Saturday, November 12, 2016

Post-Election Roundup: The Bad Place or the Darkest Timeline?

Jill says we're in the darkest timeline. I say we're in The Bad Place. Either way, it ain't good, and my browser is clogging up.

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If there's an award for Most Craven Jewish Organization of 2016, the Republican Jewish Coalition has to be the frontrunner.

Everyone's talking about how coastal elites are in a bubble. But many rural Americans -- who've scarcely met a Muslim or a Jew, or an African-American or an Asian -- are in a huge bubble of their own. And nobody seems all that concerned with urging them to break out, or to take seriously the views of other people unlike them.

Latino Trump voters explain their votes.

A meditation by Joan C. Williams (UC-Hastings Law) on what drives "White working class" (which actually generally means middle class) voters. Basically, they feel like their is a dignity-deficit in their lives, and they hate the professional/managerial (not the rich) class. An interesting read, though I have some reservations.

The anti-Semitization of racism. That's my term, but Phoebe Maltz Bovy explains how racism is beginning to resemble anti-Semitism in that it targets achievement by racial minorities and snarls about their supposed excess of power and influence.

And finally, a truly excellent letter from Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander, a Democrat who only narrowly lost his deep red state in a big GOP year. Well worth reading if you need a jolt.

The Humiliating Best-Case Trump Administration Scenario

I want to talk about what I take to be the best-case Trump administration scenario. Now let's be clear, along a lot of axes that scenario is still a pretty grim one. On many issues -- civil rights and liberties, voting rights, the environment, reproductive rights, to name a few -- it's hard to imagine a Trump administration being anything less than cataclysmic. I don't talk about those here, not because they don't matter, but because they aren't meaningfully different in the "best-case" scenario versus the median-case.

So what is our "best-case"? Well, Trump's victory speech focused on infrastructure, and I've joked with my friends that if Donald Trump wants to distract himself for four years by building trains I would be over-the-moon. And this is hardly implausible -- Trump has very little in the way of firm ideology (he's the consummate populist panderer), but he does like building things. He's already calling for a huge stimulus package, of the sort that Democrats have been begging for for years now but Republicans always derided as socialist. Well, "always" meaning "when Democrats propose it." If there's one thing we know about Republicans, it's that they're entirely fine with massive federal government spending so long as it isn't a Democratic idea. So it strikes me as eminently plausible that this could get through Congress.

Likewise on health care. The big news and the end of this week was that President-elect Trump may consider keeping major portions of the Affordable Care Act: specifically, the ban on preexisting condition discrimination and the allowance that young people can stay on their parents' insurance up until age 26. I've also heard that he might continue to support the Medicaid expansion, and I'm dubious Republicans state politicians will continue to resist taking that money now that it isn't an explicit middle finger to Obama. The ban on preexisting condition clauses, for its part, would make it virtually impossible to get rid of the mandate. I fully expect to see some law out of the Republican Congress that purports to "repeal Obamacare." But rather than "repeal and replace," it may well be in essence "repeal and keep." The "repeal" part would basically be an ego salve; or perhaps more accurately, an effort to appropriate Obama's legacy to themselves by taking what's properly termed a "fix" and pretending like it's a brand-new Republican idea.

So let's see: Infrastructure spending. Stimulus. A health care plan modeled on the ACA. All of these are Democratic ideas, that Republicans will now consider only because it won't be a party of Black people and women that's proposing them. This is actually not even that surprising when you look back at American history -- remember how the healthcare mandate was bog-standard Republican orthodoxy right up until it became Obama's policy, at which point it transformed into the greatest threat to human liberty in the past century? Much like Rock & Roll, they'll savage them right up until they can steal and take credit for them. Again, it's the best case scenario because it preserves or implements some genuinely good policies. But it'll be humiliating to see Republicans act as if they came up with these wonderful ideas all by themselves.

And of course, the real moral of the story would simply be "we can get Congress to invest in America again, but only if we wash it down with a gallon jug of White nationalism and misogyny while we're at it." This would not augur well for the future of American progressive politics.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Which Historical Leader Will Trump Most Emulate?

