Progressive stalwart Rep. Katie Porter is in the fight of her life after redistricting

As with many progressives, I have developed a great admiration for Congressperson Katie Porter (D-CA). But her district was already a swing district, and now her district was redrawn to the point that her re-election looks to be on shakier ground than before.

PORTER HAS BECOME A DEMOCRATIC MEDIA SENSATION over the past few years, beloved for her takedowns of corporate CEOs in hearings and her general no-bullshit attitude. What’s more, she did it as a frontliner, Washington’s name for House Democrats in swing seats whose electoral outcomes typically determine which party controls the chamber. Where frontliners often aim for the most inoffensive, bland position possible on any issue, pandering either to an imagined fussy median voter or to the donor class, Porter’s more unyielding stances are what she believes gives her broad buy-in with a divided electorate.

After redistricting, about 70 percent of voters in California’s 47th Congressional District will see Porter’s name on the ballot for the first time.

“I didn’t run as a typical politician,” she said. “And I think I’ve delivered on not being a typical politician.”

This fall, Porter faces Scott Baugh, a state assemblyman in the 1990s and the former chair of the Orange County Republican Party. The fact that Baugh paid fines for multiple state campaign finance violations while in the legislature, and became a lobbyist for the county after his terms in the assembly, plays into Porter’s narrative about taking on special interests.

“I think there’s a pretty clear contrast between someone who is one of the dozen members of Congress who doesn’t take lobbyist money, and someone who’s been a professional lobbyist,” she said. “I ran on good governance, and on standing up to special-interest money, and he has been involved in projects that corrupt our political system.”

Porter’s popularity has given her an insurmountable fundraising lead, with an incredible $19.8 million in cash on hand as of the end of June. Baugh had about $1.1 million in the bank at that point. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the leading House Republican PAC, has spent a nominal sum of about $800,000 on the race.

Still, Porter has never won more than 53.5 percent of the vote in her two House victories, and Republicans are loaded for bear against her. First, they highlighted a discounted home she purchased in University Hills, on the UC Irvine campus, as part of a program the university uses to attract professors who would otherwise be priced out of a city where the median home price exceeds $1 million. Because she is currently on leave from the school, some have questioned whether Porter should still be eligible for that discount, or whether under the rules of the arrangement she should have to pay off the mortgage entirely.

Fingers crossed her substantial war chest gives her the advantage she needs in November. (See her campaign web site here.)

Meanwhile, the video below is from her greatest hits of holding the rich and powerful to account in ways most elected officials can only dream about.

Is Republican support being understated again in mid-term polling?

This Politico headline and subhed say it all: “Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022: Democrats seem to be doing better than expected with voters. But if the polls are wrong, they could be disappointed in November — again.”

Pollsters know they have a problem. But they aren’t sure they’ve fixed it in time for the November election.

Since Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory, pre-election polls have consistently understated support for Republican candidates, compared to the votes ultimately cast.

Once again, polls over the past two months are showing Democrats running stronger than once expected in a number of critical midterm races. It’s left some wondering whether the rosy results are setting the stage for another potential polling failure that dashes Democratic hopes of retaining control of Congress— and vindicates the GOP’s assertion that the polls are unfairly biased against them.

It’s not that pollsters haven’t tried to fix the issues that plagued them in recent elections. Whether they’re public firms conducting surveys for the media and academic instructions or private campaign consultants, they have spent the past two years tweaking their methods to avoid a 2020 repeat.

But most of the changes they have made are small. Some pollsters are hoping that since Trump isn’t running in the midterms, the problems of underestimating Republicans’ vote share will disappear with him. But others worry that Trump’s ongoing dominance of the news cycle — from the FBI seizure of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago to litigation against his businesses in New York — effectively is making him the central political figure going into Election Day.

“There’s no question that the polling errors in [20]16 and [20]20 worry the polling profession, worry me as a pollster,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee and a longtime survey-taker in the battleground state of Wisconsin. “The troubling part is how much of that is unique to when Donald Trump is on the ballot, versus midterms when he is not on the ballot.”

