0- Election Day

I was in an odd place on Election Night of 2002. I was suffering from mono, and had just decided to not try to return to running track and field or cross-country once cleared. I wasn’t playing the drums anymore, and was only about 20 months removed from my last wrestling bout (a 15-0 win), after 11 years in that sport. At that time, I was simply a young political science major, driven mostly by my opposition to the Iraq War and my support for the working class and unionized labor. I had no idea that politics would replace sports and music as the central meaning in my life yet, or the places it would take me. I thought I was majoring in political science at that time as a pathway to law school, not to be heading into 2020 still working on campaigns, but life doesn’t ask permission when moving you in a direction.

What I wouldn’t give to be back on a wrestling mat today, or run down that windy back-stretch on Easton’s track, or jam out on my drum set for a jazz band competition. All of those things once defined me as a person, and their fading from my life is part of why I am where I am this morning- running a regional boiler room, over-seeing the Charlotte area for the Democratic Party. Politics has taken me all over the place, and let me see places and things I never would have expected to see. I’ve managed Congressional, county and State legislative races, been a statewide field director, run a statewide early and absentee vote program, and of course been a regional field director. I’ve worked for members of the progressive caucus in Congress, and downright conservative Democrats. I’ve been exposed to people, places, ideas, and issues that I never would have seen otherwise. Politics has come to re-define who I am, what I am, and how I see the world. It truly filled the voids I previously left.

Father Time is not my friend though. If I want to retire at 65, I need to start moving in that direction sometime soon. Politics, and yes the Democratic Party, have changed a lot since I was a 19 year old intern for the PA Dems coordinated campaign. I don’t honestly know how I feel about it, if I’m honest. It’s not what I signed up for as an anti-war, pro-union youth. At the same time, these values are who I am now, at this point.

I’m not sure how many of today’s I have left. Let’s hope this is enjoyable.

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GOTV is not a place or time for intellectual thought- you just do it. You do your job, as instructed, and just hope it works out. Freelancers who try to do their own thing and be heroes usually end up doing more harm than good. It’s a place for people who are orderly and follow directions. I find that Democrats aren’t so hot at that.

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By 11pm tonight, one of two narratives will take hold:

  1. Democratic passion and enthusiasm, buoyed by anti-Trump fever, swept the nation up in a Blue Wave that at a minimum flipped the House, and maybe more. I also imagine that inside of this narrative will be a sub-story on whether “Berniecrat” lefties or mainstream, establishment figures lead the way, which will shape the opening salvos and days of the 2020 Election.
  2. Donald Trump’s stark rhetoric, his barnstorming schedule, and the awakening of the right-wing over Brett Kavanaugh’s “treatment” by Democrats stoked Republican enthusiasm to perform better than expected. Trump’s tough talk on immigration and Republican tough rhetoric against Democratic candidates in Georgia, Florida, and more saved the day. While many races were tight, Republicans held on in Republican seats. Donald Trump looks nearly impossible to beat.

For what it’s worth, be careful to not over buy on either story. The Democratic “Resistance” of these past two years may or may not work in a mid-term, in which Donald Trump is not actually on the ballot. Either way, that doesn’t mean you should conclude the same for 2020, when the Democrats will have to pick an actual person to run against him.

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Just to make things clear, on no other level has the national political environment helped Democrats as much as the U.S. Senate. We are not talking much today about normally swing state seats like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Virginia. If Hillary had won in 2016, all would be in serious danger today. Even so, the road to winning a majority is brutally hard tonight. Democrats must:

  • Win tough races they currently lead in West Virginia, Indiana, and Montana.
  • Win at least one, if not two of Florida, Missouri, and North Dakota, all of which are within a point leads or much worse.
  • Pick up at least three of Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas, all of which are razor close.
  • Get Mississippi to a run-off and hope Republicans pick a nut, if they fall short on any of the above.

