Morning Ed: Politics {2017.06.22.Th}

Jason Kuznicki’s has a good piece on how to improve the social politics of libertarianism and Andrew Sabl writes about (classical) liberalism beyond markets.

It’s far from the most important thing, but one of the big lessons I learned in the 2016 campaign are the clear lines between liberal and left, which (combined with a fracture on the right) is one of the reasons you might see me using umbrella terms like “leftward and “rightward” to describe people. In any event, Nathan Robinson argues that there can be no unity among Democrats, but there must be collaboration.

CityLab has a piece on the politics of wealth in London. It’s not just the US where wealthier places are veering left, and the reasons are not necessarily what we might initially think.

Shadi Hamid argues that for multiculturalism to work, we need a liberalism that accommodates.

Michael Brendan Dougherty argues that bringing the DUP into coalition with the Tories makes the coalition more representative of Britain. What’s interesting about the DUP is how much its social views misalign with (and are way to the right of) the Northern Ireland’s electorate. NI being stuck between Sinn Fein and the DUP – and the inability of the center-left SDLP or center-right UUP to make any headway is one of the biggest Pick Your Extremism cases in the world and a pretty substantial indictment of FPTP elections.

Emmanuel Macron is kicking some ass and taking names.

Things Canada chooses to spend its money on and a regulatory snafu in Cambridge.

Maybe Governor Abbott hates old trees because one of them put him in a wheelchair?

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Will Truman is a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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191 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Politics {2017.06.22.Th}

  1. 1. Based on reading Libertarians on Facebook through Jason K. and others, I think a lot of them fancy themselves as a sort of revolutionary vanguard party like the Bolsheviks that will impose libertarianism on people for their own good. Part of this is because they seem to treat libertarianism as a super special club that only the chosen could belong to, at the time of the Libertarian convention Jason bemoaned the unprofessional/comic con nature of it on Facebook, and another part is that they realize most people don’t buy their priors. Non-Libertarians don’t see the State as a sort of abstract Cthulhu like entity out to destroy people’s happiness that appeared out of no-where in late prehistory. Most people see government as an entity that does good and bad.

    2. Nathan Robinson is more or less correct in the differences between liberals and leftists but there has always been a sort of blend between the two and this blend increased after the Cold War. Many free market advocates have always seen the liberal belief in tempered capitalism as being nothing more to a gateway to socialism. Its the full-throttle or nothing for them. Thats why they attacked liberals as a dangerous subversive fifth column during the Cold War. When the Cold War ended, many Marxists and other Far Leftists kind of migrated to the Center Left liberal and social democratic parties without changing their views that much because their were politically homeless. LGM is kind of a good place to observe this. Many of the posters have Far Left political opinions on things like capitalism or patriotism, when discussing the Defiant Girl statute one poster said that it should be a grown Black woman gelding the bull of capitalism, but they describe themselves as liberals or progressives rather than Leftists or Marxists. Many of them are full of contempt for self-defined Leftists even though they have Leftists beliefs. Its very complicated.

    3. There is a simple way to test whether the CityLab thesis is true. Look at the numbers of people who voted compared to the number of people of voting age with houses in that district. It does make a lot of sense as a theory though. The very wealthy are in a weird spot politically. There aren’t that many liberal socialist globalist free market parties to vote for in the world. They have a choice between a party that supports their economic views but as out of whack social politics or one that supports their social politics but not their economic ones because most non-very wealthy people don’t support their package.

    4. Shadi Hamid makes a good point. Modern democracy is based on the idea that the majority rules but the minority has rights that the majority shouldn’t trample on. When it comes to our globalized, post-colonialist multicultural world, determining to what extent minorities need to integrate into the majority culture is a question with a lot of explosive potential. The anti-immigrant factions of the Alt-Right says that integration is an impossibility even in the slightest degree and the immigrants must be excluded. The Social Justice/Intersectionalist Left believes that any amount of required integration is an act of racism. Most people are in between but have a hard time deciding how much to require.

    Dougherty’s argument is too clever by a half but I think your right about post-peace Northern Ireland being a big indictment of FPTP elections. It might also be a sign that FPTP elections makes tribal and very partisan politics more likely than other electoral systems because it limits the parties and people tend to stick to their party after their first election.


    • “fancy themselves as a sort of revolutionary vanguard party like the Bolsheviks that will impose libertarianism on people for their own good.”

      Yeah, it does seem like that doesn’t it sometimes? But that’s fundamentally against the entire concepts they are supposed to stand for. I wouldn’t have any part of that.


      • It is an ugly thing, but not even remotely indicative of the whole. Every ideology has it’s Bolsheviks, and Jason, because he is pretty public, tends to attract the nuts.

        Non-Libertarians don’t see the State as a sort of abstract Cthulhu like entity out to destroy people’s happiness that appeared out of no-where in late prehistory

        That is not what Hanley was getting at.


      • It might just be a realization that there really isn’t a political market for genuine libertarianism and also that your going to need to exert some very anti-democratic measures to ensure perpetual minimal government because your going to loose to a party with a belief in more activist government eventually. This means that the only way to really get to pure minimal government is by revolutionary, anti-democratic means.


        • I’m totally in agreement that there isn’t a “political market for genuine libertarianism ” within the public. Most of them are all statist, after all, just depends upon what they want the state to do.

          Again, forcing people would be an anathema to me. “This means that the only way to really get to pure minimal government is by revolutionary, anti-democratic means.” Nah. You could wait for the eventual failure of the system, which will come eventually, while working on the small scale local level.


        • My response to JasonK:

          If there were any demand for “libertarian social engineering”, the market would have already provided. (In some places it already has — certain kinds of charter schools, for example.) There’s a market failure? oh, wait ….

          also, Dominant Assurance Contracts exist all over the place. Has he never heard a pledge drive that has matching fund challenges? From the opera to the museum to non-profit radio, this kind of fund-raising is everywhere.


  2. Based on photographs, Macron’s true colors seem to be navy blue and white. Has he ever been photographed wearing anything else?


  3. Geebus H, social engineering libertarian style, yeah, let’s not do that.

    I usually dig Jasons stuff but this one is questionable. If half the population begins with priors of order and needs based claims for the existence of government, the best way to ‘social engineer’ morality for those folks is to let them walk into the quicksand repeatedly. I may love them as my brothers and sisters, but they need to learn why. They need to see their loved ones drowning in the quicksand of their own making.

    Galt’s gulch is a likely metaphor for fire walling between ability focused constructs and needs based constructs. I recently reviewed Atlas Shrugged in it’s entirety and found it to be interesting if not long winded.

    Ayn wrote it in a time that so many people wanted more explaination of her views, and she went over them repeatedly. What was also prevalent was the continued slow death of the industrial world into the quagmire of needs based ideology.

    She did fetish a type of corporate tycoonism. The way capitalism is unfolding I think tycoonism confined to the individualism isn’t a bad thing, but expanded to large corporations or firms, macro-tycoonism isn’t working out very well. I would even question the morality of macro-tycoonism, as it becomes gripped in the Iron Law problem, and no longer sees people. I think that particular aspect of the book was a bit of a con.


