NDN Blog

Column: An Independent Audit of Trump's Companies Is Now Necessary

US News and World Report has published Simon's ninth column, "An Independent Audit of Trump's Companies Is Now Necessary," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "The Pernicious Politics of Oil - On Trump's embrace of petro-politics," in which Simon does a deep dive on why Trump 's embrace of plutocratic petro-politics should be worrisome to liberals everywhere.

An Excerpt from "An Independent Audit of Trump's Companies Is Now Necessary"

This week, President-elect Donald Trump thumbed his nose at the government agency that oversees ethics in the Executive Branch by announcing he intends to keep all of his far flung holdings as president. Whether this unprecedented and arrogant act is illegal and unconstitutional and not just unethical will be at the center of what is sure to be a vigorous debate in the coming months.

But the worry about his arrangement is far greater than the issue of propriety and legality. Let me offer a few examples:

It establishes new far weaker norms. Perhaps inspired by Trump's example, we've already seen House Republicans vote to gut their own ethics regime; the Senate GOP is holding hearings on Cabinet nominees without either their FBI background check or ethics clearance completed; challenging anti-nepotism laws, Trump is bringing his son in law, who is also not divesting from all his holdings, into the White House; and Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson refuse to recuse himself from overseeing decisions affecting his lifelong employer, Exxon Mobil. In these early days, the new GOP has made it clear it intends to weaken or ignore good government policies put into place decades ago – the very opposite of draining the swamp.

It encourages public corruption. Remarkably, Trump not only refused to adopt the many suggestions outside counsel had for how to ethically manage his holdings, he actually walked back a commitment for the Trump Organization to do no new deals while he is president. In his Wednesday press conference, Trump said the business will in fact be able to do "domestic" deals. This is a clear signal from our next president that investors/courtiers, and one would assume U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies, should begin lining up at Trump Tower to begin talks on domestic U.S. projects. The benefit of these deals would go directly to the benefit of the Trump family, and since he has not divested, Trump himself. As all of his business dealings are essentially secret, the public would have no way of knowing who was entering into business with the family of the sitting president. The opportunity for public corruption here is perhaps unprecedented in all of American history.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Column: Trump's Worrisome Embrace of Global Petro-Politics

US News and World Report has published Simon's eighth column, " The Pernicious Politics of Oil - On Trump's embrace of petro-politics," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star," in which Simon offers some thoughts on the arduous path ahead for Democrats.  He calls for a focus on four issues now: prosperity, security, political reform and being for everyone.  

An Excerpt from "The Pernicious Politics of Oil - On Trump's Embrace of Petro-Politics"

For all the sense of fear and dread about the state of the world today, America and its allies do not have a significant global ideological rival as we did with Communism and Fascism in the 20th century. Most of the world is in the American-led global trading system; most of the world has signed on to the Paris climate accords; most of the world still works through the forum of the United Nations to at least discuss and debate contemporary issues.

Yes, this system is fraying. It isn't perfect, and there are outliers and insurgencies, like the Islamic State group. But there is one looming threat that if not contained could continue to grow into something existential and truly threatening – the pernicious politics of oil.

There are three parts to this rising threat. First, climate change. In addition to the promise of the Paris climate accords and the many other steps large and small governments and communities are taking around the world, clean energy investments appear to be hitting an early critical mass, suggesting private sector innovation will play an ever more meaningful, and perhaps historic, role in addressing the challenge. More must be done here, of course, and rapidly, but the Obama years have created a global momentum that I think is unstoppable. Or so I hope. (Note I am an advocate for more domestic fossil fuel production and a supporter of fracking, but also believe in the necessity to accelerate our transition to more sustainable and distributed sources of energy. See this terrific new Atlantic piece from Ron Brownstein on the role fossil fuel production played in the 2016 presidential election.)

