Monday Wake Up Call – The Republican’s Electoral Vote Ploy

The Daily Escape:

Mammoth Terraces, Yellowstone NP – photo by Jack Bell Photography

This picture is a perfect metaphor for America at the start of 2021. What we see is beautiful, but it sits on top of a mega-volcano that could erupt at any time. This could describe what our nation sees in January.

Little in America works anymore. Friend of the blog Pat M. said that when she asked the food bank in her small coastal town on the New Jersey shore what they needed most, they said “diapers”. Her town is an upscale place that much like down-scale places across America, has citizens in desperate need.

Imagine being a mom in middle class America who can’t afford to diaper her baby….

Our politics (and our politicians) have failed our people. There’s plenty of proof of that: The hard-hearted inability of Congress to pass relief legislation until it may have been too late for some. And the so-far disastrous federal rollout of the coronavirus vaccine proves that the Trump administration is incompetent at their jobs.

Democracy now starts its first week of 2021 living dangerously. We knew that a few Republicans would object to the counting of the Electoral Votes of certain states. That the certification of Electoral Votes would be delayed to handle objections by politically motivated back-benchers in both Houses of Congress. This game plays out on Wednesday. We’ll watch Republicans attempt to throw out enough of the votes of Americans in a few states, to keep Trump in power.

That effort will fail, but we should see it for what it is. There’s a through line from impeaching Bill Clinton, to refusing Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, to Republicans in Congress refusing to confirm the election of Joe Biden. From Paul Campos:

“The logical and perhaps inevitable extension of the principle ‘we won’t confirm any Democratic Supreme Court nominee if we have the votes to block it’ is ‘we won’t confirm any Democratic winner of a presidential election if we have the votes to block it.’”

Republicans don’t have the votes to block Biden right now, but it’s one of their goals for the  future. Back to Campos:

“…Don’t fall for the claim that Mitch McConnell in particular was powerless here: The Senate majority leader has enormous formal and informal power to sanction deviationist members, by for example stripping committee assignments, blocking pet legislation, calling big soft money donors etc…”

From the NYT:

“Vice President Mike Pence signaled support on Saturday for a futile Republican bid to overturn the election in Congress next week, after 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory when the House and Senate meet to formally certify it.”

The NYT normally pulls its punches, but this article speaks of “unambiguous results,” that every state has “certified the election results after verifying their accuracy,” and that Republicans have attempted to question those results by “offering vague suggestions that some wrongdoing might have occurred” and amplified them via “specious claims of widespread election rigging that have been debunked and dismissed.

That the Times says straight out that the GOP wants to overturn the election doesn’t matter at all to today’s Republican Party.

Our social and political systems depend on the maintenance of informal norms as much as they depend on adherence to formal rules. Our most basic norm is the assumption that sociopaths are and will remain, unable to control our systems. We count on society’s guardrails to keep us from flying off the track. Here’s something to think about:

  • All of Congress were elected in November, including those Republicans who are objecting to the election results.
  • Among the Senators signing onto the effort are: Steve Daines (R-MT), and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), all elected in November.

All are objectors to Biden’s election, but none of them are objecting to their own wins on the same day, on the same ballots, using the same election systems.

Let’s give the last word to Heather Cox Richardson:

“Democracy depends on a willingness to transfer power peacefully from one group of leaders to another. By revealing that they refuse to do so, the members of the “Sedition Caucus,” as they are being called on social media, are proving they are unworthy of elected office.”

Wake up America! The next time you see a Republican lose it when an athlete takes a knee during our National Anthem, remind them that they sat back and watched Trump and his supporters attempt to dismantle our democracy.


Monday Wake Up Call – December 7, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Crater Lake, OR – November 2020 photo via imagur. This is the fifth time we’ve featured Crater Lake.

What’s it gonna take for America to wake up to the Republican’s ongoing attempted coup? From the WaPo:

“Just 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Joe Biden’s win over President Trump a month after the former vice president’s clear victory of more than 7 million votes nationally and a convincing electoral-vote margin that exactly matched Trump’s 2016 tally.”

