We’re the Majority Party, Start Acting Like It!

Enough of the sniveling on the left- Trump wasn’t elected by us voters, and neither has any other republican presidential candidate since 2004. No republican has won the popular vote in an open seat presidential race since 1988. The Senate is constitutionally unrepresentative, maybe a good idea when the constitution was written and the ratio of least to most populous state was around 11 to 1, but massively disenfranchising when the ratio is around 70 to 1 and the 10 most populous states with over half our nation’s population have but 20 of the 100 senate seats. The House is little better, as districts have been “cracked” and “packed” by gerrymandering and democrats liking for the benefits of urban living. The GOP party of zombies hangs on to power by working this system of obsolete laws, and in no way should Trump or the GOP Senate dictatorship be considered legitimate.

In Minnesota, even more so- No GOP presidential candidate has won here in over four decades. The GOP took advantage of Minnesota’s off year statewide elections to elect moderate GOPers to the governor’s mansion, but as the GOP left moderate Minnesotans behind they haven’t won a statewide race since 2006. And while gerrymandering and clustering of democrats in urban areas has given the GOP the occasional legislative majority, they have seldom actually won the statewide total vote in either house.

Even out here in reputedly red but ancestrally Farmer-Labor CD7 the GOP is only renting DFL ground- While far down ballot DFL candidates lose in obscurity, progressive Senator Amy Klobuchar and moderate Congress Member Collin Peterson win CD7 and most of it’s legislative districts. The GOP wins these Klobuchar and Peterson districts only by gerrymandering, big donors, and incumbency. At the city council level, Trump GOPers have won only in the smallest towns while democrats govern in the reddest counties.

If Trump’s still squatting in the White House after January 20th, the election was stolen.

Election Day(s) Tomorrow!

Y’ll ready to GOTV?

Ya, COVID-19 messed with the calendar, we just nominated Biden and Harris, we still ain’t caught up on lawn signs, and Pioneer Public TV’s debates begin tonight. But here in blue with a few rust stains Minnesota in person voting begins tomorrow, and mail ballots go out in the (snail) mail. Three consecutive A rated polls give Biden an outside the Margin Of Error lead in Minnesota demoting us to the 8th most likely state to decide the presidential election. The polls also tell us that over half of DFL voters will cast their votes long before Election Day… Yes, we get 6 weeks to GOTV while the GOP voters follow Trump’s command to march to the polls like lemmings on traditional Election Day.

What’s not to like?

Yup, the calendar is upside down and backwards- For the next couple of weeks we will be in mass GOTV mode. Then thanks to our on the ball Secretary of State the parties will get pretty much daily updates on which voters mail ballots have been received, and the VAN will be updated promptly. That means we’ll have a smaller and smaller list of votes to chase, and as the last Election Day approaches in this backwards election calendar we’ll switch to persuasion, especially here in CD7 where 20% of the voters swing, and those indie swing voters will decide and vote late. Throw in CD7s numerous seniors who voted Trump in 2016 and were jilted and there’s swing votes aplenty to elect down ballot democrats in places where democrats have lost a decade.

Then the polls finally close, the votes get counted, Trump and the GOP are reminded that they’re a permanent minority party… And Trump will claim victory anyway! More on that later…

Polling: CD7 is in play…

And in a good way!

Getting to the point in this year’s twisted campaign calendar where new polls pop almost everyday, and the gem of these polls is A rated Survey USA’s latest, complete with full cross tabs. Data mining this high grade ore with a mere pick axe the hidden details in the political landscape pop right out, and here they are for your political perusing: http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=cc902191-9d67-498a-aa9c-d59233e2c85b

Survey USA breaks out results for “western Minnesota” which mostly corresponds to CD7, which Hillary lost by a 30+ percent margin while moderate Dem Congressman Collin Peterson eked out a closer than usual win. SUSA shows Trump leading Biden 48% to 29%, closer than CD7’s Cook PVI of R+12 would predict. But 16% are undecided, while statewide only 7% are… We knew CD7 was “swingy”, but a week before voting starts in this polarized race, how can that many be undecided? And note that Trump hasn’t made it past 48%… Pol Sci 101 teaches us that late deciding voters will mostly vote for the challenger, and Trump ain’t even polling at 50%.

It gets worse… For the GOP!