Second, the oil curse. What the world has learned is that far too often countries with large oil and gas holdings fall prey to authoritarianism and oligarchical capitalism. There is a traditional political economy reason for this: The revenues generated for the government through oil production frees politicians from their dependence on taxpayer dollars and thus voters themselves. The wealth created through traditional free market capitalism, innovation and bottom up entrepreneurship isn't needed to generate the wealth of the nation or an unaccountable small ruling class. In the process, the state becomes much more powerful vis a vis its own people, and democratic institutions and norms are weakened or struggle to develop. Think of Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia as prime examples.

These petro-economies are in the most extreme a different form of societal organization – maybe a rival? – than free market democracies. They are oligarchical and "command and control" in structure, the opposite of the bottom up, people-led vision of a good society imagined by our Founding Fathers and championed globally by the West since World War II. These countries are less invested in the instruments of the modern free market system, and while they make money off of it, the more it becomes a global success the more of an ideological threat it becomes to their control over their own people – particularly in an age when it is far harder to control the information to which their people have access to.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Column: Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star

US News and World Report has published Simon's seventh column, "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Trouble Ahead - 4 Scandals That Could Alter the Trump Presidency," in which Simon looks at four looming scandals that could alter the trajectory of the Trump Presidency – unprecedented levels of public corruption, collusion with Russia to alter the outcome of the election, the FBI’s late intervention and Melania’s immigration troubles.

An Excerpt from "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star"

To successfully counter what will be a very aggressive Republican legislative agenda next year, Democrats will be have to be unusually focused and disciplined. At a strategic level we will not just have to make clear what we are against, but also what we are for, what we will do different if once again given the chance to govern. With all that in mind, I offer up an early sketch of a focused agenda that can help animate the Democrats' opposition in the coming years:

Prosperity and Security. While there are many issues we must tackle together in the coming years, there are two that matter more to the nation and the American people themselves than the others – getting ahead, and feeling safe from threats.

The good news for Democrats is that our track record on the economy and keeping us safe is strong, and gives us a lot to work with going forward. On the economy, Obama will leave office with the nation at near full employment, GDP at a robust 3.2 percent, incomes rising since 2013, 25 million more with health insurance, his "all of the above" energy strategy having made us more energy independent while accelerating the growth of renewables, the deficit is half of what it was and the stock market at all-time highs.

For Democrats, this is second consecutive stint in power that we have left the economy far better than we found it. We simply have to become more purposeful about telling this story – since the end of the Cold War there has been more jobs, rising incomes and lower deficits with the Democrats, and job loss, declining incomes and higher deficits with the Republicans. We enter the coming debates about the budget and the economy as the only party which has successfully produced sustained prosperity for America over the past generation of our political life, and we cannot let up in this fight.

On "security," as it has been discussed in this year's campaign, Democrats have simply ceded too much ground to the Republicans of late. By most measures Americans are far safer today. Violent crime, killings of police, Americans killed by terrorists, military causalities are all far lower than during the George W. Bush administration, and in some cases, at all-time lows. The net flow of unauthorized immigrants into the U.S. has dropped from 400,000 a year net under Bush to zero under Obama – a remarkable achievement. Immigrants commit crimes at rates lower than native born Americans, and the economic achievements of the two largest immigrant groups – Asians and Hispanics – are impressive by any measure. Despite historically high levels of immigration, the American "melting pot" has once again done its thing, leaving us a better, stronger and more diverse nation than before. These accomplishments are meaningful, and well worth defending.

On the Middle East and terrorism, Barack Obama will leave office not the first nor the last president disappointed about what was achieved. But on the rise of the Islamic State group, we have to recognize that it grew from the internal political failings of two sovereign nations, Syria and Iraq, caught in the middle of a broader regional struggle between Sunni Arabs and its proxies and Iranian supported Shia forces. Creative thinking is needed here from all sides, thinking that recognizes that there is no "bombing them into the stone age" military solution to the region's troubles. The path forward involves expanding the increasingly successful military and counter-terrorism already in place, vigorously pursuing a regional reconciliation between Sunni and Shia, vigilant efforts to counter the Islamic State group's online reach, and Marshall Plan like efforts to modernize and strengthen those nations in the region wanting to put this violent age behind them.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Trouble Ahead: 4 Scandals That Could Rock The Trump Presidency

US News and World Report has published Simon's sixth column, "Trouble Ahead," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "The West Is On the Ballot," in which Simon argues that Trump isn't running just against Clinton, he's also running against what America has become and the world it has built.

