The Republican Brand: Sexism

Of the early political science and data-driven takes on the midterms, this is my favorite.  Brian Shaffner follows up his great work on racism and sexism in the 2016 elections with some really interesting data from 2018.  The key finding– just how much sexism has become the Republican brand.  Read the whole post.  But:

In the final graphic, we can see one reason why that support dropped in 2018. Unlike in 2016, the House vote in 2018 was strongly associated with attitudes on sexism. Specifically, in 2018, voters with the least sexist attitudes were about 15 points less likely to vote for the Republican House candidate compared to voters with the most sexist attitudes. And based on the graphic, this appears to have produced a penalty for Republican House candidates. [emphases mine] Only among the most sexist voters do we find similar support for Republican House candidates as we did in 2016. As voters became more likely to reject sexist statements, they became significantly less likely to vote for the Republican in 2018 relative to the 2016 levels of support among voters with those same views on sexism.

sexism2018.png

Thus, the data here suggest that after two years as president, Trump’s sexism has begun to become part of the Republican Party’s branding for GOP House candidates. As such, in 2018 it became yet another identity-based line of division between Republican and Democratic voters. But, importantly, it also appears to be a branding problem for the Republican Party. Specifically, the evidence here suggests that Republican House candidates did not gain votes among sexist voters, but they lost support among those with less sexist attitudes. This is a pattern that helps to explain the dramatic increase in Democratic voting among college-educated women in 2018. It’s a natural reaction not only to how Republican lawmakers have increasingly embraced Trump’s sexist rhetoric since 2016 (most notably on display during the divisive debate over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh), but also due to the successful mobilization of women’s rights groups during the past two years. As a result, Republicans appear to have paid a price for their party’s sexism in 2018 and the consequences for them may persist well beyond this election.

I’ve seen some commentary along the lines of, once Trump is gone, things will just revert to how they were pre-Trump.  No, they won’t.  This is Trump’s party now– Republican officeholders have made that clear.  This genie is not going back in the bottle.

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The demographics of 2018

This Vox piece from Yglesias relies on data from Catalist (and creates some handy charts) so we can get a clear sense of the impact of the demographics of the electorate.  The headline states, “The 2018 electorate was older, whiter, and better educated than in 2016,” but you can pretty much always say that for a midterm relative to a presidential year.  A far more meaningful comparison is 2014, and here you can see that the Democratic-leaning groups did well.

Compared to 2014, young voters were noticeably up, non-white voters were noticeably up, and college grads were noticeably up.  Keep this going for 2020 and we’re onto something.

The generation gap

This NYT feature is awesome in the way it charts all sorts of demographic divides over time.  You should totally check it out.  Because I find the generation gap particularly notable and misunderstood– most people assume it’s been there all along, rather than a phenomenon that essentially emerged in the 200’s– here’s the chart of it over time:

Sure, some of these voters who have been drawn to the Democratic party because of Obama’s attraction and Trump’s repulsion will end up switching, but young adulthood is an incredibly important time in forming long-lasting political attitudes.  So, 10-20 years from now the Democratic Party should really be benefiting from this.  On the not-so-bright side– that’s a long time for these voters to move into the heart of their political participation years and those old white Republicans to die off.

Quick hits (part II)

1) So, I know that Wisconsin’s gerrymander is perhaps even better/worse than NC’s, but the latest from this year.  Just wow.  So thoroughly undemocratic:

When we look at the State Assembly, which had every seat up for grabs this past Tuesday, that disparity becomes even more glaring.

While final numbers are still not fully available for all races, Democratic Assembly candidates appear poised to take right around 1.3 million votes to Republican Assembly candidates 1.1 million votes.

And yet Democrats walked away with only 36 seats, while Republicans took a staggering 63!​

That means that Democrats won 54% of the vote and yet took only 36% of the seats.

2) A friend/reader argued the other day that democracy was actually under greater threat under Bush/Cheney (Iraq War, torture, and all that).  He had a good point and Adam McKay agrees (Via MoDo):

After a screening of “Vice” Thursday, I asked McKay which of our two right-wing Dementors was worse, Cheney or Trump.

“Here’s the question,” he said. “Would you rather have a professional assassin after you or a frothing maniac with a meat cleaver? I’d rather have a maniac with a meat cleaver after me, so I think Cheney is way worse. And also, if you look at the body count, more than 600,000 people died in Iraq. It’s not even close, right?”