A team of 25 Post reporters contacted aides for every Republican by email and phone asking three questions: 1) Who won the presidential contest? 2) Do you support or oppose Trump’s continuing efforts to claim victory? 3) If Biden wins a majority in the Electoral College, will you accept him as the legitimately elected president? Most refused to answer. Here are the WaPo’s findings in a chart:

When 215 of the 249 Republicans in Congress (86%) refuse to answer whether Biden would be the legitimately elected president, we’re looking at an attempted coup. These people aren’t waiting to get all the facts, or let the process play out. We shouldn’t be calling it anything else.

Just three state elections were really close — that is, decided by less than a one percent margin: Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Biden won all of them. The only semi-close state that Trump won was North Carolina, by a 1.3% margin. But had the three really close states gone for Trump, we would be looking at an Electoral College (EC) tie, 269-269. Then the House would re-elect Trump, thanks to the Constitutional process for breaking Electoral College ties, which gives each state one vote in the House to determine the next president.

Republicans control a majority of the seats in 26 House delegations, Democrats control 22, with two split evenly. That would mean a Trump re-election. It’s important to again emphasize that the EC would then have overturned the clear will of the people, showing how terribly flawed the EC truly is.

Since Republicans are still unwilling to say Biden won, even though all three of those states have certified him as the winner, imagine what we would be going through today if a single state hung in the balance?

And if the election had come down to a margin of a few thousand votes in Pennsylvania, you better believe the Supreme Court would have happily voted to toss out enough votes to provide a Republican victory. We shouldn’t feel sanguine about Biden’s clear victory.

We saw this in Wisconsin. Their Supreme Court just had a couple of 4-3 decisions on ridiculous cases brought by Trump, cases that argued for decisions that would be contrary to their constitution. Three of the four Republican judges voted with Trump anyway. Fortunately, one Republican judge actually cared a little about the law. That’s just too close.

And Politico is reporting that Rep. Mo Brooks, (R-AL) plans to challenge the Electoral College votes when Congress moves to certify Joe Biden’s victory on January 6. He’s looking for a Senator to join his challenge, though he noted that doing so would largely be a symbolic, and not practical, undertaking.

Time to wake up America! Our democracy is hanging by a thread. Despite Biden receiving more votes than any other president, despite getting the largest vote percentage against an opponent since 1932 (when Roosevelt defeated Hoover), Trump is still trying to overturn the election. And most Republicans are silent or looking the other way, hoping Trump succeeds.

To help you wake up, listen to Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite perform “What the Hell” which they released in August. You get Charlie’s harmonica and Elvin’s guitar. It’s a protest song for our times:

Here are their great lyrics:

Look at the shape, the shape the Nation’s in
This situation is a shame and a sin
I want to know, how could a good thing go so wrong?
Tell me, what the hell is going on?

Sometimes I don’t know whether to cry or laugh
Half the people in this country can’t stand the other half
I want to know, why can’t we halfway get along?
People, people, what the hell is going on?

He is the president but wants to be the king
Know what I like about the guy? Not a goddamn thing
I want to know, how can four years seem so long?
Lord have mercy, what the hell is going on?


The Weak Roadmap For Trump’s Coup

The Daily Escape:

View from interior of Tower Arch, Arches NP, UT – November 2020 photo by wisemufin

In a few years, maybe we’ll be calling this spot “Trump’s Anus”.

It’s two weeks since the presidential election, and no, Trump hasn’t conceded. It’s time to stop the attempted coup. Just like there’s “long Covid”, there’s “long Trump”. If we fail to force him, he will stay forever. Nothing about humoring him will work. We can’t simply wait out the lawsuits, he’ll just file another one. And the Trumpist politicians in the House and Senate will continue to say “what’s wrong with letting the process play out?”

They will play this gambit until one of the deadlines outlined below ends it. For the first three, Trump has a plan in place to attempt to overturn the election. He has no defense for the fourth deadline, though. Whether any of his plans work is, at this point, unknown:

December 8th is the last day on which states can certify their results. While most of Trump’s many legal efforts are falling apart, there has been a consistent theme: try to throw out votes. One Trump surrogate, Sen Lindsay Graham (R-SC) tried to persuade Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Raffensperger to throw out all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of non-matching signatures.

Without outside interference, Georgia will certify its result on Nov. 20, after a hand recount; Pennsylvania and Michigan will certify their results on Nov. 23, Arizona will follow on Nov. 30, Wisconsin and Nevada a day later. That’s it for the six swing states where Biden leads by a total of 218,000+ votes.

