Thursday, November 26, 2020

Finding Agreement Suspicious

Here's a question for my loyal readers: Is there any position you can think of that you support but that, if you hear someone else supports it, you become more suspicious of them politically?

Perhaps intuitively that makes no sense. If you back a given stance, why would you look sideways at someone else who shares your view? But there are circumstances where I imagine it could make sense -- for example, when you have cause to believe most other people who hold your view do so for bad reasons, are using it as a stepping stone to enable policies you don't support, or that the view most commonly is a valid proxy for other positions one strongly opposes.

Imagine, for example, an African-American opponent of affirmative action, who believes that such programs engender White resentment while doing little to help the most disadvantaged in the Black community. Such a person might nonetheless conclude that most White opponents of affirmative action come to their opposition for other, less tasteful motivations, and so view them with political suspicion. If the person is generally liberal otherwise, they might recognize that most affirmative action opponents are politically conservative and that persons who loudly trumpet their opposition to affirmative action often are especially conservative (and even more especially-so on racial issues). Any of these could give cause to view your putative compatriots a bit askance.

One can imagine other circumstances as well. Someone who supports a ban on assault weapons but not a total prohibition on the sale of handguns might believe that many people who back the former do so in order to make the latter more palatable or feasible -- essentially a slippery slope argument. Where one has multi-peaked preferences (e.g., one prefers only an assault weapons ban > no gun ban > complete gun ban), then one might not want to empower who share your support for an assault weapons ban on the theory that they, unlike you, want  to go much further than that (see this article by Eugene Volokh for more on how these mechanisms work).

So I'll pitch the question again: Can you think of any policy areas where this applies to you? Positions that you hold, but where you're suspicious of most other people who claim to hold them? It's an interesting question, I think.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Who Does High Turnout Help?

For as long as I can remember, it has been accepted wisdom that Democrats benefit from higher turnout. This is the view that motivates "if we can just get more people off the sidelines, Democrats will win every election", as well as more pessimistic declarations of how Democrats fare in midterms, off-cycle races, and run-off elections in, oh, let's say, Georgia.

But is it true today? The 2020 election is giving me a bit of pause.

2020 was a big turnout year. We had record turnout -- the highest percentage in at least 100 years, in all likelihood -- and that's with COVID throwing a wrench in things. But while Joe Biden won, and won clearly in the national popular vote, it's not the case that the additional turnout was all a tidal wave of new blue voters. Trump, too, has shown himself to be a turnout machine for the red column. Texas is a good example, where Joe Biden added 1.4 million votes to Hillary Clinton's 2016 total, only to see Donald Trump roughly keep pace by stacking an additional 1.2 million votes on top of his performance in the prior election. That's a lot more people voting, but not a huge net gain for Democrats -- especially given the general "blue-ing" of the state that had been observed over the past four years.

So what's going on? One thing to consider is who the marginal non-voter is, and who they're likely to support if they do come out to the polls. Non-voters are likely less politically engaged and aware -- the classic "independent" voter (which is to say, low-information and ideologically incoherent), and probably exhibit less trust in and affinity towards American political institutions generally. In our current climate, it's far from clear that these aren't easier to for a Trumpist style populist politician to win.

More than that, though, is the issue of the broader realignment we're seeing in partisan identity. Historically, the case for Democrats being aided by high turnout has I think relied on the notion that Democratic voters skew poorer, and poorer voters are less likely to turn out, so the marginal vote gained by heightened turnout is more likely to be a Democratic one. But while it is not the case, contra some lazy takes, that Democrats are now the party of wealthy coastal elites, it is the case that the biggest divide between the parties right now does not track class but rather education. Democrats are overperforming among college-educated voters (of all economic backgrounds), Republicans do much better among those lacking a college degree (again, regardless of economic background). And highly-educated voters are a high turnout group -- they're likely to hit the polls even when other actors do not.

So it's quite possible that reductions in turnout could end up, counterintuitively, aiding Democratic candidates. You can imagine dividing voters into different turnout "tranches", where the highest tranche turns out in every election (that is, even in ones where nobody else votes), the ones below that in slightly more active races, the ones below that in moderately high turnout affairs, and so on down the line until the final tranche which never votes at all. If Democrats are disproportionately represented among the highest tranches, they'd be better served if elections remain low-turnout affairs, since they'd be the only ones showing up to the polls.

