Source: Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly, January 14, 2019
In a cover package in our latest issue, the Washington Monthly argues that the Democratic Party’s most profound—but fixable—problem is geography. In the 2018 midterms, Democrats rode a “blue wave” of support to their first House majority since 2011. Yet, even with a nine-point advantage in the national vote, they lost a net of two Senate seats. That’s because their voters are increasingly clustered in solid-blue states like California and New York and too thin on the ground in states like North Dakota and Ohio. If this situation continues, Democrats will have a tough time ever regaining the Senate (where sparsely and heavily populated states each get two senators) and may continue to lose the Electoral College despite winning the popular vote.
The challenge is not only that Democrats have hemorrhaged support in economically declining rural areas. It’s also that metro areas in red and purple states, which generally support Democrats, haven’t been growing enough to offset those rural losses. Instead, growth in income and opportunity has overwhelmingly flowed to a handful of large metro areas on or near the coasts—precisely the places where Democrats are wracking up millions of “wasted” votes.
Democrats can fix their geography problem, our latest issue argues, only by confronting this regional economic inequality. And the best and only way to do that is to reverse the national policies that caused the problem in the first place: the abandonment of antitrust and other measures that once ensured that every part of the country could compete economically, which has since enabled the rise of monopoly firms that cluster opportunity in a few lucky coastal megacities like San Francisco and New York…..
Source: Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register, Updated January 14, 2019
The Iowa database of more than 69,000 felons barred from voting contains systemic inaccuracies, and state officials have known that for years.
Source: Alan Greenblatt, Governing, December 19, 2018
Staunchly Republican rural counties voted for progressive policies at the ballot box this year, including minimum wage hikes and Medicaid expansion.
Source: Michael Ollove, Stateline, December 17, 2018
Perhaps the chief takeaway from the rejected citizen initiative to expand Medicaid in Montana last month is this: Be careful when you poke a giant.
Montana was one of four red states with Medicaid expansion on the ballot, and the only one where it failed. And the reason why, many close observers both inside and outside of the state agree, almost certainly came down to a tactical decision to link expansion to an increase in the state’s tobacco tax.
Supporters thought that strategy would boost their effort with voters, but it attracted Big Tobacco into the fight, along with the $17.2 million it spent, much of it on a television advertising blitz. Opponents raised nearly $19 million to defeat the measure, finance reports filed with the state show.
Proponents, with about $9.7 million to spend, simply couldn’t keep up….
Source: Daniel Q. Gillion, Sarah A. Soule, Social Science Quarterly, Volume 99 Issue 5, November 2018
From the abstract:
The objective of this study was to understand the effect of citizen mobilization on both electoral outcomes and on the likelihood that new candidates will enter races to challenge incumbent politicians.
This study uses quantitative, longitudinal data (at the congressional‐district level) on protest, electoral outcomes, and challengers entering races, which are analyzed using an autoregressive distributed lagged regression model.
Results show that protests that express liberal issues lead to a greater percentage of the two‐party vote share for Democratic candidates, while protests that espouse conservative issues offer Republican candidates a greater share of the two‐party vote. Additionally, results indicated that protest shines a light on incumbent politicians’ failure to address constituent concerns, which leads quality candidates to enter subsequent races to challenge incumbent politicians.
Citizen activism, which has been shown to impact state and firm policy decisions, also impacts electoral outcomes.
Yes, protests really can sway elections
Source: by Edmund L. Andrews, Futurity, December 13, 2018
Protests really do have an effect on election results, according to a new study based on 30 years of data.
Source: Tim Storey and Wendy Underhill, State Legislatures Magazine, November-December 2018
Republicans Still Control Most of the Nation’s Legislative Seats, but the Gap Between the Parties Narrowed Considerably
Voters Make Policy
Source: Patrick Potyondy, State Legislatures Magazine, November-December 2018
Citizens Had Their Say on More Than 150 Ballot Measures That Could Transform Their States
Source: Melissa De Witte, Futurity, December 3, 2018
Elections play a distinctive role in strengthening democracy, and voting is a pivotal part of that process. That’s why new research makes the case for universal participation through mandatory voting…..
Source: Ari Berman, Mother Jones, December 3, 2018
Four states are taking unprecedented steps to strip power from Democrats and make it harder to vote.
Case Studies in Voter Suppression: Profiling Voter Suppressors
Source: Danielle Root and Aadam Barclay, Center for American Progress Action Fund, November 26, 2018
Source: Michael Li, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, blog, November 16, 2018
As the partisans clear the rubble, the results of the 2018 midterm elections should deeply disturb all Americans who care about representative democracy no matter their politics.
That’s because despite the Democrats’ approximately seven-point win of the percentage of votes cast, Democrats look likely to win only 37 seats. This is a mockery of the notion held by John Adams and the founding fathers that Congress should be an “exact portrait, a miniature” of the people as a whole.
Contrast that to the Tea Party wave of 2010, when a seven-point win by Republicans gave them 63 seats. Democrats may have the satisfaction of a majority, but it is by modern standards a razor-thin one. It’s also a majority that may be hard to hold in 2020 if the highly unusual wave dynamics of 2018 don’t repeat themselves.
This unrepresentative outcome has to do in large part with aggressive gerrymandering in a handful of key states like North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan. In North Carolina, Democrats won half the congressional vote but less than a quarter of seats. In fact, not a single congressional seat in North Carolina changed parties in 2016 and 2018. The results are equally stark for Ohio, where the two major parties regularly split the vote nearly 50-50, but Republicans have maintained a lopsided 12 to 4 advantage in the Ohio congressional delegation since 2012.
Never have maps been more gerrymandered. But also never have there been so many massive wave elections to test the strength of gerrymanders. So far in the four elections of the decade, gerrymanders are undefeated, producing with rare exception, exactly the results they were designed to do…..
Source: Molly Fosco, Ozy, November 20, 2018
….Hustle is just one of a number of startups — on both sides of the aisle — that have emerged in recent years and are leveraging technology beyond traditional social media platforms in grassroots and political organizing. As national political debate gets increasingly heated, they’re witnessing growing traction, with unprecedented usage in the just-concluded midterms. For liberals, they’re tools to resist the Trump presidency. For conservatives, they’re weapons to fight back against those progressive efforts.
Ragtag, founded in 2016, connects people who have technical skills to left-of-center campaigns and organizations that need them. The Action Network, started in 2012, is using an advanced digital toolkit to mobilize more volunteers in the progressive movement than ever before. OpnSesame and RumbleUp, both founded last year, are texting platforms similar to Hustle but are focused exclusively on conservative campaigns and causes. And i360, which started in 2009, is a Koch brothers–backed technology used by several conservative organizers that connects voter information with data from credit bureaus and previous voting records…..