An Excerpt from "Trouble Ahead"

Democrats just spent an entire election cycle worrying that a lingering scandal could at any moment do significant, crippling damage to their presidential candidate. And in the end, we were right to be worried.

As someone who just went through this on the Democratic side, I have a message for my buoyant Republicans friends: You have far more to be worried about with President-elect Donald Trump than we ever did with Hillary Clinton. Consider that in just the few weeks since the election, Trump payed $25 million in a legal settlement to thousands of Americans whom he scammed and ripped off; he admitted to illegally using his foundation, which is subsidized by American taxpayers, for personal gain; he appeared to use discussions with foreign leaders to advance his business interests (here and here); and his newly-opened luxury hotel in Washington has rapidly become a potent symbol of the unprecedented legal and ethical challenges the president-elect's global business interests will present.

I'm pretty sure we've ever seen anything like this in modern American history.

But this is just the beginning, and there is certainly more to come. It is my take that there are at least four potential game-changing set of scandals that could alter the course of the Trump Presidency.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

The Russian Intervention In The US Election Matters

The rise of Trump certainly gives our community much to be concerned about. But as I sit here in DC thinking about what NDN can and should do in the months ahead, I keep coming back to one thing – the Russian intervention in our election. Our government simply owes the American people a clear explanation for what happened, or at least a more transparent process to help us get one, soon.

A new, alarming Washington Post piece from over the break reminded us how extensive the Russian operation was, and how seemingly ill-equipped we were to counter it. There are so many pieces to put together here – the extent of the penetration into the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign; the many ties of the Trump campaign to Russia, something that the FBI is reportedly investigating; the active encouragement of the Russian actions by the GOP nominee and the Republican Party itself, and the precedent setting decision by Party leadership to actively use the questionable material in the campaign; the question of whether there was any actual tampering with our elections process, and the coming to terms with the massive, successful disinformation efforts by the Russians that are now well documented.

For some I am sure this all sounds like a bad James Bond movie. But it is clear now that a foreign hostile power played a major role in a US election, one significant enough to have potentially influenced the outcome. All of our leaders in Washington should be asked to step up here and work together to come to an understanding about what happened, and take concrete, publicly understood steps to ensure it never happens again. This is particularly true, as I wrote in a recent US News column, because the intervention here is part of a wide ranging Russian campaign to weaken the West and a global politics that resists authoritarianism.

It is possible the Russian intervention in our election this year was one of the most significant events in modern American history. While there are many things our leaders can and should be focusing on in the coming year, getting to a better understanding of what happened here has to be at the top of the list. It won’t be easy, and hard conversations will have to be had. The new governing party’s resistance is likely to be fierce. On this one, however, we need to be Americans and patriots first, partisans second. Our leaders need to lead and help America, and the world, understand what happened and to offer clear concrete steps to ensure it never happens again.

Related Materials

The West Is On the Ballot, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 11/4/16. In the column, Simon argues that Trump isn't running just against Clinton, he's also running against what America has become and the world it has built.

Calling All Patriots, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/13/16. While in a reflective mood about the future, their nominee and party, Simon suggests two other activities Republicans should swiftly denounce and distance themselves from.

Trump's Worrisome Embrace of Putin, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/12/16. In this column Simon does a deep dive on Trumpland’s embrace of Russia’s Putin, and why their admiration for his “strength” is a betrayal of our values.

Arizona Outperforms North Carolina for Democrats

Assuming the current tally holds, AZ now stands at 49.03 Trump 45.46 Clinton, a margin of 3.6%, closer than NC’s 3.8%.  This is important given NC may have seen the greatest investment per vote of any battleground state by Clinton/DNC, and AZ perhaps the least.   Remarkably, AZ outperformed IA, NC and OH for Democrats this year, and has become a place of true opportunity for Ds in the years ahead. 

