The race in NC (and the perils of waiting to run political interviews)

I had forgotten that the news-radio station of my childhood, Washington DC’s WTOP had interviewed me last month, but a friend in radio just sent me a link to their story looking at five battleground states.  I certainly do love any story that includes so much of my quotes, so that’s nice:

The best media bang for the campaign (or PAC) buck this year? Try the Tarheel State.

“If you are looking for your campaign to make a difference in the outcome, then North Carolina is a great place to focus resources,” said Steven Greene, professor of political science at North Carolina State University.

“In North Carolina, there’s a very clear opportunity that the resources spent here could tip the state one way or the other.”

North Carolina’s 15 Electoral College votes went to Mitt Romney in 2012 and to Barack Obama in 2008 — both very narrow victories. Greene says North Carolina remains a 50-50 state, despite solid Republican control of state politics for most of this decade.

“Republicans were very successful in (in 2010),” said Green. “They were able to take that success and gerrymander themselves into a bunch of safe districts that have allowed them to essentially take over state-level politics, despite the fact that … the voters in this state are still very much divided 50-50.”

North Carolina Democrats may not be all the energized by Hillary Clinton, but they see the 2016 race as their best chance to regain some power in the State House, thanks to the concurrent races for a Senate seat and for governor.

“Most states do not have their governors up in presidential election years. But North Carolina does. So that is going to be a very interesting, hotly contested race.”

Alas, my Senate comments are completely dated because this interview was well before Deborah’s Ross’s impressive fundraising and poll performance:

Tarheel Democrats also hope to do their part in changing the majority in the U.S. Senate. Greene says it’s a bad news/good news scenario for Democrats. The bad news is the candidate: former State Rep. Deborah Ross.

“Democrats did not get … a strong — or certainly a well-known, established candidate as they would like for that race.”

But the good news for Democrats, according to Greene, is the very top of the GOP ticket: Donald Trump.

“I think, among Republicans, there probably is a real fear that having Trump at the top of the ticket puts him in more danger than he otherwise would have been.”

Meanwhile, Politico has an article suggesting that NC is a disaster for Trump (amazing how many key Republicans in the Tarheel state– notably Art Pope– are refusing to get behind Trump).

Interviews with more than a dozen North Carolina operatives and lawmakers reveal that Trump has failed to consolidate the Republican base in North Carolina. Worse, according to these sources, he is particularly driving away female and independent voters who are crucial in Republican-leaning suburbs, such as Apex, outside of Raleigh.

Meanwhile, they say, Hillary Clinton’s extensive field organization and saturation of the airwaves make it even harder for Trump’s bare-bones, late-starting operation to catch up despite a recent reorganization of his team here.

At this point, said veteran Republican strategist Carter Wrenn, Trump’s best hope for winning North Carolina rests on the possibility of some major game-changing external event, rather than on his campaign’s ability to produce a win. That’s a risky dynamic for Trump, whose road to the White House would almost certainly have to run through North Carolina, given his underwater polling in other key battleground states.

Asked what Trump’s path to victory in North Carolina looks like, Wrenn responded, “I’m not sure I know.” …

Trump lost Wake County by big margins in the primary, though he won the state, and in one clear indication of how toxic he still is among independents and some Republicans in the region, North Carolina House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam, who represents Apex, refused repeatedly to say whether he was supporting Trump.

“I decline to answer,” he said, when asked whether he was endorsing the nominee, even as he was critical of Clinton and highlighted his support for Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, who co-chaired John Kasich’s campaign in the state during the primary and also lives in the Raleigh area, has already ruled out voting for Trump.

“I will go to my grave opposed to him,” pledged Orr, who has voted Republican in every presidential election since he could vote, casting his first ballot for Richard Nixon in 1968. This time around, he’s not ruling out supporting Clinton.

 

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Quick hits (part I)

This will be an Olympics heavy week– sorry, but I love them.

1) Texas set to execute man who did not kill anyone (nor pay/direct anybody to kill someone).

2) Parenting advice that really works:

If the David Brookses of the world were honest, their parenting advice would begin: Have a healthy kid, live in an affluent area (with low crime and good schools), be from a socially privileged demographic, and make a decent amount of money. From there on, it’s pretty much coasting.

