September 20, 2018

Midterm Watch

As the midterm elections draw closer, Democrats maintain approximately a 9-point edge on the generic Congressional ballot. FiveThirtyEight

See past issues

From the Left

The left is optimistic, but cautions against taking victory for granted.

“While cable news may be all-Trump-all-the-time, the Democratic message in [many] races has been much more about insurance premiums, school funding and Social Security than the Russia investigation, Stormy Daniels or Trump’s tweets."


“Democrats are bullish about the November elections... But remembering 2016 causes some of them to wake up in the middle of the night wondering what could go wrong." One Democratic strategist remains “concerned that President Trump will try to bait Democrats into a false debate on abolishing ICE instead of a real debate on GOP efforts to abolish protections for people with preexisting conditions."


Moreover, “to state the overly obvious, you have to actually win in close elections to take at least 218 seats and control of the House. While these special elections are often held up as proof that a blue wave is building, they remind us exactly how big that wave has to be... some of the less remembered results over the past two years, where there was fleeting excitement about potential Democratic upsets that didn’t pay off, should sound a warning for the party: Victory is not guaranteed."


On the one hand, “registered voters who are 65 years of age and up preferred Democratic congressional candidates to Republicans by margins of 20 and 16 percentage points, respectively... This is a potentially huge problem for Republicans."


On the other hand, “many political science experts note that Trump’s unpopularity is far from enough to suggest that Hispanic and Latino voters will turn out for Democrats in the fall...

A USC professor explains that “most Latino voters hold negative views toward Trump, but by a much smaller margin than Democrats overall. Indeed, Latino views... are closer to those of independents which, of course, defies the notion that Latinos are a steadfast Democratic constituency and the presumption that Trump’s immigration policies have alienated large numbers of Latinos.”


Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right is worried, but remains hopeful about Republicans’ electoral prospects.

From the Right

The right is worried, but remains hopeful about Republicans’ electoral prospects.

“Elections are decided not by those who answer polls, or those who complain loudly on social media, but by those who actually show up and vote... The hard reality for Democrats is that they have a harder time than do Republicans in getting voters who show up for presidential elections to turn out for midterm elections. This fall’s outcome will turn on whether 2018 is different."

Wall Street Journal

“The endless stream of Trump atrocities large and small talked about on Sunday morning TV is not what voters were talking about... [Out here] social media is for kids and cats, marches for folks who don’t have to work a weekend job. Racism and pronouns matter, but only after figuring out how to pay for health care... If Democrats insist on November being [a referendum on Trump]... they may not like the answer that voters give."

The American Conservative

“Ever since Ronald Reagan refashioned the modern Republican Party on the three-legged stool of social, fiscal and foreign-policy conservatism, liberals have complained that social conservatism drives the white working class to vote against its own economic interests... The irony is that it is now Democrats who are using cultural appeals to persuade a demographic group—college-educated suburbanites—to vote against their own economic interests."

Wall Street Journal

Some argue that Republicans need to “create a national message that defines a set of big choices that contrast the Republican positions and those of the left... such as favoring work over welfare, paychecks over food stamps, safe and orderly immigration over dangerous borderless chaos, personal health versus bureaucratic health."

Fox News

Others, however, posit that Republicans “really need to be returning to the established law which maintains that all politics is local. The Democrats have a huge story arc to lean on from a national perspective, summoning up the #RESIST movement to drive their base to the polls. But if the GOP is going to stop the bleeding, it’s going to be done one battle at a time, district by district.”

Hot Air

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Lede check

Poll: Democratic women turbocharged to vote in midterms” (Politico)

71 percent of Democratic women said they are “very motivated” to vote, vs. 69% of Republican women, 68 percent of Republican men, and 63 percent of Democratic men. A difference of two percentage points between Democratic and Republican women is hardly a “turbocharge.”

Moreover, the same difference of two percentage points is cast very differently when comparing Republicans and Democrats overall: “Just as many Republicans (69 percent) overall as Democrats (67 percent) are very energized.”

Our assessment: 4 partisans

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

People from across the country gatheredin a small Carolina town for the first annual Bigfoot Festival.


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