The stuff of nightmares. Truly.

Get out and vote.

“There’s no question that the polling errors in [20]16 and [20]20 worry the polling profession, worry me as a pollster,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee and a longtime survey-taker in the battleground state of Wisconsin. “The troubling part is how much of that is unique to when Donald Trump is on the ballot, versus midterms when he is not on the ballot.”

Even in Massachusetts, Republican moderation is dying

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), the organization for LGBTQ Republicans and their straight GOP allies.

The group has been around since the 1970s when it was formed to fight the Briggs Initiative in California, which would have barred gay men and lesbians from being teachers.

That referendum was defeated by the voters, thanks in large part to the fact that Republican then-Governor Ronald Reagan came out publicly against it.

It is thought that LCR did much work behind the scenes to rally opposition to Briggs among Republicans. It had to be behind the scenes because, at the time, public support for homosexuality was thought to be risky even for Democrats. For Republicans it was almost unheard of.

After the Briggs defeat, I think even a lot of LGBTQ Democrats had high hopes for LCR, which pushed the notion of being “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.”

At that time there were far greater numbers of what one might call “reasonable Republicans” who thought that the loonies of the religious Right, including former Miss America Anita Bryant, were embarrassments who were pulling the GOP away from its primary purpose of making sure corporations had as much power as was politically possible,

Of course, things did not turn out as hoped for, at least in terms of the people who ran LCR in the late ’80s and early ’90s when I first started writing about them in Boston. Back then, LCR dreamed of pulling the GOP to the center on social issues. By all means, be as right-wing as you want to be on corporatism. But, at the very least, don’t waste valuable party time on the culture wars.

I’ve been thinking about all of this because a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the GOP gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts, where a pro-Trump election denier was running against a more traditional pro-business Republican.

If there is any state in the union where Republicans could feel free to throw off the shackles of Trumpism and elect sane Republicans, it would be Massachusetts.

Everyone who thought that was wrong. Even in Massachusetts, Republican voters chose Geoff Diehl, the crazy Trump candidate.

In one sense, it is good because, while the statewide electorate in the Bay State will elect Republicans to the governorship — Bill Weld, Mitt Romney, Charlie Baker — they are not likely to choose a Trump crazy over Democrat Maura Healey.

In another sense, it is a very bad sign because in Massachusetts, arguably the home of the “reasonable” Republican, political moderation is on life support.

Mass. GOP primary winner Geoff Diehl will face Democrat Maura Healey.

Election challenge for 2022 and 2024: try to figure out why polls were so wrong and how to correct for it

There is one nightmare that must make Democratic election operatives wake up in cold sweats: much of the presidential polling was wrong in 2016 and again in 2020. Some of the biggest polls overstated Democratic support in both elections.

How and why this happened — and how to adjust for it in polling — is still somewhat of a mystery.

The New York Times debuts a newsletter today called The Tilt by Nate Cohn. (Sign up here.) Cohn examines in the inaugural edition of the newsletter these vexing questions.

Ahead of the last presidential election, we created a website tracking the latest polls — internally, we called it a “polling diary.” Despite a tough polling cycle, one feature proved to be particularly helpful: a table showing what would happen if the 2020 polls were as “wrong” as they were in 2016, when pollsters systematically underestimated Donald J. Trump’s strength against Hillary Clinton.

The table proved eerily prescient. Here’s what it looked like on Election Day in 2020, plus a new column with the final result. As you can see, the final results were a lot like the poll estimates “with 2016-like poll error.”

We created this poll error table for a reason: Early in the 2020 cycle, we noticed that Joe Biden seemed to be outperforming Mrs. Clinton in the same places where the polls overestimated her four years earlier. That pattern didn’t necessarily mean the polls would be wrong — it could have just reflected Mr. Biden’s promised strength among white working-class voters, for instance — but it was a warning sign.

