward and Upward for Debt Ceiling Deal
May31 Trump Says He Will End Birthright Citizenship
May31 Rep. Chris Stewart to Resign
May31 Who Is Winning the Culture Wars?
May31 Talking about Abortion, Part VII: Still More Questions and Answers
May30 Freedom Caucusers Work to Sink Budget Deal