The Moral Courage of Don Bacon

Rep. Don Bacon’s statement when he decided to run for Congress cited his moral courage as something that Nebraskans in the 2nd District needed to help fix Washington. In his announcement that he was running, he said,”To change Washington, we need new leadership with moral courage to make tough decisions. That’s why I’m running for Congress.” Much like his vaunted calls for civility, Rep. Bacon was faced with decisions that required moral courage and he failed.

While we will take a deeper dive into the policies and bills that Rep. Bacon supports or opposes, I’m using examples from his campaign in this piece.

Endorsements

In May of 2016, Rep. Bacon received an endorsement from Congressman Steve King which he bragged about citing King’s “strong moral courage and deep devotion to serving our nation. He is one of America’s great Constitutionalists…” Two months after the endorsement, King went on MSNBC on All-in with Chris Hayes. The transcript from The Washington Post is what follows:

“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” Hayes asked, clearly amazed.

“Than, than Western civilization itself,” King replied. “It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

To be fair to Rep. Bacon on accepting the endorsement, this did happen after he accepted it. There could have been no way to predict that King would say something like that…if you had never run a cursory Google search on Steve King in your life or even remotely paid attention to politics.

In 2013, Rep. King had a comment on immigrants coming from Mexico, claiming that for every child of illegal immigrants “who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” John Boehner, then Speaker of the House, called King’s comments “deeply offensive and wrong.” But King still continued on. He doubled down on his statements noting that nobody has debunked his numbers. When ICE deported a DREAMer, he sent a tweet with a picture of a beer, saying

One of King’s hobbyhorses is to effectively repeal the 14th Amendment by declaring that in order to obtain citizenship through birth, one of your parents must be a citizen. Birthright citizenship which is enshrined in our Constitution in the 14th Amendment and followed through with citizenship laws since the beginning of our country’s founding. It is hard for me to say that someone who wants a direct assault on the 14th Amendment can be a great Constitutionalist.

During a recent controversy, King had a photo taken at his desk where the Confederate flag is visible. The Confederate States of America, although often romanticized by those on the right, were a collection of states committing treason against the United States in defense of slavery as an institution. Even for some who recognize that argue that the Confederate flag represents their heritage or state’s history. Iowa, the state where King resides and where his district resides, was not one of the states in the Confederacy. Iowa sent 76,000 men to fight for the Union. The Union, I guess I should remind people, was the army of the federal government trying to preserve the United States and end slavery. 13,000 Iowans were killed in the Civil War by the Confederacy. King proudly displays on his desk a flag celebrating treason in defense of slavery in a state that fought for the Union.

Again, perhaps Rep. Bacon had no idea that King was a Confederate supporter. King’s moral courage also showed when he was casting doubt on Barack Obama’s birthplace.

In September of 2015, King lamented the culture of America that we used to have. He placed the blame for this change on immigrants changing the culture of America.

Rep. Bacon could have repudiated the endorsement from King but he refused, citing it prominently and praising King for his strong “moral courage.” This phrase is used for King is also used to praise Rep. Bacon.

Another endorsement that Bacon had on his website was from State Senator Bill Kintner. Luckily for Bacon, I have not been able to locate where he cited Kintner’s strong moral courage (hopefully it never happened). Kintner posted on Twitter that Muslim refugees should be forced to eat bacon before they enter the country.

That wasn’t his only comment on refugees

His use of social media also included posting a picture of a beheaded woman on Facebook; claimed that Jesus was ok with the death penalty because he didn’t stop his own execution; attacked the city of Cincinnati for hosting a Pride celebration; referred to his colleagues in the Unicameral as prostitutes; called for a restoration of the guillotine with Nancy Pelosi and Ruth Bader Ginsburg pictured and labeled as guys; claimed Obama was importing Muslims; and made fun of homeless people.

In the Unicameral, Kintner claimed the NCAA was carrying on economic terrorism, introduced a bill to prove that refugee resettlement agency can pay up to $25 million or otherwise face a $1,000/day fine for each refugee they’ve resettled in the past five years, called Latinos “wetbacks” on the floor, and also flung a pen at the Speaker of the Unicameral after a vote didn’t go Kintner’s way.

That was all prior to the sex scandal that eventually led to his expulsion. Prior to that sex scandal though, he was part of an investigation for impersonating a police officer to get discounted car washes.

A simple thanks, but no thanks, from Rep. Bacon would have shown some moral courage instead of accepting the endorsement and placing it on his website.

Donald Trump

In October of 2016, the “Access Hollywood” tape leaked. The tape had Donald Trump confess that he sexually assaults women and that he gets away with it because he is a star. Trump denied that he ever acted the way he confessed to saying that it was just locker room talk. Sensing that Trump’s confession of sexual assault would not be a winning thing to tie himself to, Rep. Bacon joined other members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation to call for Donald Trump to step down. The Omaha World Herald ran that story showing how Bacon was asking Trump to step down. Bacon’s press release on the subject was rather forceful

“Donald Trump should stand down for the good of the country,” says General Don Bacon. “His comments were utterly disgraceful and disqualifying. Trump should allow a strong conservative candidate, like Mike Pence, from the GOP to win in November. His continued candidacy guarantees a Clinton victory and four more years of higher debt, more regulations, higher taxes, and failed foreign policies. Regardless of who is our next President, I will go to Washington to be an independent voice for Nebraska’s 2nd District, not a partisan politician.”

As we will see in later posts, it’s probably a good thing that Rep. Bacon removed this press release from his website without announcing it. Only a few Republicans continued to believe that what trump said was disqualifying and would not support Trump, Bacon lacked the moral courage to do so. He pulled the press release from his website. His staff reaffirmed on Facebook that Bacon would support the nominee but only in response to comments. While early voting was happening in the 2nd District, it is extremely likely that some voters were misled by Rep. Bacon’s stance on Trump and decided to vote for him. If Trump’s comments were disqualifying and disgraceful, they did not become less so because he had a chance to win and Bacon had a chance to ride the coattails.

Rep. Bacon, however, did not live up to any part of that promise. His independent voice, much like his moral courage his calls for civil behavior, is merely a stance that he likes to take and much like this press release, he removes it when he has to make a tough choice.

 

 

 

 

A precinct level look at Douglas County

This is the meta post with all of the parts somewhat organized into one post that will be updated as I go forward. 

Since the election in November, I have been working intermittently on a project to look at how the various precincts in Omaha voted.  My goal was to try to find information that would help explain what I thought was going to be a certain defeat by Donald Trump in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.  I thought that in Douglas County (the main portion of the district), it would be around a 10,000 vote victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.  It ended up being around 6,000.  I thought with this lead, Rep. Brad Ashford would certainly get over a 10,000 vote to help get him re-elected.  He ended up getting around a 9,000 vote lead.  And I certainly thought “retain” would be closer than a 14,000 vote defeat in the county.  All of these stack on each other.  At the end of Election Day, the people and policies I had supported ended up losing, thanks in part to more conservative Sarpy County.  I wanted to know why.  This analysis and report has taken way too much of my time and has become an obsession of mine in the last few months.  I hope that it gives you some insights going forward.

What this isn’t is a replacement for actually meeting and talking with voters.  Rep. Brad Ashford lost his election by a little over 3,000 votes.  If 16 voters in each of the precincts in Douglas County switched their votes to Brad Ashford instead of Don Bacon, he would have won re-election.  That’s how close it was.  Hopefully, what this gives us is a blueprint going forward.  Hopefully, we find precincts or areas that we were ignoring, previously.

Regions

Douglas County for those not intimately aware has a number of distinct regions in it.  Separated by class and race, the county seems often that it is several distinct cities.  There are a few towns in Douglas County outside of Omaha but they don’t seem as different as North Omaha compared to West Omaha.  Omaha has been described as one of the most segregated cities in America.  The western part of the city resembles white flight.

South Omaha: South Omaha is typically defined by many in Omaha as being the more heavily Latino area of the city.  There is not a great definition of the region that is uniform in every person’s mind.  I think there is a very distinct difference between South Omaha, east of around 72nd St compared to what many people consider to be West of there.  I did go through the precincts that Tony Vargas and Mike McDonnell represent in the unicameral and included all of his precincts as South Omaha.  For the most part, for the city proper (outside of Elkhorn, Waterloo, and Valley), I will be using street line boundaries as best I can to define the area.

North Omaha: North Omaha is typically viewed as the black area of Omaha.  Again, there is not a uniform definition to explain what many mean when they refer to North Omaha.  I cut my boundaries around 48th St and East.  I went through and included the precincts that Ernie Chambers and Justin Wayne represent to include North Omaha.

Old Northwest Omaha: Thanks to the nature of Omaha and the annexation of many smaller towns for years, there are distinct regions throughout the city beyond the typical north-south boundary lines.  I drew the boundaries of Old Northwest Omaha from about 72nd and Maple – 108th Fort including the streets West and North inbetween.

Northwest Omaha: While it does not have a distinguishing racial or class breakdown, Northwest Omaha that we refer to now, seems very different than what we would look at when we refer to the Old Northwest Omaha.  West of 108th seems to refer to a different part of town, in my mind, at least.  This also goes to the boundary lines around Pacific.  So this extends 108th and Dodge – 180th and Maple encompassing the streets inbetween.

Millard: This is the large suburb in Douglas County.  There are some arguments over what Millard encompasses.  I include Millard from 96th and Harrison – 159th and Dodge, in my mind.  There is a bit of an overlap in the North area with Northwest Omaha.  Some parts of Millard are in the lower middle class to the upper extremes of higher middle class.  While it does not necessarily follow, the area tends to get nicer as you go more West (towards the higher numbers).

West Omaha: I did kind of arbitrarily draw a line separating out Millard and what I consider West Omaha.  I see West Omaha as beginning at around 160th and going west to 192nd.  I believe it starts at Harrison and runs up to about Dodge.  You can certainly argue that parts of Northwest Omaha should be included in my definition of West Omaha and I wouldn’t argue too hard.  West Omaha is typically seen as the richer parts of Omaha and they are not wrong.

Midtown: I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good grasp of what people consider to be midtown.  I went through and added all of the precincts that Sara Howard represents in the unicameral.  I believe that midtown is around 48th-72nd L St – Maple St. But I’m open for more.

The rest of the towns and outlying areas like Ralston, Bennington, Elkhorn, Waterloo, and Valley have fairly set definitions.  I consider Elkhorn to be west of 192nd and north to Fort.  Waterloo is out Northwest there, as is Valley.  Bennington is North of Fort beginning around 156th in my mind.

I have Ralston on its defined boundaries – Precinct 08-01, 08-02, 08-05, and 08-06.

As I have said, outside of the outlying areas of Douglas County, I will try my best to give the street boundaries when I talk about a precinct, as best I can, to give people a visualization of where they are.

The Trump areas

For the most part, the areas of Douglas County that most heavily voted for Donald Trump are in the Western areas of Douglas County that are typically considered out of Omaha.  There are 33 precincts that gave 60% or more of the four party vote share. Of those 33, 26 are west of 160th St.  Of the other 7 precincts, only two are east of 108th St.

In these 33 precincts, 36,750 votes were cast for one of the four political parties running.  Here were the results:

  Republican Democratic Libertarian Green
Votes cast 23,630 11,397 1,466 257
% of votes 64.3% 31.0% 4.0% 0.7%

 

There were clearly areas of these 33 precincts that either did not feel comfortable voting for Donald Trump as President.  There were 262 more votes cast for Congress than for the Presidential candidate of one of the four parties.  Even more startling if you begin to look at it, is that that there were another 600 voters or so who came home from either the Libertarian Party or who crossed Presidential lines.  Somewhat surprising is that there were about 500 voters for Democrat Brad Ashford who did not vote for Hillary Clinton for President.  Perhaps this is not so surprising if you believe that these two Presidential candidates were the two most disliked candidates in history.

Here were the results of the precincts at the Congressional level.  There were 37,012 votes cast for the three parties running for Congress.

Republican Democratic Libertarian
Votes cast 24,234 11,875 903
% of votes cast 65.5% 32.1% 2.4%

 

Donald Trump was an outspoken supporter for the death penalty.  In Nebraska, we had a referendum on whether or not we should follow through with the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty or if we should reinstate the death penalty.  The language on the ballot was not confusing if you read through the referendum on the ballot but was slightly confusing to explain to someone who hadn’t looked at it.  Retain would be a vote to keep the repeal of the death penalty.  Repeal would reinstate the death penalty.

Retain Repeal
Votes cast 13,607 22,239
% of votes cast 38.0% 62.0%

 

These are all pretty high margins and seems unlikely to be able to be overcome in all of the precincts.  But, again, that is not my goal.  My goal is to simply cut margins where we can, even if it is as small as 16 votes/precinct. So we will look at individual precincts if there is a way for us to cut into the margin going forward.

Precincts where Trump outperformed Don Bacon

There are four precincts where Trump was able to outperform Republican Congressional candidate Don Bacon by 3 or more points in these precincts where he got 60% or more of the four party vote share.  They were with the difference in parentheses 08-41 (6.9); 08-09 (5.2); 08-40 (4.1); and 08-14 (3.6).

08-41: This is on the Northwest side of Douglas County.  I refer to it as Waterloo, even if it may be incorrect.  This would play on one of the more popular narratives that Trump was able to do extremely well in areas with more rural areas or areas that were out of the way of the typical suburban community and do well with white voters with lower education levels.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 791 274 40 6
% of votes cast 71.2% 24.7% 3.6% 0.5%

 

Trump was able to get a number of voters who crossed party lines to vote for him and then went back to vote for Ashford in the Congressional races.  There were 5 voters in this precinct who did not vote for one of the four parties running for President but voted for Congress:

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -74 +94 -7

 

So we need to figure out why so many of those voters went for Trump and then were able to vote for Ashford.  This may or not be repeatable without Trump on the ballot for the Democratic challenger in 2018 to replicate what Ashford was able to do.  It seems probable to me that the Trump/Ashford voters are on their way to shifting their allegiances from Democratic candidates to Republican.  The only problem with this idea is that Lou Ann Linehan, former chief of staff for Chuck Hagel, defeated Democratic candidate Bill Armbrust 54.05% – 45.95%.  Linehan ran slightly behind what she did in the rest of her legislative district in this precinct.  This is one of the precincts, in particular, where I would like more data to see the trends.

08-09:  This is one of the precincts that stick out like a sore thumb for the precincts that gave Trump so much of the four-party vote share.  This precinct is primarily located from 48th-72nd St and from Sargent-Northern Hills.  This is one of only two precincts with the majority of it east of 108th St.   This precinct only had 660 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 426 209 24 1
% of votes cast 64.5% 31.7% 3.6% 0.2%

 

There were only 3 voters who voted for one of those Presidential candidates who did not vote for Congress.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -36 +33 +1

 

Again, we have a precinct where Trump managed to convince a number of voters that voted for Ashford to vote for him in the Presidential portion of the ballot.  There is not a good explanation to this precinct.  Jill Brown, who is probably more liberal than Justin Wayne, won the precinct 54.86% -45.14% of the vote, even though there were only 53 less votes for legislature compared to the Presidential election.

08-40: I have this listed in my spreadsheet as Valley.  Valley was 95% white in the 2010 census.  22% of the residents of Valley have a bachelor’s degree or higher.  The unemployment rate in Valley is 3.8%.  The average of residents in Valley is just over 42 years old.  There were 1,407 votes cast in the Presidential election for one of the four candidates:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 986 363 49 9
% of votes cast 70.1 25.8 3.5 0.6

 

Again, we see voters choosing Trump at the Presidential level but reverting back to giving Ashford a vote at the Congressional level.

There were 1406 votes cast at the Congressional level in this precinct.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -58 +68 -2

 

With 179 votes being lost from the Presidential ballot to the Legislative ballot, Lou Ann Linehan won the precinct 54.72% – 45.28%.  Armbrust received nearly 200 more votes than Clinton did in this precinct.

08-14: In the Northwest area of Douglas County, if you go far enough North you reach Bennington.  And you run into this precinct.  This precinct is only a part of what I classify as Bennington.  There were 876 votes cast in this precinct for the four party Presidential vote.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 582 252 36 6
% of votes cast 66.4% 28.8% 4.1% 0.7%

 

And again, what we see is Trump was able to convince a number of voters to choose him and allow them to vote for Ashford at the Congressional level.  With 1 more vote cast at the Congressional level than with the four party Presidential ballot, we see just how successful Trump was able to be over Bacon.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -31 +42 -4

 

A somewhat conclusion of the Trump precincts

I’ll be honest about what I thought I was going to find.  I thought what I was going to find was that the Trump voters simply did not show up to vote at the Congressional level and that was what was causing him to overperform relative to Bacon’s numbers or even Linehan’s numbers.  I was also expecting a small swing of voters deciding to vote for Trump/Laird.