That warning sign is flashing again: Democratic Senate candidates are outrunning expectations in the same places where the polls overestimated Mr. Biden in 2020 and Mrs. Clinton in 2016.

Cohn goes on to note:

The pattern of Democratic strength isn’t the only sign that the polls might still be off in similar ways. Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on abortion, some pollsters have said they’re seeing the familiar signs of nonresponse bias — when people who don’t respond to a poll are meaningfully different from those who participate — creeping back into their surveys.

Brian Stryker, a partner at Impact Research (Mr. Biden is a client), told me that his polling firm was getting “a ton of Democratic responses” in recent surveys, especially in “the familiar places” where the polls have erred in recent cycles.

None of this means the polls are destined to be as wrong as they were in 2020. Some of the polling challenges in 2020 might have since subsided, such as the greater likelihood that liberals were at home (and thus more likely to take polls) during the pandemic. And historically, it has been hard to anticipate polling error simply by looking at the error from the previous cycle. For example, the polls in 2018 weren’t so bad.

Some pollsters are making efforts to deal with the challenge. Mr. Stryker said his firm was “restricting the number of Democratic primary voters, early voters and other super-engaged Democrats” in their surveys. The New York Times/Siena College polls take similar steps.

My biggest fear is that the overstating of Democratic support will depress turnout among progressive voters. These polling mistakes only prove that, no matter how much you think Democrats are ahead, all of us need to get out and vote every time.

Source: New York Times.

Even in liberal Massachusetts, will Republicans support the Trumpiest of candidates?

Now and then I hear someone suggest that many Republicans, if given the chance to vote in secret, would reject Trumpism and support many progressive initiatives. But they are beholden to the crazies in their party and therefore have to “vote extremist,” if you will.

To them I always say: look at Massachusetts.

If there is any state where Republicans could adopt 100% the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” model that some moderate Republicans espouse, why are so many Bay State Republicans supporting the Trumpiest of Trump candidates? After all, this is the state of William Weld and Charlie Baker, two MA governors who tried (and often failed) to walk the tightrope over the chasm that exists between GOP extremism and responsible governing.

Today is primary day in Massachusetts, so we’ll soon see just how deep MAGA goes in what is arguably the most liberal state in America.

Massachusetts Republicans are weighing which candidate has the best chance of keeping the governor’s office in GOP hands as they vote in Tuesday’s primary: a former state lawmaker endorsed by Donald Trump or a political newcomer who’s cast himself as the more moderate choice.

Geoff Diehl and Chris Doughty are vying for the chance to replace incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who’s opted not to seek a third term.

Democrats have a simpler decision. Attorney General Maura Healey — she would become the first woman and first openly gay candidate elected governor if she wins — is facing no challengers after the only other Democrat on the ballot dropped out of the running.

Republican voters in the state will become just the latest to decide whether the party will further embrace Trumpism or is ready to move back toward the center. In recent primaries in other blue states like Maryland and Connecticut, GOP voters have nominated Trump loyalists, hurting the party’s chances of winning against a Democrat in the November general election.

Diehl, the favorite among state Republican Party delegates in Massachusetts, has ties to Trump stretching to 2016, when he served as co-chair for Trump’s presidential campaign in the state. Trump lost Massachusetts by almost 30 percentage points in his two presidential campaigns. Diehl has also opposed COVID-19 protocols and hailed the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Doughty, a businessman, said he supported some of Trump’s initiatives but wants to focus on challenges facing Massachusetts, which he said is increasingly unaffordable.

Diehl has come to embrace Trump’s false claims that he lost the 2020 election. Diehl said last year that he didn’t think it was a “stolen election” but later said the election was rigged, despite dozens of courts, local officials and Trump’s own attorney general saying the vote was legitimate. Doughty, meanwhile, has said he believes President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.

There are no “good Republicans,” and I’ve voted for a few in my lifetime. Bill Weld was a good Republican when I lived in Boston. In fact, I wrote the editorial endorsing him (for governor) in the pages of the newspaper where I was managing editor. But there are no Bill Welds coming to save the Republican Party.