  4. CityLab and London: The article made it quite clear that there is a difference in being from the UES and cheering HRC and voting for Labour. That being said, the article made it quite clear that this district is different than just a normal well-to-do district. The district was filled with uber-wealthy who might not be UK citizens and might not spend most of their time in the district and then a lot of people further down the SES. Even the UK residents seem to spend more time at their country estates according to the article. The hypothesis of the article was that the district went Labour because the rich did not vote but the poor in public housing did.

    So this isn’t just quite rich people veering left but possibly globalism changing a well-to-do district into one that is more local and poor people voting and rich people not caring or being unable to vote. That being said Lee has a point, there is often not a good party for the rich. Research shows the wealthier donor classes of both the Democratic Party and Republican Party are more economically conservative and socially liberal than the rest of the party (there is less difference on social issues for rich and poor Democrats though). So I imagine a lot of rich people just decide what is more important to them and then vote that way.

    Leftists v. Liberals: Robinson gets it largely right except that I think he is wrong on somethings. A lot of younger liberals like me just think Vietnam was a horrible mistake that we shouldn’t have gotten into at all. I don’t know how old Nathan J. Robinson is. Some googling reveals that their might be two of them both on the left. There is a youngish Nathan J. Robinson getting a PhD at Harvard and there might be another Nathan J. Robinson who is the editor of Current Affairs. A lot of the pieces in this essay that I did not like seemed more like litigating the 1960s all over again between mainstream but anti-Soviet liberal Democrats (with Snyder as Hubert Humphrey) and Robinson as the Hippies/SDS.


    • Robinson comes off as hyper-sensitive. He took the statement “It is not patriotic to dodge the draft and to mock war heroes and their families” as a personal attack, even though it was apparently the first item on a list of Trump’s actions. I don’t know how old you are, Saul, but there’s an odd obsession with the 1960’s on the left that spans generations.


  5. Liberal vs leftist: I used to believe that there was a difference. Maybe there was one in the past. Today’s liberal is taking positions that 30 years ago would have been called leftist. I’m willing to consider the possibility that the only difference between a leftist and a liberal is 30 years, but also the possibility that liberalism and leftism have converged. It could be that leftists see a difference but liberals don’t.


        • Besides wanting universal healthcare of some form, what industries do American liberals want to nationalize? I agree that there has been blurring of the lines between liberals and leftists after the end of the Cold War but not that much blurring of the lines.


            • Supporting already existing public schools and opposing charters and vouchers is not supporting nationalization of education. Very few liberals are calling for the complete eradication of all private education.


              • The best you can do on this is saying that very few are calling for the complete. But as with health care, the default position on the left is that the government should provide funding for everyone. They also support the steady expansion of government control within the field. If you asked any self-professed leftist or liberal what they’d like to see in 30 years, you’d hear a description of a virtual nationalization.


              • And lots of liberals support charter schools and vouchers. Michelle Rhee is not exactly a conservative. Neither is Corey Booker.

                Put it this way: Rhee and Booker illustrate the distinction. Liberals care about individual incentives and want to tweak the incentives in order to fix the system. Leftists care about showing solidarity with teachers*.

                *Obviously I’m not a leftist and right now cannot be bothered to present a sympathetic account of lefty views on education.


          • I read it the other way – that nationalization, traditionally a core leftist platform plank, doesn’t have currency in any of the myriad factions comprising the current US non-right team picture.


        • I’m a bit young but as I understand my political history of the US the mainstream liberals in the US have very not ever been less interested in nationalizing industries now than before- certainly not in the heydays of the left so that division seems alive and thriving.

          Sexuality? I don’t know how sexually liberationist the old lefties were but there’s still a yawning chasm between the campus left and the political liberals. No matter how much the right tries to pretend there isn’t.

          I think on environmentalism you might have a point though more in that capitalist allowing environmentalism has brought the left a lot closer to the liberals than the other way around.


          • There were some calls to nationalize the railroads during the early 20th century and Harry Truman attempted to nationalize the steel industry during the Korean War, a move quickly smacked down by the Supreme Court, but the general preference was to regulate private industry rather than nationalize it. The Democratic Party never had a Clause Four or anything like it.


            • Yes thank you. I was just trying to figure out if there was a good point in the original assertion or if it was just Foxsplaining. It strikes me now as more the latter than the former.


  6. Macron is going to be quite fascinating to watch. The French electorate has flat out said “okay, you say centrist technocracy can fix up the joint. Here’s the power, show us what you can do.” With the4 Presidency and the assembly he has no excuses not to deliver. He’s clearly not sitting on his hand.


  7. How’s about that special election?

    I’m worried that everyone will learn all of the wrong lesson from Ossoff.

    For one: the dude didn’t live in the district, so he couldn’t vote for himself. Let me say that again but use bold tags: the dude didn’t live in the district, so he couldn’t vote for himself.

    Want to see the response he gave after being challenged about not living in the district? Here it is:

    “I grew up in this district. I grew up in this community. No one knew there was going to be an election coming. I have been living with Alicia my girlfriend of twelve years down by Emory University where she is a full time medical student. As soon as she concludes her medical training I will be back into the district where I grew up, but I want to support her and her career and do right by her.”

    As reasons for why he doesn’t live in the district he wants to represent, that’s probably as good of a reason you could possibly come up with.

    But, and let me say this again, the dude didn’t live in the district, so he couldn’t vote for himself.

    One of the “funny” tweets immediately after the election sent (publicly) to Ossoff: “Are you still going to move to the district?”

    And that’s not even talking about the amount of money spent nor mentioning the ads that this money bought nor the various celebrity-related campaigning done on behalf of Ossoff nor the whole thing about how Ossoff had nine times more donations from the Bay Area as from locally.

    The last 5 special elections are 0-5 for the democrats.

    Is it too early to start to panic yet?


    • Winning is better than losing, and ‘moral’ victories aren’t winning, but these special elections are all in districts where the Democratic party apparatus could make them classified as sour boroughs.


      • and ‘moral’ victories aren’t winning

        About that, I saw some interesting data on voter turnout in the last four special elections: Dems closed the 2016 gap by quite a bit (yay Dems!), but in each, even tho both parties had lower turnout than in ’16, GOP turnout was radically less than Dem turnout. So right now I’m not sure it even makes sense for Dems to call Ossofs run a moral victory. Especially given that he underperformed relative to Hillary’s numbers.

        Jaybird asked if it’s time to panic yet, and clearly he’s been panicking for the Dems by proxy for a couple of years now. Maybe it’s time for the Dem establishment to start panicking, too.


        • No they shouldn’t panic since it isn’t productive. It’s far to easy to read a ton into every one of these special elections. Sure i was hoping Ossof would win but it also became clear to me a few weeks ago that by loudly targeting this race and with it getting so much national attention it became much less of a predictor for how the actual midterms will go. It became more of a special case then the normal special election which are already unusual. Partisan R’s were activated just as much as partisan D’s. What does it mean in the big picture? Beats me: there have been some positive and negative numbers for D’s in the various special elections which is probably what we should have expected. But freaking out that D’s haven’t won solidly R seats is pretty silly. It would be nice, but still silly to expect that.


          • Right now I’d say the only positive for Dems over the last four special elections is that GOP vote totals are down more than Dem totals are, which may mean conservatives are more un-enthusiastic about the GOP than liberals are unenthusiastic about the Dems.


