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RandySF's Journal
RandySF's Journal
August 29, 2020

Don't waste your money trying to beat Mitch McConnell: Play "democracy moneyball" instead

One leader in combating that dysfunction is the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which is "a gerrymandering team the way that cancer researchers are against cancer," in the words of founder Sam Wang, a Princeton neuroscientist who also founded the Princeton Election Consortium. Wang was speaking at a recent town hall called "Redistricting Moneyball 2020."

As with the original "moneyball" concept, made famous by Michael Lewis' book, the idea is to use smart statistics to identify undervalued prospects as a way of leveraging the power of small donors.

"The original Moneyball concept can be easily translated to elections," PGP team-member Connor Moffatt explained. "Each baseball team has a limited budget just as each citizen has a fixed amount of time and resources they are willing to invest in politics. Baseball teams are trying to win games whereas in elections political parties are trying to gain governing power."
Next comes an intriguing parallel: "Baseball has superstars that are overvalued and politics has races that are high-profile and overvalued." The most obvious example is the Senate race in Kentucky between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Amy McGrath, which as Moffatt says, is attracting more financial resources "than the leverage would warrant."

What does he mean by that? Kentucky is a solid red state and most polls have McGrath well behind. Democrats are pouring money into the race because they dislike McConnell so intensely — but that's not a smart use of resources. "If McGrath wins," says Moffatt, "it's likely that the national save for Democrats is so large they'll have already flipped the Senate. So the best way for either party to influence whether Mitch McConnell is Senate Majority Leader in 2021 is to invest in seats closer to the majority-control tipping point."

Finally, and most importantly, is the question of "undervalued gems," which in baseball means players whose true value is not obvious. Those exist in politics too, Moffatt said. "There are Texas State House races that have the potential to influence multiple congressional districts over the next decade."


August 29, 2020

Navajo Nation voters file lawsuit to force Arizona to count mail-in ballots that arrive after Electi

Several Navajo Nation citizens with concerns about the U. S. Postal Service are asking a court to ensure their ballots will still be counted in Arizona even if delivered late.

The group filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday challenging the state’s current law, which says election officials cannot count mail-in ballots received after election night.

The lawsuit contends that mail service is so much slower and less accessible for many Arizonans living on reservations that the existing deadline will disenfranchise some voters even as they put their ballots in the mail well in advance of the state's deadline.

The group wants a federal judge to require Arizona election officials to count ballots delivered up to 10 days after Election Day as long as the ballots come from tribal members living on reservations and are postmarked on or before the day of the election.


August 29, 2020

Republicans are trying to survive an anti-Trump wave in the Philly suburbs

Whether that’s enough for them to hold on to power will help show whether suburban voters simply want to get rid of Trump — or a wholesale repudiation of anyone associated with the party he leads. After winning the national suburban vote by 5 points in 2016, Trump now trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden among those voters by 8 points, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week. Trump’s warning that Biden will “destroy” the suburbs and insistence that “the suburban housewife” will ultimately back him have so far fallen flat outside Philadelphia.

“In the suburbs, the president frankly isn’t popular,” Killion said in an interview as he and a group of supporters handed out fliers highlighting his work to fight the coronavirus pandemic, lower the cost of prescription drugs, support public schools, and push a 2018 law to “keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”

“That has hurt Republican candidates down ballot,” Killion said of Trump, whose nominating convention kicks off Monday. “But we also here, in this district, have a history of ticket-splitting. It happened with [Democratic former Gov. Ed] Rendell. It happened with Trump last time. I don’t expect anything different in November.”

Chris Borick, a pollster at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, said voters may not have “deep-seated anger” with down-ballot suburban Republicans. “But they’ve got an ‘R’ next to them right now,” he said, “and if you’re angry at the top, you might be spreading that anger around a little more than you have in the past.”


August 29, 2020

Maricopa County won't pursue charges over explicit photos of Arizona lawmaker (R) sent to lobbyist

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will not file charges after investigating allegations that the husband of a state legislator sent explicit photos of the lawmaker to a lobbyist, who believed the couple was trying to solicit her for sex.

Records released to The Arizona Republic show state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and her now husband, former gubernatorial aide Brian Townsend, refused to speak with investigators about the photos.

The records also show the lobbyist told investigators with the county attorney the images she received were unsolicited and unwanted and that she believed the two were taking advantage of their positions of power.

While many of the details of this episode did not become public until earlier this year, a 2018 report on sexual harassment at the Legislature vaguely addressed the lobbyist's allegations. The report said Ugenti-Rita maintained she did not know her husband had shared the photos and state Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, had asked the county attorney's office to investigate.


August 29, 2020

Will This Be the Year Arizona Turns Blue?

During a virtual conference hosted by Arizona Ready, earlier this summer, the focus was on the effort to defeat Republicans at the state and national levels. The fact that Mr. Biden and the Senate candidate Mark Kelly part company with progressive organizations on important issues won’t prevent progressives from supporting them. There are just too many “overlapping crises” that will “activate people on the left,” according to Emily Kirkland, the executive director of Progress Arizona.