3) This NYT feature on how the NRA has radicalized and politicized through the lens of American Rifleman covers is just amazing.

4) Brett Stephens on the Whitaker appointment:

Of all the ways in which Donald Trump’s presidency has made America worse, nothing epitomizes it quite so fully as the elevation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States. Intellectually honest conservatives — the six or seven who remain, at any rate — need to say this, loudly. His appointment represents an unprecedented assault on the integrity and reputation of the Justice Department, the advice and consent function of the Senate, and the rule of law in the United States…

It says something about how atrocious this appointment is that even Trump is now distancing himself from Whitaker, falsely claiming not to know him despite the latter’s repeated Oval Office visits. It’s the Michael Cohen treatment. When a rat smells a rat, it’s a rat. Only a Republican in 2018 could fail to notice.

5) And the Washington Post editorial:

First, there are Mr. Whitaker’s statements criticizing the Russia probe of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. At the least, they require him to consult Justice Department ethics counsel about whether he can oversee the inquiry with a plausible appearance of evenhandedness. He will do immediate and lasting harm to the Justice Department’s reputation, and to the nation, if he assumes the role of president’s personal henchman and impedes the Mueller probe.

Then there is Mr. Whitaker’s connection to a defunct patent promotion company the Federal Trade Commission called “an invention-promotion scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” Mr. Whitaker served on its board and once threatened a complaining customer, lending the weight of his former position as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa to the company’s scheme.

Finally, and fundamentally most damning, is Mr. Whitaker’s expressed hostility to Marbury v. Madison, a central case — the central case — in the American constitutional system. It established an indispensable principle: The courts decide what is and is not constitutional. Without Marbury, there would be no effective judicial check on the political branches, no matter how egregious their actions.

If the Senate were consulted, it is impossible to imagine Mr. Whitaker getting close to the attorney general’s office. He should not be there now.

6) Masha Gessen says the press corps should not boycott Trump administration press briefings.  Honestly, I find her argument far from persuasive.

But there is a counterargument. The White House is a lousy source of information about itself, but it is also the best available source. The real story of Trumpism is probably found not in the White House or even in Washington but in Ohio, in Texas, along the Mexican border, in refugee camps the world over, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, and in the Palestinian territories. But the story of how the Administration functions must still be observed up close. Walking away would give this White House exactly what it wants: less contact with the media, less visibility, ever less transparency and accountability. Walking away would feel good, but it would ultimately be a loss. Would the loss in information be greater than the gain in solidarity? That’s a hard question, but my guess is that the answer is yes.

7) Vann Newkirk II, “The Georgia Governor’s Race Has Brought Voter Suppression Into Full View.”

8) NYT with a couple of really cool visual features making the case for both expanding the House of Representatives and moving to multi-member Congressional districts.  I suspect most political scientists– your truly included– would agree strongly on both scores.

We’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, so why is America still operating with a House of Representatives built for the start of the 20th?

The House’s current size — 435 representatives — was set in 1911, when there were fewer than one-third as many people living in the United States as there are now. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000.

This would shock the Constitution’s framers, who set a baseline of 30,000 constituents per representative and intended for the House to grow along with the population. The possibility that it might not — that Congress would fail to add new seats and that district populations would expand out of control — led James Madison to propose what would have been the original First Amendment: a formula explicitly tying the size of the House to the total number of Americans.

The amendment failed, but Congress still expanded the House throughout the first half of the nation’s existence. The House of Representatives had 65 members when it was first seated in 1789, and it grew in every decade but one until 1920, when it became frozen in time…

There’s no constitutional basis for a membership of 435; it’s arbitrary, and it could be undone by Congress tomorrow. Congress set it in 1911, but following the 1920 census — which counted nearly 14 million more people living in the United States — lawmakers refused to add seats out of concern that the House was getting too big to function effectively. Rural members were also trying to forestall the shift in national power to the cities (sound familiar?), where populations were exploding with emigrants from farm country and immigrants from abroad.

In 1929, Congress passed a law capping the size of the House and shifting responsibility for future reapportionments onto the Commerce Department. That’s why, more than a century later, we find ourselves with a national legislature far too small to fairly represent both the size and diversity of modern America. This warps our politics, it violates basic constitutional principles of political equality, and it’s only getting worse.