To be clear, it’s possible that Republicans pick up like five seats, and Democrats get none of their pick-ups. A 56-44 GOP Senate could happen. By the same token, so could a 53-47 Democratic Senate. Neither seems likely. I still would expect the GOP to hold the Senate with 50-53 seats after this election. That, by the way, is not a bad outcome for the Democrats, relative to where they started the cycle.

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I don’t want to start 2020 before it needs to, but it’s worth noting- not many of the Democratic leading candidates are being invited into swing districts to close. You see some Barack Obama. You see some Joe Biden. You do see some Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, the occasional Elizabeth Warren, and a few others in blue areas to try and bump turnout, but you don’t see them going much to PA-10, NC-9, or any other moderate district we need to win the House. For the most part, this tells me that our field doesn’t have a broad enough audience to win the electoral college in 2020. A majority party that wins elections can win electorates that aren’t fully ideologically aligned with them, especially against a polarizing figure like Donald Trump.

Just saying.

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If Democrats win back the House tonight as expected, it’s important to remember all the points on the road to this victory, beginning with Donald Trump’s victory speech in the early hours of November 9th, 2016 in New York. There was the GOP’s decision to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court striking down their Congressional map and putting their own fair map in place, the GOP pushing through two conservative judges after blocking Judge Garland, Charlottesville, Parkland, many Trump statements, Connor Lamb’s victory, and of course the tax cuts, to name a few moments.

When you watch tonight though, there are some key areas of the country to watch. The Philadelphia, Miami, and San Diego media markets look ripe for big Democratic gains. California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida all look like states where major gains are happening.

What are some districts that Democrats have to win? PA-5, 6, 7, 17, CA-49, NJ-2, 11, AZ-2, CO-6, FL-27, IA-1, IL-6, KS-3, MI-11, MN-2, 3, VA-10, WA-8. These 18 seats are prime pick-ups.

What are the toss-ups that Democrats need to win some of to win back the House? CA-10, 25, 39, 45, 48, FL-15, 26, GA-6, IA-3, IL-14, KS-2, KY-6, ME-2, MI-8, NC-9, 13, NJ-3, 7, NM-2, NY-19, 22, OH-12, PA-1, 10, TX-7, 32, UT-4, VA-2, 7. These 29 seats are where Democrats would tip the House and build their margin.

What seats would signal a huge Democratic wave? There are actually 56 additional GOP seats in their likely or leaning camps, which the Cook political report is still tracking. I can tell you for a fact that at least a couple of these seats are firmly in play after early voting. All told 103 Republicans are waking up in danger today. 80 of them could win, and they would still possibly lose the House. Remember, the Democrats are flat out favored to take 18 of these seats.

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Down here in Charlotte this cycle, things have been eventful. My region has five state House races, all pick-up opportunities. It has two State Senate seats, also pick-ups. We also are doing GOTV for NC-9 on the Congressional level, a pick-up opportunity. It’s nice playing all offense, for a change. I expect us to pick up a State House seat or two, a State Senate seat, and possibly a Congressional seat tonight (though that will be tight). If things go well though, we could easily pick up much more than that. If you’re watching at home, you should keep an eye on HD’s 68, 98, 103, 104, and 105, SD’s 39 and 41, and CD 9.

Back up home, the only work I did for the general was PA HD-121. I have more than a passing interest in PA-115 (did work there last cycle) and 137 (my home district, I tried to push some personal capital with national organizations in there for our nominee). I did some Summer field work on PA’s CD-10 before it was targeted too. I am hoping for a Blue Wave to sweep them all into office.

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My three tiers of potential Democratic Gubernatorial pick-ups tonight:

  • Likely- Maine, Michigan, Illinois, New Mexico
  • Leaning- Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada
  • Possible- Georgia, South Dakota, Kansas, New Hampshire
  • Giant Blue Wave- Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Arizona

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There’s less good forecasts out there for state legislatures than any other major level of government. Fortunately, the Washington Post recently published an article on this, and named the following chambers as “in play”:

  • Michigan House and Senate
  • North Carolina Senate
  • Maine Senate
  • New York Senate
  • Arizona House and Senate
  • Colorado Senate
  • New Hampshire House and Senate
  • West Virginia House

For what it’s worth, people in North Carolina think the House is at least as much in play. Carl Klarner did the forecasts for the Post, and you should check him out here.