The opening odds:
Silvio Berlusconi ------- 2:1
Vladimir Putin ---------- 4:1
Richard Nixon ---------- 4:1
Hugo Chavez ----------- 5:1
Warren G. Harding ----- 6:1
Andrew Johnson -------- 6:1
Rodrigo Duterte -------- 8:1
Gamal Abdel Nasser --- 10:1
Benito Mussolini ------- 12:1
George W. Bush -------- 12:1
Teddy Roosevelt -------- 30:1
Adolph Hitler ------------ 30:1
Barack Obama ----------- 2000:1

Hebrew Letters in Berkeley, Part II

First, a bit of background.

On Wednesday, the Vice Chancellor sent out a message noting the concern and fear that many felt as a result of happenings this election, and providing a message of support from the Berkeley administration and a thoroughgoing commitment of the university to principles of equality, inclusion, diversity, and tolerance. Her note included a very lengthy list of groups that were "in particular" affected by the election, the rhetoric leading up to it, and its potential aftermath. Jews were conspicuously absent. I thought about writing on that omission, but ultimately elected not to (for reasons that my letter will explain).

On Thursday, the Vice Chancellor sent out an additional message which specifically assured that Berkeley's leaders "condemn bigotry and hatred in all forms, including the anti-Semitic rhetoric of the recent campaign season." Though not expressly mentioned, it was pretty clear that this message was sent due to expressions of concern regarding the omission of Jews from the first email.

What follows is the email I sent to the Vice Chancellor following this second message. I wrote it this afternoon; independently, Richard Jeffrey Newman also authored a thoughtful post about how many progressive groups are -- consciously or not -- omitting Jews from those groups which are seen as threatened by the Trump movement and what it represents. I endorse his post in full as well, and I highly encourage you to read it.

* * *


I wanted to write and thank you for the email you sent out today, acknowledging the anti-Semitic rhetoric of the campaign season and affirming Jewish inclusion in our campus community going forward. As a Jewish student (and faculty member) who is feeling renewed concern about his place in our community and country, it meant a lot to me that you transmitted this message.

I assume this particular email was sent as a follow-up to yesterday's, which did not include Jews among the lengthy list of communities in concern. I admit I had noticed the omission as well. Two things made the absence particularly stand out to me.
  • First, all of us probably had a moment Tuesday evening which was particularly piercing for us. For me, it was a Jewish journalist who spent much of Tuesday retweeting message after message gleefully promising him a swift trip to the gas chambers. It drove home for me the real danger that had been unleashed, fanned, and validated this election cycle. Other people of all backgrounds undoubtedly experienced their own iterations of the same. It is a terrible commonality we shared in fear.
  • Second, following the first, I considered on Wednesday morning wearing a Hebrew-language t-shirt and additional identifiably Jewish garb simply to send the message "I am not afraid." But ultimately, I did not do so. There were many reasons for this, but one was the fear that my gesture would not be recognized as a rallying point for solidarity; that for many in our community it would not even register that I was threatened by these developments too, in a very real and material way.
Because of those considerations, I had considered writing about the message that was sent when, in such a lengthy listing of groups expressly mentioned as experiencing fear and concern, mine was not among them. But I elected not to. In part, this was because this day and this message was not just about me, and I did not want to center myself as the focal point of the conversation when so many of my peers were hurting in their own way. And in part, it was because I continued to fear that even asking for this gesture of inclusion would be seen as some as an imposition, as illicit, even as a form of theft.

And this hurts. It hurts to feel like one has to beg for the scraps of communal solidarity. And it hurts to feel that, if one does so, it will be viewed by some as fundamentally dishonest -- even appropriative.

The failure to include Jews in lists like these at the outset, without prompting or prodding, matters. It is not because it would ever be possible to list off every single group, but because the lack of Jewish inclusion is read not as an oversight but rather as locating them as similarly situated to the groups that "won" with Trump (even though Jews voted Clinton 70/24). The failure to instinctively perceive Jews as among the communities threatened by waves of populist prejudice goes hand in hand with the presumption that Jews are not entitled to access these forms of solidarity; that when we do ask for support on equal terms, we are arrogating to ourselves something that is not ours, that we are stealing precious resources from the "real" marginalized communities and hoarding it to our perfectly-privileged selves. 

