Notes from the March 19, 2023 meeting

Most of the meeting was about reorganization and expansion of the People’s Front for the Liberation of the Elmwood. I committed to looking into redesign of a website, with special attention to a calendar that could be a one-stop shop for East Bay political organizing events. (I just looked at the Indivisible East Bay site, and its calendar for this month is empty.) We’re thinking of guests like Robert Reich and Brad DeLong.

Besides a new name—Another Bunch of Activists seems to be winning—we will be listing ourselves as affiliated with Sister District, but not a formal chapter, and likewise affiliated to Indivisible.

Short takes

Tomorrow (Tuesday, March 21) is a Day of Action from Third Act, and organization of over–60s working to save the planet from climate change. Tomorrow is for complaining to your major bank about their dismal record on the environment. Don’t worry which bank you have: the American banks are either bad or worse on energy issues.

As I mentioned, the liberal candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court has over three times the advertising budget as her far-right opponent. She needs turnout, not money. There is also a special election for the Wisconsin legislature, where we are trying to flip a seat. I have no idea if this candidate needs more money, nor if there is any hope for this seat. Her multiple spelling mistakes in the ad pitch are a bad, amateurish sign.

Locally, the GOP has targeted not only Mike Levin and Katie Porter’s open seat in Southern California, but also Josh Harder up here. Well, good luck with that. Be prepared for Harder to fundraise from it.

I had not realized that the civic reform initiative A Common Purpose is a project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, until I followed its link. It will be nice to get back to its high-mindedness.

We’re having a little trouble scheduling the next meeting because of holidays and other commitments. It may not be until April 23; stay tuned.

Sister District event this weekend

The 2023 Sister District summit is happening this weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Krutch Theater, 2601 Warring St, Berkeley. That’s on the Clark Kerr Campus.

Friday, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm is Welcome reception, which we think is in the lobby of the Claremont Hotel. (The site has it there, and also at Krutch. The hotel sounds like more fun!) Events begin Saturday at 9:00. The Keynote speaker is Anat Shenker-Osorio, who is speaking at 2:10 pm. Contact Andrew for a registration link.

Naomi can’t go Saturday. If someone can go Saturday and give us a report, that would be great.

Postage rates go up Sunday

In case any of you have missed it, and want to buy stamps at the lower prices, the First Class Forever stamp will cost 63¢, up from 60¢. The corresponding increase in Postcard stamps is from 44¢ to 48¢. Of course, stamps you have labeled Forever or Postcard are good indefinitely no matter what price you paid.

US postage rates are among the cheapest the developed world. Write on!

Consensus lessons from the election

The datacrats have had a chance to look at who voted in the election. Given that the results were not what the Punditocracy expected, there are important lessons.

  • There was less fall-off in the Youth Vote (under 30) than usual in a midterm. Of course, this group is heavily Democratic. The top reason for larger-than-expected turnout was reproductive freedom.
  • Other key Democratic groups—viz., Blacks and Hispanics—did have significant turnout problems. Democrats compensated with continued inroads with high-propensity White college-educated voters.
  • A number of registered Republicans rejected MAGA candidates, either voting for their opponents or leaving the race blank. For these voters, Trump’s threat to Democracy was the top issue. This is a mixed result for conventional wisdom. A great many races were decided by swing, independent, or split-ticket voters, which feeds the narrative that candidates must run to the center. On the other hand, the idea that “kitchen table” issues like inflation are the key to their vote was repudiated. (How Democrats were going to run on kitchen table issues in the current economy is not clear to me.)
  • Republicans actually ran ahead of Democrats in total vote for House of Representatives, by about two points, depending how you handle uncontested races.
  • Centrist Democrats and ex-Republicans see the result as a triumph for their breed of Democrats, pointing at wins like the biggest upset of the cycle, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in WA–03, who defeated a MAGA loon. They are very quiet, however, about moderate Democrats who lost badly, like Charlie Crist (FL–Gov), Val Demings (FL–Sen), and Cheri Beasley (NC–Sen), none of whom did better than some random Democrat would have. (Wins Above Replacement of 0.0 for the baseball stats fans.)
  • The New York Democratic Party is a mess, losing any number of winnable races. Bad organizing and flat-footed campaigning. They couldn’t even detect—much less defeat—a pathological liar who may not even be eligible. Heads have to roll there.
  • Second-worst performance was by the California Democrats. We need to know why. Chime in!