2016 left us with a new national electorate college map, among other things moving AZ into the core of the battleground and Texas onto its edges (TX outperformed IA for Clinton, and almost matched OH).

It is important to note that the three states where Democrats gained the most ground in 2016 were Texas, California and Arizona, states with large numbers of Hispanics and Millennial voters.  In fact Texas now has a higher share of Millennials and Hispanics than California - today's Texas is a very different state than it was a generation ago.  Clinton won under 45s in Texas by 6 points, 49% to 43%. 

And as we’ve written, many of the key battlegrounds Democrats lost in 2016 (FL, MI, OH, PA, WI) were among the lowest in the nation in Millennial share of the vote.   Many of the states that held for Democrats, or gained – AZ, CA, CO, NV, TX, VA – are in the upper end of Millennial share.   In fact Texas now has a higher share of Millennials and Hispanics than California – a reason it moved so aggressively towards the Dems with little investment.   See our recent report on Millennials for more on this.   Millennials jumped from 19% of the electorate in 2012 to 29% in 2016 according to an election night survey by Democracy Corps.   And their arrival in the electorate will increasingly matter for both parties in the years ahead.

For more on how young voters performed in 2016, see this new study from Tufts/Tisch College's CIRCLE.  It is a must read on the 2016 outcomes.   

Memo: A New Generation of Democrats Will Have To Rise – Our 2016 Post Election Memo

As background, NDN produced a post-election memo in 2014, “A Wake Up Call For Democrats” which covers some of the ground in the memo below. This memo was written quickly, and we intend to update it in the coming days.

Clinton wins more votes, Dems gain in Senate and House – Yes, a bit spinny given the outcome, but true. What is remarkable is that Democrats have now won more votes in 6 of past 7 Presidential elections, one of the best runs for a political party in US history. In the exits last night Democrats had meaningful advantages in Party ID and favorability, and Barack Obama had a 53/45 approval rating. A plurality of voters even said they were better off than they were four years ago. What remains exceptional about America today is that we are the only country in the world where if you win more votes you don’t necessarily gain control over the government and legislature. The GOP, a party that has won more votes in a national election only once since 1988 remarkably has more power today in Washington than any time since 1928.

The exits confirm that last night was not a repudiation of the Democratic Party’s agenda, or a significant affirmation of the direction Trump wants to take the country:

-48% said Obamacare was just right or didn’t go far enough, 47% said too far
-70% said illegal immigrants should stay, 25% said deport
-41% approve of building the wall, 54% say no
-48% said criminal justice system treats blacks unfairly, 43% fairly
-31% say they are better off today, 27% worse off, 49% same
-37% say next generation will be better off, 34% said worse

Even on the issue of global trade, 42% said trade takes away jobs, 38% said creates jobs.

So what this means in practical terms is that it is hard for Trump and the Republicans to claim a clear mandate. They have only won one more votes in a national election once since 1988, and will have to work hard in the coming months to build majority support for their agenda.

Dems Need A Big Discussion About Turnout, Our Coalition – Democrats need to have a robust debate about why we’ve had such a hard time replicating Obama’s success with the majority coalition he built in 2010, 2014 and again in 2016. No doubt that the Trump campaign impressively outperformed expectations in most national polls. But an early and quick read on the data suggests that once again the Democrats did not meet their targets with their own voters – and in this race resources were not an issue. More on this issue in future memos.

Younger Americans Are Much More Democratic – Using the exits, voters under 45 went for Clinton 52% to 40%, and those 45 and over went for Trump 53% to 44%. 56% of the electorate was 45 and over, 44% under 45. Maximizing the under 45 vote – people who came of age after Reagan’s Presidency – remains one of the highest demographic priorities for Democrats. Not sure what it means yet, but the 4 states that cost Clinton the election last night – FL, MI, PA, WI – have very low %s of Millennials compared to other states.

