Category Archives: Politics

The House Democrats and the Big Blue Wave

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I’ve been doing analyses of house races in which I fairly conservatively evaluated each of the close races. Here, I use a slightly different approach. I use only the most recent non partisan poll to estimate the chance of a Democrat vs. Republican winning the race.

When I do this, I get just enough Democrats winning to remain a minority but by only one seat. However, that puts seven seats NOT in the Democratic column because they are estimated to be at exactly 50-50.

These seats, clearly key, are FL26, KY06, MI11, NM02, NY19, OH12, and UT04.

If those are really 50-50, then a conservative two or three seats among them will be Democratic at the end of election night, and the Democrats will have a slim majority in the House.

If we insert a magical blue wave, raising all the chances of Democrats winning by one percentage point, then the Democratic majority is much larger, to the tune of about 27 seats. A two percent blue wave gives the Democrats, interestingly, just a few more, to reach 35 seats.

However, that is unlikely, if the Blue Wave is already factored into the polls.

We might think of there being two Blue Waves. Or, a Blue Wave and a Blue Tide added together. Or a Blue High Tide with a Blue Storm Surge on top of it. Whatever. Point is, there is the general, expected, electorate, which I assume the polls cover, and that may be enough. But added to this is the added votes from the ever mythical “they never vote but they might come out this one time,as if” vote. That is where the one or two percent extra could come from. I suspect the effects of that extra spring tide may be seen in only some districts.

Here is my raw data, ranked from highest proportion to Democrats to lowest. Feel free to argue.

PA05 0.60
PA06 0.60
MN02 0.57
VA10 0.57
CA49 0.57
PA07 0.56
PA17 0.56
AZ02 0.56
KA03 0.56
CO06 0.55
NJ07 0.55
FL27 0.54
IO01 0.54
MN03 0.53
KA02 0.53
IO03 0.51
IL06 0.51
CA10 0.51
MN01 0.51
CA45 0.51
NJ11 0.51
NY22 0.51
CA39 0.51
ME02 0.51
FL26 0.50
KY06 0.50
MI11 0.50
NM02 0.50
NY19 0.50
OH12 0.50
UT04 0.50
CA25 0.50
TX32 0.49
IL14 0.49
PA01 0.49
TX07 0.49
NJ03 0.49
NC09 0.49
CA48 0.49
FL15 0.49
MI08 0.48
VA02 0.48
VA07 0.47
NC13 0.47
MN08 0.41
PA14 0.40

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Victims That Survive Rise Up

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Richard Avedon sat with a beer at the horseshoe shaped bar of the Black Forest Inn, on what is now known as Eat Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Avedon was a relatively well known and ascending photographer, producing work for Vogue, Life, and Harper’s Bazaar. He was an unusual photographer, or at least, his photographs were unusual. Or maybe better put, the expressions and emotions, or lack thereof, of the subjects of his photographs, combined with his particular art and a certain kind of color scheme, or lack thereof, were in combination unusual.

The year was 1970, and his decades long career was well underway, but something was wrong. Not with his career, or with the photographs he had been finalizing and hanging for an exhibit at the nearby Minneapolis Museum of Art. What was wrong was the wall he was staring at, across this horseshoe shaped bar, in the Black Forest Inn. Over the weeks, working on his exhibit, he had become a regular, befriending the owner, settling in. But that wall… something was missing from that wall.

Back at the museum, Avedon came to a minor realization. A mural portrait he had prepared for the exhibit, titled “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution,” was the wrong size for the exhibit. So, he made plans to re-print the life size image. It then occurred to him that the first print, while wrong for the Museum exhibition, would be perfect for that wall back at the Black Forest Inn.

Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1963, Richard Avedon
And so it came to pass that a major mural of the ascending but not nearly apexed photographer, who would ultimately redefine the very nature of photography as his talent became something other than unusual, and eventually, a sort of gold standard, ended up hanging in a very pedestrian German restaurant on Eat Street, Minneapolis.

Fifteen years after the installation of the Daughters on the wall, about the time this book by Avedon was published, a gentleman who at that time frequented the Black Forest and still frequents the neighborhood pulled a .357 magnum pistol out of his pistol-hiding place and put one bullet into the forehead of one of the ladies and another bullet into another lady’s chest. Bam. Bam. He double tapped the Avedon. The owners got really mad at that dude, and he is no longer allowed in the restaurant. I hear tell Avedon was not too happy about this either. The bullet holes are still quite visible, no repairs having been effected.

Total deaths in US mass shootings from 1982 to 2017. Original research in Mother Jones.
If you look at a chart of mass shootings in America, you’ll see that while they’ve always happened, they are a thing of the 21st century, taking off around 2005 and peaking recently. The dude with the .357 shot the Avedon mural in about 1985 (no one I’ve spoken to remembers the exact year). In those days, there were few mass shootings. Taking out a pistol in South Minneapolis and plugging a wall mural was not a common event, but it would not have been translated as a frightening act of terrorism. That sort of attitude about firing off guns in public places would not really mature until after the first major post office shooting, Columbine, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Virginia Tech, and so on. Also, the guy wasn’t actually shooting at anyone.

But this event does serve to vaguely link the Avedon Name to somebody shooting off a gun in a public place where they should not have been doing that, or at least it did in my mind when I watched the interview taped last night of Michael Avedon, grandson of Richard, on Lawrence O’Donnel’s “The Last Word.”

There is a connection between O’Donnell and Michael Avedon. It happens that Lawrence knew Richard, but also, Lawrence O’Donnell worked for Danial Patrick Moynihan, Senator from New York (and my Senator for a while). Michael Avedon’s middle name is Patrick, and he takes that name from his maternal Grandfather, the Senator. Small world.