There is, in short, a particular instantiation of structural anti-Semitism in which Jews are viewed as anti-discrimination winners, the outgroup that's in. Jewish oppression very often goes hand in hand with the view that Jews are if anything hyperpowerful, surely not in need of more of the bounty they already possess. The particular way one shows solidarity for Jews in cases like these is to recognize that we count, that we are not artificially but naturally a part of the communities that this week need our help.

The hope of all of us is that each and every community one day will be able to count on that instinctive form of solidarity -- that if we're hurting or threatened or vulnerable, our fellows will be there to have our back not because they were pressured to do so, or persuaded to do so, but simply as a basic reflex. That's our hope not just in Berkeley, but nationwide. It is, perhaps, a particularly distant hope this week. But the first step is to try and cultivate those instincts right here in our own backyard. That is the hard, trying, difficult work that we are tasked with.

Of course, if everyone already perfectly possessed those instincts, we'd be having a very different conversation this week. So I will return to where I began: Thank you for sending the follow-up. It does matter, and it is appreciated. If, as Orlando Battista once said, "an error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it," then I appreciate the attempt to correct the error and the commitment that next time, it will be right the first time.

Thanks again for all of your had work in this difficult time,

David Schraub
Lecturer in Law, UC-Berkeley
Senior Research Fellow, California Constitution Center, UC-Berkeley
PhD candidate, Department of Political Science

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Democracy is a Choice We Make Everyday

Election day is an important day when we as Americans choose who we are as a nation. Today, Americans chose Donald Trump to be our standard-bearer, and he will be our next President.

I truly didn't think this would happen. I can say that with 100% honesty, as I actually put a bunch of money into the stock market this morning on the assumption I could turn a neat profit on the Clinton victory bounce. That didn't turn out great.

As it became more evident that Donald Trump would win tonight -- massively outperforming prior Republican tallies in White regions even as he lost Latinos by shocking margins -- I didn't quite have the reaction I thought I would. I wasn't quite as panicked as I thought I'd be. I wasn't quite as despondent as I thought I'd be.

This is not a softening on the Trump campaign one bit. I do not believe this election was about "economic anxiety", and I do not believe it was about generic anger at the "establishment". What drove the White majority in this nation was the realization that they didn't have to pretend to care about others' equality. And if they didn't have to do it, they had no interest in it. If ever a hypothesis was falsified, it was the conceit that contemporary American bigotry was subconscious rather than simply in hiding.

Peter Beinart's twitter feed today -- retweeting message after message gleefully promising to send him to the gas chambers -- was an entirely unnecessary confirmation of the hell Trump has unleashed for Jews in this country; a hell that parallels the terrors he promises for Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and women. Indeed, the most terrible lesson we've learned this day is the degree to which White people in this nation thirst to return to an overt position of supremacy -- advantaged not just implicitly but openly. What I was reminded of most was Bernard Henri-Levy's commentary on the resurgence of European anti-Semitism. It came out of a yearning
for people to feel once again the desire and, above all, the right to burn all the synagogues they want, to attack boys wearing yarmulkes, to harass large numbers of rabbis, to kill not just one but many Ilan Halimis....
They want to do it, and they want to feel good about wanting to do it. This election was about White people wanting to no longer feel guilty about wanting to stand atop and astride people of color, about Christian people wanting to no longer feel guilty about dreaming of an America that only includes Christians, about men wanting to no longer feel guilty about their fantasies of assaulting women.

Another lesson we learned was the absolute, complete irrelevancy of the "intellectual" wing of contemporary conservatism -- a faction which has always feared Trump. Let's be clear, if even a quarter of Republicans actually bought into #NeverTrump, this election is a blowout. The GOP establishment, its elites, its thinkers -- people who found Trump risible -- they are trivial. They are nothing. There has probably never been a larger gap between public profile and actual influence in the history of this nation.