But that is not what we’re seeing.  We’re seeing a number of Trump voters deciding that they didn’t want to vote for Bacon in Congress and wanted to support Ashford.  This can be true for a number of reasons.  My guess is that there is not an insignificant amount of voters who simply wanted a split ballot.  They could not pull the ballot trigger for Clinton but did not think that the Republicans should pick up a seat there.

I think there are some voters out there who were upset about voting for Clinton and seeing that they are in a roughly safe area to vote, decided that they could vote for Trump and then Ashford.   But I do not know this for certain.

One of the more likely explanations is that Trump was able to connect at some level with these voters who may have lower education and are white in a way that Clinton was not able to.  The reasons may range from they think Trump is a secret liberal, they want a crackdown on immigration, they believe he will get things done, or simple dislike for Clinton.

The organizing principle of the Democratic Party is that we are all in this together.  The goal should be to engage these voters.  They may range from slightly misinformed to openly hostile to Democratic principles.  But we do owe it to ourselves to see if they can be reached.  Cutting into margins in areas where we performed the worst at the Presidential level can provide significant results.  A number of these voters are willing to vote for Democratic policies and we must figure out why, if we want to remain competitive.

One thing I will reiterate throughout this series is the need for positive engagement with voters in every area by the Democratic Party and staff.  We need to be going out into these communities and figure out why they can reconcile a vote for Trump/Ashford.  And what we can do to vote Democratic on each line.  But more importantly, we need to engage them to figure out what is important to them and highlight how we either have the best solution to the problem or how we are working on it.

West Omaha

While it is not completely true that West Omaha is the area of the upper middle class citizens of Douglas County, it is a good enough starting point.  I arbitrarily made a decision to divide Millard from West Omaha at 160th St and separated Northwest Omaha from West Omaha inbetween Pacific and Dodge St. So what can we figure out by the way they voted?

For the Presidential share of the vote, we have the following with 24,631 votes cast in this region:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Number of votes 14,361 8,920 1,159 191
% of votes cast 58.3 36.2 4.7 0.8

 

There were a number of people in West Omaha who could not vote for Trump or Clinton but managed to find their way to vote for Congress.  Based on the numbers that we are going to see in the next table, it seems fairly clear that the people unable to vote for one of the Presidential candidates, they were less likely to be able to vote for Donald Trump.

There were 24,850 votes cast for the three candidates for Congress.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Number of votes 15,266 8,994 590
% of votes cast 61.4 36.2 2.4

 

Trump was simply unacceptable to nearly 1,000 voters in West Omaha.  That’s certainly not enough to be able to win the district for Hillary Clinton or make a dent in the statewide race.  But it’s enough to give us a starting point to how to make West Omaha more competitive.  Ashford was unable to run too far ahead of Clinton’s numbers only netting about 75 votes over her, despite her seeming unpopularity.

What could Ashford or another Democratic challenger do to be able to make this area of Omaha more competitive?  Why is Trump unacceptable for nearly 1,000 voters but they can turn around and vote for a Republican who deleted his press release where he denounced him?

This is where we need to look at individual precincts to see what we can do and if there’s any hope going forward.

Overperformance of Bacon

In nearly all of the precincts in West Omaha, Don Bacon ran ahead of Donald Trump by more than 2 points (15 out of 21 precincts).  Bacon ran ahead of Trump by more than 3 points in 12 of 21 precincts.  In 4 of these precincts, Bacon was able to run ahead of Trump by 5 points.  Let’s look them, shall we?

08-31: This precinct is roughly located from 174th-180th L-Center.  This was not the best precinct for Trump.  Out of 766 votes in the precinct, this is what we have.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 407 299 56 4
% of votes cast 53.1 39.0 7.3 0.5

 

While the voters here didn’t skip the Presidential election or write in a candidate (for the most part), they did voice their displeasure by voting for Gary Johnson, it would appear.  There were 772 votes cast for the three candidates running for Congress.  This is how they shook out with the net votes compared to their respective Presidential candidate.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +52 +2 -44

 

This still looks like a fairly heavily Republican area.  Don Bacon managed to get 59.46% of the vote for Congress and Ashford was unable to crack the 40% mark.

Even on the referendum, nearly 60% of voters in the precinct wanted to reinstate the penalty.  40% of the voters wanted to keep the repeal the death penalty.

But there was some hope and why I think this area may be prime for targeting.  State Senator Rick Kolowski.  Kolowski is the former principal for Millard West High School and has primarily focused on building relationships throughout his legislative district.  He consistently outperformed the expected numbers in his legislative district.  I hope to have a meeting with him and his staff soon, which will make me sound like a gushing fanboy.

Kolowski supported Nebraska’s ENDA; he supported the repeal of the death penalty; he supported giving professional licenses to immigrants affected by DACA.  He ran against a candidate that was more or less hand-picked by the Republican establishment, Ian Swanson.  Swanson was endorsed by Lee Terry, Pete Ricketts, if you can name a Republican, he supported Ian Swanson.

Swanson’s campaign was very similar to what you would consider from a Republican trying to run in a Conservative area.  I wrote more about his website and campaign somewhere else.  Swanson’s ideological differences between Bacon are infinitely small.  Kolowski and Ashford are also kindred moderate spirits.

Kolowski won 57.7% of the vote in the precinct over Swanson’s 42.3%.

How did Kolowski do it?  I’d like to meet with his staff before I write a definitive account but I have an idea.  In politics, as in life, we often use heuristics to make sense of our world.  When we look at the ballot, we see that someone has our preferred political party next to their name and we are more likely to vote for them.  We see that another politician is with a different political party, we begin to demonize him or her.

All of a sudden, we don’t really care what their ideas are.  If they are aligned with the correct political party, it does not really matter if they do not seem like a good person for the most part.  As you discover their political party or their policy beliefs your opinion of them might change.  But if you have developed a relationship with them or if you have strong bonds with them, it does not change very much.  All of a sudden you are voting for that person instead of voting for a party.

Kolowski’s strength, in my opinion, is based around the idea that he is able to build relationships with people.  They don’t see themselves as voting for a moderate Democrat but for Rick Kolowski, their kids’ former principal or neighbor.

08-37: This is one of my favorite precincts in all of Douglas County.  So is 08-31, to be honest.  This precinct is roughly 174th-180th St Harrison-Q.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 613 437 57 7
% of votes cast 55.0% 39.2% 5.1% 0.6%

 

There were a number of people who could not pull themselves to vote for Trump on Election Day.  There were 1,114 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.  There were 1,125 votes cast for the three candidates for Congress.  Bacon was able to get a larger vote total than Trump

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +76 -22 -36

 

Bacon was able to consolidate a number of the voters who voted Johnson as part of some form of protest and a number of what I assume are Republican leaning voters who voted Clinton.

But this is another area that Democrats could target with relationship building.  This is another Kolowski precinct.  Kolowski was able to win the precinct with 647 votes garnering more votes than Trump and fairly close to Don Bacon’s vote total.

08-35: This precinct is located roughly on 156th-163rd St and Y St – Q St.  This is yet another precinct that Trump underperformed what you would think.  There was not a lot of votes cast in this precinct, 482 for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 250 189 34 9
% of votes cast 51.9% 39.2% 7.1% 1.9%

 

Again, what we see is Trump being unacceptable but Bacon able to pick up the struggling Republicans who could not find it in themselves to vote for Trump.  With 480 votes cast for the three Congressional candidates, we have the following net votes:

 

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +26 -6 -13

 

And this is the third Kolowski precinct that we’re looking at.  There were 430 votes cast in the Legislative race.  Kolowski was able to receive 247 votes or 57.4% of the votes cast in the race defeating Swanson 57.4-42.6.

This is also on the list of potential targets where new votes can come from.

05-20:  This precinct is different than the rest of the ones that we looked at for a couple of reasons.  It’s more North and West of the other 3 precincts.  It’s located from 180th – 192nd St and B-Cedar. First, this is not an area where Trump really struggled.  There were 1,143 votes cast for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 750 355 36 2
% of votes cast 65.6% 31.1% 3.1% 0.2%

 

While Trump was very successful in this precinct, there were still a few voters who couldn’t find it in theirselves to be able to vote for Trump.  There were 1,138 votes for the Congressional candidates in this precinct.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +54 -35 -22

 

Bacon was still able to convince a number of voters to vote for him instead of voting for Trump.  Second, this is not a Rick Kolowski precinct. Lou Ann Linehan, a Republican, defeated Bill Armbrust, a Democrat 62.8% – 37.2% in the precinct.  That’s with a number of voters not voting in the state legislature race.  The area is still very conservative but even then we see that there are a number of voters who could not vote for Trump for President.

If we are serious about reaching new voters, we have to figure out why voters were willing to not vote for Trump on the Presidential line but vote for candidates who supported them in all other ways.

Ralston

There is a town in Douglas County that is surrounded on most sides by Omaha located around 72nd and Harrison St.  This town is Ralston.  The median household income in 2015 was $57,453.  The median gross rent was $772 and the mean price of housing units was $171,015.  From the census bureau, 85% of the town is white.  10% of the population is Hispanic and 2% of the Ralston population is black.  For the population of Ralston that is 25 or older, 29% of the population has a Bachelor’s Degree or higher and nearly 88% of the population has high school education or higher.  The unemployment rate in the town is 2.5%.

There are six precincts in the town.  Donald Trump won all six of the precincts.  Gary Johnson got considerable support in the town.  In three of the precincts, we have a very close election between Trump and Clinton. Here are the totals for the town for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Green
# of votes cast 1484 1233 158 24
% of votes 51.2 42.5 5.5 0.8

 

Like most of the precincts that we’ve looked at, there are more people voting for the three Congressional candidates over the Presidential candidates.  This seems odd, since in general, there are more votes for President than there are for Congress.  This is typically true, even if we exclude write-in votes, like we are doing here.

There were 2937 votes cast for one of the three candidates running for Congress compared to 2899 votes cast for the four presidential candidates.  Here is how they voted with the net votes for the Congressional candidates compared to their Presidential candidate.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -55 +172 -55

 

Ashford lost the town of Ralston by 24 votes overall.

So why did Ashford do so much better in Ralston than Clinton?  I think there’s something to the explanation that Trump was able to do well with the white working class voters or middle class voters.  For some reason, Trump was able to connect with these voters in a way that Clinton was not able to.  This is another time that I wish I had more data to compare this to.  I would love to see how they voted in a previous election.

There are quite a bit of Trump/Ashford voters in the town.  I would love to talk to them to see why they voted the way they did.  Perhaps, they believe that Ashford will help get things done in Washington in a way that they don’t think Bacon could.  Or if they simply believe that we should have a split government.  This is a belief that is fairly pervasive in Nebraska, in my experience.  But certainly not the best explanation.

Ashford was able to win three of the precincts.  He received over 50% of the vote in two of them.  He ran ahead of Clinton in all of the precincts.  His worst precinct there was him only running by 1.8 points ahead of Clinton.

The Democratic Party of Douglas County and of Nebraska should probably set a goal of winning Ralston in the next Congressional election.  There seems to be distrust of Bacon in this area, so it should be a way to communicate to them, compared to areas where they have to link Bacon to the unpopularity of Trump.

It’s possible that in this area what will sell is the fact that Bacon is not a resident of Omaha and is more of a carpetbagger.  At the end of the day, what is going to convince people to vote against a President and his or her party if they like him will be if their lives are not improved in 20 months.

I can tell you an issue that will not move the needle in Ralston – the death penalty.  There were 2,862 votes on Referendum 426.  They voted to reinstate the death penalty by a wide margin.  For the next table, retain is keeping the repeal of the death penalty.  Repeal is reinstating the death penalty.

Retain Repeal
# of votes cast 1217 1645
% of votes 42.5 57.5

 

What issues will reach out to Trump/Ashford voters?  Which way are they headed?  Are they headed TOWARD the Republican Party by breaking party lines by voting for a Republican for President?  Or are they headed TOWARD the Democratic Party by breaking party lines by voting for a Democrat for Congress?

That is what we need to find out to net more votes.

South Omaha

South Omaha is typically referred to as the heavily Latino area of Omaha.  There’s a bit of confusion when I asked people for their definition of where South Omaha really is.  I went through the precincts that are represented by Tony Vargas and Mike McDonell in the unicameral and added them into my definition of South Omaha.  Even still, I think I may have gone too far west in saying where South Omaha is on the map (which sounds like a paradox if you are not familiar) by including some areas all the way to 72nd St and Harrison.  I also may have gone too far North stretching to Douglas St. But I will be fairly upfront with the problematic areas in this analysis and let you know where the areas are that I had problems identifying.  I think it is critical for us to have a shared definition of regions if we are going through this exercise.

What we will refer to as North and South Omaha are two of the areas that gave Hillary Clinton the most of her margin in Douglas County.  The 24 precincts that I’ve highlighted as South Omaha had 21,798 votes cast for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 7,288 11,956 949 372
% of votes cast 35.4 58.1 4.6 1.8

 

Trump won two of the precincts there.  It is debatable whether or not you would either consider these two precincts as part of South Omaha.

04-12: This precinct is located from 48th-60th St from about Harrison to Q St.  This could be too far west for a number of people to really consider it South Omaha but it is represented by Mike McDonnell, so I included it here.  But Trump still managed to win the precinct.  There were 1,043 votes cast for the four presidential candidates there.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 558 429 36 20
% of votes cast 53.5 41.1 3.5 1.9

 

In the Congressional race, there were about the same number of votes cast for the three person Congressional race, 1,039.  Ashford was able to run well ahead of Clinton.  While this was his worst precinct in South Omaha, he still managed to win.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -80 +78 +18

 

It’s not immediately obvious to me how Trump was able to win in this area. My assumption is that the more West you go in this precinct the whiter the area is.  But unfortunately, I do not go in this area too often.  The reason why I say it is not immediately obvious to me why he won is because we have Democrat Mike McDonnell winning the precinct with just under 58% of the vote.  Of course, there were about 300 less votes in the state legislature race.  Gilbert Ayala who ran a very conservative campaign for the state legislature had a poor showing.

But then, again.  There were 1,006 votes cast on Referendum 426.  693 votes were cast to reinstate the death penalty.  Only 313 votes were cast to keep the repeal of the death penalty.  There were a number of fairly conservative votes in this area.

04-05:  This is the other Trump precinct in this area.  This is another area that was added to my spreadsheet with South Omaha as the region as it is represented by Mike McDonnell.  This precinct is located around 42nd-50th St G St – Oak St.  This is a really strange precinct on their vote totals.  There were 1,322 votes cast in the precinct for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 653 600 53 16
% of votes cast 49.4 45.4 4.0 1.2

 

There are a number of Trump-Ashford voters in this precinct.  There were 1,348 votes cast in the Congressional elections for the three candidates with the net votes.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -61 +112 -9

 

It just gets a little stranger.  This was Mike McDonnell’s best precinct.  He got 964 votes in this precinct.  Ayala only received 243 votes.  But it was also a precinct that voted to reinstate the death penalty by a 52.7-47.2 margin.

This is an area that can be improved upon for 2020 and could be an area that could be improved upon for 2018, as well.  The question that we have to answer is why did Trump resonate in this area to such a degree and why did Mike McDonnell do the same.  To my untrained eye, as Trump did better, McDonnell should have done worse.  But it simply did not happen, here.

Death penalty repeal

One of the things I am most fascinated by was how poor the death penalty referendum performed in Douglas County.  Douglas County has a fairly sizable Catholic population.  Traditionally, Catholicism has been linked to the abolition of capital punishment.  In 1974, the U.S. Catholic conference voted to declare its opposition to the death penalty.  Pope St. John Paul II wrote in the 1990s that to narrow the death penalty.  He wrote that the cases in which a prisoner must be executed “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”  Pope Francis wrote in 2015 to state the case for the abolition of the death penalty.  He wrote that capital punishment “contradicts God’s plan for man and society.”  But the Catholic Church has not necessarily called for the statewide abolition of death penalty even if there is opposition to the death penalty.  Catholic teaching usually leaves no question that the right to the execution of prisoners is a right left to state.  Pope Francis went further, writing, in 2015 that “today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.”

Beyond the Pope, a number of American Catholic publications including America Magazine, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor, and Patheos Catholic came out together to support the abolition of the death penalty in 2015.  I am not sure of the popularity of Catholic publications in traditional Catholic families especially here in Omaha.

I want to preface something before this next paragraph.  I’m not Catholic, myself.  I don’t know how much weight I would give what the Pope says either in his writing or his speeches, especially if it contradicts my already held belief.  In other denominations, it is more common for people to already arrive at a political belief and then use their religious beliefs to provide support to it.

One of the interesting things that I think gets overlooked is how opposition to abortion spread.  Evangelical and protestant Christian groups did not originally view abortion as such an important issue for a while.  In the 1970s, the consensus in the Evangelical community was that abortion was warranted in many circumstances.  In 1979, Christianity Today, published an article that concluded that the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.  In the 1970s the biggest defender of pro-life issues was Ted Kennedy.  Richard Nixon and even George H.W. Bush were pro-choice.  For most people, they simply did not think about abortion.  If they did, they primarily saw it as a Catholic issue.