December 14th is when the Electoral College votes. The question of whether Electors are bound to vote for their state’s chosen candidate was decided in June 2020 when the Supreme Court said that the laws saying that states could replace faithless electors are constitutionally valid.

Despite that ruling, several Republicans including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), have suggested that Republican-led legislatures should ignore the popular vote and certify their own slate of Electors for Trump. Such a move may also run afoul of the same Supreme Court precedent mentioned above. In any event, The Electoral Count Act gives priority to Electoral Votes cast under rules established in advance of the election, meaning that if a state legislature were to send a different slate of Electors to Congress to compete with those reflecting the popular vote, the national legislature should accept the latter.

January 6th: Congress meets in joint session to certify the Electoral College vote. The Vice President presides over this meeting. You can be sure that several GOP members in both the House and Senate will object to the certification, that’s surely already choreographed at this point. Importantly, each House is supposed to decide on their certification separately prior to the joint session. Here’s the relevant language (3 USC 15):

“But if the two Houses shall disagree in respect of the counting of such votes, then, and in that case, the votes of the electors whose appointment shall have been certified by the executive of the State, under the seal thereof, shall be counted.”

Over the next few weeks, we’re all going to learn whether Trump has any procedural path to remain in power.

January 20th: Inauguration Day. An attempt to continue occupying the White House after noon on Jan. 20 would constitute trespassing and might even constitute sedition to the extent it was intended in order to hold power illegally:

“If two or more persons … conspire to overthrow … the Government of the United States … or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

Republicans know they are really fighting to preserve the Tyranny of the Minority.

They have only won a national plurality ONCE since 1988. It’s pretty clear that they aren’t capable of being a majority Party as things stand today. Trump’s 2016 win ratified this truth.

They understand that the real GOP wall is the Electoral College, and they will use any mechanism available to defend their built-in Electoral College advantage. It’s the only way to minimize their popular vote disadvantage.

So, the GOP defends its Electoral College Wall at all cost, while the Dems try to defend their Blue Wall.

Assuming the center holds, what happens between January 6th and January 20th?

Nobody knows, but Wrongo is dubious that Trump will a) beat Biden, or b) voluntarily give up being the Most Powerful Man on the Planet one minute before he has to.


Saturday Soother – October 31, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Mohawk Trail, just off Route 2, near Williamstown, MA – October 2020 photo by Alahomora

Three days to go.

Happy Halloween, although at the Mansion of Wrong, All Hallows Eve is just another day. We’ve never had a human come to the door looking for treats. Let’s hope that tonight’s not the night.

The reality show that is 2020 really sucks. On Monday in NYC, a man fell about 15 feet into a pit of rats when a sidewalk sinkhole opened under him. He was injured and while he will recover, nobody will ever want his nightmares.

And early on Sunday morning, we turn the clocks back one hour when daylight saving time ends in most of the US. This year, more than 30 states considered legislation to make daylight saving time permanent, something that Wrongo endorses.

Roll Call has this about Trump’s closing argument:

“By arguing that the country is ‘rounding the corner’ on COVID-19 in the face of irrefutable data that the coronavirus is surging, Donald Trump risks appearing more and more out of touch with reality.”

But we know cases are way up. This is the NYT’s chart from Friday:

From the NYT:

“As of Friday morning, more than 9,024,100 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 228,700 have died…”

That’s roughly a 2.5% death rate since the virus came to our shores. It seems serious that cases are rising in most states, while deaths are rising in 24. The NYT reports that the top ten states with the highest death rates are: (in order) North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska, Idaho, Iowa and Utah.

Most of these states have significant populations that refuse to wear masks or practice physical distancing. Now, there clearly are people in America who won’t work for the common good, because their backs have never really been against the wall. We’ve become a soft, cartoonish version of what our parents and grandparents had to be in order to survive.

Americans play at being tough. Some of us strap on side arms or long guns to go to the supermarket. We complain when the internet is down because we can’t play Netflix or our favorite video game. We melt down on Facebook when someone objects to our little thoughts.

What this moment should have given all of us was a sense of common purpose that united us against an invisible enemy. Instead, it’s simply too hard for us to delay even a moment’s gratification in the face of the second wave of the pandemic.

Notice too that of those ten states, only one (Wisconsin) is a good bet to vote Blue next week. That’s not necessarily a problem, since the path to 270 for Biden looks like this:

If you look at voters in generational terms, Trump has turned into an electoral cul-de-sac. He’s simultaneously losing younger voters by a 2-to-1 margin, while also losing seniors by nearly 10 percent.

