The MacGuffin White House

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. The main reason for this is that nature and society both abhor vacuums, and if Michael Wolff is to be believed the president has left a very large one.

    He’s no Herbert Hoover.Report

  2. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    Since I see Trump as a Jackson figure, the most important question is if someone will rise to channel and direct the Jackson and define politics for the next generation. The prospects appear poor, though the Wizard’s journey began late in the first year of the Presidency and culminated in the disappearance of the cabinet three years later. There is still time.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    “His tactic of aggravating the left into taking more extreme or unpopular positions may be a successful tactic, but it’s not a successful strategy. Not when, on many of these issues, the public is on the other side.”

    I don’t get this because it looks like 2018 could be a wave election for Dems based on how most special elections and the 2017 elections went. The only thing that saved the GOP is the House of Delegates was gerrymandering and a game of chance. The Democrats just picked up another state legislative seat in Wisconsin in a district that both Romney and Trump won easily. Polls are showing most voters turned off and abandoned by Trump including his supporters.

    As to Trump’s incompetence, authoritarians are often incompetent, there were plenty of stories of pettiness and backstabbing and gossip in most totalitarian regimes. Incompetence and authoritarianism go hand in hand, people with communication, negotiation, and other skills can do well in democracies. It is when your ideas are unpopular and you are rigid that you need to adopt the ram-rod technique.Report

    • Everything you say indicates why it has not been a successful strategy, as I say it is not.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Tactics vs Strategy Saul; making the further left freak out and set their underwear on fire both thrills Trumps base and makes it look like the far left is far bigger a portion of the liberal spectrum than it is (like LIbertarians- goliaths on the internet, virtually a rounding error in terms of actual voter pull) but that’s only a short term sugar high. In the mid to long run it continues hollowing out what’s left of the right wings ideology and it sure as heck doesn’t move anyone to the right. As soon as the emotional rush wears off it makes Trump and his entire party just look like trolls.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        And yet November 2017’s victories seem to be the product of mobilizing further left voters. Potentially the same with Doug Jones in Alabama. But no one wants to credit the left here so…we have to still make Banon and Trump the geniuses!!!Report

        • You are somehow conflating the idea that Bannon has this tactic that may sometimes work but it’s not a viable strategy with the idea that Bannon is a genius.

          The entire point of the paragraph you are objecting to is that it’s not a good strategy and has not worked out particularly well for him.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Who the heck has said Bannon or Trump are geniuses other than sycophants or fever swamp dwellers? Bannon’s one tactic isn’t new, it’s been the standard RW media thing starting in the 90’s.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Trump saw a gaping hole in the relationship between establishment politics and voters and cynically capitalized on every aspect of that felt disconnect. No one else saw it as clearly as he did, and probably no one else had the ability to dance so carefully around political fires that normally engulf campaigns. I think he deserves credit for that, whether you call it genius or not. (I think it’s a form of genius, in the Roger Stone mold, myself.)

          Bannon may not be a genius but he’s a visionary: he saw many of the same things Trump saw and successfully channeled white male and other resentments into a political narrative worth voting for.

          Maybe the moment for those guys has passed, for whatever reason. But they clearly tapped into something which no one saw taking place at the national level. They should get credit for having done that. Blame, too, of course.

          Add: I mean, if we don’t give those guys credit for being good at politics we’re left with the conclusion that Hillary really was just turrible… 🙂Report

          • You Know Who Else built a political career on resentment?Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

            Nothing Bannon did was new at all. Rush and Fox and Beck had been on the scene for years. Bannon didn’t’ even invent the Brietbart hyper vicious mode.Report

            • Avatar Maribou in reply to greginak says:

              @greginak Bannon doesn’t have to be innovative to be a visionary. Often the visionary is not the innovator, it’s the person who has the drive and big-picture thinking to turn the innovations into competitive success. (cf Steve Jobs, another toxic charismatic person who was really smart but whose chief skill was leveraging other people’s innovations)Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Maribou says:

                Agreed. However as i said, the RW media has been this way since the 90’s. Bannon didn’t really do anything new or even better. He was thy guy who attached himself to Trump then told everyone how much of a genius he is. The RW media has been driving changes in what it means to a be Repub and conservative for years and has been a big deal in their victories.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to greginak says:

                To the extent that there might be a distinction I think it’s that after striking out over and over again with similar candidates (think Herman Cain, and to a lesser extent Sarah Palin) Bannon’s guy actually won, and not just in the primaries. Whether it was Bannon or something about Trump or the moment is certainly up for debate.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to InMD says:

                I think it was mostly a perfect storm of many things that led to Trumps win. It was a lot less genius and more the moment broke just right in so many ways.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

                The difference between Bannon and RW Media is that the media did it as a style of media while Bannon believed it had virtue as a style of governing. He did it with comms, too, but he unrolled the Muslim Ban the way they did to draw liberals to the airport because he believed it would help their cause.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                Assuming Bannon did those things as a style of governing then his current status and Trump’s popularity suggest the Genius Bar never had Bannon on stock.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to North says:

        In the mid to long run it continues hollowing out what’s left of the right wings ideology and it sure as heck doesn’t move anyone to the right.

        Yeah. Talking long term here:

        As I’ve been pointing out way before Trump, back under Bush when the Republicans actually had ideas of policies they wanted…we all talked about how they were moving the Overton window, but the Republicans didn’t actually seem to understand what they were doing, and how damaging it was. (Or maybe they did, but had no ability to stop.)

        There is a reason that the parties used to met in the center, and, no, it’s not that we just define that point as the center. The parties used to overlap in the middle of population thought, where let’s say (Pretending the party goes all they way to the far edge, which isn’t true.) 55% of the population would comfortable fit under them. Which means they fought over 10% of the population.

        And then the Republicans started gerrymandering, and Hastert Ruling, and all sorts of things that caused them to need to fight over less people, and just gave up the middle. This was completely idiotic and utterly self-inflicted.

        The Republicans thought they were _moving_ the center of the terrain, but what they were actually doing was _abandoning_ it, which was an incredibly stupid and short-sighted, because the center of the terrain is where a hell of a lot of new voters show up.The Republican party abandoned the middle, which means that when middle-ish voters show up to pick a party, hey, it now turns out they believe what Democrats believe. (Because the Republicans are over there calling for pay cuts for teachers or something absurd.)

        Doh. And party ID is very sticky. Those Democrats will keep calling themselves Democrats.

        And it turns out the facts bear me out there. People who turned 18 under Clinton lean Democratic by 10 points, under Bush by 19, and under Obama by 29…and this was 2012, aka, pre-Trump.

        When the parties re-centered (Which I assumed would happen.), those new voters would move to the left, just like Republicans moved to the right when the Republicans went that way. So even if everything could be moved that far right on a permanent basis, which I rather doubted, it couldn’t be moved that fast.

        Granted, this was before Trump happened and sorta proved what I was worried about was the equivalent of worrying about a bulldozer slowly but surely pushing the Republican party down the street, whereas we just had a nuclear explosion that hurtled it miles away. Proving that if you move things fast enough, you leave NeverTrumps standing shocked and confused in now-Democratic territory, sorta the equivalent of pulling a tablecloth off a table but leaving everything in place. The parties are only sticky to a certain level, the glue is only so strong.

        But it’s not those guys who are going to be a problem. It’s the people who are turning 18 now. (Actually, it’s more the people who are turning 14 now, because people don’t wait until 18 to form their political ideas, but the poll I found was about 18 years olds.)

        The Republicans, in 2016, already needed to turn around the negative trend of new voters disliking them, which was a large threat to their future. They needed to start moving back to the center and, like you said, get off their sugar high. Instead they snorted a huge line of coke and took off all their clothes and ran into traffic.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC says:

          The big question, I guess, is how old do you have to be before you stop voting? I mean obviously death definitely stops you but is there some age when older voters just stop bothering? A quick googling yielded nothing.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to North says:

            IIRC, older voters have the highest turnout, and vote most reliably. And it doesn’t really drop off, so….pretty much yeah, the ones that vote at all heading into retirement stop voting when they die or get disabled past the point of being able to vote.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Morat20 says:

              Suffice to say, then, that demographic triumphalism is a really long game deal.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to North says:

                Voters are pretty sticky — switching parties is generally a multi-election sort of thing. It’s like a long, slow break-up — the final straw might seem pretty epic, but it wouldn’t have done anything without the endless mass of slow disillusionment prior.

                But yeah, the GOP’s current problem in a nutshell is their most reliable voting demographics are shrinking, and they’ve spent the last 18 or so years making themselves toxic to the growing demographics.

                Of course, that’s countered by the fact that turnout is what matters (plus, you know, who gets to draw the maps).

                Because the demographics of the country are not the demographics of registered voters and the demographics of registered voters are not the demographics of “voters who voted this election”.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Morat20 says:

                But yeah, the GOP’s current problem in a nutshell is their most reliable voting demographics are shrinking…

                IIRC, the fastest growing age demographic in the US is the 85+ group. The second fastest is the 65-85 group (look out, baby, here come the Boomers… again). To state the obvious, we’re making old people faster than they’re dying off. The conventional wisdom is that old folks vote overwhelmingly Republican. Is that going to change? If not, what happens to the demographics argument? Was the problem in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania simply that they’re on the old end of the distribution, and getting steadily older?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Michael Cain says:

                The conventional wisdom is that old folks vote overwhelmingly Republican. Is that going to change?

                Yes. Eventually.

                Old people do not ‘vote Republican’ in the sense that the elderly are attracted to Republican ideas. Old people, like everyone else, vote how they’ve been voting their entire life, or how they’ve been voting since some major event changed their life. It’s just, right now, that’s slightly Republican for the elderly.(1)

                Sadly for Republicans, the last major ‘creating Republicans’ event was Ronald Reagan, which ended 29 years ago, and considering it wouldn’t have made much of an impact on people under 13 or so, and/or for people only politically aware at the very end when people were getting tired of him, trails off at ~44 years old here in 2017. And it’s somewhat vague for the next four years, as the big political impact event was Clinton, which was not entirely a pro-Democratic event in that I’m sure some Republicans were created via the scandals, but it did tilt towards Democrats.

                Which also means that, yes, the elderly will be voting Republican for another ~30 years.

                But that’s while every age bracket under them flips to Democrats, or, rather, the Democratic-tilted age brackets move upward, until 30 years later, the Democratic-voters created under Clinton and Bush become the majority of the elderly. People who are currently over 44 will be slightly tilted towards Republicans the rest of their lives…and next year, that will just be people over 45, and the next, 46, etc, etc. They’re losing an entire year of pro-Republican people a year, regardless of whether you think of it as coming off the young end or the old end.

                Clinton created slightly pro-Democratic voters (Note I am only talking about new voters who first created their political beliefs under these people. Switchers are so rare they almost can be ignored.), Bush created…well, he got some pro-Republican voters from 9/11, but by the end, the number of new anti-war Democrats skyrocketed, Obama was very exciting and created a bunch of Democrats, and then we got Trump, and, ugh, that appears to have been so devastating in polls that a bunch of Republicans are already trying to rationalize how ‘anti-Trump’ voters won’t automatically become Democratic voters the rest of their lives, despite there being no precedent for that in modern politics.

                But accepting that idea basically cripples the Republican party for the foreseeable future. They can sorta hope for another decade, and that’s it.

                And, in the end, it’s a bit amazing how we as a society don’t seem to internalize the fact that voters aren’t ‘deciding’ anything. The vast majority of people are adopting the beliefs of their parents (2), and the rest of the voters picked their parties based on their perception of the president and the parties as they became adults, however long ago that was.

                1) Now, the elderly’s voting patterns do change, in that they start voting _more_. Which, obviously, could change how they seem to vote as an average…but I’m not aware of anything that would make them more Republican If anything, that’s going to produce Democratic votes, as the Democrats are the party that doesn’t seem to have time to vote before they retire.

                2) Or, rather, the beliefs they think their parents have when they are young. There are some interesting studies out there that suggest around a quarter of teenagers cannot correctly guess their parent’s political party, and basically end up picking the wrong ‘their parent’s political party’. One wonders if that will continue to be true for much longer as people are becoming more overtly politically active…it’s hard to misunderstand your parent’s politics when they are marching against Trump.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

                appears to have been so devastating in polls that a bunch of Republicans are already trying to rationalize how ‘anti-Trump’ voters won’t automatically become Democratic voters the rest of their lives, despite there being no precedent for that in modern politics.

                Let me clarify that I am talking about ‘new voters’.

                It is possible, in theory, that some of the current existing voter who appear to have switched parties due to Trump will switch back, and I suspect less people have ‘switched’ than people think and the reason there appears to be a 15 point switch is that different people are voting and previous voters have stopped voting for now, and it is possible that will undo itself in the future, at least to some extent.

                Teenagers, however, are watching Trump (Watching Obama followed by Trump, even!) and are picking ‘Democrat’, in massive amounts. And they will forever be Democrats.