Pat Buchanan argued in a memo to Richard Nixon that Nixon should try to peel off Catholic Democrats by appealing to them on abortion and switching to pro-life.  The argument was basically that Nixon would force Ed Muskie to choose between Catholics and liberals if Nixon came out in favor pro-life policies.  Soon after, Nixon spoke of his “personal belief in the sanctity of human life-including the life of the yet unborn.”  As we have seen, it did not take root for a while.

Republican strategists Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich recruited Jerry Falwell to lead a coalition around economic and social conservatives.  The idea was to focus on abortion as the most important issue.  They viewed it as a way to divide the Democratic Party.  Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979.  But even then, the voting patterns in Congress and the voters themselves were not as partisan until the late 1980s.  Political scientist Greg Adams demonstrated that “Republicans were more pro-choice than Democrats up until the late 1980s.”

But if you ask any pro-life voter Protestant or even Catholic, they will tell you that the reason that they are pro-life is because the Bible tells them that the fetus has a soul and the Bible tells them that it is murder.  The Bible hasn’t changed in the last 30 years.  What has changed is people’s personal beliefs and their own partisan beliefs.  For many, Republican politicians are seen as pro-life and Democrats are pro-choice, regardless of their actual stance.  They use the partisan divide and then dress it up with religious connotations.

I say all this to say this.  People are complex and have many different ideas floating around their head at a given time.  People use flawed reasoning to explain answers to complex questions.  It’s not to say who is right or wrong on a given issue, just highlighting how people’s views changed on an issue like abortion with the backdrop of their church.

Anyway, one would think in a Catholic area that they would be more likely to oppose the death penalty.  But we don’t necessarily see that.  In the Elkhorn area, which is over 25% Catholic, they overwhelmingly voted to reinstate the death penalty on Referendum 426.  According to Pew Research, 54% of White Catholics favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder.  39% of White Catholics oppose the death penalty.  43% of all Catholics support the death penalty compared to 46% who oppose it. Elizabeth Bruening uses a Pew study from 2013 to show that only 37% of Hispanic Catholics support the death penalty.  She argues that it is white Catholics who are the ones not supporting the abolition of the death penalty contra the Catholic church teachings.

But this isn’t exactly what we see when we look at the precincts that are predominantly Latino and what, I’m presuming, is Catholic.  In the South Omaha area, that I’ve identified, as a whole, we find that the community is evenly split between reinstating the death penalty to keeping the repeal of the death penalty.  There were 19,671 votes cast for this referendum in this area.  Remember, retain would be to keep the death penalty repeal and repeal would be to reinstate it.

Retain Repeal
Votes cast 9,298 10,373
% of votes cast 47.3 52.7

 

This does not fall upon party lines or is necessarily caused by lack of voters.  There are 800 less voters on the referendum than for the 4 party Presidential vote or for Congressional vote.  Hillary Clinton received 7,337 votes and 58.9% of the vote.  Brad Ashford received 7,758 votes or 62.1% of the votes for Congress. Pew Research found that 36% of Latinos support the death penalty compared to 50% who oppose.

South Omaha remains to be a very Democratic stronghold but it is worth looking into the way Latinos respond to the death penalty and by extension how Catholics view the death penalty.

Millard

The great suburban area of Omaha is Millard.  Known for its nice schools and because of it, nice property value, these mostly lily white neighborhoods make up a large chunk of the population in Omaha.  There’s a bit of a difference between Millard and what is more or less known as West Omaha.  One of the things that I’ve been thinking about while I’ve been researching this, is that the idea of West Omaha or large chunks of how Omaha is laid out is based on class and is based on race.  For many people, if you are in a nice neighborhood west of 72nd Street will announce that it is part of West Omaha.  If you are not in a nice neighborhood and you are east of about 144th St, they’ll say it’s not really West Omaha, yet.

I tried to separate out what would be considered West Omaha and Millard by drawing a line around 160th St.  This is not totally accurate because, for instance, Millard West (a high school) is located at 180th and Q.  So I also did another run with the numbers that included West Omaha, West of 160th.  The one area that I tried to leave intact without including it in this data is the Westside area.

There were 33 precincts in my initial run with Millard (it’s still a little problematic but we’ll get there).  Out of those 33, Hillary Clinton won three precincts.  She did not receive more than 50% of the four party Presidential vote in any precinct. Brad Ashford won four precincts in the area, receiving 50% or more in three of the precincts. Four precincts voted to hold the repeal of the death penalty.

The three precincts that Clinton won may not be considered a part of Millard by everyone.

05-04: This is the main one that I would not necessarily consider as part of Millard but it doesn’t really fit into any other classification.  The precinct is located from 72nd-90th St L St – F St and U St – F St.  It is basically just North of Ralston.  By vote percentage of the four party presidential vote, this was Hillary Clinton’s best precinct.  There were 916 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 412 451 41 12
% of votes cast 45.0 49.2 4.5 1.3

 

Somewhat surprising, considering what we have seen in other places where we have Republican voters who were not willing to vote for Trump but followed through downballot, we have basically the same amount of votes cast downballot and not a big swing for anybody.  There were only 5 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +4 +10 +3

 

Without trying to contact each individual voter on who they voted for, it seems fairly intuitive how people voted.

05-05: This precinct is located around 90th-108th St and Q-Center.  It’s a little bit East of where most people consider to be Millard.  But I still think it’s a good example of Millard.  And again, we don’t see Republican voters who are just not voting for Trump but voting downballot for Republican voters.

We just have two fairly unpopular candidates going against each other.  If anything, we have more reluctant Democratic voters who did not want to vote for Clinton but would vote for Ashford.  There were 904 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 398 444 45 17
% of votes cast 44.0 49.1 5.0 1.9

 

There were 6 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates.  Looking at who was able to benefit the most, we see Brad Ashford.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -4 +27 0

 

It looks like there were 4 Trump/Ashford supporters and then he was able to pick up the Stein voters and the 6 voters who decided not to vote for one of the four options.  Of course, I could be sorely mistaken.

There has not been a great example that we’ve looked at so far where we have seen non-Hillary Democratic voters.  This is probably the best one that we’ve seen, so far.

05-08:  This one is on the edge of my demarcations for Millard in both the East direction and is necessarily on the southern border as Harrison is the dividing line between Douglas and Sarpy.  It is 96th – 102nd St Harrison – Q St.  Here we see a bunch of voters who could not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. They found a home with Gary Johnson. There were 1,056 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 429 512 97 18
% of votes cast 40.6 48.4 9.2 1.7

 

Ashford and Bacon both got more raw votes than the Presidential candidates despite there only being 6 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +20 +45 -40

 

The question going forward for the Democratic Party is, is this sustainable?  Can a Democratic challenger in this precinct win by more than 120 votes (Ashford won by 108)?  Can a Democratic candidate for President reach and get a number of those Johnson voters to vote for them in a year when the candidate is not so unpopular?  What can we do to ensure that to happen?  Those are the questions we need to be asking and answering if we want to net more votes.

Stony Brook

In my mind, one of the better examples of the working class area in Millard is the Stony Brook neighborhood.  This area is mainly located from about 144th-156th Harrison-Q.  I guess I don’t really like the concept of working class neighborhoods because so much of what we consider to be working class is based upon income or house prices.  There are those who make a lot of money doing more blue collar type of labor and those who do white collar work who are highly educated and do not make much in terms of income.  Maybe this is just me.  The houses in this area are not terribly large or expensive which would tend to indicate that it is a working class neighborhood.  But who really knows these things.  I also think of this neighborhood area, rightly or wrongly, as an area where there are older white voters who have lived there for a while.

One of the questions that I wanted an answer to when I started this project or had this idea was to investigate areas that I think of as working class areas and see if Trump had unique appeal in those areas because there were a lot of thinkpieces about this phenomenon.

The precinct in this area is 05-18.  While Donald Trump easily won the precinct, there were quite a few libertarian-curious voters and there were a number of voters who could not find it in themselves to vote for Clinton, as we’ll see.

There were 1,367 total votes cast for one of the four presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 732 544 73 18
% of votes 53.5 39.8 5.3 1.3

 

It does not seem once we get to the Congressional vote that Trump had a unique way of appealing to these voters.  Rather, this was just a more conservative area. There were 1,380 votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +9 +40 -18

 

This was a conservative precinct and would have voted for the Republican candidates for federal office, pretty much regardless if this is any indication.

Just to further drive this point home, voters in this precinct overwhelmingly voted to reinstate the death penalty for the state of Nebraska.  63% of the 1,325 voters who voted on the referendum voted to reinstate the death penalty.

Millard Oaks

This is my old neighborhood area.  It’s not an exact match for the precinct.  But we’re looking at the area from 156th-163rd from Harrison-Q St. The area is more of the area of Millard that would be considered upper middle class portion of the region. There are other areas that are a better description of upper-middle class of Millard but this is one I’m more familiar with.  In addition, this area is home to a number of families that move to this area to be able to attend their choice of the Millard High Schools. Also, this area once had me playing hide and seek as a 20 year old being interrogated by someone just a few years my senior about what I was doing to his house. The answer was nothing but it did not satisfy him.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, based on all of that information, we have a fairly conservative area for the three precincts – 05-19; 05-33; and 08-35. These three precincts cast 1,829 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 1000 711 98 20
% of votes cast 54.7 38.9 5.4 1.1

 

There’s a fairly common thought that has been shown in these precinct looks that Trump does worse with what we think of as higher income areas. This idea was fairly prevalent when you looked at Congressional districts that were more highly educated in the suburbs of other cities.  Some of the ones that were more interesting was Georgia’s 6th Congressional District where Trump only managed to win by 1 point. There is a clear mark where Trump fails with voters. Unfortunately, there is not many journalists going to these suburbs to talk to voters to determine why they could not vote for Trump. And we have another precinct here where there was quite a few number of voters who could not vote for Donald Trump and there are some Trump/Ashford voters, as well.

08-35: The first one that I want to look at is precinct 08-35. This is located from about 156th-163rd St and located Y St – Q St. There were 482 voters who cast a vote for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 250 189 34 9
% of votes cast 51.9 39.2 7.1 1.1

 

Johnson outperformed his overall numbers for Douglas County and even in these three precincts. This would be understandable. Libertarianism is overrepresented by white more affluent citizens. But when we look at their votes for Congress, we see that there are a number of them who are not willing to vote for a libertarian at the Congressional level. There were two less votes for one of the Congressional candidates.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +26 -6 -13

 

While this is a conservative precinct there are a few voters in the area who were not willing to vote for Trump when it came to Election Day.

For those of you who have read thus far, you may in your mind trying to construct if this is a precinct represented by Rick Kolowski. And it was. As I’ve talked about before Kolowski was able to outperform in a number of precincts where conservatives were more able to succeed. This precinct was one of his best. He was able to get 57.4% of the votes over Ian Swanson who received 42.6% of the vote.  This, again, was not entirely a product of voters simply not voting at the state legislative level. There were only 50 less votes cast for legislature than for President. He only received 3 less votes than Trump did in this precinct.

05-19: This is the heart of Millard Oaks. This is also the best of the three Trump precincts.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 581 384 49 5
% of votes 57.0 37.7 4.8 0.5

 

There were 14 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates. Brad Ashford outperformed Clinton in this precinct. Trump was able to do better than Bacon, as well. There were quite a few of the Trump/Ashford voters. I’ll be honest, Trump/Ashford voters fascinate me.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -28 +54 -7

 

Even more surprising, this area was also represented by Kolowski.  He won the precinct pretty handily garnering 54.4% of the vote over Ian Swanson.

The area is not a great example of “working class” based on the income of the area or with their house values. It simply does not seem like an area that anybody would really assume that it is a “working class” neighborhood. This is yet another example of an area that I would like to see data for more than just this election data. Unfortunately, I do not have this data.

Trump – retain voters

When I first started to look at this data, I made a little comment that there are quite a few Trump supporters who also voted to keep the repeal of the death penalty. I initially thought that there were quite a few Catholic Trump supporters who thought that they could follow the Church’s teachings by voting for Trump and then voting to keep the repeal of the death penalty. This would require actual investigation by someone who gets paid to do this to determine why these voters could vote for Trump who was an avowed supporter of the death penalty but also could vote to keep the repeal of the death penalty. Overall, in Douglas County, keeping the repeal of the death penalty outperformed Trump by 1 point.

So what I wanted to do was look at the precincts that Trump was able to win and then look at the precincts where “retain” outperformed Trump. There were 9 such precincts in Douglas County.  I’m ignoring one of them because there simply was not very many voters in the precinct.  That precinct is 08-27 which is located from 144th-156th Center-Pacific. There were 107 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates and only 102 votes for Referendum 426.

06-26: This precinct is located from 114th-132nd and Harney-Dodge.  It is actually located next to 08-27 which is interesting for what we’re going to talk about in a little bit. This is labeled in my spreadsheet as the Jewish Community Center area. Beth Israel Synagogue is located just south of this precinct, closer to Pierce St. The Jewish Community Center is located just west of this precinct. I bring this up because as I began to look at the precincts who voted for Trump and wanted to retain the death penalty repeal, they were focused in this area. The areas that were around this area were 08-27; 06-04; 06-28; 06-10; 06-26; 06-03; and 06-09.  The next table is how the precincts voted for Trump and then for retain on Referendum 426 and then if retain was able to overperform and by how much (essentially retain minus Trump).

Precinct Trump Retain Retain – Trump
08-27 50.5 60.8 +10.3
06-04 50.7 53.0 +2.3
06-28 55.0 46.4 -8.6
06-10 50.9 45.6 -5.3
06-26 47.4 52.1 +4.7
06-03 54.2 49.0 -5.2
06-09 51.3 50.6 -0.7

 

It’s not perfect if you just have those precincts but it’s rather interesting that these precincts were able to stomach voting for Trump and for retaining the repeal of the death penalty. If we were able to segment these areas from the precincts down to the street level analysis. I would be willing to bet that the areas that were closer to be able to walk to Beth Israel Synagogue would be more likely to vote to retain on Referendum 426.

06-06: This precinct is located a little to the South and a little to the East of the precincts (at least the Western portion of this precinct). There’s not a good explanation of this precinct. It is located from 72nd-78th St and I-80 – Oak St. I have it listed as Midtown but not exactly what I would describe it as that. Trump won the precinct by 5 votes over Hillary Clinton.  He happens to be the most popular of the candidates listed on the ballot. Don Bacon lost this precinct to Brad Ashford. It seems to indicate that in this area there were a number of people who could not bring themselves to vote for Clinton but were leaning Democratic. There were 20 more votes for the three Congressional candidates than for the four party Presidential candidates.  Ashford got 55 more votes than Clinton did in the precinct and won it outright. But even still, retain did not win in the precinct. It got 49.1% of the vote.  It lost by 16 votes. This is a precinct where I would want to talk to the voters. They did not vote on ideological lines.

06-08: This precinct could have easily been listed in the table above. It is located from 108th-114th St Center-Pacific. So it is just outside of the tabled precincts I looked at. It just strengthens my idea that the voters who voted for Trump and then voted to keep the repeal of the death penalty were clustered.  Trump won this precinct by 4 points or 50 votes out of 1,330 cast. Bacon got 682 votes in the precinct as there were 31 more votes cast in the precinct for Congressional candidates compared to the four party Presidential vote. Even with all of that, there were a number of voters who crossed party lines to keep the repeal of the death penalty.

06-02: This is yet another one of the areas that could have easily been considered in that table I have of the Jewish Community Center area. It is located from 96th St – 108th St Pacific – Dodge St. Unlike a couple of the precincts that we have been looking at, it wasn’t particularly close. Trump got nearly 54% of the vote compared to Hillary’s 42.5%. Bacon won by 3 points, as well. And retain was not very close either. There were 55% of voters in this precinct who voted to keep the repeal of the death penalty compared to only 45% who wanted to reinstate the death penalty.

05-23: I could even consider this precinct as part of the same are. It’s a very narrow precinct located from 104th -108th St F St – Pacific St. This was a very close precinct in the Presidential vote where Trump defeated Clinton by a mere 8 votes out of 1,165 votes cast. This is another one of the precincts where we have Democrats who were unwilling to vote for Clinton. Brad Ashford got 50.6% of the Congressional three party votes. But then they crossed the line again to vote to reinstate the death penalty. Although, 48.5% of voters wanted to keep the repeal of the death penalty.

So why are all these voters who supported Trump but also wanted to keep the repeal of the death penalty? There are a couple of different possible explanations. My favorite one based on the table above is heavily influenced by religion. Judaism, at least some denominations, oppose the death penalty. Shabbot observant Jews need to live within walking distance of their synagogues to be able to attend services and be able to walk home.