If you’re voting Blue this year regardless of your Party affiliation, you are indeed serving a common purpose, one that you will remember forever: When our democracy was on the brink of collapse, when our fellow Americans needed us, we came together to fire Donald Trump.

There are still a few days left to obsess about the election, but its Saturday, and we need our weekly break from the monster that sucks all of the happiness out of our lives. It’s time for our Saturday Soother.

We had snow on the fields of Wrong on Friday, and the weekend is bringing overnight temperatures in the 20’s, so few outdoor plants will survive that hard frost. We’ve still got a tree to plant that is supposed to arrive today, but Wrongo will wait for next week’s warmer weather to get it in the ground.

No coffee today, but a very relaxing video. The music is by Franz Schubert, his No. 4 Standchen from Schwanengesang, which means “swan song” in German. It’s from a collection of songs written by Schubert at the very end of his life. The Schwanengesangs were composed in 1828, and published in 1829, just a few months after the composer’s death. Franz Liszt later transcribed them for solo piano.

So a hopeful swan song for Trump, and a relaxing moment for all of us who listen today. Here the solo piano is played by Vadim Chaimovich.

The video combines Schubert with images of a Van Gogh painting. Pretty relaxing:


The Seat is Lost, The Election Isn’t

The Daily Escape:

Fall comes to Grand Portage, MN –September 2020 photo by Valjcoo

We now know that the Republicans have the votes to confirm another conservative Supreme Court justice before the election. Mitt Romney announced Tuesday that he supports moving forward with a Senate vote on Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This means that Democrats have no shot at stopping the confirmation process before November’s election.

More tyranny by the minority. This might as well also be Romney’s announcement that for better or for worse, he’s running for president in 2024.

Substantively, a 5-3 conservative vs. liberal breakdown on the Supreme Court was already going to result in the death of the ACA when the justices hear the case on November 10. So, a 6-3 division probably doesn’t mean that we’re going to be all that much worse off, legally.

The remaining question is whether the nominee will be the Cuban-American judge from Florida. Choosing her will probably secure the state for Trump in November, so why not just go ahead and make the entire Supreme Court a political fiasco?

In fact, getting the complete conservative takeover of the Supreme Court done before the election may keep more than a few Trumpists away from the polls on November 3d.

Choosing an ideologically pure judge is far more important to Republicans than it is to Dems, who rarely make it an article of faith in our elections. During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, the Dems will take the opportunity to demonstrate again how ineffectual they are.

They need to be careful not to engage in something suicidal just before what is truly the most important election in our lifetimes. As Wrongo has said, the loss of this seat was predetermined by Hillary’s loss in 2016.

Of course Democrats should drill deeply into whomever the Republicans nominate; that’s how the game is played.  Of course they should oppose the nominee in the Judiciary Committee, and then lose by a straight-party vote. Of course they should make principled speeches in the well of the Senate before they lose another straight party line vote that will confirm Trump’s nominee.

They should scream about it, say the gloves are off, and then go out and take the White House and the Senate.

Dems need to get back to the totally mismanaged COVID response. It’s the overriding issue of this election, even more significant than the death of Ginsburg. There will be at least 250,000 COVID deaths by the time of the election, and no Republican cares or will say anything about it.

Dems need to get back to asking if Trump has delivered a better life to us. He hasn’t. There were no big wage gains, and no 5% annual GDP growth. He’s only delivered huge unemployment, and unnecessary deaths. The rich have gotten enormously richer, and there is the hate, and all of the lies.

But the Electoral College still looms large. Wrongo’s former colleague is driving across America on the back roads, photographing what he sees. And what he sees is mostly empty spaces. As he moves from urban and suburban areas to exurban and rural areas, the Biden signs disappear, Trump signs dominate, and finally become exclusive. He documents front yards with temporary canopies set up to hand out Trump paraphernalia. Pickups looking ISIS-like with Trump and American flags flying from poles mounted in the truck beds. Here’s a photo of his taken in Virginia City, NV on 9/20:

September 2020 photo by OHeldring

The flags are for Trump, the Kansas City Chiefs, and “Don’t Tread on Me.” Add in the vintage Ford, and it’s an ordinary day in rural America!