            • D’s are running closer in solid R districts. That is a positive. Does it mean much in the long run? I’ll tell you next November, but it still is something we want to see. If D’s were losing by more then they had previously we would certainly be hammered over the head with it.

              On a more meta note, damn people have short attention spans and expect things to change on a dime. That isn’t really how things work though especially on a national scale and in a highly partisan environment.


              • On a more meta note, damn people have short attention spans and expect things to change on a dime.

                I’ve been noticing (not necessarily complaining) about Dem losses at the state and local level since Tod wrote his Sailing Away series. So that’s, what?, 5 (!!) years now? I’ve also been #actually complaining about the Dems prospects and direction at the Presidential/national level for over two years now. This stuff isn’t hard to see, greg. Seems to me anyway.


                • I agree. D’s have been lazy asses at the state level. However they F’d up, and they did, the wake up call didn’t come until November. That is when they have started to steer the ship in a different direction. Also it takes a long time, very often, to the results of changes. I get the impatience to see results now, i just don’t’ think it’s reasonable to expect that. That doesn’t mean the Dem’s don’t have the ability to keep screwing up….that is in their wheelhouse all right.


                      • “If Hillary wins a sitting president will be under investigation!”
                        “Hillary uses her foundation as a grift to get rich!”
                        “Hillary uses her political influence to get rich!”
                        “Hillary shared classified info with our enemies!”
                        “The only way Hillary wins is if the election is rigged!”


                            • Except that the Trump investigations don’t even involve a crime, just accusations of consorting with demons or witches.

                              Trump doesn’t have a foundation.

                              Trump was already rich from real estate.

                              Trump shared classified information with a partner who is targeting terrorists bent on bringing down airliners. It was the news media and anti-Trump leakers who shared that information with our enemies.

                              And Hillary couldn’t even win the rigged election.


                                  • The only people who think the investigation is about Trump are Trump and Hannity watchers. Right from the get-go the investigation was about the Trump campaign, which obvs includes Trump. And everyone who’s paying attention – including Trump himself – concedes that his actions are now part of the investigation.


                                • Hillary did nothing but lie to the FBI every time they talked to her, as did everyone who works for her.

                                  To my knowledge, they have yet to present any evidence that Flynn lied to the FBI. He lied (or misspoke) to Pence.

                                  As for FS-86, it assumes that you’ve only met four or five foreigners and only traveled to four foreign countries in the past seven years. Flynn is accused of not knowing which parts of his trip to Moscow were paid directly or via the US company that was getting paid to pay him for air fair and hotel rooms.

                                  Hillary sold a quarter of US strategic uranium assets to Putin in return for tens millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation.


                                • Flynn, Sessions and Kushner (perhaps Paige as well) all lied to the FBI or on their FS-86.

                                  Heh… you know I’m fine with investigating the whole thing… but you also know that my hunch is that we’re going to find that Flynn, Sessions and Kushner lied on their FS-86.

                                  I mean, when you put it right out there that there’s been an FS-86 violation, it kinda makes me chuckle. Far be it for me to make light of an FS-86 episode, but… I make light. What is the form number for fellatio by Saudi?


                                  • Well, as I always say, we’ll see. But smart people think Flynn’s already cooperating with Mueller, which suggests he has something worth trading.

                                    But maybe you’re thinking that collusion is limited to coordinated efforts at electioneering. I think it’s much broader than that, myself.

                                    Adding to that: I still find it odd that “nothing to see here” people skip right past Trump’s own words re: the Comey firing: that he did it to end the Russia investigation. If so, why? Because there’s nothing to see there?


                                    • Oh, I think there’s something to see… probably something very embarrassing like…

                                      Russian: “Hey we hacked your opponent’s campaign email system and we’re going to give everything to Wikileaks… want to see some of the juicier bits we found?”

                                      TeamTrumpsky: “Cool, sure” …

                                      {goes and tells Trump to curry favor}

                                      That’s wrong on so many levels… but it doesn’t make me think America (or even Trump) is bought and sold to the Russians.

                                      The Russians, like everyone else, are learning that their investments in Trump (whatever they might be) pay very poor returns.

                                      Scooter Libby went to Jail but Dick Chaney just got a new heart and kept on doing what he needed to do. So, I’m just sayin’ pace yourself and steel yourself for the possibility that Flynn goes to jail for lying on an FS-86… but high-crimes and misdemeanors? Well, we’ll see.


                                      • Like I said, collusion goes beyond voluntary and coordinated efforts at electioneering tho that’s certainly possible. If there is a *there* there, I think it’ll tie directly into Trump’s and Kushner’s real estate deals and Russian leverage devolving from them. Sater and Cohen have stories to tell!


                                        • Thinking about that it struck me: you know that too! YOu know that Kushner is in hot water for not disclosing a meeting with Kislyak on his FS-86, the one where he wanted to establish a private backchannel on Russian communication equipment.

                                          You know that. The investigation has gone way beyond whether GOP micro data was shared with Russian fake news distributors.


                                              • Well, hold on now… back channels are secret, and, you could argue covered by Executive Privilege. On that one you are conflating things.

                                                Flynn et al. buying and selling influence is one thing… Kushner being exposed for the newb he is is another.

                                                Now, if *your* hunch that the back-channel was for facilitating double-dealing with regards their leveraged position… then sure that’s serious… but [bracketing the incompetence and naivete and poor choice of methods] its the content that would be problematic, not the secret communication.

                                                Unless we think we don’t have secret communications (some “in-channel” and some out) with…just about every nation?

                                                I mean the distinction between ducks and witches can get murky… but I’m pretty clear on what’s a duck.


                                                    • Well, the problem with the collusion investigation is that Mueller has been asked by the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees what underlying crime he is investigating, because without some underlying potential crime, they aren’t going to fund what he’s doing.

                                                      Collusion isn’t even a misdemeanor. It’s not even against any rules.


                                                        • Well, the prosecutor can’t even file charges against the President.

                                                          And of course can you imagine what Trump and Sessions would do to Democrats if they prosecuted someone like Kushner? Half the Democrats in Congress would end up wearing orange jump suits.


                                                          • And of course can you imagine what Trump and Sessions would do to Democrats if they prosecuted someone like Kushner?

                                                            Mueller is a Republican; charges can only be filed by conservative-appointed DAG Rosenstein; conservative leadership in both the House and Senate – well, the house… – is investigating the exact same stuff Mueller is.


                                                            • The House and Senate can’t even figure out what Mueller is investigating. Just yesterday the leaders of both judicial committees sent him a letter asking him what the heck he thinks he’s doing. They remind him that he has to have suspicion of an actual crime, and they need to know what that crime is. Collusion, I remind you, is not a crime, nor did anyone ever find any evidence of it. They also reminded him that the DoJ’s mandate stops at politics, a line they cannot cross.

                                                              Of course the FBI is stonewalling the committees because the FBI has rotted from the inside. It no longer has any credibility. It’s criminally incompetent.

                                                              And just today Comey was seen walking into the front door of the New York Times building, no doubt to illegally leak more information. Someone should send him to prison.


                                                              • Shut Him Down!

                                                                Actually, with conservalogic you could argue that running an investigation that hasn’t reached definitive conclusions yet is a criminal offense. A crime against Trump. So

                                                                Lock Him Up!