The other explanation is one that we should consider, as well. Voting is inherently a social phenomenon. We kind of ignore this, to some extent. If your family or your friends support a particular cause or candidate and are passionate about it, they will talk to you about it. If you end your friendship with them or sever ties with your family over it, you are the ones that are considered a jerk. If you start arguments at get togethers, people will not invite you back. Overall, it is polite to just allow for the ones who are passionate to express their beliefs. These beliefs extend to a certain point where they are saturated by an area. Friendships, by and large, are not chosen because of ideas or shared interests, they are largely formed and cultivated because of proximity. What good is it if you are a Democrat living in a fairly conservative area to express support for a Democratic candidate that you don’t feel passionate about? You may lose friends, lose invitations to neighborhood get togethers, or family get togethers. It is easier to just accept it. And to a certain point, you may bring that baggage in with you when you vote. You may not feel comfortable, necessarily, voting for Trump but you may just choose not to vote for Clinton. If that same area is heavily invested in the idea of keeping the repeal of the death penalty, you may accept it, too.

But it’s definitely worth exploring this area to see if it can be flipped. It’s certainly interesting.

Northwest Omaha

The last area in Douglas County that I spent a lot of time has been Northwest Omaha. There’s not any significant difference between most of West Omaha and Northwest Omaha. The main difference is that large portions of West Omaha are in the Millard School District and many of the high school graduates continue onto Millard University (University of Nebraska – Lincoln).

For the most part, I’ve designated Northwest Omaha as West of I-80 which is roughly 108th St and North of Dodge St. I tried to not go too far north or west in order to not to run into Bennington or Elkhorn.

There were 37,771 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 19,228 16,327 1,818 398
% of votes cast 50.9 43.2 4.8 1.1

 

This is a pretty conservative area with the Presidential votes. But even still, there were a number of voters in the area that did not want to vote for Trump, for whatever reason, but would still want to vote for a Republican for Congress. There were 38,253 votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates. So there were about 500 voters in the area who could not find it within themselves to vote for one of the four Presidential candidates. As we’ll see from their Congressional votes, there’s even more voters who did not feel comfortable voting for Trump at the top of the ticket. Here is their Congressional votes with the net votes.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +1,037 +533 -690

 

There were a number of Ashford supporters who could not find it within themselves to vote for Clinton. The largest section, though, by far, was non Trump supporting Republicans.

There were a number of precincts in the area that Clinton won. Most of her victories were in the more Eastern part of the precinct. She won precincts 07-19 (120th-125th Dodge-Parker); 07-18 (104th-118th Dodge-Parker); 07-15 (104th-122nd Parker-Maple); 07-05 (108th-120th Hilltop-Fort); 07-09 (102nd=108th Maple-Fort); 07-02 (106th-109th Military-Newport); 07-25 (120th-125th Ohio-Maple); 07-10 (108th-120th Maple-Hilltop); 07-23 (90th-96th Maple-Boyd); 07-11 (120th-132nd Maple – Fort) and 07-03 109th-120th Fort-Redick). It is simply amazing to see the divide crop up between the Eastern part of NW Omaha compared to the rest of the precincts. There is a clear line between about 125th and the rest of the area. Those areas have a high population of African-Americans. This area primarily goes to Burke High School. Even still, there is one precinct that also voted for Don Bacon.

These precincts cast 13,192 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates and 13,369 votes for one of the three Congressional candidates:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 5,675 6,624 717 176
% of votes 43.0 50.2 5.4 1.3

 

Bacon Ashford Laird
# of votes 5,901 6,932 536
% of votes 44.1 51.9 4.0
Net votes +226 +308 -181

 

07-02: This precinct is located in the Northeast part of the precinct from 106th-109th Military-Newport. There were 1,278 votes cast for one of the four presidential candidates:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 578 624 68 8
% of votes cast 45.2 48.8 5.3 0.6

 

There were a few voters who could not bring themselves to vote for one of the four presidential candidate but who still voted for one of the three Congressional candidates. There were 1,298 votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates. Here is how they voted with the candidates’ net votes.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +64 -4 -32

 

Trump may not have been acceptable to a number of the voters there. But Bacon only won the precinct by 22 votes.

One of the nicer parts in all of Douglas County includes the neighborhood of Huntington Park. Houses in this neighborhood have an average list price of $375,000 and range from $275,000 – $500,000. When I think of the rich suburbs of NW Omaha, I think of Huntington Park. It is roughly west of 156th and Blondo. The precinct that best encapsulates this area id 07-34 which is located from 156th-162nd Parker- Maple.

There were 1,002 votes cast in this precinct for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 585 367 43 7
% of votes cast 58.4 36.6 4.3 0.7

 

As we see, this is a pretty conservative area. There were 1,030 votes cast for one of the three candidates running for Congress.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +80 -10 -25

 

In the nicer parts of Douglas County, time and time again, we see that the areas are very conservative but still have a problem voting for Trump. Maybe there is a social stigma with voting for Trump but they feel comfortable supporting Republicans, anyway. For many, party id simply outweighs social stigma.

LD31

State Senator Rick Kolowski represents this legislative district. It is located in Millard and parts of West Omaha. As I’ve mentioned a few times, Kolowski is a moderate in the unicameral who often takes progressive positions there. Thanks to the Daily Kos’s election team, we have some numbers about how this district voted in 2012. Based on my own research, I have the numbers for how this area voted in 2016.

According to the Daily Kos’s findings, they found that there were 19,579 votes cast in this legislative district. There were only 231 votes cast for one of the non two party candidates for President.

2012 Romney Obama
# of votes 12,734 6,614
% of votes 65.0 33.8

 

There were more votes cast in 2016 in this legislative district despite what people assumed. There were 20,067 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

2016 Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 11,525 7,410 943 189
% of votes 57.4 36.9 4.7 0.9

 

There were a number of voters in this legislative district that did not feel comfortable voting for Trump after voting for Romney in 2012. Gary Johnson had a significant increase in his vote share, as did Jill Stein.  Despite what we were told about Hillary Clinton’s extreme unpopularity, the one who seems to be hurt the most by their unpopularity was Donald Trump. Some journalists need to write about suburban voters who couldn’t find it in themselves to vote for Trump in November.

Citizen by birth: Part 2

Birthright citizenship prior to the 14th Amendment

Strangely enough, the United States Constitution is remarkably silent on the issue of who is considered a citizen in the United States.  It references citizenship in defining who is eligible to run for the House of Representatives, the Senate, and President of the United States.  Our founding document did give the power to Congress to determine naturalization.  While the constitution is silent on the issue of what makes a person a citizen, the courts routinely were able to use English common law to set a precedent for jus soli citizenship.  Alexandra Wyatt wrote in her report for the Congressional Research Service titled “Birthright Citizenship and Children Born in the United States to Alien Parents: An Overview of the Legal Debate”, noted that the Supreme Court in Smith v. Alabama opined “[t]he interpretation of the Constitution of the United States is necessarily influenced by the fact that its provisions are framed in the language of the English common law, are to be read in the light of its history.”   Wyatt found that in Inglis v. Sailor’s Snug Harbor, Justice Story wrote in a dissent (on other grounds) that “nothing is better settled at the common law than the doctrine that the children even of aliens born in a country, while the parents are resident there under the protection of the government, and owing a temporary allegiance thereto, are subjects by birth.”  But these are not the best examples for a number of reasons to say that the case is settled.  The New York Court case of Lynch v. Clarke was probably a better example.

Julia Lynch was born to Irish aliens during a “temporary sojourn” in 1819.  She, with her parents, departed to their native country and lived there continuously from then on.  The court was asked to rule on the claim of Julia Lynch, if she was a citizen, because if she was, she was set to inherit real estate.  Her father did not state any intention of becoming a citizen of the United States and even though he had a daughter while in the United States, they had no real intention of staying.  They moved back to Ireland. The New York Court held that Julia Lynch was a citizen of the United States.  In the opinion, the justice wrote “the right of citizenship, as distinguished from alienage, is a national right or condition. It pertains to the confederated sovereignty, the United States; and not to the individual states…the policy and the legislation of the American Colonies, from their earliest times until the Revolution was adapted to foster immigration, and to bestow upon foreigners all the rights of natural born subjects…the uniform course was to extend, not to abridge, the right of citizenship.”  The justice continued until ultimately concluding “I can entertain no doubt, but that by the law of the United States, every person born within the dominions and allegiance of the United Stats, whatever were the situation of his parents, is a natural born citizen.”

In one of the most infamous rulings in the United States Supreme Court’s history, the Taney court, in Dred Scott opined that the class of citizenship could not be given to descendants of slaves and to people of African descent, in general.  The Dred Scott case is one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court has issued and is rarely cited as any precedent outside of hiding in Shelby County v. Holder and by Trump confidante and anti-birthright citizenship crusader Kris Kobach.  After the Civil War, which more or less repudiated the decision in Dred Scott, it was still up to Congress to determine who could be naturalized and become a citizen.

 

 

Citizen by birth: Part 1

 

Citizenship by birth

If you are born in the United States, you are a citizen of the country, regardless of the citizenship status of your parents.  This is known as jus soli (“right of soil).  Advocates for ending birthright citizenship talk about moving the United States to the same doctrine as many of the other countries in the world to change citizenship based on the status of your parents, this is known as jus sanguinis (“right of blood”).  This is why when an undocumented immigrant has a child here, the child is a citizen.  This is the legal doctrine that creates the idea and derogatory term as “anchor baby.”  According to the Pew Hispanic Center, about 340,000 babies in 2008 were born to those here illegally.

More recently, in the last few years, at least, there has been increased scrutiny on maternity hotels in the United States.  This is where immigrants from other countries will come to the United States for the expressed purpose of having their child so that the child can gain citizenship in the United States.  Even those opposed to ending birthright citizenship note how this causes an increased difficulty for mothers and babies because the babies might not be properly cared for.

Some seemingly moderate Republicans have a view on ending birthright citizenship, such as Judge Richard Posner and Senator Lindsey Graham or Rand Paul.  All think that it would be better practice to end this immigration practice in an effort to curb immigration.  But these views have mainly been on the fringes of the Republican Party and outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party, as well.

There are many reasonns, looking back, where we should have known that the Republican Party, writ large, would captulate to their party’s nominee, whoeveer it was.  The one that probably stood out the most at the time, that was undeercovered was when Donald Trump talked about ending birthright citizenship.  May of the Republicans who were running decided to try to appease the leader in the polls istead of standing up for what they previously thought was right.

The most egregious example of one of the candidates bending over backwards waas former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.  Jindal claimed his citizenship through his parents, almost explicitly through the idea of birthright citizenship.  Jindal’s parents were not citizens but he was able to claim citizenship because of the fact that he was born in the United States.

Chris Christie and Scott Walker also came out in favor of ending birthright citizenship to gain favor with the Republican base that they needed to continue in their presidential runs.

Some of the Republican candidates had previous issues with the idea of birthright citizenship.  This included the South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham, who once said that immigrants could “drop their babies and leave.”.  This also included Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.  Both of these Senators sponsored legislation ending birthright citizenship in the Senate.

The principled Conservative, John Kasich, previously supported ending birthright citizenship but ended up denouncing that end in his presidential run, this time around.  He talked about reforming the immigration system that we have, including a path to citizenship for many of the undocumented immigrants, out there.

And some tried to hold strong to their values such as former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush and Florida Senator, Marco Rubio.

I’m not trying to pick on Republicans with this idea.  Senator Harry Reid once offered up legislation to end birthright citizenship but over the course of the last 20 years, has moved from immigration hawk to an immigration reform advocate.

Ending birthright citizenship is not really an idea that can be laughed off, at this point.  Republicans hold a trifecta in the federal government and will hold a majority on the Supreme Court once Trump puts his nomination through.  Representative Steve King of Iowa will likely push his legislation of ending birthright citizenship the first day the House is in session, like he does seemingly every session, now.

The ending of birthright citizenship is a direct assault on the 14th Amendment of our Constitution that was passed at the end of the Civil War.

Because of this and because of the possibly high importance on this issue from both Congressional Republicans and the President elect, what I want to do is look at the history of birthright citizenship and why I think it is so important and ultimately talk about why the attacks on it are misguided and unfounded.

 

 

 

Nebraska Voter Guide

Here is the often promised voting guide for Nebraska.  A few notes before we begin.  I make no apologies for any charge of bias that you think I might have.  I will give you the relevant information about the candidates out there, as well as a recommendation of who I would vote for.  I will also link to some policy posts that I have written over the last year to provide you with some background, as well.

100 Facts

Image result for beau mccoy

Statewide ballot measure:

The Nebraska Death Penalty Repeal Veto Referendum: I wrote much more about this subject earlier.

A More Perfect Union’s Recommendation: Retain

Image result for hillary clinton donald trump

U.S. Presidential Election

This is very difficult for me to write without coming off as a jerk.  The major party’s nominees for this election leave voters with an obvious choice.    Without going too far into it, voting for a third or fourth party simply does not make any sense in presidential elections.

The debt

Among the arguments against voting for a Democrat is the argument that Democratic policies will leave the country bankrupt and significantly increase the debt or deficit of the United States.

Trump’s tax plans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, would reduce federal revenues by $9.5 trillion over the first 10 years and an additional $15 trillion over the next 10 years after that.  To put this in perspective, spending for the entire US Government in FY2015 was $3.7 trillion.  The Tax Policy Center found that the tax cuts could produce deficits as high as $11.2 trillion over the next 10 years.  To avoid creating a deficit, Congress would have to cut spending by 21% overall.  Discretionary spending could also be reduced by 82% to avoid the deficits.

Hillary Clinton’s tax plans would increase revenue by $1.1 trillion over the next decade and an additional $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years.  Not surprisingly, Clinton’s tax plans would reduce the national debt by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

It would seem difficult to vote for Trump based on that information.

Taxes

The reason that Trump’s plan is so disastrous for the debt is that it would cut taxes at every income level.  The Tax Policy Center found that on average it would cut taxes by $5,100.  The highest 0.1% of income-earners would receive an average tax cut of $1.3 million in 2017 or about 19% of after-tax income.  Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $2,700 or 4.9% of after-tax income.  This would significantly increase the number of people not paying federal income tax.  63% of households would not pay federal income tax if the tax plans were passed, as is.

Trump would also repeal the estate tax, known as the death tax.  I wrote about this, in the past.  But long story short, the estate tax only affects 2 out of every 1,000 deaths.  Clinton’s tax plan would also increase the estate tax.

Clinton’s tax plans, meanwhile, would increase taxes on high-income filers. The most significant portion would be her support of the “Buffet Rule.”  The rule would require those with an adjusted gross income of over $1 million to pay a 30% effective tax rate.  This would reduce the after-tax income of those in the top 1% by about 5%.  The bottom 95% of income-earners (those earning less than $300,000) would see little changes to their after-tax income.  This report was written before any tax cuts for the middle class or lower.  While the report from the Tax Policy Center’s report was written when Clinton’s elderly care plan was proposed, the lack of specificity prevented the Tax Policy Center from analyzing the effects on middle class individuals.

Jobs

According to Moody’s analytics in their report on Trump’s economic policies, if Trump’s policies are enacted as is, there will be a lengthy recession with an estimated loss of 3.5 million jobs by the end of Trump’s first term.  After-inflation incomes  will stagnate, stock prices will decline, and real house values will also decline.  The biggest beneficiaries, according to this analysis, of Trump’s job plans are high income earners.  Moody’s gives a more favorable rating to Clinton’s plans on the economy.  They estimate that at the end of her first term, there would be an estimated 3.2 million job growth.  They estimate that there will be an average increase in real household income by $2,000.   The biggest beneficiaries of Clinton’s jobs plans are low – middle income earners.

Immigration

This is where I may lose some of you.  Trump is significantly hard-line on immigration, especially compared to Clinton.  Trump has promised to deport 11.3 million undocumented immigrants from the United States.  Deporting the undocumented immigrants here would cost the federal government $400 to $600 billion. The argument that undocumented immigrants are a drain on the taxpayer are based on the idea that undocumented immigrants do not have a high level of education and take more out of social welfare spending than they put in with taxes.  The estimates for how much undocumented immigrants are mixed, at best.  Beyond that, he supports ending birthright citizenship, which is likely unconstitutional as a violation of the 14th Amendment.  Further, Trump has called for a ban for Muslims entering America.  This is almost certainly unconstitutional.

Clinton has run on a campaign that is advocating for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and DACA and DAPA executive orders that President Barack Obama instated.

I can’t believe I got this far in talking about immigration without talking about the wall.  Trump repeatedly called for a wall between Mexico and the United States. Trump hasn’t talked about it recently because it doesn’t poll well outside of his base.  But he’s still advocating for it.  Of course, when he went to Mexico to talk, ostensibly about the wall, he choked.