There’s a simple fix: Make the House bigger. Many Americans will groan at the thought of expanding a government they already consider too big and unwieldy. Polls consistently show that the public would rather throw the bums out than hire more of them.

9) Peter Beinart on the midterms:

But it’s important to remember that although the country is deeply and closely divided, it’s not divided between similar things. Because the Democrats ran more African Americans and women candidates this year, and because many Republicans campaigned on immigration and Brett Kavanaugh, it’s tempting to describe both parties as waging a culture war. That’s misleading. The culture war was waged mostly by one side. Democratic candidates embodied racial and gender diversity, but they didn’t generally campaign on it. Their message, overwhelmingly, was that they would protect the middle-class safety net. They realized, early on, that absent Barack Obama, Obamacare was extremely popular. As The New York Times’ Alex Burns noted, the Democrats’ campaign could be summed up as: “a noun, verb and preexisting conditions.”…

In the Trump era, Republicans counter economic security with cultural security. Trump promised to protect Americans from Latino murderers and women who destroy men’s lives by alleging sexual assault. And, to a significant extent, it worked. By mobilizing his white, rural base, Trump matched Democratic enthusiasm in purple states such as Florida and Ohio and overwhelmed Democratic incumbents in red states such as North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri. It’s an old game: W. E. B. Du Bois famously called it the “psychological wage.” Instead of protecting white people from economic hardship, you protect them from the racial demons you’ve stirred up in their minds. And Trump is this era’s undisputed master of that game. He understood that as frightened as many Americans are of losing their health care, he—with the help of Fox News—could make them even more frightened of Honduran asylum-seekers. Now that the election is over, I suspect the caravan will disappear from Fox’s screens and Trump’s Twitter feed—until something like it is needed again.

The harsh truth is this: Racism often works. Cross-racial coalitions for economic justice are the exception in American history. Mobilizing white people to protect their racial dominance is the norm. [emphasis mine] The lesson of 2018 is that American politics is not reverting to “normal.” In many ways, Trumpism is normal. It’s not Trump who is running uphill against American tradition, it’s the people who are trying—bravely but with mixed success—to stop him.

10) Democrats want to make it easier for Americans to vote.  Republicans, not so much:

Far more Democrats than Republicans favor making it easy for all to vote

11) The shameful mis-use of the US Military sitting at the border waiting for the caravan.  This is a scandal that is not being reported as such.  Great feature in the NYT.

12) Swatting is just evil.  And with too many over-zealous, shoot-first cops out there, it can turn into a deadly tragedy.

13) Of course, Jeff Sessions thinks the police never abuse the citizens they supposed to protect:

In a major last-minute act, Mr. Sessions signed a memorandum on Wednesday before President Trump fired him sharply curtailing the use of so-called consent decrees, court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governments that create a road map of changes for law enforcement and other institutions.

The move means that the decrees, used aggressively by Obama-era Justice Department officials to fight police abuses, will be more difficult to enact. Mr. Sessions had signaled he would pull back on their use soon after he took office when he ordered a review of the existing agreements, including with police departments in Baltimore, Chicago and Ferguson, Mo., enacted amid a national outcry over the deaths of black men at the hands of officers.

14) And if you doubt just how bad this is in many citizens you are willfully delusional.  And you should read Radley Balko:

Fifteen-year-old Bobby Moore was fatally shot in 2012 by Josh Hastings, a police officer with the Little Rock Police Department. Despite serving on the force for only five years, Hastings’s tenure would prove to be enormously consequential. He had been hired over the objection from a high-ranking black police officer, and that objection was well-founded: Before his hiring, Hastings had once attended a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan, then lied about it on his application. He went on to accumulate an astonishing disciplinary record, usually resulting in lax punishment for misconduct.

Hastings once boasted about body-slamming a homeless black woman to the ground. Video footage showed he had lied about a burglary investigation. He slept on the job, drove recklessly and had problems activating his dashboard-mounted camera. He admitted to using racist language. He sometimes needed help writing reports, and colleagues described him as lazy, incompetent and unfit to be a police officer.

Hastings’s ultimate confrontation with Moore, then, seemed almost inevitable. He confronted Moore and two other boys after reports that they were breaking into cars. When the boys managed to get one of the cars started, Hastings fired into the car, killing Moore. Hastings would later claim Moore was attempting to run him over, but forensic analysis showed the vehicle was either stopped or moving backward, and Moore’s wounds were consistent with a driver backing up, not surging forward. The other boys were not wounded.

