Some last-minute thoughts before they start counting votes Tuesday night:
In late 2015 I recall seeing a poll in which 20 percent of the population had the following pair of beliefs:
1) There should be no more immigration into the United States, legal or illegal.
2) There should no cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits.
That’s as good an explanation as any for Donald Trump.
There has long been an assumption that the under-represented niche in politics is the voter who is socially liberal and economically conservative. In fact, the opposite is true. The unrepresented voters are economically liberal/socially conservative, yet they have virtually no political representation. There are politicians on both sides of the Social Security/Medicare equation who favor increased immigration. There are politicians who would cut Social Security and Medicare but are anti-immigration. But name one member of Congress who opposes immigration but takes a hard line against cutting Social Security and Medicare? I can’t. Trump comes closest to filling the void.
Democrats figured this out. Their biggest political success this year is attacking the tax cut bill as a threat to Social Security and Medicare. Republicans aided and abetted the cause by bemoaning “entitlements” that are “unsustainable,” reminding voters that their tax bill left Social Security and Medicare $1 billion less sustainable.
No wonder Republicans are hyping the caravan. Democrats want socially conservative/economically liberal voters to fret over Social Security. Republicans want those same voters to fret over immigration. That’s a jump ball that could decide the election.
Pre-existing political condition
I received an email last week from an outfit called Citizens Council for Health Freedom. It reads, in part:
“Americans must not cast their vote based on the pre-existing condition issue,” said CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase. “The entire premise of socialized medicine is government-mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, Americans who support pre-existing condition coverage often don’t know they are supporting socialized medicine and, with it, higher costs, decreased access to services, delays, denials and reduced quality of care.”
That statement has been a pillar of Republican health care policy the past eight years, and it was embodied in health care legislation Congressional Republicans nearly succeeded in passing last year. Republicans, of course, have scrambled the past month to convince voters they never believed any of that. Either CCHF didn’t get the last-minute Republican campaign memo, or, bless their hearts, stayed true to the cause. Its website contains headlines like “Trump Makes Big Move Against Obamacare,” “Don’t Vote on based on ‘Pre-Existing Conditions’” and “President Trump Weakens ACA−Strengthens Freedom.” For Republicans actually trying to get elected, that’s so September 2018.
The website is cchfreedom.org. Check it out if you want to know the Republican position on health care ... until about four weeks ago.
Conventional wisdom: Democrats are running solely on their opposition to President Trump.
Reality: Democrats are ignoring President Trump.
According to people who actually, well, researched the issue (what a quaint notion!), the president’s name came up in just 10 percent of television ads broadcast on behalf of Democratic candidates from Sept. 18 to Oct. 15. That’s the conclusion of the Wesleyan Media Project. It reports that Trump is featured in the lowest proportion of attack ads against a sitting president since the 2002 midterms.
I don’t get it. Trump is an unpopular president. He was two percentage points above water the first week of his presidency and has been under water ever since, normally by double digits. And it’s not just blue states that don’t like him. A poll has him stuck at 44 percent in South Carolina.
Maybe Trump creates such a gigantic shadow over politics that any mention of him is redundant. Then again, if Tuesday’s election goes the way Nate Silver projects, don’t be surprised if Wesleyan crunches some different numbers in 2020.
The president, in his own words
President of the United States Donald Trump posted the following on his Twitter account:
“Federal Judge throws out Stormy Danials lawsuit versus Trump. Trump is entitled to full legal fees.” @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!”
Boy, I miss Dwight Eisenhower.