No, Pennsylvania is not on here. Expect solid gains though tonight. I suspect the Democrats will end up with between 92 and 95 House seats, and 20 Senate seats. This puts both chambers at least marginally back in play moving forward.

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Go vote. No, really, do it. Your country needs you, whoever you are. While I have interesting stuff to write here, none of it matters like you doing your civic duty. I have friends who are overseas right now representing our country, the least you can do is go vote.

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21

Happy three weeks out! It’s Tuesday, October 16th, 2018, or 21 days out from the mid-term election. After all that has happened in the last two years, we’re almost at the point of judgment. The question is simple: will the midterm be about Donald Trump, or something more? Will voters reward Democrats, or penalize everyone?

We’ll find out in three weeks.

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The NBA is back! As a Sixers fan, I’m very excited for 2018-19. I’m calling a Warriors three-peat, with a sweep of the Celtics by an average of 25 ppg in the finals. I’ve got the Sixers at 56 wins, third in the conference. LeBron’s Lakers will lose in the second round after barely advancing.

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There’s a few things in Charlotte that I want to see, if possible, that I haven’t seen yet. What are they, you ask?

  • NASCAR Hall-of-Fame
  • Billy Graham Library
  • Hornets game
  • Panthers Game

We’ll see how I do.

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There’s a dangerous national narrative unfolding that suggests the Tennessee Senate race is “over.” Absolutely no internal polling, nor a basic review of spending on the race suggests it’s over, but that narrative has run wild since the NYTimes live poll gave Marsha Blackburn a double digit lead. If the narrative is being pushed by Republicans, shame on reporters for pushing it. If it’s anyone else, that’s weird. And maybe telling.

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Democrats need to update the way we organize. I’m not saying we get it all wrong now, but we need to meet our voters where they are. If you want to turn out younger voters, and other non-traditional types of voters, we need to move away from a phone-based organizing strategy to a text and digital one. This may make it harder to judge organizer productivity, but it’s worth it.

The other thing we have to do is re-shuffle what voters we think are “swing.” Our turnout universe is important, and needs work, but those voters are not who swung against us between 2010 and 2016. Who did? Our traditional Democrats. Older, consistent voters that voted Democratic in the past are who swung against us. Most of them are white. Most of them are fairly traditional. Unless we’re going get our newer voters to spread out across America, we need to invest more in persuasion.

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As per above, today’s candidate of the day is former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. If you want any hope of Democrats taking back the Senate, Bredesen has to win his race. While we may all want to believe we’re going to win Arizona and Texas, those are tough races. Nevada is also turning out to be very tough. There are several potential incumbent losses out there too. Bredesen is well liked and is an experienced candidate. Democrats need him to win. Donate here to help him. Volunteer here.

24

Good day, today is Saturday, October 13th, 2018, just 24 days before the 2018 midterm elections. The picture I put with this post is a mural along Central Avenue in Charlotte, NC, on the side of the Skylark Social Club. More about Elvis in a moment.

My day started bright and early. I really should stop doing this on 5.5 hours and a coffee. Or if I don’t want to sleep, I should have two tequilas instead of one.

But hey, at least I didn’t give up a home run to a relief pitcher last night, so my day is better than Clayton Kershaw’s.

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About a week ago, I was Instagram-chatting with a really old friend of mine about our lives. Now I will tell you, she’s one of the cooler people I know. She went to Lehigh University, and that should tell you she’s smart, but she’s really conversationally smart too, beyond the books. She also might have partied her 20’s away harder than I did, and to more success. She’s a CPA, working and living in Manhattan since she graduated college.

I describe her in such detail, but purposely leaving her looks out of it for a moment. Why? Probably because they shouldn’t really matter in a discussion of her career. She’s smart and does her job. She has been recently job hunting, and she got a really good offer to leave. When she let her boss know (who she doesn’t describe as a very “enlightened” white guy), he counter-offered her a front office job, for less money, because “She’s too pretty to waste her life in accounting.” Say what? Her degree is in accounting. She’s been working in accounting for almost a decade. Why would you ever say this?

