Posts tagged with "Midterm elections"

Democrats: Trump’s move to terminate Obamacare gives us a gift ahead of 2020

March 28, 2019

In a move that has appalled his own advisers, and alarmed the G.O.P. as a whole, President Donald Trump on March 27 began a legal effort to “essentially terminate” the entire Affordable Care Act ―including its heretofore sacrosanct pre-existing conditions protections.

About half of Americans—133 million—have a health issue that qualifies as a pre-existing condition. Under the ACA, also known as Obamacare, insurers have been banned from denying coverage for (or from charging more for plans that cover) pre-existing conditions.

And American voters have made it clear that they like it that way. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation just before the midterm elections last November, fully 58% of Americans said they were “very concerned” that Republicans would remove this safeguard—and expose them either to higher costs or no coverage at all.

In fact, at that time, healthcare was top-of-mind for U.S. voters—and indications are that it continues to be.

According to a report by the Huffington Post,  Democrats are saying that the president’s extreme position on the ACA will matter far more to voters in 2020 than anything coming out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.

And while Republicans have said for years that the ACA should be “repealed and replaced,” they are not so sure that the issue should be revisited at this time.

It comes down to this: On March 25, the Department of Justice asked federal courts to throw out all of Obamacare, not just one part of it, as it had done previously. If the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is weighing the lawsuit, agrees with the government, the matter will almost certainly go before the Supreme Court, which has already turned away two major challenges to the 2010 healthcare law, the Huffington Post notes. With two new Trump-picked justices on the high court, however, there is no telling whether the law would survive a third.

“This move by the Trump administration to take away health care will prove far more detrimental to the administration and the Republican Party than any gains they might have made by the issuance” of Attorney General William Barr’s letter summarizing the findings of Mueller’s investigation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York.) said on March 26.

 “They are literally teeing this up as an issue for Democrats for the next year and a half. They’re not even making a laughable attempt to save the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) told reporters on Tuesday.

Vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election in 2020, whose seats Democrats need to win in order to take back control of the Senate, are likely to face additional attacks over healthcare following the Trump administration’s new stance on the lawsuit. But GOP leaders say they have confidence in their members to fend off attacks over Obamacare going into the 2020 election.

By contrast, the Huffington Post reports, G.O.P. senators facing tough re-election fights in 2020 said they support popular elements of the Affordable Care Act even as they continue to maintain that the law should be repealed ― a delicate rhetorical balancing act that failed to save many GOP members of Congress in the 2018 midterm election.

“I support coverage for pre-existing provisions, and Congress should act to make sure that happens. I think what we need to do is make sure we have affordable health care,” Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), who is facing a tough campaign, told reporters.

Only Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who voted against repealing Obamacare in 2017, criticized the decision to argue in court that the entire law should be struck down as unconstitutional.

“It is highly unusual for the [Department of Justice] not to defend duly enacted laws, which the Affordable Care Act certainly was. This decision to even go more broadly in failing to defend the law is very disappointing,” Collins said.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump boasts about ‘Big Victory’ in midterms

November 8, 2018

You win some; you lose some—that is, unless you are U.S. President Donald Trump. Never one to admit defeat, even in the face of a major setback, The New York Times reported that the president “wasted little time on Wednesday morning trying to frame his party’s election losses as a win,” even though Democrats had seized control of the House of Representatives.

In a string of tweets on November 7—this one, at 6:21 a.m.—the POTUS was self-congratulatory and smug about his prospects, saying, “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!”

At the same time, President Trump quickly went on offense against the newly elected Democratic House–threatening to retaliate if the opposition uses its new subpoena power to investigate him for corruption and obstruction of justice—in what the Times characterized as “an early foreshadowing of the bitter partisan warfare that could dominate the next two years.”

At 8:04 a.m., he tweeted: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

He touted the GOP victory in the Senate, where Republicans defeated three Democratic incumbents  (in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri) and were leading in Florida and Montana, while losing only one of their own seats in Nevada. If they hold on to their current leads, the Times reported, Republicans will increase their majority in the upper chamber from 51 seats to 55, giving them far more maneuvering room as they confirm judges and other appointments”by the president.

