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Category Archives: Elections
Barring something unexpected, as discussed in Doc Jess’s post, the major action for the rest of this Congress on health care is likely to be at the administrative level with Tom Price doing his best to undermine the Affordable Care Act. However, there have been some unanticipated holes that have developed over the past seven years that do need to be fixed. As such, if Democrats regain control of the House and Senate in 2019 what issues should they be looking to address.
At the top of my list is the Medicaid expansion hole. Back in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that states did not have to participate in the Medicaid expansion. The Affordable Care Act assumed that every state was going to participate in the expansion and only provided for subsidies for those who did not qualify for Medicaid. When a significant number of states opted to not expand Medicaid coverage, this created a group who earned to much to sign up for Medicaid, but too little to get subsidies to purchase insurance. The obvious fix is to expand the subsidies to cover this gap group.
The second issue concerns the exchanges. Again, the Affordable Care Act assumed that most (if not all) states would opt to set up exchanges just on principles of state autonomy. (Why would Republicans who complain about the feds taking over the insurance market let the feds take over the insurance market in their states?) It turned out that Republicans in the state wanted the symbolism of resisting more than actual local control. This problem offers a chance to offer the Republicans a two-edged sword. The Republicans complain that one of the problems with health insurance is that companies are unable to offer policies that cross state lines. (Placing the blame on regulations is not accurate, and the biggest restraint on such policies is the need of insurance companies to have deals with the local hospitals.) So I would offer up for discussion an exemption for policies offered on the federal exchange. If a state does not have its own exchange, policies on the federal exchange will be exempt from state regulations and will only be subject to federal regulations. If a state wants to regulate those policies, it can take over the exchange. If not, a state will not be permitted to sues state regulations to obstruct the federal exchange. My hunch says that the states will not opt to set up their own exchanges and that the exemption of insurance companies from state regulations will not increase the number of policies that cross state lines.
Last night, we in Philly heard that hundreds of headstones were turned over Saturday night at a Jewish cemetery, a week after similar vandalism in St. Louis. Many people are saddened, appalled and surprised. They should be sad and appalled, but not surprised. This is Trump’s America.
I have been working with Indivisible locally, and I am heartened by the number of people completely new to politics who are suddenly aware, and ready to take action to both resist the Trump agenda, and help elect people who will serve America, and not what is actually the Bannon administration.
I keep hearing two themes through my work with Indivisible. First, people are concerned about what they can do to stop hate. And by “hate” I mean not just the vandalism, but the verbal abuse people see foisted upon innocent people, just for the colour of their skin, The ICE roundups are another form of hate: people question what they can do to help those who will be caught up in the dragnets. Hate also in the form of the administration’s moves against sick people (“repeal Obamacare” and dismantle Medicaid), Hate in the form of transgender bathroom rights. I’m a doctor, and I’m telling you, the only thing that matters is that you wash your hands. (If you’re a long-term reader, you remember back to SARS and fingers, nails, fingers, fingers, fingers.) And let’s not forget the hate of literacy in terms of claiming the media is the “enemy of the people”. The hate is creeping down from the Cheeto Team, and up from the GOP state legislatures.
This year’s elections saw a lot of unusual, unexpected, and unprecedented developments. So nobody should be shocked at any unexpected developments when the electoral college meets on Monday. Having said that, Democratic activists have been barking up the wrong tree by emphasizing the national popular vote. The reason why this strategy was guaranteed to backfire is the nature of the electoral college.
The electors are not randomly chosen people. They are local politicians and activists who are nominated by their state party. In short, they are not the people who are likely to surrender control of the White House to the other party. By the rules that are currently in place, the Republicans have won the White House. So while, the Constitution, theoretically, allows these electors to vote for Hillary, practically these electors will not vote for Hillary.
Over the last two weeks, there has been much discussion of the recounts requested by the Green Party in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Some of this request is based on discrepancies in results depending upon the type of voting technology use, but others think that those discrepancies can be explained by the demographics of the counties. Historically, the gap in the states in which the recounts are being requested is larger than the typical swing from a recount.
What these requests do demonstrate is the need for a regular and public audit process for the election. Many states do have an audit or verification process, but it needs to be public. (One of the few states that do have such a process is Arizona which not only does an audit but requires the counties to submit the results to the state and the state publishes that information on-line.) Saying that there should be an audit does not however define what a proper audit should do.
If you’d told me that “President of these United States” was an entry-level elected position, I would have laughed.
Who could have predicted that the Weekly World News would have gotten more right over its years of publication than what is shown on most news stations. (At the very end of this post is the best story EVER about the Weekly World News.)
This election is a bitter pill to swallow because everybody got it wrong. Apparently even the internal polls of the RNC in the last week of the campaign showed Secretary Clinton ahead. At the end of the day, President-elect Trump managed to avoid shooting himself in the foot just long enough during the last two weeks for Republicans who were telling pollsters that they were voting for Governor Johnson or were undecided to hold their noses and come back home. Certainly, the polls with two weeks to go encouraged the Clinton campaign to dream about states that they could go into and help Democrats in down ballot races. The perception that Clinton would win in some ways gave permission for Republicans to hold their noses and vote for Trump to keep the margin down and for Democrats to cast protest votes for third party candidates.