Again, this is just a hypothesis and an oversimplification at that. But I do think the education realignment may require adjusting some of our assumptions regarding who benefits from high turnout.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Does Trump 2024 Clear the GOP Field?

Donald Trump says he's seriously considering running for President in 2024. While you might think that's tantamount to a concession that he didn't win re-election in 2020, Trump was notorious for claiming that he'd run for a third term anyway because -- hey, why should the law stop him now?

Anyway, I'm curious: If Trump runs in 2024, does he clear the GOP field? On the one hand, it's hard to imagine that the Republican Party will want to go with the guy who lost the last election. And four years should, one hopes, be enough time to break the spell that Trump has cast over his party where virtually every Republican of note just crumbles into quivering jelly at the thought of standing up to him.

But still -- how does a prominent Republican run against Trump 2024? In 2016, they could and did call him a demagogue, a racist, an idiot, and an extremist. But of course, 2016 proved those are selling points for today's GOP voter, and nothing has changed in the interim. What has changed is that we've witnessed four years of prominent GOP figures kowtowing to Trump at every opportunity. After clambering over one another to see who can be the biggest Trumpist suck up, it's hard to see how they could attack Trump in the context of a primary campaign without looking ridiculous. What does Tom Cotton or Josh Hawley or Nikki Haley say to make the argument they're better than their Godhead figure?

Personally, I think someone should start a whisper campaign on Twitter that Trump was betrayed by the GOP establishment and that in 2024 he should run on a Trump branded third party. Of course his defeat wasn't his fault -- how could it be? Rev him up with paranoid conspiracism and let him wreak havoc on the right for a change. Could be fun to watch.

Republicans Are Trying Their Mightiest To Ring That Bell

 Shortly before election day, I argued that the right analogy to apply to the efforts of Republican judges to get Trump elected was not "thumb on the scale" but rather "the carnival game where you smack a target with a hammer and see if you're strong enough to win the bell." We're two weeks distant from election day, Joe Biden's victory has only gotten clearer since then, but what's gotten even clearer than that is how right I was regarding the metaphor (with the sole caveat that we can substitute "Republican political officials" for "Republican judges").

They really are trying their best to make the steal. It doesn't look like they're strong enough to actually ring the bell, but let's not in any way diminish that this is their agenda. We're going to stave off a frontal attack on our democracy, but it's shameful that it is even coming to this.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

How Does a Defeated Trump Affect the Georgia Race?

Barring a turnaround in North Carolina or a surprise upset from Al "Bear Killer" Gross in Alaska (and the latter does say he think he'll win after all the mail-ins are counted), the season finale of the horror series known as "2020" will be a royal rumble Senate two-fer in Georgia. Incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler will face challenger Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in a state that Joe Biden just squeaked out a victory in.

Other have written on the best positive strategy for Democrats to take in the race (pushing the "3 M" approach -- Medicaid expansion, minimum wage increase, and marijuana legalization). And it's well-known that Democrats have severely struggled in Georgia run-offs in the past. But right now, I'm curious how the shadow of a defeated Trump affects the dynamics of this race.

It is (as much as I hate to admit it) a truth that Donald Trump has been a big turnout booster for Republicans. Witness Texas, where Joe Biden swelled Hillary Clinton's vote tally by 1.4 million, but Trump managed to keep pace with 1.2 million additional votes of his own. Even without him at the top of the ticket, it's possible that Trump could boost GOP turnout in the run-off if he campaigned aggressively for the GOP ticket, feeding on resentment and spurious claims of voter fraud, inspiring red staters looking for vengeance and the need to head off a Democratic Senate majority.

But Trump is Trump, and he doesn't seem likely to react to defeat by working on someone else's behalf. He's going to be sullen and depressed and whiny, and I doubt he'll be much interested in intervening in the Georgia race at all. If anything, he might put Perdue and Loeffler into a tight spot by continuing to frivolously contest the validity of the election, forcing them to either actively disavow Dear (Fallen) Leader or come off like anti-democratic extremists.

More broadly, it is far from clear that Trumpists will continue to turn out once the aura of invisibility and the joy of "cry more libs" no longer can be guaranteed. It is wrong to say that Trumpism is dead in America -- it continues to be the dominant faction of the GOP, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon. But it is possible that Trumpists will find it difficult to replicate the enthusiasm Donald Trump inspired with their standard-bearer broken. Particularly if the GOP starts the fratricide before the run-off day, one could see a far more energized Georgia Democratic Party facing off against a demoralized, frustrated, "take my ball and go home" Georgia GOP. And that might give Ossoff and Warnock the space they need to pull what I still think would be an upset victory, and hand Democrats the Senate.

