The Real Reason Stacey Abrams Won’t Concede

Stacey Abrams have refused to concede the Governor’s race. Each time counties certify their results, Abrams seeks out a federal judge to help her move the goal posts. There are around 8,000 provisional ballots to be counted and Abrams would need over 18,000 votes to get into a runoff.

Abrams is now asking a federal judge to order counties to count previously rejected provisional ballots that were rejected for one of three reasons. First, some voters turned out not to be registered to vote. Second, some voters turned out not to be registered to vote in particular counties. Third, some voters showed up without photo identification and then failed to provide their identification within a seventy-two hour window after the election.

There is well-settled legal precedent that the first two groups do not have to be counted and a federal judge cannot now revise the rules of the election, though she might try. The third ground is also dubious considering the voters had three days to provide their identification. But Abrams wants all those votes counted. She wants the rules changed after the election to hand her the election. None of this, however, is about her race. Brian Kemp is the Governor-elect unless Abrams can convince an Obama appointed federal judge to now change the rules of the election after it has concluded. Continue reading

The Amazon Deal is Shameful

I opposed Georgia trying to woo Amazon and I am delighted Amazon went elsewhere. Last night, Georgia’s officials released their deal and it would have been a $2 billion monstrosity of taxpayer largess and way too cute ideas like renaming a street after Alexa.

New York and Virginia were, instead, the losers who will burden their taxpayers with Amazon. The incentives include giving Amazon the right of notice about freedom of information act requests so Amazon can intervene in Virginia. In New York, the company will get a helipad.

The free market depends on a level, fair playing field. It does not work when governments redistribute taxpayer money to lure companies into states. Deals like this not only distort market forces, but they also keep states from overall reforming their business laws and regulatory structures by letting one company receive not just exceptions, but also taxpayer dollars.

Whether left, right, or center, we should all oppose these sorts of deals. Amazon is one of many. Too many states, from Georgia to New York, put existing local businesses at competitive disadvantages while redistributing local tax dollars to out of state businesses promising the moon.

The free market is not free when this happens and the government picking winners and losers does nothing more than whore out its taxpayers. Amazon did nothing wrong. It just went looking for a government prostitute. Unfortunately, too many politicians were willing to play the role.

No Arizona Wasn’t Stolen From McSally

No election is without problems, but there is rarely sufficient problems to throw an election. The people who are looking at AZ and see fraud because Governor Ducey won and Representative McSally lost are missing the forest for the shadows of trees.

Ducey had years to establish himself as his own person with his own record of governance as Governor of a State. McSally, though not a Trump supporter, couldn’t get out from his shadow in this race. Likewise, Ducey was running against a person who ran a rather incompetent campaign and McSally was running against a wave of Democrat money and ambition. Candidates matter.

Ducey was not campaigning on going to Washington to stand for or against Trump’s agenda. That’s what the Senate race was about. It should make Republicans nervous that so many people were willing to vote for Ducey who weren’t willing to vote for McSally.

That difference has a lot to do with Trump. And McSally also undoubtedly lost some votes from Republicans who rejected her because she wasn’t sufficiently pro-Trump. The path forward for 2020 runs through places like Arizona.

Republicans can win by establishing their own brand separate from the President’s. That, however becomes harder in federal races where so many federal races will be based on the President’s agenda.

The good news for the President is that he has two years to try to figure out how to get a lot of these independent, but Republican leaning voters back. The bad new for the GOP is that the President seems incapable of trying anything different.

These voters in Texas, Arizona, Georgia, etc. didn’t become socialists in the last two years. They haven’t changed. They think the GOP has. Heck, the GOP lost suburbs in Oklahoma because of these issues. For God’s sake, people, a Democrat picked up SC-1 by running against Trump and tariffs and for free trade.

Republicans waving their hands claiming fraud need to come back to reality and pay attention. 2020 is very winnable. But it will require some strategic rethinking to get the suburbs back.

In Georgia, Now Stacey Abrams Wants a Federal Judge to Change the Election Rules

It is a long held rule in state elections that a person votes in his own precinct. Within counties, in some states, if a person’s precinct has been changed the person can vote in their old precinct by provisional ballot and the races shared between the old and new precinct will count. But that typically only applies in the first election after a precinct change (In Georgia, if one shows up at the wrong precinct in the county in which they are registered, no matter the election their votes will count for the races the right precinct shares with the precinct in which they voted).