As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize the difference in what women face professionally, compared to me as a man. I try to shy away from whether or not I label myself as a “feminist” or not for many reasons that I’ll write about in another post (but they basically come down to my issues with being any -ism or -ist, as a person), but I think most men (yes, most) need to open their eyes towards the completely separate set of standards that women live under in the workplace. If you hire someone to do a job, their gender and looks should really not have any role in it. What does it matter if they are pretty or not, if they can do the job? This is just something a woman should never have to deal with.

I said above that she’s smart, and capable. She is. That should be more than enough to make clear in this post.

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If you are into politics and are on Twitter, but don’t follow @Nate_Cohn, you’re missing out. He does much deeper dive, fundamental breakdowns of politics than many of the horse-race political reporters. His stuff is interesting.

He has been tweeting a lot about the New York Times live polls they have been releasing across the country. You can read the thread here. Here’s the striking thing to me- the solid leads Republicans have in red states, and the way they’ve opened up single-digit leads in areas that have been reliably red in the past, but seemed to be on the board. Real Trumpish Republican districts seem to have shifted slightly back there way since the Kavanaugh fight, while Trumpish states seem to have slid considerably backwards for Democrats. I never believed Beto would beat Ted Cruz, but I feel more sure now.

What we see here again is an example of how satisfying the Democratic base can make winning swing districts very difficult. The Democratic base doesn’t live in swing-districts the way the Republican base does. Look at the average margin of victory for the median Democratic member of Congress, as opposed to Republicans- some of that is gerrymandering, some of it is political sorting, or where voting blocks live. The Democratic base was passionate about stopping Kavanaugh, but they live in blue seats- so they’re not necessarily helpful here. I’m a bit surprised how this fight moved statewide races, particularly a small, but significant bump for Kemp in Georgia, and a significant one for Blackburn in Tennessee. Clearly though, the Democrats stand on Kavanaugh at least temporarily helped the GOP in places they hold now (which are where Democrats need to win to flip anything).

This isn’t to say I think the Democrats were wrong to fight on Kavanaugh, and the evidence isn’t yet unanimous (see the Indiana Senate race). I think there’s a time to stand on principle, and be willing to lose a fight- and Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court for life is probably it. I’m just saying we might be feeling it bite back now.

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The South is a complicated place, particularly when it comes to it’s history. One part I don’t find much to feel negative about is it’s musical history. As I said above, I would get back to Elvis, and here is where I do that.

The most unfortunate thing I have found in my time here is how far away Nashville actually is from Charlotte. If I got in the car right now, the 411 mile ride would take me over six hours. For me, that’s just not going to happen during election season.

That’s a shame, because I consider Nashville (along with Charlotte, Atlanta, and New Orleans) to be one of the four “must-see” spots of the South. I’m not a huge country fan, but I really do want to see the studios where Elvis and Johnny Cash made history. I’m a fan of both of them, and I find the industry and historic side of Nashville to be fascinating. While I’m not getting there right now, I need to. Elvis is the one part of Southern heritage I’d like to learn more about.

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Today’s candidate of the day for you all is Fred Hubbell, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Iowa. Over the last several election cycles, Iowa has become a political hellscape, a place where the legislature has become hyper-partisan. The state government is pretty much entirely Republican now, and they’ve decided to run a privatized Medicaid expansion that has basically failed. If I wasn’t working on the things I’m working on, I almost ended up going to Iowa to work, because I’m so alarmed at what’s been done.

Electing Fred Hubbell means funding education. Electing Fred Hubbell means real Medicaid expansion, which helps both real uninsured people, and hospitals that won’t have to worry about payment. Electing Fred Hubbell means a champion for family farms, sustainable agriculture, and a cleaner environment. Iowa needs Fred Hubbell. Follow him on twitter here. Donate to him here. Volunteer for the Iowa Democrats here.