Friday, November 06, 2020

A 2020 Election Thank You

When Joe Biden secured the Democratic nomination for President, I had several friends declare that the race was over -- it was impossible that Biden could beat Donald Trump in the general election.

Not "it will be hard". Not "it will be an uphill battle". Not "it depends on how events develop over the next few months". Impossible.

Well, it did turn out to be hard -- perhaps harder than the last batch of polls suggested it would be. But it wasn't impossible. Because Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States.

Biden fought hard against an incumbent President and Republican Party who mobilized every tool, trick, and power they had -- legal and not -- to stay in office. It is hard to dislodge incumbent Presidents -- this is only the second time it has occurred in my lifetime -- and while it felt touch-and-go early on Tuesday evening (as we all promptly forgot everything we had told ourselves about the "red mirage"), when all is said and done Biden will have a thumping margin in the popular vote and most likely over 300 electoral votes. A pretty sizable victory, all in all.

So I think we should take the time to thank and to celebrate all the people who worked really hard to make this happen. Not just Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, though them too obviously. But the entire spectrum of the progressive community that came together to make today a reality.

The Black community, and particularly Black women, who have been the soul and the backbone of the Democratic Party for years. That includes great leaders like Stacey Abrams who poured her heart into making Georgia competitive. But it also includes everyday, rank-and-file men and women who did the yeoman's work of canvassing, ballot-counting, organizing, and most importantly, voting. They have displayed a faith in the American promise that the rest of us had no right to expect from them, and the margins they provided in cities like Atlanta, Detroit, and Philadelphia made the difference in this election. Thank you.

Bernie Sanders, who ran in the primary but was always crystal clear that once Joe Biden secured the nomination, he was all-in on supporting him as the only valid option for a presidential ballot. Thank you. And thank you to his supporters in "the squad", for whom Biden obviously wasn't their first choice, but still poured their energies into getting out the vote for him at the top of the ticket and Democrats down the ballot.

Thank you to the Latino and Latinas in Arizona, who organized to turn the land of Joe Arpaio into a state with two Democratic senators and whose electoral votes are in blue column. It was just a few years ago when Arizona was in the news as the nation's leader in grotesque, reactionary anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment. The resilience of the Latino community in Arizona came to full fruition this year, and it is not going to fade anytime soon.

Thank you to the Jewish community, which stayed strong in the face of unprecedented antisemitism and violent threats from White Supremacists emboldened by this administration. We turned out more strongly for Joe Biden than we have for any presidential nominee in decades. We voted our values, and made clear that we are an integral part of America's progressive coalition.

Thank you to Katie Porter, who flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018, shined as an outstanding progressive leader in the House, and held her seat decisively in 2020. And thank you to Lucy McBath, who also flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018, has become a leader in fighting gun violence, and also held her seat by a wide margin this year. Our caucus is stronger with both of you in it.

Thank you to the Muslim community, which turned out strong for Biden, particularly in states like Michigan where it counted the most. Thank you to all the proverbial suburban moms who were rallying against Trumpism from day one. Thanks to all the activists at groups like Indivisible which created a movement and an energy that sustained many of us for these long four years.

And finally, thank you to the Democrats who *didn't* win in 2020. There were some seats that were big upsets in 2018 that we knew would be very hard to hold onto with Trump at the top of the ticket. Doug Jones, Joe Cunningham, and (it appears) Max Rose may not be returning to Congress, but they were great leaders who fought hard for progressive values. We owe them a debt too. Likewise, some challengers ran strong races but ultimately came up short. Some are identified as on the "progressive" wing, like Kara Eastman in Nebraska or Jaime Harrison in South Carolina; some are considered more "establishment", like Theresa Greenfield in Iowa or Dan Feehan in Minnesota. Regardless of where they fall on the party's ideological spectrum, they worked hard to make America better, and deserve our gratitude for trying.

Yes, we can wonder if it could have gone even better. Yes, we can mourn that we didn't get the decisive, overwhelming repudiation of Trumpism that was deserved. But still. Politics remains the long, slow boring through hard boards, and today was a day of progress -- always slower progress than we'd like, but progress nonetheless. And the many, many people who fought hard to make this result happen deserve gratitude and respect. 