But Hastings’s story isn’t one of a rogue, aberrant cop so much as a glimpse into the police culture of Arkansas’s largest city. Disturbing as Hastings’s disciplinary record may be, other officers in the department have even thicker personnel files. In fact, many of the very officers who trained and supervised Hastings have had lengthy histories of misconduct — including domestic violence, lying, and the use of excessive force.

15) These signs up near NC State’s campus last week were hilarious:

Campaign sign by pro-voter ID group, November 2018

16) Nice column from Krugman on real American vs. Senate America:

Obviously not everyone lives — or wants to live — in these growth centers of the new economy. But we are increasingly a nation of urbanites and suburbanites. Almost 60 percent of us live in metropolitan areas with more than a million people, more than 70 percent in areas with more than 500,000 residents. Conservative politicians may extol the virtues of a “real America” of rural areas and small towns, but the real real America in which we live, while it contains small towns, is mostly metropolitan.

But here’s the thing: The Senate, which gives each state the same number of seats regardless of population — which gives fewer than 600,000 people in Wyoming the same representation as almost 40 million in California — drastically overweights those rural areas and underweights the places where most Americans live.

I find it helpful to contrast the real America, the place we actually live, with what I think of as “Senate America,” the hypothetical nation implied by a simple average across states, which is what the Senate in effect represents.

As I said, real America is mainly metropolitan; Senate America is still largely rural.

Real America is racially and culturally diverse; Senate America is still very white.

Real America includes large numbers of highly educated adults; Senate America, which underweights the dynamic metropolitan areas that attract highly educated workers, has a higher proportion of non-college people, and especially non-college whites.

None of this is meant to denigrate rural, non-college, white voters. We’re all Americans, and we all deserve an equal voice in shaping our national destiny. But as it is, some of us are more equal than others. And that poses a big problem in an era of deep partisan division.

17) Ezra Klein’s take on the midterms and the “Trump tax” should be read in full.

With Trump, two contrary ideas need to be held simultaneously: His rise to the presidency was a remarkable political achievement by any measure, and yet he is substantially less popular than a politician in his position should be. He’s a political genius and a political underperformer, all at the same time.

Since winning office, Trump has been buoyed by a strong economy. The trends predate him — job growth during the first two years of his presidency has been slightly slower than in the two years preceding his presidency — but their cumulative effect is undeniable: We’re enjoying the longest economic expansion in American history, we’re at or near full employment, and Americans tell pollsters they’re more optimistic about the economy than at any point in decades.

Nothing predicts presidential popularity like a strong economy. And yet in November 2018, Trump is less popular at 3.7 percent unemployment than Obama was in November 2010, when unemployment was 9.8 percent. That’s a tremendous political failure, and it should be seen as such…

Republicans, increasingly, wield power only because America’s political system insulates them from the public’s judgments. The leader of their party — and of the country — came in second in the popular vote to Hillary Clinton and, despite a roaring economy, hasn’t cracked 50 percent in the polls since taking office. Tonight, Republicans lost the House, and if Democrats hadn’t been defending 26 Senate seats to Republicans’ nine, it’s likely they would’ve seen a rout in the Senate too.

The GOP needs to ask itself: What’s going to happen in 2020, when the Senate map reverses, and Republicans are defending twice as many seats as Democrats? What if unemployment is 5.7 percent rather than 3.7 percent?

That Republicans performed this poorly amid this strong an economy and this much geographic advantage should be a wake-up call to the party. Trump’s political strategy is failing, and they are paying the cost.

Photo of the day

As you know, I’m a sucker for good surfing photos despite never setting foot on a surfboard.  Love this Atlantic gallery with a “blue wave” theme :-):

A surfer drops in on an enormous wave on September 11, 2014, in the Hava’e Pass in Teahupoo, Tahiti. 

Gregory Boissy / AFP / Getty

 

Gerrymandering, NC style

Nice piece from our local NPR station, WUNC on the extreme gerrymandering in the NC state legislature.  Democrats made big, important gains this year (Republicans finally no longer have a veto-proof majority), but Republicans still have an absurdly high share of the seats in both houses given what was basically a 50-50 vote.  This is just wrong.