The interview was about a very interesting project by Michael, done for New York Magazine. The cover story is called “The Class of 1946-2018: Twenty-seven school-shooting survivors bear their scars, and bear witness,” by Jared Soule, Amellia Schonbek, and Michael Avedon. Journalism, interviews, photographs, combine powerfully in this compelling piece that you can see on line. It reminds us of the fact that for every mass shooting, in-school or otherwise, there are usually multiple individuals who survived, but were physically wounded and who may bear for a lifetime those scars, mutilations or permanent damage. I recently did a quick study of mass shootings since and including Red Lake, Minnesota, in 2005. Those events, more than 50 of them, led to 515 dead and 948 physically injured as part of the shooting. In some cases, there are dozens of other injuries due to panic or other factors. And this says absolutely nothing about those injured psychologically. There are probably well over 1,000 people walking around today (or wheelchair bound in some case) in the United States who survived, but with injury, a mass shooting in a school, workplace, or public event. There are probably tens of thousands who were present and terrorized, and a couple of hundred thousand who are their immediate families and friends. Small world with a lot of damaged people in it.

We live in a small world, in a small space, and too many of us are armed with deadly weapons. We live in a world that has no room for systematic government sponsored hate. The most dangerous professions in America include fishing, logging, roofing, and flight crews on airplanes. A high death rate for those in that range may be close to 140 per 100,000, or about one or two tenths of a percent. But those are professions widely participated in. Not counted on lists of most dangerous jobs is the job of POTUS. The chance of a President of the United States being killed in office is, over the entire time this job has existed, close to 10%. This rate is probably suppressed recently, even as the danger goes up because of better weapons and more hate, because of herculean efforts by the Secret Service.

But over the last two years, some other ways of life have become increasingly dangerous, because of POTUS. Being a journalist is more likely to get you beat up or even killed than ever before in the US. Being a refugee seeking asylum seems to have suddenly become very dangerous, what with the US Army closing in on the southern border. Being a student has been more and more dangerous every year, even as we teach our first and second graders to serpentine in the event they are being shot at.

It has always been dangerous to be a Jew in a world where antisemitism always lurks, even if for large areas of geography and for long stretches of time complacency is allowed. But suddenly, active violent antisemitism is ramped up because of the Republican conspiracy theory mill, and even being a Democrat or a critic of Donald Trump can get you bombed.

The most significant emerging source of mortality or morbidity in the US right now is not some novel disease or unexpected feature of a widely distributed toy or model of motor vehicle. It is the president of the United States and his loosely affiliated gang of Republican thugs and faux news commentators. When 11 were killed and six injured in Pittsburgh, that was an explicit attempt to address a non existent problem cooked up by the lying right wing, and for his part Donald Trump first ignored the event, then decried it as a distraction from his winning big, then blamed the victims, then offended the community by arriving unwelcome to pay lip service. At the same time, over a dozen individuals, legally and justifiably publicly critical of Trump and his administration, were sent pipe bombs in an explicit effort to suppress that criticism and support Donald Trump.

Donald Trump and the Republicans have become a danger to the citizens of the United States. Our solution must be to vote them out of office. We must vote Republican members of Congress out of office next Tuesday so there can be checks and oversight. We must turn state legislatures and governorships over to Democrats so there will be the necessary number of Democratic states to pass Constitutional changes such as ridding us of the Electoral College and Citizens United. We must have a Democratic Senate for at least a dozen years to right the wrongs that have been done to our federal judiciary. We must never again allow a Republican to be in charge of elections. In two states right now, Republican Secretaries of State (that’s the person in charge of a state’s electoral process) are running for governor and using their job as SOS to cheat. We must increase the number of Democratic Attorneys General, in order to protect citizens from oppression by the federal government.

Some will split hairs. The Tree of Life killer is said to have not liked Trump. Doesn’t matter. Conspiracy theorists, supported by and supportive of Trump, laid out the problem. Jews of means were funding a caravan of killer migrants who would swarm over the Mexican border at any time. That killer went after a special group of Jews, those most closely involved with helping immigrants. That was a call for active hate by Trump converted to a hail of bullets from an assault rifle available due to the incessant activities of the Republican NRA.

Some will spit hairs. The bombs never exploded, these men were crazy, the white supremacist who helped orchestrate the deadly Charlottesville protest just arrested was an odd ball.

To the hairsplitters, I say this: You are part of the problem, time for you to step aside.

Any American who can vote who chooses for any reason not to is carrying out an immoral act, and there is no excuse for it. I’ve seen young people claim that we should not ask young voters to come to the polls, because this country was ruined by baby boomers. That is absurd. Yes, of course, this country was ruined by baby boomers, as well as the generation before them, and the Xers haven’t helped. But if the so called Millennials can recognize the ruin and its cause, that is even more reason for them to show up in numbers greater than the usual 50% and do something about it. Jewish Americans tend to vote about 3:1 Democratic. That seems like a large percentage for the Democratic party, but it is pitiful. Why does any jew vote for a Republican? I hope that changes this year. The gender gap is pitifully small. No woman should vote for any Republican, yet many will. But maybe that will shift as well next Tuesday.

My own analysis suggests that Congress will remain in Republican hands for the next two years. A large part of the potential electorate will likely spend the next two years blaming the losers for their loss. We will then likely see Trump re-elected. It is quite possible that we will are now two years into an 8 to 12 year reign of hate, and dismantling democracy. It is quite likely that the levels of Trump-ed up violence we see today is small compared to what will be happening as our first graders, serpentine trained, the ones that survive school, grow to voting age. If voting is still a thing, maybe they will save us. Or maybe they will be indoctrinated to love the new regime and its senior officers, in the name of their founder Trump.

Do you think my pessimism is wrong? Prove it.

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US House Race: strong blue wave might result in a 50-50 split plus or minus 1

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I estimate that there are about a dozen highly likely turnovers from Democrat to Republican control of house seats, net. These are what I regard as, roughly, sure things. There are enough other districts that are close that I’m comfortable saying that in a strong Blue Wave, we will have 25 turnovers.

If I’m right, the electorate acting as it usually does will move the Democrats about half way to a majority. The Putin-Trump-Republican axis will continue to control the United States. If I’m right, but there is also a strong blue wave, the control of the House will be as close to 50-50 as it can be, and given the closeness of several of the races, there will be recounts.

Since there is an uneven number of members in the house, and there are a lot of them, and many of them are old or indictable, expect the control of the house to switch back and forth a time or two over the next two years, should there be a blue wave.


