The Morning Jolt

U.S.

Trick or Treat Yo’ Self Tonight

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out Halloween candy to trick or treaters at the White House, October 28, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

We’ve seen some awful headlines in recent days — bombs in the mail, shootings in synagogues, angry mobs in the streets. But the odds are good that despite all the troubles in the world, you’re surrounded by a lot of good, decent people in your community. Tonight is Halloween, otherwise known as one of the few nights that people actually knock on the front door.

There’s a good chance that in the after-school hours and into the evening, your doorbell will ring and you’ll be visited by little ghosts and goblins and Iron Men and about a million Elsas from Frozen. The littlest ones will try to remember what they’re supposed to say; the slightly-bigger-than-the-littlest ones will try to remember to say thank you. There’s a good chance that mom or dad will be standing at the end of the driveway; they’ll appreciate a wave. (God bless the guy in my neighborhood who hands out beers to parents escorting the kids around the neighborhood.)

As usual, leave your porch or outdoor light on if you’re home and giving out candy. Drive slowly. And enjoy it. Halloween gets people to walk around in their neighborhoods and interact with the people who live down the street and around the corner, something we probably ought to do more often.

Are Republicans Falling Short in the Final Week Before the Midterm Elections?

As I mentioned to Glenn Beck yesterday, I don’t know if the past week being dominated by news of the Florida mail-bomber and this week being dominated by news of the synagogue shooter is necessarily hurting Republicans’ chances in the midterms. But it’s not helping.

If nothing else, it gets in the way of the closing message. The White House’s closing ad for the cycle is deliberately reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection commercial “Morning in America” — families moving into new homes, businesses breaking ground on new projects, parents beaming at elementary-school concerts. “Things are getting better. We can’t go back. November 6, 2018, Vote Republican.” The actions of two hateful nut jobs shouldn’t make us feel like things aren’t getting better anymore. But some voters might look at the headlines and feel like the country’s in a bad place and that Washington needs a change.

The polls should make Republicans nervous; the early vote numbers should soothe them a little (to the extent that one can draw conclusions from the early vote). Remember, there’s no guarantee that a registered Republican will vote Republican or that a registered Democrat will vote Democrat.

Republican governor and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott just can’t seem to get over the hump in most Florida polls. I fear that Sunshine State voters are about to teach their elected officials an awful lesson: If you focus on your duties as governor in the aftermath of a hurricane instead of campaigning, you will lose ground against your opponent.

As of this morning, 1,431,655 registered Republicans in Florida have either voted by mail or voted early. That’s a little ahead of the 1,368,718 registered Democrats who have done so, and 592,136 Floridians with no party affiliation have voted early, and another 22,000 or so in other parties.

In Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has enjoyed leads in the past two polls over Republican Martha McSally. But the early vote looks pretty good for the GOP:

As of Tuesday morning, Arizonans have cast 1,098,280 ballots – of those, 475,798 are by Republicans, while 365,642 Democrats have voted, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s arizona.vote website. Potential swing votes from unaffiliated and minor parties make up the remaining 256,840 votes. The median voting age for the state is 64, and slightly more females than males have voted, at 50.6 percent.

A lot of Democrats are excited by a private firm’s analysis of the early vote that reports that “voters under the age of 30 in Texas have increased their turnout by 508 percent” compared to 2014, while “voters over the age of 65 in TX increased their turnout by 96 percent.” But I’ll bet the total number of young Texans who voted early in 2014 was really low. Voters under 30 years old were 13 percent of the total electorate in the 2014 exit poll; by comparison, those 65 and older were 19 percent. In 2014, young voters had a slight preference for incumbent GOP senator Jon Cornyn; those 65 and older preferred him by a three-to-one margin.

In this year’s Texas primaries, Democratic-primary early voting increased by 98 percent, while the Republican early vote increased only by 16 percent. But when both primaries were done — both early and primary day voting — about a million people voted in the Democratic primary, while 1.5 million voted in the Republican primary. It’s very easy for Texas Democrats to show phenomenal improvement upon the 2014 numbers, because the 2014 numbers were abysmal.

(Notice the arrogance of Democrats in believing that all young voters are their voters.) A CBS News poll found that O’Rourke is winning voters under 30 by a margin of 57 percent to 35 percent. That’s nice, but the same poll found O’Rourke tied Cruz among voters under 44 and Cruz was clobbering O’Rourke among older voters, who are likely to be more than half of the electorate. In 2016, voters over 45 years of age made up 54 percent of the electorate; 65 percent in 2014; and 65 percent in 2006.

In Nevada, Jon Ralston’s back-of-the-envelope math suggests that Senator Dean Heller is slightly trailing Democrat challenger Jacky Rosen. Yes, it’s possible that Heller is winning more Democrats or Rosen more Republicans, but the assumptions are logical and in line with historical patterns.

