Saturday, September 29, 2018

Today's YouGov Poll Shows How Kavanaugh Confirmation Battle is Harming Republican Chances in Midterms

Although controversial Scotus Nominee Brett Kavanaugh will probably be confirmed by the full Senate after a short FBI investigation this week, the lasting damage to the Republican party in the midterm elections can be demonstrated by today's Yougov poll. An article in the Huffington Post today summarizes why:

"But the results suggest that so far, Kavanaugh’s opponents may be especially mobilized by the issue. Sixty-five percent of voters who don’t want him confirmed, the survey finds, say the Supreme Court will be very important to deciding their vote in this year’s midterms, compared to 50 percent of those who support his confirmation ― a gap that’s especially notable because, in the past, Republicans have often been substantially likelier than Democrats to prioritize Supreme Court appointments."

In the past, Republicans and more conservative independents have used SCOTUS confirmations as a primary reason for voting in midterms. Democrat and progressive turnout, especially among younger voters, has lagged behind their counterparts. If the Kavanaugh fallout motivates younger, progressive, and especially cross==party female voters to vote for the Democratic Party nominee the results will be especially damaging for Republicans.

Note - At the time I write this article, the Predictit Betting Market assigns a 59% chance that Kavanaugh will be confirmed by at least 50 Senate votes. (Note - V.P. Mike Pence would cast the tie breaking vote if the Senate vote is 50 / 50 ). 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh is a Disaster for the Republican Party

SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

Republican SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh is a disaster for the Republican Party.

For those who have not followed today's development, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona agreed move his nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- only if the White House agreed to a one week extension to allow for an FBI investigation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against him of attempted date rape yesterday.

Senator Flake, an opponent of President Trump who is not running for reelection, agreed to do this after being confronted by outraged female constituents about his vote.  All this was carried on cable televsion live.

This is a disaster for the Republican party. Republicans cannot win right now.

If Kavanaugh ultimately is confirmed by the entire Senate, this will infuriate progressive and female voters.

If Kavanaugh's nomination is withdrawn - or goes down to defeat -- due to FBI uncovering of additional facts, new allegations, or as I suspect, evidence contradicting Kavanaugh's sworn testimony in front of the U.S. Senate, there is no way this can be positive for the Republican party.

The Midterm Elections are 5 weeks from Tuesday on November 6.  College educated women, particularly those in suburban districts who may usually vote Republican or Independent are seen as crucial for Democratic "blue wave" hopes. Polling is showing that Kavanaugh is extremely unpopular with this group.

Republican hopes of playing up positive economic news in the next week will be drowned out by the Kavanaugh nomination and potential fallout.

Saturday Night Live begins its season tomorrow night. You can be sure the upcoming comedy sketch will be biting and sardonic.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Prediction - Kavanaugh Will Be Confirmed Unless Michael Avenatti Can Produce A Credible Third Witness By Thursday

Lawyer Michael Avenatti

My final prediction on the Brent Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination is this.

Kavanaugh will be confirmed, perhaps as early as this weekend, unless a credible third witness comes forward by Thursday of this week with credible allegations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set a committee vote for this Friday, and may have a full Senate vote for final confirmation as early as this weekend.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti's promised third witness has yet to come forward.

Maine Senator Susan Collins, a centrist Republican, appears to be the deciding vote. There is an article in Vanity Fair today on why she will be probably vote for approval if the current situation stands as it does as of this evening.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Boom! Just Like That -- Kavanaugh is Finished. SCOTUS Nominee Accused of Second Act of Gross Sexual Misconduct

Right-wing SCOTUS Republican Nominee has just been accused of gross sexual misconduct by a second accuser. The story broke in the New Yorker Magazine tonight in an article co-authored by highly respected reporter Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer.

The Kavanaugh nomination now appears to be dead.

My post earlier today mentioned that Kavanaugh's nomination would be doomed by a corroborating allegation of sexual misconduct.

Will Right-Wing Republican SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Be Confirmed?

Professor Christine Blasey Ford and Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

For those of you following the current confirmation battle in the U.S. Senate over President Trump's right-wing nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, here is my take of where things stand today, Sunday, September 23.