Next race on the ballot is for U.S. Senate, with incumbent Tina Smith leading gross professional blowhard Jason Lewis 47% to 36% statewide with 14% undecided, partly reflecting the fact that Lewis outside of his 2nd CD home is known only to metro area conservative talk radio listeners. Out here in western Minnesota’s R+12 CD7 Tina is leading Jason 39% to 31%, and in a statistical dead heat with undecided which is polling at 28%!

No wonder a Jason Lewis campaign event in CD7 drew this massive crowd…

Someone please inform Jason that he’s the “sacrificial lamb” so he can enjoy his travels around our beautiful state, write his concession speech, and enjoy getting passed out drunk on election night. When even top of the ticket GOP candidates are underperforming the PVI by 8 and 25% in red but swingy CD7, all but the most entrenched GOP incumbents in the reddest districts are vulnerable!

MN GOP’s Rural Organizing Fail…

Rumor had it that the Minnesota Republicans were pouring millions and over a hundred organizers in red & rural counties, running up the voter registrations in hopes of mobilizing just a few more Trump cultists off their fat butts to take Minnesota for Trump. So today I dredged through the registered voter counts for Trump’s best dozen counties and the DFL’s two best for comparison to see if all those GOP $$$ are registering more Trump voters.

Trump won 12 counties (Clearwater, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Martin, Meeker, Morrison, Pipestone, Redwood, Roseau, Sibley, Todd, and Wadena) by a margin of over 40% in 2016 per this link: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/media/2818/us-president-results-map-margin-by-county.pdf . Our great SOS also gives us annual reports and monthly updates of voter registration here: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/election-administration-campaigns/data-maps/voter-registration-counts/

Digging through the data, In the annual May reports registered voter counts in the “dirty dozen” Trump counties barely moved in any direction between the first after 2016 election count in May 2017 and the most recent annual count in May 2020, the biggest gain being 2% while many counties lost voters. OK, we’ll give those phantom GOP organizers one last chance to register some more republicans, but checking the latest August 3rd stats show’s the biggest voter registration increase from May 2017 a measly 4% increase in Sibley County, 3% in Lake of the Woods, and 2% in Morrison. The rest of Trump’s dirty dozen held even or lost voters, the worst being Redwood County at -8%.

So where the hell were all these GOP organizers and what were they doing? Given the not so fine example of shameless corruption the Trump administration has set, probably nowhere near rural Minnesota cashing the paychecks from their “no show” jobs! So the threat of a GOP registration explosion in rural Minnesota is debunked… Is this all the GOP can manage?

For comparison, the two counties that Trump lost to Hilary by an over 30% margin, Hennepin and Ramsey, saw voter registration increases of 5% and 6% respectively. So it appears that the GOP has gained no fundamental registration advantage, while the DFL is gaining a registered voter advantage in the states two most populous and democratic counties.

Memo to the GOP: Not only is your political ship lost on the political seas with a drunk with power captain at the helm, but your deck is nothing but loose cannons, and your crew is still in port partyin’!

How a conservative rural county became a COVID-19 Hot Spot…

I’m three months into pretty much isolation out here in Lyon County where 25,000 residents spread over 720 square miles pretty much make social distancing the default. While New York, Minneapolis, and other big cities were overrun by the pandemic back in March and April we waited for our first case and then the second, third, etc.. For the rare meeting we couldn’t do online we masked up, socially isolated, and got it over with ASAP. Noting the modeling that showed the viruses taking months to peak in rural counties like ours, I made another Costco run and stocked up for a couple more months.

I and my “liberal” friends followed the science and kept our virus guard up. But most of the populace followed conservative media, lost their masks, and partied in closed parks. The mayor of the county’s largest city appeared on social media opening up a new archery range with neither masks nor social distancing in use. The increase in COVID-19 cases went logarithmic, while the ad revenue driven local media buried the story while cheerleading “reopening”.

Bit over a week ago we passed 100 cases, then 200, and 258 today. That’s one percent of our county’s population that’s infected, suffering, and in 2 cases dead from the COVID-19 virus. Only 9 of Minnesota’s 87 counties have more than 1% of their population infected by the virus, and every one of those counties is rural. And unlike some of those other hotspot counties, Lyon county doesn’t have meat packing plants with thousands of workers under one roof to blame.