                                                                • No. What’s not allowed is a fishing expedition. An investigation has to start with suspicion of a crime. They’re not allowed to just start digging through whole groups of people figuring that somebody probably did something. They have to be searching for evidence of a crime, one that’s listed as a crime in the statutes, and one for which they have reason to suspect has been violated.

                                                                  And there’s the problem. They don’t have a crime to investigate. Nor can they make a case for obstruction because Trump could have not only ordered Comey to drop the investigation, he could have pardoned Flynn, and it still wouldn’t be obstruction.


                                                                  • No. What’s not allowed is a fishing expedition.

                                                                    Right. So, nothing like WhitewaterGate or BenghaziGate? Got it.

                                                                    An investigation has to start with suspicion of a crime.

                                                                    Apparently not in this case. No, in this case the investigation is into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential Trump campaign collusion with an extension of that scope authorized by Trump nominated and Republican appointed DAG Rosenstein.


                                                                    • People went to jail for Whitewater. It started as a criminal investigation into a failed savings and loan run by the McDougals. David Hale gave testimony that the Clintons pressured him to make an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, who went to jail for 18 months. Governor Jim Guy Tucker was also involved, and he too went to prison.

                                                                      Benghazi wasn’t a criminal investigation, it was an inquiry into what happened, though many members of the Obama Administration could have been prosecuted for perjury, including Hillary Clinton.

                                                                      She could have been prosecuted for what she normally did in any given week, because she is a born criminal who is unable to stop herself from engaging in criminal behavior.

                                                                      In contrast, what crime could Trump conceivably have committed? After a year, they haven’t even revealed any evidence of the Russian government hacking the DNC. They haven’t explained why Russia would have even wanted to help Trump. They haven’t explained why any rational person would think they’d need to coordinate with Trump even if they did hack the DNC.

                                                                      In contrast, they could ask why Russia paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a short speech right after Hillary approved the sale of US Uranium One to the Russians, and why the people behind that deal donated tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.

                                                                      They might ask why Bill was running a shell company in Sweden to rake in cash from companies seeking to do business with Iran, and why Hillary gave them approval to sell Iran advanced technology contrary to existing US sanctions.


                                                                        • So what’s the investigation about? They have no evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC servers. In fact, they have a ton of evidence saying that it wasn’t the Russians at all, and testimony that it was the DNC’s media outreach guy – who was murdered for leaking. He called himself Panda, and an accomplice came forward. Julian Assange also denies it was the Russians who gave the material to Wikileaks, as does the former British ambassador who was part of the drops.

                                                                          As for any other activities the Russians may have engaged in, how would that be different from what they did in 2008, or how they colluded directly with Obama during that election?


                                                                          • Ooops. I was wrong about who can make charges. Mueller has complete authority:

                                                                            “If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,” the order says. That means he can issue subpoenas, present evidence to a grand jury and bring charges — all the powers of a federal prosecutor.


                                                                            • If the FBI can’t find any political motives or evidence of planning in the Scalise shooting, which they couldn’t, insisting it was spontaneous and probably an accidental encounter, then you know they’ll be all over that Pizzagate scandal.

                                                                              They need to be disbanded for staggering ineptitude.


                                                                              • We’re so far through the looking glass we can’t even see the light from it behind us. It’s gone over the horizon behind us. In the world we are in explanations for Trump’s behavior don’t have to make sense or even agree with each other to be good.


                                                                                • Yeah, Trump was colluding with the Russians, raising demons, casting spells, and coordinating with the Illuminati to suppress evidence that Jesus was still alive and living in Trump Tower.

                                                                                  At this point, Democrats will believe absolutely anything.


                                                                                  • You got me. It’s not like multiple intell officials have said the Ruskies hacked and interfered the election……Well multiple high ranking intell guys HAVE said that but ummm……smoke bomb…..Killary.


                                                                                    • And they have produced absolutely zero evidence. What they apparently gave was either a “gut” feel, an unsubstantiated rumor, or a lie.

                                                                                      If they had evidence, I’m pretty sure they’d have presented it by now, so I’m going with “they have no evidence.”

                                                                                      Nor is there a shred of evidence that they tampered in any way with the voting, the vote totals, or anything about the vote.

                                                                                      Yet a majority of Democrats believe that. That’s because their party, the Democrats in Congress and in our intelligence agencies, and in the press, are lying to them. They’re laying to them because Democrats will believe anything, no matter how stupid.

                                                                                      Why would the Russians even bother with the election when Trump was only given a 5% chance of winning?


                                                                                        • Indeed they did. They’re now being investigated for “pay to play” regarding the Prime Minister of Bangladesh saying Hillary pressured her to illegally retain a Clinton donor as the head of one of their development banks.

                                                                                          As you should recall, as Secretary of State, Clinton mostly met with foreign officials who were giving her money, which is in itself illegal without Congressional approval, which she did not have.

                                                                                          That’s on top of all the money laundering through Bill’s shell companies, the failure to report donations to the IRS, the fact that the Foundation wasn’t authorized to take in money for anything other than building a library, her egregious mishandling of classified documents and consistent attempt to avoid government oversight and accountability, her destruction of government records, her evidence tampering, her destruction of evidence, her witness tampering, her perjury, and lying to federal investigators.


                                                                                          • Remember that time she was grilled for 11 hours by the House Benghazi Committee and at the end of it chairman Trey “Curt” Gowdy admitted he had absolutely nothing on her?

                                                                                            Yeah, I remember it too.


                                                                                            • Remember all the people from Benghazi who weren’t allowed to talk to anyone?

                                                                                              Remember how it took weeks for the FBI to get any agents to the compound?

                                                                                              Her entire life is like that. One scandal after another. Constant perjury. Constant obstruction. Constantly blaming everyone else for her own crimes, misdeeds, and staggering failures.


                                                      • If it were ever to get to that point… I’d go way out on a limb and wager one whole Schrute Buck that it would garner 7+ votes… maybe even 9.

                                                        {Possibly 10… we’re still letting Scalia vote, right?}


                                                • Kushner is up to his eyeballs in debt on 666 5th Ave.

                                                  It is certainly within the realm of possibility that members of the transition team were talking to Russian bankers about making investments in Kushner real estate. And that if such investments were made the Trump admin. might look more kindly towards Russia.


                                • Oh really.

                                  You see, the all but defunct Trump Foundation is the opposite of the Clinton Foundation.

                                  The Clinton Foundation was a criminal organization posing as a charity that traded Bill and Hillary’s influence for $2 billion dollars, most of it foreign money from large banks, oil companies, and petro-states in the Middle East.

                                  The Trump Foundation was a charity set up to give away Trump’s money. It doesn’t take donations. It makes donations.


                                  • There has been of course a mountain a reporting that the Trump Foundation has been involved in copious amounts of self dealing (generating account payable to Trump owned for profit enterprises, like his resorts), just that in absolute terms, it’s been somewhat small potatoes. (Because Trump himself despite the flash is actually somewhat small potatoes)


                                    • While Hillary was pressuring the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to illegally retain a Clinton donor in a lucrative bank presidency, Trump was doing WWE events with money donated from the McMahons, who run the WWE.