                We were already at a tipping point for Republicans, and this is disastrous for their future. It might not be a disaster for another decade, but it will be one.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                Here’s a couple of articles that might be of interest.

                Or they might not be. Whatever.Report

              • Avatar Jesse in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah, there’s no actual evidence outside of a couple of random bad studies and weird polls of any real right-ward shift of Generation Z. At worst, there may be a rightward shift among a chunk of white males, but the sad truth is, there have always been plenty of shitty fourteen year olds, in both real life and the Internet.

                I mean, as a late edge Millennial, half the people I saw changing their background to rainbow colors when gay marriage was passed had no issues saying faggot or calling things gay during high school or early college.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse says:

                Nothing to worry about, then.

                We just have to turn this corner and then it’s smooth sailing.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I notice that the characteristics noted by the article are the same ones used to describe Obama voters.
                Which isn’t surprising, since as has been pointed out, Obama himself could be described as a “moderate Republican”.

                But in any case, the article claims that “they have the most positive outlook toward the nation’s growing diversity of any previous generation”, then goes on to mysteriously claim that these people’s “inclinations generally fit moderate Republicans”.

                It takes a special kind of imagination to imagine a Republican party that has a “positive outlook towards the nation’s growing diversity”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I don’t understand what proposition you’re arguing against.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                The author claims these young people would fit with the Republican party.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Ah, okay. Well, if she’s wrong, then that’s good news for everybody.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                All these demographic disaster articles are clickbait hottakes dressed in respectable clothes. 4 years ago the GOP’s own internal analysis concluded that without significant pro-Hispanic outreach the GOP would NEVER WIN ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!!!11!!!!

                {{spoiler: their candidate did win, and on an anti-Hispanic platform taboot}}

                Fact is, the GOP in 2017 is so radically different from the McCain GOP, and even the Romney GOP, that trying to predict what the party will look like or which way voters will lean in four years, let alone 8 or 12 or 16, is astoundingly stupid.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think there is danger in the complacency of the demographic destiny argument.
                There isn’t some magic sauce that makes non-white people liberal, and even a weak alliance between say, Asians who are accepted as “white”, together with the plutocrats, could give the GOP control for another few decades, plenty long enough to destroy the republic.

                I’m optimistic but we need to work like hell to articulate our identity and lock in our loyalties. It won’t just happen automatically.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Well, if we get enough of them here and tell them that the Democrats won’t deport them and the Republicans are racists who will, it’ll be in their best interests to vote for Democrats. They’ll be over a barrel!

                We just need to get them here.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                we need to work like hell to articulate our identity and lock in our loyalties. It won’t just happen automatically.

                I think that’s a danger in itself and lends *credence* to demographic disaster analyses. Insofar as the Democratic party lacks a flexible adaptability to new facts on the political ground, they *will* lose over time (as they have been over the last decade or so). That is, the demographic disaster results from assuming a fixed political narrative and fixed political commitments which lose appeal to new ideas and commitments.

                Here’s one way to say it: the GOP’s internal analysis re: Hispanic outreach was entirely correct: the Romney/McCain/Bush GOP didn’t win the election and going forward never will again. Nominally the GOP won, but substantively they not only lost but were destroyed.

                Democratic party commitments and rhetoric needs to change, in my view. But that change shouldn’t be mandated by insidery power brokers product-testing catchy new slogans to determine which ones are least offensive to identity-based constituencies or maximize triangulatibility. That hasn’t worked for over ten years now. If the Party wants to try to win elections, instead of hoping the GOP loses them, new candidates presenting new ideas and new rhetoric are going to have to be allowed to shape the platform and messaging. And there’s no way of knowing where the party moves once that process begins.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Right, and issues change as well.
                I can see college debt forgiveness becoming an important issue for example, or an expansion of the EITC as a modest form of UBI or even some New Deal type jobs program.

                Income security is one thing that both young and old people have in common.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                I am with Jesse.

                The Post article takes a bunch of polls that show Generation Z has almost completely different positions than Republicans, and then finds some young Republican and asserts that somehow he is a Republican because of those things, instead of being a Republican despite them.

                And the sole place the Post claims that Gen X vaguely matches with ‘conservatives’ is being conservative on personal economic issues. And Forbe says the same thing: A new national study by The Center for Generational Kinetics discovered that Gen Z students plan to “work during college, keep clear of any personal debt, and start saving for retirement.”

                You mean, they’re planning exactly like Millennials planned? Why, I’m _sure_ that will make Gen Z vote differently from Millennials when they become adults! (I’m sure Gen Z magically won’t have into debt for college, somehow.)

                Or, again, are we facing the obvious and well known fact that all non-poor kids think they are going to do great and be rich and people who are poor are losers and they’re all actually future libertarians…

                …until the second they get student loans, realize working while in college to pay for college is not possible, and start having to pay their bills every month, at which point they’re like ‘Oh, wait, this is actually pretty hard! Damn, maybe a social net isn’t a bad idea.’

                The Forbe article, meanwhile, also has nonsensical gems on social issues such as ‘Study at The Gild did a survey of almost 2,000 adults and found that on issues like gay marriage, marijuana legalization, transgender rights, and even tattoos, 59% of Gen Z respondents described their views as ‘conservative’ and ‘moderate’.

                Yeah…here’s a fun question no one seemed to bother to ask: What, exactly, does a 13 year old think is a ‘conservative’ position on gay marriage? Marijuana? Transgender rights? (That last one…maybe. While I can see that continuing to be an issue dividing people in the future, even Gen Z, I can’t see them being more anti-trans than Millennials.) And also when did tattoos become a political issue?

                In fact, why are we discussing what Gen Z is describing their views as? Why discuss not their actual views and which party holds those views?

                Both articles do this to some extent, and it’s pretty clearly on purpose.

                This is because kids, who are mostly aware of the extremely liberal opinions of the people in their social group, can blithely state they hold ‘conservative’ or ‘moderate’ views, which they mean ‘by comparison to the kids around me’. This means the articles don’t have to mention that their ‘conservative’ is approximately ‘three hundred miles behind Democratic lines’.

                And their ‘conservative’ position is, indeed, probably that they don’t like how their school teachers don’t let them call someone ‘gay’ anymore.

                P.S. Isn’t the ‘conservative’ position on marijuana legalization technically ‘legalize it’ at this point? That’s what the majority of conservatives say they want, after all. The only group of people where the majority assert marijuana should be illegal is basically ‘old people’.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                So, okay. We’ll go with your original assertions.

                We’ve got nothing to worry about.

                The next generation is totally going to be onboard with the Dems.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                Democrats should always worry, but every single trend seems to be in their direction for _Federal_ government. (I’m making no claims about local governments, where Democrats will constantly fail to even bother to run candidates if history is any judge.)

                1) The courts look ready to crack down on gerrymandering for extreme political gain. I am not saying it will all instantly vanish, but it will have to be dialed back to some level. This will devastate Republicans in the House.

                2) WRT racial demographics, the Republicans are in big trouble. Just from that, they’re about to lose Florida as a swing state (And would have already if not pandering to older Cuban refugees for decades, but that ability is going away.) and gain Texas as one.

                3) As was the point of my previous posts, Republicans keep electing presidents that young people dislike, whereas Democrats keep electing presidents that young people love. (Even on top of the racial demographic change.) Which means, for two and a half decades, young voters have tilting Democratic.

                In fact, I’m suspecting some never-before-noticed snowball effect, as the Democratic tilt of young people keeps building higher and higher.

                It’s something we wouldn’t have noticed because…well, I don’t actually have any sort of evidence how _young_ people thought of previous presidents, but using the president’s general popularity as a proxy for that, we’ve never really, in modern times, had such a long string of one party’s Presidents being successful and one party’s Presidents tripping over themselves. Starting at FDR, we have have FDR (popular Democrat), Truman (neutral Democrat), Eisenhower (popular Republican), JFK (popular Democrat), Johnson (neutral Democrat), Nixon (unpopular Republican), Ford (neutral Republican), Carter (unpopular Democrat), Reagan (super-popular Republican), Bush Sr. (neutral Republicans)…so it was pretty varied. There’s not really any string of constantly moving in the same direction over time, in fact, the only two in the same direction that directly follow each other are Carter to Reagan…which did, indeed, produce a pretty strong youth buildup of Republicans.

                And then we look at Clinton being elected, at which point it became all popular Democrats or unpopular Republicans, at least in the eyes of young people becoming voters. It’s not implausible that this is building on itself in some manner, that the young people who became Democrats under Obama didn’t do it just because of Obama’s popularity, but because of Bush Jr, or even Clinton, just like some new Republican voters under Reagan might also have been influenced into that by Carter.

                Except this has happened for two and a half decades. Like I said, it was already getting very serious for Republicans pre-Trump. At this point, there’s basically no way to avoid the disaster. (They can always hope Democrats shoot themselves in the foot somehow. It’s not unlikely.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                Then, great! We’re in the last gasp of Republican power. They lose the house in 2018, the white house and the senate in 2020, and then we’ve got a Permanent Democratic Majority for nigh-perpetuity.

                They won’t know what hit them.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                There is no such thing as a permanent anything majority. Everything will self correct.

                And, in fact, the Republicans ending up out of power for a while is part of the correction of them wandering off the center.

                And, being out of power, they will have no chance to elect completely unsuitable people to president (Because they can’t elect anyone to president at all.)..and the amount the electorate swings towards Democrats is presumable finite.

                To clarify what I said earlier, I’m not sure we should think of ‘childhood voter bias’ as _one_ measure, which side people are biased towards. Instead, I think their opinion of each party is somewhat separate, and if they think either good things or bad things of both you don’t get a bias. But right now, Clinton and Obama have made new voters pro-Democrat, and Bush and Trump has made them anti-Republican.

                Go two or three Democratic presidents in a row, and young people will stop being anti-Republican, as they won’t remember any Republicans at all. And they will only stay pro-Democrat if the Democrats can keep picking popular presidents, which seems unlikely. (In fact, the Democrats didn’t pick a popular Democrat candidate _last election_.)

                So all it takes for the Democrats to pick someone _neutral_ in popularity, neither loved nor hated, and suddenly the new voters aren’t pro-Democrats either, and, as I said, the new ones won’t be anti-Republican either…and so they are wandering back towards the center. Pick a disliked Democrat, and they’re now anti-Democrat so wandering over to the Republican side.

                Now, there is a question whether or not the Republican Party can manage to get itself back to somewhere reasonable near the center to catch those people, because, despite how people feel about the president, they do actually want their political party to hold political beliefs that vaguely cover theirs, and most young voters are middle-ish…and the Republican party currently isn’t, at all.

                That’s the main problem…they will need to fix their positions _first_, and then just sorta wait for the Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot. (So, to summarize, they need to fix their positions, and then wait for the next election.)

                At which point Republicans might end up back in power.

                …assuming that various minorities ever forgive them, I guess.

                That’s the real kicker, that demographics are changing to be against the Republicans _at the same time_ as a streak of four two-term presidents pushed new voters in a specific direction causing a mass of new Democratic voters making their way upward in age. And, as the cherry on top, the demographics really would have been dealt with sooner if not for gerrymandering and the electoral college hiding it, allowing it to get worse and worse without a reaction. (I mean, the Republican leadership has tried repeatedly to deal with the demographics thing, but has completely failed, and in fact got hit with Trump full in the face for their troubles.)

                In many ways, it is the perfect storm. It is not going to be a permanent anything, but there really are multiple forces that not only are pushing things in a Democratic direction, they have been doing so for decades and there’s a lot of momentum built up that first has to be halted, and turned around, and the idea that will take decades isn’t impossible.

                I know you probably think ‘Yes, the Democratic victory is always right around the bend, but never there’, but actually looking at how people _vote_, and not ‘Who wins?’, there is a very clear constant movement towards Democrats, and the Republicans can only gerrymander the House and luckily win states in a way that the presidential electoral college works out to cancel that movement out. There is a tipping point past which waving your arms rapidly doesn’t change the fact you’re about to fall over.

                And all that was before Trump’s nomination/election _apparently_ added about a 15 point shift near instantly towards Democrats. We will have to wait until 2018 to see if that’s real, and even longer to see if it sticks around after Trump. But they have serious problems even if it doesn’t.

                That said, the Republicans have always done best as an opposition party, so I think they’ll generally fare pretty well. They’re just not going to be in charge of things for a bit.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                I’m not buying this. The D’s supposed demographic advantages are going to take too long for them to help.

                The one thing the D’s have in their favor is that we have the albatross of Trump hanging around our neck. Everything else is working for us. That said, Trump is a very big deal, and up till a month ago I’d say that the D’s prospects for 2018 were very good.

                On the other hand, the GOP has regained the momentum since then, and I suspect that the immigration debate is going to help the GOP even more, now matter how the actual policy turns out.