North Carolina Republicans won majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. But Democrats won more total votes.

In Congressional races, the divide was more stark than at the state level. Despite winning fewer than half of the total votes cast, Republicans won 10 of North Carolina’s 13 Congressional seats…

This is absurd, and let’s be honest, has no place in a democracy.  The good news is that redistricting reform really seems to be catching on at the national level.  The bad news is that those of us in North Carolina and many other states are being blatantly denied fair representation.

Quick hits (part I)

1a) Political Scientist Hans Noel and former-Republican columnist Jennifer Rubin in clear agreement (and me too, for that matter) on how Democrats should proceed on Trump’s malfeasance.  Noel:

If I were giving advice to Democrats, I’d say impeachment is not a good move, unless you’re sure that the Senate is going to convict. The worst thing would be for Trump to appear vindicated by the process.

But that’s not an argument you’re going to be able to make to activists who are demanding that Democrats move forward. So, for sure, there is going to be impeachment material that is discussed in committee. It’s a question of whether the Democrats can slowly manage all of that — have hearings, subpoena the president’s tax returns, and spread it out over the course of two years. Better to have all the material that you would use for impeachment and then let the voters decide in 2020.

1b) Rubin:

Back inside the Beltway, House Democrats will have the power to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses and documents, and hold non-complying witnesses in contempt. Shining a light on the administration’s skullduggery will strengthen the hand of those resisting improper order and give underlings pause about cooperating. Moreover, the House will slowly build the case for removing — by election in 2020, most likely — Trump and his Senate enablers. That worked well in the midterms, and a campaign built around the inarguable proposition that Trump is abusing his power may help reassemble a winning coalition for Democrats.

The Trump resistance, including groups such as Nobody Is Above the Law, also continue to protest peacefully, both laying down a marker in defense of democratic norms and keeping their own voters engaged and enthusiastic. Trump remains the Democrats’ best organizing tool.

What is not, in all likelihood, going to be possible is to impeach and remove Trump. The Senate will remain in GOP hands, making removal (requiring a two-thirds majority) almost inconceivable. Impeaching without removing Trump undoubtedly would fire up his cult and provide weird vindication. Better to investigate, embarrass and — after he leaves office — prosecute him for any crimes (e.g. obstruction of justice) taken in office.

2) The futility of trying to stop mass shooters while we have a country awash in guns:

While retrospective analyses about where laws failed, or might be strengthened, are certainly worthwhile after such tragedies, they can also start to feel futile. The challenge, as Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Duke University School of Medicine, told me on Friday, is that the risk factors for gun violence are widely varied, complex, and nonspecific. “They tend to apply to many more people who are not going to do what you’re trying to prevent,” he said.

Balancing the rights of those with mental-health issues and the desire to safeguard the public is, arguably, the most vexing dilemma in the gun-control debate. The vast majority of people with histories of mental illness will never be violent. Yet studies, including research by Swanson, have shown that people with serious mental illnesses do pose an increased risk of violence compared to those without, and the problem is made far worse when coupled with substance abuse. The puzzle for lawmakers is that predicting violence is maddeningly inexact.

As long as the discussion about gun control continues to center on an individual’s right to bear arms, finding solutions that make an actual dent in the number of mass shootings will remain elusive. The starting point of America’s debate about guns is the idea that every person should be able to have one for self-defense.  As a result, access to guns is far easier in the United States than in any other wealthy, industrialized country. A recent study estimated that there are three hundred and ninety-three million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, a rate of 120.5 guns for every hundred residents, making the country’s firearms-ownership rate twice that of the second-highest nation, Yemen.

“Gun control in our country is not really gun control anymore—it’s people control,” Swanson said. “We have to figure out the people who are so dangerous that it’s justified to limit their Second Amendment right. That’s really hard to do.” [emphasis mine]

3) It’s the damn guns.  German Lopez, “America’s easy access to guns is enabling all these mass shootings: It’s the guns. The guns are the problem.”

4) “Appearance is political” and the Georgia governor’s race.  Good stuff.

5) What if everyone voted?

Many political scientists say that policies that make voting easier would also make American democracy more representative and less likely to favor the interests of wealthier, older and white voters who typically turn out at higher rates. Broader participation, proponents say, could ease polarization, lift faith in government and dampen criticism that politicians representing the views of a minority of Americans wield the majority of power in Washington.

