Category Archives: Elections

Election Surprise: Health Care Galvanizes Voters

A voter casts his ballot at Hillsboro Old Stone School on November 7, 2017 in Purcellivlle, Va. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Health care appears to have played an unexpectedly robust role in Tuesday’s off-year elections, as Democrats swept statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey and voters told pollsters it was a top concern.

The health headline of the night came in Maine, where voters by a large margin rebuked Republican Gov. Paul LePage and approved a referendum  expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Maine is one of 19 states that has not expanded the program to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $16,600 for an individual. An estimated 70,000 to 90,000 Mainers could gain insurance under the expansion.

The Legislature has passed similar bills five times, but LePage vetoed each one. And despite Tuesday’s outcome, he held firm in his opposition. The governor announced Wednesday that he would not implement the expansion, which he said would be “ruinous” for the state’s budget, unless it is fully funded by the Legislature.

Medicaid expansion might also be back in play in Virginia. Voters there not only elevated Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam to the governorship, they may have steered Democrats to a takeover of the state House of Delegates, which has been the primary source of opposition to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to expand Medicaid. As of Wednesday morning, Democrats had picked up 15 of the 17 seats they would need to take over the majority with several races too close to call or requiring a recount.

And while it was not a headline issue in the governor’s race, health care proved decisive to Virginia voters, according to exit polls funded by a pool of media organizations.

Health care was by far the top issue for voters, according to the poll, which asked voters which of five issues mattered most to them. Nearly 4 in 10 said health care was the issue most important to their vote, followed by gun policy at 17 percent, taxes at 15 percent, immigration at 12 percent and abortion at 8 percent. Among those voters who cited health care, 77 percent voted for Democrat Northam, making it his strongest issue by a wide margin.

The fallout will depend on who holds which views, said Rodney Whitlock, a former GOP Senate staffer. If health care is a top concern for Democrats, “that doesn’t have a lot of meaning for Republicans,” he said. But if independents are the ones who see health as a salient voting issue, “that means much more.”

But Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University, said the election results suggest that health care has again become a positive for Democrats. “You don’t have to say you love the ACA, but that you don’t want to drop millions of people” from coverage, he explained.

In New Jersey, voters said they were more concerned with state issues, with property taxes and corruption topping the list of topics they told exit pollsters drove their votes. But health care was third.

Still, the election results likely hinged on a host of concerns, warned Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Health issues are still strongly viewed through partisan lenses, he said, and the voting probably was more of a referendum on President Donald Trump than on health care. But the results in the Maine referendum could have repercussions beyond that state, showing that Medicaid expansion is “far more popular” than Republicans have acknowledged. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

In Ohio, voters defeated what some called a confusing ballot measure aimed at limiting prescription drug prices to no more than the amount paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. A similar measure was voted down in California last year.

Blowing up the anti-Brazile narrative

Democratic political operative (and former interim DNC chair) Donna Brazile.

Is Donna Brazile a self-important traitor to the DNC cause? Or has she been smeared by reporting-by-Twitter?

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald thinks the latter, and has set forth what he says are four falsehoods that have been put forth about Brazile’s  bombshell allegations in her new book that the Clinton campaign had inordinate amounts of control over the key processes during the entirety of the last presidential campaign.

As early as this morning — Sunday, Nov. 5 — CNN is still reporting that Brazile said she had the unilateral power to remove Clinton as the nominee, even though the newspaper that originally reported that claim has had to walk it back (see below). This is important because this claim is  central to some others because it is being used to ridicule Brazile as being an ill-informed megalomaniac with an anti-Clinton agenda. 

Notes Greenwald:

Viral Falsehood #3: Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

[On Nov. 4], the Washington Post published an article reporting on various claims made in Brazile’s new book. The headline, which was widely tweeted, made it seem as though Brazile delusionally believed she had a power which, obviously, she did not in fact possess: “Donna Brazile: I considered replacing Clinton with Biden as 2016 Democratic nominee.” The article said Brazile considered exercising this power after Clinton’s fainting spell made her worry that Clinton was physically debilitated, and her campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

But Brazile – as a result of her stinging criticisms and accusations of Clinton, Obama and the DNC – is currently Public Enemy Number One among Democrats in the media. So they seized on this headline to pretend that she claimed the power to unilaterally remove Clinton on a whim, and then used this claim to mercilessly vilify her – the chair of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, last year’s interim head of the DNC, and a long-time Democratic Party operative – as a deluded, insane, dishonest, profiteering, ignorant fabulist who lacks all credibility.