                One thing in particular is that Trump’s latest immigration proposal is going to put the D’s in a spot. It’s not a petty feud with Megyn Kelly, it’s an actual serious plan to deal with a legitimate issue. The D’s will oppose it, which doesn’t necessarily hurt them. What will hurt them, I suspect, is the perception and the reality that the libs and the D’s feel that actually negotiating with the Trump Administration is somehow below them. It’s not, and the voters are not going to see it that way.

                The hope for the GOP lies in the Senate. Either this cycle or the next (hopefully this one), there is the chance that the GOP will be able to reassert control over the chamber for a generation, and not just by a little bit either.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Koz says:

                The D’s supposed demographic advantages are going to take too long for them to help.

                What do you mean, ‘too long’? Too long compared to what other thing? What is going to happen first that will render those trends obsolete?

                As I said, there is a wave of Democratic voters, starting at ~40 or so, who became adults during Clinton and have only seen successful Democratic Presidents and failed Republican ones….and before you try to argue that’s unfair, it’s their perception that’s important here. They will be Democratic voters forever, just like voters who grew up under Reagan were Republicans forever. Except this is like 25 years instead of eight.

                You can’t just wave your hands and ignore that trend. You can wave your hands and say it not going to matter yet, that the Republicans still have an election cycle or two (1), but it still is eventually going to matter.

                Even if the Republicans suddenly become super-successful, even if Trump resigns tomorrow and Pence become the most amazing President ever, there’s about 25 years of American voters who have already made up their minds about the parties. As we’ve seen, even someone like Trump doesn’t change most people’s minds about the party they have decided to be part of.

                1) I’ve always held the Republicans had until 2020, that that year was the last time they could elect a Republican president unless they somehow fix their demographics problem. (And thanks to incumbency, a 2020 Republican president might, in theory, be reelected in 2024.)

                Trump has changed that calculation for me, because of how much he’s damaging the party. Likewise, I wasn’t sure how long Republicans could hold out in the House, and it was even possibly they could gerrymander further, or in more states…except the courts are about to say ‘Yeah, we don’t like that at all.’, changing that calculation, and that by itself is going to lose them the House as it currently stands.

                The one thing the D’s have in their favor is that we have the albatross of Trump hanging around our neck.

                That, and fact that the biggest and most pushed-for Republican ideas are massively unpopular.

                I mean, seriously, the sole Republican ‘win’ so far under Trump has been the tax bill, which made them less popular. Good job. The previous thing, repealing the ACA, was so unpopular they had to give it up. And both those were so amazingly unpopular they tried to force them through as fast as possible.

                Wait, I know, maybe Trump’s infrastructure bill will save them all! That could, in theory, be popular, especially since Trump has indicated he knew public-private partnerships were stupid cons. (Which, weirdly, is one of the most knowledgeable thing he’s ever said. I feel like I should check whether someone in Trump’s social circle is that sort of conman to see if Trump has just heard them admit it. Or…actually, he’s been involved in professional football, did he ever build a stadium so knows personally?)

                The problem is that the Republican hardliners in the Senate will never pass a bill that just ‘spends money on roads and bridges’, assuming that bill ever actually exists.

                Everything else is working for us.

                Yes, if we ignore the constantly decreasing shares of the popular vote, which the Republican party has managed to win only once since 1988, and the only winner was a war incumbent who won it by only two and a half points. But, hey, it’s the electoral college that counts, so instead we need to ignore the fact that demographics are slowly moving several vital Republican states into tossups, and several existing tossups into Democratic hands.

                And then we also ignore the effects of Trump’s election/nomination, where suddenly 15 points of Republican votes have just…vanished somewhere. Let’s just hope and pray all those votes wander back. (I suspect that somewhere around half of them will not.)

                It’s probably easiest if we just ignore literally everything.

                On the other hand, the GOP has regained the momentum

                The current thing the Republicans are working on is trying to _rebuild_ some sort of funding compromise after their own president broke it, causing a government shutdown.

                It’s possible to paint what happened as a Republican ‘victory’ (If we ignore the part where the Republican Congress was publicly undercut by their own president.), because the Democrats did back down in return for a vague promise.

                But it’s pretty hard to paint it as any sort of Republican ‘momentum’.

                One thing in particular is that Trump’s latest immigration proposal is going to put the D’s in a spot. It’s not a petty feud with Megyn Kelly, it’s an actual serious plan to deal with a legitimate issue. The D’s will oppose it, which doesn’t necessarily hurt them. What will hurt them, I suspect, is the perception and the reality that the libs and the D’s feel that actually negotiating with the Trump Administration is somehow below them. It’s not, and the voters are not going to see it that way.

                The Democrats just negotiated a bipartisan bill with the Trump administration over immigration, and the Trump administration rejected the entire thing at the last second, pissing off not only them but the Republicans. The idea that the public will punish anyone for not working with the Trump administration on an issue literally a week after the Trump administration has proven they can’t be trusted to hold to their agreements on that very issue is a bit silly.

                But that’s not important, because that’s not what the Democrats are going to do.

                What is actually going to happen is that after the Republicans introduce the bill, the Democrats will say ‘We object to reducing legal immigration by such a huge amount, and want to negotiate over it. Maybe we can cut chain migration, if that is important to cut for some reason, but we keep the existing level of visas by moving them to the lottery and other systems. However, it is clear _you Congressmen_ are not actually in charge of this because Trump blew up our last agreement with you, so we are going to negotiate with Trump directly.’

                All that will sound entirely reasonable to the public. And then Trump will do something stupid and in the eyes of the public it’s Trump who blew everything up.

                I remind you that you keep predicting the Democrats will do something stupid in their immigration positions that will outrage the American public, and the Democrats keep not doing stupid things in that regard. (And the Republicans keep doing them.)

                For example: The Wall

                Once DACA became an issue, Democrats decided to, with almost no objection from their side because their side always knew it was a stupid symbolic thing, ‘funded the wall’. You predicted that the American public would pillory them for standing in the way of the wall. Instead, they used that purely symbolic issue symbolically for popularity gain, and then, when their rejection ceases to be useful to them as a symbol, they used the issue as part of a compromise to get their own goals.

                Why, it’s almost like they’re competent politicians on the immigration issue. Unlike the Republicans, who have to deal with insane Nationalists whispering in Trump’s ear.

                The hope for the GOP lies in the Senate. Either this cycle or the next (hopefully this one), there is the chance that the GOP will be able to reassert control over the chamber for a generation, and not just by a little bit either.

                While it is theoretically possible for the GOP to make gains in the Senate this election, that is almost entirely due to how the pattern of seats falls this time.

                And even if they do manage to make gains in the Senate, the Democrats will almost certainly make gains the next election, because both it’s a presidential election and Democrats actually vote in those, and because it will be the next time anyone gets to vote against Donald Trump. And the map the election after that is very unfavorable to Republicans.

                Also, the hope for _what_? That Republicans continue to hold the Senate for a while after losing the House and the Presidency? I mean, yeah, okay, that might in theory happen, the Senate has pretty high incumbency and is designed to lag behind the other chamber, and Republicans have a built-in ‘gerrymander’ advantage with how the states are laid out and proportioned.

                Losing the Presidency and the House for decades, but keeping the Senate for the first decade of that, is hardly a Republican victory.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                There’s a lot here that I disagree with, but above any particulars I think we disagree a lot about the overall lay of the land in America demographically, especially as it relates to the period since the election of Trump. You should read John Judis about this. He was one of the coauthors of The Emerging Democratic Majority way back when, and he has since repudiated the thesis of that book (before Trump in fact).

                In any event, contrary to 2000 or 2004, or even 2016 I don’t think we really are a 51-49 country any more. I think we’re closer to a 58-42 or 57-43 GOP majority country. And the reason it doesn’t look that way is because of the massive distortion field surrounding Donald Trump. But once the person of Donald Trump is somehow no longer relevant, the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump is a road map for Republican wins for decades.

                Regarding a few particulars:

                As I said, there is a wave of Democratic voters, starting at ~40 or so, who became adults during Clinton and have only seen successful Democratic Presidents and failed Republican ones….and before you try to argue that’s unfair, it’s their perception that’s important here.

                Yeah, I don’t buy this perception. I think for most of that cohort the perception is going to be that Demo Presidents have shit economies (Obama), whereas GOP Presidents have good economies (Trump).

                The current thing the Republicans are working on is trying to _rebuild_ some sort of funding compromise after their own president broke it, causing a government shutdown.

                I’m not getting the undercutting part. In any event, it was clearly a GOP victory, for a couple of reasons. First, it emphasized to the American people the willingness of the D’s to prioritize interests of illegal immigrants over Americans. Second, it obviously wasn’t working because Schumer pulled the plug on it to return to the status quo. (Supposedly Manchin threatened to decline reelection among other things.)

                I remind you that you keep predicting the Democrats will do something stupid in their immigration positions that will outrage the American public, and the Democrats keep not doing stupid things in that regard. (And the Republicans keep doing them.)

                For example: The Wall

                Once DACA became an issue, Democrats decided to, with almost no objection from their side because their side always knew it was a stupid symbolic thing, ‘funded the wall’. You predicted that the American public would pillory them for standing in the way of the wall.

                I don’t know what you’re referring to here, suffice to say I think you’re substantially misrepresenting my views. I don’t necessarily think that the D’s will lose for obstructing the wall. I do think they’ll get important strategic advantages from supporting it, which just now they’re starting to do.

                And as far Democrats doing stupid immigration-related things, there’s a lot of ebb and flow here. It’s not some WWI-style trench battle like ACA was. In any event, it seems to be pretty fair characterization of the shutdown.

                While it is theoretically possible for the GOP to make gains in the Senate this election, that is almost entirely due to how the pattern of seats falls this time.

                I think it’s reasonable to think that the GOP will make gains in the Senate every cycle until there are somewhere around 57-65 GOP Senators.

                Also, the hope for _what_? That Republicans continue to hold the Senate for a while after losing the House and the Presidency?

                Well obviously I don’t buy that. I think it’s quite likely that the GOP will be holding the House of Representatives for a long time, even if they lose it this cycle. And if they do, there’s a very good chance that the GOP can make some substantial reforms to re-empower Congress for the time when a Demo President is reelected, if that happens sometime soon.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Koz says:

                In any event, contrary to 2000 or 2004, or even 2016 I don’t think we really are a 51-49 country any more. I think we’re closer to a 58-42 or 57-43 GOP majority country. And the reason it doesn’t look that way is because of the massive distortion field surrounding Donald Trump.

                The 2014 House election, which you might notice did not have Donald Trump involved in any way, _and_ was a mid-term House election, which reduces Dem turnout, _and_ had a Democratic President in office so people tend to counter-vote, was the perfect storm for Republican.

                And the Republicans won the popular vote by 5.7 points. The 2010 House election, same thing except with a bunch of anti-ACA stuff on top of it…had them win by 6.8 points.

                And I just picked basically the largest possible assertion of Republicans tilt, about six points, or 53-47. That is as high as it possibly gets, and a lot of that is pretty clearly due to Democrats just having crap turnout in mid-terms.

                But, hey, let’s skip the vote, and check polling: Well, here’s the polls for the last decade:
                http://news.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx

                There are a few intervals where Republicans poll the same, or even a point or two higher, than Democrats. Meanwhile, there times where Democrats poll ten points better than Republicans.

                Which tend to be why everyone mostly agrees that it’s ~53% Leans Democrat, and ~47% Leans Republican in actual humans, but who actually votes varies to some extent.

                You can claim it’s basically actually a tie if you want, heck, _I_ tend to just shorthand it as a tie, despite Democrats clearly have a slim lead. But you can’t just assert that there are 16 points more Republicans without any evidence at all.

                I think for most of that cohort the perception is going to be that Demo Presidents have shit economies (Obama), whereas GOP Presidents have good economies (Trump).

                Look, it is nearly impossible to argue about ‘people’s perceptions’ in any meaningful way, but you do realize that I was attempting to _explain_ something that actually exists, right?

                I was not saying: Democrats have good presidents, Republicans have bad presidents, and thus I will _hypothesis_ that people who grew up under those presidents will think a certain way.

                I was saying the exact inverse: As a matter of basic statistical fact, young voters are _incredibly_ Democratic, the newest generation by frickin 29 points, and looking at the time line of that, I will hypothesis that it is due to the president they grew up under.

                You can disagree with my conclusion all you want, you can assert they’re very Democratic for some other reason. But you can’t flip my starting data and conclusion around and disagree with the starting data because you think the conclusion is wrong!

                I think it’s reasonable to think that the GOP will make gains in the Senate every cycle until there are somewhere around 57-65 GOP Senators.

                I think it’s worth reminding people that the Republicans have only twice been up 7 or more Senators (Both 8 specifically), under Theodore Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant. They have literally never beaten 60, much less come close to 65.