                                      The Clinton Foundation, a criminal syndicate, was raking in a hundred times what Trump’s foundation ever had, with Bill Clinton running a shell corporation (WJC LLC) in Sweden to launder contributions from companies seeking to evade US sanctions on Iran, exemptions which were of course granted by Hillary so they could sell advanced mobile phone monitoring technology to Iran, along with advanced oil pipeline equipment.

                                      Trump was promoting fake wrestling.

                                      Hillary was raking in millions from Muslim Nigerian oil barons who were conducting ethnic cleansing via Boko Haram to clear out Christians so their oil exploration teams could expand production. Tens of thousands of people were murdered so she could make a profit.


                                    • Did they accuse Trump of letting ten thousand or so people get murdered in return for cash? Did they accuse him of selling of US strategic assets in return for tens of millions of dollars to a foundation that he told the IRS only existed to help build a library?


              • On a more meta note, damn people have short attention spans and expect things to change on a dime. That isn’t really how things work though especially on a national scale and in a highly partisan environment.

                This is why I think that the best “electoral strategy” the Dems can offer is to let the Republicans run things for a while. The Trump effect on Republican turnout appears to be real and he hasn’t done anything yet other than make headlines flailing around. There’s no reason for the average voter to have felt the effects of any policy changes yet.

                It took a very long time for things to go wrong enough that GW Bush became really unpopular. Trump may be trying to break all the records there, but he’s thus far only done it by making news rather than actually making things happen.


                • Agreed. It takes time for people to change their minds. If people were even sort of positive about Trump or willing to give him some time to see how he did, they won’t make snap judgments against him. It’s easy for people who have always seen Trump for what he is to say “Ah ha…isn’t’ it clear he is a liar” after the first lie. But people don’t’ switch beliefs that fast. Most people don’t’ pay a ton of attention to the news or policy so it is more like a thousand drips wearing down a boulder that leads to changed minds then one lightening strike.


      • Considering the fundamentals, how close the district is to the median R House seat, and the October Surprise up in Virginia, I suspect that if Ossoff had won , it would be about time for the other guys to panic.


          • Dems shouldn’t panic but should get to work.

            Right. But what does that mean? Run better candidates? Change their platform? Rebrand themselves? Shakeup the leadership? All of the above? Is recognition of having to get to work a function of level of panic?

            I think the Dems, broadly speaking, are a bit lost right now. They’re effectively fighting against two fronts – Trumpism and the GOP – and they don’t understand the former at all, while the GOP does. It’s like the map they still use isn’t an accurate representation of the political landscape, so they’ve lost their way a bit.


            • Yes, sure. So in my mind work hard means mostly stick to their current core policy platform, then look at the things that are both the least salient to their base constituencies interests and most aggravating to the voters they narrowly lost and try to downplay, eliminate or ameliorate those issues.

              Panicking, meanwhile, would be that you break the glass, pull the panels off the car that is the Democratic Party and have a conversation about changing core principles and policies.

              I’m currently of the opinion that we’re not at a panic stage yet and the Dems should see how things can run with a generally similar policy platform but rejiggered messaging and the Clintons and their baggage now gone. It seems entirely possible to me than the current Democratic Party minus the Clintons could work pretty well. The last election, after all, was a personality fest. Policy barely came up.


              • Ahh, OK. I think we’re understanding panic a bit differently and yours is probably more accurate, cuz I DO think Dems and parts of the Dem Establishment are panicking (ie., high levels of anxiety and frequent biting of the nails) right now even tho it isn’t expressed as pure mayhem. Getting close tho.

                Hell, there’s open talk of throwing Pelosi under the bus.


                • I agree the party is currently somewhere in between what I’d define as working hard and panicking. I expect they’ll ease back down to work hard as this last special election recedes behind them. 2018 is going to decide everything I expect. If we can’t make huge gains there then we’ll be due for some serious soul searching.


                • Hell, there’s open talk of throwing Pelosi under the bus.

                  Throwing Pelosi under the bus would be a good indicator that Democrats have recognized that there is a problem and doing things the old way should not be the way that they’re doing them now and they are, in fact, changing what they’re doing.


                  • But Democratic electoral underperformance since 2008 is not Nancy Pelosi’s fault.

                    (Though you can say that sometime after 2011, she should have either stepped down or made Steny Hoyer step down so Clyburn wouldn’t have been demoted)


                  • Agreed. But the interesting thing to me is that there hasn’t been a serious challenge to her leadership in going on a decade now. Seems to me a healthy institution would balance the need for stability with responsiveness to a changing environment. But no. The mind-set reminds me of Dem views on the Hillary coronation, a move which strikes me as more and more obviously absurd as that event recedes into history.

                    So, why the reluctance to even consider a healthy challenge to her leadership? It shouldn’t even be an issue. Just normal institutional churn. It’s weird.


                    • My very rough guess would be that A) you don’t get to be a leader in the house without having a lot of support and loyal followers in the first place B) the more she is hated by R’s leads D’s in the house to rally around her and C) the , correct, belief that dumping her will not stop any of the ” gah!!!! coastal elites are going to outlaw christmas” attacks.

                      I don’t follow internecine party political struggles much so maybe i’m missing something specific to the individuals involved but these things all seem likely.


                      • the more she is hated by R’s leads D’s in the house to rally around her

                        If so, that’s the problem right there. The goal shouldn’t be to defend Pelosi. It should be to win elections.


                        • It’s a natural human behavior though. Gosh knows people have trotted out the same argument about criticizing Trump; that it just makes his supporters dig in their heals harder. Is a good idea in this case? I don’t really know and i think her affect is likely overblown. I’d probably side with getting rid of her just to get some new blood and new face for the party but on the other hand i have no idea who would replace her.


                            • In terms of being the mouth piece of the party they could be fine. But they are senators, Pelosi is a congress person. So if Pelosi isn’t house minority leader they still need a leader in that house. The House leader is an important role that requires a lot of vote getting/whipping and political organization skills. It’s powerful position that needs a person with a lot of skills. Out bicameral legislature thing can be complicated, lord knows why the founders thought we needed two camels i’ll never know.


                          • greg,

                            I saw a scatter plot of Dem and GOP voters along two axes – basically social and economic liberalism – as they relate to specific issues. What it showed is that the median Dem voter is exactly in the Pelosi wheel house, whereas Hillary was much further to the right economically as was the Dem Party’s actual policy is as well.

                            It also showed that GOP actual policy is waaaay further to the right than the median GOP voter’s preferences, but that Trump’s rhetoric placed him almost exactly in the center of that scatter.

                            I think Pelosi is actually pretty damn representative of the Dem electorate’s views and the reason she is attacked by the right is for the correct reasons. She actually reflects the Dem base’s views. So there’s an argument to be made that Dems need to stop reflexively moving to the middle in times of trouble, but actually move more consciously to the left, dig in and defend that ground. Problem is, of course, that Dems on the Hill simply aren’t that far to the left and want to drag the base – like Hillary tried to do – the other direction.


                            • The problem with that is if they move left, they pick up few additional votes (there are precious few Steyn voters to poach) but would lose votes in the center, possibly including most of the union rank and file.


                              • George, what it showed is that the GOParty economic policy is much further to the right than the base’s preferences – something Trump tapped into by specifically not adopting GOP rhetoric and he picked off a bunch of Obama voters by doing so. There’s no reason Dems (or more precisely, a Dem candidate) couldn’t do the same thing.

