After Midterms, Republicans Are Endangered Species On West Coast

As midterm election results continue to roll in from California, the extent of the Republican rout on the West Coast is becoming apparent. At this point, it looks as though Democrat gains in the House will be a net increase of 38 seats. Almost 20 percent of these gains come from the West Coast and many are in the one-time Republican stronghold of Orange County, California where Republican congressional districts were wiped out.

Prior to the election, Republicans held four of the six seats in the suburban Los Angeles county. The 46th and 47th districts were previously Democratic districts, but the remainder of the county has traditionally been Republican.

The Democratic gains in Orange County were mixed between picking up Republican open seats and knocking off GOP incumbents. Dana Rohrabacher, the 48th district congressman widely considered to be the most pro-Kremlin Republican, lost to Democrat Harley Rouda and Republican Mimi Walters in the 45th district was defeated by Katie Porter. In the 49th district, Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight committee, famous for his investigations of Benghazi and Fast and Furious, announced his retirement and saw his seat flip to the Democrats as Mike Levin defeated Diane Harkey. In the 39th district, another Republican retirement cleared the way for Democrat Gil Cisneros to defeat Republican Young Kim.

The Orange County Republican rout is similar to the Republican difficulties in the rest of the country. Orange County is heavily suburban and has a declining population of whites, which make up only 42 percent of the population per California Demographics. Hispanics comprise 34 percent of county residents while 19 percent are Asian. Exit polls show that nationally less than 30 percent of those minority groups voted Republican.

Democrats also flipped two other California congressional districts in California. The 10th district in Turlock, north of San Francisco, and the 25th district in Palmdale, on the north side of LA, both voted out Republican incumbents.

A seventh West Coast district, Washington’s 8th, home to Rep. Dave Reichert, another retiring Republican, is being replaced by Democrat Josh Harder. At this point, Democrats control seven of Washington’s 10 congressional districts. The third district, represented by Republican Herrera Beutler, is now the only Republican district on the entire West Coast that borders on the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

There were no flipped seats in Oregon, but four of the state’s five districts were already Democrat. Only Gregg Walden’s second district, which covers the inland two-thirds of the state, is represented by a Republican.

 

If the Republicans want to take back the House, they will have to become more competitive in suburban House districts like those in Orange County. Reversing this year’s losses will also require that the GOP overcome the current trend of declining minority support.

Mia Love Sues To Stop Ballot Count In Utah

Yet another election lawsuit has been filed as Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) has asked a judge to stop the ballot count in her congressional district. Love’s campaign is seeking approval to challenge the county verification of signed envelopes that accompany absentee ballots.

Love was reported to have lost on election night, but the race is very close and has not yet been officially decided. Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Love has narrowed the race and trailed Democrat Ben McAdams by 873 votes.

Love alleges that her campaign representatives have been allowed to observe the counting, but that challenges to the authenticity of voter signatures have been ignored, notes the Daily Caller. A hearing was scheduled on the lawsuit for Thursday afternoon, but Salt Lake County continued counting ballots in the meantime, releasing the updated count Wednesday night.

Love was mocked by President Trump the day after the election for her loss. The president singled her out for failing to ask for an endorsement of her re-election campaign, saying, “Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”

Love’s opponent, Democrat Ben McAdams tweeted in response to the lawsuit, “It is the job of election officials to decide what votes count, not political candidates. Rep. Love’s decision to sue only in SLCo as she continues to trail in this race is unfortunate and smacks of desperation. Utah voters deserve better than this.”

Utah’s four congressional districts were all represented by Republicans prior to the midterm elections. Rep. Love’s fourth district, which includes part of Salt Lake City and its southern suburbs, is the only district in danger of being controlled by Democrats.

In other parts of the country, election results continue to trickle in with new gains for Democrats. The race for Maine’s second district was finally decided today in favor of Democrat Jared Golden. Golden, a Marine veteran, defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin. Golden’s victory brings the total Democrat gains in the House to 35 seats with seven races still undecided.