                The Democrats, when you count people who caucused with them, were up 8 Senators eight years ago. (On average, I mean. They got 60 for a very short time, but I presume we’re talking average over a term.)Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                You can claim it’s basically actually a tie if you want, heck, _I_ tend to just shorthand it as a tie, despite Democrats clearly have a slim lead. But you can’t just assert that there are 16 points more Republicans without any evidence at all.

                Sure I can, for exactly the reason I argued before. Our demographic problems are basically confined to the person of Donald J Trump, whereas our opportunities are much wider. Specifically, during the 2016 campaign (and during Trump’s term of office) the GOP has been hemorraging millions of college-educated white voters all over America.

                And in spite of that, Trump won the election due to the turnout and percentage support from non-college educated white voters that made up for what he lost among college-educated voters and then some.

                But those white voters he lost, they didn’t go anywhere (imo at least). The didn’t become libs or Democrats. They’ll go back to supporting Republicans as soon as Trump is gone, not relevant, or not the center of our politics. At the same time, we have a message and a policy agenda to keep the votes of the Trump-base.

                For that matter, I’d venture that any of the plausible GOP candidates but Trump would have beat HRC by at least 5 points (with a different demographic voter base of course).

                I think it’s worth reminding people that the Republicans have only twice been up 7 or more Senators (Both 8 specifically), under Theodore Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant. They have literally never beaten 60, much less come close to 65.

                Trump won 30 states, it stands to reason that the GOP should have 60 Senators. The advantages of incumbency are decreasing whereas partisan polarization is increasing. It’s getting harder and harder for voters in core GOP Presidential states to justify a vote for a Demo Senate candidate in any circumstances.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Koz says:

                Sure I can, for exactly the reason I argued before. Our demographic problems are basically confined to the person of Donald J Trump, whereas our opportunities are much wider. Specifically, during the 2016 campaign (and during Trump’s term of office) the GOP has been hemorraging millions of college-educated white voters all over America.

                And in spite of that, Trump won the election due to the turnout and percentage support from non-college educated white voters that made up for what he lost among college-educated voters and then some.

                So, to recap your claim, you claim that Republican lost educated white voters, and gained white uneducated voters. Either by switching parties or newly voting or not. And you assert that after Trump and his horrible personality leave, the white educated will show back up. Have I summarized that correctly?

                That is an interesting theory, with a rather obvious flaw in your conclusion: You have vastly underestimated both how many educated white voters flipped to be against Trump, and also how many uneducated voters flipped to him.

                48% of white college voters voted for Trump. Previously, 56% voted for Romney. You might notice that’s only an 8 point drop, but, more importantly, it’s a 8 point drop in about 30% of the population, so is actually only a 2.4 point drop.

                But, wait, maybe you are trying to assert that white college educations actually became more Republican in 2016, just like uneducated ones, but _at the same time_ rejected Trump even more. I’m not sure this theory really makes any sense at all, I find the idea extremely weird that somehow people would saying ‘Man, these new ideas are awesome, but that guy preaching them is so horrible. I’m going to start following his philosophy but reject him utterly.’. That does not seem to be how human beings have ever thought.

                Or maybe the idea is more that the Republican party has new positions and those new positions will prove as popular once Trump gets out of the way.

                Either way, let’s run that hypothetical and figure out how many new voters Republicans get if the same percentage of educated white voters switch to it after Trump as uneducated white voters did for Trump. How do the Republicans fare?

                Well…the amount of uneducated voters for Romney was 29, and the amount that they voted for Trump was 36. So they switched by 7 points.

                And we’re still talking about a group that is only 30% of the population, so them moving by 7 point is 2.1 points in the vote totals.

                Combining that ‘new Republican’ 2.1 with the 2.4 points of ‘came back Republicans’, we get a grand total of 4.5 points in Republican voters. (Interesting note: It is hypothetically possible that some ‘newly approving’ voters already switched, and were canceled out by even more ‘newly disapproving’ voters leaving than we noticed, but those two things should exactly cancel each other out, so it’s 4.5 regardless.)

                4.5 more point in some magical ideal world where Trump-ist populism is _exactly_ as attractive to white educated voters as it was to white uneducated voters, after Trump gets out of the way. This is a thing that personally seems unlikely to me, but let’s just go with it.

                4.5 more points gets Republicans to…nowhere. It basically digs them out of the slight hole they are currently in, and maybe puts the Democrats down a point or two.

                It’s nowhere near the amount you need to claim that 57% of the population will be Republicans in the future. It barely is enough to claim _half_ the population will be Republicans.

                And it’s based on a bunch of totally unfounded assumptions that assume the educated dislike Trump’s ideas because of Trump, and otherwise love them, instead any of them just thinking those ideas are dumb ideas. [EDIT: Oh, and it also assumes that uneducated white voters who supported Trump supported him entirely based on his ideas, as opposed to some of them just being jackasses and misogynists and people who just want to burn thing down, who would _not_ support a future standard Republican presenting much the same ideas. Not only would this undo some of what they added in 2016, but it would reduce some of the hypothetical math about how many educated white voters we should add.]

                Trump won 30 states, it stands to reason that the GOP should have 60 Senators.

                The Senate has never worked that way in any manner under direct election of Senators. Ronald Reagan won 49 states and at the highest, managed only 55 Senators for two years, for the most extreme example.

                There are still 14 states with _opposing_ party Senators, which under your logic should not really exist at all, or at least not exist for long periods of time.

                And you can’t just beg the question that Republicans will get 60 states in the future.

                The advantages of incumbency are decreasing whereas partisan polarization is increasing.

                Please list any evidence you have that incumbency advantage is decreasing in the Senate.

                https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/reelect.php

                In 2016, 93% of Senate incumbents won, which is near the highest that rate has ever been.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                48% of white college voters voted for Trump. Previously, 56% voted for Romney. You might notice that’s only an 8 point drop, but, more importantly, it’s a 8 point drop in about 30% of the population, so is actually only a 2.4 point drop.

                I think there is a significant possibility to gain more than 8 percentage points among white educated voters relative to Trump.

                More importantly, I don’t think the possible GOP gains end there. I think they have a lot of room to gain from minority voters as well. This isn’t to say that the GOP will be the primary political representation for racial minorities, but the effect is the same. Eg, I don’t think that D’s can sustain the percentages or turnout for black voters without a black person on the ticket, and even if it’s Kamala Harris, I don’t think that will work as well as Obama. I don’t think Latin voters going to be that motivated post-Trump. I also don’t think we’ve seen meaningful ceilings for the GOP share of white voters, educated or not.

                The Senate has never worked that way in any manner under direct election of Senators. Ronald Reagan won 49 states and at the highest, managed only 55 Senators for two years, for the most extreme example.

                That’s correct, it hasn’t. But it’s beginning to, and given the Demo’s coastal mindshare and antagonism to Middle America, I suspect will accelerate.

                I don’t think incumbency is going to help them very much either. Since 2010, the GOP has knocked off incumbent D Senators Feingold, Mark Udall, Begich, Landrieu, Hagan, and both D’s from Arkansas. I’m exactly sure where that 93% comes from, but I can’t believe it matters very much.

                The other thing that will help Republicans (though not this cycle) is the perception that the Senate will have permanent Republican control. I think that will effect retirements and the
                mood of the voters pertaining what party’s candidate they intend to vote for in the Senate.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Koz says:

                I think you’re misjudging the West. Mark Udall ran a historically bad campaign. Four years on, Cory Gardner can barely show his face in the state, and certainly not in the northern suburbs that provided his winning margin.

                My scoring model for keeping track of trends in my head awards +1 for each congressional seat, governor’s office, and state legislative chamber flipped (-1 for losing). The (D)s were +6 in 2016 in the West, with none of the gains coming in the coastal states (CA, OR, and WA).

                For general voter attitude, I look at ballot initiatives, which are almost universal in the West. The major initiatives that passed in 2016 were mostly things opposed by the state-level Republicans — higher minimum wages, looser controls on marijuana, tighter controls on gun sales and ownership.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Michael Cain says:

                It could be. I don’t think that the interior West has as much social dysfunction as other parts of America, so the motivation towards Trump is weaker than in other parts.

                But even if Republicans are weaker in Colorado and other places than they have traditionally been, I think we’re still better off de-nationalizing the election away from Trump, which seems to have taken place recently.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Koz says:

                I think there is a significant possibility to gain more than 8 percentage points among white educated voters relative to Trump.

                Think and wish are not synonyms.

                More importantly, I don’t think the possible GOP gains end there. I think they have a lot of room to gain from minority voters as well.

                They do indeed have a lot of room to gain from minority voters. In fact, they could almost octuple their support by black voters, because they are so disliked now! Democrats can’t possibly make that claim!

                But you can’t just invent hypotheticals and assert they will happen without some sort of justification. Everyone knows that minority voters, could, in theory, vote for Republicans…hell, they could all become Nazis, or Mormons, or lumberjacks, or start their own Party with hookers and blackjack. They _could_ do all those things.

                What we are trying to figure out is what is likely in the future, not ‘What if a bunch of people did things for no reason at all that are completely out of character of things we’ve seen before?’

                This isn’t to say that the GOP will be the primary political representation for racial minorities, but the effect is the same. Eg, I don’t think that D’s can sustain the percentages or turnout for black voters without a black person on the ticket, and even if it’s Kamala Harris, I don’t think that will work as well as Obama.

                Black turnout went up for Obama only by about 5 extra points. Likewise, black voters went Democratic another few points. (Which absolutely speaking, was very small, but relatively speaking was huge, as something like half of the black Republicans wandered over to Obama, or stayed home and had other black voters make up the difference. It’s just ‘black Republicans’ were not a lot of people to start with.)

                The problem for your theory is that change was almost microscopic in total…and, what’s more, it’s _already been undone_. It already went back. Black voters reverted to 2004 turnout and support levels in 2016. (Which resulted in a billion articles about how black voters were not ‘excited’ by Clinton, when in actuality they were exactly as ‘excited’ by her as any candidate before Obama.)

                So I have no idea of what your point it. Democrats should, as pretty much everyone already assumed, count on the 2004/2016 level of turnout and support from black voters from here out, not the 2008 or 2012 level. I don’t think anyone needed that explained.

                A few might have needed it explained _before_ the 2016 election, and, as I said, a few in the media seem completely shocked by this after the election because they are very stupid people, but it wasn’t really a weird conclusion that a few black people were going to vote for the first viable black candidate for president despite normally not voting or normally voting Republican, and then mostly go back to how they were before the election.

                But if you want to assert black support for Democrats is going to decrease from _this point_, the 2004 point we’ve returned to, you have to explain why that is going to happen.

                Pre-Obama, black turnout had been slowly creeping up, and now that the Obama bump has disappeared, will probably slowly start creeping up again. I don’t really expect it to get as high as white turnout, so there’s only about five points it can go up. But I don’t see any logical reason it would start dropping from the place it currently is.

                And Democratic support from black voters has mostly remained steady in the high 80%…except for, again, where Obama bumped it up five points, and then it fall back after. I don’t expect it to change at all, either way.

                I don’t think Latin voters going to be that motivated post-Trump. I also don’t think we’ve seen meaningful ceilings for the GOP share of white voters, educated or not.

                I mean, it’s not like the Republican party (and not just Trump) is pushing hardline immigration policies pretty clearly targeted at people who look like them and are in their community and were themselves a generation ago. Sure, they’ll probably just give up on voting against Republicans.

                *checks CNN*

                Erm, nevermind.

                But it’s beginning to, and given the Demo’s coastal mindshare and antagonism to Middle America, I suspect will accelerate.

                Yes, in 2014, the amount of states held in the State is _clearly_ starting to match the amount won by the president. I mean, look at this indisputable pattern of States won by Republicans in the most recent presidential election/Number of Senate seats held by Republicans:

                2000: 30/46
                2002: 30/51
                2004: 31/55
                2006: 31/49

                2008: 22/41
                2010: 22/47
                2012: 24/45
                2014: 24/53

                2016: 30/52

                Why, the pattern is unmistakable…in that the pattern is clearly that the president’s party win seats in presidential years, usually loses them in midterms (except in 2004 for some reason, possibly the wars) and the total doesn’t seem to be related to the number of currently states that voted for them at all.

                I don’t think incumbency is going to help them very much either. Since 2010, the GOP has knocked off incumbent D Senators Feingold, Mark Udall, Begich, Landrieu, Hagan, and both D’s from Arkansas.

                (Pssst, Landrieu, Hagan, and Begich are all from ‘coastal’ states, technically speaking. If you mean ‘New England’ and ‘West Coast’ states, say that.)

                This is why it is so hard discussing things with you. If you want to assert that Democrats are now losing their incumbency in a specific way, you have to _compare_ that to something. Either Republican incumbency rates, or previous incumbency rates.

                I just shot down the ‘previous incumbency’ thing, so you decided to just imply Republicans were beating Democratic incumbents a lot by…just listing them, without context at all or anything to compare it to.

                Starting at 2010, Republicans Brown, Ayotte, Kirk, and Lieberman have lost relection.