A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Lead Now – The Obama Presidency and the 24 years of leadership provided by Bill and Hillary Clinton will now yield to a new era for the Democratic Party. Surveying the landscape – Schumer, Kaine, Booker, Sanders, Warren, Becerra, Michael Bennett, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, the Castros, Tulsi Gabbard, etc – Democrats have a very promising set of leaders capable of carrying the Party forward.

Democrats will also have to become far more purposeful about preparing for the generational handoff from Boomer generation politicians to younger ones. The Democratic Party is a young, diverse and growing party. Its future success will depend on advancing leaders who can connect with and excite these voters.
Big questions now about what the Obamas do, and the role they play in what comes next.

Thanks Comey! – According to the exits, of the 26% of people who made up their minds in the last month, Trump won them 49%-39% (yes during the period of the debates, the Access Hollywood video). Of the 73% who made up their minds before the last month, Clinton won 51%-46%. Very hard to not conclude from this data that the Comey intervention in the election was consequential.

Not sure all of us have yet processed the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government and the FBI in this election. With Rs in charge of Congress and the White House, will be hard to have this conversation next year but it is a conversation that needs having.

Political Reform – Given the obvious concerns about a “rigged” system that no longer works for everyday people, why Hillary Clinton never developed a serious conversation around reforming our politics remains one of the great mysteries of the 2016 election.

Folks Should Be Careful About Calling This A Change Election – While there is clear evidence “change” was something people sought, the country is neither as angry or disquieted as some have been suggesting. Let’s go through some data here. Incomes have been going up for four years. 2015 saw the largest income gains for American workers in the recorded economic history of the United States. The unemployment rate is under 5%. Violent crime, the killings of Americans by terrorists and the killing of police are all at rates far lower than during the Bush Administration. The uninsured rate is at historic lows. Heath inflation, the biggest driver of the deficit, has been lower this decade than in a generation. Energy prices are low, America has become a net energy exporter, and the growth of renewables is exploding. The net flow of unauthorized immigrants into the US has gone from 400,000 a year under Bush to zero today, while trade with Mexico has more than doubled.

And public opinion confirms this. In a recent Gallup poll 62% of Americans said things are getting better. 53% of Americans report that things are good in a recent CNN poll. President Obama’s approval rating is in the mid to high 50s, the highest mark of his second term and higher than President Reagan at the end of his Presidency. A recent Bloomberg poll found only 28% of Americans since Obama’s election they are worse off, with 21% saying things are the same and 49% better. While the exits last night found fewer people saying better off, the number saying worse off was about the same – 27%.

The exits also asked a direct question – which candidate quality mattered most? 39% said “can bring change,” and they went 83% to 14% for Trump. This is a plurality, not a majority.

This is not to say that we don’t have challenges, or that that there isn’t disquiet in the American electorate. But it is not a majority sentiment of the public at large, and was not even close to being a majority sentiment of those who voted last night. But it is a majority sentiment of Republican voters as this party break out of recent CNN data suggests:

Source: CNN/ORC poll data from September 1-4, 2016. According to this CNN/ORC poll, 53 percent of Americans believe economic conditions in the US are good. The question asked in the survey was: “How would you rate the economic conditions in the country today -- as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor, or very poor?” See our recent report, “America Is Better Off And Safer Today” for citations for the data in this section.

A New Generation Of Democrats Will Have To Rise

As background, NDN produced a post-election memo in 2014, “A Wake Up Call For Democrats” which covers some of the ground in the memo below. The original version of this memo was published on the Wednesday after the election, and has been updated.  You can also find our thoughts in a series of post-election articles in Time, TNR, the Washington Post and others sources, and in this new US News op-ed, "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star."

Clinton wins more votes, Dems gain in Senate and House – Yes, a bit spinny given the outcome, but true. Trump has won the Presidency, getting fewer votes than Clinton and winning his big 4 states - FL, MI, PA, WI - by less than 1.5%.  What is remarkable is that Democrats have now won more votes in 6 of past 7 Presidential elections, one of the best runs for a political party in US history and yet have very little to show for it.  In the exits last night Democrats had meaningful advantages in Party ID and favorability, and Barack Obama had a 53/45 approval rating. A plurality of voters even said they were better off than they were four years ago.