Trade

Trump’s signature issue throughout the primary beside his strong stance on immigration was his distaste for trade and globalization.  People have been trying to make too much of this issue slowly creeping back into the American conscience that trade is something that most people understand.  And wouldn’t you know it, Trump doesn’t seem to understand it, either.  Trump is seemingly unaware that most Americans work in the service sector of the economy.  Not that many workers work in America in manufacturing internationally traded goods.  Despite his claims that the biggest plants in the world are being built in Mexico, the biggest plant is being built by Tesla in California.  The current biggest plant is in the United States.  The third biggest plant is in Illinois. The biggest plants are Mitisubishi and Boeing depend on international trade to be able to thrive and for how/why they are able to have their biggest plants.  Manufacturing output in the US has increased by 50% since the implementation of NAFTA which was negotiated by the George H.W. Bush administration.  Unemployment in Ohio and Michigan, in particular have declined since the implementation of NAFTA.  The problems of free trade tend to be overstated in an effort to blame complex issues on something simple.

To be sure, there are complex problems on globalizatoin and free trade.  There are winners and losers when you open free trade agreements.  No trade deal is perfect in reality.  What we have is an ideal economized version of trade vs the reality.  This is often my complaints about a number of minor parties and their vision of how the government works.  Their idealized version could almost never works out in reality.  Simply blaming the loss of manufacturing jobs or jobs in general on free trade or trade agreements, seems to me, to ignore real complex issues about the economy and how it works.

I’m not a free trade apologist, by any measure.  There are real concerns about free trade and the effect on workers.  I do believe that we should have principles to hold global supply chains accountable for their actions.  Clinton has repeatedly walked back statements over her initial support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  So much so, that she has now stated that she no longer supports it and would not sign it.  Trump also does not support the TPP.  If you do not support the TPP, then your question is how much do you believe Clinton and how much Trump.

Here’s a helpful primer of TPP.

Foreign Policy

We’re at a lot of words already for this voting guide and we’re not even close to being done.  Let’s pick up the pace. Trump’s foreign policy is largely based around the idea of trade and economic interests which don’t seem to make much sense.  Trump’s foreign policy, despite his claims to the contrary, are very hawkish.  Trump has repeatedly lied about his views on Iraq and Libya.  Trump has an unusually close relationship with Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin despite his denial.  His claims that Russia is fighting ISIS, as is Bashar Al-Assad is not one that is shared with US intelligence experts.  Trump’s original plan was to wait out the fight between ISIS and Assad.  He now thinks that we should send troops to Syria.

Nearly every comment Trump has made on foreign policy has been met with appropriate scorn.  Trump, in an interview with The New York Times, tried to set conditions for invoking Article 5 and protecting NATO countries.  His response to that was that he was misquoted.  Then New York Times then released the full transcript from the interview.  Beyond that, he apparently doesn’t know that Putin has made his play into Ukraine.  And even if Putin did go into Crimea (which he is) the people would prefer to be part of Russia but it was bad under Obama’s watch.  Despite his claims that he knows more than the generals or the ones giving the briefings to him, he does not seem to understand the very basics of foreign policy.

Clinton’s position on a no-fly zone is probably not that tenable without intense negotiation with Russia to prevent having another world war or a cold war with Russia.  I’m not as enthralled with Clinton on her foreign policy issues.  She cast a vote for the AUMF in Iraq and has made questionable calls for military intervention in Libya.  further, as it turns out, she made the wrong call with regards to Syria as it was happening.  Her foreign policy hawkishness seems to stem from the Clinton presidency failures in Rwanda.  Her basic fear of not being involved in ending human rights violations and potential genocide weighs heavily on her, as well as her husband.  Her cavalier remarks about Russia from herself and her staff do not speak well of her.  While I do think that Putin is an authoritarian who is not to be praised, painting Russia as the boogeyman for a number of issues is still problematic.

Temperament and “intangibles”

I can’t go through all of the policies that Trump and Clinton have that compare the two.  Clinton’s wonkiness on her campaign is a reflection of who she is.  She has plenty of plicy ideas and ideals of how to make America and the lives of everyday Americans (despite her hatred of that phrase) better.  You may disagree with how we get there.  You may disagree that the federal government should do something to help make college more affordable for young Americans.  Or you might think we do too much to help the poor because the programs, you feel, are rife with abuse.

More likely, you have a visceral hatred of Clinton because of things you have seen on the internet or saw briefly when you were younger.  You might have a strong belief of how Clinton handled her e-mails.  And yes, it is very obviously problematic that Clinton set up her own private e-mail server, most likely to prevent herself from Freedom of Information Act requests.  It was, as FBI Director James Comey stated, “reckless.”  But to cherrypick his claims, you have to continue.  There is simply not a precedent for criminal investigations.  And lest we forget, there were only 3 (!) classified e-mails found on her server by the FBI.  These e-mails were improperly marked in the e-mail, as well.  You might want to read the actual Benghazi report put out by the House Republicans. It’s not nearly as damning as the claims made in various right wing publications.

If you have a hatred of the Clintons because of the appearances of improprieties, I can’t really help you.  Almost all of these appearances of improprieties are just that, appearances.  Despite over 20 years of investigations of the Clintons, there has been little to show for it.  There was the perjury of Bill Clinton and the revelation that Hillary used a private e-mail server.  Even the supposedly damning e-mails published by Wikileaks do not seem to indicate a number of the problems that they try to point out.  I simply do not have the time to debunk your pet conspiracy theory about the Clintons.  Or debate the appearances of improprietis, especially since the reason they are problematic are because they seem to give power and undue influence to people like Donald Trump.

Supporters of Trump seem to cling to the idea that he will somehow protect American ideals and appoint the right justices to the Supreme Court and federal courts.  Trump released a list of Supreme Court justices that he would appoint.  Like many of the jobs, he seemingly creates, he outsourced the job.  Unlike his manufacturing jobs, he left it in the United States. They’ve largely been a production of the rightwing think tank, the Heritage Foundation.  They may be sufficiently conservative for some Republicans to want to vote for Trump, especially given the fact that there is an open seat on the Supreme Court.  Surprisingly, this is one of the rare instances where Trump has managed to stay within Constitutional grounds on the separation of powers.

An argument for Trump is that he will be constrained by the separation of powers and that he can be constrained by his own advisers.  Trump is still repeating the same policy gibberish that he has long said since the beginning of the year.  He ran in the Republican primary on this concept of “lines” in health insurance that need to be erased to bring in competition.  What this policy is referring to is the ability to sell insurance across state lines.  This is a terrible policy but it is at least a policy that Republicans advocate for.  His nonsense about lines is a reference to that.  Even though, he has literally no idea what that means.  If he was interested in learning health care policy, he could talk to his running mate Mike Pence.  Pence’s version of the Medicaid expansion is one way Republican governors are trying to reform healthcare.  It’s, again, not policy that I think is any good but it’s at least something.  It’s unclear if Trump is willfully ignoring the advice of his advisors or if he’s only willing to learn about certain subjects.

To be clear, what’s important is not that Trump isn’t advocating for Republican ideas and policy goals.  I would rather him not advocate for these types of policies.  What’s important is that over the course of the last year, Trump has not shown a willingness to to expand his knowledge or to respond to any new information.  If you’re counting on Trump showing an ability to learn or to respond to new information, there is simply no evidence.  Even in the very rare instances where Trump tries to take responsibility for something, he later doubles down making his apology null and void.  You can see that in the interviews that he holds, when called out for trying to bullshit his way through answers, he tries to double down on this bullshit.

One of the reasons that Trump supporters are still clinging to for the reason for their vote is because of the supposed idea that Trump will protect the 2nd Amendment.  I’ve written that this is false and all of the Constitutional Amendments that Trump’s policy will violate.  His stop and frisk policy where he would like to proactively take guns away from citizens is blatantly unconstitutional and more gun grabby than any policy Clinton or Barack Obama have ever advocated for.  Trump’s continued insistence on torture and trying to force the military to do illegal things would be a violation of international norms and our own Constitution.  In most normal elections, this would be enough to stop someone from being a serious contender for President.

Or maybe it’s his insistence to appoint a special prosecutor to have his political opponent jailed.  That is likewise a violation of our democratic institutions and our belief that we solve political battles and disputes with elections.  Trump’s insistence on this is in the articles of impeachment brought on Richard Nixon.  This is an abuse of power.  It threatens us to our democratic core.

Trump has been running explicitly on the idea that the only way he can be defeated is through voter fraud.  Not just voter fraud but voter fraud from minority communities.  This is the efforts of a racist demagogue.  There’s very little evidence of in-person voting fraud, yet his supporters believe that ACORN, an organization defunded for 5+ years will steal the election.  This insistence on voter fraud and his ideas of jailing his political rival is something seen in third world banana republics, not in the United States.

I could go on.  But Trump’s unique awfulness is a threat to democracy.  I’ve had multiple policy disagreements with John McCain, with Mitt Romney, with Republican members of the Legislature but I never am scared for the violations of our democracy and our institutions.  His outright lies and demagogic racism combined with the very tenuous grasp that he holds onto for his policy ideals makes him a threat.

Trump often ends various debates and statements with a misguided notion that he has “the best temperament.”  He often lashes out at reporter, politicians, officials, and staff who disagree with him when he has his feelings hurt.  Or when they tell him what he wants to hear.  From a number of Republican strategists, officials, and many numbers of people who have worked with Trump, he surrounds himself with “yes, men” who are too afraid to tell him, “no.”  We should not be afraid to tell him no.

A More Perfect Union’s Recommendation: Hillary Clinton

U.S. House of Representatives:

District 1:

Republican: Jeff Fortenberry
Democratic: Daniel Wik

Fortenberry, by GovTrack analysis, is on the right fringes of the moderate portion of Congress.  The most similar member of Congress based on their analysis was Aaron Schock.  Their analysis is based on sponsorship and cosponsorship patterns.  Fortenberry has introduced 15 bills during the 114th Congress.  The majority of the bills he has introduced during this Congress have been about healthcare.  His bills on healthcare have been focused on trying to strengthen health savings accounts and retirement accounts.  H.R. 1494 was introduced by Fortenberry to rollover retirement plans to health savings accounts.  H.R. 1169 was another bill that Fortenberry introduced to increase the maximum amount that someone can contribute to a health savings account.

He has tried to stay away from a number of controversial bills in recent years.  While scanning for my legislative scorecard, a couple of bills that he co-sponsored stand out.  He was a co-sponsor of H.R. 1147 Legal Workforce Act which would create a national mandatory E-Verify system.  I think this bill is problematic because E-Verify is a problematic system.

Fortenberry joined his Nebraska Congressional delegation member Adrian Smith in co-sponsoring H.R. 1885 Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act of 2015 to try to protect rural postal service offices. It’s a decent bill to try to protect rural postal service offices; however, it does not attempt to help make the postal service solvent.

Fortenberry is pro-life and did co-sponsor H.R. 36 Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which attempted to ban abortion at 20 weeks.  If you are a pro-life, single issue voter, Fortenberry has fairly strong credentials in that regard.  He has also supported legislation to include fetuses under protection of the 14th Amendment.  Of course, he only supports that protection if one parent is an American as he wants to end birthright citizenship and have to have one parent who is an American to receive citizenship.

The person running against Fortenberry is Dan Wik.  Wik describes himself as a financial conservative, repeatedly.  He has a link on his website about his thoughts on Brexit where he tries to capitalize on anti-globalization thoughts.  His thoughts on job and the economy are likewise influenced with a special affinity for manufacturing and a belief that we don’t have a “military industrial complex, and loose (sic) national security.”  Going futher, Wik would want to place a tariff to fund social security while cutting corporate tax, capital gains tax, and personal income taxes.  He would want to eliminate the rules of engagement and “let the military do what it is trained to do…win!”  . Wik also argues for a flat tax of between 0-18% depending on income and supports a balanced budget.  Wik does argue for universal healthcare coverage based on the current Medicare system.  This isn’t remotely politically possible in our current environment but it’s an interesting idea.  His immigration reform ideas of allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a green card if they are not relying on social welfare programs, is likewise intriguing.

Wik’s policies seem to be as mishmash of economic isolationism and trying to nudge in the idea of fiscal conservatism.  His grasp of the issues leaves me unimpressed, his website is filled with easily corrected grammatical errors, and what’s more is that his ideas don’t seem to make a lot of sense if you think about them.  Manufacturing jobs is not the way to grow the American economy, at this point.  Even if it was, it seems like a strange argument to make at this point in time when manufacturing jobs are on the rise.  His insistence on a flat tax is also not economically feasible.  If I’m going to criticize Trump for his lack of policy chops, I have to do the same to Wik.

Fortenberry, in this Congress, has written bills that have attracted both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors on 38% of them.  Of the 146 bills Fortenberry has co-sponsored, 14% of them were introduced by a Democrat.  I think Fortenberry’s views on birthright citizenship are wrong.  I think both Wik and Fortenberry are wrong on the idea of a balanced budget amendment.  I believe Fortenberry is wrong on LGBT rights as well as wrong for not wanting to assist workers who lost their jobs due to free trade agreements.  I, again, think he is wrong on the PATRIOT Act, as well.  I wish that someone else would have ran against Fortenberry who in a wave election might prove to be vulnerable.

It’s hard for me to say who I would recommend to vote in this election as I oppose Wik and Fortenberry on a number of issues.  It’s not as if I can just hand wave around the problems Fortenberry has and I can’t just ignore the problems Wik has, either.  This honestly, comes down to who I think each candidate will vote for in leadership.  The House’s leadership has almost total control of what bills will be introduced.  I believe Wik will vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House and Fortenberry will vote for Paul Ryan.  Since I believe in progressive legislation, I would reluctantly cast my vote for Wik.

District 2:

Republican: Don Bacon
Democratic: Brad Ashford

Ashford was elected in 2014, which was a pretty good year for Republicans outside of Omaha.  The Congressman who Ashford defeated made a weird remark that ended up sinking him.  Going into this election cycle, Ashford seemed fairly vulnerable.  But thanks to the tanking of Donald Trump and his lack of appeal among college educated white voters, it seems more likely that Ashford will be able to win re-election.

Ashford has introduced 9 bills since he took office in January of 2015.  The sense on Ashford is that he has been fairly moderate in Congress.  The bills that he has introduced have largely focused on government reform for either pay for members of Congress or how they are reimbursed.  He has stayed away from a number of controversial issues to try and stay in line with Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District which is fairly moderate.

Bacon is trying to run as a conservative and tries to contrast himself with Ashford.  They agree on a number of issues.  Both Ashford and Bacon oppose the Iran deal that the US negotiated with Iran.  They both support the building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  They both support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  Ashford helped introduce a bill in Congress to that effect  They both oppose closing Guantanamo Bay, as well.

They do differ on key issues.  Bacon believes that we should slowly raise the social security retirement age.  Bacon opposes bills that would essentially be ENDA or add sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to nondiscrimination law. Ashford was a co-sponsor of H.R. 846 and H.R. 3185.   Ashford voted against the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which Bacon said he would support. Bacon stresses that America pays one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world at 35%, he wants to lower the corporate tax rate to 25%. The 35% corporate tax rate refers to the statutory tax rate that is on the books for corporate tax.  There are a number of loopholes that bring the effective tax rate lower.  The Congressional Research Service put the US effective corporate tax rate at 27.1%. I e-mailed Bacon’s campaign about whether Bacon’s corporate tax reduction would be a decrease in the statutory rate or the effective tax rate. I have not heard back.

Bacon supports repealing the Affordable Care Act.  Ashford has repeatedly co-sponsored legislation from Republicans with an effort to reform health care in America but does not support the wholesale repeal of the law.  Ashford has repeatedly said that he would not have supported the law but that he is committed to reforming the law.  In the debate between Ashford and Bacon, Bacon said that Rep. Tom Price had introduced a number of bills that would repeal the ACA and still keep the prohibition on discrimination of pre-existing coverage, that people up to the age of 26 can stay on their parents health insurance, etc.  Basically, Bacon’s idea is to keep the popular parts of the ACA while getting rid of the individual mandate.  Here are the bills that Price have introduced regarding health care in the 114th Congress. We have H.R. 2650, H.R. 2300, and H.R. 1234.  Ashford rightly told Bacon that the bills Price have proposed would not do what Bacon claimed and Bacon just smiled.

I don’t want to relitigate the health care debate, again.  The individual mandate is what makes the ACA work.  I have my own issues with the ACA and don’t think it’s perfect.  It’s a significant improvement over the status quo prior to the ACA.  Unfortunately, like a lot of things, it gets blamed for more complex issues that are hindering progress.

Bacon further does not believe that the federal government should set a minimum wage.  Not just an increase, but no minimum wage.  That’s at least what he said in the Republican primary debate.  The idea that the minimum wage should be set by the private sector is a belief that private businesses operate in an idealized world.  This doesn’t seem to have any grounding in the actual world where Trump, who Bacon as of this week (10/10) still seemed to support had 25 violations of the FLSA since 2005.

Bacon also has a section on Common Core on his website.  Nebraska rejected Common Core. Bacon opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants whereas Ashford said he would be supportive of the Gang of Eight immigration bill that would have granted citizenship.