An important indicator for November 3d will be voter participation in rural areas, which we should expect to be very high. This November, Wyoming will cast three Electoral College votes, one for every 190,000 residents, while California will cast 55 votes, or one for every 715,000 residents. One person, one vote has died. Here’s Steve Coll with some perspective about the Electoral College:

“The system is so buggy that, between 1800 and 2016….members of Congress introduced more than eight hundred constitutional amendments to fix its technical problems or to abolish it altogether.”

He reminds us that in 1969, the House passed a Constitutional Amendment to establish a national popular vote for the White House. At the time, Nixon called it “a thoroughly acceptable reform”. Alas, it was filibustered by Southern Senate segregationists.

These days, just two words sum up the state we’re in: “Stay Safe.”

It only took four years for Trump to wreck everything. Whenever the Trump years pass, our democracy, assuming that it endures, needs a major repair job.

That starts on November 3.


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – RIP RBG


After Trump won in 2016, Wrongo was certain that the great failure in Hillary Clinton’s loss would be that Trump could replace three Supremes in his first term. Later, Wrongo became convinced that RBG would make it until the 2020 election, if not until after the 2021 inauguration, limiting Trump to two new Justices.

Maybe we all needed to believe that she would hold on, but when Wrongo’s phone lit up in a BBQ joint on Friday night, he was sad, but not surprised.

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get worse, we’re about to become a part of an even uglier political fight than we thought we’d be having. If you’ve been working on “2020 Worst Case Scenarios,” it’s time to start over.

This new court vacancy obviously has long term consequences for many social issues, for voting rights and immigration. But think about the implications of a contested election and a potential 4-4 or 5-3 split if the decision on who becomes the next president is decided by the Supreme Court.

It’s doubtful that the nation as we knew it will survive.

When RBG’s death was announced on Friday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell vowed to hold a vote on a replacement for RBG. Trump tweeted on Saturday morning that Senate Republicans have an “obligation, without delay” to act on his nominee to the Supreme Court.

But the big question is whether McConnell can get the votes to confirm a Supreme Court Justice with only six weeks left before the presidential election.

There are two scenarios that could play out. McConnell might bring up a Trump nominee before the election, and try to get the needed 51 votes to confirm, but that looks like a long shot. He could also wait, and take the vote after the election in the lame duck session, regardless of who wins the presidency.

McConnell has a 53-47 majority in the Senate, so he can afford to lose three Republican votes, either before or after the election, since Vice President Pence could break a tie, casting the deciding vote.

The first scenario may prove difficult, since there’s just six weeks until the election, and one-third of the Senate wants to be at home campaigning.

In the lame duck session, assuming a Biden win, and a coming change in power in the Senate on January 1, it looks like Sens Collins (R-ME) and Murkowski, (R-AK) wouldn’t vote for a Ginsburg replacement. Sen Romney (R-UT) isn’t a sure supporter of a vote either. Sen Thom Tillis (R-NC) is in a tough fight, but has said he will vote for Trump’s nominee. Sen Martha McSally (R-AZ) has indicated that she will also vote to confirm. Sen Cory Gardner (R-CO) may be a swing vote for a Ginsburg replacement in the lame duck session.

Imagine a scenario where Trump loses the election, and the Senate, but tries to push through a conservative justice before January 1st. There would be public outrage, but there isn’t any legal barrier to the Republicans doing that.

However it unfolds, we mourn Ginsburg’s absence from the Supreme Court. She was one of the great lawyers of her generation, one whose judicial career largely was focused on being a witness to, and a dissenter from, a series of attacks on the Constitution.

We need to mourn the evisceration of our process of selecting Supreme Court justices. We also mourn the toxic politics that we’re going to wallow in for the next 44 days until the election and then, for the 78 days until the inauguration.

RIP Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


The Looming Census Problem

The Daily Escape:

Breckinridge, CO – July 2020 photo by doughboyme

(The Wrongologist is taking a summer vacation starting today. We will return on August 9th. Wrongo urges all readers to also take a break. Got to get ready for the silly season that starts soon.)

Time to talk 2020 census. The Census Bureau’s follow-up visits to non-responding households were originally scheduled to begin in early May, but they were delayed by a freeze on census field operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, the Trump administration asked Congress to extend the deadlines for the Census Bureau to turn in their head count data. The Census Bureau independently postponed finishing field operations for the census from the end of July to the end of October.