The GOP, a party that has won more votes in a national election only once since 1988, amazingly has more power today in Washington than any time since 1928.  That our system could produce this outcome is one of the things that makes America exceptional.

The exits confirm that last night was not a repudiation of the Democratic Party’s agenda, or a significant affirmation of the direction Trump wants to take the country:

-48% said Obamacare was just right or didn’t go far enough, 47% said too far
-70% said illegal immigrants should stay, 25% said deport
-41% approve of building the wall, 54% say no
-48% said criminal justice system treats blacks unfairly, 43% fairly
-31% say they are better off today, 27% worse off, 49% same

Even on the issue of global trade, 42% said trade takes away jobs, 38% said creates jobs.

So what this means in practical terms is that it is hard for Trump and the Republicans to claim a clear mandate. They have only won one more votes in a national election once since 1988, and will have to work hard in the coming months to build majority support for their agenda.

Dems Need A Big Discussion About Turnout, Our Coalition – Democrats need to have a robust debate about why we’ve had such a hard time replicating Obama’s success with the majority coalition he built in 2010, 2014 and again in 2016. No doubt that the Trump campaign impressively outperformed expectations in most national polls. But an early and quick read on the data suggests that once again the Democrats did not meet their targets with their own voters – and in this race resources were not an issue. More on this issue in future memos.

Younger Americans Are Much More Democratic – Using the national exit polls, voters under 45 went for Clinton 53% to 39%, and those 45 and over went for Trump 52% to 44%. 56% of the electorate was 45 and over, 44% under 45. Maximizing the under 45 vote – people who came of age after Reagan’s Presidency – remains one of the highest demographic priorities for Democrats. Not sure what it means yet, but the 4 states that cost Clinton the election last night – FL, MI, PA, WI – have very low %s of Millennials compared to other states.

For more on Millennials and the youth vote, see our new report on Millennials, this excellent post-election report from Tufts/Tisch/CIRCLE, and Democracy Corp's election night survey showing the Millennial share of the electorate grew from 19% in 2012 to a remarkable 29% in 2016. 

Huge Mistakes By Clinton Campaign - It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Clinton campaign both badly misread the election in the final months, and made terrible decisions about the allocation of its campaign resources and candidate time.  This new article by Sam Stein in the Huffington Post captures the failures in Michigan and Wisconsin.  But it goes deeper than just those two states. Discussions have to be had about huge overinvestments in IA, NC and OH, and whether AZ should have been a prime target general election target from June on.  As of 11/20, Clinton's margin in AZ is only 3.6%, better than the Democratic performance in IA, NC and OH (see our new memo on AZ, and the strong showing for Dems in CA and TX too).  Politico just published a new report on how the Clinton campaign blew Michigan - and it is tough reading.  And then there is the question of Trump's far more aggressive general election campaign schedule, something that no doubt made a difference in a very close race. 

Given the financial advantages and unified party behind the campaign, the team running Clintonworld will have to explain to the rest of us about what appears to be fatal misjudgements in the general election. 

Thanks Comey! – According to the exits, of the 26% of people who made up their minds in the last month, Trump won them 49%-39% (yes during the period of the debates, the Access Hollywood video). Of the 73% who made up their minds before the last month, Clinton won 51%-46%. Very hard to not conclude from this data that the Comey intervention in the election was consequential.

Not sure all of us have yet processed the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government and the FBI in this election. With Rs in charge of Congress and the White House, will be hard to have this conversation next year but it is a conversation that needs having. 

Political Reform – Given the obvious concerns about a “rigged” system that no longer works for everyday people, why Hillary Clinton never developed a serious conversation around reforming our politics remains one of the great mysteries of the 2016 election. See my piece from December, 2012 about why political reform had to become central to the politics of the center-left in the years ahead. 