In Georgia, as in pretty much every other state, a person must vote in their own county. Stacey Abrams, the Democrat’s nominee for Georgia Governor, has filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to allow voters to cast votes outside the counties in which they are registered. She argues that as long as they are Georgia voters, the statewide races would be on the ballot in every county.

State and county officials object because of the burdensome and ridiculous standard this would impose. Counties are responsible for their own voters. To be compelled to keep up with other counties’ voters would be too big a burden. Likewise, the alternative would be to centralize election processes with the Secretary of State. That is something Democrats in the state do not want as they are already convinced the Secretary of State tampered with the election despite a lack of evidence.

This is not going to happen, but the Abrams campaign will do everything to drag this out. The reason has absolutely nothing to do with Stacey Abrams. Her campaign privately knows she cannot win right now. But they have an extraordinarily important reason to keeping up the campaign.

With Brian Kemp’s margin of victory over 50,000 votes and there being no more than 21,000 total votes outstanding, Abrams could not get a runoff even if she won 100% of the outstanding votes. What is notable is that even the individual counties in Georgia are starting to come forward to say Abrams does not have enough votes. Cobb County and Gwinnett County, both in metro Atlanta, are in the process of certifying their votes. Fulton, the home of Atlanta, will follow. The votes are not there.

But Abrams has to keep this up until after Thanksgiving as best she can. The Democrats have managed to force the GOP into a runoff for Secretary of State in Georgia. They are desperate to get a statewide seat and their candidate, John Barrow, has a base of support from his days as a congressman.

The Abrams campaign and Democrats in Georgia are hoping they can foster a sense of grievance that Abrams had the race stolen and then make the case that a Democrat as Secretary of State would prevent that from happening. In other words, the Abrams claims at this point are strategically important to the existing runoff. Abrams knows she does not have the votes for her own runoff. But now she wants credit for taking the Secretary of State’s seat.

Some around Abrams think that might set Abrams up for a 2020 matchup against U.S. Senator David Perdue.

2018 is over for Abrams, but her fight is just beginning.

70,000 Problems for the GOP, Plus Texas

In 2016, seventy thousand people put Donald Trump across the finish line. He lost the popular vote, but Donald Trump rode into the White House with the votes of seventy thousand men and women who voted for him in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. He’s got a problem. What worked for him then is no longer working.

Sure, President Trump has overwhelming and amazing loyalty from Republicans, but Republican votes alone cannot get a man into the White House. The President requires a host of unaffiliated and independent voters. Those voters are walking away.

Look at the aforementioned states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Those three states that put the President in the White House have seen a blue wave sweep across their Governor’s Mansions and other races. Republicans in the House of Representatives from those states have been hurt.

Look at Mark Sanford’s district in South Carolina. It has been one of the most reliably Republican districts in the country and the Democrat just won with a free trade message against the Trump supporter who beat Sanford in the primary.

Look at Georgia where Brian Kemp’s margin of victory continues to erode because he made big gains in rural areas, but those were offset by a wholesale rejection of the GOP in suburbia. Kemp lost about 2% of the suburban Atlanta vote because he tied himself so closely to Trump. Those same voters tossed out Karen Handel from a reliably Republican district and also threw a number of Republicans out of the state legislature.

Then there is Texas. Like Georgia, Texas is not suddenly becoming blue. While there are demographic and partisan trends that have been slowly pushing both states in that direction, they did not see a massive flip from 2016 due to those changes. The only thing that changed was the top of the ticket for the GOP. Texas voters and Georgia voters who have been reliable votes for Republicans are rejecting the Trump backed GOP.

And that’s the thing to pay attention to. These voters are not suddenly socialists. They are not suddenly in favor of universal socialist healthcare. They are not suddenly against tax cuts. They are not suddenly against free markets. If anything, they are rejecting the GOP because the GOP broke its promises on healthcare, failed to curtail Obama era government spending, and rejected free markets for tariffs.

The “But Gorsuch!” wing of the Republican Party may be standing by Trump, but the Republican wing of independent voters have rejected him and are signaling their total rejection of him by voting against those Republicans who got too close to him.