The House agreed to the extensions, but the Senate hasn’t. Senate Republicans on Monday instead proposed additional funding as part of their HEAL bill to help conclude the census on time, without extending the deadline.

The Census Bureau is required to turn over numbers for apportioning Congressional seats by Dec. 31, and the numbers to be used for redrawing state and local legislative districts by March 30. The requested deadline extensions would push back the apportionment deadline to April 30 for Congress, and to July 31 for state and local districts.

The politics of these decisions are clear. Trump no longer wants a deadline extension, and he doesn’t want undocumented residents counted at all.

The timing of Trump’s memorandum excluding the undocumented and his abandonment of the request to push back the reporting deadlines suggests that the White House wants to ensure that the numbers are undercounted. Also, that Trump  receives the apportionment numbers while he’s still in office so they can be fixed if necessary.

House Democrats are wary of what they see as Trump’s attempts to politicize the 2020 census, and want the Senate Republicans to approve the request for deadline extensions. That would mean there’s a chance the final months of the data-crunching would take place under a Biden administration, assuming Biden defeats Trump in November.

Staying on the usual deadline probably means that many people, documented or not, won’t be counted. Only about 63% of Americans have been counted so far. That means about 55 million households haven’t responded, and will require visits by census takers.

The Census Bureau is about to send its 500,000 door-knockers out to begin surveying households that haven’t yet answered the questionnaire, and Pew Research says it will be difficult to get them to open their doors:

“Among those who say they have not participated in the census, 40% say they would not be willing to talk to a census worker who came to the door…”

The 40% breaks down into 16% who say they’re unwilling to talk to the Census people at all, and 24% say they are not very willing to speak with them.

So, what does it all mean for apportioning Congressional seats?

The job is to use the census data to equitably assign the House’s 435 seats to the 50 states. The first 50 seats are automatically assigned, one per state. A series of formulas called the method of Equal Proportions is used to divide up the remaining 385 seats among the states on the basis of their populations. The method of Equal Proportions was first used to apportion House seats in 1940 and has been used ever since.

The apportionment population of a state is defined as all persons residing in the state as of April 1, plus all American military and civilian personnel of the federal government and their dependents from that state who were residing abroad.

At the last census in 2010, the states receiving the largest number of seats were California with 53; Texas with 36 seats, and then Florida and New York with 27 apiece. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming each received only one seat, the one they are granted automatically.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia did a preliminary estimate of how the House seats will be distributed once the 2020 census is in. It obviously is a projection, but the results are shown on this map:

Of the 10 states projected to lose one House seat each in 2020, only two are red states. Of the seven states projected to gain House seats in 2020, six are red states.

If the 2020 apportionment followed Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants, this would be the outcome:

Eight states will lose nine seats with California leading the way. Seven of the eight seats lost would be in blue states.

Seven states would gain nine seats: Texas and Florida would gain two each. Six of the gains would be in red states.

Remember that a state’s votes in the Electoral College are equal to its seats in Congress. It’s not hard to see why Trump wants an undercount that favors Texas and Florida.


Monday Wake Up Call – December 2, 2019

The Daily Escape:

New snow at Minnehaha Falls, MN – November 2019 photo by memotherboy.

Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman lays out a grim, but possibly likely 2020 scenario, one where Trump loses the popular vote by five million or more votes, and still wins the Electoral College:

“The ultimate nightmare scenario for Democrats might look something like this: Trump loses the popular vote by more than 5 million ballots, and the Democratic nominee converts Michigan and Pennsylvania back to blue. But Trump wins re-election by two Electoral votes by barely hanging onto Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District — one of the whitest and least college-educated districts in the country.”

In 2016, Trump’s victory hinged on three states he won by less than a point: Michigan (0.2%), Pennsylvania (0.7%) and Wisconsin (0.8%). All three of these relatively white states with aging populations also have high shares of white voters without college degrees, a group that has trended away from Democrats.

It’s been no secret that six states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — are best-positioned to decide which candidate reaches 270 Electoral votes and wins the presidency.

Democrats contend that they won the Senate and governors’ races in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in 2018. And in the House, they flipped two seats in Michigan and four in Pennsylvania.