I’ve been critical of Ashford for being a moderate in the past but Bacon is just much, much worse on many of the issues that I am supportive of.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Brad Ashford

District 3:

Republican: Adrian Smith
Democratic: None

I guess we don’t really have a choice.

State legislature:

District 3:

Tommy Garrett
Carol Blood

Garrett likes my friend’s band, Faded, on Facebook and you should, too. Garrett’s biggest issue was medical marijuana in Nebraska.  He introduced the legislation to allow for medical marijuana in Nebraska and the regulation of it.  It eventually failed a cloture vote.  In return, Garrett voted against advancing LB10 which was a bill that would have changed Nebraska’s electoral votes back to winner take all. There was a tenuous deal in place between Garrett and supporters of LB10 and their support of his bill on medical marijuana.

Garrett voted in favor of LB268 which repealed the death penalty in Nebraska.  As a Republican, Garrett faced considerable pressure from Governor Pete Ricketts to change his vote after Ricketts vetoed the bill.

Garrett voted in favor of LB947 which allows for those here with protection of Barack Obama’s DACA executive order to obtain professional licenses.  He did, however, vote against LB485 in 2014 which was the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) to protect employees from discrimination based on sexual discrimination or sexual identity.  He voted to table LB586 ENDA in a previous session, as well.  He also voted to table LB1032 expanding Medicaid, which is essentially a vote against the bill. Garrett also voted against LB943 in a previous session which would have raise the minimum wage to $7.65/hour in January 2015, $8.35/hour in January 2016, and $9.00 in January 2017.  Garrett continues to oppose a minimum wage increase.

While Carol Blood has not filled out the voter guide information that Nebraska Voter Guide uses, we do have some of her issues.  She does believe that voting is a fundamental right and that voter fraud is not a problem in Nebraska.  She does not support voter id laws.  Contrary to Garrett, she does support Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.  She also thinks that we should review mandatory minimum sentences and expanding prison alternatives.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Carol Blood.  Despite Garrett’s noble quest to support medical marijuana in Nebraska and to repeal the death penalty.  I do believe that Blood is the better person suited for the job from District 3.

District 5:

Mike McDonnell
Gilbert Ayala

McDonnell and Ayala provide a much larger contrast than Blood and Garrett.  McDonnell would support ENDA or a similar law.  Ayala would oppose such a law.  McDonnell supports expanding Medicaid compared to Ayalsa who opposes it.  Ayala does support voucher programs to “increase school choice” and McDonnell opposes it.  McDonnell supports bringing casinos, horse racing, slot machines, or video keno in Nebraska which Ayala opposes.  McDonnell does support raising the minimum wage in Nebraska which Ayala opposes.

They both agree on not legalizing the recreational use of marijuna; prohibiting abortion, although Ayala opposes abortion in all cases; and opposing regulations for additional gun control measures.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Mike McDonnell.  Both ENDA and Medicaid expansion are very important to me and issues that I support strongly.

District 7:

Tony Vargas
John Synowiecki

There was a bit of a scuffle for Douglas County Democrats when they listed Vargas as a Democrat running and did not list Synowiecki.  They are both Democrats so there was some problems.  Synowiekci is a former State Senator for the district.  He has been supported by Heath Mello, who is running for Mayor of Omaha, and Jeremy Nordquist current chief of staff for Brad Ashford.

Synowiecki was the co-sponsor of LB 239 in 2005 which would allow undocumented immigrants to be able to pay in-state tuition to attend college.  He was attacked in Republican mailers for this support. In 2007, he voted in favor of LB 476 which was a bill to eliminate the death penalty. He also voted in favor of a similar bill in 2008 LLB 1063.  He did vote against LB 395 in 2008 which was the Statewide Smoking Ban.

Vargas and Synowiecki both stated that they would support Medicaid expansion and giving professional licenses to certain undocumented immigrants.  Vargas has expressed some support for the role of charter schools (which is not part of the current educational environment in Nebraska).  He has walked back those comments saying that he has no interest in introducing legislation to introduce charter schools to Nebraska.

Synoweiecki, in the candidate forum, talked about rescheduling marijuana out of schedule I drug.  He supports a bill to study medical marijuana in cannabis studies to see if hemp oil is medically helpful.  He would support medical marijuana if the study with UNMC proves that hemp oil is effective.  Vargas, likewise, supports the UNMC study to see if hemp oil is proven to be medically effective.

You can watch their candidate forum here:

District 9:

Sara Howard
Larry Roland

Howard has been described to me as the real life version of Leslie Knope.  She was the co-sponsor of LB887 to expand Medicaid in Nebraska in 2014.  She did not vote on LB943 to increase the minimum wage.  She did vote in favor of ENDA, as well.  She was a co-sponsor of LB947 to allow those protected by executive actions to receive professional licenses.  She voted against LB10 to change Nebraska to a “winner take all” electoral system as opposed to splitting electoral votes.  Finally, she voted in favor of LB643 for medical marijuana.

Roland runs in stark contrast.  He opposes ENDA and expanding Medicaid.  He does support “increasing school choice.”  He supports prohibiting abortion in all instances except in the case of the health of the mother.  He would also oppose any increase in gun regulations.

A More Perfect Union Recommendation: Sara Howard

District 11:

Ernie Chambers
John Sciara

Chambers is a controversial figure in Nebraska.  There’s plenty of people out there who won’t vote for Chambers because of his style and overall demeanor.  What they may have missed is his importance in the Nebraska legislature.  When LB10 to change Nebraska to a “winner take all” state for electoral votes came up, Chambers became a one-man wrecking crew to filibuster the bill.  Arguably, he was the biggest impediment to LB10 getting a full vote (which likely would have passed).  If you think Nebraska should continue to split its electoral votes, then thank Chambers.

Chambers also voted in favor of repealing the death penalty and was one of the staunchest advocates for repealing the death penalty.  As he has been, for years.  He supported LB947 to license certain undocumented immigrants.  He supported a state ENDA bill and opposed tabling LB1032.

Sciara opposes ENDA, expanding Medicaid, and raising the minimum wage.  He supports vouchers for “school choice.”

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Ernie Chambers

District 13:

Jill Brown
Justin Wayne

Wayne unleashed a somewhat policy heavy portion on his website to talk about his economic plans. Some of it crosses traditional party lines.  He supports increasing wind energy in Nebraska.  But he also wants to focus on removing regulations for small businesses to be able to run.  He wants to expand Medicaid to be able to help support the economy while also creating “enterprise zones.”  He also supports paid sick leave for all Nebraskans. There’s a lot of good ideas in his economic plan if not completely fleshed out.

Brown’s website focuses on issues for expanding Medicaid, fighting for a living wage, and investing in education at the state level.  She opposes charter schools for Nebraska and wants to strengthen teachers’ say in educational reforms.

Wayne, while he has been criticized for charter school support, in the candidate forum proposed an idea of public options to give more choices to schools instead.  He declined the idea of introducing charter legislation. Brown also does not support charter schools. Wayne does support the idea of school choice and says that there is a distinction between school choices and charter schools.

Wayne does support medicinal marijuana in the form of cannabis oil.  In the forum, he brings up a story of a friend who moved to Colorado for seizures for her children.  He also opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.  Brown does not support Garrett’s bill to legalize medical marijuana as many people get prescriptions for marijuana.  This is actually a very good point and distinction.  While I support medical marijuana because I think that there are some medical conditions that can be treated with it, I do believe that in a lot of states and a lot of bills out there, it is a way for more affluent people to be able to get access to legal pot while those who do not have access to it, to be arrested.

You can watch the candidate forum here:

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Justin Wayne

District 15:

David Schnoor
Lynne Walz

Schnoor voted against repealing the death penalty.  He voted to change Nebraska’s electoral votes to a “winner take all” system.  He also opposed ENDA and expanding Medicaid.  He has stated that he opposes all abortion.  He was also a co-sponsor in establishing a minimum wage for minors.  He did not vote for allowing medical marijuana in Nebraska.

Walz doesn’t have very many issues on her website about what she would support and did not find any data about her political statements.  Walz has been critical of Schnoor for not offering enough ideas or plans to try to help Nebraska.  Schnoor has disagreed stating that legislation “just adds red tape and government.”

I disagree with Schnoor on the role of government, as well as disagree with him on a number of issues.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Lynne Walz

District 17:

Ardel Bengtson
Joni Albrecht

There’s not much information that I can find on these candidates.  Albrecht filled out the information to provide to Nebraska Voter Guide.  As you can see from there, she opposes ENDA, expanding Medicaid, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska.  She would also oppose any new regulations for gun control in Nebraska.  She does support voucher programs to “increase school choice.”

Bengtson did not fill out the information for the Nebraska voter guide, as far as I can tell.  Her campaign website focuses on increasing better funding for public education to reform the public school system.  She would like to lower local taxes, as well.  I’m not sure how that would work, to be honest.

With this little information out there, it’s hard to really make an informed decision between the two.  But I have a hard time voting for someone who is not going to expand Medicaid and who is not going to support ENDA.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Ardel Bengtson

District 21:

Larry Scherer
Mike Hilgers

Hilgers came very close in 2012 to be the State Senator in district in 2012.  He decided to run again, this year.  He describes himself as a fiscal conservative. He wants to lower taxes based on his website it would look like he would want to eliminate or reduce the state income tax.   Scherer is an opponent of charter schools or vouchers to “increase school choice.”  He is looking to work with secondary education and postsecondary education to help train for hard to fill jobs. Scherer also supports Medicaid expansion in Nebraska. Scherer also would like to make the income tax in Nebraska more progressive.  Both Hilgers and Scherer seem to agree that we should eliminate the state income tax on social security benefits.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Larry Scherer

District 23:

Jerry Johnson
Bruce Bostelman

Johnson initially supported repealing the death penalty but ended up not voting to override the Governor’s veto.  Governor Pete Ricketts was slightly involved in propping up a challenger to Johnson in the primary citing that voters would want to hold their candidates accountable.  The votes Ricketts criticized included a gas tax hike and providing driver’s licenses to children of undocumented immigrants.

Johnson voted in favor of changing Nebraska to winner take all and effectively opposed ENDA and Medicaid expansion. Bostelman, likewise, opposes ENDA and expanding Medicaid.  Johnson and Bostelman largely agree on most issues.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Jerry Johnson, I guess.

District 25:

Jim Gordon
Suzanne Geist

Gordon’s website includes the idea that there should not be a tax on Social Secuirty retirement benefits.  Gordon and Geist’s websites are both, what I can assume is intentionally, vague.  Geist does support repealing the ballot measure on the state ballot which would repeal the repeal on the death penalty.  According to the Nebraska voter guide, she opposes medicaid expansion in Nebraska.  She also opposes ENDA and the the legalization of recreational marijuana.  Finally, she opposes raising the minimum wage in Nebraska.  Gordon is a registered Democrat, so it’s not surprising that his website is vague in order to try to run for a more conservative district.  He also has a sweet mustache.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Jim Gordon

District 27:

Anna Wishart
Dick Clark

I’m impressed with Clark for deciding to go with his nickname instead of Richard.  Wishart is a registered Democrat who is a former legislative aide for Rick Kolowski.  Kolowski is on the education committee and Wishart’s primary issues concern with education.  Wishart supports early childhood  education, creating new after-school opportunities, and attempting to help make college more affordable.  She also wants to promote career readiness programs.

Clark is a supporter of creating more school choices by creating “career academies, charter schools, and tax credits” (or essentially vouchers).  Clark also supports a new way of funding education to make it less complicated for schools.  He also wants to “reform Medicaid to provide better, more efficient services and help more patients.”  I’m not 100% sure how you can reform Medicaid to do so.  I’m open to ideas but it strikes me as a talking point.  He opposes ENDA, expanding Medicaid, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska.  He also supports legalizing recreational marijuana in Nebraska.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Anna Wishart

District 29:

Kate Bolz
Melody Vaccaro

Bolz voted to repeal the death penalty.  She voted against changing Nebraska to winner take all.  She supported professional licenses to certain undocumented immigrants and ENDA.  She also supported Medicaid expansion.

Vaccaro is mainly running on ideas to prevent climate change from spreading in Nebraska.  She also is trying to reform gun laws in Nebraska and ending the practice of putting juvenile offenders in solitary confinement.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Kate Bolz

District 31:

Rick Kolowski
Ian Swanson

Swanson who swooped back to Nebraska after going to one of the most conservative colleges in the country.  Swanson’s website talks about how he is “uniquely placed to take out one of those politicians that is enacting ruinous policies that are bankrupting our state and nation.”

Kolowski is considered one of the more moderate members of the Nebraska Legislature.  He did vote for increasing the minimum wage in Nebraska, expanding Medicaid, ENDA, and repealing the death penalty.  He opposed changing Nebraska to a winner take all state.

Swanson’s website is full of various ideas.  They’re pretty vague but they’re there.  He argues that we need “commonsense” tax reform.  What would that be?  I’m not sure. He cites nonpartisan think tanks as the reason for this.  Some may argue that the nonpartisan think tanks would support an increased refund in the Earned Income Tax Credit or a circuitbreaker for property tax for low and middle income families as opposed to the Homestead Act.

Swanson believes “that one abortion is too many.”  He would want to work under the framework of Roe v. Wade to enact new laws.  Would they be TRAP laws that were largely ruled unconstitutional under the Supreme Court? Or would he support personhood laws since he told the Nebraska Voter Guide that he opposes abortions in all cases whatsoever.

He wants to fight against policies like Common Core (which Nebraska rejected) and wants to support mandatory minimums for violent criminals to keep Nebraska safe.

Swanson’s website is just a combination of standard Conservative ideas that are posted willy nilly on his website without any real sense of what needs to be done.  I’m sure that there are other Senate candidates who post similar ideas on their site without any explanation of what they actually support but Swanson’s run coincides with my former legislative district so I care more.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Rick Kolowolski

District 33:

Les Seiler
Steve Halloran

Seiler was another one of the legislators who Governor Ricketts targeted.  Seiler’s race is a little bit different in that Ricketts has explicitly endorsed his opponent, Steve Halloran. Ricketts asked Seiler to change his vote on giving professional licenses to certain undocumented immigrants but Seiler chose not to.  Ricketts was also critical of Seiler for overriding his veto on the death penalty and hiking the gas tax.

Halloran entered the race because he didn’t like that Seiler overrode the vetoes that Ricketts sent through and that Seiler’s votes on professional licenses “had the effect of disregarding federal law on illegal immigration.” I’m sure Halloran and Seiler agree more often than they disagree but at least I know Seiler is willing to stand up for what he believes in.

A More Perfect Union: Les Seiler

District 35:

Dan Quick
Gregg Neuhaus

Quick is a union leader running for state legislature in Nebraska.  This seems a little strange only because of the intense conservatism that runs throughout the state.  Quick is running his campaign on an idea that he is the voice of the working class in Grand Island.  He thinks that we should be focusing on trade jobs in education and bringing new jobs to Grand Island.  Because of his role as a union leader, his website is, most likely, intentionally vague.

Neuhaus opposes ENDA, Medicaid expansion, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska. Neuhaus also supports the death penalty.  He believes in “the sanctity of life and will fight to protect all innocent life.”   He also supports ending the tax on Social Security retirement benefits.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Dan Quick

District 37:

Bob Lammers
John Lowe

Lammers and Lowe are both Republicans running for the State Senate seat.  They agree on raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, and ENDA (they oppose all three).  They both support the death penalty.  They also think that we should lower property taxes.  Lowe believes that to pay for transportation infrastructure that we should direct a portion of the state’s sales tax revenue should be marked for transportation projects.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Lammers, I guess.

District 39:

Lou Ann Linehan
Bill Armbrust

Linehan opposes ENDA, Medicaid expansion, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska. Likewise, she supports the death penalty.  She is running as a conservative leader.  She is a former policy aide to Chuck Hagel.  She does believe that taxes are too high, including property taxes. Linehan argues that we would get away from taxing authority for the learning communities. Linehan opposes the “good time” provision.  She believes that expanding Medicaid is hypocritical to her idea of cutting taxes.

Her quote on Medicaid expansion:

We don’t gain by handing out health insurance to people who are able to work, ablebodied, who could get a job, and could get health insurance

Linehan also argues that Medicaid expansion paid for by the federal government is wrong because Nebraskans think their income taxes are too high and it’s a cost to the federal government.   She doesn’t think we should give health insurance to able bodied people.

Armbrust made the argument in the candidate forum that he is a sanctity of life candidate.  He also made the argument that that because Nebraska shifted away from funding education and shifted toward property tax funding education, property taxes have exploded. He would like more state support for educational spending.  Armbrust argued that we should expand Medicaid to cover the gap with health insurance with the subsidies from the ACA and making it about a fiscal issue.  He thinks that we can support Medicaid from the heart and the pocketbook.

Both candidates believe that we should do more to help mental health to keep people out of jail if they can.  Linehan and Armbrust agree that we should look for efficiencies and wastes on money to cover the budget shortfalls.

