“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
– Winston Churchill.
And news of the week. Forgive the length, it was quite a week.
This New Yorker cover was designed BEFORE the outcome of the election was known.
TO THE NUMBERS
PRESIDENT (Michigan and New Hampshire not finalized):
Trump: 290 Electoral Votes (60.07M (47.4% popular vote)
Clinton: 228 Electoral Votes (60.46M (47.7% popular vote)
SENATE: (With a runoff in LA) Current: 54 R – 46 D.
HOUSE (Need 218 for the majority) As expected, Republicans maintained control. Current 246 R – 186 D.
Interactive by state … CLICK HERE
Dear Secretary Clinton,
Though everything in your personal history suggests that Tuesday’s defeat will not mark the end of your work in American public life, I can imagine that this will be a moment of reflection and recovery for you. And though we have some profound disagreements, on the occasion of this transition, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for some of the contributions you’ve made in the past quarter-century as one of the most prominent women in American politics.
In the two and a half decades that Americans have used you to work out our complex and contradictory ideas about women, work and marriage, I have been moved by your dignity and resilience.
I don’t envy you the compromises — the enforced cookie-baking, the meeting with a group of female journalists to ask for advice on how to present yourself — or what must have been moments of agony in your marriage. But as I’ve watched you from a very great distance, I have been grateful to you for bearing some of the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune that is the lot, in different degrees and forms, of all the women of this country. Every insult that didn’t level you, and every moment of absurdity you absorbed without staggering, helped start conversations about the expectations and standards women face.
You didn’t have a solution for this conundrum. None of us do. But if you couldn’t solve American gender politics in the span of a life, or act as a shield against the harshness directed at other women, you created space for the rest of us. We won’t surrender it. Thank you for your commitment to service.
Thank you for laughing in the face of absurdity. Thank you for apologizing about occasions when you were wrong, and keeping alive the idea that politicians ought to educate themselves and to grow, rather than intellectually immobilizing themselves as the world changes. Thank you for your dedication to the Constitution and to the peaceful transfer of power in our democratic system; among many other things, your opponents will be measured by whether they show the same measure of allegiance to our most valuable norms and institutions.I can only begin to imagine how painful it must be to feel that you are exiting one public arena with your work undone. I hope you take some measure of comfort from the idea that, though you may not see the garden in bloom, many of us will be tending the seeds you planted.
With respect and gratitude,
Alyssa Rosenberg (Washington Post Blogger exerpt)
THE REVENGE OF THE WHITE WORKING CLASS WonkBlog “For the past 40 years, America’s economy has raked blue-collar white men over the coals. It whittled their paychecks. It devalued the type of work they did best. It shuttered factories and mines and shops in their communities. New industries sprouted in cities where they didn’t live, powered by workers with college degrees they didn’t hold. They were not the only ones who felt abandoned by a rapidly globalizing economy, but they developed a distinctly strong pessimism in its face. On Tuesday, their frustrations helped elect Donald Trump, the first major-party nominee of the modern era to speak directly and relentlessly to their economic and cultural fears. It was a “Brexit” moment in America, a revolt of working-class whites who felt stung by globalization and uneasy in a diversifying country where their political power had seemed to be diminishing. It was a rejection of the business-friendly policies favored at various points by elites in both parties, which deepened trade relationships with foreign countries and favored allowing more immigrants in. And it was a raw outburst at the trends of rising inequality and economic dislocation that defined America’s economy thus far this century.”
MOST AMAZING FINDINGS OF 2016 EXIT POLLS The Fix “As President-elect Donald Trump and President Obama huddled in Washington on Thursday, and as the gears of the incoming government begin to grind in earnest, I’m still totally captivated by the “how” of this election. How did this happen and what can we learn about ourselves and the country as a result?
The best way to do that — still — is the exit poll, the national survey of voters that gives us a portrait of who we are and what we believe. As you might expect in an election this historic, there are lots and lots of remarkable — and remarkably contradictory — findings in the exits. Take-aways are below. (A caveat: When you talk about slicing and dicing exit polls, you are, at times, dealing with very small numbers of actual people on which broad conclusions are based. Consider that as you go through these numbers.)