A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Lead Now – The Obama Presidency and the 24 years of leadership provided by Bill and Hillary Clinton will now yield to a new era for the Democratic Party. Surveying the landscape – Schumer, Kaine, Booker, Sanders, Warren, Becerra, Michael Bennett, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Joe Kennedy, the Castros, Tulsi Gabbard, etc – Democrats have a very promising set of leaders capable of carrying the Party forward.

Democrats will also have to become far more purposeful about preparing for the generational handoff from Boomer generation politicians to younger ones. The Democratic Party is a young, diverse and growing party. Its future success will depend on advancing leaders who can connect with and excite these voters. 

Big questions now about what the Obamas do, and the role they play in what comes next.

Folks Should Be Careful About Calling This A Change Election – While there is clear evidence “change” was something people sought, the country is neither as angry or disquieted as some have been suggesting. Let’s go through some data here. Incomes have been going up for four years. 2015 saw the largest income gains for American workers in the recorded economic history of the United States. The unemployment rate is under 5%. Violent crime, the killings of Americans by terrorists and the killing of police are all at rates far lower than during the Bush Administration. The uninsured rate is at historic lows. Heath inflation, the biggest driver of the deficit, has been lower this decade than in a generation. Energy prices are low, America has become a net energy exporter, and the growth of renewables is exploding. The net flow of unauthorized immigrants into the US has gone from 400,000 a year under Bush to zero today, while trade with Mexico has more than doubled.

And public opinion confirms this. In a recent Gallup poll 62% of Americans said things are getting better. 53% of Americans report that things are good in a recent CNN poll. President Obama’s approval rating is in the mid to high 50s, the highest mark of his second term and higher than President Reagan at the end of his Presidency. A recent Bloomberg poll found only 28% of Americans saying that since Obama’s election they are worse off, with 21% saying things are the same and 49% better. While the exits last night found fewer people saying better off, the number saying worse off was about the same – 27%.  And in the exits, 37% said the next generation will be better off, 34% said worse.  This simply isn't rebellion level numbers folks. 

The exits also asked a direct question – which candidate quality mattered most? 39% said “can bring change,” and they went 83% to 14% for Trump. This is a plurality, not a majority. 

This is not to say that we don’t have challenges, or that that there isn’t disquiet in the American electorate. But it is not a majority sentiment of the public at large, and was not even close to being a majority sentiment of those who voted last night. But it is a majority sentiment of Republican voters as this party break out of recent CNN data suggests:

Source: CNN/ORC poll data from September 1-4, 2016. According to this CNN/ORC poll, 53 percent of Americans believe economic conditions in the US are good. The question asked in the survey was: “How would you rate the economic conditions in the country today -- as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor, or very poor?” See our recent report, “America Is Better Off And Safer Today” for citations for the data in this section.

Memo: Historical Background on the Hispanic Vote

Friends,

As someone who helped make bilingual polling of Hispanics and Spanish language media standard practices in modern campaigns over a decade ago, I offer up some nuggets for those commenting on what is shaping up to be an important story tonight. 

The Big Swing of Hispanics Towards Democrats Happened in 2006 – Using a more enlightened strategy towards Hispanics, George W. Bush improved the GOP share of the Hispanic vote from Dole’s 21% in 1996 to 35% in 2000 and 40% in 2004. These significant gains began to unravel for the GOP in 2005, when restrictionist forces in the House led by GOP Rep. Sensenbrenner rebuked President Bush and passed a bill to forcibly deport the 11m undocumented immigrants in the US. Rallies and demonstrations followed; the Senate passed a bi-partisan immigration reform bill with President Bush’s help; and the House Republicans who had already passed their deportation bill, refused to bring the Senate Bill up for a vote. In a battle for the soul of the GOP, the restrictionists prevailed over moderates like Bush and McCain – a battle they continue to win today.

