The Morning Jolt


Last Night Wasn’t Great for Republicans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after a Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill, March 26, 2019. (Brendan McDermid /Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Tallying the score from another election night that disappointed Republicans, how the GOP traded working-class whites for suburbanites in 2016 and continues to live with the consequences of that trade, an ABC News anchor blurts out the shocking truth about the network’s coverage of Jeffrey Epstein, and network news divisions once again are revealed as seas of sexually predatory sharks.

It Sure Would Be Nice If Republicans Could Compete in the Suburbs Again

For the third straight year, Republicans had a mostly disappointing Election Day.

In Kentucky, Republicans romped in almost all the statewide races, but Governor Matt Bevin appears to have lost his race by about 5,000 votes. (As of this writing, he has not conceded; there may be a recanvass and, if Bevin is willing to shoulder the costs, a recount.) When an incumbent runs ten or more points behind the rest of the ticket, it usually points to a candidate having unique problems, and Bevin undoubtedly had those, enraging Democrats but never really unifying or winning over all the state’s Republicans. But in the closing weeks, Bevin tried to effectively nationalize the race, and when Trump appeared at a rally for Bevin on Monday night, he declared, “If you lose, the [media] will say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You can’t let that happen to me, and you can’t let that happen to your incredible state.” What should we conclude from the fact that the lesser-known GOP candidates in Kentucky who weren’t running on national issues romped?

In Virginia, the state Republican party has been effectively nuked; Democrats now control the entire state legislature and are poised to pass a slew of new liberal ideas into law, including new gun-control provisions and an expansion of Medicaid. Last night brought plenty of comments on Twitter that the GOP losses were because the “swamp” of D.C. had turned northern Virginia blue. But yesterday saw just one incumbent GOP official lose in Fairfax County — the last one standing. No, yesterday’s decisive losses came in places like the suburbs of Richmond and Virginia Beach. Future redistricting is going to give the battered state party an even tougher climb.

In Mississippi, Republican Tate Reeves won the gubernatorial election by about six percentage points, and the GOP swept the other statewide offices by fairly wide margins. That’s good news for the right, but . . . it is Mississippi; the GOP should be winning there by big margins.

One of the pleasant surprises for the GOP came in New Jersey, where a 54-26 Democratic majority in the state assembly was trimmed to 48-32 across the state.

(Louisiana will resolve its gubernatorial and Secretary of State elections on November 16. Polling is sparse, but Governor John Bel Edwards appears a narrow favorite to win reelection.)

Once again conservative ideas were much more popular when not associated with the Republican party. In Washington State, voters narrowly rejected bringing affirmative action back to state contracting and university admissions. Separately, in a non-binding referendum, voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea of applying retail sales taxes to online retailers. In Seattle, the self-proclaimed socialist city-council member appears to have lost her seat to a pro-business challenger. In Colorado, voters gave fiscal conservatives a big win by rejecting letting the state keep any tax revenues above the state spending cap, money that the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. In Sussex County, N.J., voters approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a referendum directing the local freeholder board to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Washington, Colorado, New Jersey — notice these are places where Republican candidates have had no luck lately.) Texans overwhelmingly passed a measure making it more difficult for the state to ever enact an income tax, by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.

Three straight mostly bad elections are not entirely the fault of President Trump, but it’s also implausible to argue he has nothing to do with it. He, more than any other figure in the country, sets the national political argument, energizing some demographics, thrilling some voters, but antagonizing and enraging others. When Trump stepped into office, the GOP had 1,124 state senators and 3,055 state representatives across the country. Today, the GOP has 1,081 state senators and 2,770 state representatives. When Trump took office, Democrats controlled just 14 state legislative chambers across the country; starting next year, Democrats will control 20 state legislative chambers. That’s not as severe as the Democratic party’s drop-off during the Obama era, but the trend is moving in the same direction.

Some of this may well reflect a new reality in our politics: A winning presidential candidate attracts a lot of voters who just aren’t that motivated when their guy isn’t on the ticket, and the president inevitably stirs up a lot of anger, motivation, and enthusiasm in the opposition. Barack Obama knows exactly how that feels.

The nomination of Trump represented the Republican party trading certain demographics — more working-class whites for fewer suburban white-collar workers and soccer moms. In 2016, that trade-off worked well for the GOP, but since then they’ve been paying the price. (Notice that in Pennsylvania, with no major statewide races, Republicans continued to get crushed in suburban local races like county commissioners.) Recall that Republicans just barely hung on in the special election in North Carolina’s ninth district, which includes some of the suburbs of Charlotte, and in 2018 the GOP barely hung on Georgia’s seventh district in the Atlanta suburbs, Nebraska’s second district which includes Omaha and its suburbs. Trump is the walking, talking Democratic get-out-the-vote operation in America’s suburbs. As those New York Times numbers from earlier this week indicated, he’s still got a path to 270 votes in the Electoral College. But he’s going to have to do it without a slew of suburban voters who were once in play for the GOP.

Network News, the Sea of Predators

Name a network news division that hasn’t been found averting its eyes, scuttling stories, or otherwise covering for a famous sexual predator. On Tuesday Project Veritas dropped their biggest scoop in a long time:

Amy Robach, ‘Good Morning America’ Co-Host and Breaking News Anchor at ABC, explains how a witness came forward years ago with information pertaining to Epstein, but Disney-owned ABC News refused to air the material for years. Robach vents her anger in a “hot mic” moment with an off-camera producer, explaining that ABC quashed the story in its early stages.  “I’ve had this interview with Virginia Roberts (Now Virginia Guiffre) [alleged Epstein victim]. We would not put it on the air. Um, first of all, I was told “Who’s Jeffrey Epstein.  No one knows who that is.  This is a stupid story.”

“The Palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways.”

Robach goes on to express she believes that Epstein was killed in prison saying, “So do I think he was killed? 100 percent, yes, I do . . . He made his whole living blackmailing people . . . Yup, there were a lot of men in those planes. A lot of men who visited that Island, a lot of powerful men who came into that apartment.”

Robach repeats a prophetic statement purportedly made by Attorney Brad Edwards “ . . . [T]here will come a day when we will realize Jeffrey Epstein was the most prolific pedophile this country has ever known,” and Disgustedly Robach states “I had it all three years ago.”

That’s at ABC News. You know, the organization where Mark Halperin was the political director for a long time.

Then there’s NBC News and how they handled Ronan Farrow:

The top guns at the network and its news division (news division chairman Andy Lack, president Noah Oppenheim and corporate CEO Steve Burke) have decided, by all accounts, to ride out the storm over the NBC’s botched handling of Ronan Farrow’s reporting about movie producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017.

Farrow and others credibly claim that the network suppressed his reporting on sexual assault allegations against Weinstein and covered up harassment and assault accusations against NBC’s former star, Matt Lauer.

NBC’s brass has no intention of hiring an outside firm to lead a new investigation of what happened, relying instead on an internally led investigation that concluded last year and found little cause for concern about management’s role.

Then there’s CBS, where “three powerful men at the company — Leslie Moonves, its chief executive; Charlie Rose, its morning show anchor; and Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes” — have all lost their jobs because of workplace conduct.”

Remember when everyone wanted to pretend that this was just a problem at Fox News?

ADDENDUM: America’s entire intelligence community, speaking as one about the 2020 election: “Our adversaries want to undermine our democratic institutions, influence public sentiment and affect government policies. Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions.”

Boy, it sure would be nice if the President of the United States would publicly concur with that.


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