It’s also a bitter pill because the race got very personal. Since the election, I have gotten e-mails from local activists about the issues that the party needs to address. On most of the issues, there was a plan on that issue from the Clinton campaign. The issues, however, never got aired as the campaign focused on the flaws of the two candidates. I don’t think that the choice of the Democratic candidate mattered on this aspect of the campaign. In the primary, Trump also ran a very personality based campaign, slandering his opponents and coming up with labels to characterize the rest of the Republican candidates. Certain issues that were mentioned in the DNC WikiLeaks memos were not good issues for a Democratic primary but would have proven useful tools for the Trump campaign in the general election. Trump was such a big personality and so uniquely “not ready” to be President, it is hard to see how any Democratic campaign could have avoided the temptation to focus on Trump’s flaws and gotten the media to focus on the issues rather than the personalities.
Given the closeness of this election what needs to change between now and 2020.
As it all sinks in….at the polls yesterday, I heard from Democrats who were voting for Trump for a variety of reasons. I have looked at the preliminary exit poll data and the turnout numbers and think I have an idea of how this happened. The final cross tabs might change things but bottom line — people who NEVER vote came out in droves. And what they voted against was the same thing that gave Britain Brexit — their hatred of modernity. So what do we do? While we organize (and re-read James Madison’s Federalist Paper #10) we wait somewhat quietly to see if in his first hundred days he DOES:
- deport massive numbers of undocumented human beings,
- ban Muslims,
- repeal the Affordable Care Act,
- add a Supreme who will vote to keep Citizen’s United, repeal gay marriage, ban all abortions even to save the life of the mother
- cut taxes for only the weathly
- leave NAFTA
- et, al.
Because if he does, THEN we know the plan.
While technology and methods have changed over time, the essence of what a campaign does has not changed since colonial time. Campaigns have three basic tasks: 1) Identify favorable and potentially favorable voters; 2) Persuade voters to support you; and 3) Get Out your voters on election day.
For all intents and purposes, the identify and persuade phases of the campaign are over, and we are down to the GOTV part of the campaign. With many states having early voting, the GOTV effort has been well under way in many states. To everyone who has voted, thank you. Each person who votes early is one less person waiting in line or getting delayed by traffic on election day.
To those who have not voted yet, please, please do. As the authors on this site have posted for months, this election is too important to skip. If you do not know where to vote, click here to find your location or click here. If those links do not work, most state and local election authorities have a link to help you find your polling place. Additionally, please check your state and local election authorities for sample ballots and your state’s version of ID requirements. Knowing what races and proposition are on your ballot can speed up the voting process, particularly if there are a lot of races and propositions in your city/county/state. If you have any problems voting or notice any problems, you can call 844-464-4455 for the Democratic Party’s voter assistance hotline.
There are potential ways that the votes could come in tomorrow that would lead to one of the candidates reaching 270 before 11 p.m. (EST). It is also theoretically possible that one party or the other could wrap up the Senate or the House by 11 p.m. Both, however, are very unlikely in the absence of a clear landslide. The last batch of states represent 10 likely electoral votes for the Republicans and 78 likely electoral votes for the Democrats. (To make up for the 78, Clinton would essentially have to win all of the contested states. To make up for the 10, Trump would need to win Michigan or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin in addition to the other contested states.) The Republicans are defending twenty contested House seats in these states (and it is unlikely that all of the House seats from the earlier states will have been declared.) The Republicans have three Senate seats in the last batch of states and the Democrats have two (not counting California in which the two candidates in the run-off are both Democrats).
11:00 p.m. (EST) — The polls in most of the remaining states close. In particular, the remaining polls in Idaho, North Dakota, and Oregon close. All of the polls in California, Hawaii, and Washington close. Of the state-wide races, the only potentially close race is governor in Washington. Most of these races should be called pretty quickly.
As 9:00 p.m. rolls around, enough states have been closed long enough that exit polls become less significant, and raw vote count becomes more significant. If the exit polls and early returns in the state had been clear enough, those states would have already been called. The question at this point in time is which if any of the contested states and races have been called. While enough states remain that technically nobody will have yet won the White House, or the majority in the Senate, or the majority in the House, it should be becoming clear whether it is simply a matter of waiting for the polls to close in “safe” states or if it is going to be a long night waiting for the last votes in a handful of states. While the race is not yet over, the next two hours should determine the winners.
9:00 p.m. (EST) — The remaining polls close in Michigan, Kansas, South Dakota, and Texas. Additionally, the polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Colorado and Wisconsin are the last of the “at risk” states that are part of Secretary Clinton’s easiest path to 270. Arizona and Nebraska 2 join Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Maine 2 in the batch of electoral votes that Trump absolutely needs to get to 270.