But the entire attack on Brazile was false. She did not claim, at least according to the Post article being cited, that she had the power to unilaterally remove Clinton. The original Post article, buried deep down in the article, well after the headline, made clear that she was referencing a complicated process in the DNC charter that allowed for removal of a nominee who had become incapacitated.

The Post then amended its story to reflect that she made no such absurd claim in her book, but rather noted that “the DNC charter empowered her to initiate replacement of the nominee” and that “if a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee a complicated process of filling the vacancy that would include a meeting of the full DNC.” The Post then added this note to the top of the article:

Journalists on Twitter spent hours yesterday mocking, maligning and attacking the reputation of Brazile for a claim that she simply never made – all because a tweeted headline, which they never bothered to read past or evaluate, made them think they were justified in doing so in order to malign someone who has, quickly and bizarrely, become one of the Democrats’ primary enemies.

Greenwald details three other ways he thinks the narrative of the story about Brazile’s claims in her book have been hijacked by credulous reporting of things reporters see on Twitter and then repeat as received wisdom without bothering to check their veracity, including her claim that the DNC agreement  with Clinton  applied to both the primary and general election — a claim that was allegedly debunked and for which Greenwald says requires a debunking of that debunking.

You can read all of it here.

I have my issues with Greenwald and The Intercept. They have been proof, at times, of the danger when people on the Left let their own beliefs get in the way of good reporting. (Witness Greenwald’s one-time insistence that claims of Russian interference were  a smokescreen to cover up Democratic Party ineptitude in the last presidential election — a claim he has had to abandon as evidence mounts of Russian interference happening on many fronts, including planting inflammatory stories supportive of third-party candidate Jill Stein.)

But Greenwald seems to be into something here. It does appear some Clinton loyalists have been fudging the truth in order to discredit Brazile. 

There are lingering questions about whether the agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC was an unseemly grab for power meant to exclude Bernie Sanders and others from an honest nominating process and campaign, or simply a wise candidate saying that if she was going to prop up the DNC financially to benefit the party and down-ticket candidates, she expected some control ensuring the money was spent wisely?

Absent further evidence, those are questions to which he may never have sufficient answers because we can’t read the minds of the people involved and those interpretations may largely depend on whom you supported in the presidential election. 

Keeping the heat on the GOP

These fliers have started to show up around the district of GOP Congressman Peter Roskam of Illinois, who is refusing to meet with constituents.

The fliers read, in part, “last seen ducking out back door in Palatine, avoiding his constituents.”

Deep in Trump country, anger turns on GOP

The Trump election and GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which many of them did not realize is the same thing as the GOP's much-maligned Obamacare, are showing up en masse to confront Republicans back in their home districts.
The Trump election and GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which many Trump voters did not realize is the same thing as the GOP’s much-maligned Obamacare, are showing up en masse to confront Republicans back in their home districts.

The anti-GOP hits just keep rolling along for beleaguered Republicans back in their home districts. This time it’s in New York State:

New York GOP Rep. Tom Reed probably knew what kind of day he was in for when he arrived at the Ashville senior center for his first town hall on Saturday. The crowd was so large the gathering had been moved outside to a slushy parking lot.

“First and foremost, we are going to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare,” Reed said at the outset, using a loudspeaker propped up on a ladder to try to reach the sprawling crowd.

The response was loud and sustained boos.

The congressman is just the latest Republican to face boisterous constituents voicing concerns with the nascent Trump White House, and more confrontations are expected as members head home for recess this coming week.

When you run campaigns based on free-floating fear and anger instead of facts — which includes misleading people about their health care — it’s one of the bright spots of this dismal time when voters who are not Trump sycophants can see through the bullshit no matter their political affiliation. 

GOP voters were sold lies and it’s plainly apparent to the smart ones that they were duped.

I hope everyone keeps it up. Because Republicans are counting on the fact that people  will forget about all of this by the time the mid-term elections roll around.

I’m tracking a couple of races here in Illinois where our Trump-supporting GOP congresspeople already have viable opposition.