However, the loss of the House represents a major blow to the president and his supporters: As of Wednesday morning, Democrats had picked up 26 seats with 23 races still to be called—giving them the subpoena power that Trump dreads, as well as the opportunity to refuse to proffer any resources for a wall on the southern border.

Among other things, the Times reported, “Democrats likely will demand the release of tax returns that he has kept secret, look into his business dealings, and reopen the House investigation into any ties between Mr. Trump’s team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.”

“We’ll fill in the gaps on the Russia investigations,” Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California and member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on NBC News on Wednesday morning. “The American people will see his tax returns, not because of any voyeuristic interest, but because they should know if he is corrupt. And we will look at the cashing in of access to the Oval Office and that has been concerning and his financial entanglements overseas.”

Even more dangerous to the president, a Democratic House has the power to impeach him—even if legislators cannot muster the two-thirds vote required for conviction in the Senate.

Research contact: @peterbakernyt

Pundits shift nine House races toward Democrats

November 6, 2018

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted nine House races toward Democrats in a new forecast published on November 5—the day before the midterm elections—The Hill reported.

The changes predicted by Cook are as follows:

Three races — in Texas’s 6th and 10th Congressional Districts and in West Virginia’s 2nd — moved from solid Republican to likely Republican. Two other races—Florida’s 25th and 6th districts, went from likely Republican to leaning Republican.

The movement is the latest indication that Democrats still have the upper-hand in the House prior to Tuesday’s midterms, when Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to regain control of the lower chamber. 

Research contact: @thehill

Gillum on Trump calling him a thief: ‘If I’m stealing anything, it’s hearts and minds’

November 5, 2018

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum gave President Donald Trump some strong pushback on November 1 for calling him a thief—saying on MSNBC’s Morning Joe , “If I’m stealing anything, it’s hearts and minds.”

Trump’s “thief” attack on Twitter referred  to an FBI investigation regarding possible corruption in Gillum’s administration during his tenure as mayor of Tallahassee. Gillum has not been convicted of any crime and has said repeatedly he is not the subject of the probe, The Hill reported on November 2..

However, that did not stop the president from tweeting, on October 29 at 10:54 a.m.:” In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor—and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!”

Gillum said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Thursday that his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis and Trump have taken this race “to the gutter” and are distracting voters with “sideshows” instead of talking about the issues, the political news outlet said..

“This is more the same of what we get from this President and from my opponent,” Gillum said.

DeSantis immediately sparked controversy just a day after he and Gillum won their respective primaries in August when he urged voters not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum, who would become the state’s first African-American governor if elected on November 6.

The latest CNN poll, conducted between October 29 and October 30, shows that Gillum is leading the race by one point—making it too tight to call.

Research contact: @owendaugherty

As GOP moves to cut coverage of pre-existing conditions, its candidates say the opposite

October 25, 2018

Republicans candidates are feverishly back-pedaling on their plundering of Obamacare—and are regretting filing lawsuits to relieve insurers of their responsibility to cover pre-existing conditions, according to a report by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC on October 23.

A poll released on October 18 by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found that fully 71% of U.S. voters say healthcare is the most important issue driving them to the polls in the midterm elections. That’s good for Democrats who are running, but bad for the GOP, Maddow said.

But that’s not stopping Republican candidates—and the president—from misrepresenting their true positions, the cable news anchor said.

In fact, Maddow identified five candidates who, she said, are lying about their overall support for healthcare—and their antipathy toward coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Among those whom Maddow said had voted against the Affordable Care Act, but who now say they support it are Representative Martha McSally (R-2nd District-Arizona); Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas); Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada); Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-48th District-California); and Representative Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota).

In particular, Senator Ted Cruz once spoke for more than 21 hours about his opposition to Obamacare, including a dramatic reading of the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor, The Washington Post reminded readers on October 25. The speech was styled as a filibuster, but was not actually one — no vote was being delayed; Cruz was just making a memorable stink about how much he did not like Obamacare.