This is a post that could go on forever -- there are so many we owe so much to, and I wish I could list every single one of them. But the broad point is this: We knew this would be a contest. We knew nothing was guaranteed. We knew there are no sure-things in politics. But those who said it was impossible were wrong. They were flat wrong. It was possible. We did it, together.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Election 2020 Liveblog

Should I do this? No. But it's a tradition. And what are we without our traditions?

This post will be updated throughout the evening. Check in for breaking news.

[I've changed the format so the newest posts are at the top rather than the bottom. Oh, and all times are Pacific, of course]


4:12 AM: LOL I haven't slept at all. But I am feeling a bit more sanguine about Biden's overall chances. He's up in Nevada, Arizona, and Wisconsin, and I expect him to hold those leads. The math looks good for him in Michigan too. Those alone are enough to put him at 270, but Pennsylvania and Georgia are still basically toss-ups at this point, and North Carolina isn't wholly out of the range of possibility.

12:58 AM: I'm calling it a night. Praying for good returns from the cities of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan (and North Carolina, while we're at it).

12:25 AM: It is flat wild that we could simultaneously be seeing a story of "Biden underperforms among Latinos" and "Biden overperforms in Arizona."

12:21 AM: Speaking of hovering right around 50%, Senator David Perdue in Georgia is floating at that mark. In his case, not cracking 50% would lead to a (non-instant) runoff against Democratic challenge Jon Ossoff. Georgia is one of the states where reports are there are a lot of mailed in Democratic votes still waiting to be counted.

12:05 AM: Susan Collins continues to hover right at that 50% mark, which matters because if she doesn't get an absolute majority it's an instant run-off. Now that won't matter if she's, like, at 49.9%, but the point is she doesn't necessarily win just because she holds a plurality.

11:59 PM: Iowa looked like there might be some good news at the end of the campaign season, but it didn't pan out. Democrats are down in three of the state's four House seats (they had gone holding three of four). In the open but D-held IA-02, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks (that name though!) is up by less than 300 votes over Democrat Rita Hart. Republicans are winning by a larger (though not large) margin against incumbent Rep. Abby Finkenaeur in the IA-01, and are narrowly losing in their bid to unseat Rep. Cindy Axne in the IA-03. (Axne's continued national prominence is crucial to my crossword puzzlebuilding needs, so I'm especially glad she's winning her race).

11:18 PM: It's perhaps unsurprising that the big upset winners of an election in 2018 are both people who really deserve good things but also among the most likely to lose in 2020. We've already bade goodbye to Senator Doug Jones in Alabama. Rep. Max Rose hasn't conceded yet, but it's looking grim for him in the NY-11. And there was just a call in the SC-01 for Nancy Mace, who unseats Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham.

11:13 PM: Also in local California races, there was some campaign drama in a few state legislature races that may make them of general interest. Incumbent Democratic State Senator Scott Wiener weirdly became one of the faces of GOP conspiracy mongering, but he's leading fellow Democrat Jackie Fielder 59-41 (Fielder was challenging Wiener from the left, although Wiener was already pretty liberal). Meanwhile, rabid antisemite and all around whackjob Maria Estrada was rematching against State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, but Rendon once again is holding down the lead 57-43.

11:12 PM: Down in Los Angeles, challenger George Gascon, running a "progressive prosecutor" campaign, is leading incumbent District Attorney Jackie Lacey by a 54/46 spread. Both are Democrats.

11:07 PM: No call, but with 100% reporting Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) leads Rep. Rich McCormick (R) 51.2% to 48.8% in the GA-07. Nice D-to-R flip.

10:40 PM: Alas, Dem. Rep. Collin Peterson's luck finally ran out in the MN-07, a truly deep red district that he and he alone had any prayer of holding.

10:38 PM: Obviously a lot of states have a had wonky vote reporting patterns, but one of the weirdest has been Virginia. It's mostly flown under the radar because it's not competitive at the state level, but there are some important House races there where it's really clear some segment of the vote has not been counted yet. Dem Rep. Abigail Spanberger is not some shoo-in to hold her VA-07 seat, but she's not going to lose it by 20 points either.

10:36 PM: Hey! Mississippi voters approved a new, treason-less state flag!

10:34 PM: Remember that time Trump flat out told us his election strategy was to hope the race was uncalled on election night evening, then try to stop Pennsylvania from counting its votes? And now the race is uncalled on election night evening, and he's yelling about how its fraud for Pennsylvania to keep counting its votes?