So what caused my zen-state earlier this evening? Maybe it was numbness. Maybe it hasn't set in yet.

But Donald Trump is not interested in governing. I suppose thank goodness for that; heaven help us if he developed an interest. But if he's not interested in governing, then he won't be interested in following through on his more vicious policy proposals. They'll require work, after all, and since when does Donald Trump wish to work?

Take the Supreme Court. Trump clearly couldn't care less about it. Which means he'll almost certainly nominate bog-standard conservative justices from the standard conservative lists. Under normal circumstances, that would be awful. But the silver lining is those justices tend to come from that "intellectual" wing of the Party I just dismissed as trivial. They are precisely the sorts of conservatives who may well recoil at any overtly authoritarian tendencies by a Trump administration.

Or perhaps not. The Republican establishment has been thoroughly cowed by Donald Trump, and that has a tendency to prompt one to reconcile oneself (maybe that's what I -- optimistic, establishment-oriented-I -- am doing right now). And does anyone really trust Trump to abide by a hostile court decision? The fact that we're asking these questions is scary in its own right. And there are other issues -- global warming is perhaps the most striking -- where it seems we are probably just doomed.

But what this boils down to is this. As awful as Donald Trump is, I'm less scared of him than I am of the people who elected him. They formed a national plurality that talks of throwing political opponents into jail, that revels in hurting others unlike them, that has unleashed a torrent of racist and sexist abuse the likes of which haven't been seen in my lifetime. All that talk about how "you can't say" certain things about Muslims or Jews or Blacks or women? We've discovered you absolutely can say it -- and become President in the process! That genie won't get bottled up again easily, regardless of how Trump comports himself from this day forward. Trump was just an opportunistic vessel for that sentiment; I no longer think it needs his express or implied support for it to survive. That said, better men than him have tried to purely translate raw populist sentiment into concrete policy. It's no easy task even for skilled politicians.

So where do we find ourselves?

Election day is a day when we as American choose who we want to be as a nation. But that's only because we make that choice every single day. We make it tomorrow, when we agree to a peaceful transition of power. We make it this weekend, when we stop making stupid jokes about moving to Canada and start thinking about our next steps here. We make it over the next two years, when we dig in our heels and renew the fight. We make it each and every moment that we put forward a vision and a dream that the choice America makes for itself tomorrow will be better than the choice we made today.

Today's choice was a terrible choice. But it is not our last choice. It is not history that will vindicate us, or the arc of the universe that will bend our way. It is up to us, and our choices, to (if I can adopt a successful slogan) make America great again.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

2016 Election Day Live Blog

It's a Debate Link tradition (though each year I swear to end it). We'll be following returns all evening from throughout the country -- not just Presidential but Senate, House, and Gubernatorial races as well (all times are Pacific -- I'm a California kid now, remember?).

* * *

10:00 PM: Took a long shower. Preparing what I'm going to say to my Intro to American Politics students on Thursday. Frankly, it's amazing how not bad the Senate turned out to be (51-49 GOP) -- but given that we're facing down President Trump with a unified GOP legislature, that's not exactly a consolation. Anyway, I'm probably done for the night. Best of luck to the President-elect, and to the country. As President Obama said, the sun will come up tomorrow.

9:04 PM: 89% of Pennsylvania is in, and Clinton's lead is less than 6,000. McGinty is down by 4,000.

8:55 PM: I wonder if folks realize that Hillary Clinton may about to become a literal martyr for democracy. I mean, I don't expect her to flee the country. And I do expect Trump to do his best to "lock her up." And I hardly expect him to be content with normal legal processes if they don't go his way.

8:37 PM: I'll probably write more about this in another post, but as far as I'm concerned the story of this election is the realization by White voters that they didn't have to care about minorities or their rights. Nobody was forcing them to. And in turned out, when given a choice, they happily elected to endorse White supremacy.

8:24 PM: You might have noticed that I'm basically looking for bright spots while praying that Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire turn around (and Pennsylvania holds up). This moment's bright spot comes to you courtesy of New Jersey where Rep. Scott Garrett (R) is down two points with 88% in. He was wildly conservative for any district, let alone his swingy eastern seaboard one.