But Trump could lose Michigan and Pennsylvania and still win the Electoral College, so long as he carries every other place he won in 2016. And Wisconsin is in play, because Democrats won Wisconsin’s governor’s race by just a single point, and failed to gain a House seat. If Wisconsin’s Trump voters turn out in 2020, it could easily stay red.

And should a 269-269 Electoral vote split occur (not impossible), the process moves to the House, with each state delegation having one vote. A majority of states (26) is needed to win. Trump would win, since the GOP holds the majority in 26 states, while Democrats control 22. Two states, Michigan and Pennsylvania, are tied.

The Senate would elect the Vice-President, with each Senator having a vote. A majority of Senators (51) is needed to win, so the GOP would win in the VP in the Senate, as well.

There are a lot of scenarios that could happen in 2020, including a “blowout” victory by Dems. In this scenario, it’s possible the Democratic nominee could win Georgia, Iowa, Ohio or maybe even Texas. But the most likely scenarios see Wisconsin as the state that decides the presidency. Running up the score in California isn’t going to help Dems when it comes to beating Trump.

This makes it of utmost importance that Democrats select a presidential nominee that can energize both the Party’s base, and enough independents to overcome the GOP’s natural advantage in the states that voted for Trump in 2016. That’s going to be harder than it seems. A November Economist/YouGov poll showed this: (emphasis by Wrongo)

A Majority (53%) of Republicans think Donald Trump was a better President than Abraham Lincoln.

— Jesse Ferguson (@JesseFFerguson) November 29, 2019

Interestingly, 75% of the country rated Lincoln as better than Trump, showing that the GOP is completely out of step with the rest of us. But, despite an approval rating in the low 40s, Trump has a path to re-election.

Keep this poll in mind whenever the Democratic Party suggests that Democrats can win over Republicans. There may be a few persuadable Republicans, but the majority of Trump’s party actually believes that he is a better president than the guy who kept the nation together by winning the Civil War. Lincoln’s worst day was probably better than Trump’s best.

Time to wake up Democrats! You keep waiting for demographic change to swing many Red states, but most of the change is occurring in noncompetitive states, particularly California and Texas, which threatens to further widen the chasm between winning the popular vote and winning the Electoral College.

Dems need to compete as if our lives depend upon it, in all of the House and Senate elections, in addition to local elections and the presidency!

They need to, because our lives actually do depend upon changing the course we’re on.


Saturday Soother – August 24, 2019

The Daily Escape:

Ground Swell – 1939 painting by Edward Hopper

In news you most assuredly haven’t seen, the 10th District US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that “Faithless Electors”, people who do not cast their votes in the Electoral College for the winner of their state’s presidential election, are now free to vote for anyone they want.

This Colorado case came about because in 2016, one elector refused to vote for the state’s winner, Hillary Clinton, and instead, voted for John Kasich. The Colorado Secretary of State ordered him to cast his vote for Clinton, or be replaced. He refused and was subsequently replaced with an elector who voted for Clinton.

The faithless elector sued, and the 10th Circuit decided in his favor, saying that the Constitution provides:

“…Presidential electors the right to cast a vote for president and vice president with discretion. And the state does not possess countervailing authority to remove an elector and to cancel his vote in response to the exercise of that Constitutional right.”

The court traced the history of faithless electors back to 1796, when Samuel Miles voted for Thomas Jefferson instead of John Adams. Congress counted his vote. In the 2016 election, there were 13 anomalous votes from three states, and Congress also counted those votes.

This decision could have major ramifications for future presidential elections. The attorney for the faithless elector, Jason Wesoky, said the Court’s ruling essentially makes the laws requiring electors to vote for the state’s winner unenforceable. That impacts 16 states today.

It is even more significant, since a growing number of states are rethinking their Electoral College systems in response to the 2016 election. The 16 states that have passed laws that award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, currently equal 196 electoral votes.

If states representing another 74 electoral votes pass it, the so-called National Popular Vote bill will control the majority of votes in the Electoral College. The bill has passed at least one chamber in 8 additional states with 75 additional electoral votes.

This Appeals Court’s decision means that yet another crucial issue to  the future of our democracy will be in the hands of the Supreme Court, once the appeal gets to them.

Enough of news you won’t ever use, it’s time for your Saturday Soother!

Start by brewing up a mug of Honduras Marcala coffee ($19/12oz.) from Santa Barbara’s Handlebar Coffee Roasters. The founders are professional cyclists who met while riding in the Amgen Tour of California, America’s best bike race.