                That’s…four, compared to the seven you listed.

                That’s….not really a statistical difference, especially since those elections also saw a net gain of 12 seats by Republican. Of course they took down more incumbents…they were winning seats more on average.

                To which you might say ‘ah ha!’, but I point out that Republicans aren’t actually winning more seats on _long-term_ average, or they’d slowly be gaining seats, and the numbers above clearly show they are not. You just started in the year where they made a huge comeback. The election before you started counting, the Democrats won six seats, five of them from incumbent Republican senators.

                But the actual problem here, this is nonsense to start with. If you want to make some sort of argument that states will _eventually_ correct their Senators to their population, well, yeah, everyone agrees. If you want to make the argument that they are correcting faster than they used to, well, you’re wrong, but that isn’t actually important.

                The problem is that you’ve based this off the idea that Republicans will continue to have 30 states in the presidential race, forever. This is just so incomprehensible unjustified that is hard to know where to start objecting to it.

                For one thing, _Presidental candidates do not try to win_ a lot of the states, and as pretty much everyone has noticed except you apparently, Clinton made some pretty bad blunders in not campaigning in a few specific states that Trump got. Clinton’s camp (In fact, everyone), got the polling wrong by about 5%, which meant that a lot of swing states that should have been focused on were ignored.

                That doesn’t magically mean those states are now Republican. Pennsylvania, for example, is not a Republican state just because a Republican won it, it is a swing state. (Under your logic, swing states do not even appear to exist.) The fact that Hillary managed to lose it in 2016 does not mean it will suddenly stop having any Democratic Senators. It will continue to have competitive Senate races, and incumbents usually will win, and when they don’t, that probably won’t be biased towards either party.

                Same with Florida. Except, eventually, Florida is going to wander out of the swing state classification into Democratic.

                If anything, your idea is exactly backwards: Who a state sends to Congress (Both House and Senate) is probably a much better judge of how that state feels about the National political parties as a whole. (Which is often not the same as how it feels about local parties.) Of course, incumbency will mean that lags behind, often by decades, but we can always look at new elections. (Well, most of them. I have a feeling Alabama is not actually Democratic now, despite that election.)

                Whereas the presidential candidate is a semi-random thing that swings wildly based on personality of the specific candidates. The way a state votes in the presidential election logically start from how it is sending people to Congress, not the other way around. (And then move off the starting point based on candidates and issues.)Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                But you can’t just invent hypotheticals and assert they will happen without some sort of justification……..

                What we are trying to figure out is what is likely in the future, not ‘What if a bunch of people did things for no reason at all that are completely out of character of things we’ve seen before?’

                Well yeah, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

                Like I mentioned before, I think that the weaknesses of the GOP are associated with Trump, and don’t necessarily extend beyond him.

                And particular, there’s a chance that this is going to manifest itself in ways that will help the GOP this cycle. As I see it, the voters have a tremendous appetite for normalcy, sobriety, coherence, and substance in politics right now. As heretofore, the primary obstacle to those things was President Trump, with his theatrics and inflammatory, erratic behavior.

                But what if (this may date me but a while back Hewlett-Packard to use have these commercials about how they never stopped thinking “What if….?”), in any event what if that wasn’t necessarily the case any more?

                What if Trump pushed an immigration plan, that says this or that, that people may disagree with or not? What if he did the same for infrastructure a couple months down the road? What if he passed a tax cut? I don’t think the D’s are necessarily in a good position to handle these developments. The D’s desperately want to justify and validate the emotional, visceral antagonism to the President. I don’t think they appreciate that the American people want to put that behind them if the opportunity avails itself.

                The upside for the GOP is avoid nationalizing the election behind Trump, especially his volatile incoherent crap. If that happens, the message, the layout of the seats to be contested, I think those things favor the Republicans.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                Starting at 2010, Republicans Brown, Ayotte, Kirk, and Lieberman have lost relection.

                Lieberman?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Koz says:

                Lieberman?

                Hey, if you get to invent your hypothetical, I get to invent mine. 😉

                Although, yes, I guess he was _technically_ caucused with the Democrats (By extortion, but, still.), so really doesn’t count.

                Actually, he doesn’t really count anyway, as the Connecticut for Liebermanians (sp?) apparently didn’t nominate him again, so he did not run again. (I shall assume he lost their nomination to a better qualified Lieberman. I don’t know anything about pro-Lieberman politics, though.)Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                If anything, your idea is exactly backwards: Who a state sends to Congress (Both House and Senate) is probably a much better judge of how that state feels about the National political parties as a whole. (Which is often not the same as how it feels about local parties.) Of course, incumbency will mean that lags behind, often by decades, but we can always look at new elections. (Well, most of them. I have a feeling Alabama is not actually Democratic now, despite that election.)

                Yeah, this I agree with, in fact it’s most of the reason why I think the Senate will stay Republican indefinitely.

                There’s a lot of GOP-leaning states, as states, and in contrast to times past I think it’s going to be difficult for them to justify having a Democratic Senator, in ways that is not going to be as severe in the mirror image. Ie, it’s going to be more plausible for a Republican to beat Jeanne Shaheen as opposed to a D to beat Ben Sasse. In fact, you saw this in Kansas one or two cycles ago, where a not-particularly-well regarded Republican was mailing in his reelection campaign and got it serious trouble for a while. But ultimately, the voters there couldn’t afford to vote for a Democrat.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Koz says:

                In fact, you saw this in Kansas one or two cycles ago, where a not-particularly-well regarded Republican was mailing in his reelection campaign and got it serious trouble for a while. But ultimately, the voters there couldn’t afford to vote for a Democrat.

                Did you just use an incumbent winning despite running a bad campaign to talk about how incumbancy is reduced? Heh. Interesting logic there.

                There’s a lot of GOP-leaning states, as states, and in contrast to times past I think it’s going to be difficult for them to justify having a Democratic Senator, in ways that is not going to be as severe in the mirror image. Ie, it’s going to be more plausible for a Republican to beat Jeanne Shaheen as opposed to a D to beat Ben Sasse.

                Yes, if you pick _those_ states. Heller, OTOH, is is pretty big trouble. Stabenow is in no trouble at all.

                The problem with your ‘Trump got 30 states, so should have 30 states in the Senate thesis’ is two fold:

                1) A lot of those ‘thirty states’ were _barely_ lost by a campaign that screwed up badly thanks to bad polls. There is absolutely no reason that Michigan, for example, would be voting for Republican Senators, even if there were no incumbents. They voted for Trump by 0.5% percent, but they are really about 5 points Democratic.

                The total number of states carried by Republicans was 24 under Obama. But I will admit that number seems slightly low now.

                So maybe it’s now 26 states and Republicans ‘should’ have a slight majority in the Senate. Or even 27 states. (It’s not thirty.) And in some universe where the current voting population of every state was forced to vote forever and ever, all the incumbents would eventually fall out and that number would be exactly correct. But that’s not really how that works.

                2) Trying to measure incumbents is a bit silly, because often the only difference between an incumbent who loses and one that retires is merely ‘How well a politician can read polls.’

                Olympia Snowe, for example, was replaced by a Democrat-caucuser and probably would have lost her reelection (The actual Republican in that race got 30%.), except she was smart enough not to run. Same with Nelson, whose state was going in the exact opposite direction. Neither state would put up with the other party anymore, not even with moderates, and those guys knew it. Rockefeller also. They were near the breaking point of incumbency, and when they were replaced, the other party candidate got a huge win. Same with many incumbents who lost elections….Pryor lost by 16 points, Landrieu lost by 12, Bayh and Lincoln by frickin 21 points. That’s how strong incumbency is, it can take a lot to snap it.

                Now, there have been some weak incumbents who lost barely. Begich lost by 2.2 points….but, interesting point, he had only been in office one term, and he only got in by beating the previous incumbent by 1.2 points. And the exact same story with Udall. And Hagan. In fact, it seems like a lot of the Democratic incumbents who lost in 2014 were Democrats who never should have won those states back in 2006, but somehow did, barely winning the election, and then barely lost the election one term later. And on the Republican party side, Brown did the same, except he hadn’t made it a full term yet.

                There have been a hell of a lot of single-term Senators recently, who barely squeak in (or are appointed), and then barely get thrown out (Or are smart enough to retire.)

                You can think of this as ‘reduced incumbency’ if you want, but I think it really shows that there’s two sorts of incumbency. There’s short term incumbency, which, I dunno, maybe that has been reduced some amount. Who can tell? I have absolutely no idea how common a party losing a seat for a single Senate cycle used to be. Someone is going to have to do some analysis on that who isn’t me.

                But there’s also ‘several decades’ incumbency, which requires a state to get _really far_ from a Senator’s party to kick them out. (Or, if they’re smart, they retire first.) Like, 15 points towards the other party.

                So, to bring this back around to what you originally said, and what I think about it:

                We will continue to see corrections in very very Republican states that have inexplicably been voting for a Democratic Senator for decade. West Virginia, for a really good example.

                We will see some flippy seats flip again in swing states. I rather suspect the direction they are going to be flipping in under Trump is towards Democrats, both because of Trump and just because the Senate election usually counters the president in general.

                But we won’t see is barely-Republican states throw long-term Democrats out, and we certainly won’t see ‘voted for Trump but are actually Democratic’ states do that. They have to get really really far Republican to do that.

                And at this point I feel like I should remind people, again, that Republicans have mysteriously lost 15 points in pretty much every election since the election (Or, sometimes, the nomination.) of Trump.

                Of course, I suspect your argument is ‘Yes, that’s probably true, some of those states might be still slightly on the Democratic side of the line for now, or at least at the last election. But they will get and more Republican, and will eventually flip.’.

                Which…I suspect I can’t stop you from thinking that. But I don’t think it’s accurate, at all, and I especially think trying to extrapolate from winning a presidential election in 2016 as to how people will be voting in 2024 is…not very reasonable.

                When I talk about demographics, and when I talk about people aging, I am talking about people who vote a specific way, and in all likelihood, will continue to vote that way in the future. Half of my claim is the basic passage of time and aging and how people eventually die, which I presumable do not need to prove, and the other half is that only a very small amount of people will ever change their voting habits.

                You, OTOH, are often just claiming that existing people will start voting _differently_.

                Moreover, the only proof you provide is a general sense of your own feelings, and some extremely short-term _very slight_ voting pattern changes that they are swamped by noise, normal stuff that jumps around every election. And then, on top of that, you also assigned all pro-Republican movement to the Republican party, and all anti-Republican movement to Trump, and pretend the pro-Republican trends will continue and the anti-Republican trends will reverse when Trump leaves, which, frankly, is never how politics have ever worked.

                I think your assertions require a much higher level of proof than mine, and aren’t even slightly convincing.

                BTW, I can make exactly the same sort of argument as you, except much better, because, again, I point to the mysterious disappearance of 15 points of Republican votes that literally _just happened_. If we want to start extrapolating from current voting patterns, the Republican party should ceased to exist as an entity around mid-2020.

                This is, however, a pretty silly way to try to guess the future, basically just picking two data points and pretending that every single trend will continue exactly in the direction it currently is.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                2) Trying to measure incumbents is a bit silly, because often the only difference between an incumbent who loses and one that retires is merely ‘How well a politician can read polls.’

                I think we pretty much agree on incumbency. It’s more that your prior position (or at least the way I took it) is not tenable. Incumbency is an obstacle and a real advantage for the party trying to maintain hold of a seat. It is not an insurmountable barrier, as the Republicans have shown several times over the last few cycles.

                And, I also agree that it’s more typical that a Senator could fall out of love with his party or vice versa and retire.

                Where I think you’re mistaken is in the cultural makeup of the states and the implications for the Senate. Olympia Snowe is a good example. I don’t remember her situation that well, but my guess is that she could have won reelection if she wanted to (I think she already did it at least once). In any event, I think there’s very few states where it’s not really credible to imagine having a Republican Senator (and Maine is not one of them). Whereas there’s a decent amount of states that really can’t have Demo Senators (and that number is going up).

                Really Mark Pryor was the turning point imo. He was basically engineered (and largely thought of himself) as a white D from the South who could weather the cultural storms associated with that due to his long personal history and association with the state. If it couldn’t hold for Mark Pryor, it’s not going to hold for anybody.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                The problem with your ‘Trump got 30 states, so should have 30 states in the Senate thesis’ is two fold:

                1) A lot of those ‘thirty states’ were _barely_ lost by a campaign that screwed up badly thanks to bad polls. There is absolutely no reason that Michigan, for example, would be voting for Republican Senators, even if there were no incumbents. They voted for Trump by 0.5% percent, but they are really about 5 points Democratic.

                The total number of states carried by Republicans was 24 under Obama. But I will admit that number seems slightly low now.

                So maybe it’s now 26 states and Republicans ‘should’ have a slight majority in the Senate. Or even 27 states. (It’s not thirty.) And in some universe where the current voting population of every state was forced to vote forever and ever, all the incumbents would eventually fall out and that number would be exactly correct. But that’s not really how that works.