8:12 PM: Sheriff Joe Arpaio has lost his bid for reelection in Arizona. And to be too racist to win election tonight is deeply humiliating.

8:10 PM: Yes, Iowa was almost certainly a mirage. Trump's now up by a half point with about half the state in, but the trendlines are clearly moving his way.

7:44 PM: I assume that Clinton being up 10 in Iowa with 30% in is solely a function of which counties are reporting. It's hardly the sort of night where Clinton would pull out a surprise-win in an overwhelmingly White Midwestern state.

7:37 PM: Half in in Pennsylvania, and Clinton is still up four. McGinty is beating that pace, up five against Toomey.

7:29 PM: Colorado is 2/3 in, and Clinton's up 5 there. That's a good thing.

7:24 PM: Ohio called for Trump: He's up by 11 with 75% in.

7:22 PM: On the one hand, Wayne County (Detroit) is only 15% in. On the other hand, Clinton is only up 51/44. Those are cataclysmically bad numbers for her if they hold. Trump is up 50/45 in Michigan as a whole now, with 30% in.

7:20 PM: The only thing really in question in North Carolina right now is the governor's race, where Roy Cooper holds a tiny lead over incumbent Republican Pat McCrory. Ross is down 5.5 points, Clinton 3.5, with 86% in.

7:15 PM: Virginia looking decent for Clinton now, but North Carolina (as well as Florida) almost certainly will go Trump. Michigan and Wisconsin are where it's out now -- and if you thought White working class voters were angry in the southeast....

7:02 PM: Broward County just came in (98%). Trump is still up by 1.5% statewide. Looks like Florida is Trump territory after all. Damn it. Egg on my face (least of my concerns right now, but I'll own it).

6:54 PM: Clinton just took a (tiny) lead in Virginia, with 82% in.

6:52 PM: In Michigan, Clinton is winning Oakland County by 52/44. Earlier in the evening I'd note that's above her county benchmark (49/49). But with rural areas really coming in hard for Trump, the logic is that Clinton needs to badly overperform in counties like Oakland (affluent inner suburbs) to counterbalance Trump's big night out in the exurbs.

6:44 PM: Now it's a 10,000 point gap in Virginia with 80% in. Anyone who follows Virginia politics knows that Democrats tend to keep creeping up in late returns, but it'd be nice if they'd hurry it along and relieve some of my heart palpitations.

6:36 PM: Clinton is creeping up in Virginia. Down just 25,000 votes with 78% in.

6:27 PM: Still waiting on Broward County. A little less than 2/3 in, which is still a lot. But goodness, it really will be down to the wire.

6:12 PM: Since I was harping on county benchmarks, here's the counterstory. The key big counties, Clinton is overperforming. But there are lots of little counties, and Trump is overperforming there. That's the story in Florida, for example -- we'll see if it's the same nationwide.

6:10 PM: 50% of Broward now in, and its not a big dent in Trump's lead. Now I'm officially nervous.

6:03 PM: FL-07 gets called for Stephanie Murphy -- a Democratic pickup.

6:00 PM: Not that it was remotely in doubt, but Chris Van Hollen will be the next Senator from Maryland. First campaign I ever volunteered on. Still a huge fan. Congratulations Senator!

5:53 PM: I'm still feeling pretty good about Florida, with Broward outstanding, but I understand why people are nervous -- particularly with more rural/exurban locales going hard for Trump.

5:51 PM: Given how catastrophic West Virginia is for Democrats these days, its very impressive that a Democrat is winning the governor's race right now. Jim Justice is up 48/42 with 30% in the Mountain State. Clinton, for her part, is down 65/30.

5:42 PM: North Carolina seems to be slipping away from Deborah Ross at the moment. It's not just that Burr just took a lead. Up 55/41 in Wake County (Raleigh) with 88% in, she wanted to be at 57/42.

5:34 PM: Ohio has quietly reported a third of its votes and Clinton is up 50/46. Again glancing at the benchmarks: Cuyahoga County is Clinton 68/29, she wants 68/31 (it's a third in right now as well).