New Ruling Puts End To Georgia Election Wrangling In Sight

A federal judge issued a ruling in Democrat Stacey Abrams lawsuit over the Georgia gubernatorial election. Last night, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled that the secretary of state has confirmed that absentee ballots with missing or incorrect birthdates are counted.

Per a report by WSB Radio, Judge Jones, an Obama appointee, agreed to Abrams’ request to count absentee ballots with missing or incorrect birthdates but rejected several other requests by the Democratic candidate.  Ballots cast by voters in the wrong county or with incorrect residence addresses will not be counted.

Under Georgia law, if a voter goes to the wrong precinct to vote, they are allowed to cast a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot is counted if the voter is determined to be a resident of the county and has not voted elsewhere. Several counties in Metro Atlanta reported that they rejected hundreds of ballots because people voted in a county where they were not a resident. In Fulton County, 972 ballots cast by out-of-county voters were rejected.

Abrams is about 19,000 votes short of being able to force a runoff. Austin Chambers, an advisor to Republican candidate Brian Kemp said on Twitter that the ruling would affect about 800 votes, “nowhere near enough to change the race. This is over.”

Even if the ruling does not change the outcome of the gubernatorial race, it may affect a still-undecided congressional race. Atlanta’s 11 Alive reported that the election for the seventh congressional district was still undecided. Republican incumbent Bob Woodall leads Democrat challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux by only 533 votes or 0.2 percent of the total. Georgia law allows candidates to ask for a recount if the margin in the election is less than one percent.

A similar ruling in a separate lawsuit filed by Bourdeaux required Gwinnett County to count absentee ballots with incorrect or missing birthdates as well. The Gwinnett County ruling was issued by Judge Leigh Martin May, also an Obama appointee, prior to yesterday’s ruling by Judge Jones. Per 11 Alive, the ruling affected at least 265 ballots with the birth year omitted and at least 58 ballots where the birth year was listed as 2018.

How long the recount of absentee ballots will take is uncertain at this point. The state deadline for certifying election was results was missed Tuesday due to the lawsuits. Under the new ruling, all of Georgia’s 159 counties will have to recount the absentee ballots and recertify their results.

Erick Erickson wrote on Resurgent, “There will be no recount and there will be no runoff. There are simply not enough votes. The only thing Democrats have left is to help [Democrat Secretary of State candidate] John Barrow get elected in the runoff.”

“On the upside, this is all almost over,” Erickson added.

 

Ruling In CNN Lawsuit Over Acosta Ban Expected Today

The judge presiding over the CNN lawsuit regarding Jim Acosta’s White House press access said that he will issue a ruling this afternoon. CNN filed suit on Tuesday and the first hearing in the case was held yesterday. CNN is asking for a temporary restraining order that would force the government to return Mr. Acosta’s White House access.

CNN’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous, said that the “judge was very, very, focused on the key issues of the case.”

In the two-hour hearing, Judge Timothy of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, a Trump appointee, probed CNN’s claim that Acosta’s ban was viewpoint discrimination rather than an action based on the reporter’s conduct. Boutrous cited the Trump Administration’s attack on CNN for “liberal bias” in a fundraising email sent after the revocation.

Boutrous also told the judge that the Trump Administration’s claim that Acosta put his hands on the White House intern who tried to grab his microphone was “absolutely false,” noting that the 28-page brief filed by the Justice Department does not allege that Acosta touched the aide.

James Burnham, the attorney representing the Justice Department, said that the White House didn’t need a reason to ban Acosta “because there’s no First Amendment protection and the President has broad discretion.”

Burnham attacked CNN’s First Amendment claim, saying, “A single journalist’s attempt to monopolize a press conference is not a viewpoint and revoking a hard pass in response to that is not viewpoint discrimination.”

At issue is whether the White House had valid cause to revoke Acosta’s press access. There is legal precedent from the 1977 case Sherrill v. Knight that “such refusal [for press access] must be based on a compelling governmental interest.” Judge Kelly must decide whether Acosta’s disruptive actions at last week’s press conference were sufficient to give the White House a valid reason for revoking his access. President Trump’s longstanding feud with CNN and Acosta give the news outlet ammunition to claim that the ban was directed at CNN because of their unfriendly coverage of the Trump Administration.