Arkansas: There will be no turnovers in Arkansas. If anything, the one close seat (Arkansas’ 2nd) is more Republican now than it was two weeks ago. We won’t be returning to Arkansas this year.

Arizona second will be a turnover from R to D.

Nothing else will be happening in Arizona’s house districts.

For California’s 39th,I’m adding a new category to supplement “probably yes” and “no way.” I’ll call it “If only.” If only there is a stronger than expected blue wave, California’s 39th district will result in an R to D takeaway.

California’s 45th is a turnover.

California’s 49th is a turnover.

California’s 48th is an If Only, heading for a likely turnover, but it is not there yet.

California’s 25th is an If Only, heading for a likely turnover, but it is not there yet.

California’s 10th is an If Only, heading for a likely turnover, but it is not there yet.

Colorado’s 6th district is a very likely turnover.

I previously opined about Florida, but no more. Nothing will change there.

Iowa’s 1st district is a turnover.

Iowa’s 3rd district is an If Only.

Fogettabout Illinois.

Kansas’ 3rd district is a turnover.

Kansas’ 2nd district is probably a turnover, but the data are erratic. I’ll keep it in the If Only column for now.

Kentucky’s 6th district is an If Only.

A lot of people are looking at Maine’s 2nd district as a possible takeaway>. To me, it is only barely an If Only.

Michigan’s 11th is a turnover, while Michigan’s 8th is an If Only.

Minnesota’s 1st district is a likely loss of one for the Democrats, but the Democratic candidate is showing recent good numbers, so maybe not. But I have to be conservative and put this district in the negative column.

Minnesota’s 2nd district is a turnover.

Minnesota’s 3rd district is a turnover!

Minnesota’s 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th districts are stable.

Minnesota’s 8th district is strong Republican. However, there is an October Surprise happening there right now that could help. But it won’t. This will be a negative number.

So, Minnesota is the only state that will lose democrats in the house, but it will also gain, for a net zero.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and put New Jersey’s 2nd, 3rd, and 7th districts all in the If Only category.

New York’s 19th district is an If Only, verging on a takeaway.

I’m going to stick with my original wild assertion that Pennsylvania’s 1st district is a turnover, even though everyone else thinks it is not.

Pennsylvania’s 5th, 6th, and 7th are turnovers.

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The Entire Leadership of the US Senate Shuns Trump

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This is an interesting development.

Nobody wants Trump to visit Pittsburgh, where multiple funerals are being held today for those slaughtered in the trump-hate-fueled antisemitic massacre that happened over the weekend. And, now, the top two leaders in each party in Congress have said that they will not accompany Trump.

This is all happening this afternoon, when Trump and his immigrant-wife-who-doesn’t-care plan to arrive, unwanted and despised, in Pennsylvania.

One of the main reasons people in this community, and their supporters, don’t want Trump to show up is that he blamed the victims, saying that they should have had armed guards at their synagogue. According to the Washington Post, Stephen Halle, nephew of one of the victims, said of these remarks, “Everybody feels that they were inappropriate. He was blaming the community. A church, a synagogue, should not be a fortress. It should be an open welcoming place to feel safe.”

What will people do if he tries to hone in on a funeral? There are protests planned. Will there be counter-protesters? Keep an eye on the news for this one.

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Birthright Citizenship: Is it constitutional?

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The United States Constitution states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”


The particular subset of this obvious provision that is sometimes questioned is jus soli, literally meaning, right of the soil.

This is and was a part of English Common Law, which is a good point of reference for any ambiguity, as though there were any ambiguity. It means that if you are born here you get to be a citizen here. A fairly common exception made to jus soli birthright citizenship is for diplomats or similar, people who are also treated to some degree as though they are not actually here at all. So, if a diplomat can commit a felony but not be prosecuted, then they can’t drop a baby and have it be granted citizenship. But otherwise, the interpretation, though fought many times in the courts by nationalists and other asshats, is straightforward.

The reason this is even a thing right now is because the Republicans, under Russian-owned and controlled Donald Trump, are against it, and Trump plans to produce an executive order reversing jus soli for brown people. What’s next? Removing citizenship from anyone who’s home land is not an actual state? (Like Puerto Rico?)

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We are not on edge. We are not afraid, of the dildo bomber

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News outlets breathlessly report that “America is on edge” that mailed bombs “cause fear” or that we are experiencing the “politics of the apocalypse” (not sure what that means exactly).

I have yet to see an expression of fear or edginess on the part of any of the recipients of these bombs, or their surrogates. Democrats are concerned about civilization, the future, our children, our planet, education, the environment. Attacks on these key elements of society cause concern, and Democrats fight those attacks. Democratic values don’t include being afraid. Nobody is afraid.

To be clear, over the last three years, Donald Trump has publicly compiled an enemies list, that includes President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Vice President Obama, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Director Brennan, AG Holden, and several others. This enemies list has been converted into a hit list, and a fake bomber, or an utterly incompetent bomber (not sure which is better), has taken on the obvious task of attempting to terrorize those individuals. For now, I’ll assume that the lack of a bomb in Elizabeth Warren’s mailbox is the slowness of the postal system around Boston this time of year.

There is an attack going on, but not one that will do anything but elevate paragraphs about Trump’s hatred and his enemies list to an earlier position in the eventual Wikipedia page on his regime.

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The Fourth Impeachment

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Andrew Johnson was impeached for matters related to what to do with the South after they were defeated in the American Civil War. I would like to know more about that. What I understand of it now is that it may have been a great Irony, in the sense that Johnson was a Democrat, appointed as a Republican’s VP, who had the intention of implementing that president’s policies after his assassination by a pro-Slavery assassin, but those policies went easier on the South because that is how Lincoln wanted to approach reconstruction, and the Republicans in Congress wanted to crush the South. But I’m sure I’m leaving out important details. Anyway, Andrew Johnson was impeached and nearly thrown out of office.

Later on, Richard Nixon was impeached because he and his minions carried out crimes that were kinda bad and then tried to cover them up, which led to the absurd modern day aphorism that “it’s not the crime, its the cover up,” implying that no matter how bad the crime is, the cover up is worse (wrong). Nixon was not thrown out of office, but rather, he left on his own.