10:24 PM: While Joe Biden is projected to take the NE-02's electoral vote, GOP Rep. Don Bacon still holds a narrow lead over challenger Kara Eastman. A hearty screw you to former Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, who lost to Bacon, then, after his wife lost in the Democratic primary to Eastman, endorsed Bacon in what was clearly a fit of pique. Don't know if that ended up making the difference, but still.

10:21 PM: First year Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK) has conceded to Republican challenger Stephanie Bice. I think we're likely to see a small GOP gain in the House -- not enough to flip the chamber or even come that close to it, but they'll net positive.

10:11 PM: Now I'm seeing the mood of commentators shift on both Wisconsin and Georgia, both are said to look more favorable for Biden.

10:08 PM: I've heard the scenario where Biden wins 270-268 based on the NE-02's one electoral vote described as the "Nebraska Cornwhisker", and I love that.

10:05 PM: Word is that Biden is looking good in Nebraska's second district (Nebraska allocates its electoral votes separately in each congressional district). That's actually a pretty big deal, as it alleviates some of the "tied election" scenarios which would have been a true nightmare (I mean, truer than the nightmare we're all living right now).

9:43 PM: Wisconsin is looking rough -- Biden doesn't absolutely need it, but it'd be a big help.

9:39 PM: Steve Bullock is still running about seven points ahead of Joe Biden in Montana. May not be enough.

9:35 PM: It's sobering to think how much rides on Democrats not just winning, but winning the trifecta, just to get to a place where "winning more votes" bears some casual relationship to "winning elections."

9:26 PM: This. Will. Be. The. Year! Exit polls suggest Jews went for Joe Biden by a 77-21 margin.

9:23 PM: While Minnesota has been called for Biden (and I think Tina Smith looks fine there too), there's another nail-biter shaping up in the MN-01 -- a rematch of one of just two D-to-R flips in 2018. Incumbent GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn is up by about 1 point over Dan Feehan. Minnesota has lots of teeny-tiny counties so it's hard to get a bead on what's outstanding.

9:00 PM: There are reportedly two million mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania that still need to be counted, and these skew heavily Democratic. They're absolutely more than enough to tip the total over to Biden.

8:45 PM: Last year, California returns slowly shifted bluer after election day as mail-in ballots continued to flow in. If that's the case again, then Dems are in very good shape in some California House races. Several vulnerable incumbents from  the 2018 wave, such as Gil Cisneros and Harley Rouda, are currently ahead by decent margins. Moreover, Ammar Campa-Najjar is currently just ahead of former Rep. Darrell Issa, who is trying to hold this open seat for the GOP, and Christy Smith is ahead of GOP Rep. Mike Garcia in the rematch of the special election Garcia won to flip the seat less-than-one-term Democratic Rep. Katie Hill resigned from. But again -- it's hard to know exactly how tallies will flow in 2020.

8:39 PM: In local news, Berkeley City Councilor Cheryl Davila, who made some news after she tried to appoint Hatem Bazian as her emergency alternate, is currently down in her re-election race to Terry Taplin. However, no candidate is close to 50%, and I think Berkeley does some sort of ranked-choice instant run-off? Anyway, I'm not sure if this means she's lost or not -- but it's news.

8:35 PM: In addition to the presidential and senate calls, there's some good downballot news in Arizona. Hiral Tipirneni is holding a ~4 point lead over incumbent GOP Rep. David Schweikert. And Democrats are also currently ahead in the important, if somewhat obscure, Corporation Commissioner race.

8:28 PM: We're definitely not getting a full call tonight. Pennsylvania, in particular, looks like a total hot mess -- which is great, because it also ranks number one in "state most likely to be stolen outright by the GOP."

8:26 PM: I lay down for a few minutes, and when I get back up they've called Arizona for Biden. I should lie down more often.

8:03 PM: They're projecting a Mark Kelly victory in Arizona. And while Kelly is running slightly ahead of Biden, that call certainly gives caused for optimism on the presidential side too.

7:55 PM: Just so you know I'm not judging, the below message absolutely includes me.

7:47 PM: We spent literally months repeating, mantra-like, "it won't be over on election night, stay calm" and now we're still like everybody panic!!!!

7:45 PM: It looks like it will be GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler facing Democrat Raphael Warnock in the Georgia special Senate election run-off. My gut is that Warnock runs stronger against Loeffler, but run-offs in Georgia are tough.