President Donald Trump also is prevaricating about his true position: “Republicans will always protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Trump said at a rally on October 23 in support of Senator Dean Heller in Nevada.

However, Maddow’s Producer Steve Benen wrote on her blog on October 24, “In reality, Republicans continue to fight to gut the ACA’s protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and a total number of zero Democratic officials “have been talking about” scaling back the existing Obamacare safeguards”(although the GOP claims they are).

“This is not a fight in which a complex truth lurks in some gray area in between partisan talking points. Republicans have not only fought for years to strip Americans with pre-existing conditions of their protections; they’re also–right now – trying to get the courts to gut these protections, too,” Benen wrote.

He noted, “If the midterm elections are going to be about which party is sincere about championing protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Republicans are likely to have a rough year.”

Research contact: @stevebenen

Employers are helping to drive Election Day turnout

October 24, 2018

While there are no federal laws requiring companies to give employees time off from work to vote, a majority of states do have rules on the books designed to ensure that workers can make it to the polls on Election Day. Most require that companies provide staff members with a minimum of one or two hours to cast their ballots.

However, this year, many employers are not just complying with local laws; they are stepping up and taking an active role in helping their workers to register and vote in the midterm elections, The Washington Post reported on October 22.

According to the Post, Cava—a Washington, D.C.-based chain of Mediterranean fast-casual restaurants— has promised its 1,600 workers nationwide two hours of paid time off to vote on Election Day, if they request the time in advance.

Co-founder Ted Xenohristos said Cava believes it is one of the first national restaurant groups to have such a policy, and what it costs will depend on how many of his employees choose to vote. For him, what matters is that they do.

“As first-generation Americans, we’re proud to participate in the system,” he said. “We wanted to share that with our team members and make it a little easier for them to vote.”

What’s more, a coalition of 140 U.S. companies–among them, Kaiser Permanente, Farmers Insurance, Gap, Levi Strauss., Patagonia, PayPal, Tyson Foods, and Walmart— has pledged to increase voter turnout.

“The U.S. has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the developed world, recently as low as 36%, and one of the most common reasons that people give for not voting is that they are too busy, or have work and life demands that prevent them from voting,” the coalition said in a press release, adding, “The Time to Vote campaign also aims to increase awareness about the steps employers can take to allow time for their employees to vote.

“The companies joining this campaign are committed to increasing voter participation through programs such as paid time off, a day without meetings; and resources for mail-in ballots and early voting. And all of them care about their workforces and supporting democracy.”

The coalition was formed, the Post reports, following a call-in conversation last June led by Rose Marcario, the CEO of outdoor retailer Patagonia, which grabbed headlines for closing its stores and giving workers paid time off for Election Day in 2016— something the stores will do again this year.

Examples of other coalition members that are taking creative steps to bring out the vote include the following:

  • For the first time, Tyson Foods, the meat company, has launched a company-wide voter registration initiative; with many of its plants participating in an effort to register employees and offer details about early voting, absentee ballots and voting locations.
  • Levi Strauss has named volunteer “voting captains” in each of its offices and distribution centers; who will hold registration drives and educate workers. The company also is also giving employees, including retail workers, paid time off to vote.

Meanwhile, a Vote.org project launched in March—dubbed ElectionDay.org—has convinced more than 250 employers, including Pinterest and Diageo, to offer some kind of paid time off or flexible leave on Election Day

“In the past, companies have assumed this was something that was taken care of from a legal standpoint,” Colette Kessler, director of partnerships for Vote.org, told the Post.

More recently, she said in an interview, companies have been taking an inventory of their policies and looking for creative ways to prevent work excuses from keeping people from the polls. “The shift I’m seeing is an interest in really understanding what do they provide, what are the holes in their states’ laws they can … [close] up.”

Research contact: jena.mcgregor@washpost.com

Trump says the midterm elections are all about him

October 19, 2018

President Donald Trump told the Associated Press on October 16 that he won’t be to blame if the GOP loses the House (or even the Senate) to the Democrats in the midterm elections on November 6—but a private Republican Party poll leaked to Bloomberg Businessweek concludes that he will.