Triumph goes to the inauguration

So many good lines here.

“And here we have the Trump sons, also known as the less motivated Menendez brothers.”

“Look at all these white people, It looks like a Walmart threw up.”

“I have a lot in common with Trump, actually – the only difference is the hand up my ass isn’t Vladimir Putin’s”

“This place is packed”

Via #TrumpArtworks

Eeew. Eeew. Eeew. 

Just eeew. 

Agency protecting everyone from banks still on chopping block

Dear Precious Angry Collegiate Snowflakes Who Voted Anyone-But-Clinton:

Congratulations. The only thing standing between you and the big banks owning your student loan ass for most of your adult lives — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — is likely going away under the Trump administration, as this article in today’s Chicago Tribune makes clear:

Trump’s transition advisers already are evaluating ways to legally fire CFPB Director Richard Cordray, according to people familiar with the matter. If they move forward with such a plan, many Republicans want Trump to replace him with someone committed to dismantling the agency. In Congress, another aggressive tactic being considered is forcing through an overhaul of CFPB funding so lawmakers can starve it of money.

The many, many ways that the Trump administration is going to make sure the banksters have high-interest rate, rapacious access to your money — including the high-rate credit cards you will take out to make ends meet — are only just beginning to be made clear.

If there were any election where the perfect was the enemy of the good, this one was it.

Clinton made loads of money off speeches she made in front of Wall Street movers and shakers. But she would have not only kept the CFPB, she very likely would have strengthened it. 

Because that is what Democrats do, and it is one of the major ways they make a key difference for the better in the lives of average Americans, despite their having to play many distasteful political games to have access to campaign cash in the system which Republicans largely created.

I’m not excusing some of the issues on which Democrats have not been able to keep their campaign promises on the national level. But it should be pointed out that they failed on most of them because the GOP effectively blocked them at every turn.

And now the Republicans are in charge of the Congress, the White House and likely will change the all-important third branch — the judiciary — for a generation or two.

This is why I have a hard time getting too angry at many conservative voters. At least many of them voted their values.

The Left? Well, much of the Left — Jill Stein voters, BernieBots — are getting the government they deserve.

Too bad for the rest of us. And too bad for the nation.

I understand voting your convictions. But your convictions ought to include the possibility that not getting everything you want is better than your worst nightmares coming true. 

Despite all of this, I still feel sorry for college students who protest voted against Clinton or simply stayed home. That one decision may affect many of them for the rest of their lives. A tough lesson to learn.

This doesn’t even make sense

More nonsense from the money-grubbing grifter Oompah Loompah. 

The continuing assault on the Constitution and rule of law by the GOP

Republicans lost the governorship in North Carolina. Instead of conceding to the voters’ wishes, they pass legislation curtailing the governor’s powers.

In the clip above, the Rev. Dr. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, explains that despite all-out efforts by the GOP to disenfranchise voters, Democrats fought back and won:

We were able to change the consciousness of the state. And the [Republican] governor lost the election.

Now, what this was after, Amy, they — the Republican-led state Board of Election put in place 158 less voting sites, early voting sites, than we had in 2014 and ’12. They lost the most — the worst voter suppression bill that they pushed, in the courts. The court said it was “surgical racism.” They lost on redistricting. The courts have now demanded that we have to redraw lines and have a new election next year with the Legislature. They lost the governor’s race, the secretary of state’s race, the auditor’s race, the attorney general’s race. And the Supreme Court became more progressive with an African-American winning 76 of the 100 counties, and winning by over 300,000 votes.

It’s a sign of things to come, when we organize in the South. And so, the governor and those extremists refused. They did everything they could. They even purged votes, Amy, during the election. They lost again, and we forced votes to be put back on the books. So they have seen that they have tried everything, but when there is a movement of the people, a moral movement of the people, we can, in fact, change the South. And if you do that, you change the nation. 

Republicans cannot win fair and square. What they cannot win by simply letting people vote, they will try to win by attacking democracy itself. 

Or by turning to Russia to do their dirty work for them, as an ever-increasing body of evidence suggest they did in the presidential race.

Defeated GOP Governor Pat McCrory’s reaction after being asked by a reporter if it wasn’t better and more fair for his Republicans in the state Capitol to just follow the rule of law and let his successor govern under the same rules McCrory had to follow.