7:42 PM: Over in Iowa, things remain unsettled. Democratic Senate challenger Theresa Greenfield is beating her marks in Linn County, but not quite reaching them in Johnson County.

7:39 PM: The big question in North Carolina is just how much of the outstanding vote tally is in Wake County, which is a massive Democratic stronghold.

7:32 PM: I guess the other state to keep on an eye on re: Trump's late Latino surge is Nevada.

7:28 PM: Checking in on Montana, Governor Steve Bullock, challenging for Republican Steve Daines' Senate seat, is currently leading, but looks to be slightly underperforming his desired margins in key counties. Still early there though (although the story of the evening has been late votes shifting GOP).

7:22 PM: I see Republican Nicole Malliotakis has declared victory in the NY-11, which means Rep. Max Rose (D) has been unseated. Rose was a huge upset winner in 2018, but it still stings -- he was one of my favorite first-year Reps.

7:13 PM: We might remember that Arizona slowly crawled into the Democratic column in 2018, but right now its early vote reports favor Joe Biden by a large margin. He's up by just under 10%, with Mark Kelly doing even better on the Senate side. Dems are also leading in the AZ-06, which would be a Dem flip.

7:09 PM: Republicans look to have flipped two south Florida House seats that Democrats won in 2018 -- riding on the strong GOP performance among Florida Latinos (Cuban and, from what I've heard, non-Cuban alike).

7:05 PM: Philadelphia officials say they won't be reporting any more mail-in ballot results tonight. As Matt Yglesias asks, do they have something better to do this evening?

7:01 PM: In the OH-01, Rep. Steve Chabot is clinging to a sub-1 point lead over his Democratic challenger. But while virtually all his turf in Warren County has reported, Kate Schroder (and Joe Biden, for that matter) still have plenty left in Hamilton County. Have I mentioned how gerrymandered to hell and back Ohio is, incidentally?

6:59 PM: And just as I write that, I see a call for Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina Senate race.

6:57 PM: Checking into the South Carolina Senate race, where Jaime Harrison appears to be running about 2 points better than Joe Biden. In Berkeley County, where his target is to lose by a 47/50 spread, Harrison is losing by ... 48/51.

6:54 PM: Digging more deeply into North Carolina, one bit of concern is that Union County, which is one of the few larger counties that's strongly pro-Trump, has barely reported at all. Trump probably will net 30,000 votes there.

6:49 PM:  Biden might well squeak out the win in North Carolina, which would be huge.

6:41 PM: Ohio continues to narrow, but it really does look like Biden has far more pockets of votes outstanding than does Trump.

6:36 PM: Sadly, in Kansas Barbara Bollier's numbers have receded quite a bit. With just about all of Johnson County reported, she's only winning 52/44. While that's absolutely a good result objectively for Democrats, it's short of the 57/40 benchmark she's shooting for.

6:31 PM: New Jersey votes to legalize marijuana.

6:30 PM: The AP results are coming in much faster than the New York Times, but the New York Times' site is so much easier to navigate. Frustrating on my end.

6:28 PM: We're definitely having at least one QAnon conspiracy theorist enter Congress (Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia), but there's a chance to stop a second one from joining her out of Colorado. In the CO-03, four points separate Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush from GOPer Lauren Boebert, who upset incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton in the primary (Boebert is currently leading).

6:25 PM: In a race that only attracted attention very late, the AR-02 (centered around Little Rock) is currently razor-tight, with Rep. French Hill (R) up by less than 2 points over Democrat Joyce Elliot. Not altogether clear how the balance of remaining votes are distributed.

6:23 PM: Some places I'm currently feeling good about include Ohio(!) generally, and the IN-05 race specifically (where the Democratic challenger is currently down by a smidge, but appears to have a good chunk of votes in Indianapolis still outstanding).

6:15 PM: Seeing an early call for John Hickenlooper in Colorado, which would mark the first Senate flip of the night (though presumably Alabama will be called for Tommy Tuberville sooner rather than later).

6:05 PM: North Carolina keeps creep creep creeping along. But there are a couple of very interesting House races there too (in addition to two expected Dem flips, made possible by undoing an earlier GOP gerrymander). In the NC-09, better known as the district that had to redo its election after the GOP candidate was caught trying to steal it, incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Bishop is up only 1 point over Dem challenger Cynthia Wallace with a lot of Mecklenberg (a Dem stronghold) left to report. And in the NC-08, incumbent GOP Rep. Richard Hudson is leading Democrat Patricia Timmons-Goodson by just 2 in a race that saw some late spending.

