November, 2016

Democrats Face a Stacked Field In 2018

Charlie Cook: “In just a few weeks Demo­crats have gone from driv­ing for what figured to be an easy lay up to hav­ing the rest of the sea­son can­celled, with the next sea­son in real doubt. They seemed to have the pres­id­ency in hand, a ma­jor­ity in the Sen­ate very likely, and, while win­ning a ma­jor­ity in the House was al­ways un­real­ist­ic, they did seem to have a good chance to cut the GOP ma­jor­ity in half with a gain of between 10 and 20 seats. In­stead they al­lowed the White House to slip from their grasp, gained just two Sen­ate seats, leav­ing them in the minor­ity, and gained only a half dozen seats in the House, be­low the bot­tom end of what thought pos­sible.”

“It only gets worse. Demo­crats would need a three-seat net gain in the to se­cure a Sen­ate ma­jor­ity in 2018, a tall or­der since they’ll be de­fend­ing 25 seats and Re­pub­lic­ans just eight. Of the eight Re­pub­lic­an seats up in 2018, just one, that of fresh­man Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada, is in a state that went for Demo­crats in either the 2012 or 2016 pres­id­en­tial elec­tions (it voted Demo­crat­ic in both). No oth­er GOP-held Sen­ate seat ap­pears to be even re­motely in danger.”

“Con­versely, Demo­crats are de­fend­ing some states that have been pretty rough on them in the past.”

Sessions Could Execute Immigration Crackdown

“For two decades in the Senate, Jeff Sessions led an anti-immigration crusade that made him an outlier in GOP politics — raging against illegal immigration and an excess of foreign workers well before Donald Trump tore onto the political scene,” Politico reports.

“But next year, Sessions likely will be the one engineering the immigration crackdown.”

“If confirmed as Trump’s attorney general, the Alabama senator would instantly become one of the most powerful people overseeing the nation’s immigration policy, with wide latitude over the kinds of immigration violations to prosecute and who would be deported.”

Trump Gets Serious About Health Care

Rick Klein: “A campaign that was never about policy has morphed into a transition that’s looked like a reality show, if cable news was in charge of the scripts. But with the selection of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as HHS secretary, President-elect Donald Trump is giving a solid indication of his policy ambitions in a very big area. Price, an orthopedic surgeon and a savvy political operator, hasn’t just criticized Obamacare, or thought about replacing it in theory: He’s written a bill that’s among the most serious GOP efforts to take Obamacare apart and patch something else together in its place.”

“It’s going to come under serious scrutiny for its impact – Price would repeal the Medicaid expansion, and make coverage significantly more expensive for some of those who can least afford it – and it’s not clear how much Trump and his new team are on board for. But for Price, at least, ‘repeal and replace’ is much more than a slogan.”

Conway No Longer In Trump’s Innermost Circle

Politico: “Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, has slowly receded from the president-elect’s innermost circle — she is not included either in interviews with potential cabinet nominees or in the deliberations over those candidates, said two people briefed on the matter.”

“Conway has rejected an offer to be Trump’s White House communications director, and is now seen as increasingly unlikely to take on a formal role inside the administration, according to a source familiar with the transition process — which helps to explain why she has displayed little compunction about bucking her boss in public.”

Trump’s Win Was the 44th Largest

Nate Silver: “In a historical context, Trump’s Electoral College performance is decidedly below-average… There have been 54 presidential elections since the ratification of the 12th Amendment in 1804. (Before that, presidential electors cast two votes each, making it hard to compare them to present-day elections.) Of those 54 cases, Trump’s share of the electoral vote — assuming there are no faithless electors or results overturned by recounts — ranks 44th.”

Conway Had Approval for Searing Romney Critique

New York Times: “In fact, people familiar with the dynamic inside Trump Tower — who were granted anonymity to discuss the unusual process that Mr. Trump has allowed for his transition — said Ms. Conway had been neither insubordinate nor acting directly on the president-elect’s instruction.”

“By denouncing Mr. Romney even as Mr. Trump was preparing for their second meeting, this time over dinner on Tuesday, Ms. Conway was simply doing what she knows Mr. Trump likes: encouraging a public airing of conflicting views when he is unsure of what path to take.”

Trump’s Reliance on Debunked Theories Raises Concern

Benjy Sarlin: “As a candidate, Trump’s often unsubstantiated attacks on political opponents, foreign governments, election officials, law enforcement, a federal judge, news outlets and Muslims shattered political norms and sowed division. As president, his decisions will carry the full weight of White House policy, raising concerns about where he gets his information and whether he might act on false or flawed reports.”

“Part of the problem in assessing Trump is that it’s not always clear what his motive is when he directs his followers to phony stories or unsubstantiated conspiracies.”

Trump Could Name Treasury Secretary This Week

President-elect Donald Trump “is preparing to announce his pick for Treasury secretary as early as the end of the week, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Finalists for the Treasury job include Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who heads the House Financial Services Committee; Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs Group banker and prominent Trump campaign supporter; and John Allison IV, who built one of the largest regional banks, BB&T.

“The shift to the top economic posts, which have been overshadowed by the internal fight over the secretary-of-state position, signals that the administration-in-waiting is seeking to get back on to its relatively brisk track.”

Trump Said to Be Still Considering Romney

Washington Post: “Romney plans to have a private dinner Tuesday with Trump, who is said to be intrigued by the notion of reconciling with one of his fiercest Republican antagonists — even as he also weighs rewarding the loyalty of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani with one of the administration’s most prized jobs or selecting a decorated military officer in David H. Petraeus.”

“Trump is looking for assurances that Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has championed a muscular and at times interventionist foreign policy, could be trusted to defend and promote Trump’s markedly different worldview in capitals around the globe, the people familiar with the president-elect’s deliberations said.”

Trump Eyes Price as Top Health Official

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) “appears close to being named secretary of health and human services, and an announcement from Donald Trump’s transition team could come within the next day, according to a dozen Republican sources with knowledge of the plan,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Price was “one of the only GOP lawmakers to design a replacement plan for the 2010 health care law — a proposal that never received a vote in committee or on the floor of the House.”

The Case for an Election Audit

Nate Silver: “Let’s not call it a ‘recount,’ because that’s not really what it is. It’s not as though merely counting the ballots a second or third time is likely to change the results enough to overturn the outcome in three states. An apparent win by a few dozen or a few hundred votes might be reversed by an ordinary recount. But Donald Trump’s margins, as of this writing, are roughly 11,000 votes in Michigan, 23,000 votes in Wisconsin and 68,000 votes in Pennsylvania. There’s no precedent for a recount overturning margins like those or anything close to them. Instead, the question is whether there was a massive, systematic effort to manipulate the results of the election.”

“So what we’re talking about is more like an audit or an investigation. An investigation that would look for signs of deliberate and widespread fraud, such as voting machines’ having been hacked, whole batches of ballots’ intentionally having been disregarded, illegal coordination between elections officials and the campaigns, and so on. Such findings would probably depend on physical evidence as much or more than they do statistical evidence. In that sense, there’s no particular reason to confine the investigation to Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania, the states that Hillary Clinton lost (somewhat) narrowly.”