Later on, Bill Clinton was impeached for his affair with a White House Aide. But other than anti-Clinton Republicans, most people, while not liking the affair thing, did not see this as worthy of impeachment, and recognized the Republican effort to impeach Clinton as a bald faced political move.

Now, we are faced with Trump. We don’t know where impeachment will go. It may be impossible until there is a Senate super majority, and that may not happen any time soon. Trump will have to be caught talking on the phone to Vladimir Putin, discussing their recent successful assassination of Bambi. But likely, that won’t do it either. Republicans put party over country every time. The only way Trump is going to leave office is feet first in the case he croaks on his own, or by being voted out of office, and the latter is not likely to happen because, face it, Trump represents American values in he (slim) minority, but that minority rules due to voter suppression and Russian-powered ignorance.

Whatever. The point is, impeachment is on the table, and there is a new book out that helps us understand the earlier impeachments, and I recommend it. Impeachment: An American History by Jon Meacham, Peter Baker, Tim Naftali, and Jefrey Engel.

Four experts on the American presidency examine the three times impeachment has been invoked—against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton—and explain what it means today.

Impeachment is a double-edged sword. Though it was designed to check tyrants, Thomas Jefferson also called impeachment “the most formidable weapon for the purpose of a dominant faction that was ever contrived.” On the one hand, it nullifies the will of voters, the basic foundation of all representative democracies. On the other, its absence from the Constitution would leave the country vulnerable to despotic leadership. It is rarely used, and with good reason.

Only three times has a president’s conduct led to such political disarray as to warrant his potential removal from office, transforming a political crisis into a constitutional one. None has yet succeeded. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for failing to kowtow to congressional leaders—and, in a large sense, for failing to be Abraham Lincoln—yet survived his Senate trial. Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against him for lying, obstructing justice, and employing his executive power for personal and political gain. Bill Clinton had an affair with a White House intern, but in 1999 he faced trial in the Senate less for that prurient act than for lying under oath about it.

In the first book to consider these three presidents alone—and the one thing they have in common—Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, and Peter Baker explain that the basis and process of impeachment is more political than legal. The Constitution states that the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” leaving room for historical precedent and the temperament of the time to weigh heavily on each case. This book reveals the complicated motives behind each impeachment—never entirely limited to the question of a president’s guilt—and the risks to all sides. Each case depended on factors beyond the president’s behavior: his relationship with Congress, the polarization of the moment, and the power and resilience of the office itself. This is a realist view of impeachment that looks to history for clues about its potential use in the future.

Read this book as a distraction from the current intense and rather explosive (nearly explosive?) political climate. A little history to distrat you from the future…

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Why this is going to be good election for Republicans, and not Democrats

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Midterm years are all about two things: Referendum on the president (negative or positive) and voter enthusiasm. These two things are not unconnected.

There is a direct relationship between the president’s approval rating, which is normally low in the midterm year, and how badly the president’s party is shellacked at the voting booth.

There is a direct relationship between how enthusiastic voters are by party and how well a party does in the congressional races.

Right now, President Trump’s approval rating is rising. Going up. Improving. That means that his party’s candidates will not do too badly.

More importantly, though, is the enthusiasm numbers for voters. In a year in which there is a “wave” of one party’s or the others, that party’s voters have a relatively higher enthusiasm measure in polling. The absolute amount of enthusiasm is not the problem. The problem is the relative enthusiasm rate.

Right now, both parties have a high enthusiasm rate, and more importantly, they are the same. There is not statistical difference between how enthusiastic Republicans are vs. Democrats. They are both a) very enthusiastic and b) the same.

This pretty much cancels out any hope of an actual “blue wave.”

Consider earlier years. According to NBC/Wall Street Journal polling, voter enthusiasm for earlier years, and the outcome in congressional house races, break down as follows.

The larger difference in enthusiasm levels seem to have had an effect, and the absolute amount of enthusiasm of the winning party seems to have had an effect. Larger turnovers happened when both effects were strong.

This year, both parties have high enthusiasm, but the level of enthusiasm in both parties is high.

The only way that there could possibly be a blue wave this year, the only way for Democrats to take control of either house in Congress, or to produce any sort of anti-Trump mandate, is to have a large number of people who normally don’t vote show up and vote, or for a large percentage of people who normally vote for Republicans somehow change their minds. Young voters, suburban white women, somebody. Martians. Anybody.

And since those things never actually happen, people who normally don’t vote never actually vote, and people who normally vote one way only vote the other way in support of conservatives or Republicans and never progressives or Democrats, this election will be a disappointment.

We will have a midterm election during the first term of the demonstrably worse president in the 20th or 21st century in which Republicans gain seats in the Senate and Democrats pick up a few seats in the house, but not enough to matter.

Unless Democratic turnout rises to levels that have not been seen since the mid to late 19th century, when turnout was generally high in this country, this is what will happen: The Republicans will add between 1 and 3 seats to their majority in the Senate, and the Democrats will close the gap with the republicans by up to but not more than 20 seats, with the Republicans retaining the majority. And Trump and McConnell will be handed a mandate.

Then we are going to have to start asking ourselves what we are doing wrong.

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Election matters

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Measuring the feeble heartbeat of the electorate

From a current NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, regarding likely voters:


It looks to me that more mobilization is needed. Groups you would think have the highest stakes in this year’s election have low numbers.

Related to potential Kavanaugh effects, from the same poll:

Women are smarter than men, people with college degrees are smarter than those without, younger is smarter than older. Oddly, Independents dislike Kavanaugh to a greater degree than one would expect given the previously graph. (I’m suspicious of the category “Independent,” however.)

Regarding who should control congress, this:

The Republican Party is the party of whites, men, and to some degree older folks, while the Democratic Party is the party of people of color, women, younger folks, and the better educated.

Most critical may be the fact that 50% of likely voters prefer Democrats nation wide, while only 41% of likely voters prefer Republicans.