                The point about Trump winning 30 states was just a guide for a rule of thumb. I do think the 60 Senators/30 states is about the right number. I don’t think that they have to be those exact states (though obviously most of them will overlap)

                Here is a useful map of the United States by partisan representation in the Senate. My my count there’s 19 states with 2 GOP Senators. From my pov it’s hard for me to imagine a D being elected to any of those states any time soon. There’s also by my count 6 states which “ought” to have 2 GOP Senators but don’t (Montana, N Dakota, Indiana, W Virginia, Alabama, Missouri).

                I think it’s kind of hard to dispute that really. If you give the GOP those 6 seats, we’re at 57 already. And even that doesn’t allow for the fact that (for me at least) it’s a lot more credible to think that there should be GOP Senators from Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, etc (as in fact there are), than to think there should be D Senators from “core” GOP states. In the abstract, I only see a couple of them that are plausibly competitive: N Carolina probably, Iowa, Arizona maaayybe (but not really).

                The upshot is, I don’t expect the D’s to have a “good” map from which they should expect to gain seats until there’s 58 or some number of Republicans (so two more cycles at least).Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to DavidTC says:

                You, OTOH, are often just claiming that existing people will start voting _differently_.

                Moreover, the only proof you provide is a general sense of your own feelings, and some extremely short-term _very slight_ voting pattern changes that they are swamped by noise, normal stuff that jumps around every election. And then, on top of that, you also assigned all pro-Republican movement to the Republican party, and all anti-Republican movement to Trump, and pretend the pro-Republican trends will continue and the anti-Republican trends will reverse when Trump leaves, which, frankly, is never how politics have ever worked.

                Yeah, that’s right for the most part. That is, what I’m saying has quite a bit to do with demographics, but also assumes a different message environment than what we’ve seen over the last say 6-10 months. This new message environment hasn’t consolidated yet (and might not), but I think it’s pretty clear that the momentum is heading that direction.

                And underlying all this is the underappreciated reality that structurally speaking, the D’s are in their last inning. The GOP controls so many offices, and are uniquely vulnerable now in the House especially, that if the D’s can’t win something this cycle it calls substantially into question whether they ever will. It seemed academic a month or so ago, that even if the D’s were in their last inning, it really wouldn’t make that much difference if they scored 10 runs that inning.

                But now, there’s a substantial likelihood that GOP control over political offices will appear to be a permanent thing, just like control over entertainment industry awards ceremonies appears to be a lib thing.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DavidTC says:

                Re 1): Yes. 6-3 both Wisconsin and Maryland are unconstitutional partisan filibusters. Kennedy is fed up. Roberts, cynically, so that Kennedy can’t write the opinion. Roberts gives it to Breyer. 5-4 establishes a statistical test.

                My greatest fear for 2018 is that the Dems make gains (Congressional seats, state legislative chambers, governors’ offices) in the NE urban corridor states and the West, and following the 20+ year trend, loses ground in the Midwest and South.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Michael Cain says:

                My greatest fear for 2018 is that the Dems make gains (Congressional seats, state legislative chambers, governors’ offices) in the NE urban corridor states and the West, and following the 20+ year trend, loses ground in the Midwest and South.

                Losing ground in the Midwest seems likely.

                I’m not exactly sure what ground you think Democrats still have that they would be losing in the South. In fact, demographics are getting somewhat dangerous for them there, also.

                I live in Georgia, and every few years there are talks of us becoming a swing state, mostly because of minority voting. Not just due to demographic change, but also because they have started voting more. To some level that’s because the ‘Voter ID’ suppression trick was implemented here so far back it’s become somewhat ineffectual (A lot of people will eventually manage to jump through the hoops.), and also it turns out that really only works against older minorities…but also because minorities here are just becoming more politically active.

                Now, Georgia isn’t actually going to become a swing state anytime soon, no matter how much I like to secretly believe that. The white men here just keep getting more and more conservative. But the Democrats aren’t losing ground here.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DavidTC says:

                I’m not exactly sure what ground you think Democrats still have that they would be losing in the South.

                There is that :^) Better phrasing would probably be that I fear a more pronounced regional separation: blue in the NE urban corridor and West; red in the South and Midwest.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DavidTC says:

                Its the way that even fiercely anti-feminist people like the guy mocked over at LGM somehow end up ratifying the basic principles of feminism; they literally have no frame of reference outside of their modern secular world, so they think a “anti-feminist” position is that women should totally own and operate their own business, but just be less bossy about…y’know, being the boss.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Its the way that even fiercely anti-feminist people like the guy mocked over at LGM somehow end up ratifying the basic principles of feminism; they literally have no frame of reference outside of their modern secular world, so they think a “anti-feminist” position is that women should totally own and operate their own business, but just be less bossy about…y’know, being the boss.

                In a sane universe, that would, indeed, be where Republicans would be standing on woman’s rights, where they have accepted legal equality but are still arguing some culture stuff.

                And, yes, some people sorta dupe themselves into thinking that that’s where they are.

                I mean, that’s how Republicanism worked on racism. Republicans had to get dragged to racial equality kicking and screaming, but their position as of, for example, 1995 would kindly like you to forget all that and of course they’re for racial equality now (They say, talking very loudly over a few of their older members) and of course they will pass laws ensuring those things, and the left is made of a bunch of kooks who will not accept just equality but want all sorts of crazy things and defend a bunch of actual criminals. (They say, ignoring racial biases in both arrests and convictions.)

                And they were about five years away from that on sexism, also. Or maybe there also.

                In a sane universe, they would now be standing on gay rights in the exact same place. ‘Hey, everything is legally equal now, the laws treat people identically, and why does the left keep complaining that gays are not on TV and keep using words like hetronormative and complaining about that teacher who went on an anti-gay rant. We gave the gays their rights, we even stopped calling them certain words (in public at least), we are now the sane level of gay-supporting and the left is crazy people who think everyone should be gay and hates normal straight people.’

                That is the universe we would probably be in if not for Rush Limbaugh and Fox News turning Republicans into ‘the farthest right person always wins the Republican primary’, helped along with ‘thanks to gerrymandering, only the primary matters’.

                So, instead, about 1995, the right stopped accepting any sort of cultural defeat, and even started rolling back some of the previous concessions.

                At this point, the Republican’s positions are lagging well behind cultural critical mass. They used to flip pretty soon after maybe 65% of voters liked an idea. I.e, as soon as it was clear a majority of their voters either do, or would soon, like the idea. Now they’re often not even managing to flip when the majority of their own voters like an idea for decades, because they get filtered by the Republican primary voters, a somewhat signification fraction of whom are reactionary wackjobs either with absurd beliefs or people completely lead around by right-wing media and internet conspiracy theories. (But I repeat myself.)

                Of course, some people keep falling for the ‘Both parties want equality but the left wants things too far, and is trying to change a bunch of culture, not just the law’ concept, and pretend the Republican party is still doing that.

                But, hey, we can all see the overt racism. Hell, we even before that, we could all can see the vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and we can striking down, and failing to fix, the Voting Rights Act.

                New voters can see those also.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC says:

                A whole hell of a lot of damage can be done in a decade. The only thing keeping the Randoids from running the table is that a lot of the safety nets in this country protect the elderly and the GOP base demonstrated very clearly that they don’t give a fig about libertarian principles or neocon principles* if it involves touching their money.

                *I grew up during the fiscal crisis in Canada. When it came down to a slug fest between safety nets, taxes and the military the military went down first and HARD, then taxes went up noticeably then finally safety nets and taxes split the difference. I have no reason to think it’ll be different if the US ever has a real fiscal crisis**.
                **As in one that doesn’t exist only in Conservatives imaginations.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to North says:

                @north

                One of the big drivers of what gets cut in a fiscal crisis is what the most money is being spent on. In New Zealand’s case in the 1980s agricultural subsidies and superfluous public service jobs were the main things cut, along with a lot of government-owned industries being sold off.

                So for the US, the big items will be the military, Social Security, and Medicare. I suspect all of them will take some hit but I agree that on the margin, the military will get harder because US voters will be a whole lot less enthusiastic about having a massive military when they actually have to pay for it. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of federal land being sold off.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to James K says:

                Agreed on both. We saw, with the sequester, this dynamic in action. Obama assumed that if the military was on the chopping block the GOP would cut a deal with him on spending/taxes. The neocon wing accordingly flapped with all their might; but the entire GOP just chucked it overboard. And that was merely a military vs taxes fight. Military vs medicare? Hoo boy.Report

  4. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I’m partial to the view that Trump is most similar to Boris Yeltsin, who was the ineffectual clown who left a very large vacuum in Russia, which was swiftly filled by figures much darker, malignant, and effective.

    While Trump stumbles from self inflicted crisis to crisis, his Cabinet is busy inflicting long lasting damage on American government.

    While I am optimistic that we can take the government back, starting with the midterms, I am worried that the next Trump will be more of a Putin than a Yeltsin.

    Because again, while Trump is unique in his personality, he represents a massive number of Americans, and there are thousands of eager ambitious Republican candidates watching and learning.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I’m curious how much his disinterest in leading is sincere and how much is because leading is hard and if it’s hard, it becomes unimportant for Trump.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    So do you think the performance from Trump’s doctor was fake or sincere?

    The cognitive defect test is what worries me the most. But it seems like the one the GOP is going to hide over the most because it is useful for them to do so.Report

    • I believe it was within the ballpark of accurate. I don’t think he weighs 239lb, but I’m more confident than I was a week ago that the degree of mental deterioration many have tried to associate with him is not true.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman says:

        Two points to consider on this
        – Since we know the doctor was lying about his weight, why would we put much belief in anything else he said in the same presentation?
        – The Montreal Cognitive Assessment test is this – http://dementia.ie/images/uploads/site-images/MoCA-Test-English_7_1.pdf – so Trump coming out without signs of cognitive decline, while it means he’s probably not suffering severe dementia or had a concussion or stroke recently, doesn’t mean he’s not an idiot, well past whatever passed as his mental prime.

        Something is still wrong with him though. Have you seen the footage of him praising himself for holding a meeting? There’s something profoundly off about him there. Kind of like a half-asleep five year old kid telling himself a bedtime story or something. Except the five year olds usually focus on everyone being happy, not driving their enemies before them and hearing the lamentations of their women.

        http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/01/10/trump-studio-ratings-for-meeting-sot.cnnReport

        • Avatar greginak in reply to dragonfrog says:

          The things that are wrong with Trump that you note like his need for constant ego maintenance and praise are just who he is. Always has been. Of course there is something off with him. But that doesn’t mean it’s a mental illness or a physical thing.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to greginak says:

            Might not be related to physical injury or stroke or the like.

            I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s not a mental illness.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to dragonfrog says:

              I just take a very dim view of diagnosing people i already strongly dislike based on public appearances and things people say. I wouldn’t even diagnose him in a professional situation due to my long standing antipathy towards him. ( I doubt the WH will be calling me luckily). I don’t want diagnoses, mental health or physical, to be yet another partisan attack, lord knows we have enough of those already. I also have no problem criticizing Trump without going the diagnostic route. People can be weird or terrible or eccentric in all sorts of ways without diagnosing them. In fact over diagnosis has been a problem in the mental health field for a few reasons.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to greginak says:

                @greginak It’s also the case that those problems skew based on income level, right? Like not that upper income level people don’t get misdiagnosed, but they get different problems with it – and imo less severe ones – than lower income level people do.

                I’d like to see less stigmatization of poor people and abuse victims, and more skepticism of the sanity of despotic rich people, personally. On some level the common sense, “that person is too far off consensus reality to be allowed by fellow humans to be in charge of this very life-or-death stuff” thing that has *actual usefulness* in human society, and was pretty slow to develop as a useful perception (I’d say it only really helped with the 18th century) has been rendered impotent by the same stigma and -over-pathologization that has harmed people with actual mental illnesses, as well as … eccentric people without them.

                Speaking as a mentally ill person. And (quite obviously) rather off the cuff.

                Although, also speaking as a mentally ill person, I appreciate your professional caution in being unwilling to make those kinds of calls in other than professional, non-conflicted settings.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Maribou says:

                @maribou Yeah different incomes can often get different diagnoses. Often poor people will be seen in a MH context after a problem has blown up with their kids in school or with the criminal justice system. There is often a cultural difference between MH practitioners who are typically middle class and grad level educated and lesser educated poor people. Lower income folk are more often POC with different cultural backgrounds which can make communication and diagnosis tricky. These issues lead to differing diagnoses. On the positive side there a fair amount of training to help practitioners cope with this.

                Agreed on your second para. People slip into medicalized language to express value differences which is not helpful for anyone. There are perfectly good and descriptive terms, like narcissist, that can be used outside of diagnosis.