Numerous news organizations such as Fox News and the USA Today Network have filed briefs supporting CNN’s petition. “Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” said Jay Wallace, president of Fox News. “While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the president and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”

The ruling is expected at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time today.

How Martha McSally Could Still End Up In The Senate

Martha McSally lost this year’s Senate race in Arizona, but she could soon be a US Senator anyway. In a bit of irony following the hard-fought race for the seat of the retiring Jeff Flake, both McSally and Democrat Kirsten Sinema, the winner in last week’s election, could soon be office neighbors across the country in Washington, D.C.

 

The secret to McSally’s possible success lies in the fact that former Senator Jon Kyl was appointed to fill John McCain’s seat after his death last summer. Kyl, who is 76, agreed to fill McCain’s seat through the end of this year. If Kyl retires before the end of McCain’s elected term in 2022, then Arizona’s Republican governor will appoint another successor to fill the seat. If Gov. Doug Ducey needs a Republican to fill a Senate seat, what better person would there be than a popular conservative congresswoman who just received more than a million votes in a very close Senate campaign?

 

McSally, a 52-year-old former Air Force fighter pilot, would have to defend her seat in 2022. Given her close race against Sinema in a heavily Democratic year, the advantage of incumbency in an electoral landscape that is possibly post-Trump would make it very likely that McSally would successfully defend her seat.

 

Laurie Roberts at the Arizona Republic wrote Monday that Gov. Ducey should appoint McSally in an effort to “salve… the open, gaping wound that is post-election Arizona.” Roberts said that McSally has traditionally been a “more moderate voice than the one portrayed during this campaign — the one that allowed her to represent the state’s most competitive district.”

 

Roberts also noted that McSally has a history of being “willing to work across the political aisle.” That is a quality that is currently in short supply and is very much needed.

Here’s What 2018 Exit Polls Tell Us About Republican Voters

The exit polls are in for this week’s midterm elections. If you’re a politics junkie, it can be fascinating to compare the breakdown of this year’s voters with previous years. Even if you aren’t a fan of statistics, it can be useful to look at who voted for who to help determine why the election turned out the way it did.

 

In this case, we can look back at previous exit polls to compare how well Republicans and Democrats did with various demographic groups. Since midterm elections have a different electorate from presidential elections, I looked at CNN’s exit polls from 2014 as well as 2016 to compare them with the new results from the 2018 midterms.

 

The most basic breakdown is between genders. In 2018, Republicans won 51 percent of male voters but lost female voters by a 19-point margin (40-59 percent). This was six points worse than the 2016’s 13-point gender gap and 15 points worse than 2014.

 

Democrats typically win younger voters and 2018 was no exception. The difference this year was that the Republican-leaning age groups were even older than normal. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans won majorities of age groups above 40-years-old while Democrats won all age groups younger than 40. In 2018, Democrats won all age groups younger than 50.

 

Margins were worse for Republicans in all age groups as well. Even though the GOP won all age groups older than 50 in 2018, the margin was only 1-2 points, a virtual tie.

 

When it comes to race, there was more bad news for Republicans. The GOP won just over half of white voters, 54 percent, and lost all other racial demographics by convincing margins. The share of white voters won by Republicans has declined from 60 percent in 2014 and 57 percent in 2016.

 

In the exit polls, minority voters are broken into three categories, black, Latino, and Asian. Again, the Republican share of these demographic groups has declined as well. The percentage of each group that voted Republican is listed below by year:

2014:

Black – 10 percent

Latino – 36 percent

Asian – 50 percent

2016:

Black – 8 percent

Latino – 28 percent

Asian – 27 percent

2018:

Black – 9 percent

Latino – 29 percent

Asian – 23 percent

 

Between 2014 and 2018, Republican support among blacks remained relatively constant at just less than 10 percent. Support among Latinos declined initially and then stabilized at slightly less than 30 percent. Support among Asians has been more than halved over four years.

