Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Democrats: Vote For Us Because Trump is a Jerk

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi has unveiled the Democratic strategy for winning the 2018 election:

"The way I told my members: It's like telling your friend the guy she's dating is a jerk."

I have to say that this strategy is better than treating voters like they are racist, sexist homophobes. Hillary had a few more insults in her deplorables speech but you get the idea. No, this isn't that bad but it's almost as bad.

They'll be patronizing voters with a "we know what you need better than you do" attitude. That's certainly not unusual for Democrats but people don't like to be patronized. In fact, that's one of the reasons they lost these voters in the first place. Democrats really need to get their head around the idea that people who didn't vote for him knew what they wanted and Democrats weren't offering it. If you want to win their vote you need to offer them a vision that'll make their lives better than what the Republicans offered.

They shouldn't assume the voters will turn on Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton made her major selling point that people should vote for her because Trump was a horrible person. That didn't work well. Yet Democrats can't seem to get their heads around the idea that some Trump voters supported him and still do even after all the revelations. The polls are saying they aren't disappointed.

While some people will vote Democratic because the President disappoints them, there were many people who didn't vote for Trump who still voted Republican down ballot. So these people already didn't want Trump.House Republicans had more votes than Donald Trump, while House Democrats had 4 million fewer. So disappointment with Donald Trump might not be enough of a sell.

If Democrats don't give people a reason to vote for them and just hope people do so to vote against Trump, they may be disappointed with the election result. Again.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Why Democrats Won't Beat Devin Nunes

California Republican congressman Devin Nunes has stepped into a hornet's next with his comments about Russia and the Trump campaign. These comments have drawn the ire of Democrats and Nunes is today's public enemy number one.

I say today's public enemy number one because many Republicans have drawn the ire of Democrats over the last two months and the list of Republicans in congress that Democrats want to bounce is a long one. Here's the thing though. The individual that runs against Devin Nunes in 2018 is going to have a huge problem problem raising money and recruiting volunteers. Some people think of California as being a dark blue state, and it is, but a lot of that blue is in the Bay Area and the Los Angeles metro. There are Democratic voters in other areas and Democrats have won a number of seats.

It'll be harder to win more. Before the 2000 election Democrats had a 27-25 edge over Republicans in California congressional districts. They had a good year that year and, after they drew the lines in 2001, Democrats soon had a 33-20 edge over Republicans. They managed to grow that to 34-19 before redistricting in 2012. There were a lot of opportunities for Democrats that year but they had a problem. Some of these opportunities were on Republican turf, in places Democrats hadn't competed. Democrats didn't have the bench of elected officials. And it can be difficult to win an election with a newbie who has never run before. Because the Democratic party wasn't very organized in these areas, they didn't have the organization to support candidates.

So in 2012 Democrats ran doctors against Dan Lungren and Mary Bono Mack, a community college trustees in a new seat in Riverside, and an assemblywoman from outside the district in an open Ventura County seat. And they won these four seats. Of course they also lost competitive races where they ran an astronaut and the head of the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. What that showed were that in areas where Democrats were moving in they could win without a strong infrastructure.

Now Democrats are at a 39-14 advantage. And yet there are still opportunities. Steve Knight's Antelope Valley district looked like a good one to go after. Yet Democrats couldn't find a good candidate who lived in the district, so they brought Bryan Caforio over from Beverly Hills. They challenged Jeff Denham with a beekeeper Denham had beaten easily in 2014. They challenged David Valadao with Emilio Huerta, son of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta. Huerta actually lived in an adjacent district. And he lost in the primary to someone the Democrats didn't recruit. Democrats had never bothered to recruit against Republican Darrell Issa. So retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate was seen as a name on the ballot. He didn't raise any money until his surprisingly strong showing in the primary.Democrats didn't win any of those seats, even though Hillary Clinton won all of them. At least some of that is attributable to having weak candidates and weak campaign infrastructure.

And we haven't even gotten to Devin Nunes' district yet. His district wasn't one of the four Democrats challenged in during 2016 or one of the other three Hillary Clinton won. No, his district was one of seven Donald Trump won. Nunes' district is so Republican that Democrats have never bothered to try to run a campaign. Not just for congress but also for the assembly. In 2010 Democrats didn't have a candidate. So people needed to write in candidates in the Democratic primary. Nunes got more votes than Democrat Ruben Macareno. In the subsequent two elections the Democratic candidate was someone from the far away Silicon Valley. Winning in districts is usually helped by having a candidate with strong local ties and Democrats have never found one for the 22nd. The Democrats in the district have never been interested in supporting the carpetbaggers who've run there. That'll likely be the case in 2018.