Yup, the conservative lily white good ol’ boys and girls of rural Lyon County deserve full credit for infecting a higher proportion of themselves with the COVID-19 virus than any county in the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro area. In that multicultural metro masks and social distancing is the norm, and the COVID-19 case counts have barely budged.

Ready for the Election from Hell?

Followed by recounts, no-counts, constitutional and unconstitutional challenges, flunking the Electoral College, And Trump’s fortress White House(s)…

Don’t worry about the campaign… Joe Biden’s outpolling Trump in places democrat’s usually don’t, like Texas. Retaking the Senate is within sight, and House republicans may as well start writing their retirement speeches. Downballot, Trump will turn 3rd and 4th ring suburbs and rural “micropolitan” districts blue. Yup, it’ll be a weird campaign with no doorknockin’, but just flood the campaign zones with signs even if they don’t vote, lay on the lit, and get as close as you legally can to dropping a ballot into every democratic and independent voter’s mailbox.

Trump and his GOP have a different plan by default, being as they now have not the slightest chance of winning a fair election. So they’re operating under banana republic rules, doing everything in their power to block, manipulate, and defy this election. We had a preview of the GOP’s first line of defense in Georgia yesterday, where despite two postponements giving the republican Secretary of State extra time to pull off a proper election, absentee ballots didn’t even make it to the Post Office to get lost in the mail and voters didn’t get to vote ’til after midnight. And this was just a low stakes primary…

And a dry run for November. Hell, it’ll start in late September when early voting begins in Minnesota, where it looks like Trump’s “good people” white separatists just torched dozens of buildings, including two Post Offices. If they’ll do felony level federal crimes like arson, misdemeanor level theft of mail ballots is just about assured. Come election day AR-15 embellishing fascists, unidentified federal cops, and assorted neonazis will “greet” voters in minority neighborhood polling places. Ballots will be burned and ballot counting machines will be trashed, and the odd Molotov cocktail served.

Whatever ballots survive will get fed into the surviving ballot counting machines, assuming the election judges haven’t had to flee or take cover. Trump’s motley army of misfits will terrorize Secretary of State’s offices on election night, then move on to intimidate canvassing boards and the innumerable lost cause recounts the republicans will buy. GOP Secretaries of State will refuse to certify Biden victories and invite republican rather than democratic electors to cast their votes. And if all those months of GOP domestic terrorism fails…

Even the most despicable (and we’ve had a few) Presidents willingly walked outa the White House whether termed out or turned out by the voters. Trump, who lives on conspiracy theories and would never accept defeat, is unlikely to leave the White House by his own volition. The White House is a well decorated and landscaped fortress, with a next ring of fence around that. In response to the non threat of demonstrators Trump spent $50,000,000 to add another layer of fence. By inauguration day Trump will probably add another layer at taxpayer’s expense, then maybe try to seal off the whole city, giving him a plentiful supply of hostages. Or maybe he flees to his Florida “White House” and proclaims it the capital of his new confederacy. With our military in pursuit, he takes off in a jet full of cash and criminal cronies from an impromptu runway on Alligator Alley to a real banana republic with which we have no extradition agreement.

I write this to not to frighten, but to warn… If we expect a fair election, that election will be stolen. We can defend democracy- It takes less than an hour for us to gather a thousand peaceful protesters in any decent sized city, Trump’s fascist thugs have to scour the nation for months to dredge up not even a thousand of their dregs. We democrats are a political party grown out of in the street protests, from strikes through the civil rights marches, antiwar movements, Stonewall rebellion, and Black Lives Matter…

We are now called to return to the streets en masse to defend democracy and evict Trump!

How To: Party Conventions in a Pandemic

Thanks to Trump, corona virus cases in the the U.S, are doubling almost every other day and multiplying by a factor of 10 every 8 days. That means, for example, that a state like Minnesota which now has 5 cases will have 50 if we’re holding a party unit convention on saturday the 21st. Given that the corona virus has an incubation period of around 5 days and those infected with the virus are expected to isolate for 14 days, 8 days from now their will be another cohort of infected but undiagnosed persons 4 or more times as large giving us 200 infected and potentially contagious persons in Minnesota by saturday the 21st. That’s 3 for every senate district, and thus most every country unit convention will be in a “hot zone”.

By saturday the 21st many of the sites we hold conventions at such as schools will already be closed by the coronavirus. Even if our site is still available, it is irresponsible to hold an in person convention in the middle of a pandemic. We have a window for county unit conventions until April 19th and our Minnesota DFL party constitution and by laws appear to allow extensions with the permission of the state party chair.

