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Democrats are on a winning streak.
May 18, 2023
In yesterday’s newsletter, I focused on the victory of Donna Deegan in the mayoral race in Jacksonville, Florida. Deegan’s victory may be a bellwether for 2024. But Democratic victories on Tuesday spanned the nation and suggest a trend that began in 2020 and continues unabated. Before looking at the longer-term trend, let’s consider a few other Democratic victories on Tuesday evening (in addition to Donna Deegan’s win):
In Colorado Springs, Colorado, voters elected moderate independent businessman Yemi Mobolade, who will be the first non-Republican mayor of Colorado Springs since 1979! The Republican candidate lost by 15 percentage points!
In Pennsylvania, Democrat Heather Boyd won in a special election to replace a Democratic member of the state assembly who resigned. Boyd’s impressive margin of victory (20 points) maintained the one-vote Democratic majority in the Pennsylvania assembly. Going into the 2022 midterms, Republicans held a 113-90 advantage in the state assembly. Talk about a turnaround!
In a New Hampshire assembly race, the Democratic candidate won by 43 percentage points, eclipsing Biden’s 27-point margin in 2020.
You get the point. Democrats are overperforming—and have been since 2020. See Aaron Blake’s op-ed in WaPo, Republicans keep having bad elections. Per Blake,
Democrats have overperformed the 2020 presidential results by an average of six points across 18 state legislative races this year. . . . They’ve also beaten their 2016 margins by an average of 10 points.
Why are Democrats increasing their winning margins? Simon Rosenberg addresses that question in his Substack blog, Hopium Chronicles, A Big Night For Democrats. Per Rosenberg,
The simplest explanation for what we are seeing is that those conditions that helped drive 2022 - abortion extremism, ongoing GOP-encouraged gun violence, extremist MAGA candidates prevailing in the GOP primary (Trump, DeSantis) - are very much still with us in 2023. What is also still with us is a Democratic party, ably led by Joe Biden, continuing to make things better for the American people; and a fired-up Democratic grassroots which continues to, through their donations and hard work (calls, texts, postcards, canvassing), push our electoral performances to the upper end of what is possible. . . .
We should acknowledge that the total number of elections taking place after the 2022 midterms is a small sample size that may suffer from The Law of Small Numbers—i.e., “the tendency for an initial segment of data to show some bias that drops out later.” In other words, the apparent trend could be an artifact of the small sample size.
But the trend of increasing Democratic margins (and victories) makes sense for the reasons set forth by Rosenberg above. And let’s recognize that elections are real while polls are speculative. Keep that fact in mind the next time a pundit explains why the latest poll is bad news for Biden or Democrats.
Democrats are on a winning streak, and Republicans are doing everything in their power to help Democrats maintain that streak. Read on!
Republicans vote to keep Rep. George Santos in House—and file a motion to expel Rep. Adam Schiff.
Voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District are furious that George Santos remains in the House as their representative despite overwhelming evidence that Santos lied his way into office. Vulnerable Republicans in nearby districts in New York have called on Santos to resign. But when those Republicans were given a chance to vote on expelling Santos, they voted (unanimously) to refer the motion to the House Ethics Committee—which is already investigating Santos. See The Hill, House votes to send Santos expulsion resolution to Ethics Committee.
The vote to refer the expulsion motion to the Ethics Committee was an act of cowardice and cynicism by House Republicans. They care more about maintaining their thin margin of control than burdening the people of NY-3rd with an admitted criminal and liar as their representative.
But it gets worse. As Republicans were circling the wagons around George Santos, GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida introduced a resolution to expel Rep. Adam Schiff from the House. True to form, Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed that Schiff should be expelled from Congress (because of alleged findings in the Durham Report).
Adam Schiff is an American hero who carried the nation on his shoulders during the dark days of the Trump administration. Schiff is running for US Senate in California, a race that has several outstanding candidates, including Schiff. I am supporting Adam Schiff; I know other readers are supporting Katie Porter or Barbara Lee. But today, after the ridiculous motion to expel Adam Schiff from the House while Republicans protect George Santos, I am donating (again) to Adam Schiff’s campaign. If you support Adam Schiff for US Senate, think about showing him some love and support today. Schiff’s campaign website is here: Adam Schiff for Senate.
Fifth Circuit holds a biased and embarrassing hearing on the mifepristone ruling of Judge Kacsmaryk
Federal district Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued an order withdrawing the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling and ordered that the ruling go into effect immediately. The US Supreme Court reversed the 5th Circuit and issued an unusual order that effectively told the 5th Circuit it could not ban the distribution of mifepristone until the Supreme Court ruled on the matter. In other words, the Supreme Court put the 5th Circuit on a “time out” for bad behavior.
A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments on the merits of the appeal today. The hearing was an embarrassment. The judges acted like petulant children who were upset that they had been reprimanded. Worse, they made no pretense of maintaining impartiality or objectivity—or adherence to the rule of law. The obscene display of judges following personal religious convictions rather than the Constitution is explained by Mark Joseph Stern in Slate, The 5th Circuit is furious that the Supreme Court put it in mifepristone timeout.