1. Trump won the white vote by a record margin
In 1984, Ronald Reagan won the white vote by 20 points on his way to a 525 electoral vote smashing of Walter Mondale. Mitt Romney matched that 20-point victory in 2012 while losing relatively convincingly to President Obama. On Tuesday, Trump one-upped them both — literally. He won the white vote 58 percent to 37 percent. The white vote also continued its decline as a percentage of the overall voter pool. In 1984, whites made up 86 percent of the total electorate. That number was 72 percent in 2012. And 70 percent in 2016.
2. There was no surge of female voters
For all of the talk that Trump’s comments about women — and the allegations of sexual assault made against him by a dozen women — would mean historic turnout among female voters (and a historic margin of defeat for Trump), it simply never materialized. Women made up 52 percent of the overall electorate in 2016 — down from 53 percent in 2012. And Hillary Clinton’s 12-point margin over Trump among women was pretty darn close to the 11-point win among women that Obama claimed over Romney four years ago.
3. There was no surge of Latino voters
Trump built his campaign on a pledge to build a wall on our Southern border and make Mexico pay for it. He suggested during the campaign that a judge of Mexican descent might not be able to rule fairly in a case involving Trump University. He said that Mexico was sending “criminals” and “rapists” to the United States.
All of that led to predictions of historically high Hispanic turnout, with many predicting that 2016 would be the election that Latinos emerge as the electoral force that their population numbers suggest they should be. It just didn’t happen. In 2012, Hispanics made up 10 percent of the overall electorate. That bumped up, marginally, to 11 percent in 2016. And, far more interestingly, Trump actually performed better among Hispanics than Romney did — 29 percent to 27 percent. More tellingly, Clinton underperformed Obama’s 2012 showing among Hispanics by six points (71 percent for Obama, 65 percent for Clinton), an underperformance that allowed Trump’s slight overperformance among white voters to matter more.
4. Education level mattered yugely in your vote choice
In 2012, Obama won both voters who had graduated from college and those who hadn’t; he took 50 percent among the former group and 51 percent among the latter. This time around, there was a far bigger divide. Clinton won voters with a college degree 52 percent to 43 percent. Trump won voters without a college degree by eight points. Also, contrary to some of the conventional wisdom out there about the 2016 voter, this was a more highly educated electorate than in 2012. It split evenly — 50 percent for each — between college grads and non-college grads. Four years ago, 53 percent of the electorate was non-college grads as compared to 47 percent who had a college degree.
5. Trump did better with white evangelicals than Romney
Trump didn’t do much to court white evangelical voters. And his personal story — three marriages, two divorces — doesn’t seem like one that many evangelicals could or would identify with. But Trump actually did better among white evangelicals than Romney had in 2012; Trump won 81 percent of “white evangelical or white born-again Christians” while Romney took 78 percent. (White evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate in both elections.) How to explain it? One theory is that as a Mormon, Romney was always viewed skeptically by evangelical whites. Another is that with social issues on the wane as voting issues, white evangelicals acted more tribally; they’re an overwhelmingly Republican bloc and voted like it. Or maybe Trump’s antiabortion stance — and Clinton’s support of abortion rights — was enough.
6. Trump didn’t bring lots of new voters to the process
Just 10 percent of voters said that the 2016 election was their first time voting. Of that group, Clinton won 56 percent to 40 percent over Trump. Of course, new voters often overlap with younger voters who are eligible to vote for the first time; Clinton won among 18- to 24-year-olds by 21 points.
7. The economy was the big issue — and Clinton won it
A majority (52 percent) of voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the country. (Voters were given a choice of four issues; “terrorism” was the second most commonly named “important” issue, with 18 percent choosing it.) Among those economy voters, Clinton beat Trump by 10 points.
Scratching your head yet? More below — but this is one of several findings in the exit poll that suggest people weren’t voting on issues. Like, at all.