5:30 PM: Two Florida House seats have already flipped, but they cancel each other out and in any event are the product of redistricting turning a blue seat red and vice versa. The two other high-profile House races there were the FL-13, where ex-Gov. (and ex-GOP) Charlie Crist looks like he'll turn the seat blue (albeit by a closer than expected margin -- he's up 52/48 with 91% in), and the FL-26, where Carlos Curbelo held off a truly awful Democratic candidate in Joe Garcia. But remember when I said to keep an eye on the FL-07? 86% in and Democrat Stephanie Murphy is up 52-48 over incumbent Rep. John Mica. There's more vote left in Mica-friendly turf, but this one looks down to the wire.

5:24 PM: I am seeing a lot of panic about Florida, as Trump is currently leading by about 20,000 votes with 89% counted. Broward County is the second largest county in Florida. It has not put in any of its non-early votes. Its early votes went Clinton 70/29 -- well ahead of her benchmark.

5:19 PM: Taking a gander at New Hampshire, we see that Hassan (Senate) and Van Ostern (Governor) are both running ahead of Hillary Clinton. My first instinct was to be pleased, but it seems that Democrats are actually falling a little short of their targets here. Concord, where everyone is stacked at around a 60/35 lead, was supposed to be closer to a 63/36 Democratic advantage. 80% of the vote is counted in Concord, but just 6% statewide.

5:15 PM: Exit polls looking very robust for Jason Kander (D) in Missouri (and the same polls have Trump meaning by about the margin you'd expect, so that helps validate them). Man, do I want that one -- this ad deserves to be rewarded.

5:13 PM: Looks like Rubio is going to hold onto his Senate seat in Florida. There's still a good chunk of south Florida yet to report, but Murphy just isn't wracking up the numbers he needs down there. Miami-Dade is now 80% in and Murphy's only up 54/43 (he wanted 62/38; Clinton's at 63/34).

5:11 PM: It might not seem like big news that Kentucky Republicans cleaned house -- literally -- in taking the Kentucky State House tonight. But Democrats have held it continuously since the 1920s. Really, this is just the final spasm of the realignment of Appalachia, but it's still worth noting.

5:08 PM: Tammy Duckworth knocks off Mark Kirk to secure the first Democratic Senate pickup of the night. Probably the most "in the bag" Senate race for us, but it still feels really good -- especially after Kirk's grotesque racism at the tail end of the campaign.

5:00 PM: I'm feeling really good about a Clinton victory tonight. The Senate is a dicier proposition. With Indiana out (as I suspected it would be), Democrats still need that last piece of the puzzle assuming that their core trio of Wisconsin/Illinois/Pennsylvania holds together. In Florida, Murphy is inching closer to Rubio but remains four points behind (compared to Clinton, who's up by two). In North Carolina, Deborah Ross (D) is ahead of incumbent Richard Burr by four points whilst Clinton is currently leading in the state by seven. The good news is that Ross is -- just -- hitting the number she needs in Wake County (the largest in the state): with 25% in she's up 58/38 there, she needs to be 57/42.

4:56 PM: We must be close to calling Florida, right? Clinton's up by 2% with 73% in. Trump and Clinton are tied in Duval County (Jacksonville), a place Trump absolutely needed to win. Meanwhile, the south Florida trio of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties haven't reported anything except their early vote -- and Clinton's beating her benchmarks in all three.

4:54 PM: Ohio Senate race goes to Rob Portman without trouble. A state Democrats should have been competitive in, but where ex-Gov. Ted Strickland could not get off the ground. Meanwhile, Richard Burr is maintaining a slight lead in North Carolina -- but will it hold as Democratic areas start to come in?

4:51 PM: With Clinton's early numbers looking excellent in both Florida and Virginia (don't worry about the aggregate totals right now -- she's hitting or beating her benchmarks in the huge counties that will decide things), my eye falls on Pennsylvania. Florida and Virginia are blue-trending states where higher percentages of educated, professional, and/or Latino voters are giving Trump fits. Pennsylvania, at least in theory, cuts a different profile -- a state where their remains a solid core of working class white rust belters. If they break red this year in a mirror image of how Latinos and upscale professionals are turning blue, we still have a race. If not, we're done here.