This will not, however, translate into more Republican members of congress. Local tradition, local campaigning, election rigging, and gerrymandering, determine who wins a given Congressional seat. Sadly. As I’ve suggested before, it is highly unlikely that a Democratic leaning American electorate will actually elect a Democratic majority Congress, in either house.

Expect Mud

This happened. I was sitting on the couch watching a football game (go Vikings!) and a political ad for our local Democratic candidate for Congress, Dean Phillips, came on. It was a positive, informative, up beat ad. Nice. Then, a political ad for the Republican incumbent, the Trump Lapdog Erik Paulsen, came up. It was negative, disgusting, and full of lies.

So the person watching the game with me, asked about why that ad was so horrible and why do the Democrats have such different ads. I said, “The Democrats used to use negative ads too, both parties did. ”


“Because experts told all the campaigns that they worked, and they did seem to work, so everybody did them. But this year, Democrats, at least here, decided to do no negative ads. So you see Republican negative ads, no Democratic negative ads.”

“I think,” he said, “If you have negative ads, some people learn to hate the other candidate so you win, but more people hate the whole idea and just stay home and don’t vote, and that matters more.”‘

“Hmm,” I replied. “Pretty smart for an eight year old, since that is exactly how we lost this race two years ago!”

Here’s the thing. Right now, Republicans are going to double down on negative ads, and they are going to work. Or, just ads that lie. For example, Representative Sarah Anderson, of the Minnesota house, is famous for a) reducing funding for education and b) opposing heath care reform. Her opponent, Ginny Klevorn, is famous for a) being very pro education and also, knowing a lot about how the school systems in her district are run, and b) wanting to link the health care plans state legislators have to the average cost and availability of health plans for all the citizens of the state, so they know exactly what everyone is experiencing (currently, Sarah Anderson and her Republican buddies in the MN Legislature have really great heath care plans!)

The people who live in this district have made it clear that they want more attention paid to, and more money spent on, education, and they want health care reform. So, naturally, anti-education and anti-health care reform Republican Sarah Anderson has put out lies in all her lit and other ads, painting herself as the savior of the education system and the savior of health care. Erik Paulsen is putting out negative, lie-filled, hate ads against Dean Phillips, in the US Congressional race here. The Republican dweeb running for Governor, Jeff Johnson, has been putting out hateful, dishonest ads, in his effort to catch up with Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Time Walz. And so on.

That’s all expected. What concerns me right now is the fact, just reported by the New York Times, that while Democrats have been out raising Republicans in recent weeks, Republicans have way more money to spend on elections, starting now.

Republicans entered the final month of the campaign with more money in the bank than the Democrats, providing them with vital ammunition as they wage a furious effort to hold on to control of Congress.

The most recent round of campaign finance disclosures, filed Saturday, showed that Republican national party committees, candidates in key House and Senate races and their top unlimited-money outside groups, or “super PACs,” had $337 million on hand as of Sept. 30. Their Democratic counterparts had $285 million in the bank on the same date.

What I don’t know is if this is simply more false balance reporting by the New York Times, or good analysis. Democratic superpacs have raised piles of money, a few million more than Republicans, and the superpacs represent more than half of the total campaign budget. But, it could be that Republicans are going to play their usual trick, swamping media markets where they are about to lose with lies, negative campaigning, and fear, and so in the end pull out and win. I would like to hope, but I dare not think, the post 2016 American electorate is not quite so easily manipulated.

Here’s the data from that report:

Send money to a Democrat!

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Interesting House Races, New Jersey – Wyoming

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This group of states has 193 members in Congress, 73 as Democrats, 120 as Republicans. I expect there to be 5 turnovers. In this groups there are probably that many again possible turnovers that I’m rejecting because of lack of convincing data. So maybe there would be ten turnovers, to result in 83 Democrats and 110 Republicans, but not likely.

There are three house races in New Jersey that are said to be on the line for Republicans.

In New Jersey’s 7th District, Democrat Tom Malinowski is slightly ahead of Leonard Lance, the incumbent Republican, according to 538 and various polls. But not impressively so. The mid September Siena/NYT poll, the most recent, puts Republican Lance ahead by one point. A mid September poll by Monmouth puts Malinowski ahead by 4.5 points. That’s about it. We are not impressed. It is not possible to put this race in the turnover category.

In New Jersey’s 3rd District, Republican Incumbent Tom MacArthur is slightly behind Democratic challenger Andy Kim. MacArthur was well head of Kim in mid summer, slowly lost ground, and then the Kavanaugh Moment came and their positions reversed suddenly. That reversal is signaled in a Siena/NYT poll that put Kim ahead by an astonishing 10 points. Otherwise, however, the argument looks weak. Democratic leaning or controlled polling agencies had the Republican leading or even tghrough the summer. Stockton University issued a non partisan poll just a few days ago tghat puts MacArthur on top by 1.4 points. Overall, this looks like a totally fake Blue Wave. If you stand back a way and squint, it looks like the Democrat is going to win. If you look at the actual data, it looks like the Republican is going to win. This is not a turnover.

New Jersey’s 2nd district has Frank LoBiondo, Republican representing it. He is not running for re-election. Fivethirthyeight puts Democratic candidate Jeff Van Drew well ahead of the Republican candidate Seth Grossman. There is only one poll, from Stockton, putting the Democrat at 55, and the Republican at 32.

Even though there is only one poll, it is strong, and other indicators suggest the Democrat will win. I am not overwhelmed with the evidence, but I’m OK with putting New Jersey’s 2nd district down as a Republican to Democratic turnover this year.

A really big and powerful blue wave could blue up New Mexico’s 2nd district, but probably not.

You will see the claim being made that Chris Collins, New York’s 27th district Republican, will certainly not lose, being an indicted conspirator in stock market insider trading, using his personal position as a Congressperson and all. But all the indicators are that Collins, the first member of the House to endorse Donald Trump, is secure. He will be re-elected, and this will not be a turnover. No turnovers in New York.

Pennsylvania 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, have all been cited as possible turnover districts.