8. This was a change election. And Trump was the change candidate.
To me, this is the single most important number in the exit poll in understanding what voters were thinking when they chose Trump. Provided with four candidate qualities and asked which mattered most to their vote, almost 4 in 10 (39 percent) said a candidate who “can bring needed change.” (A candidate who “has the right experience” was the second most important character trait.) Among those change voters, Trump took 83 percent of the vote to just 14 percent for Clinton.
The desire for change appears to be at the root of the choice lots and lots of voters made. And Trump was change while Clinton was more of the same.
9. Obamacare was a wind beneath Trump’s wings
The late October announcement that the average premium for people in the federal insurance exchange of the Affordable Care Act would rise by an average of 25 percent landed like a lead balloon on a not-insignificant portion of the electorate. Almost half of the electorate (47 percent) said they thought Obamacare “went too far.” Trump beat Clinton 83 percent to 13 percent among that group.
10. Trump’s personal image was and is horrible
Trump’s victory should be in no way interpreted as a vote of confidence in him or his capacity to do the job. Less than 4 in 10 voters (38 percent) had a favorable opinion of him. Only 1 in 3 said he was “honest and trustworthy.” Thirty-eight percent said he was “qualified” to be president. Thirty-five percent said he has the “temperament to serve effectively as president.” How can a candidate win with numbers like these? Because the desire for change was so great that it overrode all of the doubts — or at least many of the doubts — people had about Trump.
11. Clinton’s email hurt her
Democrats spent the entire election — and the two days since the election! — insisting that Clinton’s decision to exclusively use a private email server as secretary of state was a nonissue. Turns out they were wrong. Almost two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) said that Clinton’s “use of private email” bothered them “a lot” or “some.” Among that group, Trump won 70 percent to 24 percent.
12. This was a deeply pessimistic electorate
Just 1 in 3 voters said they thought the country was “generally going in the right direction.” Clinton won 90 percent of that group. But, among the two-thirds of people who said things were “seriously off on the wrong track,” Trump took 69 percent.
Again, “change versus more of the same” as the dominant theme of the election. And evidence that Trump’s willingness to say, “Yeah, things suck now … but I will fix them” was a genius strategic decision.
13. People didn’t think Trump lost the debates as badly as I did
I named Clinton the winner in each of three presidential debates — and I didn’t think any of the three were particularly close. Lots of people who voted Tuesday did not agree with me. Among the 64 percent who said the debates were an “important” part of their vote for president, Clinton won by a narrow 50 percent to 47 percent margin over Trump. Of the 82 percent of people who said the debates were a “factor” in their decision for president, Trump took 50 percent to 47 percent for Clinton.”
HOW TRUMP WON According to the Exit Polls – NPR MEN BACKED TRUMP In 2012, men preferred Mitt Romney by 7 points. This year, they preferred Trump by almost double that.The exact counts are still likely to shift a bit but, right now, 24 percentage points separate America’s women from America’s men in the latest exit polls — that is, women preferred Clinton by 12 points, while men preferred Trump by 12 points. If that ends up being the final tally, it will be the largest gap measured by exit polls since at least the 1950s.
NON-COLLEGE EDUCATED WHITES, LOVE TRUMP Trump specifically appealed to whites during this election, and they clearly preferred him at the polls — right now, his margin of victory among them is roughly the same as Romney’s in 2012, which was 20 points.
But there’s a massive fissure between college- and non-college-educated whites. Romney won non-college-educated whites by 26 points, according to polling data provided to NPR by the Pew Research Center. Currently, exit polling shows Trump’s margin among that group to be roughly one-and-a-half times that. Meanwhile, college-educated whites appear to have preferred Trump slightly, according to current exit poll figures (which, once again, could still shift some). That would mean Trump moderately underperformed Romney, who won this group by 14 points, according to the data from Pew. However, that would still essentially be a win for Trump, considering that at one point, it looked like Trump might be the first Republican in decades to lose white, college-educated Americans.