In the 2006 elections, alarmed by the success of House Republicans in blocking reform and passing a full on deportation bill, the Hispanic vote fled the GOP, going 70/30 for the Democrats. Bush’s gains evaporated. This 70/30 split is where it has stayed in the last two Presidentials, with Obama getting 67% in 2008 and then 71% in 2012. And with it, 4 states Bush won in 2004 – CO, FL, NM and NV – moved into the Democratic camp in both of Obama’s victories.

It is important to note that the basic structural underpinnings of the current national Hispanic vote was not formed by an embrace of Democrats, but by a rejection of a Republican Party seen as hostile to Hispanic interests. One of the big questions about tonight will be whether Trump’s virulent anti-Hispanic rhetoric will create another new structural reality for this vote, perhaps inching it up to 75/25 from 70/30, in this election and beyond. If this does happen, the impact on American politics could be profound.

The Hispanic Vote Has Already Played A Role in Determining the President, Control of the Senate – While the import of the Hispanic vote tonight will be one of 2016’s biggest stories, that it matters in national elections is not a new development. George W. Bush’s strong showing with Hispanic voters (21% for Dole in ’96, 35% for Bush in 2000, 40% in 2004) was instrumental in his narrow Electoral College victories in 2000 (particularly in Florida) and 2004. Of his 271 EC votes in 2000, 45 came from winning AZ, CO, FL and NV (Clinton won AZ in 1996). Of his 286 EC votes in 2004, he received 56 EC votes from winning AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV. In the latest Survey Monkey national poll Clinton leads in all five of these states.

In 2016, after two re-apportionments gave these growing states more EC votes, these 5 states make up 60 EC votes, which could very well be the margin of victory for Clinton tonight. Winning these states was essential to Bush’s wins in 2000/4, and could be equally important to Clinton tonight.

In 2010, when the Democrats retained the Senate by tow seats in a tough mid-term, Senator Harry Reid credited strong Hispanic performances in CO and NV for their success.

Hispanics Have Made Significant Economic Gains in Recent Years – The apparent success Democrats are having with Hispanic voters this year has been aided by the very significant economic gains made by Hispanics in recent years. As this new paper from the White House explains, Hispanics have benefitted more from the recent economic recovery perhaps more than any other demographic group, seeing higher incomes gains and bigger drops in the uninsured unemployment rate than most other demographic groups. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of DREAMers have received work permits, and the early data shows significant socio-economic gains for them too. On many measures Hispanics are more content and more optimistic than the country as a whole. While the rhetoric of recent years has been awful, the lives of Hispanics are dramatically improved – giving them something to vote for this year (and not just against Trump).

Watch Texas – As I wrote in this recent US News column, Texas is the last state with a major Hispanic population to not yet begin to be loosed from the grip of the GOP. Polling suggests it could be tight tonight; the prospect of Texas becoming a competitive state could become one of the biggest stories of 2016.

The Hispanic Story Is Also A Millennial Story – The Pew Hispanic Center estimates half of all Hispanic/Hispanic voters are Millennial. It is hard to talk about the Hispanic vote without also talking about the growing impact of Millennials on US politics. For more on this, see our recent memo on Millennials and 2016.
 

My 2016 Predictions

Each year The Hill newspaper invites some of us to make our predictions.  Here is what I just sent to them this morning: 

Presidential - Clinton wins 50-45, 334-204 in the Electoral College.  Our next President wins all the battleground states except GA, IA and OH. 

Senate - Democrats win the Senate, 50-50. 

House - Democrats pick up 15 seats in the House.

Short Analysis - W/2016 win, Dems will have won more votes in 6 of past 7 Presidential elections, among strongest showings by US political party in history.  Strength, success, achievement of modern Democratic Party underappreciated.  Problems with emerging electorate, esp. Hispanics and Millennials, so significant now they represent possible existential threat to GOP.  Watch Texas Tuesday night – higher % of Millennials & Hispanics than CA.  With Clinton’s convincing win and gridlock fatigue, will be hard for GOP to repeated Obama era level of obstruction.   Big conversation needed about Russian intervention in election, ways to prevent in future. 

Am honored to be the only two time winner of the Hill contest.  With HRC's strong showing, could be a threepeat!

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