The MAGA penalty was as much as ten points: that’s the margin of victory in Arizona for the one ordinary-Republican statewide candidate in Arizona, the new State Treasurer. The other AZ races were within one point. In the Nevada Senate race, MAGA cost two points compared to the Governor. In Georgia, there were hundreds of thousands of Kemp–Warnock voters. (Not easy for me to see where Stacey Abrams goes from here. See also: Beto O’Rourke.)

The Warnock run-off

I received an email about whether to donate to the Reverend Warnock for the run-off.

The short answer is No. He will raise an unbelievable sum of money. Naomi and I made a $100 donation, just to show the flag.

A slightly longer answer is that we also donated, via Airlift, to the Georgia grassroots organizations. True, Stacey Abrams didn’t win. The Republican Administration of Georgia is relatively popular. That doesn’t reduce the importance of voter registration and engagement.

Friday update

The recent Nevada mail ballots have been even more pro-Dem than the ones counted earlier. Look for Cortez Masto to move into the lead in today’s count, and not look back. Governor Sisolak is still in trouble. Laxalt is paying the I-Love-Trump premium, running behind the rest of his ticket.

Arizona looks nerveracking, but so far the same pattern has held: late mail votes better for us, in every county, than early. So even batches that we expected to shrink the lead have expanded it. Mark Kelly is safe, because not only is he running ahead of Katie Dobbs, there is a Libertarian candidate taking 2%, which widens the gap. The AZ State Senate is coming into play with the mail votes.

If you want to know where all those Vote Forward letters mattered, we have flipped the lower house of the Pennsylvania legislature by two votes. Not two seats. We won the last seat by two votes.

I’m sorry to say our longtime friend Padma Kuppa lost her MI State Senate race by less than 1000 votes, but we did flip both chambers, making MI a Dem Trifecta.

The Nevada Senate math

Wednesday 8:00 pm. Too tired to say much about the election as a whole. Disaster averted. Control of the Senate still unclear. Let me try to explain the Nevada situation.

All election day in-person votes (heavily Rep) are counted. Essentially all of the “rural” counties—everything except Washoe (Reno + surrounding area) and Clark (Las Vegas)—is in, huge Rep margin there.

As of this writing, Laxalt leads Cortez Masto by over 18K votes. There are 131K votes not yet counted, and they comprise (1) Reno mail, (2) Reno drop boxes, (3) LV mail, and (4) LV drop boxes. I would guess another 9K ballots will come in between now and Saturday, the final deadline regardless of postmark. CCM needs to average 57% of these votes to take the lead. Bucket (3) has, I believe 16K ballots. Bucket (4) was announced as about 59,600. Dems had hoped for and expected significantly more. Bucket (3) is running at 65% for CCM, much better than required. But no one has any idea yet what is in Bucket (4). Is it like people who queued up to vote in person, which would make the situation difficult? Maybe. But the LV unions’ Get Out the Vote operation was pushing exactly this method of voting—so even though the quantity is smaller than expected, it might still provide a significant margin. It’s a complete mystery until the first release of results from the boxes, which I believe is tomorrow.

There are also the 60K+ votes from Reno. I don’t believe Bucket (2) is very large. Mail votes from Reno were heavily D until Election Day, when they were plurality R. No idea if that is a trend or a fluke. In any case, overall, Washoe County has Laxalt ahead by almost 5000 votes. Mail ballots, however, ran against him. I don’t know how much CCM can count on from here. 55% would be enough.

I’d expect the final margin to be less than 2000 votes, regardless of who wins.

The Washington Post slightly favors CCM despite her current deficit.

UPDATE Wed 10:00 pm. Good news. In the first batch of Washoe (Reno) mail ballots tallied, CCM won better than 60/40. Far above what she needs. This wiped out a 5000 total-vote deficit in the county. The winner of Washoe is usually the winner of the state.