4:42 PM: All the early numbers look dreadful for Evan Bayh, who seemed to piss away a sizable lead late in this race. I'm 10% satisfied, because Bayh is the quintessential entitled arrogant political hack and this is justified comeuppance, and 90% annoyed, because this was a Senate seat Democrats should have taken and he blew it hard. 24% in and he's down 55/39

4:40 PM: The VA-10 is one of those races that Democrats need to win if they have a chance of making the House interesting. It's a blue-trending district whose demographics (wealthy educated professionals) are primed to despise Trump, but currently held by a really strong Republican incumbent in Barbara Comstock. And with 22% in, Comstock is leading her Democratic challenger by a measly 400 votes.

4:35 PM: Man, it really will be interesting to see if the Latino tide that is drilling Trump in Florida right now carries over to sweep Rubio out of office. As much as I'd like to see it, it looks like there are enough ticket-splitters for Rubio to survive. There are some House races, too, where Democrats might see some stretchier pickups -- keep your eye on the FL-07.

4:27 PM: That said, it doesn't seem like Trump's misfortunes are carrying over to Marco Rubio. Right now, he's running 7 points ahead of Trump's pace -- enough to give him a five point lead over Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.

4:23 PM: Early numbers looking very good for Clinton in Florida. She's ahead in Duval County, where Romney narrowly won in 2012 (and recall that Trump needs to do better than Romney to win the state). In Palm Beach County, she's starting out up 61/37 -- the benchmark she needs to hit is 58/41. Ditto Broward County, where Clinton wants to keep Trump at 32% or below ... and he's not even cracking 30% right now.

4:17 PM: There's a lot of crowing about South Carolina being "too close to call" following exit polls. I personally am less enthused, for two reasons. (1) SC is extremely polarized by race, so Democrats have both a high floor and a low ceiling; and (2) it does Clinton no good to lose SC by less than the typical Democrat. In fact, it's the possibility that Clinton will overperform in non-competitive states while getting nipped at the finish line in swing states that's been my main frustration with relying on national popular vote polls (and my main keep-me-up-at-night terror).

4:09 PM: CNN has called the Kentucky Senate race for Rand Paul. Not a surprise, even with Gray overperforming Clinton (and Grimes in 2014). I will observe -- not to give false hope -- that CNN's tally is behind other numbers I've seen (e.g., those nice numbers for Gray out of Fayette County).

4:05 PM: The GOP's stranglehold over the south may well be cracking. Virginia and North Carolina are already purple. Meanwhile younger voters -- and "younger" here means younger than 45 -- are now decisively in the Democratic corner in Georgia.

3:55 PM: One sleeper race that nobody had on the radar was the Kentucky Senate race, where Democrat Jim Gray challenged incumbent Senator Rand Paul (R). And to be sure, most sleeping races stay asleep. But in Fayette County, near Lexington, Gray is beating 61/39 with 80% in (by comparison, in 2014 Democratic candidate Allison Lundergan-Grimes won this county 52/45  in the course of losing statewide to Senator Mitch McConnell 56/40). But particularly in a state like Kentucky, it's entirely plausible that the more liberal portions of the state might swing noticeably to the D column even as the more conservative areas tilt even harder to the right -- and there are more of the latter than the former.

3:51 PM: Exit polls are tricky business. But if this one is at all accurate, it does not augur well for the GOP -- it has Latinos voting for Clinton over Trump by a crushing 79/18 split (it was 71/27 in 2012, 67/31 in 2008).

3:49 PM: Since we've got some time, let's use an early example of the importance of looking at comparative county level data rather than early aggregate numbers. There is currently one county in Indiana where a non-negligible percentage of the votes are in: Montgomery County, northwest of Indianapolis (59% in). At the presidential level, it's going 73/23 Trump (about a 5,000 vote advantage). Now, I have no idea if that's historically good or bad for the GOP nominee. What I do know is that at the Senate level, it's 63 Young (R)/30 Bayh (D), and for the Governor's race it's 61 Holcomb (R)/35 Gregg (D). So the downballot Democrats are running about 15 points ahead of Clinton in that county -- potentially a good sign that there's a non-trivial number of ticket-splitters, though again it's hard to know without info on how strongly Republican this county is (not to mention it's super-early, this is a relatively small county, etc. etc.).