                                Let me rephrase that: there’s no reason in principle that Dems couldn’t do the same thing. That is, identify what the base wants, shout it loud, then pick off the leaners.


                                • I’m saying the problem is opposite. Trump poached the middle, moving more toward what both GOP voters and centrist Democrats want.

                                  If Democrats went more toward their base, which already votes for them anyway, they risk losing the middle ground. They’d be less likely to pick off independents who could go either way.


                                  • Yes he did. But right now yer average Dem politician runs on an economic platform closer to the GOP base than the Dem base (and the pre-Trump GOP platform was significantly further to the right than the conservative base). Which is a bit odd, don’t you think? If they ran to their base, rather than away from it, they’d have wiggle room to pick off folks in the middle.

                                    Actually, we’re seeing that right now, I think: the AHCA is much further to the right than the conservative bases’ preferences on healthcare reform- gutting Medicaid, reductions in Medicare funding – whereas Trump promised (!!) that neither of those would be touched.


                • Hell, there’s open talk of throwing Pelosi under the bus.

                  One of the little voices in the back of my head is whispering, “The NE urban core Democrats, who think it’s their party, are pissed off that the levers of power in 2009-10 were held by Pelosi and Reid, two westerners, with a midwesterner in the White House, and they’ll be damned if they’ll let that happen again.”


            • The best case scenario for the Dems is that Ossoff is like the Doolittle raid. Sure, it doesn’t mean much tactically or strategically, but it does show that you’re back up and fighting getting hit by a punch a few months before (much to your surprise) – and that you can take the fight to your opponent’s home turf.


          • Oh, yes. Get people in the trenches, pay attention to messaging beyond just the content, put someone on every ballot even if you don’t commit more money than covering the fees, publicly offer Sanders a high post on the implicit assumption that he annonce NOW that he has no intent to run, and have Clinton’s house assassins throw Jill Stein off a bridge.


        • The incessantly castigate and harangue people on the side i favor strategy is, unsurprisingly. not all that clear or effective. Mix in some confirmation bias and it’s hella hard to tell where a persons sympathies and true desires are.


            • Ha, of course not listening to you means I’m the real problem. It’s not that you don’t’ have some points, although none are new. But that you’re highest desire seems to endlessly harangue D’s and liberals. So i take what you say as that, you want to lecture and talk down which doesn’t mean some of the details aren’t correct. But I’ve had criticisms of the D’s for decades. Just incessant criticism isn’t all that helpful in the long run especially if it is directed at people who don’t’ have any particular power.


              • Ha, of course not listening to you means I’m the real problem.

                No, there’s two things going on here.

                One is:
                “Jaybird says ‘(X)'”
                The other is (X)

                If you’re focusing on how “Jaybird says ‘(X)'” rather than on (X), there’s a problem.

                I mean, the easiest thing in the world when you’re dealing with (X) is to say “hey, (X) isn’t true. It’s bullshit. It’s not even wrong.”

                What a great response!

                The problem is that the response is not anything dealing with (X). It’s “Of course Jaybird thinks (X). He is sympathetic to Gamergate! He doesn’t want Democrats to win in the first place!”

                And it has nothing to do with whether (X) is true or relevant.

                And if (X) happens to be true, it’s true whether or not I said it.

                Now, of course, maybe there’s nothing you can do about (X) and that’s very frustrating. At that point, the best thing you can probably do is get the horse’s ass that keeps harping on (X) to shut up about it.

                Which, if you think about it, might also be representative of why these things keep happening.


                • Only two choices? There should be a name for that kind of thing. It seems like there could be multiple options. The D’s have made mistakes and have problems seems true and i don’t’ see anybody arguing it isn’t. It could also be possible that your style of haranguing is less effective than you think. Heck I agree with SJW’s on some things i think their general style of communication is far less than optimal. Maybe there are some parallels. here.


                  • “he D’s have made mistakes and have problems seems true and i don’t’ see anybody arguing it isn’t.”

                    “This particular thing in particular was a mistake that the Ds made that was an obviously avoidable mistake.”

                    “Why are you always harping on the Ds? Don’t you support gamergate?”


            • Despite hand waving to that effect, your criticism isn’t constructive. As many have shown you, you aren’t reaching people. You aren’t changing minds. You aren’t articulating your points well.

              When does Jaybird start to panic?


        • Jaybird might not be on Team Red but he absolutely is not on Team Blue and he comes off as being very sympathetic to Gamergaters from time to time.

          His main concerns about the Democrats is that they have priors that are not his and don’t listen to his armchair political consulting advice.

          GA-6 is somewhat dispiriting. Partisanship and gerrymandering can save you from a lot and Trump-skeptical Republicans are still Republicans. But Price and Mulvaney were picked for the White House because of their safe seats not despite them. Democratic contenders did better there than they had in ages.

          If this were say an HRC Presidency and Nancy Pelosi’s seat with a Democrat winning 52 percent in a run off. The right-wing press (and probably Jaybird) would be all over it as a “moral victory”/”warning for the Democrats.”

          I don’t see why it is always bad news for the Democrats in Jaybird land. If the Democrats swept Congress in 2018 or 2020, he would find a way to spin it as bad news for the Democrats.


          • Is there *ANYTHING* that you’d agree was bad news for the Democrats?

            Was Trump winning the election bad news for the Democrats or is that something that I’m trying to spin because I want to ignore how Clinton won the popular vote?


            • Sure. It isn’t good for the Democrats that there is a Republican majority in the North Carolina legislature that seems hell-bent on taking away all the power they can from the Governor and State Attorney General because those two have a D next to their name on election day.

              The 5 special elections that happened in 2017 were all R+10 and Democrats brought them really close to R+0. If this trend holds up in 2018, it will crush Republicans in districts that are more like R+3 and R+5.

              But if Democrats get close but not close enough in an R+3 district than we have problems.


            • Personally, if they can’t take the house in 2018 and recapture an absolute mountain of elected seats on various levels nationally then I think that’d be a pretty good argument for a bad news event that should lead to a panic level response from the Democratic Party.


              • So 2016 wasn’t reason to panic. But 2018 might be.

                And if all of the elections swing as much as these other elections swung, the Democrats will be going into the 2018 elections sitting pretty.

                For what it’s worth, it seems like the seeds have been sown for there to be a House (but not Senate) flip come 2018. But it’s also windy and the ground is rocky and there are a lot of birds in the air out there.

                And the democrats are spending millions of dollars in elections where they also run someone who doesn’t live in the district.


                • Here’s a fresh new idea. The D’s have a primary to figure out who should run. Except if the it’s that Ossof guy, then the D’s should pick someone else. Unless the D’s pick the wrong person, then they should have primaries.

                  The guy won the primary. That is how he got to run against the R.


                • I remember how it was obviously morally wrong that a bunch of people from out of the state spent millions of dollars to influence the outcome of the vote on California’s Proposition 8.


                • Eh, kinda. 2016 was plenty of a reason to sit up and take notice and it was incentive for a sea change: The end of the Clintons. They’re done, gone. Poof. No more.

