Thursday, August 01, 2019

Preparing the Meat Roundup

I'm going on the law school job market this fall. That process began this week, when I sent in my application to the "Faculty Recruitment Conference" in Washington, DC, charmingly nicknamed the "meat market". But possibly inappropriate name aside, it actually is a relatively humane way of organizing academic hiring: all the law schools come to DC for their first round interviews, which take place over one weekend at a single hotel. Makes for a rather frenetic weekend, but the centralized process does cut down on applicant labor time.

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And then there were none: the last African-American GOP Representative in the House, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, will not run for re-election in 2020. Hurd barely squeaked by Gina Ortiz Jones in 2018; Jones had already jumped into the race for 2020.

LibDem wave! LibDems picked up a parliamentary seat in the Wales constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire. The seat had been held by the Tories, and their defeat cuts Boris Johnson's parliamentary majority (which already depends on the support of a third party) to a single vote.

The Poway synagogue shooter was inspired by the Christchurch mosque shooter. That's because extreme-right Islamophobia feeds into extreme-right antisemitism, and vice versa.

Despite the efforts by some on the right that reflexively label the entire "squad" as antisemitic, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez actually hasn't said all that much on Israel or Jews. A recent interview changed that -- and revealed that her positions are for the most part wholly harmonious with those of liberal Jews across the country (absent, perhaps, her fondness for IfNotNow). "The same way that me criticizing Trump doesn’t make me anti-American, criticizing the occupation doesn’t make you anti-Israel, frankly. It doesn’t mean you are against the existence of a nation." Well spoken.

Long-time Baltimore-area Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) -- in the news after Trump attacked him by declaring all of Baltimore a place "no human" would want to live -- has long quietly promoted an exchange program bringing young Black Americans to Israel. JTA interviewed several of the trip's alumni -- they offer a great endorsement of what seems to be a wonderful program.

NPR interviews Wanda Sykes. Who knew she used to work at the NSA?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What's the Insurgent Democratic Map to 270?

Periodically, I hear calls from the leftier edge of the Democratic Party that basically say that in the 2020 presidential election Democrats shouldn't try to pander to working class whites or "swing-y" affluent suburbs. Their path to victory is instead goosing turn out by their base -- urban progressives and people of color. Stop trying to win Ohio, and instead pick up Georgia.

Now, I'm decisively of the view that the strategy Democrats should adopt in the 2020 election is the one that wins them the presidency. That doesn't mean I'm adverse to this strategy, I just want to hear how it's supposed to work in practice. What route do these advocates had in mind to get Democrats to 270?

Let's stipulate that Democrats will keep all of Clinton's wins next time around. That's 232 electoral votes, so they need to gain another 38. Here is my list of all the states that I can imagine as even plausibly competitive:

Arizona - 11 EVs
Florida - 29 EVs
Georgia - 16 EVs
Indiana - 11 EVs
Iowa - 6 EVs
Maine (2nd District) - 1 EV
Michigan - 16 EVs
Nebraska (2nd District) - 1 EV
North Carolina - 15 EVs
Ohio - 18 EVs
Pennsylvania - 20 EVs
Texas - 38 EVs
Wisconsin - 11 EVs

The most traditional Democratic path to 270 is the "blue wall" that failed the last time around: Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), and Wisconsin (11). These all have the reputation of being kind of rust beltish, working class old-guard union states, and so presumably going after that trifecta is the strategy that's being criticized. And I think the critics have a point: you need all three to get to 38, and I'm on the record as being very bearish on Democrats' chances of taking Wisconsin back. So even if Democrats take Michigan and Pennsylvania, they need another three votes from somewhere.

So the question is -- is the strategy "Michigan + Pennsylvania + [somewhere else]" -- if so, what somewhere else? I can see either North Carolina or Arizona as the next most viable targets, but while neither is traditionally liberal turf, both are very different in terms of how Democrats might appeal.

Or is it a more radical departure? The "new southern" strategy, gets Democrats there via Florida + either North Carolina or Georgia. But I'm bearish on Florida too, and Georgia I think is still a pipe dream (let's remember that Stacey Abrams lost, and even if you think the reason she lost was because Kemp stole it, why would Kemp be less able to effectuate a theft now that he's in the governor's mansion?). Texas would win it for Democrats in one fell swoop, but I hardly want to put all my eggs in that basket.

But anyway, I'm digressing. If you're a proponent of the more "insurgent-style" Democratic brand of politics, what states do you think are the prime targets to flip in 2020? Even if you think you can put a huge amount of red turf into play, what, in your mind, are the juiciest targets? Is it still the "traditional" purple states like Wisconsin? Or is it a new path?