CLINTON FAILED TO PERFORM IN KEY COUNTIES Clinton underperformed Obama — sometimes heavily — in key counties in swing states. For example, Obama beat Romney by more than 381,000 votes in Wayne County, Mich. — by far the state’s most populous county. Clinton beat Trump there only by around 287,000 votes, meaning there’s a more than 90,000-vote gap between her win and Obama’s win there. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio — home to Cleveland — Trump drew about 4,500 fewer voters than Romney did in 2012. However, Clinton drew almost 37,000 fewer, giving her a much smaller win there than Obama scored in 2012. Likewise, Clinton trailed Obama’s margin in Philadelphia County, Pa., by around 10,000 votes. Those aren’t huge gaps, but they do reflect the broader national trend of Clinton losing a bit here, a bit there … adding up to a loss.
CONSERVATIVES DON’T SEEM MARRIED TO TRADITIONAL CONSERVATISM Right now, the numbers for conservatives are looking about the same this year as they did in 2012 — that is, around 80% of them went for the Republican candidate in both elections. And in both, they made up just over one-third of the electorate. But, then, Trump is not at all the kind of conservative that Romney was; indeed, he’s not at all a traditional conservative. Trump has rejected free trade agreements, called for up to $1 trillion in government spending on infrastructure, and introduced a tax plan that could balloon the debt by $7.2 trillion in one decade, by one estimate. That makes it pretty clear that Trump voters weren’t driven by far-right ideology (unless many self-proclaimed conservatives had big changes of heart since 2012). Trump’s populist, overtly masculine, anti-PC appeal helped him vault past Clinton.
THOSE LEERY WHITE EVANGELICALS? WEREN’T SO LEERY AFTER ALL Right now, the polls show that 81% of white, self-described evangelicals voted for Trump. That doesn’t look too different from 2012, when 78% of white, born-again Christians (a term that pollsters often use in place of, or in conjunction with, the term “evangelical Christians”) chose Romney. All of which is to say that despite white women evangelicals’ apparent reluctance to choose Trump, and despite some evangelical leaders’ arguments against Trump, this group in the end didn’t shift much at all.
TRUMP DID WELL AMONG VOTERS WHO DIDN’T REALLY LIKE HIM You’d think that when people see a candidate unfavorably, they’d vote against that candidate. That didn’t happen this year — at least, not the way it did in 2012. In 2012, 94% of voters who saw Obama unfavorably chose Romney. Likewise, 92% who saw Romney unfavorably chose Obama. But as Amy Walter pointed out at the Cook Political Report Tuesday morning, 77% of voters who saw Trump unfavorably voted for Clinton; 15% of those people still voted for him. The numbers were slightly less stark among Democrats — only 82% of people who saw Clinton unfavorably chose Trump; 11 percent chose her anyway.
It can be hard to see the extent to which the Democratic collapse has occurred. Here is the percentage change in each case since 2008.THAT WHISTLING SOUND YOU HEAR IS THE THELMA-AND-LOUISEING. (All in one chart)
A BIT OF A SILVER LINING FOR DEMOCRATS ‘Bringing More Color and Less Testosterone to the Senate’ Roll Call The unexpected victory of Donald Trump and news that Republicans will retain Senate control overshadowed historic gains Tuesday night. For the first time, three minority women were elected to the Senate, bringing to four the number of female minority senators, more than any previous Senate class. Kamala Harris is both California’s first African-American and first Indian-American senator. Catherine Cortez Masto is Nevada’s first female senator and the first Latina senator. And Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is the first Thai-American elected to the Senate. Her father was a U.S. Marine and her mother is from Thailand. Women now represent 21% of the Senate, a 1-point increase from the last election cycle.”
TRUMP: A TYPICAL REPUBLICAN? Playbook “So far, Donald Trump’s team has floated Jamie Dimon, the CEO, of JP Morgan Chase, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a 13-year veteran on D.C., for Treasury secretary. He’s considering Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) for Homeland Security secretary. He’s talking about Bush vet — and Iraq war supporter — Stephen Hadley for defense secretary. In other words, Donald Trump is, more or less, acting like a standard-issue Republican president elect — at least in the sorts of people his team is said to be considering.