The news today is that Professor Christine Blasey Ford will be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Judge Kavanaugh and her accusation of attempted rape by him when she was 15 years old at the prestigious Georgetown Preparatory Academy.

Please note that I will not be getting into details of the case in this post, or the guilt or innocence of Mr. Kavanaugh, just my predictions on the outcome as of today, Sunday, September 23 in a Q and A format:

Q. How many SCOTUS justices nominated by the President have been rejected by the U.S. Senate?

A. In the over 228 years the U.S. Constitution has been in effect, 30 Presidential Nominees have not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, most recently Merrick Garland under President Obama. Only two nominees have not be confirmed this century. For a full list:

Q. What will it take for Brett Kavanaugh to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate?

A. It will take 50 Senators -- half -- to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, and Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie vote as President of the Senate if it comes to that. A SCOTUS nominee can no longer be filibustered, or require 60 votes, as it was in prior years.

For detail on the process:

Q. Do Republicans in the Senate have the votes by themselves?

A. Yes. Republicans currently hold 51 seats. They can afford to lose one of their Senators, either Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, who are both currently undecided, and still confirm Kavanaugh.

Q. Are Democratic Senators all committed to vote against Kavanaugh?

A. No. Several red state Democrats, where President Trump remains very popular are up for reelection in November, and remain undecided. They include:

Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota
Joe Manchin, West Virginia
Joe Donnelly, Indiana

All three voted for Justice Gorsuch last year.

In addition, Doug Jones from Alabama, who is up in 2020, remains undecided.

John Tester (Montana) and Bill Nelson (Florida) are also undecided but I expect them to vote against Kavanaugh.

Q. What has to happen before the full Senate votes on Kavanaugh?

A. Kavanaugh has to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee before his nomination is presented to the full Senate Floor. This is where he and Professor Ford will be testifying on Thursday.

To see the makeup of the 21 Senators (11 Republicans and 10 Democrats)  on the Judiciary Committee:

Q. Which Republican Senator could turn against Brett Kavanaugh?

A. The Republicans only have 11 male Senators on the Judiciary Committee.  The Democrats have 3 females, including ranking member Senator Dianne Feinstein from California.  Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has been highly critical of President Trump in the past, and is not running for reelection in November, is on the committee and just might vote against Kavanaugh.  He has been highly critical of comments critical of Professor Ford this week.

Q. If the Judiciary Committee rejects Kavanaugh, could their still be a vote on the Senate Floor?

A. Although Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader could still bring the nomination to a full Senate vote if the Judiciary Committee rejects it, the Kavanaugh nomination will most likely withdraw his nomination if this occurs. 

My prediction as of today:

Unless another "bombshell" accusation comes out against Kavanaugh, he will be confirmed. If another person comes forward and claims similar misconduct on his part, or if enough people who attended Georgetown Prep will corroborate Professor Ford's testimony,  his nomination will be withdrawn. 

The Republicans know that they can lose control of the Senate on Tuesday, November 6. Timing is of the essence for them. Although they could rush another nomination through in October, and try to confirm a nominee in December before the new Senate is sworn in in January, such a strategy is risky and could be untenable. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

I Agree with Michael Moore - Trump is the Favorite for Reelection in 2020

Although I am not sure I will agree with Michael Moore's description of Donald Trump as an "evil genius", I do think he is a brilliant politician, and is the favorite for reelection in November 2020 per his interview in CNN today.

Michael Moore famously predicted Trump's election in 2016 by pointing out his popularity in the traditional manufacturing heartland states of Michigan Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  These states had voted for the Democratic Party candidate for the past 6 Presidential elections, and were seen as Hillary Clinton's "firewall".  They narrowly went to Trump instead.

The reason why I think Donald Trump would be reelected if the election were to be held today, under current circumstances, are the following:

1. Presidents are reelected to second 4-year terms more often than not. The last two Presidents to lose reelection campaigns were George Bush Senior in 1992 (to Bill Clinton) and Jimmy Carter in 1980 (to Ronald Reagan).

2. In the case of Carter and Bush, both candidates faced  slow economic growth as primary campaign issues.  I do not see a recession impacting the U.S. economy before November 2020. Americans do not like changing Presidents during an economic expansion.

3. In addition, both candidates faced highly talented opponents who were able to capture the imagination of centrist voters. Reagan and Clinton.