Pennsylvania’s 1st district Republican incumbent, Brian Fitzpatrick, is neck and neck with Democratic clanneger Scott Wallace. A very recent Siena/NYT poll places Wallace over 7 points ahead. This is regarded by 538 as a tossup. During the primaries, the Democrats cast 49,000 votes while the Republicans cast 47,000 votes. The Republcians are campaigning dirty, and there is the idea that this is backfiring on them. Even though I avoid labeling true tossups (as this looks) as turnovers, I actually like Wallace in this race enough to suggest that this is very likely a Turnover.

The 5th is currently represented by Glenn Thomson, Republican. Democratic challenger Mary Gay Scanlon is thought to be doing very well there, but with no polling data at all. But the experts are so sure, and fivethirtyeight has the race so clearly a Democratic win, I’ll take Pennsylvania 5th as a turnover.

Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district is currently held by Republican Ryan Costello, and he is not running for re-election. There is no polling data here, but experts widely agree that Democrat Chrissy Houlahan is whipping the butt of Republican Greg McCauley. Again, I defer to the local experts on the ground and I’ll consider this race to be a turnover.

Pennsylvania’s 7th district is a new district with no incumbent. The Democrat is likely to win, according to experts. This district is mostly made up of an older district that was represented by a Republican, so this will count as a turnover.

So, when all is said and done, Pennsylvania will either give us 4 R to D turnovers, or alternatively, disappoint as it did in 2016. I’m hoping that Pennsylvania feels bad about 2016 and does the right thing this time around.

Polls and experts all agree. Virginia 10th’s incumbantg republican Barbara Comstock will lose to Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton. This will be a turnover.

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Interesting House Races, Kentucky-New Hampshire

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The states that range from Kentucky through New Hampshire, in the alphabet, hold 26 House seats, divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Althought Minnesota will have four turnovers by party, two will be Republican to Democrat, and two will be Democrat to Republican. Only one very likely turnover, in Michigan, is expected.

Kentucky’s 6th is currently represented by Andy Barr, Republican. Democrat Amy McGrath is neck and neck in polls averaged over time. A recent Republican biased poll puts Bar ahead by 2 points. A recent Democratic biased poll puts McGrath ahead by 7 points. An early September Siena/NYT poll puts Barr ahead by 1 oint, and a somewhat later Pulse poll put them even. So, independent polling says it is a tossup, and biased polling is biased… Can’t call this one a turnover.

Maine’s 2nd district is currently represented by a Republican, Bruce Poliquin, who is being challenged effectively by Jared Golden, Democrat. The two are neck and neck with a slightly higher chance of Golden winning. What is interesting here is that the contest has been a bit of a horse race, with some back and forth. The Siena/NYT poll put Golden well ahead in mid September, and the same source puts Poliquin slightly ahead right now. Too volatile, and close, to call.

Michigan’s 8th district has a Republican incumbant, Bishop, challenged by Democrat Elissa Slotkin, with the two running neck and neck and Slotkin doing slighty better on average over time. The most recent poll, Target Insyght, puts Bishop way ahead, and the turn of the month Siena/NYT agrees. This is one to watch, but it is not a chicken to expect to hatch, as it were.

Michigan’s 11th district is currently represented by Republican David Trott, who is not seeking re-election. Republican Lena Epstein is being challenged by the formidable Haley Stephens, who has been ahead consistently across several polls. The Target Insyght poll, most recent, has them even. Siena/NYT of early october had Stevens ahed by nearly 8 points. 538 puts this race as very likely to be taken by the Democrat, but given the recent shift in polling, I’m not so sure. I’ll count this as a takeaway for now, but we need to look closely at this race.

And now we get to my favorite state, at the moment, Minnesota.

After a tumultuous and uncertain period, we are starting to see some clarity. It is both good news and bad.

Most people are putting Minnesota’s first district, currently represented by Time Walz, who is leaving that seat to run for Governor (and he will likely win the gubernatorial contest), as a tossup. I’ve spent a little time in the district, and I think the Democratic candidate, Dan Feehan, is great. But I do not trust the first district. At present, I have to put this in the turnover category, but going from Democrat to Republican.

Minnesota’s 2nd district is currently represented by the Truly Deplorable Jason Lewis. He is getting his butt kicked by the second time challenger Angie Craig. This is a situation where the good people of the 2nd district went for the Republican during the last election, and are now having serious buyer’s remorse. Last time it was close, Craig almost won. This time, it won’t be too close and Craig will be representing that district. This will be a turnover.

Minnesota’s 3rd district is where I am. The seat is helt by perrenial “he’s not so bad, if you can find him” Erik Paulsen, the Republican incumbent who actually is so bad, and who has contributed materially to the lack of oversight of Trump’s administration (Paulsen is on the committee that could be looking at Trump’s taxes, but they won’t). He is being challenged by Democrat Dean Phillips. Phillips is running a spectacular campaign, and is currently positioned to wipe the floor with Erik

This will be a turnover.

Minnesota’s 4th district is held, by the much loved Betty McCollum, who is beating Republican Greg Ryan and Legalize Pot Susan Sindt by something close to 65-30-whatever’s left.

Minnesota’s fifth district is currently held by African American Muslim Man Keith Ellison. But he is now running for Attorney General of Minnesota (likely to win that race) so the Democrats have selected Somali Muslim Woman Ilhan Omar. I only emphasize gender, ethnicity, and religion here because, well, it is tremendously significant.

Omar is much loved in this district and is beating the other candidate, whom no one can remember, buy a huge margin and can’t lose. So, no turnover, but I thought you’d like to know about the race.

The sixth district is our big problem district. This is the district that put Michele Bachmann in the House of Representatives for as many terms as she wanted to be there. Republican Tom Emmer is there now. Ian Todd, a really nice guy who I hope gets elected for something some day, is trailing way behind. Not Ian’s fault. This district is at present very heavy on the deplorables. The good news, though, is that this district is also now experiencing a pretty serious demographic transition, so in one or two election cycles from now, that 30 point margin between Democrats and Republicans running there will be seriously narrowed. We hope.

Minnesota’s 7th district is solid Democrat. It is a very Republican electorate that has decided to send a Democrat to Congress and likes him (Colin Peterson).