3:39 PM: The first few polls have closed! They're in Kentucky, where nothing really is competitive, and Indiana, which is going to go for Trump at the Presidential level but has interesting races downballot. Of course, we still have some time before any sizable results come in.

11:58 AM: States are not a monolith. Different counties vote different ways -- in Florida, for example, Miami-Dade votes very differently than the Panhandle. Consequently, it's easy to be mislead by early returns which often come from a few counties which are likely to be unrepresentative of the state as a whole. What you want to do is see whether Democrats are over- or underperforming relative to their historic vote totals on a county-by-county level. If, for example, you saw that Clinton was getting 75% of the vote in St. Louis City, you might elated -- except that Obama got 83% there in 2012 and Clinton would want to approach 90% to counteract more conservative rural counties and win the entire state.

On this note, DK Elections' county benchmarks are an absolutely invaluable resource. They'll give a sense of where Democrats should be shooting for if they want to pick up swing states (and even in non swing states, overperforming 2012 numbers may be a good sign down ballot).

10:50 AM: I suppose I should get my final predictions in, while the getting's good:
President: Hillary Clinton 323 EV (49.2), Donald Trump 215 (45.1). Clinton takes Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and both Maine districts. Trump gets Ohio and Iowa.
Senate: 50/50. Democrats hold Nevada and flip Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and one of New Hampshire or North Carolina (force me to choose and I'll say New Hampshire). Republicans hold Florida, Indiana and (sadly) Missouri.
House: Democrats break 200 seats but fail to win a majority.
Gubernatorial: Democrats hold Missouri, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Montana; flip Indiana and North Carolina. If this comes true, it represents Democrats running the table on the contested governors' races -- but it seems like their candidates are overperforming compared to the Senate.
8:17 AM: There won't be a lot worth reporting on for awhile, and I have a morning meeting anyway, so for now I'll just leave you with my personal GOTV theme lyrics, courtesy of Hoobastank's "Without a Fight":

The clock is counting down...
The seconds tick away...

This is our time! Without a doubt!
Time to ignite! We're not going down,
Without a fight!

This is our time! Get up off the ground!
Take what is mine! We're not going down,
Without a fight!

Monday, November 07, 2016

A Republic, If We Can Keep It

Ben Franklin was always my favorite founding father, at least since I played him in Burning Tree Elementary's Fifth Grade Play (the play was called Let George Do It, but my scene was actually a cut-in from 1776). It may even predate that -- I have to imagine I read Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by his Good Mouse Amos at an even earlier age (an excellent children's book, by the way -- all good children's books contain mice).

Among Dr. Franklin's most famous lines was his reported statement, upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, that we had created "a Republic, if you can keep it."

The constitutional character of America is not something one can take for granted, and it is not something we claim by birthright. We must keep it, each and every day. It is an ongoing responsibility.

But some days are more salient than others. Election days are always among them, and this election day is more meaningful than most. This is the moment where we get to decide what sort of country we want to be. This is the moment where we get to prove that our homilies about law and liberty, equal justice and due process, free speech and free press, are more than just words.

Some of you (like myself) have already voted. If so, thank you. If you are waiting until election day, please make sure to go to the polls. And if you are still unsure of whether it's worth voting, or whether there's time, or whether it matters -- it is, there is, and it does.

America is not perfect, but it is a great Republic -- a haven for millions who have come to these shores seeking a better life, and a model for millions more inspired by our constitutional ideals. I never want America to stop being the sort of place people around the world look up to. I never want America to stop being the sort of place where people believe that they can achieve their dreams. I never want America to stop being the sort of place where people want to immigrate to.

America, is and has been all of these things. They define and demarcate our Republic.

Tomorrow, we will see if a majority of Americans find that Republic to be worth keeping.