5:59 PM: Right now, the place where the apparent late Latino swing towards Trump worries me most may be Arizona.

5:57 PM: The big question in North Carolina: how much of a boost will Republicans get in the walk-up vote?

5:55 PM: I think a lot of Democratic observers kind of mentally wrote off Ohio (at best, it was something we could retake in a landslide), but Biden seems to be doing very well there. Kind of the anti-Florida -- which perhaps goes to Biden overperforming among White voters and underperforming among Latino voters.

5:53 PM: Party-switcher Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R) is locked in a tight battle with Democratic challenger Amy Kennedy. He's up 2 points now with a little over half in. Definitely someone who I hope gets done in by karma.

5:51 PM: Fulton County, Georgia -- aka, Atlanta, a huge Democratic area -- is experiencing reporting delays due to a burst pipe in the building (... 2020, am I right?). Anyway, that probably has something to do with the depressed blue tallies in the Peach State.

5:46 PM: What's the matter with Kansas? I'll tell you what: Democrat Barbara Bollier is so far hitting her margin in Johnson County (Kansas City) -- she's up 59-41, her target is 57/40.

5:40 PM: In keeping with the generally early positive news out of Ohio, Kate Schroder is looking strong right now in her challenge to Rep. Steve Chabot (R) in the OH-01. She's up 9 with about half in, and if anything it looks like more of the bluer part of the district remains outstanding.

5:35 PM: At the moment, Biden is running about four points ahead of M.J. Hegar in Texas (or if you prefer, Trump is running about four points behind John Cornyn).

5:28 PM: The counterpoint to "Biden's woes are limited to Cubans in Florida" is if "Biden's woes are actually with Latino voters generally." We'll see!

5:25 PM: North Carolina is one of those states where apparently mail-in vs. walk-up votes are being tallied at different times, so I don't want to get ahead of anything in looking at the results (even though quite a bit of the state has reported, with Biden currently up 9).

5:21 PM: If you forced me to hazard a guess at this point, I'd favor Trump in Texas. It's purpling, but it's still not quite there yet.

5:16 PM: Texas looking agonizingly close again. In Williamson County (north of Austin), Biden is at 51/47, he was shooting for 49/48. In Dallas County, he's at 66/33, he wants 68/32.

5:09 PM: In expected but still happy news, "proud Islamophobe" Laura Loomer is going down in blazing defeat in the FL-21.

5:06 PM: The two big "don't panic" lines I'm seeing right now are (a) Trump's performance in Florida is driven by Cubans, who are a somewhat unique demographic without parallels elsewhere in the country, and (b) remember 2018, when Republicans overperformed in Florida, leading to much sadness early on election night, but it didn't reflect goings-on elsewhere in the country. Again, I'm feeling what everyone was feeling -- we wanted a first-round knockout and we didn't get it -- but I'm trying to stay level-headed.

5:02 PM: I wish there was something to look at right now other than Florida, but everybody else is at a crawl. Starting to see some projections that Trump has taken the state -- which, again, feels likely unless there's something disproportionate about what's been counted in Miami.

4:54 PM: Of course, that sort of thinking is exactly the sort of "analysis" that I feel like Florida has sprung every year, and it always breaks my heart.

4:53 PM: Putting aside the always-present "which ballots have been counted" question, I do wonder whether folks are overweighting Biden's apparent severe underperformance in Miami-Dade compared to his apparent overperformance in, e.g., Tampa and Jacksonville.

4:48 PM: Must we do this every time, Florida? Must. We. Do. This. Every. Time?

4:35 PM: Not to keep harping on the Miami numbers, but in everywhere but Miami Biden seems to be doing better than he'd hope. So what's the scoop down there?

4:29 PM: In the IN-5, Democratic candidate Christina Hale is up by about 6.5 points against Republican Victoria Spatz in an open GOP-held seat. Marion County (Indianapolis) is only about a third in, and it is a monster truck for Hale -- she's up 75-23 there.

4:25 PM: The Miami figures are also reflected in the FL-26 race, where incumbent Dem. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell trails by three to Republican Carlos Giminez. If you trust that the presidential numbers will improve for Biden, you probably think they'll improve for Mucarsel-Powell as well. If you think that they won't, well, that's probably one D-to-R flip.