I highly recommend reading Stern’s article in full to get the full flavor of the hearing. Stern is at his best in this article. He writes, in part:
And here’s the punchline: Nothing these intellectual Lilliputians do will even matter. The Supreme Court has already decided that the 5th Circuit cannot be trusted with this case: In April, it froze the court’s previous decision stringently limiting access to mifepristone, expressly maintaining the freeze until the justices themselves take further action. Elrod, Ho, and Wilson are howling into the wind; they have no power to change a thing about federal regulation of medication abortion. The adults in the room have already put them in time-out. And rather than demonstrate that they can judge responsibly, they seized on Wednesday’s hearing to throw a combination temper tantrum/gaslight party. No lessons have been learned, no maturity acquired. This time-out probably isn’t ending anytime soon.
Ho read aloud random people’s criticisms of the FDA and made Ellsworth respond to them, then declared that federal courts should override the FDA’s scientific determinations because the agency isn’t trustworthy.
These are not serious people. This is not how real judges conduct themselves. This was barely a judicial proceeding. It was a struggle session in which three anti-abortion zealots yelled at attorneys who have already prevailed in this case once at the Supreme Court. Their rage should have been aimed at SCOTUS, but it’s not a good look for lower courts to trash-talk their superiors, so they redirected it to Harrington and Ellsworth instead. (Erin Hawley, wife of Sen. Josh Hawley, argued against mifepristone; the less said about her unceasing stream of shameless falsehoods, the better.)
I also recommend Talking Points Memo, Right-Wing Judges Mulling Restricting Abortion Drug: Isn’t The Real Problem Here How Mean You All Were To Kacsmaryk?
If we had a functioning Supreme Court that cared about the rule of law, it would castigate the 5th Circuit panel for its shameful display of bias, animus, and religious zeal.
But, as Stern notes, the 5th Circuit cannot restrict the distribution of mifepristone. And the failure of the 5th Circuit to address serious legal questions—like the absence of standing by the plaintiff doctors—may doom the 5th Circuit’s opinion to a chilly reception in the Supreme Court. We can only hope.
The debt ceiling negotiations.
President Biden indicated a willingness to accept work requirement expansion in federal programs not involving healthcare. See Politico, Biden indicates he’s willing to make a debt ceiling compromise. Parties to the negotiations suggest that a deal could be reached this week—about ten days before the US runs out of money to pay all of its obligations.
Separately, House Democrats have managed to advance a “discharge petition” that could force a floor vote on a “clean debt bill.” To force a vote, Democrats would need 218 signatures on the petition. They have 210 signatures and would need five Republicans to sign the petition to force a vote. See The Hill, Democrats seek to force vote on debt limit.
I am disappointed to learn that Biden is engaged in horse trading over the debt limit increase. Although I will reserve judgment until there is a deal that passes, rewarding Republicans for holding the world economy hostage is a dangerous precedent—even if Biden makes only minor concessions. Stay tuned.
Supreme Court allows Illinois assault weapons ban to remain in effect pending final disposition.
The Supreme Court “declined to immediately block Illinois’s assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans, leaving them in place, for now.” The Hill, Supreme Court leaves Illinois assault weapons ban in place. Although the victory may be temporary, it is possible that the decision reflects a newfound pragmatism in Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett.
Everyone who devoted time, energy, and money to Democrats in Tuesday’s elections should be immensely proud. You helped achieve meaningful results that will serve as catalysts for future victories.
After I make my morning cup of coffee, I open the reader comments section on the daily edition of this newsletter. I am particularly interested to see the comment that has been “upvoted” to the top of the list because that provides a clue about how readers are feeling about the news.
Yesterday, I wrote about Donna Deegan and suggested that her victory was a “new signal in the noise” of American politics. The top comment was from Sarah O’Neill, who wrote in part:
Yay for the Donna Deegan win in Florida!!! And Heather Boyd won big in Pennsylvania yesterday too! PostcardsToVoters.org volunteers wrote a lot of postcards for them and two of The States Project PA Giving Circles raised funds for Heather. Thanks so much to all who helped!
On to Virginia!!! If anyone wants to join The States Project Giving Circle for Virginia, the Giving Circles are fantastic and we would welcome you to join The Wednesday Group | The States Project (grapevine.org)
What struck me about Sarah’s comment was the nano-second break between celebrating the victory in Pennsylvania and Sarah’s exhortation, “On to Virginia.” I know Sarah from her deep involvement in PostCardsToVoters. She is tireless, upbeat, and a force of nature. But here’s the best part: There are hundreds of thousands of Sarah O’Neills in America who became involved in grassroots efforts after the 2016 election. They all woke up on Wednesday morning and said, “Woohoo! We did it! Now where’s my pen/phone/checkbook so I can help more Democrats win?”
It is easy to believe that money overwhelms individual effort. That is demonstrably not true. Donna Deegan was outspent 4-to-1 but nonetheless won against the odds. So, keep writing those cards and letters, making phone calls, sending texts, knocking on doors, and donating. It makes a difference. It did on Tuesday. Thanks to all of the Sarah O’Neills for your contributions to those victories!
Talk to you tomorrow!