That is going to be a problem not just for the President in 2020, but also for other Republicans. Brian Kemp would not have had such huge gains in South Georgia without embracing Trump. But he not only lost suburban Atlanta because of it, he saw allies of his become collateral damage.

In Texas, Republicans took a beating not because they are Republican, but because they are in the Party of Trump. Right now that means Republicans are in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Tie yourself to Trump and see suburban voters reject you. Reject Trump and see Trump voters reject it.

The GOP is dying in a political murder suicide and with the leader of their party unwilling to change or acknowledge the problem, they will only be saved by the Democrats overplaying their hand in 2020.

Not to be the turd in the punchbowl, but…

Republicans actually had a pretty good night last night with the Senate, the Georgia Governor’s race, the two seats in Florida, the Ohio Governor’s race, etc. In fact, Democrats could not flip a single seat in the House that Trump carried by 55% or more. The truth is, Donald Trump may be abnormal in his behaviors as a politician, but politically he is not that abnormal. If anything, he seems more a reversion to the mean and Obama is the abnormal politician. The midterm election turned out to be a pretty typical midterm, not a blowout, and the Republicans actually have a very favorable Senate map in 2020 on which they’ll play defense while picking back up Alabama.

But there are caveats and qualms and you need to know them.

First, Republicans had huge victories in 2010, but a lot of the maps were drawn by Republican state legislatures and then the GOP used their expanded leads after 2010 with the redistricting cycle of 2011 to lock in gains. Democrats were able to overcome those gains in 2018.

Second, Republicans lost suburban voters who have been a pretty good block for the GOP in the past. They even lost suburbs in reliably Republican states like Kansas and Oklahoma and, here in Georgia, lost the northern Atlanta suburbs that have been comfortably Republican for a while. That also affected state legislative races and the loss of state legislative races affects redistricting.

Third, the Democrats shifted about a half-dozen states into full control from the state legislature to the Governor’s office. If the GOP cannot reverse that in 2020, it will impact redistricting and further hurt the GOP’s chances of taking back congress, let alone state legislatures.

Fourth, the Democrats got mobilized in midwestern states that the President relied on in 2016 for his Electoral College win. If the GOP cannot figure out how to win some of those voters back the GOP and the President himself are going to be in a world of hurt in 2020.

Lastly, in a number of states, including Georgia and Montana, I have been told by multiple sources that the GOP ground game came up short. The parties relied on volunteer door knockers instead of paid operatives. The volunteers tended to do a less than thorough job. On top of that, I am told the RNC deprived door knocking efforts of money in some states and in others started too late. The GOP will need to get the fundamentals back. If you look at the Republicans who withstood the Democrats, it was experienced candidates who had had tough races before.

But I keep coming back to the suburbs. Republicans are going to have more difficult times winning if they cannot get back suburban voters. The President himself needs to think about what he can do. It remains actually quite shocking to me that the Democrats were able to put the GOP on defense over their tax cut package and the GOP failed to run on the unemployment rate and the economy. They had a great message to sell and a supposedly great salesman to make the case. But they did not do that. They’re going to need to ask themselves what problems they have with the message and also the messenger if they cannot sell a booming economy and low unemployment to suburban voters.

OMG, People Talked to People!

This New York Times story made me laugh. They blame the “Koch Brothers” for killing a transit plan in Nashville. Naturally, the reporter is a “climate change” reporter.

But read the story. The whole angle is a popular mayor was selling something and everyone thought it would pass. Then it didn’t.

Must be the Koch Brothers.

You have to actually dive in to read about the popular mayor’s scandal. And when you really get into it, what you find is that it was actually a grassroots effort of people talking to people. It’s the way politics works.

What the story also leaves out is that outside interest groups were working to help Nashville too. This was not a one sided Koch operation against a void. It’s just the grassroots teams connected with actual voters in the way winning political campaigns do. They were helped far more by the missteps of the pro-transit group, the mayor’s scandal, and exposure of a lot of nonsense involved in developing the numbers that suggested the project would be more costly than advertised.

But blame the Koch Brothers! It’s far easier to have an evil menacing billionaire than admit light rail sucks and people know it.