In fact, according to Bloomberg, the research report—conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of the Republican National Committee —found that “the determining factor in this election … [will be] how voters feel about President Trump.” A representative for the RNC declined to comment to the business news outlet.

President Trump—who is not on the ballot in November—held six campaign rallies within the first 12 days of October. And he is the first to say that the election is all about him.

“I’m not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket, because this is also a referendum about me,” Trump boomed this month at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, the Washington Post reported on October 18. “I want you to vote. Pretend I’m on the ballot.”

He said much the same in West Virginia, where he was promoting the state’s Republican Senate nominee: “A vote for Patrick Morrisey is a vote for me,” Trump said, in a line that Morrisey’s campaign repurposed in a new ad.

Bill Stepien, the White House political director, told the D.C.-based newspaper that the strategy is an acknowledgment that Trump’s policies are already on the ballot this November, so he might as well use his personal appeal to try to move “the Trump coalition” to vote for Republican candidates who will support his agenda if elected.

“He’s the leader of the party, and he’s willing to put his own political capital on the line for the benefit of his party,” Stepien said in an interview. “The president knows how to fire up his base, he knows the DNA of his voters, and that’s what he’s responding to.”

The risk, however, according to the Post, is that in energizing his base, Trump could also fire up the Democratic side while alienating moderate suburban voters, who may be looking to Congress to serve as a check on the president.

“The fatal flaw” in Trump’s strategy, said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC, “is that one, it motivates our side and two, it makes the assumption that all previous Trump voters are still voting Republican, which especially in House and governor races, we see is not the case.”

The president, meanwhile, has told White House aides that his supporters won’t come out to the polls if they don’t believe the election matters to him, two sources told the newspaper..

“He’s basically internalized the message that, ‘I’m so important that people aren’t going to go out and vote unless it’s all about me,’” said a former White House aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share candid conversations.

Already maintaining a robust travel schedule just three weeks before the midterms, the president has told advisors he wants to campaign for Republicans six days a week — and sees these mega-rallies as a testing ground for his own 2020 reelection effort. He plans to travel nonstop in the final 10 days leading up to the elections, sources said.

Research contact: @AshleyRParker

Pressure group led by Steve Bannon spends $3 million on ads ahead of midterms

October 16, 2018

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon‘s political arm is spending $3 million on digital ads targeted at getting out the Republican vote ahead of the midterms, he told ABCNews.Go on October 14.

The new push, just three weeks before the election, is funded by Bannon’s new outside political group, a 501(c) 4, called Citizens of the American Republic, which he founded in August “in order to advance the ideals of Economic Nationalism and American Sovereignty.”

Groups under 501 (c) 4 are social welfare organizations that must not be organized for profit and “must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare,” according to the IRS.

Bannon will be out on the campaign trail stumping for Republican candidates who are considered vulnerable to what is being called the Blue Wave of Democratic victories in the November midterm elections. His message: Although President Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot in 2018, the midterm election is a referendum on his presidency.

He says he will travel to 10 states—Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Michigan, Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas,and Florida—to spread the message that the president is at war with the Democrats, and that the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a preview to impeachment hearings that the Democrats will try to hold against Trump.

“Trump has delivered the goods. Now it’s time for the deplorables to deliver the votes,” Steve Bannon told ABC on October 14.

Bannon’s political strategist Sam Nunberg told the network news outlet, “If the president continues to communicate that the ‘Democrat [Nancy] Pelosi Mob’ will impeach him if they are in power, we are highly confident we can hold them at the gates and keep the House in Republican hands. A red wave is rising.”

Research contact: @CitizensAR

Lawsuit: Georgia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate is accused of suppressing 53K minority votes

October 15, 2018

Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s current secretary of state and aspiring gubernatorial candidate, has been hit with a lawsuit claiming his office is jeopardizing the rights of 53,000 of minority voters—and now his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, says that the only way to head off the problem is for him to resign.