But what if the pandemic continues and we still can’t safely hold a convention? Well, Article 3, Section 10 of our party constitution states:

“Section 10. Electronic Meetings.
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and Bylaws, and according to the governing documents of any party unit, electronic meetings may be conducted to act on matters when time, weather or special circumstances do not permit a regular meeting.”

We do have a requirement that notice of a meeting or change be given at least 72 hours in advance by electronic means and 10 days by mail, so we can’t make this weekends meetings virtual. But with the exception of the state convention, I can find no requirement that any convention but the state party convention be held in person at a specific site. And this years state convention has to be convened in Rochester, but there’s no requirement that every delegate be there.
So looking ahead to the growth of this pandemic and the health risks of large gatherings such as party conventions, we would be wise to prepare to hold our conventions online to preserve the integrity of the process and keep that process accessible to all.

Will Coronavirus be delivered by long haul trucking?

This study in the Lancet pretty well predicts the now worldwide distribution of the coronavirus from China via international air travel patterns, and the Coronavirus “hot zones” in the U.S. tend to be around the busiest airports for international travel. Could long haul trucking further distribute Coronavirus throughout our country?

If we wanted to design the perfect system to deliver a communicable disease all over a country, we’d probably design something like long haul trucking. A literal sweatshop on 18 wheels, long haul truckers live in their trucks for weeks on end with little access to sanitation. These drivers schedules are dictated by greedy shippers and dictatorial trucking company managers who insist that the drivers keep rolling ‘til they physically can’t anymore- That’s why falling asleep at the wheel is one of the most frequent causes of truck accidents and you’ll see long haul truckers attempting to drive through blizzards. And the poor health of many long haul truckers make them likely to be the first victims of Coronavirus- They’re over 90% male, older and more obese than the average worker, have weakened immune systems from lack of sleep, live in a rolling food desert, and are much more likely to smoke that the average worker.

Every day thousands of truck drivers load up in the shipping centers and also epicenters of the Coronavirus epidemic in america- Seattle, the Bay area, southern California, Chicago, New York, etc…. After days of too little sleep and too many miles between being jammed in tight loading dock waiting rooms and truck stops they’ll deliver their loads and maybe Coronavirus too all over america. They’ll be among the first victims, with little access to health care and doomed by pre-existing conditions. And with a nationwide shortage of truck drivers, there’s no one to replace them and their absence will further delay deliveries of needed food and medical supplies.

It should have happened long ago, but in this deadly disease crisis it’s high time we improved the working conditions (and pay too) of long haul truckers!

Bernie Can’t Win…

And vulnerable Americans are going to die if Trump wins!

I follow polling a lot, and noting that Bernie is now leading in much of the polling for the nomination and in the prognosticators like 538’s predictions, I wondered, what if… Bernie was our candidate? So I took a deep dive into the polling data of matchups between our democratic candidates for president and Trump.

At first, looking at the results of national polling, it looks great- Bernie and most every democratic candidate beat Trump in almost every matchup. But as we learned in 2000 and 2016, the will of the people doesn’t necessarily pick our presidents. That power goes to an anachronism called the Electoral College which gives extraordinary power to 10 or so “swing states” to pick the president. 

So I looked at the 10 states that will pick the next president, examining the recent polling results in those 10 states with Cook PVi below 5 that also made 270 to win’s latest list of states that their consensus of the pundits rated as tossup or barely D or R. In the states with polling since the first of this year- NH, WI, MI, NV, FL, and IA- Biden, Bloomberg, or Buttigieg frequently outperformed Sanders. Only in FL does Sanders outperform Biden, Buttigieg, and Warren. In PA, MN, ME, and OH the most recent polling was from last year so the surges of Buttigieg, Bloomberg, and Klobuchar and the decline of Biden are missing, but still Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Warren outperformed Sanders.

In 9 out of 10 of these swing states that will pick the next president  Sanders trails our best performing and always more moderate candidate by between 2% and 8% in trial heats against Trump. In states with PVi less than 5, that’s frequently the difference between winning and losing. And did I mention that the republicans will cheat, big time? Think massive voter roll purges, armed Trump vigilantes intimating voters, stolen ballot boxes, ad nausuem… Followed by a second Trump term that drags on well through this decade and becomes a Trump dynasty for decades more. Drunk with power after a rigged trial and acquittal in the Senate, Trump is already letting white collar criminals out of jail and hacking away at Social Security, etc.. Give Trump another term and there’ll be no limit to his power and ability to torment and even kill vulnerable Americans.