 

In 2004, when President George W. Bush ran on immigration reform, the numbers for Latinos and Asians were considerably better than they are today. Although President Bush only garnered 11 percent of the black vote, he won 44 percent of the Latino vote and 44 percent of the Asian vote.

 

Interestingly, while the percentage of black and Asian voters in the electorate has remained relatively constant, the share of Latino voters has increased. From eight percent in both 2004 and 2014, Latinos increased to 11 percent in 2016 and 2018. Over the same time period, white voters decreased from 77 percent of the electorate to 71 percent.

 

Voting patterns have also changed with respect to education. In 2014, Democrats won voters without high school diplomas and voters with postgraduate degrees. Republicans won high school graduates and four-year college graduates. By 2016, most college graduates were voting Democrat. In the 2018 elections, voters who had not graduated high school and voters with associate degrees were the only categories won by Republicans.

 

By ideology, conservatives usually vote Republican and liberals usually vote Democrat. The share of conservative, liberal, and moderate voters has remained relatively constant over the past four years, but moderate voters have voted Democrat at an increasing rate. In 2014, moderates went Democrat by eight points. By 2016, the margin was 12 points and, this year, moderates selected Democrats by a whopping 26 points.

 

Low-income voters typically vote Democrat, but Republicans won voters who earned above $50,000 annually by double-digit margins in 2014. In 2016, Republicans eked out a victory in the $50-100,000 range by only three points. Voters who earned more split almost equally between the two parties. This year, Democrats won the $50-100,000 category while Republicans won voters who earned more than $100,000.

 

Republicans enlarged their Senate majority in 2018, but the party has lost support in every demographic group. Even white males, the GOP’s core demographic, has declined from 64 percent support in 2014 to 60 percent in 2018.

 

Much has been made of the Republican gender gap with 2018 being called the “year of the angry female college graduate.” This prediction turned out to be true with Republicans losing women by almost 20 points. Unfortunately, the Republican problem is not limited to women. The GOP also has an age gap, a race gap, an education gap, and an income gap. So far, all of these gaps are getting worse under President Trump.

 

How Donald Trump Repeated Barack Obama’s Biggest Mistake… With Similar Results

As news of the Republican midterm defeat continues to trickle in, it is becoming more apparent that 2018 was a blue anti-Trump wave after all. The Republicans made small gains in the Senate, thanks to an abnormally friendly map, but the GOP lost the House as well as seven gubernatorial seats and numerous seats in state legislatures across the country. How we got to this point is remarkably similar to how Barack Obama led the Democrats to lose more than a thousand seats in his eight years.

 

As I have written in the past, Donald Trump has echoed many of President Obama’s mistakes and has now yielded similar results. The bottom line is that both Barack Obama, who campaigned as a moderate Democrat, and Donald Trump, who was elected with the support of a minority of voters, both governed as though they had a broad mandate to enact a laundry list of wishes from their most partisan supporters when what voters really wanted was for both parties to work together.

 

Barack Obama began his administration with staggering popularity and goodwill. Two years later, he had squandered much of his approval by forcing through an unpopular health care reform law against the will of the people. Opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the way that Democrats enacted the law were prime factors in the Tea Party wave of 2010.

 

Ironically, Obamacare was unpopular when passed by the Democrats and promises to repeal and replace the law played a major role in the rise of the Republican Congress since 2010. Unfortunately, President Trump and Republicans made a hash of healthcare reform. In fact, Republicans handled health care reform so badly that they managed to do what Obama and the Democrats could not do: They convinced voters that the Affordable Care Act was a good thing.

 

Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions are so popular that the law directly contributed to the loss of a Republican Senate seat in Arizona. Just before the election, Republican candidate Martha McSally told Sean Hannity that she was getting her “ass kicked” over her vote to reform Obamacare because Democrats were invoking fear that Republicans wanted to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions. It now appears that McSally has lost her Senate race to Democrat Kirsten Sinema.

 

In addition to healthcare, the Trump Administration has adopted a number of other unpopular policies as well. The tax reform law that caused the economy to surge is still not popular with voters. Trump’s policy of separating illegal immigrants from their children was widely unpopular. Likewise, Trump’s personal behavior consistently drives down his approval ratings.