A coalition of civil rights groups filed suit against Kemp in his official capacity as secretary of state on October 11, the Washington Post reports—alleging that a 2017 voting law (HB268) has delayed the voter registrations of more than 50,000 people — of whom approximately 80% are black, Latino or Asian American.

Specifically, the case claims, the 2017 measure codified the voter registration database “exact match” protocol, which the complainants said, already had been “shown to disproportionately and negatively impact the ability of voting-eligible African-American, Latino, and Asian-American applicants to register to vote.”

According to the Post, the “exact match” law requires election officials to flag and pause any voter registration application, if the identifying information doesn’t precisely match the voter’s information in existing records, even because of something as small as a missing hyphen or a transposed number. Although voters are not barred from casting a ballot, they must take extra steps to verify their identities

The case was jointly filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta by Asian Americans advancing Justice/Atlanta, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the New Georgia Project, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Offices, and the ProGeorgia State Table.

The “exact match” law requires election officials to flag and pause any voter registration application if the identifying information doesn’t precisely match the voter’s information in existing records, even because of something as small as a missing hyphen or a transposed number. Although voters are not barred from casting a ballot, they must take extra steps to verify their identities.

Kemp, who is locked in a tight race against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams—with only a 2-percentage-point lead over his Democratic challenger of Friday, October 12, according to results of a poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution— is tasked with carrying out the voting law in his role as secretary of state, which has led Democrats to accuse him of attempts to suppress the minority vote to gain an edge in the election.

On October 11, Abrams’s campaign called on Kemp to resign as secretary of state “so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election,” spokesperson Abigail Collazo said in a statement to CNN.

Abrams, a former state representative and founder of a voting rights advocacy group, would become the first female black governor in the nation’s history if she wins.

Kemp has denied the allegations of any impropriety or voting rights violations, characterizing the accusations from Abrams and Democrats on Twitter as misleading and a manufactured problem. He emphasized that Georgia has “shattered” its all-time voter registration record this year, with more than 6.8 million voters.

Candice Broce, spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, said in a statement to The Washington Post that the claims in the lawsuit are “bogus” and amount to a political stunt. She said the affected voters have been notified about how to contact local officials to fix their pending registration applications.

Research contact: meagan.flynn@washpost.com

Pew poll: Supreme Court is ‘most important’ issue for midterms

September 28, 2018

Seventy-six percent of registered voters—both Democrats and Republicans—say that Supreme Court appointments are “very important” to their votes in the midterms, according to findings of a  Pew Research Center poll released on September 26.

According to Pew, the result marks the first time since August 2004 that the economy has not been the issue most often deemed “very important” to voters. Indeed, the economy has routinely been the top-cited “very important” factor for voters, almost always followed by healthcare and terrorism.

The poll was conducted between September 18 and 24—a time when news reports were dominated by allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—which may have boosted the court’s standing in the eyes of voters, the researchers said.

Another three-quarters of registered voters say that healthcare is “very important” in the latest Pew poll, followed by 74% for the economy, 68% for gun policy, 67% for Medicare, 66% for Social Security, 66% for taxes, 65% for immigration, 65% for the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities, 63% for the environment, 62% for terrorism, 60% for the federal budget deficit, 55% for trade policy, 53% for abortion, 53% for drug addition; and 47% for the treatment of gay, lesbian, and transgender people.

Pew made the distinction that its pollsters do not “usually” ask about the Supreme Court in these surveys. The only other time Pew has added Supreme Court appointments into the mix of issues was in June 2016, when 63% said it was very important to their vote in November, compared to the 76% now.

The reason: In June 2016, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland had been waiting three months for the Senate to review his nomination. No hearings were held before Obama left office in January 2017.

More Democrats (81%) view Supreme Court appointments as an important issue for their vote than Republicans (72%). The most-referenced important issue for Republicans was the economy, which drew 85% of their registered voters. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats said that healthcare was the issue most on their minds, while 60% of Republicans agreed.

Research contact: bjohnson@pewresearch.org