                I tend to use the test of whether a “problem” impairs someones functioning in a way that either causes real problem for society ( ie drunk driving, abuse) or leads them to be subjectively unhappy. Lots of eccentric people are fine with their eccentricities so good for them. Lots of “normal” people are unhappy and want a diagnosis to explain that for better and worse.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to greginak says:

                @greginak FWIW I’ve been told off for using “narcissist” b/c it’s supposedly a diagnosis. In the Trumpian case, but not only in the Trumpian case. Sigh.

                FWIW, I think unhappy people want a diagnosis not only to explain, but to give them a pattern that will help them figure out how to change things and where/how to best push themselves vs where to be kinder to themselves and let things be in their own time. That’s what I wanted, anyway. Well, and some space from things that I think anyone should just be able to have space from, regardless of mental health, while I try to sort out my shitty past experiences that are really pretty overwhelming to process.

                Exceptionally (apparently) high-functioning people can be in need of a lot more help than just an explanation.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Maribou says:

                @maribou Hmm i think narcissist has enough of a general language meaning to be useful but thats me.

                Wanting a diagnosis can indeed be a reasonable thing but it also can be a way of avoiding facing things. I’ve seen a lot of parents want a diagnosis for their kids such as ADHD. ADHD is real thing and can be treated but parents don’t want to hear their kid is behaving poorly because one of the parents is an addict or their is DV or completely chaotic in their own lives or have their own MI. Like everything they have good uses and can be misused.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to greginak says:

                @greginak Yeah, and like all 3rd-party wants, more likely to be messed up than when people are seeking help directly. (This happens in information all the time – “My son/daughter/spouse/cousin is looking for a book…” but obviously the stakes are a lot lower… and it’s not like parents whose kids *do* need help that involves a diagnosis as a gate-keeping device have many good options other than seeking it.)Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to greginak says:

                An ADHD dx can be super important if you have ADHD (which I do). But more, knowing that “your thing” is a “thing” can be strangely helpful. For example, I didn’t know about this until maybe six months ago. I’m 50 years old. I lived 49 years in emotional hell, and I though it was because of a character flaw, but it’s not — at least not exactly that. It’s something “I have” because my brain is mis-wired. It’s not my “fault.”

                Note, it is still my responsibility. I still have to step up and deal with my shit. But knowing that other ADHD people have the same thing helps. Telling my partners that, “Hey, I got this thing. It’s my brain,” is a very different conversation than explaining, “Hey I’m an insecure freakshow for no reason.”

                Regarding Trump, yeah he’s a fucking narcissist — bigly. That is plain as day.

                Is that a diagnosis? Nah. I’m not a psych. I cannot diagnose. It is a judgment tho. He is a toxic freakshow, thin skinned, broken, empty inside. He corrupts everything he comes near.

                He’s also the fucking president. This country is in bad shape.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d

                Thanks for that link. The lady friend’s daughter (almost 11) has an ADHD that they/we are all still trying to understand the implications of. It wouldn’t shock me to learn that what’s described in that article isn’t a possible factor in some areas of difficulty she has that don’t seem obviously or directly related to ADHD.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to greginak says:

                I tend to use the test of whether a “problem” impairs someones functioning in a way that either causes real problem for society ( ie drunk driving, abuse) or leads them to be subjectively unhappy.

                I’m pretty certain it has to impair something to be considered a ‘disorder’.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to DavidTC says:

                Disorders can be in remission or minor enough to not have a significant effect on a persons life. If a person isn’t bothered by a problem they may not want to treat it even if it is diagnosable. Impairment and meeting the standards for diagnosis are different things.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to greginak says:

                Kirk: “Bones, what’s your diagnosis?”

                McCoy: “He’s an asshole, Jim.”

                Spock [arches a brow]: “That would be the most logical conclusion.”Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to dragonfrog says:

          Because I’m not necessarily convinced that, “He’ll lie about little things, so he’ll lie about big things,” is a terribly good heuristic.

          One of the things about lying about stuff people routinely lie about (including height and weight both) is that people lie about them in part because they believe lying about them isn’t a terribly consequential thing to do.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to dragonfrog says:

          He’s a 70 year old man who has acted like a stupid, spoiled, bigoted child throughout an adult life, with very little negative consequence. Indeed, he has done this and lived a life of luxury, become a celebrity, and been elected to the Presidency.

          You don’t need “cognitive decline” to for him to continue to act like a stupid, spoiled, bigoted child.

          You don’t need a variable to explain a constant.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

        He ain’t 6’2″ either. Or did he claim to be 6’3″ this time?

        Offhand, I find it hilarious he had a note indicating (with his new height) that he was one pound short of obese, and that the doctor signed his own name incorrectly.Report

    • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      This is a sideshow, and should be treated thusly. The Trump presidency is such a sh*tshow the Dems don’t know where to focus, and it would behoove them to pick one issue, and I’d suggest Russia, and go with it. The American public’s attention span can’t handle any more than that.

      Donald Trump is the Republican Party’s useful idiot. He’ll sign anything they put in front of him, so they’re taking the opportunity to realize some generational changes in policy.

      We have a sitting president whose campaign likely corresponded in some form with a foreign power to influence the election. By hammering on Russia, the Dems can not only discredit Trump, but also the Republicans who are in bed with him.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

        I feel uneasy about doubling down on the Russian connection. It runs the risk of getting written off by the public as simply the left wing version Benghazi!!11!ONEONE!!! and if Muellers investigation doesn’t turn up anything cataclysmic it basically implodes. I’d like the Dems to focus more on the dishonesty, incompetence and the yawning chasm between what the GOP/Trump says they’ll do and what they do. Those strike me as both more substantive and there’s not really any doubt that they actually exist.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to North says:

          I agree. The primary *negative* focus should be on GOP incompetence and the types of bills they are *trying* (unseccessfully) to pass. The Russia stuff has a life of its own at this point and I don’t get the feeling it’s a political lever anymore (well, other than gentle reminders that two members of Trump’s campaign team are under indictment… wait, it’s four, isn’t it?).

          The Dems positive focus should flow from testing in the local marketplace of ideas and *not* be controlled by the DC establishment.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

            My best guess, based on past behavior, is that they’ll do the exact opposite.Report

          • The Dems positive focus should flow from testing in the local marketplace of ideas and *not* be controlled by the DC establishment.

            And yet, it’s… the Democrats. Accomplished at the fine art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I’ll stand by my prediction: there will be gains in the NE urban corridor states; a different set of Dems will make gains in the West; in between, little of consequence. (Note that individual state legislative seats don’t count in this game, only state legislative chambers.)Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

              I think that I agree with this take.

              On top of that, I think that there are two very big variables that will decide 2020:

              1. War
              2. Recession

              If there is neither a war nor a recession between now and 2020, Trump’s going to win on the sheer power of the 2017 tax bill (“THE TRUMP TAX CUT!”) and the Democratic candidate will have footage in which s/he discusses the importance of raising taxes on the people who are lucky enough to be middle class or richer.

              If there’s a recession, Trump’s done.

              If there’s a war… I have no idea. I need to game that out more.

              If there’s both? Jeez.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

                I dunno, Trump won’t have the perennial every eight year liberal complacency advantage he had in 2016. Even absent a recession that’s tough for him; assuming his approval ratings stay where they’re at and GDP continues to go slowly upward. I suppose if the GOP voodoo actually works for once and GDP growth hits 6%+ then he’d definitely be favored to win. Liberals,and all economists everywhere will be too busy pulling apart their models to figure out what the hell is going on to contest the election.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

                Oh, I’m not expecting 6%. I’m not expecting 4!

                I don’t think I’m expecting anything. I’m more trying to see what needs to happen prior to the election to make Trump lose 100%. What needs to make him win 100%?

                And 3% is one of the pre-reqs to his re-election.

                And, of course, an opponent talking about raising taxes (just a percentage point, asking people who are well-established to just pay a little bit more) is another.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

                I understand that. I have, through various conversations, determined that attaining 6% GDP growth is roughly the level conservatives and some stripes of libertarians would feel justifies the deficit tax cut the GOP pushed through and that seems relatively fair to me.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

                Eh, it was my experience at Redstate (full disclosure: banned) and some of my experiences here that let me know that nobody, absolutely nobody, even vaguely adjacent to government gives enough of a crap about fiscal issues to cut a budget that belongs to a team that they like. Sure, the doves will cut the military and the stoners will cut the DEA but if it involved cutting something of one’s own?

                Hey, there is no fat in the budget to cut.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh no doubt, this was just conversations on the internet.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to North says:

                WHat number did they demand of Obama?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Kazzy says:

                Obama wasn’t peddling any huge deficit fuelled tax cuts and the ACA was paid for by various tax increases and spending cuts so the subject never came up. Fiscal discipline matters when Liberals are in charge. /sarcasmReport

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North says:

                Well, since I ratified your upper bound of 6% when you threw it out there as the 100% victory range, let me disabuse you of the idea that 6% is an anticipated outcome.

                I’m not so sure what happens between 3% and 4% ranges, but agree with JB that 3% are table stakes. 3.15% growth, I’m not sure what to tell you… 3.25%? 3.5%?

                Apple announces today that they are indeed repatriating $250B onshore and will invest significantly in Apple, Manufacturing, and subsidiary growth (in addition to inevitable if rather less publicized stock buy-back programs). Its almost like they are trying to help Trump. Apple.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Or more like they’re trying to make money which is what companies do. I don’t know that anyone, left or right, has claimed that tax cuts aren’t economic stimulants; just that this doesn’t seem like a time where economic stimulus seems to be the highest priority. Oh, and that no right winger gets to complain about deficits again without being laughed out of the room*.

                *Though after Bush W arguably they were already in that position.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North says:

                So that’s why the Dems were in favor of the deficit financing of the Tax cuts? Or did they shift their argument to the distribution of gains? Same with the Republicans… they will argue that deficit spending to buy assets and/or spur growth is better than funding Operational losses. The arguments shifted decades ago and I don’t think Trump’s cuts much altered that particular equation.

                Though, I’m not really following the argument that economic stimulus isn’t the highest priority? I suspect you mean something more nuanced and particular than that… but everything I’ve read from the left from immigration, to incarceration, to race relations starts with an economic vector which improving would address a goodly chunk of the problems.

                If you mean to zag to inequality of distribution of gains, then sure I think that dog might hunt… but that requires much more refinement as the proverbial well fed man cares much less about what his richer friends are eating too.

                All this is to say that absent a Democratic message that is positive and offers something much more than identity politics, a booming economy will drown out the noise.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Marchmaine says:

                As I recall the Democratic offer for votes on the tax cut proposal included that it be offset and not increase the deficit so no. The GOP, of course, cut the Dems out on that from the get go so it’s pretty academic. I generally agree that anyone who thought the GOP ever was about fiscal discipline must have been tuned out from W Bush onward at a minimum so I don’t think the calculus has changed much beyond that it is something that we weird political junkies can point to any time our right wing contingent tries to bring up fiscal discipline and laugh.

                If one takes the right at their word, of course, stabilizing the deficit was an imperative when Obama came in under the looming Great Recession and remained one all during his term as the recovery steadily picked up speed. It is odd that deficits magically ceased to matter when the recovery finally broke 3% and unemployment hit the floor when all normal economics would suggest that the case for fiscal discipline was stronger at that point then during a recession. But it’s mostly moot as we’ve already established that the GOP has no actual principle in the matter (nor do the Dems really but they never built their entire economic platform on being deficit scolds).

                To the rest that depends I suppose on how well the economy does. It’s not so much in absolute terms as relative ones. The economy worked its way up to 3% under Obama so for the GOP to really get much electoral oomph from a historically unpopular and wealthy tilted tax cut they’d need to be able to argue plausibly that the results were dramatically positive. 6% unambiguously would do that and 5% would give them an excellent position to argue from, 4% would be muddling but still quite positive but if growth only stays in the 3% range I expect it’ll end up a push. Of course if there’s another recession they’ll be fished but what political party isn’t in a recession?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                There isn’t enough ‘upside’ room on economic stats or war stats for Trump to get a political bump from things getting a lot better. And that’s putting aside the likelyhood on either getting ‘a lot better’ due to 1) something intrinsically flawed with Trumpeconomics & Trump’s foriegn policy 2) the fact that both are currently may be pretty much *at* a quasi-equilibrium level due to their current absolute level.

                (i.e. it may not be possible to get unemployment much lower, GDP growth much higher, or kinetic military actions much less kinetic military-y)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

                I don’t know what “a lot better” would necessarily look like but I have some suspicions about “hey, don’t rock the boat”.

                And I don’t know how far “hey, don’t rock the boat” needs to be from where we are now to get Trump re-elected.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                Trump’s brand and temperament is to rock the boat.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Kolohe says:

                hums

                So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
                Said I’d like to know where, you got the notion
                (To rock the boat), don’t rock the boat baby
                , don’t tip the boat over
                (Rock the boat), don’t rock the boat baby
                (Rock the boat)Report

              • Avatar Anne in reply to greginak says:

                @greginak
                Space Awesome!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

                A poor analogy on my part.