 

In 2010, Democrats took a “shellacking,” in President Obama’s words. Republicans gained six Senate seats, 63 House seats, and six governorships as well as doing well in down-ballot races for state and local offices. The GOP won control of the House but, like Democrats this year, were unable to win the Senate. For Republicans, it took two more elections until the party finally won the Senate in 2014. Now, rather than building on those hard-won gains, Republicans are giving them back.

 

To say that the 2018 wave was not as large as the 2010 wave misses the point. Democrats had more seats to give up than Republicans did. Even after losing six Senate seats in 2010, Democrats controlled 53 seats including two Democrat-leaning independents. The House results in 2018 will leave Democrats within a few seats of the 242 that Republicans controlled after 2010.

 

The bigger picture is that 2018 was a wholesale rejection of President Trump by moderate and suburban voters. USA Today reported that more than 80 suburban counties voted more Democrat this year than in 2016. In 20 of these counties, Democrats saw a double-digit surge. CNN’s exit polls show that Republicans lost female voters as well as minorities, the middle class, and college-educated voters. Republicans lost moderate voters by 26 points this year compared with eight points in 2014.

 

President Trump, like Barack Obama, has an abrasive style that is much-loved by his ardent supporters but few others. Like Obama, Trump tends to divide up the electorate and focus on turning out his base rather than on winning converts. Also, like Obama, President Trump is apparently incapable of reaching across the aisle to form a bipartisan legislative coalition, preferring instead to use (or overuse) his executive authority to make small, temporary changes rather than sweeping, permanent ones.

 

Republicans may look at all that and say, “So what? Obama got re-elected.”

 

That’s true, but Obama also had a large victory than President Trump, who lost the popular vote and only eked out an Electoral College win with skin-of-the-teeth victories in several states. Obama had much more support that he could lose. And lose it he did, just not quite in large enough numbers to lose the 2012 election.

 

Up until now, Republicans have maintained a narrative that President Trump’s economic success will overcome problems with his personal style. After the midterms, it is painfully obvious that this view is not true. President Trump is overwhelmingly popular with Republicans and unpopular with everyone else. That leaves the Republican Party in a difficult spot.

 

The GOP has three different options for moving forward. First, its members can convince President Trump to change course. Trump could possibly reach out to the new Congress and become the dealmaker that he claimed to be in 2016. The two parties could work together to resolve the issues that confront the country. Obviously, this won’t happen.

 

The second alternative is for Republicans to distance themselves from Trump and try to repair the damage with moderate voters. One problem here is that Donald Trump does not take rejection well. Distancing oneself from the president will bring forth the full wrath and fury of the First Tweeter. A second problem is that many polls suggest that today’s Republican voters are more loyal to Donald Trump than to traditional Republican ideals. Unless Republican voters sour on Trump, most Republicans officials who oppose him are likely to be on the losing end of the fight.

 

Finally, the third option is for Republicans to say, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead,” and go right on doing exactly what they are doing. This is the option that Democrats chose after 2010 and, given President Trump’s claim that the midterms were a “big victory” for Republicans, it seems likely that the GOP will follow this course now.

 

If the parallels between the Obama and Trump Administrations persist, Trump might be re-elected by following Obama’s model of doing very little aside of issuing Executive Orders and blaming the opposition for their obstructionism. However, given Mr. Trump’s slim victory margin in 2016 and the GOP’s lack of success in the “blue wall” states this year, it seems more likely that the parallels will diverge as the president fails to win a second term.

 

If President Trump and the Republicans realize the error that they are making, they may be able to break the pattern before the party suffers a series of Obama-like defeats. Although they would have to stand up to factions of the base on issues such as immigration, if Republicans can come together with Democrats to create bipartisan solutions, they might be able to win back their majority. More importantly, they would be helping the country and doing the job that the voters hired them to do.

Are Conservatives Tired Of Winning Yet?