Trump and MAGA own the Republican Party. And a vote for any Republican, even a “moderate” one, is to give strength to Donald Trump and his anti-democratic movement.

If chosen today by the Mass. GOP as its candidate, Trump Republican Geoff Diehl will face in the race for governor Democrat Attorney General Maura Healey, who would be the first female and first openly gay governor of Massachusetts.

Bad news for abortion opponents, as Wall Street Journal poll shows support for abortion rights rising even among Catholics

If any abortion opponents envisioned a groundswell of support for abortion restrictions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, they must be shocked at how quickly the tides have turned against them.

A new Wall Street Journal poll has bad news all around for abortion opponents, noting that, “Support for abortion in most or all cases rose among Catholics to 59%, up from 45% in March. Support from Black voters was at 69%, up from 59%. College-educated women moved to 76% in support, up from 65%.”

There’s more bad news:

The poll also showed clear opposition to the types of abortion restrictions being enacted or discussed in some states. A total of 62% opposed an abortion ban at 6 weeks of pregnancy that only included an exception for the health of the mother, and 57% opposed a ban at 15 weeks with an exception only for the health of the mother. The survey said 77% opposed banning women who live in states where abortion is illegal from traveling to other states to get an abortion. And 81% were against banning all abortions.

On prosecuting doctors who conduct abortions, 70% were in opposition. On restricting access to some contraception, like the morning after pill, 78% were opposed.

“Abortion is not an issue that most people, prior to Dobbs, spent a lot of time thinking about,” said Democratic pollster Molly Murphy, whose firm conducted the poll with Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio. “What Dobbs has done is one, we’ve had a national conversation about it. Two, it has gone from hypothetical to real.”

These are the reasons that Republicans are trying, probably unsuccessfully, to prevent a November ballot initiative in Michigan that would enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. The GOP in Michigan saw what happened in red-as-red-can-be Kansas when voters there overwhelming approved a similar ballot initiative.

GOP Sen. Rick Scott is trashing Mitch McConnell

My Thursday has been so-so until I read this story about Sens. Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell having a pissing match.

The Senate’s Republican campaign chief on Thursday appeared to escalate an ugly quarrel with the party’s longtime leader in the chamber, Senator Mitch McConnell, in the latest sign of the G.O.P.’s eroding confidence about winning back the majority in November.

Without naming Mr. McConnell, Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, lashed out in a blistering opinion piece in The Washington Examiner at Republicans he said were “trash-talking” the party’s candidates, an apparent reference to comments last month in which Mr. McConnell said that “candidate quality” could harm the G.O.P.’s chances of retaking the Senate. Mr. Scott called such remarks “treasonous” and said those who make them should “pipe down.”

“Unfortunately, many of the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle are now trying to stop us from winning the majority this time by trash-talking our Republican candidates,” Mr. Scott wrote. “It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause.”

Woo-hoo! GOP in-fighting is fun!

McConnell did more than make a pact with the Devil. He’s been the Devil’s butler, as he aided and encouraged his party’s wild swing to the extreme right because it served his purposes of packing the Supreme Court, and obstructing Democratic agendas.

Now it’s come back to bite him in the ass, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

And if it serves to keep the Senate in Democratic hands, all the better.

And, because we should never pass up the opportunity to point this out again: Rick Scott was the leader of the company with the largest Medicare fraud case in history.

DeSantis campaign starts spreading QAnon lies about Democrats allegedly coddling pedophiles

Judd Legum over at Popular.Info has really pissed off Ron DeSantis’ people because Legum had the temerity to point out that DeSantis is trafficking in egregious pedophile lies about a Latina lieutenant governor candidate in Florida:

Yesterday’s Popular Information newsletter exposed that DeSantis, his campaign, and the Florida Republican Party were smearing a political rival — Karla Hernández, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Florida, DeSantis and his operatives were claiming that, as president of a teachers union, Hernández “protected a sexual predator for years and accompanied him through numerous investigations into his sexual assaults of multiple students.” The truth, as Popular Information documented, is that Hernández did nothing to protect the sexual predator, Wendell Nibbs, and never accompanied him to any investigative hearing or proceeding.