Candidate forum:

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Bill Armbrust

District 43:

Al Davis
Tom Brewer

Davis had one interesting vote.  He was one of the more conservative members of the legislature to vote to repeal the death penalty.  Otherwise, he supported changing Nebraska to a winner take all state.  He also opposed licensing certain undocumented immigrants.  He effectively opposed ENDA and expanding Medicaid in Nebraska.

Likewise, Brewer opposes ENDA, Medicaid expansion, and is probably fairly similar to Davis on other social conservative issues.  The biggest thing that Brewer has going for him is that Governor Pete Ricketts supported his challenge.

Ricketts has taken an active role in legislative races where his Republican supporters have not supported him.  This includes overriding his death penalty repeal veto, gas tax, and providing driver’s licenses to children of undocumented immigrants.

I’m not a big fan of either Davis or Brewer.  But I’d rather trust the devil that I know in Davis who, at least, is willing to stand up to Governor Ricketts.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Al Davis

District 45:

Sue Crawford
Michael Cook

Crawford voted in favor of a number of progressive issues in the unicameral.  She voted in favor of LB268 which would repeal the death penalty.  She voted against LB10 which would have made Nebraska a winner take all state for electoral votes.  She cvoted in facvor of LB947 which would have provided licenses to certain undocumented immigrants.  She voted in favor of LB485 which would have created ENDA in Nebraska.  She voted against killing the expansion of Medicaid bill.

Cook’s website focuses on the idea that he needs to be elected for real “conservative leadership.”  The issues on his his website can be succinctly summed up in one sentences. His website uses the same skin from one of my favorite blogs that I read, so that’s sad. He is “opposed to the expansion of Obamacare in Nebraska.”  I believe that he is trying to say that he is opposed to the Medicaid expansion in Nebraska. He is pro-life and family values, as well.  This is mostly a nonsense statement.

Candidate forum here:

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Sue Crawford

District 47:

Karl Elmshaeuser
Steve Erdman

Erdman and Elmshaeuser are both running pretty much the same campaigns.  They’re both running as conservatives for a conservative district.  They both oppose ENDA.  They both oppose Medicaid expansion.  They both oppose any increase in gun control regulations.  They’re both pro-life.  Although Erdman is a little bit more “pro-life” and doesn’t think abortion should ever happen to save a mother. Erdman does support additional research for ethanol products as it’s a product that can be created in Nebraska and used in Nebraska.  He also believes that a funding formula for education in Nebraska should be 1/3 income, 1/3 sales, and 1/3 property taxes with income taxes returning to the district, as well.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Elmshaeuser, I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

Distorted reality part 3

Sorry for the delay, here is the next part in my series.  I am going to primarily focus on Donald Trump and the Constitution.  For the past 8 years, I have heard nothing but consistent attacks on Barack Obama for violating the Constitution, as well as consistent claims from conservatives that they are merely upholding the Constitution when they withhold their support for him.  I’m going to look at some (not all) of the times Donald Trump has advocated for violating the Amendments in our constitution.

Image result for barack obama painting constitution

Note: This does not even include other portions of the Constitution that Donald Trump has called on to violate throughout his campaign.

For reference:

The Muslim ban

Mass deportations including references to a “deportation force.”

Ending catch and release

On profiling Muslims

On shutting down mosques

On the surveillance of mosques

Trump on a Muslim database (I’m ambivalent on whether he called for a Muslim database)

Trump on torture

Libel laws

NSA and PATRIOT Act

Donald Trump ISIS families

Donald Trump birthright citizenship

Donald Trump criminalizing abortions

Donald Trump guns and stop and frisk

Donald Trump supports North Carolina Voter ID law

No fly, no buy

Image result for donald trump

 

First Amendment violations

Muslim ban: The ban on Donald Trump’s website states the following:

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

As the American Civil Liberties Union notes in their report, “The Trump Memos”, a policy that excludes members of a particular religion would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  This is based on the precedent in L:arson v. Valente.

It could potentially be a violation of the 1st Amendment based on the rights of religion, speech, and peaceful associations, as well.  It would be challenged almost immediately.

Profiling Muslims: Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses would likely be violated, as well as the freedom of expression .  The Supreme Court has previously ruled that the government would have to show a compelling interest otherwise it would be invalid.  The Supreme Court further wrote, “a law targeting religious beliefs as such is never permissible.”  The Establishment clause continues to prohibit the government from enacting a law or policy that favors one religion over another.  Further the government cannot pass laws to prohibit speech just because they disapprove of the ideas.

Shutting down mosques and surveillance of mosques: Both of these would violate the First Amendment under both the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses.

Libel laws: There is no federal libel law.  They are administered by the state and are constrained by the First Amendment.  Libel laws are purposely constrained so that our political discourse is not hampered.  There has to be proof of actual malice.

NSA and PATRIOT Act: Storing bulk metadata of phone calls is a violation of the First Amendment as, the ACLU notes, “it vacuumed up sensitive information about Americans’ associational and expressive activities.”

Banning media outlets: Trump has repeatedly banned media outlets from covering his campaign.  Press bans would infringe on the right of a free press.

Second Amendment violations

Stop and frisk: When trying to defend the indefensibile policy of stop and frisk, Trump stated,”you know, [the police are] proactive and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they’ll look and they’ll take the gun away.”

That’s actual gun grabbing of individuals without any way of determining whether they legally have a gun.  States pass laws including conceal-carry and open carry.  Grabbing people’s guns as part of a stop and frisk policy seems problematic.

No fly, no buy: I’ve written about this before but “no fly, no buy” is both a violation of the 2nd and 5th Amendments.

Third Amendment violations:

Mass deportations: This is the only speculative violation on my list.  There’s not a lot of case law on the Third Amendment.  But in Engblom v. Carey, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a member of the National Guard is considered a soldier so housing the National Guard without consent would be a violation of the Third Amendment.  In order to effectively deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the United States, the federal government would have to exponentially increase the number of immigration service agents or they could help rely on the National Guard to enforce the deportations.  If the National Guard take up residence in an immigrant community without consent, this would be a blatant violation of the Third Amendment.

Fourth Amendment violations

Mass deportations: Trump has repeatedly called for mass deportations of the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently in the United States.  Of course, undocumented immigrants are hard to distinguish between legal immigrants.  Now, we wait until they come into contact with the criminal justice system.  To weed out undocumented immigrants, we would need a massive increase in the number of border patrol agents and immigration service agents.  This would also likely lead to an increase in suspicionless interrogations and arrests, racially discriminatory traffic stops, warrantless searches of workplaces and homes, and warrantless home raids by law enforcement officials.

This is would almost certainly violate the 4th Amendment.

We’re not even getting into the possibility of warrantless wiretaps.

Profiling Muslims: Warrantless profiling, suspicionless interrogation, and warrantless wiretaps would likely violate the 4th Amendment, as well.

NSA and the PATRIOT Act: Warrantless recording of phone calls and e-mails is a violation of the 4th Amendment.

Killing ISIS family members: In 4th Amendment cases, including Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court ruled:

“the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so.”

Stop and frisk: Warrantless or suspicionless stop and frisk would certainly be a violation of the 4th Amendment as it is racially applied in most jurisdictions.

Fifth Amendment violations

Muslim ban: Equal protection requirements apply to the federal government under the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. Denying citizens access to the country based on their religion would fail under the Due Process clause, as well.

Mass deportations:  Mass deportations cannot happen as soon as Trump becomes, gulp, President.  The government would still need to prove that the immigrant is not lawfully in the country.  Otherwise it would be a violation of due process.

“Ending catch and release”: This would violate due process principles spelled out in the 5th Amendment.  It has to follow certain procedural guidelines based on the ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis to make sure that it serves a legitimate purpose.

Muslim database: A requirement that would make every Muslim register with the government because of their religious beliefs would be a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974.  If they lost any rights or liberties as a result of this database, it would fail on Due Process grounds.

Torture: The Due Process clause bars interrogation by torture.

Killing ISIS family members: Drone strikes on US citizens have been argued against as an expressed violation of the 5th Amendment’s due process clause.  The Obama drone memo arguing against this, was an abomination.

Stop and frisk: Taking people’s guns away without any checks, probable cause, or proving allegations this would be a violation of due process.

No fly, no buy: No fly, no buy is a violation of the 5th Amendment.

Sixth Amendment violations

Mass deportations: The Supreme Court applied Sixth Amendment protections to immigrants in 2010 with the case of Padilla v. Kentucky.  Immigrants facing interrogations from the “deportation force” would likely require that immigrants have the right to an attorney present.  Without explicitly qualifying this, the deportation force would likely face violations of the Sixth Amendment. A fair and speedy trial with an immigration court already backlogged would likely not occur, as well.

Eighth Amendment violations

“Ending catch and release”: The American Civil Liberties Union has long argued that current immigration detention centers violate the 8th Amendment standards for “cruel and unusual punishment.”  Detaining immigrants until they are deported are likely going to deteriorate conditions further.

Torture: This obviously violates the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.  John Yoo and the Bush Administration’s claim about enhanced interrogation techniques have been largely discredited and the McCain-Feinstein Amendment has prohibited US government agencies and officials from using interrogation methods not listed in the Army Field Manual.

Killing ISIS family members: This would almost certainly constitute a cruel and unusual punishment for merely being a family member of someone who joined ISIS.

Ninth amendment Violations

Personal privacy: The Ninth Amendment was used in part of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion and struck down statutes of law that criminalized abortions.  The Ninth Amendment was also used in Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges.  The Supreme court found that we do have a right to privacy from government intrusion.  Criminalizing abortions (even though he has tried to walk it back) would likely be a violation of the Ninth Amendment.

Tenth Amendment violations

Stop and frisk: If Trump did actually try to set policy for all police departments in the country by instituting stop-and-frisk, this would be a major violation of the 10th Amendment. If he set his gun grabbing strategy like above, it would violate the state’s ability to pass gun legislation.

There are more violations of the 10th Amendment but they usually fall on the grounds of Trump trying to usurp state’s rights and powers.

Fourteenth Amendment violations:

Muslim ban: In Afroyim v. Rusk, the Supreme Court opined that “the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to, and does, protect every citizen of this Nation against a congressional forcible destruction of his citizenship, whatever his creed, color, or race.”  Equal protection requirements apply to the federal government under the 5th Amendment’s Due Process clause.

Birthright citizenship: I’ll have something longer on this belief, soon enough.  Possibly a new project I’m working on.  But Trump ending birthright citizenship is a blatant violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Fifteenth Amendment violations

Voter ID: Trump has supported the North Carolina voter ID law.  The law was struck down as unconstitutional as being passed with discriminatory intent.  It was passed, in part, to ensure that minority voters could not show up to vote.  Hence, why I believe voter ID is unconstitutional.

Nineteenth Amendment violations

Voter ID: Demographics that vote for Democrats were explicitly targeted with voter ID laws.  This includes women.

Twenty fourth Amendment Violations

Voter ID: While voter ID is not considered a poll tax by everyone, voter ID typically requires a fee to be able to obtain valid ID.  Without paying this fee and without the ID, they will not be able to vote.  This is an abstract version of a poll tax.

Twenty sixth Amendment violation

Voter ID: One of the ways that the North Carolina voter ID law targeted voters was to prevent potential voters from preregistering so that they would be able to vote after they had turned 18 and were eligible to vote. A support for North Carolina’s onerous voter ID bill is support for making it more difficult to vote.

 

 

 

Distorted reality: Part 2

One of the ideas that I read fairly consistently is that Donald Trump is some type of social liberal.  This was originally taken up by Republican operatives who wanted to push the idea that Trump was not a “true conservative.”  This is laughably incorrect.  I can’t even believe I have to address this.  Trump takes conservative values and turns them up to 11.

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The extent to which people think Trump is some type of liberal is based on his campaign donations to Democratic candidates; based on previous interviews where he claimed he supported pro-choice policies; and portions of his books where he talks about a way to have universal healthcare.  I don’t believe I’m missing anything.

The thing you have to remember about Republican operatives is that they want every losing candidate to be portrayed as not a true conservative.  Mitt Romney was portrayed as a squishy liberal because of Romneycare and whatever else the topic of the day was.  John McCain was called a liberal because of his support for McCain-Feingold or his “maverick” Senate record or possibly siring a black child.

So why am I hearing it about Trump from people on the nominal political left?  The short answer is that people want to justify their hatred of Hillary Clinton (or whoever the Democratic nominee would have been) and want to be able to say that voting for Trump is not going to be as bad as you would think because of some beliefs that he may have held in the past.  Or maybe they really like what Trump is saying and want to find a place to hide behind.  I’m not sure.  But ultimately:

It does not matter what a politician sincerely believes.

Trump, if elected President, would certainly have a majority in the House of Representatives and Senate.  Trump would sign whatever legislation that the Republican Congress would put forth.  If you think that Trump would not sign legislation taking away rights of the LGBT community, rights of women, rights of minorities, you are simply mistaken.

Further, Trump’s judges that he says who are on the short list for federal court nominations would have to be approved by the Heritage Foundation and make up, as Scott Lemieux notes, the Conservative dream team.  Replacing Antonin Scalia’s seat with a more conservative judge would set back the progress made over the last 10 years, by 50 years.  The votes on the Supreme Court would be there to overturn Obergefell and Windsor.  Say hello to more decisions like Shelby County.

But hey, at least we will have solace that Trump, maybe, does not in his heart of hearts believe in a conservative agenda.

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Now that we got out of the way, we can go into actually dissecting his views.  What evidence has Trump espoused on the campaign trail that he is a social liberal?

Pro-life

One of the ideas that Trump is a social liberal is based on the idea that Trump described himself as pro-choice for years.  He even went so far as to say that partial-birth abortion is ok:

The idea, I guess, that some are trying to point out is that Trump, in his heart believes that abortion is ok.  Ask Strom Thurmond if personal actions necessitates political beliefs.

At any rate, Trump, largely because he is running for the Republican Party’s nomination has repudiated that position.  He has taken a more extreme position than most pro-life advocates have taken.

Transcript for the video: Here

So Trump believes that we should punish women for having abortions.  The men would not be punished.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 59% of women obtaining an abortion are mothers. The idea behind Trump’s punishment of women having abortions would jail or fine mothers.  Most of these mothers are poor, 49% of those who have had abortions make less than 100% of the federal poverty level.  The majority of the women having abortions (54%) were either married or cohabitating.  1.06 million abortions were performed in 2011.  These women would be punished if Trump had his way.

I should mention that Trump and his campaign later tried to clarify Trump’s point that he was referring to doctors performing abortions should be punished.  It’s amazing what happens when your job is predicated on being able to keep up with the lies a compulsive liar tells.

Trump reiterates that his point is that the abortion laws are currently set and that when he is President, he would protect the unborn via judicial appointments.   We could quite literally say good-bye to the standards from Roe v. Wade and say hello to personhood amendments.

If you believe that Trump is pro-choice based off of the video where he claims that he is pro-choice, then you should probably have doubts of that position based off of his video appearance with Chris Matthews.  Again, it doesn’t matter what Trump believes.  It matters what bills he would sign, who he would appoint to the judiciary, and what laws he would enforce.  Based on his campaign and his actions, he would appoint reactionaries to the federal judiciary and would have the votes to overturn Roe v. Wade.

LGBT equality

Donald Trump, himself, said that he would be much better for “the women than [Hillary Clinton] is.  I’m much better for the gays.”  I talked about abortion above and as a side note:

I think it does a disservice to lump women’s equality and rights with the idea that I can sum it all up with abortion.  According to polling, women are much more liberal than men on a number of issues.  This includes support for the Affordable Care Act, raising the minimum wage, stricter gun control, abolishing the death penalty, and support for same-sex marriage.  The only issue that I have seen where women diverge from men on “liberal” issues is that women are more likely than men to think that marijuana should not be legalized.  I can certainly talk at length (as if there is any other way for me) to talk about all of these (and perhaps I will).

But the idea that Trump is much better for the LGBT community is just astounding.  It’s almost as if he is a compulsive liar.

Here’s Donald Trump on Fox News Sunday

WALLACE:  But, Mr. Trump, let’s take one issue.  You say now that the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land and that any politician who talks about wanting to amend the Constitution is just playing politics.  Are you saying it’s time to move on?

TRUMP:  No, I’m saying this.  It has been ruled up.  It has been there.  If I’m a, you know, if I’m elected, I would be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things.

But they’ve got a long way to go.  I mean at some point, we have to get back down to business.  But there’s no question about it.  I mean most — and most people feel this way.

They have ruled on it.  I wish that it was done by the state.  I don’t like the way they ruled.  I disagree with the Supreme Court from the standpoint they should have given the state — it should be a states’ rights issue.  And that’s the way it should have been ruled on, Chris, not the way they did it.

This is a very surprising ruling.  And I — I can see changes coming down the line, frankly.  But I would have much preferred that they ruled at a state level and allowed the states to make those rulings themselves.

WALLACE: But — but just to button this up very quickly, sir, are you saying that if you become president, you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?