6) The amount of problems in actual voting is truly ridiculous in a prosperous, modern country.  Conor Friedersdorf:

Tuesday’s problems were not unforeseeable––they were explicitly foreseen. In 2014, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration warned of an “impending crisis.” The report inspired a nationwide survey conducted by the Brennan Center. In 2015, it produced America’s Voting Machines at Risk. Its authors later warned in The Atlantic, “The problem of aging voting technology reaches nearly every corner of the United States. Unlike voting machines used in past eras, today’s systems were not designed to last for decades.”

Wired emphasized that 43 states “use systems that are no longer manufactured. Some election officials have resorted to scouring eBay for decommissioned equipment they can cannibalize to extend the life of machines. Georgia was in such dire straits over the lack of parts for its voting machines that it hired a consultant to build customized hardware that could run its Windows 2000-based election system software.”…

The 2014 report was a warning. The 2015 survey was a warning. Glitches in 2016 and 2018 were confirmation of a forewarned problem. And in 2020, when voting machines in many jurisdictions will be two years older than they are now, a glitch that alters the outcome of a race or significantly undermines faith in democracy will count as a preventable catastrophe. Acting now—spending now—is the likeliest way to prevent it.

Of course, the Republicans seem to have little interest in improving this.

7) Drum on why we should not trust the results of cherry-picked scientific studies:

Is this because scientists are under pressure from pharmaceutical companies to show positive results, and before 2000 they did exactly that? Or is it because scientists just like reporting positive results if they can? After all, who wants to spend years of their life on a bit of research that ends up being a nothingburger? I guess we’ll never know. But one thing we do know: we need to keep as sharp an eye on scientists as we do on anyone else, especially if there’s a lot of money at stake. When we don’t, they’re just as vulnerable to pressure and hopeful thinking as anyone.

8) I think Brian Beutler nails it on Jeff Sessions, “Sessions was a rotten figure, who got fired for doing one thing the right and decent way.”  Jonathan Blitzer with an extended take:

But, as the Trump Administration adopted increasingly draconian policies, it became clear that, for Sessions, orchestrating the most systematic and wide-reaching assault on immigrants in modern history was well worth enduring near-constant humiliations from the President. As the government’s top lawyer, Sessions was responsible for, among other things, cancelling daca, spurring family separations, trying to defund sanctuary cities, dismantling the asylum system, reshaping the immigration courts, and retooling multiple travel bans. To the extent that the President has styled himself as an anti-immigration crusader, it’s with a script written entirely by Sessions.

9) Chait on coming Democratic investigations of Trump:

The list ranges from Trump’s tax returns (which Republicans had voted to keep hidden) to his acceptance of undisclosed payments from foreign and domestic interests while in office to more routine incompetence and sleaze, like lavish expenses by Cabinet members and the hurricane response in Puerto Rico.

In public, Republicans are warning that investigating any of these matters will backfire on Democrats. “The business of presidential harassment,” offered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “which we were deeply engaged in in the ’90s, improved the president’s approval ratings and tanked ours.”

It ought to be self-evident that McConnell is not actually expressing sincere concern for the political fortunes of the party with which he is engaged in zero-sum competition. Alas, it isn’t self-evident. The notion that rigorous oversight amounts to “harassment,” and can backfire on the congressional party, has taken hold in Establishment Washington. “There is scant evidence of a mandate for a scorched-earth pursuit of Trump,” two senior editors at Politico wrote the day after the election. In the Times, Nicholas Kristof warned that “Democrats jockeying for the presidential nomination in 2020 will tug the party toward impeachment talk or a blizzard of subpoenas — in ways that may help Trump.”

Yes, sometimes aggressive congressional oversight can backfire, like when Republicans fanatically pursued conspiracy theories like Benghazi and “IRS targeting” during the Obama years. The Republican investigation of Bill Clinton also created some blowback, although even that famous episode has a much less straightforward denouement than is widely understood. While hounding Clinton over his affair, Republicans lost the 1998 midterms, an outcome that suggests that there can be a price for going overboard in the pursuit of a scandal that is palpably unrelated to job performance. But the atmosphere of scandal and dysfunction still clung to the Clinton presidency, and it was that stink that allowed George W. Bush to make a case for change in 2000 in what was otherwise an atmosphere of peace and prosperity. As Fred Barnes reported at the time in The Weekly Standard, impeachment “played a historic role, holding Clinton accountable, seeking just punishment, and, not least, shaping the 2000 race and paving the way for a likely Republican victory.” A Bush adviser told him, “There are 13 people who are responsible for where we are now. They are the House impeachment managers.” The lesson seems clear: Even if Congress somehow overreaches in its pursuit of Trump — a prospect that is almost logistically impossible, given the staggering list of misconduct already in plain sight — it would still probably help the Democrats’$2 2020 presidential candidate run against the mess in Washington.