                “I’m okay with not changing horses midstream, based on how this horse has been doing for the last 25 or so news cycles.”

                “But remember the scandal? Or the other scandal? Or the other other scandal? Or the racist stuff? Or the other racist stuff? Or the other other racist stuff?”

                “Yeah, but the Boomers have finally started retiring and I finally got that promotion and I don’t want to be lectured for the next 4 years like the Democratic politician is running on” is a recipe for re-election.

                A recession, by contrast, would get “yeah, let’s elect the lecturer and get this over with. At least she’s promised to raise taxes on the rich which, presumably, she doesn’t consider me to be a member of.”Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                Trump killed a racehorse once upon a time, too.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

                He also killed the USFL.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

              Oh, but one thing I want to add, when it comes to the House/Senate, it rises or falls with Donald Trump in 2020.

              If Trump wins re-election? The Republicans will pick up seats in both.

              If Trump loses re-election? The Democrats will pick up seats in both.

              There won’t be a good news/bad news situation.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

                I suspect you’re right. Trump does seem to be turning the GOP into whatever it is that he is so it’d stand to reason they’ll rise and fall with him.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to North says:

                The oddest thing about the 2016 election (and the thing that really confounded the prognosticators) (including myself), was the general good fortune for all GOP candidates, voacally Trump-aligned or not. (e.g. PA & WI senate, big metro suburban congressional seats)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

                A whole lotta people don’t like the Democratic party. Anti-Trump sentiment alone isn’t gonna help Dems overcome it.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                In 2018 and 2020 it might be enough. After that, things may get real interesting.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kolohe says:

                With the exception of the West, where the Dems went +6 (four state legislative chambers flipped, two US House seats flipped), held everything else that they had, and Clinton won everywhere she was projected to win. (Plus multiple progressive ballot initiatives, which I consider a better measure of median voter sentiment.)

                Unless the state/local Republicans in the West figure out some counter to their Sessions/Pruitt/Zinke problem, 2018 could fairly easily be +10. Rick Perry has shown signs he might be able to join the Big Three for policies broadly unpopular in the West.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to North says:

                If you glance at the twitter feed you can see that the RNC has decided to give Cory Booker a Trump style nickname. Derogatory Cory.

                Zing!!! Truly epic. The next thing all the R’s in congress are going to be naming their children after Melania or the Trump kids and getting T’s tattooed on their butts.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Hrm.

                Maybe Trumpism requires a Trump to actually pull it off.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Given how unpopular Trump is, it’s not like it is even enough for him. But catty childish nicknames are in his wheelhouse. I can’t imagine what the committee meeting the RNC put together to come up with that was like.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

                His approval rating are higher now than his favorables were the day he won. Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Until the shutdown.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                ’tis the season. Looking back, it seems every President’s ratings rise about this time of year.

                Mostly because it’s quiet, it’s a new year, and there’s not a lot going on.

                40% in a good economy during peacetime is nightmare territory, same as 35%.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                The chess club heard about “snaps” and thought “hey! We can do that!”

                The RNC might gain a hair more purchase with their accusations against Corey of “Mansplaining” (and “Manterrupting”).

                Not from the accusation itself, mind… but the defenses against the charge will likely be recyclable.Report

            • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Michael Cain says:

              My new year’s prediction at the Glittering Eye was the Democrats net 21 seats in the House, and the Republicans net 3 seats in the Senate. Underlying this was the belief that the House elections will still be local, not national, and so I got that number by looking at Cook, Rothenberg and Sabato and awarding the Democrats any Republican seat that any one of them rated as toss-up or leans Democratic.

              I tossed my notes, a large chunk of those seats were in California. Florida, New York & New Jersey were on the second tier.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Stillwater says:

            I think you’re close on the incompetence front, but really, the Dems can’t make that argument unless they are saying they will build the wall, and by golly, they’re competent enough to do it! Else its concern trolling and not an effective strategy.

            On the same vector of incompetence, but something they could effectively campaign on would be the issue of Trust. As I mentioned during the campaign, there’s a significant Trust gap with Trump… that’s your wedge issue; especially since *some* of the issues that Trump campaigned on, the Democrats could make credible arguments that their approach would be better.

            Here. Here’s a starter kit.

            If Russia is a campaign topic, I’m willing to wager that the Dems lose. Russia is either impeachment or nothing. There’s either collusion (or giant criminal money laundering by the President), or a few political hacks got caught fudging their FAFSAs.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Marchmaine says:

              (or giant criminal money laundering by the President)

              I don’t know why so many people are discounting this.

              There is so much circumstantial evidence of money laundering, so much money laundering that has used his own properties and casinos, so much of his close associates and friends are money launderers, people in the campaign have literally been charged with money laundering, his business has a lot of money just appear out of nowhere…

              …that the idea that someone with access to Trump’s finances will not find a lot of money laundering is almost laughable. It is, very clearly, how he rebuilt his fortune. It’s basically money laundering all the way down. It is an entire edifice of money laundering. His casinos were for money laundering. (And, in fact, why he got out of casinos, because it’s pretty hard to launder money that way anymore and not get caught, as kept happening.) His rental properties are for money laundering. His condos are to be traded around to launder money. His overseas ‘investments’ are to launder money.

              Almost every possible thing about Trump’s business is a way for him to take in money from dubious sources at one place, and then give out ‘unrelated’, but more importantly, clean, money somewhere else.

              The only ‘legitimate’ business he really has is…some golf courses, and I guess a lot of the hotel visitors are legitimate in the hotels he actually owns. But all the ‘investment’ stuff, all the ‘branding’ stuff, all the real estate stuff, is all just an excuse to have large amounts of money flowing around. It’s why he has hundreds of shell corporations floating around.

              Investigating money laundering is also what Trump was worried about. Very clearly. It’s why he’s tried to demand the investigation stay on ‘collusion with Russia’, and not go into ‘his business’. (Although I don’t think Trump fully understands _why_ all those people that have gotten him to funnel money around have done so, or that it is a serious crime.)

              Meanwhile, WRT ‘collusion’, I don’t even know what crime people are talking about half the time. The only possible crime I can see there is if Trump made a decision on when to release the stolen Podestra emails, which would be a crime, but I seriously doubt that happened.

              I mean, it’s possible that the Russians funneled money into the campaign, but I suspect they did so via laundering via corporations and non-profits like..*checks CNN*…the NRA, apparently. Huh.

              Well, good luck proving Trump knew about that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DavidTC says:

                I think you’re right about this but the two things (collusion with Russia in electioneering and Trump’s illegal money laundering) aren’t disconnected, in common-sense logic or Mueller’s mandate. The most plausible case of “collusion” I see emerging from the investigation is that Trump was (to quote John Brennan) an “unwitting” target of an influence operation in which first-hand Russian knowledge of his illegal business practices could be used to leverage US policy.

                Trump, of course, was aware that his compromised past could be (or depending on the evidence was) the motivation for significant assistance from the Russians, but also that personally he made no overt gestures *himself* to coordinate (read: collude) to achieve a shared goal. That’s why he can convincingly say (to himself) that he didn’t collude with the Russians: he took no active steps to gain active Russian efforts on his behalf.

                To the extent this scenario is plausible (rather than accurate) it also implies that neither Trump nor Russia would have *had* to make an overt gesture to cooperate: Trump’s refraining from notifying FBI that he had a history of illicit and compromising business deals with Russian businessmen was all the signal Russia would need to engage in trying to help him win.

                Nice story, eh?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Stillwater says:

                Oh, I entirely agree about all that, but ‘putting yourself in a position to be blackmailed by Russia due to your money laundering’ is not a crime. Nor is ‘a foreign government helping your campaign without asking you because they think they can blackmail you while in office’ a crime.(1)

                The actual money laundering, OTOH, is a crime.

                1) OTOH, lying on your security clearance applications about such a situation is also a crime, which is why Jared Kushner is not getting his security clearance and may end up in a lot of trouble at the end of all this.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DavidTC says:

                Agreed about that. I think Kushner is in real trouble, but so are a few other not-yet-indicted campaign and WH folks. I mean, does anyone really think Mueller is done handing out those things?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DavidTC says:

                Investigating money laundering is also what Trump was worried about.

                Just wanted to highlight this cuz I agree it’s the key to understanding Trump’s behavior. I think Trump genuinely believes he’s bulletproof on electioneering collusion, for probably a multiplicity of reasons. But I think he’s demonstrated a real worry about Mueller expanding the investigation to include his business practices. So the key to the puzzle, if there is one, will most likely be found there.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to North says:

          Benghazi! was incredibly effective, though, and ultimately contributed at least as much as any other factor to Trump’s victory in November.Report

  7. Avatar aaron david says:

    My big takeaway from the first year of the Trump administration is…

    The same as the first year of the Obama admin.

    First, I am indifferent to the man. He may end up as bad as Obama, but we are only one year into his term and I, as a libertarian, am not going to judge him by the standards of progressivism. No, the cut of his suit is not as good as the last guy, but that isn’t a real concern.

    Second, nothing in this book is of greater truthiness than any anti-Obama screed. He’s bored, disinterested, only wants to play golf. Heard that 7 years ago. As true now as then.

    Third, speaking of anti-Obama, the left sounds EXACTLY like the right did during his reign. “He is destroying the country” “He can’t be president because [insert reason of the day]”
    “He is racist (yes, both sides use this, and absolutely believe it.)!” etc. These are partisan traps and I try not to fall into traps. But, partisan gonna partisan. SMDH

    Fourth, I am coming to the conclusion that the Trump admin is exactly the same as every other admin in its clumsiness, the only difference being that the media would normally cut a new admin slack, but not this Hitler, he is more Hitlerian than every Hitler before! Thanks a lot media!

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. I think @jaybird has it on reelection.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to aaron david says:

      He’s bored, disinterested, only wants to play golf. Heard that 7 years ago. As true now as then.

      I guess if you consider observed fact, comparison, and statistics just further forms of propaganda. http://trumpgolfcount.com/Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to dragonfrog says:

        Yeah, it’s amazing how deeply that ingrained that mythology has become for Never-Demers.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to dragonfrog says:

        And there is a website comparing them! Trumps ahead!
        Still don’t care. But thanks for showing a website proving my point.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to aaron david says:

          Trump is a very good golfer. Obama was horrible at it.

          Trump is also very good at boosting the US economy. Obama was horrible at it.Report

          • Avatar CJColucci in reply to George Turner says:

            Trump is also very good at boosting the US economy. Obama was horrible at it.

            This is a curious thing to say because until a month ago, Trump hadn’t gotten anything he wanted in the way of actual policy done and we were (and to a considerable extent still are) in the Obama economy. The stock market has been rising for seven years at about its current rate consistently. Back when that was a problem for Trump, he said we were in a bubble. Now he says different. Given current P/E ratios, I fear he may have been right the first time, in which case he’ll be looking bad pretty soon, and so, I fear, will my retirement funds. Employment, both the headline rate and the other measures — which he decried as fake when he was a candidate, but embraces now — has been moving on the same steady path for about the last seven years. Inflation has been quiet for so long, people are actually asking for it now. Basically, nothing much has changed until very recently, and there is much more downside risk than upside potential. If things go sour, you can be sure that the Trump fans will make the valid point that Presidents get too much credit and blame for the state of the economy — but they won’t make that valid point until their Dear Leader starts taking heat.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to CJColucci says:

              *snort*

              Obama had an abysmal economic performance, the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Under just one year of Trump the stock market jumped 31%, the best performance since FDR’s first year, which was a recovery from the bottom end of anything.

              Since almost the day he was elected Trump has been shaking things up, wiping out virtually all of Obama’s “legacy” measures, cutting regulations, cutting the federal work force, opening up oil exploration and oil pipelines, rescinding coal regulations, etc. His head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board put in a budget request of zero dollars because the board was a Democrat kick-back scheme. Apple just decided to bring hundreds of billions of dollars back to the US.

              That was not at all what Obama was doing. It can’t be projected from anything Obama was doing.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to George Turner says:

                What is it you were “snort”ing? Draw a trend line from Obama through Trump for just about any important economic variable you want. (And by important, I don’t mean the budget of a small, new government agency that has had little time and power to do anything good or bad, or small sops to dying industries.)Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to George Turner says:

                Under just one year of Trump the stock market jumped 31%, the best performance since FDR’s first year, which was a recovery from the bottom end of anything.

                Not only is it the best performance since FDR, it actually beat Obama’s first year in office by a whopping…erm…four points, pushing Obama to…third place.

                Wait. That actually doesn’t seem impressive of Trump at all, especially since Obama ended up _11%_ in the hole at the end of his first month, as the Bush recession continued to impact things, before Obama turned things around.

                But, hey, you won the ‘arbitrary measure at random cut off’ game, I guess. Let’s all pretend the Dow Jones is a more meaningful measure of ‘the economy’ than actual jobs, which, BTW, have started to slip.Report