This isn't a knock on the Democrats. They've gone from 27 to 39 seats over the last 16 years. If you keep making gains you'll eventually run into areas where you're not capable of competing. And yet they've won a few seats in areas where they didn't use to be capable. And they challenge the four Republicans listed above with better candidates in 2018. They'll need that to win there, but Nunes' district is one where they have no candidate and no support structure. They don't have a chance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Press Finds Out Why People Voted Trump

During the election it seemed that many of the articles focused on Trump voters being the deplorables that Hillary Clinton depicted them as. Since the election reporters have been doing a good job at depicting why traditionally Democratic voters and Republican voters who didn't like Trump supported him. I think it's important, at least here in LA, where so many people I know have no idea why people voted for Trump. Maybe they'll read articles like this.

I'd like to see articles about why suburban districts like Mimi Walters' CA-45 swung toward Clinton at the Presidential level and why those people still voted Republican down ballot. Do they still plan to keep voting for Walters in the future or should she be worried?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Could the Trump Resistance be a Left Wing Tea Party?


Can we go home now?

No? Okay, first a little history to show how different these movements are. The Tea Party started when Rick Santelli made his famous rant on CNBC on February 19, 2009. That was 30 days after Barack Obama took office. There was no hint of opposition to him at that point. We are still a few days away from 30 days into Donald Trump's term. The organized resistance started before Trump took office and showed up in the women's march a day after Trump was inaugurated. So right away Democrats appear to be ahead of Republicans. Being faster to have this much resistance might be good, as they already have their supporters in place. It might not because the Republican wave built up over time with people jumping on board when they were ready. The left runs the risk of not sustaining this movement. A lot of people won't be active for two years. Occupy also had a huge number of supporters faster than the Tea Party.

Republicans did meet the night Barack Obama was inaugurated to discuss how to respond to him and make him a one term President. This is normal. Did anyone think Republicans weren't going to try to win the Presidency back in 2012? That Republicans weren't going to oppose policies they had always opposed? Opposition in congress was light at this point. All of Barack Obama's cabinet nominees sailed through. Most were confirmed by voice vote. A voice vote is taken when no one objects to what's on the floor. Only two nominees were confirmed with less than 75 votes. Kathleen Sebelius got 65 votes and Timothy Geithner was confirmed 60-34. Almost every Democrat has voted against a little less than half of Donald Trump's nominees.

At first, Republicans were working with Barack Obama on the stimulus. When they objected to tax cuts for people who didn't pay taxes, Barack Obama told Eric Cantor, "I won." It was basically, "Vote yes or no on my bill and go away." Over the next several months, Republicans started to become uniform in their opposition to Democratic legislation. They say it was because the legislation contained too many things for them to vote yes to. Republicans were working on the healthcare bill for some time before being discouraged from doing so by the party base. Democrats have indicated they'll vote no on Republican bills already. Will Republicans make the bills so poisonous that no Democrat would think of voting for them or will there be more outreach to Democrats than Democrats did in 2009? Regardless, Democrats have put up their wall of opposition earlier. That might or might not be better for them.

Another comparison people have made is the town halls. The Tea Party was active in them in August 2009 and Democrats seem to be gearing up for them. Many of the loudest 2009 town halls were in Democratic swing districts. Democrats have made a lot of noise at town halls for Congressmen Tom McClintock and Jason Chaffetz. Both are in very safe Republican districts. If they want to take back the House they need to organize in districts belonging to Pat Meehan and Steve Knight. They may well do that and the only reason they've gone after McClintock and Chaffetz may be that they were the ones having town halls.

The Tea Party didn't start out as a movement trying to win elections. In fact, their trajectory was to slowly get larger and larger until the November 3, 2009 special election in NY-23. Local New Yorkers organized behind the Conservative Party candidate and he lost. The first big victory for Republicans during this period was the January 2010 Massachusetts special senate election. Again this started small locally in Massachusetts and got larger because they reached out to Tea Parties throughout the country.

Democrats appear ready to start organizing to win elections now. Starting earlier should be better but they may just be a lot of people organizing and not enough people voting. The Tea Party didn't have a goal of winning elections. They won one and, after the fact, they looked brilliant. Democrats have had lower enthusiasm at almost every election since 2009. Are they less enthusiastic or were they less enthusiastic because they controlled the White House?

The anti-Trump movement could be a force at the ballot box. Enthusiasm is better than non-enthusiasm. They just aren't following the Tea Party trajectory.