The Eighth District of Minnesota is the great disappointment. The DFL (Democratic party) itself is in shambles in that district. Senseless and brutal infighting allowed for Labor to shove a non-winnable candidate down their throats, with labor now being unable to deliver the votes. Republican Pete Stauber will beat Democrat Joe Radinovich, turning this Democratic district over to the Republicans.

So, in Minnesota, two Democratic districts will become Republican, and two Republican districts will become Democratic. In this way, Minnesota will not be contributing to the Blue Wave in the House. Shame on us.

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Interesting House Races, Arizona-Florida

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Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida have a total of 114 members in the US House of Representatives, which is about a fourth of the total members.

50 are Republicans. 64 are Democrats.

This year, Arizona is likely to see a Republican seat flip to Democratic. California will likely flip 2, R to D. Colorado will likely flip 1.

So, it is likely that the party count for these first states, alphabetically speaking, will end up being 46-68. If this shift happens at this level across the US, Democrats will come to within about 75% of where they need to equal Republicans in the house, numerically.

Arkansas 2nd

Incumbent French Hill is ahead of Democratic challenger Clarke Tucker (there is a libertarian in the race as well, with a crumb of support but enough to propel the Republican into a statistical safety zone should he get hit by a bus at an intersection lacking proper stoplights or pedestrian walkway markings). But while fivethirtyeight puts this race as close and leaning Republican, there has been virtually no polling here. A PPP Poll in April put Hill ahead by 5 points, and a Hendrix College poll in early September put Hill ahead by 9 points.

The district went for Trump by and Romney by 12.

There have been Democrats representing this district.

A blue wave effect in this semi-urban area, a semi-liberal island in a sea of redness, would have to be strong, but a Democratic upset here is barely possible.

There are three interesting races in Arizona.

Arizona 02 was represented by Republican Martha McSally, who is now running for US Senate. Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick is running against Republican Lea Marquez Peterson. If Kirkpatrick sounds familiar to you, it is because she reprersented Arizona’s 1st district in the past. Kirkpatrick has also run (not successfully) against Senator McCain.

There has been only one poll here, one of those New York Times/Siena polls that seem to be mainly a way for the NYT to sell newspaper subscriptions. But maybe it is a good poll, and it shows Kirkpatrick ahead by 11 points. It is generally expected that this will be a turnover.

Arizona’s 6th and 8th districts are very likely Republican keeps, but there are viable Democratic challengers there, so there is a barely possible turnover in each of those districts, if the Blue Wave is big and strong and reaches the desert.

For a state with one gazillion house districts, California has only a handful of races that might produce a turnover.

California 39th. The seat is currently held by Edward Royce, but this Republican is leaving in what some might consider an anti-Republican or anti-Trump protest. Fivethirtyeight suggests that the race is a tossup, leaning towards the Republican. One poll shows Democrat Gil Sisneros ahead by one point, another poll shows Republican Young Kim ahead by 10. Both polls were taken about the same time, but the Cisneros favoring one, by Berkeley IGS, a little later and overlapping with the Kavanaugh Outrage Event.

For this reason, I’m going to say that this race will probably go Republican (and thus not be a turnover) but with a medium blue wave, Democrat Sisneros can win. By the way, the Democrat is a man, and the Republican a woman. If that had been reversed, perhaps the Kavanaugh Outrage Effect would be stronger.

California 45 is currently represented by Republican Mimi Walters, but Democrat Katie Porter is favored by 538. This race was much closer until the Kavanaugh hearings developed, after which Porter has run away. This is a very likely turnover.

Republican Darrel Issa is bailing from his seat in California’s 49th district. Democrat Mike Levin is well head (in two polls) of Republican Diane Harkey. This is a likely turnover.

The 10th, 25th, and 48th districts in California also have close races worth watching.

In Colorado, Republican incumbant Mike Coffman is showing poorly in polling (entirely by NY Times/Siena) against Democratic challenger Jason Crow. This is likely to be a party turnover and unseating of an incumbent Republican.

Florida’s 6th district is especially interesting. The seat was held by a Republican, who is no longer running. The current candidates include Michael Waltz, the Republican, and Nancy Soderberg, the Democrat. Nancy is actually the sister of my close personal friend John, with whom I worked for several years at the University of Minnesota. Soderberg is one of those women Rachel Maddow has mentioned who come from the security community, many of whom are running this year for Congress, as Democrats. If I recall correctly, and I’m sure I’ll have some of this wrong, Nancy Soderberg was staff for Senator Ted Kennedy. She served in the Clinton White House key staff on the National Security Council, and later, as ambassador to the United Nations. She ran for Congress in 2012, lost, but did well.

Unfortunately, Republican Waltz is projected by 538 to win this race. However, the most recent polling, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (a Democratic Partisan source) puts them at even. Soderberg can win with a medium to strong Blue Wave, but I’m not going to put her in the turnover column at this time.

Elsewhere in Florida, 26th District incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo is being seriously challenged by Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. The two are essentially neck and neck in polling, though Curbelo has been consistently ahead. This is a race that will be won by the Democrat if a normally uncounted faction, such as female millennials, show up to vote in larger numbers.

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Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Heritage

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In the early days of the 1972 election, President Richard Nixon, seeking re-election, faced a number of potentially tough challengers, and the strongest one may have been Senator Edmund Muskie. Among all the possible Democratic candidates emerging at the time, Nixon wanted to run against the one he saw as the weakest, George McGovern.

So he arranged that.

The Nixon dirty tricks team (which included at least one person active in recent years on the Trump dirty tricks team) fabricated a letter supposedly written by Muskie that served to discredit him as a candidate. That was one of several different fraudulent moves made against Muskie and other candidates.

The Democrats dutifully tossed Muskie and all the other candidates under the bus and ran George McGovern against Richard Nixon.

1972 election results:

47,168,710 votes, 520 Electoral votes: NIXON
29,173,222 votes, 17 Electoral votes: McGOVERN

The following presidential election was won by outsider Democrat Jimmy Carter. It is generally recognized that Carter’s win was in large part due to the country being tired of cheating Republicans, following the Watergate affair. The hit job on Muskie and other candidates was not forgotten, but had been absorbed into the larger array of illegal and unethical activities by the Republicans.