TRUMP: I would strongly consider that, yes.

Trump is running on a strident anti-LGBT platform and nominated Mike Pence who was most famous for pushing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act through Indiana.  He also co-sponsored an amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage; voted against ENDA; opposed a bill for prosecuting hate crimes; and voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

To be fair to Donald Trump, he said that people should be allowed to use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.

If you believe Trump at his word that he is going to nominate judges to overturn the same-sex marriage decision, it would seem that he is also going to nominate judges who believe in stronger RFRA laws than should be deemed appropriate, and give a larger latitude for businesses for “religious liberty.”

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Child leave policy

Trump, under pressure from his daughter Ivanka I would assume, announced a child care leave reform policy. It’s predictably terrible.  Why is it so terrible?

Single mothers, arguably the ones who would benefit the most from such legislation, don’t look to be included. Ivanka Trump in an interview with Cosmopolitan (which has done really great work with political issues over the last year or so, I’ve read numerous articles from them about abortion policies and birth control) said

“It’s meant to benefit, whether it’s in same-sex marriages as well, to benefit the mother who has given birth to the child if they have legal married status under the tax code

Ivanka was widely credited with having helped draft the proposed policy which is not surprising to anyone who paid attention to the Republican National Convention. That sounds very vague and it’s almost intentionally done to be very vague because it’s “not written down yet.”  The proposed policy on Trump’s website (linked above) doesn’t talk about who is included or not included but Ivanka’s interview seems to indicate that single mothers are not included.  Over 3 millions single mothers living with children right now live in poverty.  70% of black children are born to unmarried women.  If the goal of the legislation is to reduce the wage gap, help single moms, and reduce poverty, this policy is an abject failure.  It needs specificities to note who is included and who is excluded.

Even if they clear that up, it does not include paternity leave, paid family leave to take care of sick family members, paid adoptive leave, surrogate births, same sex couples, etc.  It’s really just a disaster of a policy.  It’s important to include paternity leave because working fathers can take time off to be able to spend time with a newborn child to bond, allow the mother to get back to work thus reducing the wage gap, and also reduces the potential childbirth penalty employers have when they hire women.  Focusing only on maternity leave would, almost certainly, make women more costly to hire than men.

Not to get to bogged down in specifics but by excluding adoptive parents, it is discriminating against millions to be able to spend time with their newly adopted child.  Beyond that, it excludes nearly 40% of tax payers because they do not owe federal income taxes.

This is just getting started.  It’s terrible policy.  It would, in all likelihood, make things worse than they are and would leave it comically underfunded.  If proposing terrible policy ideas that lack details makes you a social liberal, than sure, maybe he is one.  But these are just some of the issues highlighting the comical claim that Trump is some type of social liberal.

I repeat:

It does not matter what a politician sincerely believes.

What matters is the legislation that they would support and for an executive what appointments they would make.  It is clearer than anything in the world that Trump is a traditional conservative on both of these grounds.  The legislation that he would push to be passed is terrible policy on a number of grounds and would exacerbate problems already held.  I could talk more about a number of different issues where Trump does not differ form traditional Republican orthodoxy including taxes, the minimum wage, and civil rights and liberties.

But I am saving the last part, at least, for where I discuss why Trump is an authoritarian.

Trump, despite the claims of many Republican operatives, is a Republican in every sense of where the party is, currently.  The extent to which Trump is a social liberal is so small that it would be smaller than his hands.  He backs it up with a number of heterodox Republican stances and beliefs that I simply can’t ignore.

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Distorted reality: Part 1

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Presidency a little over a year ago.  I thought it was a a big joke.  Because well, every single one of his stunts about running for office had been a stunt prior to that.  Beyond that, I didn’t really think that Donald Trump would be able to garner that much support.  how much support would a failed reality star and real estate mogul really get?  But somehow he was able to navigate his way through the most crowded Presidential field in the history of presidential primaries.  Trump has managed to cultivate a strong following for his supporters in his quest to win the White House.  I do think, he’s ultimately a threat to our democracy as a demagogue with authoritarian tendencies, so you can take what I’m going to say with a grain of salt.

Question the legitimacy

On September 15, 2016, Donald Trump’s campaign issued a campaign release disavowing birtherism and stated that he alone was able to obtain the birth certificate of Barack Obama in 2011 so that Trump could believe that Obama was born in the United States and believed that since 2011. Trump held a press conference the next day where he talked about his hotel and refused to answer any questions but closed with saying that Obama was born in the US period and that Hillary Clinton started this conspiracy theory.

“Hillary Clinton, in her campaign of 2008, started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”

It was awkward and full of lies.

The birther conspiracy isn’t part of the fringe in the Republican Party.  According to a poll from YouGov in January of 2016, 53% of self identified Republicans said that they do not believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States. An additional 26% are not sure where Obama was born.  This is actually one of the higher numbers for birtherism.  Public Policy Polling (PPP) which along with YouGov is one of the few polling outlets to ask this question wrote in 2011 that 51% of Republican voters did not think Barack Obama was born in the United States.  That, itself, was an increase from August of 2009 when 44% of Republicans thought that Obama was not born in the United States.

Birtherism takes off and has stuck around because the legitimacy of a Democratic President has to be taken into question.  Questioning Barack Obama’s birthplace is not the only way that some sought to question the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.  In the third presidential debate, John McCain accused the community organizing group as “maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

This line of attack worked.  In November of 2009, PPP found that 49% of McCain supporters thought that ACORN stole the election for Barack Obama. ACORN was shut down in 2010 because they could no longer access federal funding.  Congress had passed a law banning federal funding for any organization “that had been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws or campaign finance laws or with filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency.”  ACORN shut down without this funding.  But no matter, 50% of Mitt Romney supporters thought that ACORN stole the election for Barack Obama in 2012. So Congess decided to block funding, again, in 2013.  Despite the fact that it is disbanded and defunded twice over, 32% of Trump supporters think that ACORN will steal the election for Hillary Clinton.  In that same poll, we see that two-thirds of Trump supporters think that Hillary Clinton would be president only because the election results are rigged for her.

It should be noted that this isn’t the first time that the Republican Party has questioned the legitimacy of a President.  Richard Nixon accused John F. Kennedy and his campaign of rigging elections in Illinois and Texas.  Nixon eventually conceded but the 1960 election vote frauds have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Republicans ever since.  Nor is this the first time that they have questioned the legitimacy of a presidential candidate.  In 1968, Mitt Romney’s father George had a short run for President. George was born in Mexico to his US citizen parents.  There was a lot of talk about George Romney’s eligibility to potentially run for President. Ultimately, it did not matter as Romney made a remark about brainwashing and dropped out of the race.

Lies, damned lies, and press releases

The campaign press release from Donald Trump’s communication staff mentioned that Obama released his birth certificate in 2011 and that Trump then believed that Obama was born in the United States.  Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April of 2011.   In an interview in May of 2012 to The Daily Beast, he doubled down on this claim:

That’s what he told the literary agent.  That’s the way life works… He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said… He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia… Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”

Later, that same month in an interview with Wolf Blitzer:

“Everybody’s entitled to your opinion.  You know my opinion and you know his opinion and that’s fine. We’re entitled – as he said yesterday in the airplane – we’re all entitled to our opinions and he’s entitled to have his opinion. I don’t happen to share that opinion, it’s wonderful…Many people put those announcements in because they wanted to get the benefits of being so-called born in this country.  Many people did it…Is it the most important thing?  In a way it is. You’re not allowed to be the president if you’re not born in the country.

A Tweet from Donald Trump’s official Twitter account seemed to break the case wide open in August of 2012.

My favorite is this Tweet where he implies that there was a murder to cover up Barack Obama’s birth certificate.  This tweet was posted in December of 2013.

Trump didn’t even move beyond this in January of 2016 saying that he has his “own theory on Obama.  Someday I’ll write a book.  I’ll do another book.  It’ll do very successfully.”  There’s plenty of other things out there that Trump has said about birtherism and he clearly played a significant role in pushing this conspiracy theory.  He also clearly did not have a change of heart in April of 2011.  Or if he did, he didn’t display it, in any fashion.  There is simply no closure that Trump brought to the issue that Trump accepted.  The biggest question is what caused him to change his mind on the issue.  What happened in the last 8 months to seemingly convince Trump that Obama was born in the United States?  Did his extremely credible source turn out to be a liar?

It’s clear that the campaign release left out quite a bit of details about how Trump got to this conclusion and when.  It certainly wasn’t in 2011 when the long-form birth certificate was released.

Not that it stopped Trump and his campaign from spreading a lie that Hillary Clinton started the original birther movement.  Andy Martin describes himself as “king of the birthers.”  Martin is a Chicago based activist who first circulated the rumor in 2004.  Most of Martin’s claims were centered around the idea that Barack Obama was a secret Muslim.  Martin, like Trump, also touted his political power after Obama released his long-form birth certificate.  Also, similar to Martin, he was accused of making racially insensitive remarks and anti-Semitic remarks that had somewhat of a following with neo-Nazis.

There was a memo in 2007 from discredited pollster Mark Penn where he wanted Clinton’s campaign to focus on him as unAmerican.  Penn advised Clinton to focus every speech “born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century.”  It’s not hard to see why Penn was terrible and was not invited back to Clinton’s 2016 campaign.  Penn’s strategy also did not actually bring up questioning where Obama was born but to bring up his schooling in Indonesia and the like.  Penn’s strategy was not actually taken seriously.  A volunteer coordinator in Iowa forwarded a birther e-mail.  She was immediately fired. This was followed by a phone call from Patti Solis Doyle to David Plouffe to personally apologize.  I could go even further but it’s clear that Clinton’s campaign did not actually push the birther issue.

Trump exploited the idea that Obama was not a legitimate president because of the color of his skin or the way his name sounded.  He capitalized on people’s fears and mistrust of someone that didn’t look exactly like them.  He stoked these fears; he nurtured this idea and he has shown no remorse.  His campaign is a series of lies, halftruths, and good old fashioned racism.  Trump lies indiscriminately and reflexively.  This is taken as a positive by his supporters.  Except they assume he is telling the truth.  They praise him for straight shooting and saying how it is.  But as we’ll see, the way they think the world is, isn’t always how the world actually is and Trump obfuscates basic knowledge and his own stances with the talent of a compulsive liar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Missed Donald Trump’s Rise

When Donald Trump first announced his candidacy, I remarked that he would pass and fall out of the race relatively quickly.  The basis of my argument was that Trump’s net favorability numbers were too low to be able to sustain a primary campaign, his place in the polls was largely due to name recognition, and that the base of his supporters was too low in the primary to be able to win multiple primaries.  I ultimately concluded that the most likely outcome for his campaign was Herman Cain.  Obviously, that was wrong.  Instead of just saying that was then, this is now, I want to look at why I was wrong and if it would provide any meaningful learning opportunities for me going forward.

Net favorability argument

This was the standard argument that was brought forward against Trump.  Looking at Trump’s favorability numbers, he looked like a general election candidate going up against the electorate as a whole compared to a primary with just members of his party.  Most contenders for the presidential nomination had favorability numbers of (+20-+30) while Trump’s numbers ranged from a low negative to a low positive (-5 – +10).  This included the early states as well as the national polls.  There had not been a major party candidate who was able to survive with these numbers in the modern primary system (1972).  Because there was a lack of historical precedent, it was easy to dismiss Trump’s ability to overcome this and be able to win any primaries, much less be the favorite for the nomination.

The argument has turned out to be wrong for a couple of reasons.  The argument assumed that the field would be winnowed relatively shortly as the voting began.  This would lower the ceiling on any candidate with this low of favorability numbers.  This did not happen as quickly as originally thought.  While Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee dropped out after Iowa, this did not make much of a difference.  Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson sticking around for longer than they should have also helped Donald Trump win with a lower percentage of the vote than previous candidates.  Although, not by much.  With Super PACs and megadonors essentially being able to financially support a candidate as far as they could go, we could have assumed that the field would not winnow as quickly as we originally thought.

The stronger argument as to why the net favorability wasn’t enough to sink Donald Trump is the one that has been taken up by Harry Enten and his colleagues at Five Thirty Eight.  The argument is that his supporters may be relatively few in number but they support him no matter what.  This plays off of the idea of the field not winnowing.  As the field continued to be large, Trump supporters while small in absolute numbers almost all would end up supporting him.  The vast majority of voters who held a favorable opinion of Trump wound up voting for him.  This is at odds with what usually happens in primaries but not totally unpredictable.    In general elections, almost all of the people who have favorable views of one candidate will end up voting for him or her.

The base of supporters

I did underestimate the level of support for Donald Trump.  I assumed based on the polling information at the time, which showed Donald Trump was mainly picking up supporters from the TEA Party.  I estimated that the TEA Party supporters are about 15-20% of the Republican primary electorate nationally.  I had difficulty believing that Trump would be able to build a successful coalition out of the TEA Party because most other factions of the Republican base had at least one candidate who they could support.  In looking at the South Carolina exit polls and the New Hampshire exit polls, we can begin to see how Trump was able to build a coalition to succeed.

Despite his comments on women in the past and Megyn Kelly’s need to bring it up for debates, Trump does not have that large of a gender gap for support.  While he does slightly better with males than females, an image of him reaching out to just males is incorrect.  Although, once you get to income, he is able to separate himself.  In New Hampshire, he was able to get 40% of the vote of those making less than $50k/year.  The next highest was Ted Cruz at 13%.  In South Carolina, it wasn’t much different as he was able to get 33% of the vote for those making less than $50k compared to Cruz at 27%.  In South Carolina, at $50k-$99k, he was at 34% of the vote compared to Cruz at 26% of the vote.  Finally, for those voters making more than $100K per year, Trump was tied for Rubio with the lead at 28% of the vote and his vote share significantly decreased to 32% of the vote in New Hampshire with those making more than $100k per year.

In both South Carolina and New Hampshire, Trump significantly overperformed with voters who were not college graduates.  As education levels increased, Trump’s support decreased.  This should not be surprising as we also see the same thing with regards to income level.  Trump’s messages about the economy, about immigration, about just about everything appeals to those with less education and who are making less.  Immigration and trade deals are more likely to affect workers who make less or who are in less specialized fields.

Unfortunately, the next set of data does not help us determine the coalition that Trump has built.  In New Hampshire, Trump’s best marks were with non-born again or non-evangelical Christians, as he was able to garner 38% of their vote.  In South Carolina, however, he did much better with evangelical Christians/born-again Christians.  He got 34% of the vote of them compared to 29% of the votes of non-born-again Christians.

For the issue that mattered most, it should come as no surprise that Trump did the best with those who thought that immigration was the issue that matters most.  Although this only represented 10-15% of the total voters voting in either primary, Trump was able to receive over 50% of their votes.  Trump’s next best category was the economy, in which, Trump received over a third of the votes.  For terrorism, he was able to get about 30% of the votes.   His weakest category for South Carolina was government spending as he only received 25% of the vote.

In case someone accused me of not writing enough on exit polls, we can look at how Republicans in these states think about immigration.  44% of South Carolina voters think that illegal immigrants should be deported.  47% of those voted for Donald Trump.  In New Hampshire, 41% of the voters think that they should be deported and 51% of those voters went for Trump.  Perhaps more importantly, 65% of New Hampshire voters think that there should be a temporary ban on Muslims entering America.  45% of these voters voted for Trump.  74% of South Carolina voters think that there should be a ban on Muslims entering America.  41% of these supporters selected Donald Trump.

Basically, Trump’s coalition among Republicans is made up of those who are not well-educated, not making that much money, and is generally skeptical about immigration specifically illegal immigration and immigration by Muslims.  How much of the primary electorate is that?  Probably about 30-40% if South Carolina and New Hampshire is representative, at all.

What we learned

I don’t think Trump is necessarily relevant for learning material going forward.  Trump’s name recognition and his bullying are almost once in a lifetime talents (if you want to call them that).  Combined with a sentiment from primary voters that the next nominee should be outside of politics is providing Trump with a perfect storm to be able to win the nomination.  Finally, the San Bernardino shootings and the call for no refugees immigrating to the United States continued to help Donald Trump.  If there is one thing Trump likes to exude and one thing he values most, it is strength.

Trump had a fair share of luck to help him get here, including a large field to run against, but most of what he has been able to accomplish has been because of a fairly brilliant campaign.  He knows when to push back and when to bully.  He’s managed to have enough self-control to not lash out every time he gets attacked so as not to appear irrational.  His one mistake was skipping the Iowa debate but even then, he showed that he was willing to stick to his guns and follow through.

It’s been foolish to bet against Trump since he declared and I keep doing it proving myself to be an insane fool.  A brokered convention seems itself so unlikely that it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Trump is not the nominee at this point.

Edit: Ted Cruz has become the only candidate who could force more than one ballot at the Republican National Convention.  Nate Silver correctly noted that Donald Trump is unlikely to be the nominee if It is after one ballot.  This post was written prior to Super Tuesday.