The DeSantis campaign did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment prior to publication. Instead, after publication, the DeSantis campaign repeatedly attacked Popular Information on Twitter and accused this newsletter of promoting “disinformation.” On the campaign’s official Twitter account, @DeSantisWarRoom, it attacked Popular information at least 9 times. These tweets were then amplified by campaign staffers, including Director of Rapid Response Christina Pushaw.

The DeSantis campaign suggested Popular Information’s report that Hernández took office as president of the Miami-Dade teachers’ union (UTD) on May 2016 was inaccurate. Popular Information’s report, however, is correct. Hernández was elected to the position in March 2016 and took office two months later.

The exact date that Hernández took office is irrelevant to the very serious allegations the DeSantis campaign made against Hernández. But the DeSantis campaign is unable to provide any evidence to back up its claims. The Orlando Sentinel asked the DeSantis campaign to substantiate its allegations, and it did not go well:

Asked what proof the governor had for the basis of his allegations, Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary, deferred the question to campaign staff.

The campaign sent a flyer from the Republican Party of Florida that repeated the allegation that Hernandez-Mats protected Nibbs and a Miami Herald article about the investigation, which also described his support of her candidacy for union president in 2016, but nothing that showed she protected Nibbs or hindered the investigation.

DeSantis is much more dangerous than Trump has ever been because DeSantis is not a moron, but also because DeSantis can give Trump a run for the money in terms of lacking any moral center whatsoever.

This tendency for DeSantis to readily disseminate QAnon-inspired lies about Democrats being pedophile-enablers — even when confronted with proof they are lies — proves that DeSantis will do anything to get elected.

DeSantis really scares me because he is probably the cunning and capable proto-fascist about which billionaires on the American extreme Right have daydreamed. Last time they made the mistake, by default mostly, of backing an idiot.

They aren’t making that mistake again.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, left, is running against Ron DeSantis in Florida. Beside Crist in his running mate, Karla Hernandez, who is being smeared QAnon-style as a pedophile-enabler by the DeSantis campaign.

Supreme MAGA nut Laura Loomer melts down after losing GOP primary

If you’ve never heard of Laura Loomer, I don’t even know where I would start in trying to explain who she is.

Perhaps the best way to describe her is this: In a world full of batshit crazy right-wingers, she is so nutty that other batshit crazy right-wingers look at her and roll their eyes behind her back.

Well, Loomer ran again for Congress, this time in the GOP primary for Florida’s 11th congressional district, which includes The Villages, the Trump-crazy retirement community.

She lost. Again. And she is not happy.

In Florida’s 11th Congressional District, Rep. Daniel Webster survived an aggressive GOP primary challenge from far-right conspiracy theorist and self-described “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer when, on Tuesday, August 23, he defeated her by about 7 percent. The ultra-MAGA Loomer, however, refused to concede, and in true MAGA fashion, she blamed her loss on “big-tech election interference.”

During a speech on Election Night, Loomer was literally in tears when she told supporters, “I’m not conceding, because I’m a winner — and the reality is our Republican Party is broken to its core. What we have done tonight has really honestly shocked the nation. We have further exposed the corruption within our own feckless, cowardly Republican Party. We are losing our country to big-tech election interference, and I am pleading with the Republican Party to please start taking this issue seriously, because the American people deserve representation.”

Loomer slammed Webster as a “RINO Republican” and “do-nothing Daniel Webster” during her speech. RINO is short for “Republican in Name Only,” a popular insult among MAGA Republicans.

You can read the rest here.

I suppose it’s a good sign that, in this red-as-red-can-be district, voters rejected Loomer. But keep in mind that the candidate she beat — that alleged RINO Republican? — believes “wives should submit to their husbands.”

It’s all relative in GOP politics.

Young Turks video below about crazy Loomer’s loss.