In Colorado, the early vote is evenly split, with registered Republicans enjoying a roughly 1,000 vote lead out of 801,385 votes cast already. In 2014, Republicans enjoyed a consistent and sizable lead.

You Kanye Have It Both Ways

Apparently just a week or so after meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, Kanye West announces he’s distancing himself from politics, declaring, “My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in.”

I leave the intense analysis of Kanye-world to Mickey; I’ll just observe we’re not supposed to care that much about what a celebrity thinks about politics. In fact, I know everyone is capable of ignoring the political thoughts of celebrities, because there are far too many celebrities to keep track of and most people tune out their manifestos, declarations, and diatribes.

In fact, the popular perception that celebrities and pop stars help the Democrats might be wrong. If celebrity endorsements really persuaded voters, Republicans would never win a race.

I left one Senate race out above; in Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn looks like she’s in good shape. You may recall that in early October, Taylor Swift announced her endorsement of Democrat Phil Bredesen. People thought this might carry more weight than the usual endorsement; until recently, Swift was relatively apolitical, she has an adoring fan base, and she’s involved in a lot of Tennessee charities. And yet polling showed no clear sign of a bump for Bredesen; Blackburn appears to have gained strength throughout autumn.

This probably doesn’t represent an anti–Taylor Swift backlash, just a red state reverting to form as Election Day approached. (Unless the percentage of the electorate that self-identifies as “one of Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends” has now grown large enough to become a key polling demographic.)

Most celebrities in the worlds of music, television, and movies are going to end up on the left. This really shouldn’t bother conservatives that much. It isn’t really unfair. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that musicians, actors, comedians, and television personalities are supposed to split 50-50 or represent the popular vote.

Why are pop stars, actors, directors, and the rest more likely to be liberal Democrats? By and large, artists think of themselves as rebels and Bohemians, defying closed-minded conventions and customs and daring to challenge a hidebound culturally conservative establishment. That establishment died off sometime in the 1950s, but they still believe in it. To the extent that those in the entertainment industries are associated with libertine lifestyles, entertainers may believe their lives embody true freedom.

Hollywood is nothing like small-town America because the capital of the entertainment industry is largely populated by people who couldn’t wait to leave small-town America. Someone once theorized that The Simpsons offers such a cynical view of American suburbia, full of bumbling fathers, incompetent cops, power-mad principals, hapless teachers, and insufferable Christian neighbors because each writer came from his or her own personal Springfield and arrived in Hollywood eager to mock the communities that shaped them.

Entertainment’s movers and shakers think of themselves as anti-establishment, even though they became the establishment decades ago. The industries of music and acting have always pursued the youth audience and celebrated young performers; some might argue they’ve always exploited young talent.

The culture in the entertainment industry is self-sustaining and self-reinforcing; we hear how strongly those movie stars and pop stars feel about liberal causes during their speeches at the Oscars and Grammys. In interviews, celebrities sound indistinguishable from a liberal blog’s comment section. It takes a lot of courage and willingness for working performers to dissent from such orthodoxy — and risk repercussions to their careers. Many ideas that conservatives perceive as part of the liberal policy agenda — gay rights, environmentalism, the right to an abortion — are seen by a lot of Hollywood figures as merely commonsense good causes.

Celebrities are generally wealthy and have their wealth managed by others, so taxation isn’t really a high concern. The vast majority are members of unions that they genuinely believe protects them from exploitation — or, after Me Too, even worse exploitation. Hollywood’s casting always seems kind of random, and perhaps some stars feel a sense of guilt. They’re living a life of luxury, while the guy who was almost as good as them gets stuck in an endless series of minor roles in schlocky B-movies. The stories about Harvey Weinstein’s vendetta against certain actresses suggest that actors and actresses were rarely cast on merit.

I recall Andrew Breitbart’s declaration that politics is downstream from culture. It would be nice to have more conservative celebrities, but it’s hardly a priority. The Right looks silly when it throws hosannas at long-forgotten performers such as Scott Baio or Stephen Baldwin. There’s nothing wrong with being a fan, but the reason you pay any attention to those guys are the fond memories you have of their work in Happy Days, or The Usual Suspects, or other television and films. God bless them for standing up for what they believe in, but we shouldn’t be turning to actors and singers for guidance on how to handle Iran, set tax rates, or develop a competitive workforce.

ADDENDA: Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrat of Indiana: “Our state director is Indian-American, but he does an amazing job. Our director of all constituent services, she’s African-American. But she does an even more incredible job than you could ever imagine.”

Man, it must be nice to be a Democrat, knowing that any awful-sounding slip of the tongue won’t be misconstrued as a racist insult and a major issue dominating the final week of the campaign.

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