                  If, in 2018, there’s another electoral fiasco then yeah panic is inevitable and rational. At that point it’ll be time to tear the party down to the struts and start talking core principles.

                  I mean, hell, based on that reasoning you know who should be panicking? Libertarians. They didn’t win and they aren’t even the only hat the GOP is wearing now.


                  • I almost agree with this. I am withholding judgment on beyond-2018 until we see what happens in 2018. But 2018 needs to be a good election for Democrats. It doesn’t have to be a fiasco to be alarming. It merely needs to be a holding pattern. If Democrats don’t pick up some house seats and especially governorships (the lowest-hanging fruit), it’s time to raise the black flag and start slitting some throats.


                    • Good find!!! Reason Mag is well known for their insight into the functioning of the Dem’s and D primary voters. No better insight to be found on what D’s will do.


                          • OK, so what was in it that had anything to do with libertarians understanding dem voters?

                            Edit: I mean, it’s fine to think it’s wrong — obviously it’s speculative. Not sure why it matters that it’s from Reason than anywhere else, except for what that makes your knee do.


                            • Hillary getting the nod to run again would depend on her winning the primary and having support in the party. That is the big hurdle. Mueller can find all sorts of things and likely will, but that doesn’t’ mean D’s will vote for her. Implying she could come back in 2020 is actually talking about what D voters will do and party support. I don’t’ think she would have much of either and the Reason article really doesn’t’ explain why that will occur. D’s already think, with good reason, the 16 election had a lot of tampering but aren’t clamoring for her to come back. Lots of D’s have been very critical of many of the mistakes she made which doesn’t bode well for getting another shot.


                              • Well, it definitely seems unlikely, but I think you’re overgeneralizing — there are plenty of D’s who thought she was a fine candidate who got robbed. If she gets support for that theory and convinces enough big donors early, then who knows.

                                And then there’s always Chelsea…


                                • That’s a lot of speculation that also requires overlooking some whopping mistakes she made like not campaigning in some places. Even some of her fans have knocked her for that. And umm Chelsea…..well there you go. Whatever crimes and interference were committed are being investigated as they should be. Clinton lost move on.


                                  • some whopping mistakes she made like not campaigning in some places

                                    I don’t think that was a mistake, myself. I think it was intentional. She believed – probably correctly, based on the primary – that campaigning in those states would reduce her chances of winning them.


                  • I mean, hell, based on that reasoning you know who should be panicking? Libertarians. They didn’t win and they aren’t even the only hat the GOP is wearing now.

                    Part of the problem that the Libertarians have is that they’ve won, mostly.

                    Same-Sex Marriage? Hey, the Libertarians won.
                    The Drug War? Well, MMJ is in more than half the states (though, sadly, not yet in 38) and if you can break MMJ off the Drug War, I’m pretty sure that only the nuttiest of the libertarian nutbars will fight for heroin legalization.

                    LSD and X? Yeah, that’s probably the next front. We’ll get there, I’m sure. But, for now, the emphasis is the Drug War.

                    And, on top of that, 2016 had Gary Johnson get 3%. That’s three times the previous high score and that previous high score was set in 1980.

                    If the goal of the libertarians is not winning elections but, instead, changing the topic on this issue or that issue, they’ve had some major wins recently.

                    Now, I suppose, the focus needs to be on prosecutorial overreach.

                    Maybe we can get the Dems on board for tackling that head on.


                    • Part of the problem that the Libertarians have is that they’ve won, mostly.

                      Really I think it’s more that the liberals have won — all the victories you mention are on social issues, but I’m not seeing much libertarian success on economic policy.


                      • Really I think it’s more that the liberals have won — all the victories you mention are on social issues, but I’m not seeing much libertarian success on economic policy.

                        “Free Trade” was doing fairly well there, for a while.

                        But Trump hasn’t really seemed to eff that up quite yet, despite threatening to do so.


                    • and if you can break MMJ off the Drug War, I’m pretty sure that only the nuttiest of the libertarian nutbars will fight for heroin legalization.

                      They gonna leave it to us socialists to be more libertarian than the libertarians? Oh fine.


          • Well the Dems don’t listen to any of our armchair advice. We’re politi-nerds on the internet, albeit civil, clever and dapper ones. Sure Jay has his priors but it’s not like he’s the only person around deeply critical of the Democratic Party. Hell, Stillwater is deeply critical of the Dems, so is our Todd, in some areas so am I!


            • Yes, I still loosely identify as a Dem voter, tho much more loosely now than my previously already-loose identification. I still like quite of few of the core principles. The AHCA is a good example of why: gutting Medicaid to give the top 1% of earners a tax cut is unconscionable to me.


            • North,
              By gawd, they actually listened to mine!
              (Seriously, you can see my survey, opened, in some of the photographs).
              And they got rid of the old DNC Hillary flunkies.

              … i am pleased.


    • I’m worried that everyone will learn all of the wrong lesson from Ossoff.

      I’m not sure what lessons are supposed to be drawn from losing by 1.8 points in a district that went Republican 7 months before by 23.2 points. Would the lesson be different if he had won by 0.1 points? Or lost by 2 points?


      • Also, I’m not seeing where 0-5 is coming from (except from Donald Trump). The results appear to be 1-4 with all seats being retained by the party that originally held them.

        What lessons should we learn from that? Do the vote margins convey any information, or are we only allowed to use the boolean outcome value?


        • Maybe. And maybe they would have lost another 2 points because of some other not-particularly-relevant objection that turned out to have political legs. I’m not sure who else might have run in GA6. Did I miss a step where they passed over a kick-ass candidate who lived further up the street?

          Every candidate has good stuff and bad stuff. If the argument is that his “bad stuff” is a thing that’s true for a couple dozen members of congress and he lost because voters latch onto stupid things, I can believe that might well be true. But filtering out all of the stupid things that might lose votes and weighing them against things that might gain votes requires some data.

          But back to my original question: If they had done that and gotten the extra 1.9 points, how would the lessons differ? Would they? Can you articulate a one-liner lesson that might be drawn from each of those two possible results?


          • Well, allow me to quote 538.

            Now, this essay was written *BEFORE* the election was over so it was still seen as an important election that Ossoff could win and, indeed, was favored to win 70-30.

            Ossoff might win the Georgia 6 House special election, and Democrats could fail to retake the House next year. Or, Handel might win and Republicans could lose the chamber in 2018. It’s just one data point, after all. That said, it’s a pretty useful data point. It’ll give us a good idea about how Trump’s most unenthusiastic backers are feeling. It’ll also provide us clues as to how traditionally Republican voters who moved against Trump last year and who seem to be willing to abandon him in even larger numbers in 2017 are going to vote in 2018. If Democrats cannot win here, it suggests that they may need a different roadmap for taking back the House than going after reluctant Trump voters.

            I’ll say that the one-liner lesson might be:

            If Democrats cannot win here, it suggests that they may need a different roadmap for taking back the House than going after reluctant Trump voters.

            Now we can argue over whether the election demonstrated that the Democrats couldn’t win there using the roadmap they were using or not, but it seems to me that they lost that election using the roadmap that they were using.

            And that they need a different roadmap.