WHAT IF … The new narrative among top GOP leadership aides in Capitol and around D.C. is that Trump might just govern like a middle-of-the-road, moderate New York Republican. The guy wants $1 trillion in roads, tax reform and changes to the health care law. He’s not interested in answering questions about his plan to ban Muslims or build a wall on the border with Mexico — it’s almost like he didn’t campaign on those issues for years! He’s not going to get in the weeds and dictate details — that’s what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are for. He’s going to defer to Mike Pence on tactics and relationship building. What if he fooled us all? CASE IN POINT “As Trump and his aides vet nominees for his Cabinet and lay out a first 100-day agenda, they are leaning heavily on the sort of D.C. insiders that the billionaire railed against on the campaign trail – people who cut their teeth working for Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and former nominee Mitt Romney, as well as on the influence peddlers Trump accuses of ‘rigging’ the system against ordinary Americans.” OR NOT – PENCE TAKES LEAD President-Elect Donald Trump is reshaping his transition team, elevating Vice President-elect Mike Pence to lead the efforts while adding a host of loyalists to the operation. [Pence, who has strong contacts in Washington from his six terms in Congress, will take the helm from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.] The new roster makes clear that the Trump transition will look a lot like the Trump campaign. Many top surrogates will serve as transition co-chairs, including Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
AND HERE WE GO TPM “Paul Ryan just announced that as part of repealing Obamacare he plans to phase out Medicare and replace it with private insurance for retirees.”
HOW ABOUT THAT ‘Freedom Caucus poised to back Ryan as speaker’ “In an abrupt reversal after weeks of veiled threats that they might try to take him out, the group of 40 staunch conservatives now appears almost certain to get behind the speaker for another term. Even more surprising? Ryan has Donald Trump to thank. A handful of the group’s top agitators told Politico in interviews they’re more interested in ensuring a prolific start to Trump’s presidency than starting an intra-party leadership fight that detracts from their mission of enacting conservative priorities.”
CHECK OUT CAPSTONE’S BLOG POSTS on WHAT TO EXPECT … come back often for updates.
TEEING UP THE LAME-DUCK – WHITE HOUSE SEEKS $11.6B WAR SUPPLEMENTAL MorningD “The Obama administration sent a supplemental war funding request to Congress on Thursday, totaling $11.6 billion. The addendum to the fiscal 2017 war budget includes $5.8 billion for the Pentagon, roughly divided between operations in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State, and $5.8 billion in “non-defense” funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.
The $5.8 billion in Pentagon funding includes $2.5 billion for maintaining 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as well as $815 million for the Afghan air force. The biggest chunk of the funding is $2.9 billion in Army operations and maintenance funding for both ISIL operations and Afghanistan. It also includes $150 million for “Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems, to stop deadly Islamic State drones.
The other $5.8 billion would go to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to “support implementation of the diplomatic engagement, governance, stabilization and other components of the administration’s counter-ISIL and counterterrorism objectives, as well as to provide additional humanitarian assistance for areas liberated from ISIL,” according to the budget document. All the money falls under the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations account, which is not limited by budget caps. The budget addendum brings the total fiscal 2017 request for the war account to $85.3 billion.
GOP REACTION – NOT ENOUGH: HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) says he isn’t satisfied with the funding request. “While we will review the request carefully, the amount still does not accommodate the increased pace of operations against ISIL and does nothing to begin addressing the readiness crisis,” Thornberry said in a statement.
The supplemental adds another wrinkle to the lame-duck dilemma facing Republicans when Congress returns for its post-election session next week: Whether to pass the fiscal 2017 funding package during the lame-duck or in the new Congress next year under a Trump administration. There’s an $18 billion divide between the GOP and the White House on defense spending. And while Republicans are likely to be happy to accept the $5.8 billion for the Pentagon, they may not be as keen on the equal boost to domestic funds.”
WAITING FOR SESSIONS: Morning D has previously reported on the potential Trump defense secretary candidates – Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Stephen Hadley, Jim Woolsey and Jim Talent – but the decision appears to be in a holding pattern until Sessions decides whether to take the Pentagon post or some other high-level Cabinet job, according to sources familiar with the transition planning.