In 1972 and 1984 we responded to tyrannical republican presidents Nixon and Reagan by nominating great progressive candidates, McGovern and Mondale. That political science experiment failed, as progressive candidates did not move enough new democratic voters to the polls to make up for the moderate and independent voters we chased to Nixon and Reagan. My generation learned Political Science 101 the hard way- Progressives can win in progressive places like Vermont, but in swing states only a moderate democrat can win, ‘cause a moderate candidate plain and simple appeals more to the moderate voters in these swing states.

So while we love Bernie, this is no time for political science experiments like running a progressive for president when we’ve already done that experiment and know  the results- A Nixon, Reagan, and now Trump re-election. For the vulnerable americans who will suffer under Trump, it’s a risky political science experiment we can’t afford to repeat.

Goodbye, Iowa Caucuses…

Being at about the age where many friends and institutions on the older side of at least one standard deviation disappear each year, I’m getting used to saying goodbye to a few friends, motorcycle shops, and great legacy products every year. In the case of the Iowa caucuses, that great and entertaining rite of democracy may not predictably return in three years or so.

Now the Iowa caucuses did their job, and with the exception of the late results, Iowa performed better than ever. I attended a caucus and it was run strictly by the book with midwest precision and no tolerance for error, in contrast to past caucuses when we knew there was plenty of statistical noise in the results from voters who got in the wrong precinct and couldn’t get out to the shenanigans of political hacks such as myself. With paper ballots being used for the first time, the whole caucus could be reconstructed on a thousand school lunchroom tables if there’s any doubt as to the results.

But who won?

Bernie AND Pete at about 26% of the delegates each, Bernie taking the more progressive strongholds in the cities and Pete the rural counties. 538 predicted otherwise, but other than Pete’s over performance it was exactly what political science 101 and I would predict- progressives do best in the cities and moderates do best in farm country.

And who’s still in the race?

Historically Iowa’s role was to narrow the field, but no candidate has dropped out. Predictably Elizabeth won on the campus, but the only county she won was U Iowa’s. Liz split the progressive vote with Bernie with her 18% share, total them together and we see the progressive dems strength at a losing 44% in this prototypical midwest swing state. Memo to the Iowa democrats: Run moderate candidates for statewide offices.

Joe Biden massively underperformed, his 16% of the delegates well forecast by the soft support I saw for Joe at an event but missed by the polls. Amy beat 538’s 9% prediction, winning 12% of the delegates, but won several rural counties in the Rochester, Minnesota TV market. That puts Amy just below the 15% viability threshold for winning delegates and Amy may pass that threshold only in northwest Iowa’s 4th congressional district, and with only five national convention delegates available there Amy will be lucky to get one DNC delegate out of Iowa.

Like Pete’s best turf, most of Joe’s and Amy’s support came from rural counties, put the three moderates delegates together they won a 54% majority of the delegates. That blows the progressive’s argument that you just need an inspiring progressive candidate like Bernie or a PC policy wonk like Liz to win rural turf, and if a progressive candidates can’t win a majority of democrat’s votes, how are they going to win the republicans?

If this were a traditional Iowa caucus Amy and everyone that finished below her would drop out, ‘cept the vanity candidates. But thanks to the incredible success of online fundraising everybody’s got not just gas money but business jet charter money to fly off to New Hampshire before the real Iowa caucus results come out and shade their prospects. Throw in the two billionaires already going nowhere in the race and a third that just jumped in, and we’ve got the makings of a contested convention in Milwaukee and a wounded presidential nominee coming out of that convention.

I’m going to miss the Iowa caucuses- It was an opportunity for voters to communicate with the candidates on a personal basis, and vice versa. Criticize Iowa for it’s lack of diversity, but good luck finding a state that matches the ten or so states that really decide the electoral college where you can buy prime TV time for less than $1000 a spot.

And I’m gonna miss making a short drive to meet the candidates in person, pick my candidate, and then see the effects of my campaigning at a friendly neighborhood caucus. Like the manual transmission and desktop computers, we’re gonna miss the Iowa caucuses when they’re gone!