            • OK, so we’ve established that a 21.3 point gain over the result from 7 months ago indicates that the Dems might be on the wrong track. Would a 23.3 point gain indicate that their strategy is a good one? If so, is there somewhere along the continuum between 21.3 and 23.3 where the bad strategy becomes good based on those raw numbers alone, or does it only become an OK strategy at 23.2 + epsilon?


              • I suppose, on one level, we could look at Clinton’s vote count in 2016 and say that the Democrats did a great job of getting out the vote and that, except for a few artifacts of our ancient system, the evidence points to the Democrats being on the right track to duplicate Ronald Reagan’s nigh-impossible accomplishment of three Republican terms in a row.

                On another, I’m struck noticing how very many good indicators there are that aren’t exactly tied to that many very good accomplishments.

                The example that I saw someone (was it here?) point out was that, sure, the New England Patriots are favored to win in every single game next year.

                But, reasonably? Opinions differ on whether they’re going to win somewhere between 12 and 14 games despite being favored to win them all.

                4 elections is a small sample, I suppose.

                But part of my issue is the whole thing about how The Powers That Be looked at the Democratic gameplan for 2016 and said “yeah, we mostly don’t need to change it”.

                The DNC didn’t vote in new blood, they voted in Perez rather than Ellison. (Good news, I guess, Perez immediately said that he wanted Ellison as Deputy Chair. That’s a good sign, I guess.)

                And in the elections that followed, the gameplan was all some variant of “we got it mostly right, we just need to tweak here, tweak there” and, from here, it seems like “mostly right” would have delivered a W by this point.

                But, as I’ve said, 4 elections is a small sample size.

                Maybe 2018 will be a bloodbath the way that 2010 was. Indicators are totally there.


                • My issue is that every election, people talk about “lessons” based on the final outcome but don’t seem to take into account he magnitude of the outcome or the direction of the change or the fact that close elections are determined by small things.

                  If I rolled off the couch and took a pro boxing match and got knocked out in the first round, that would be a bad strategy. If I got a rematch and changed my strategy to, “Start working out and learn how to box,” and then lost by narrow decision, boxing commentators would probably say, “He’s on the right track,” and political pundits would say, “Well clearly that didn’t work. He needs to go back to the drawing board.”

                  And if I changed nothing at all and the results swung back and forth between my getting knocked out and my winning narrowly, somebody would start to notice that the natural variance is large enough that the stories they’re telling are probably mostly nonsense, but that person almost certainly wouldn’t be a political pundit.

                  I used to think this type of analysis is only marginally better than the guy on TV who tells you why the NASDAQ index closed up or down on any given day, but now I’m starting to think that it’s worse.


                  • Well, the main thing that I seem to have gleaned is that it is not yet time to panic, things are pointed in a good direction, and if there are not big gains made in the upcoming 2018 elections, *THEN* we have enough of an indicator to say “okay, we need to change the way we do things”.

                    But I worry because it seems to me that the indicators are pointing to something like “everybody knows that off-year elections benefit Republicans because Republicans show up to vote religiously because that’s what Republicans just do” or some similar narrative explaining how everybody has the Republicans exactly where they want them come the 2020 election.


                    • If there’s one prediction about 2018 that I’m happy to sign on to, it’s that it will be 100% about turnout because elections always are. The turnout trends are currently awful for the Republicans, but turnout changes pretty fast and like I said, it’s hard to flip congressional seats.

                      I do think that one thing Dems can do in the long run is step their state-level game up and get back on top of the gerrymandering like they used to. The Republicans have been handing the Dems a whupping in the gerrymandering game, which certainly accounts for the stickiness of House seats in the face of large changes in vote numbers.

                      Just doing the quick research I did for the post below had me whistling at how polarized the districts were. Try to find a district where the results were +/- 3 points for two elections or more. A bunch of 60/40 districts around a 25/75 district looked pretty common at a glance. The only thing that swings those things is big changes in turnout.


          • I think you’re right that drawing Important Lessons from any of these elections is hard to do given the data we actually have. Dems closed some of the previous elections’ gaps, GOP voter turnout was proportionately less than Dem turnout, etc. Seem to me that simply adding a few percentage points to two elections, which woulda tipped them for Dems, isn’t much of an argument for a sea change. To get any good read on the electoral state of play I think we’d need something wildly outa the norm. Eg, that all four GOP candidates absolutely crushed there Dem opponent by wider margins than the previous election or that all four Dem candidates won those previously held GOP districts by comfortable margins. Neither happened.

            The way I view it is that since the Dems didn’t really make up any ground (Ossof lost that district by a wider margin than Hillary did) they seem to be in a political holding pattern, despite the scandals and ineptitude of GOP governance. And that isn’t good news, more like bad news, if they wanna retake the House.


            • The data set is small, but out of four elections, these are the results for the Democratic candidate compared to their results in November:

              Kansas: -31.1 in November. -6.8 now
              Montana: -15.7 in November, -5.6 now
              Georgia: -23.4 in November, -3.8 now
              SC: -20.5 in November, -3.2 now

              So that’s 4 losses, and there’s the loss of incumbent advantage of think of, and the data set is small, and a lot can happen before 2018, but I simply am not seeing the case for, “New data trending badly for Democrats. Time for a new strategy.” The conclusion I’m drawing is, “Democrats are on trend for large gains in vote spread but Congressional seats are hard to flip.”


              • I’m not so convinced, myself. Here’s the voter turnout in the special elections relative to the 2016 races:

                R: -33%
                D: 0%

                R: -72%
                D: -60%

                R: -34%
                D: -19%

                R: -62%
                D: -32%

                I attribute most of the Dem gains to proportionally lower GOP turnout. And as I said above, the one positive takeaway from these elections for Dems may be that that GOP enthusiasm is lower than Dem enthusiasm right now.


                • I’m not sure what the problem is there. I think that recent history has taught us that elections are won with turnout much more than they’re won by flipping voters, so I’m not really convinced that the lagging of the R vote doesn’t count because it’s turnout related.

                  The one caveat to that is that swings in turnout are more fickle than changes in party allegiance (which is what makes turnout the deciding factor in so many elections), so holding onto this result until 2018 will require Trump to continue to behave the way he’s behaving without manging to garner any sympathy on the way. Toss of a coin as to whether that happens.


                  • I think that recent history has taught us that elections are won with turnout much more than they’re won by flipping voters,

                    This strikes me as something that has become true by virtue of the fact it is assumed true, even when in the most recent election it wasn’t really true.

                    As far as whether we should disregard these results… it’s really hard to say. Special elections are among the most turnout-based elections there are, so difference and turnout can exaggerate trends compared to virtually any other kind of election. On the other hand, midterms also tend to be more turnout-oriented, so an enthusiasm gap matters more than it would if the next election were on a presidential year.


                  • I think it’s also true that the midterm following an election which puts one party in the P, S and H tends to go pretty strongly for the opposition. So there’s that. I just don’t see much that’s encouraging for the Dems – tho not discouraging either! – over the last four special elections. Especially given the approvals on the AHCA and Trump.


  8. The problem is while the leftists have maybe a better pitch right now, they are definitely wrong. The liberals aren’t wrong, but they are stuck on quite a few things with no good answers.


  9. Will, can we get a long-form article about that fracture you see on the right? From where I sit there’s an unexpected and frankly disquieting unity, both in results and in messaging. It would be interesting to get an insider’s perspective.


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