Remember that blue wave tsunami coming to wipe out Republicans in the mid-term elections? Well, it seems to have hit a sandbar far from shore. First, the “generic ballot” of which party voters prefer for Congress has suddenly swung in favor of Republicans, following months of a slowly but steadily narrowing lead for Democrats. The newest poll, from Reuters (generally thought to be without any possible Republican bias—see chart below), now finds the GOP jumping to a six-point lead. The tax cut was supposed to be unpopular, right? Yet a recent CBS News poll finds 68% give Trump credit for booming economy.
Meanwhile, Democrats are having difficulty getting their act together lining up decent candidates to run against vulnerable Republican incumbents. In California, which has the crazy “jungle” primary system (more about this special insanity another time), there are some House districts where Democrats are conducting a demolition derby that could result in no Democratic candidate making the top-two for the November general election, or with the selection of a completely unelectable nominee. The National Journalreports on what it calls “a perfect storm of chaos”:
California has become ground zero of the anti-Trump resistance movement, but the unharnessed liberal energy has become an unexpected problem in the party’s battle to win back a House majority. Democrats are contesting 10 GOP-held House seats there—nearly half of the number they need to win for Nancy Pelosi to become speaker again—but in several of those races, so many candidates are running that the party risks getting shut out of the general election.
The precarious situation Democrats face is a result of California’s activism running amok. In 2010, the state eliminated partisan primaries in favor of a system in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run on the same primary ballot—with the top two vote-getters facing each other in November. . .
The districts where Republicans are the weakest are, paradoxically, ones that Democrats are more likely to blow because the party couldn’t coalesce behind one consensus challenger. . . .
In one swing-district House race against GOP Rep. Mimi Walters, Democrats are more likely to nominate a progressive acolyte of Elizabeth Warren than a more pragmatic mentee of Chuck Schumer. Katie Porter, the leading Democratic contender, said she supported a single-payer health care system—a position that’s problematic in an affluent suburban Orange County seat. Her main opponent, Dave Min, has backed a more incremental approach.
And against ethically embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter, the Democratic front-runner is the grandson of a Palestinian terrorist who was linked to the rampage against Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-favored candidate, retired Naval officer Josh Butner, is badly lagging behind.
I hope the terrorist-linked candidate runs at the top for Democrats, which is only fitting given the party’s recent solicitude for Hamas. But don’t expect him to get much help from Bernie Sanders. Apparently the political infrastructure of this leader of the Democratic Party equivalent of the Tea Party is in disarray. Politico reports:
Bernie Sanders’ top operatives formed “Our Revolution” after he lost the 2016 primaries to keep his army organized and motivated — and potentially prepare for another presidential run in 2020.
But an extensive review of the Sanders-inspired group depicts an organization in disarray — operating primarily as a promotional vehicle for its leader and sometimes even snubbing candidates aligned with Sanders. Our Revolution has shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor — despite possessing Sanders’ email list, the envy of the Democratic Party — and can claim no major wins in 2018 as its own.
The result has left many Sanders supporters disillusioned, feeling that the group that was supposed to harness the senator’s grass-roots movement is failing in its mission.
The best part of the story is this little subplot about a prospective staff person the executive director of Sanders’s operation wanted to install:
In a conference call two weeks ago, the board’s executive committee overruled Turner’s attempt to install her consultant and friend Tezlyn Figaro as the group’s chief of staff, according to people on the call. Not only had Turner sprung the decision on the board, but Figaro had no experience building a political organization.
Board members flagged Figaro’s frequent appearances on Fox News praising Trump. She has said on the network as recently as the end of April that the president’s critics mostly don’t like that he’s shaking up the system. And last year she said immigrants are “coming into the country and getting benefits that Americans do not get,” and getting away with crimes while African-Americans go to prison.
“It’s a red flag,” said founding board member Catalina Velasquez. “If I know someone is inflammatory, using hate speech at a time when all oppressed people need to come together, it puts me in a very difficult position.”
Want some more good news? Check out this story from Mike Antonucci, the premier sleuth of the political perfidy of teachers’ unions:
The nation’s largest teachers union plans to reduce its budget by $50 million in anticipation of an unfavorable verdict in Janus v. AFSCME, a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in February that challenges the right of government unions to charge non-members for representing them.
When delegates to the National Education Association meet in Minneapolis in July, union leaders will introduce a two-year budget that cuts expenditures by $50 million, an estimated 13 percent reduction from this year.
NEA’s budget committee forecasts a two-year loss of 307,000 members if, as expected later in the spring, the Supreme Court eliminates agency fees — mandatory costs to workers who don’t become union members but are covered by union agreements. Those near-term losses will almost entirely occur in the 22 states where fees are still charged, erasing post-recession membership gains in places like California, New Jersey, and New York.
I expect there is a run on panic buttons at Home Depots near Democratic National Committee headquarters. Except they may not be able to afford it. Here’s a finance balance sheet:
RNC: $ 43.8 million cash on hand (no debt).
DNC: $6.7 million cash on hand; $4.2 million in debt.
JOHN adds: I am skeptical of that Reuters survey, but I believe all the polls show the generic ballot tightening. For example, today’s Rasmussen Reports has the Dems down to a one-point lead, which no doubt is within the margin of error.