 

 

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised Republicans that “We are going to win so much that you may even get tired of winning.” Over the past year, I’ve noticed that the president’s supporters and conservative critics don’t seem to share the same definition of “winning.”

A few times recently the different views of winning have come to the surface. When Donald Trump tweeted, “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen,” Trump supporters erupted in cheers and celebrations on social media. Several lists of Trump’s accomplishments making their way around the internet, such as this one on Conservapedia, point out the areas where Trump supporters believe he is winning.

From my analysis, President Trump’s accomplishments seem to fall into three main categories. First is the appointments of conservative jurists to positions throughout the judiciary. Second, Trump has used his executive authority to enact a number of promised reforms. Finally, Donald Trump uses his “bully pulpit” to fight back. The duration and effect of these accomplishments varies wildly.

In my view, President Trump’s most important and – so far – only lasting accomplishment has been his effect on the federal judiciary. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is only the tip of the iceberg. Working with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who many Trump supporters view as an establishment foe, Trump had appointed 44 federal judges and had eight confirmed by August. These conservative judges will have a lasting effect on the judicial branch.

The same cannot be said of Trump’s executive actions. Many of President Trump’s executive actions overturn President Obama’s executive actions. A successor could erase President Trump’s executive legacy just as easily.

The quality of President Trump’s executive actions varies as well. His executive actions range from the excellent, such as cutting bureaucratic regulations and reinstating the Mexico City policy to ban federal funding for abortions in other countries, to the ineffective, such as his travel bans that would likely have no effect on fighting terrorism.

Some of Trump’s executive actions, though they fulfill campaign promises and are applauded by his supporters, are actually harmful to the country. In one of his first acts as president, Trump withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership. The lack of American participation did not kill the trade deal, however. Other parties to the treaty are continuing to move forward on the agreement. If the deal goes forward without the United States, it will be American businesses, workers and consumers who lose.

The third category of Trump accomplishments is the most meaningless and illusory. Trump supporters love his snarky tweets and insults. They like the fact that he fights back and consider this an accomplishment. Essentially, Trump’s tweets and insults make Republicans feel good about themselves.

The problem is that Trump has the opposite effect on the rest of the country. An ABC News poll found that 70 percent of the public thinks that Trump does not act presidential and 68 percent don’t see him as a positive role model. The president’s behavior is now directly linked to electoral losses in which voters say that they are voting for Democrats specifically because they oppose Donald Trump.

Another commonly cited accomplishment is the surging stock market. While stocks have hit record highs under Trump, they did the same under Obama. In fact, a look at the stock market over the past 10 years shows that the market has been climbing since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Supporters have difficulty pointing to any specific Trump policy change that could explain the surging market since Republicans have scored so few victories on fiscal and economic policy.

On the other hand, my definition of “winning” relies heavily on legislative victories that would be difficult for Democrats to reverse. As the Trump Administration prepares to close out its first year and enter a midterm election year, it has not scored a single legislative victory.

The repeal or reform of Obamacare would have been a major legislative victory since Republicans had been campaigning against the federal health law since 2010. Donald Trump campaigned against Obamacare as well, but when the chips were down, the president’s erratic behavior and attacks on Republican senators almost certainly contributed to the reform effort’s demise.

Likewise, Trump began the tax reform effort with a war against Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate budget committee. Trump insisted that, in contrast with conservative fiscal doctrine, that the tax reform not lower the rates of the wealthiest taxpayers. The top 20 percent of taxpayers pay 95 percent of taxes per the Office of Management and Budget, but taxpayers in the top bracket won’t get a lower rate, if tax reform actually becomes law, thanks to President Trump.

While Trump supporters may argue that the president has accomplished more than any president except FDR, most Americans understand how little has been done in the past year. Without the passage of a single piece of legislation that is part of the Trump agenda, Republicans seeking reelection have few accomplishments to run on. As a result, many Republicans are deciding that 2018 is a good time to retire.

Donald Trump has not ushered in an era in which conservatives have grown tired of winning. In fact, winning has been in short supply over the past year. What President Trump has lacked in winning, he has more than made up for in whining, but that makes a poor substitute.