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.

Recommended essay in the NY Times

The opening paragraphs alone are enough to endorse it, for the understated view of the situation.

By Anand Giridharadas. Non-paywalled link.

Polls swing this way and that way, but the larger story they tell is unmistakable. With the midterm elections, Americans are being offered a clear choice between continued and expanded liberal democracy, on the one hand, and fascism, on the other. And it’s more or less a dead heat.

It is time to speak an uncomfortable truth: The pro-democracy side is at risk not just because of potential electoral rigging, voter suppression and other forms of unfair play by the right, as real as those things are. In America (as in various other countries), the pro-democracy cause — a coalition of progressives, liberals, moderates, even decent Republicans who still believe in free elections and facts — is struggling to win the battle for hearts and minds.

The pro-democracy side can still very much prevail. But it needs to go beyond its present modus operandi, a mix of fatalism and despair and living in perpetual reaction to the right and policy wonkiness and praying for indictments.

NY Times

Team Fascist has been more successful because they are more experienced and determined at engaging the electorate at psychological and emotional levels. A liberal response based in various dry policy issues doesn’t engender similar loyalty or enthusiasm. To Giridharadas’s taste, the Inflation Reduction Act is better policy than the student loan cancellation which he says is something of a mixed bag—but the latter has the chance to be life-changing for voters who will not forget it, and the former is more abstract, and wasn’t sold to voters as a liberal accomplishment. Not for the first (or last) time, Republican candidates are taking credit for the capital improvements in their districts financed by a law they voted against.

I was also endeared to the article by its pointing out the Democrats are much better at asking you for money—over and over again—than at fostering a sense of participation and membership. It’s always nice to have priors confirmed, when he points out how the Right uses church groups, shooting ranges, and other places to cement emotional membership. There are too few Democratic groups doing the same. We can be proud of belonging to just such a group.

Fighting Fascism should be, occasionally, fun. Not just the constant feeling of dread.