Without a doubt, Republicans will be mobilized, too. Polls have found that Mr. Trump’s supporters in Arizona are more enthusiastic. Mr. Biden’s support among Latinos, especially Latino youth, has decreased over the past few months. The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a precipitous decline in voter registration in Arizona, and Republican leaders are fighting to make absentee voting more difficult. In a larger sense, it won’t be easy to flip a state that has been reliably conservative for so long.

If Arizona does flip, Democrats would break the hold that Republicans have had on the state since the mid-20th century. A Democratic victory in Arizona may not signal the rise of progressivism that many on the left hope for — and which these times of manifest injustice and inequality seem to demand — but wins there would signal the beginning of an end to the ugliness of the past decade and more. It would be a dramatic reversal of fortunes for a party and a president who’ve long viewed Arizona as a stronghold. In 2016, Arizona’s Republican leaders made Trump the embodiment of all they’d worked for, and it may spell their demise.


August 29, 2020

With Texas House At Stake, Democrats Lag In Fundraising

Democrats may have their best chance in a generation of winning a majority in the Texas House of Representatives this fall.

But even as they push to flip the Texas House, they remain behind Republicans in terms of fundraising.

A new analysis by the Democratic organization Forward Majority shows that Republican candidates for the Texas House are outraising their Democratic opponents by a margin of roughly 3-2.

"We're on the cusp of a Democratic majority in the Texas State House," said Ben Wexler-Waite, the group's chief spokesman. "The only problem is that lobbyists, corporate donors, and Republican special interests really don't want that to happen. So, they've been plowing millions of dollars into Republican state legislators' campaigns."

Much of the fight is playing out in the Houston and Dallas areas, he said.

"In some districts in Houston, the Republicans are significantly outraising us,” Wexler-Waite said. “In some, we are doing a really great job at fighting back."

For the latter, Wexler-Waite points to the 134th District, where Democrat Ann Johnson is currently outraising incumbent Republican Representative Sarah Davis.


August 29, 2020

Donald Trump campaign knocks on 1 millionth Florida door

The campaign to reelect President Donald Trump has not forgone the age-old strategy of front-porch politicking in the time of coronavirus.

The campaign announced Thursday it has knocked on its 1 millionth door in Florida as campaign staff and volunteers have resumed canvassing neighborhoods, insisting they are taking safety precautions in the coronavirus crisis that has shut down much face-to-face contact throughout Florida this spring and summer.

“In June, our field teams transitioned back to in-person campaign activities, safely contacting voters at their door and holding in-person events throughout the state,” said Trump Victory spokesperson Emma Vaughn. “Our volunteers and staff follow all state and local guidelines to protect voters and themselves.”

The canvassing continued even as Florida experienced a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 in late June, July, and early August. Since late June Florida has recorded 87% of its 611,991 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 73% of the 11,001 deaths that have been attributed to the disease.


August 29, 2020

Florida Jewish leaders stump for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

everal Jewish leaders from Florida urged voters to back the Joe Biden–Kamala Harris presidential ticket during a Friday afternoon Zoom conference.

Friday’s event was the first in a “Believers for Biden” series which aims to highlight support from Jewish supporters, Muslim constituents and others. Joining the call were U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, state Sen. Lori Berman and state Rep. Joe Geller.

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, also joined the call for a one-on-one talk with Deutch. Emhoff is also Jewish.

“I can’t tell you how much I personally love Florida, which was like my home away from home growing up,” Emhoff said to kick off his portion of the talks.

He described his grandmother moving to South Florida, which has prompted numerous trips to the region over the years.


August 29, 2020

DCCC Adds $960K Into Philly Market Ad Buy

In late-May, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it was reserving $2.3 million in television ads for three different markets within Pennsylvania for the upcoming election. On Wednesday, the DCCC announced that they are upping their investment in six markets across the nation, including Philadelphia.

First reported by Politico, the DCCC announced that they are reserving an additional $3.8 million in six television markets across the nation, with the largest in this specific rollout being $960,000 on Philadelphia broadcast TV. Although the DCCC didn’t announce which specific races that they are targeting with this ad buy, Politico mentioned Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) as the two most likely races that they will weigh in for the Philadelphia market, in addition to two races in New Jersey.

A spokesperson from the DCCC confirmed the additional $960,000 for the Philadelphia market, combined with the $910,000 announced months ago, now makes the nearly $2 million the largest ad buy for any specific market in the Keystone State. In late-May, the DCCC also announced $1 million being reserved for the Harrisburg market and $400,000 for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market.

A report from The Hill mentions the DCCC boosting Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ad buy and attacking Rep. Scott Perry (R-York) for the Harrisburg ad buy.

Democrats will not be alone in the Philadelphia airwaves this fall.


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About RandySF

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.
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