Working so far (though I wonder if my oldest might not be on a better track with better parenting).

3) How Giuliani is ruining his reputation in service to Trump.

4) NYT Editorial says to stop treating marijuana like heroin.  Hell, yeah.

5) The second in Nicholas Thompon and Malcolm Gladwell’s conversations about Olympic track is likewise fascinating.

6) In a similar vein, I was totally fascinated by David Epstein’s discussion of the 800m race.

7) Why the French Burkini ban is stupid and how it fits into very different conceptions of religion and public life in France versus the US.

8) Somebody made up a crazy fake PPP memo (about their secret poll of Trump at 74% in Florida) that a bunch of wingnuts actually believed.  Really good stuff.

9) Have their been occasional sexist comments during network coverage of the Olympics?  I’m sure.  But I’m with Drum.  And, honestly, as you know I love Vox, but sometimes they really go off into SJW territory.

10) The “Carolina Comeback” that wasn’t.

11) Julia Azari asks whether America’s political parties aren’t too resilient for their own good:

Though there’s some benefit to the stability of a longstanding system, the long, rigid reign of two parties also limits the flexibility of American politics, reducing complex national decisions to simple binary contests and yoking together seemingly unrelated ideas—gun control, tax reform and health care, for example—in ways that make it impossible for any of them to move forward

This problem also creates problems for the parties themselves, in ways big and small. On the small side, as the Democratic coalition has become more diverse and reliant on voters who are people of color, Democratic state parties have run into some criticism for celebrating Jefferson-Jackson Day—usually an annual fundraising gala that celebrates two historic, slave-owning Democrats, hosted by a party that now prides itself on embracing racial equality. For the Democratic Party, there’s a point at which celebrating the heroes of its troubled past jeopardizes its political necessities for the future.

For Republicans, the problem is more immediate and profound: The party’s history of ideological unity and organizational continuity will tie future Republicans to the Trump candidacy, regardless of efforts to distance themselves from his positions. The story of parties’ remarkable resiliency gives a sense of how they’ve survived so long, but also how their survival might prevent American politics from representing all citizens and facing modern challenges.

12) Durham, NC is listening to science and not the whiners and moving their high school start times later.  Good for them.  Would love Wake County to do the same (especially as I have 3 high-schoolers to go).

13) This NYT feature on the history and fragility of Michelangelo’s statue of David was so fascinating (if, a little longer than needed).

14) Really, really good piece from Yglesias on the relative role of economic anxiety (very little) versus racial resentment (very much) on support for Trump.

15) Also a nice piece from Yglesias on how Trump’s first campaign ad shows he is doubling down on being Trump:

Donald Trump is running his first campaign ad for the general election, and it offers all the proof you’ll need that, in a fundamental sense, no meaningful change of approach can or will ever emanate from his campaign.

Because this is an ad, it’s professionally done and well-considered in its language — it’s not an off-the-cuff remark or full of anything so crazy that it will make lifelong Republicans cringe. But there’s nothing in here about free markets or traditional family values or America’s role as the world’s indispensable nation and guarantor of liberty.

 Instead it’s a pretty simple proposition — Hillary Clinton will let foreigners kill you and Donald Trump won’t [emphasis mine]

16) And Nate Silver argues that in his shakeup of campaign staff, Trump is doubling down on a clearly losing strategy.

17) Former Baltimore narcotics cop talks about the problem of cops being bad role models for each other.

18) Good for the Chinese Olympic swimmer being willing to discuss her period.  It really is crazy how taboo we treat such an ordinary part of women’s lives.

19) I’m sorry, say what you will, but race-walking is just stupid.  Worse than the breast stroke.  And hurdles are not like a slow swimming stroke, they test your ability to run and jump.

20) Continuing the Olympic roll, I love this 538 chart on how serving affects your chances of winning a point in various sports (especially as my son David was just asking me about this the other day).  You do not want to serve in beach volleyball.

serv

21) Yeah, the Supreme Court is important, but this lifelong Republican ask how you can even consider that when you think about giving Trump control of our nuclear arsenal.

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