Now, settle back and listen to something very different, a guitar band from Mali called Tinariwen. They are Tuareg musicians from northern Mali. They play rolling melodic lines and loping rhythms that evoke the desert sands of the Sahara. The band’s name literally means “deserts” in their language, Tamasheq. Here they are playing “Kel Tinawen” from their upcoming album “Amadjar”, available on September 6th:

The video is of a road trip along Africa’s Atlantic coast as the band and crew cross the Western Sahara. They will be touring the US in September. For an early date in Winston-Salem, NC, some locals on social media are leveling violent, racist attacks against the musicians. Welcome to America!

Here is a translation of the lyrics:

Evil tongues – you can keep talking.

The uprising will be impossible to suppress.

The treachery of your evil words has sold out your brothers for your own interests.

You’ve locked them up in a prison, every last one of them.

You fine talkers, tell us what road you plan to take to avoid us if we remain rooted.

You’ve forgotten the suffering of our parents,

The suffering they have experienced since birth,

Unable to find water, unless they dig wells with their own hands.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.


Demographics is Making Us Less Democratic

The Daily Escape:

Sunset at Malin Head, Donegal, Ireland – 2019 photo by jip

There was an article by Phillip Bump in the WaPo (paywalled) “In about 20 years, half the population will live in eight states.  By 2040, 49.5% of our population will be living in the eight most populous states — California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. All are growing significantly faster than the collective population of the remaining 42 states.

Sounds like just an interesting demographic fact until you consider the implications for the US Senate. Matt Yglesias tweets:

When Yglesias says “four” instead of “two” he means the margin in percentage points of the 2020 national vote for president going to the Democrat. His point is that even with a weakened presidential candidate like Trump, it will be a long uphill climb for Democrats to control a majority in the Senate.

Last fall at the Kavanaugh hearings, many pointed out that Senators representing only 45% of voters were able to appoint him to the Supreme Court. Some said it was the first time that a president elected by a minority nominated a Supreme Court Justice who was appointed by a minority in the Senate to decide certain legal questions against the will of the majority of Americans.

And while California has about 68 times the number of people in Wyoming, their votes can cancel each other out in the Senate.

This demographic imbalance is the result of 1787’s “Connecticut Compromise”, which created our two houses of government. This was designed to balance federal power between large and small state populations. Today, equal representation in the Senate is a permanent feature of our system.

After each decennial census, the map of US House districts are redrawn and seats are shifted to states that have gained the most population. That means, leaving aside the gerrymandering issue, each state’s representation in the US House will roughly reflect its share of our total population.

This isn’t the case in the Senate, where the representation of all states is fixed at two Senators apiece. And that can’t be changed, because it’s based on a Constitutional provision (Article V) which establishes that an amendment requires a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states. It also says: “No State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” It’s hard to imagine a situation where a small state would agree to give up one of its two Senators to another, larger state.

That was the essence of the Connecticut Compromise. The framers agreed to make the guarantee of equal power in the Senate beyond even the reach of the amendment process. It was a means of protecting the rights of the minority as “minorities” in 1787 were small states, while today, minority has an entirely different meaning.

Changing demographics has implications for the Electoral College as well. Each state’s votes are the sum of their House and Senate representatives with the total number of Electoral votes fixed at 538. If population growth moves representatives from rural states to the big eight in population, their share of votes in the Electoral College become larger as well.

There is a state-based movement to make the Electoral College represent the will of the majority of America’s voters. NPR reports that so far, 11 states have passed legislation that requires their Electoral College electors to vote for whoever wins the national vote total. To be effective, the move would require approval by states representing 270 electoral votes, the same number it takes to win the presidency. So far, they are 98 votes short of that goal.

Colorado appears poised to join as the 12th state. The state legislature passed the bill, and the governor is expected to sign it. New Mexico is considering it. This would be one way of restoring the idea that every vote in the country counts equally.

Wrongo’s pie-in-the-sky dream is that every American voter gets a third vote for a Senator in any other state. Then we could vote for, or against a Senator we wanted to see stay or go. Wrongo’s dream began when Strom Thurmond represented South Carolina, but imagine, being able to vote Lindsey Graham out of office today.

That would be a real masterpiece of one-person, one-vote in America.