From the very beginning, when Donald Trump and his father ignored demands from the Nixon Justice Department that they stop discriminating against African-Americans, through his repeated tax fraud and financial scams, legal impunity has formed the through-line of his career. Holding him accountable serves not only Democrats’ self-interest but the rule of law. That process begins now.

I’m in inclined to think that impeachment itself is probably not wise, politically, but all the investigations exposing real and pervasive corruption.  Hell yeah.

10) Ezra on Republican claims of fraud,etc., on these close elections:

11) Let’s just share another good tweet on a different topic, while I’m at it:

12) Marc Hetherington goes beyond fluid/fixed voters to propose a solution for UNC’s “what do do about Silent Sam” problem.

13) Drum on media coverage of the caravan.

14) I’m still looking for more definitive accounts on youth turnout in 2018 but this study suggests midterm youth turnout was up dramatically:

15) I was so disappointed in the widely-loved novel, Annihilation.  The movie was so much better.  Mostly because, things actually happened.

16) EJ Dionne on the “mystery” of Evangelical love for Trump:

White evangelicals are not “voting their values” nearly as much as they are voting other aspects of their identity. This group is older than the average American. Its members are disproportionately southern. And, by definition, they are white.

Older white southerners are overwhelmingly Republican and conservative. They have been voting for conservative Republicans since 1980, and their drift toward the GOP began in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson’s embrace of civil rights led so many white southerners to abandon the Democratic Party.

Let’s look first at the demography. The average white evangelical is older than the average American: In a survey by PRRI in cooperation with the Brookings Institution released last week, 45 percent of respondents were over 50 years old, while fully 60 percent of the white evangelicals surveyed were over 50.

Politically, white evangelicals speak with a distinct drawl: Half of the white evangelicals surveyed live in the south, compared to only 28 percent of all other whites.

And it should not surprise us that white evangelicals are somewhat more conservative on issues related to race. Let’s just look at two of many examples from the PRRI survey. Respondents were asked to assess the impact of the rise of non-white groups to majority status in the United States by 2045. Among white evangelicals, 54 percent said the demographic change would be negative, compared with 39 percent of other whites.

Asked if “recent killings of African-American men by police are isolated incidents or are they part of a broader pattern of how police treat African-Americans,” 71 percent of white evangelicals said they were isolated incidents compared with 51 percent of white non-evangelicals.

To be clear, nothing we say here is designed to denigrate the faith of evangelicals or to deny its authenticity. But it is important to recognize what these numbers suggest: In politics these days, religious convictions seem to be taking a back seat to identity, partisanship and ideology. While this is by no means unique to white evangelicals, it is certainly important to understanding their current commitments.

17) My great friend Richard Clerkin had his research written up in the NYT.  Awesome!

Many issues seem to divide Democrats and Republicans, and new research has found one more: philanthropy.

Red counties, which are overwhelmingly Republican, tend to report higher charitable contributions than Democratic-dominated blue counties, according to a new study on giving, although giving in blue counties is often bolstered by a combination of charitable donations and higher taxes.

But as red or blue counties become more politically competitive, charitable giving tends to fall.

“There’s something about the like-mindedness where perhaps the comfort level rises,” said one of the authors of the study, Robert K. Christensen, associate professor at the George W. Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at Brigham Young University. “They feel safe redistributing their wealth voluntarily. It also matters for compulsory giving.”

The study was conducted by four research professors who set out to explore how political differences affect charitable giving. It was published on Oct. 20 in the academic journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. The other authors were Laurie E. Paarlberg of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Rebecca Nesbit of the University of Georgia and Richard M. Clerkin of North Carolina State University.

18) Still looking for a good take on why Florida largely refused to move left while most of the rest of the country did.  I really enjoyed this conversation with NYT polling guru, Nate Cohn, which does not have an answer, but also discusses the issue.

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