In my opinion, the only candidate who the Democrats might nominate who could beat President Trump is former Vice President Joe Biden. However, his age - he would be 78 on inauguration day in 2021 - will be a problem for him when gaining the vote for many Americans.  Other candidates, particularly those identified as too far to the left, may threaten traditional Democratic Party coalitions that will need to be rebuilt to take important rustbelt states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that were lost in 2016.

4. Voters in the U.S.A. have expressed a preference for split government. A governing situation in which one party controls the legislative branch (Congress), and one the Executive Branch (Presidency) would match prior year patterns. The Democrats are expected to control the House after this November.

5. If President Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives in 2019, if a Democratic Majority takes over, as appears likely, and is acquitted by the Senate, since 67 Senators will not vote for his removal from office (no Republicans and many red state Democrats are likely to do so), he may gain a large sympathy backlash much like the Democrats did in the 1998 elections when Bill Clinton was impeached and acquitted by the Senate. The American people by and large do not like the partisan spectacle of an impeachment trial.

6. The United States has not fought a war during the Presidency of Donald Trump. This is another factor which, if continued, will be a plus in his favor.

7. Voter suppression of  minority voters and other traditional Democratic voting groups, including college students, is still in effect and will suppress Democratic Party turnout.

8. Foreign actor social media interference (from Russia and other sources sympathetic to President Trump and the Republican Party) is not being countered and will continue to impact the elections of 2018 and 2020.


Factors which will upset these predictions and point to a one term Presidency for Donald Trump-

1. A recession.  It will not require a 2008 sized crash. All it will take is recessionary growth in two consecutive quarters before the November 2020 election to upset voting intentions among American voters.

2. An unexpected Republican loss (over 35 House seats and the loss of the U.S. Senate in November 2018) could cause the Congressional Republican Party to break ranks with their Congressional leadership and stop supporting Trump. As of now, the Congressional Republican Party is supporting Trump.

3. Involvement in a shooting war -- in the Middle East or Korea or another location -- would ruin Trump's narrative that he kept the U.S.A. out of shooting wars during his Presidency.

I do not see the Mueller investigation as a threat to Trump's reelection as of yet, simply because he has followed the advice of council and not fired anyone to date. However, he can lose control of this situation in 2019 -- it remains unpredictable.

Factors unknown, including Trump's health, and other personal situations, can mean he will not seek reelection. However, it is highly unlikely his ego will allow him to do so.

For now, his is the favorite for reelection. I have to agree with Michael Moore.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Democrats Are Closer to Picking Up The Senate In November Than Ever Due to Beto O'Rourke in Texas

Current Polling Averages from Real Clear Politics -- September 11, 2018

The Democratic Party is closer than ever to picking up majority control in the U.S. Senate according to today's polling averages in Real Clear Politics.  Although current polling averages still places the Democrats at a 51 - 49 minority (see the map below), all it would take is two of the above four states going to Democrats to give them a 51 seat majority. 

The Democratic Candidate is the incumbent in three of these states, Missouri, Florida, and North Dakota.  All three states are close, well within the margin of error. Although President Trump remains popular in Missouri and North Dakota, and has already campaigned against the sitting Democratic Senator, his continued effectiveness and huge amounts of Republican campaign money have made no impact this summer in the Senate races. The Democratic Party's turn out the vote effort will ultimately decide the election here. 

The Democrat in Florida, Bill Nelson, has been heavily outspent by Rick Scott, the Republican -- but has important resources coming to play in the form of an emerging Obama coalition which may push minority turn out to Presidential year levels due to African American candidate Andrew Gillum, who is doing surprisingly well in his race for Governor. 

The reason why the Texas race, which Ted Cruz is still favored to win, is so important, is that this is turning into the premiere race for ad dollars and Republican National Committee support. Beto O'Rourke is charismatic, and raising huge amounts of national dollars against Cruz. Republicans cannot spend money attacking Democrats in other markets if they spend millions in the expensive Texas market defending this highly visible seat. 

Although the odds remain in the Republicans favor, the Democrats now have a 1 in 3 chance of capturing the Senate in my opinion, higher than ever for this year. Declining Trump popularity numbers will continue to raise their odds.