Owing largely to the Iran Hostage crisis, the country lost faith in Carter, and elected Ronald Reagan in 1980. Another significant factor was a third party candidate, Anderson, who took away mainly Carter votes.

Reagan was re-elected in 1984.

The 1988 election required that the Democrats get a strong candidate to run against Reagan’s vice president, George Bush. They did. The up and coming, popular, and highly qualified Gary Hart was the obvious candidate, and from early on was assumed to be the nominated one, and a likely next president.

But then something bad happened. Gary Hart was taken out of the running. The National Enquirer ran a story placing Hart in the company of a loose woman on a suspicious boat called “Monkey Business” in the Caribbean. There was even a photo of the woman, Donna Rice, siting on Hart’s lap.

The Democrats quickly tossed Hart under the bus, and put forward Mike Dukakis as their candidate. Let me note that Dukakis was a very good governor of Massachusetts, and would have made a good president.

This may or may not be a side story: When Dukakis was running, there was a famous photograph taken of him in a tank wearing a too-large helmet, looking goofy. This appeared to disqualify him as president to a lot of voters.

Also during the primary, came the “Willie Horton” affair, a racist ploy to make Dukakis look like he was weak on crime.

This led to further weakening of Dukakis’s campaign.

We now know that the Hart Monkey Business monkey business business was a setup by Lee Atwater, a Republican dirty tricks guy. We also now know that the racist and inaccurate Horton attack ads were Atwater work as well. (See Was Gary Hart Set Up?)

48,886,597 votes, 426 Electoral votes: BUSH
41,809,074 votes, 111 Electoral votes: DUKAKIS

Then a few other elections happened.

The 2016 election was probably won by Republican Trump in part because of the discrediting of the Democratic candidate, Clinton, using lies and misdirection. There are also some who would argue that Sanders should have been the candidate, but efforts to keep him out of the race caused Clinton to win the primaries. I’m pretty sure that is not true, but if you happen to think it is true, do check on the possibility that Sanders’ campaign was damaged at least in part by outside nefarious forces of Republican or Puto-Russian origin. Just in case.

Anyway, you can imagine how different the world would be today if Muskie had been elected president. Or Hart. Or Dukakis.

Today, we are seeing this happening again, I think.

Elizabeth Warren, the most viable current candidate to represent the Democratic Party in 2020, according to many, had made a reference in the past to her own heritage. Her heritage, her right.

The Racist Republican Don the Con Trump used that opportunity to attack “Pocahontas” Warren. Democrats thought this was despicable.

Much more recently, just now, Warren happens to have done a DNA test of her heritage, and found out the interesting, quaint, and largely unimportant fact that what her family had been telling her all along, that many generations back she had a Native American ancestor, is likely true given the genetic markers in her DNA. As is her right, she made this public.

What Senator Warren did is this: She challenged a made up, racist, insulting accusation made by Don the Con Trump, with a fact.

The result? Repeated outcries BY DEMOCRATS that this was not a good communications move, and therefore ELIZABETH WARREN IS NO LONGER QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT.

Excuse me, fellow Democrats, but I have something for you:


To the people who are jumping on this Never Warren She Did DNA OMG!!!!! bandwagon, many of whom are friends or colleagues whom I truly respect: Please think about the damage you are doing, and fucking stop doing it.

Thank you very much, that is all.

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US Senate Will Be Republican Controlled or 50-50

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According to me. And, I quickly add, that this is NOT a formal analysis. This is just my gut feeling combined with looking at the polls and stuff. Bottom line: Missouri and Nevada are the key states to watch.

Montana is considered a toss-up state, but I do not regard it as one. Tester is well established and has been ahead in polls, including good polls. Democratic incumbent senator John Tester will pass the ultimate test and put his challenger on the mat.

Nevada is a tossup. Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen has had a strong showing in several polls, and was gaining on incumbent Dean Heller. It is possible that there is a Kavanaugh effect. In my first iteration of an an analysis across the Senate, I’d put Nevada in Heller’s pocket. But there if urban labor can get organized, and if the Kavanaugh effect blunts over time, I can see Rosen clear to a victory. So, I’ll put Democrat Jacky Rosen in the win column in my Plan B analysis.

Arizona is going to be interesting. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was strong through the summer, but McSally’s campaign sallied forth and caught up in September. One could see the last month in Nevada as a volatile horse race. What looks like a last minute Kavanaugh backlash may wear off. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Sinema will win in Arizona.

I hate to say it, but Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, in North Dakota, is going to lose, and the Republican Kramer is going to win. This race is considered by many as a tossup, but it is more of a toss-out.

If Beto O’Rourke wins in Texas, I’ll eat my cowboy hat. He never really had a chance of beating Cruz. Texas is an asshole state, and everything is Texas is extra big,and Cruz is a the biggest asshole of them all. Too bad.

Some analyses put Senator Tina Smith in an uncertain column for her return to represent Minnesota. I would have done so a couple of weeks ago as well, but the North Star state is coming together. Probably a Kavanaugh effect in favor of the DFL. Smith will win in Minnesota.

In Missouri, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill seems to be losing. But if there is a race the Democrats can pull out of the ditch by doing things like sending lots of money, allowing Mich McConnell to ram through 16 right wing judges so the Dems could go home and campaign, and that sort of stuff, it is this race. I will not underestimate McCaskill. She’ll be returned. And, no, there was no Kavanaugh effect there.

Democrat Donnelly is solid in Indiana.

Democrat Nelson is taking off in Florida and will win there.

All of the other races are going as they are going. There will be Democrats in Wisconisn, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Republicans in Mississippi, Tennessee, and the other usually Republican states.

The only uncertainty is Nevada. Leaving Nevada out of the count, there will be 49 Democrats and 50 Republicans. If Nevada actually goes, as currently seems likely, to the GOP, the Party of Hate will have two more Senators than the Democratic Party. But, it is distinctly possible that Nevada will send a Democrat to the Senate instead, which will cause the Senate to break 50.

Of those I’ve assigned, obviously, Missouri is the most uncertain. Everything seems to depend on Missouri and Nevada.

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