4:24 PM: Just to add to the Florida panic -- Biden is far behind the numbers he'd want in Miami-Dade. Don't know if there's a story there.

4:18 PM: While we're waiting, a feel-good(ish) story about a Florida woman who voted for the first time since her drug possession conviction after Florida voted in 2018 to re-enfranchise ex-felons who've completed their sentence. It was a close thing, since Republican politicians (and judges) pulled out all the stops to try and block people like her from voting, but thanks to good progressive organization her fines were paid off and she was able to submit a ballot.

4:06 PM: The "good" news is that Florida is apparently one of the states that counts its votes fast, so we can perhaps make some decent projections. Several mid-sized Florida counties -- most of which are lean Trump -- have reported at least 70% of their vote, and my quick scan is that Biden is mildly overperforming his benchmarks in all of them. For example, in Lee County (Fort Myers), Trump is up 57/42, in a county that he won 58/38 in 2016 and where Biden is shooting for holding Trump to a 58/40 spread. But again, I'd urge a double-dose of caution -- first, because there might be differences in which votes are being counted, and second, because Florida.

4:01 PM: Every year Florida breaks my heart. And seeing a bunch of "look at the turnout numbers in Miami and Broward" tweets is less giving me cautious optimism and more giving me PTSD.

3:45 PM: A useful corrective regarding the USPS ballot delivery order controversy posted above (at 3:10).

3:41 PM: The one outside competitive play in Kentucky is the Lexington-centered 6th district, where Josh Hicks is challenging incumbent GOP Rep. Andy Barr. Interestingly, Hicks is running about 8 points behind Biden in Fayette County -- he's up 66-33 there. That's the blue part of the district, and unfortunately I don't have county benchmarks for this seat to know where Hicks needs to be in order to overcome undoubtedly heavy-red turf that hasn't reported yet in the more outlying areas.

3:38 PM: Kentucky will not be competitive. Certainly not at the Presidential level, probably not at the Senate level either. Nonetheless, certain parts of Kentucky may shed light on how other, similarly situated places may vote. On that score: With about half of the vote tallied, Joe Biden is currently leading in Fayette County (Lexington) 74-25. Hillary Clinton's margin there was 51-41.

3:32 PM: Different states are going to be reporting at different rates, and so it is important to heed Rick Hasen's warning to not use misleading framing like "leads in early returns" in states where we expect big disparities between early- and late-tallied votes (e.g., Pennsylvania).

3:14 PM: No real results yet, so instead we can speculate that Florida will go Biden on the strength of the "make Instagram about thirst traps again" vote.

3:10 PM: Federal court orders USPS to conduct a sweep for ballots still stuck in the system, postal service says "I would prefer not to." Fun!

3:03 PM: And we're rolling! Indiana and Kentucky are the first states to see polls closed. Not a ton of competitive races in those parts (sorry Amy McGrath), but there is a viable Democratic pickup opportunity in the open Indiana 5th.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Reluctantly Not Being Evil

In Texas, a federal judge has thrown out an effort by Texas Republicans to invalidate over 100,000 legally cast ballots down via "drive-up" voting procedures in Harris County, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing. That's rightfully the headline, and it certainly puts this judge ahead of his colleagues on the 8th Circuit, but buried in the middle of the story we read that -- had he found the plaintiffs had standing -- he would have enjoined any further (i.e., today's) drive-up votes from counting. In other words, he thinks the plaintiff's crackpot theory is correct on the merits, he's just bound by technicalities not to give them what they want.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today reversed the 5th Circuit's decision that prison guards leaving an inmate in a cell overflowing with his own bodily waste and sewage deserve qualified immunity, concluding this was one of the rare instances where even general statements of law could provide fair notice that the relevant governmental conduct was unconstitutional. This is noteworthy on its own, as the Supreme Court virtually never intercedes to chide lower courts for being too willing to grant qualified immunity, but apparently this case was a bridge too far. Justice Alito concurred in the case -- which, again, puts him ahead of Justice Thomas, who dissented without opinion -- but wrote separately to chastise the Court for even taking the case, deeming it a matter of mere error-correction that was not worthy of the Court's time. Again, Justice Alito seems flatly annoyed that he was placed in a position where he felt compelled to be less of a schmuck than he'd like -- and anyone who voted for to intercede in Dunn v. Ray has permanently lost the ability to complain about the Court being too loose in hearing cases.