WHO IS KEITH ELLISON? Get to know the possible next head of the Democratic Party … The Fix “Late Tuesday night, Democrats had one name to explain their defeat: James B. Comey. By Thursday, many had another to describe their comeback strategy: Keith Ellison. Ellison is a five-term congressman from Minnesota, and for a growing number of influential progressives, he’s the answer to Democrats’ failure to beat Donald Trump. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have all floated Ellison’s name to be chair of the Democratic National Committee — a normally behind-the-scenes strategic position they want him to make more public. (More on that below.)
The basics: Ellison was elected a decade ago to Minnesota’s 5th District, which includes heavily Democratic Minneapolis.Since coming to Congress, he’s been a reliably liberal Democratic vote — he’s campaigned on his opposition to the Iraq War and his support for universal health care, and he’s been a vocal opponent of voter ID laws.HE IS NO TRUMP Ellison’s biography could not be more of a stark contrast to the most controversial elements of Trump’s message.
He’s the first Muslim to be elected to Congress and one of only two serving in the House When Ellison was sworn in for the first time in 2007, he made national news for taking his ceremonial oath with a Koran — one once owned by Thomas Jefferson, which he borrowed from the Library of Congress. Since then, he’s been frequently called on to be a spokesman for his faith. (Ellison was raised Catholic, but converted to Islam in college.) He was also the first black person to be elected to Minnesota’s congressional delegation.And he’s from the Midwest, a region where Tump snuck up on Hillary Clinton. (Minnesota voted for Clinton, but for a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican since 1972, it was surprisingly close: President Obama won the state in 2012 by 49 percentage points. Clinton won it by 1.5 points.)
He’s got progressive cred: Ellison is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, and he backed Sanders during the primary. Ellison, say liberals, is someone they trust to make the progressive wing of the party more mainstream. He can handle the cable news circuit: … As the Huntington Post pointed out, doing battle with conservatives on TV could be one of the most effective ways for Democrats to reach voters and reshape their party, since there are fewer of them in office to do it the traditional way. Democrats have the fewest seats at every level of governance since the Reconstruction Era.
HE COULD SHAKE UP WHAT THE DNC DOES At the heart of Ellison’s sudden popularity among progressives is the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the role of the DNC. Think of the office of DNC chair as it exists right now as like the chief operating officer of a company — someone focused on logistics like fundraising and coordination to help the party, while the top Democrat in power is like the chief executive — the person providing the vision. But the current formula, progressive Democrats say, is largely broken. Democrats were so badly decimated on Tuesday they are a leaderless party. So why not let this official position become the visionary leader of the party. The chair could focus less on fundraising — if people are excited about the party they’ll donate anyway, Sanders argued — and more about giving the nation a solution to its economic anxiety.
CLINTON INC. N.Y. Post “While some pundits are declaring the Clinton political dynasty dead, sources tell us that it is far from over. Chelsea Clinton is being groomed for the New York seat held by Rep. Nita Lowey. Chelsea could run for the seat in NYC’s 17th Congressional District once Lowey, a 79-year-old respected career politician with nearly 30 years in office, decides to retire, we have exclusively learned … In August, Hillary and Bill Clinton purchased a home next door to their primary residence in Chappaqua for $1.16 million, which is intended for Chelsea, her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, and their two children, Charlotte and Aidan. While Chelsea currently lives, and is registered to vote, in Manhattan, she could easily make Chappaqua her legal residence in order to run for Lowey’s seat when it becomes vacant.”
ALWAYS LEAVE THEM LAUGHING …
WHITE MALES (The New Yorker) WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Fulfilling a promise that was a hallmark of his campaign, President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Thursday that on Day One of his Administration he would create jobs for two unskilled white males.Appearing at a press conference flanked by the males, Trump assailed an economy that had left the two men behind.
“These two guys are completely unskilled, unemployable, and angry,” Trump said, as the two males glowered at the press corps. “I, and I alone, can create jobs for people like them.” Gesturing vehemently at the two men, Trump underlined his last point. “No one—I repeat, no one—but me is willing to give these two jobs,” he said. The two unskilled men profusely thanked Trump, and said that they had almost given up hope that anyone would ever hire them again.”