Category Archives: Politics

The most unpopular presidential election winner ever could win again in 2020

Source: Liberty Vittert, Brendan Lind, The Conversation, June 10, 2019

…According to FiveThirtyEight, the day Trump stepped into the White House, he had only a 45.5% approval rating. This stands in stark contrast to Barack Obama, for example, who took office with a 68% approval rating.

Moreover, Trump has the lowest approval average in history, at only 40%. The next lowest is Harry Truman at 45.4%.

These data clearly show that Trump is the least-liked president in American history. With such unpopularity, how could he possibly win again?…

What would happen to Congress if Washington, DC became the 51st state?

Source: https://theconversation.com/profiles/dudley-poston-703355“>Dudley Poston, The Conversation, June 6, 2019

…. Statehood for the district has been opposed by Republicans in the past, mainly because the district is heavily Democratic.

About 76% of the registered voters in the district are Democrats, while just 6% are Republicans. Most of the others have no party affiliation, though a few are Libertarians or Green Party members.

This occurs even though, with over 700,000 residents, the district is larger in population than two states: Vermont and Wyoming. Two other states have just a few more residents than the district, Alaska with 737,000 people and North Dakota with 760,000.

But those four states each have one representative in the U.S. House and two senators. Washington, D.C. has neither a representative nor any senators. ….

…. What will happen politically if the district becomes the 51st state? How will the distribution of representatives and senators among the states change? The answers show why Republicans consistently vote against statehood for the district. ….

Conservatives Pushed a Strategy to Weaken Home Health Care Unions. The Trump Administration Bit.

Source: Rachel M. Cohen, Nick Surgey, The Intercept, May 31, 2019

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a new rule barring home health care workers from paying union dues through their Medicaid-funded wages. The new Department of Health and Human Services rule, which will impact more than 800,000 workers and was immediately met with a legal challenge, followed years of planning by anti-union activists to promote such measures in states across the country, and, more recently, on the federal level.

In anticipation of a crushing blow to public-sector unions by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer, conservative groups ramped up their efforts to bring the federal government’s attention to the issue of Medicaid-funded union dues, according to an audio recording obtained by The Intercept and Documented.

On an invitation-only call with donors last June, leaders with the State Policy Network — a corporate-backed umbrella group of right-wing think tanks across the country — raised the issue of directly deducting union dues from Medicaid-funded paychecks, what they call “dues-skimming.” Vinnie Vernuccio, a labor policy adviser to the State Policy Network told donors that its plan was to end this practice by getting “an administrative rule passed at Health and Human Services” and passing federal legislation with the assistance of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash…..

Gender Differences in Politician Persistence

Source: Melanie Wasserman, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Anderson School of Management, November 2018, Posted: May 9, 2019

From the abstract:
Why are women underrepresented in politics? This paper documents gender differences in the career paths of novice politicians by studying the persistence of candidates after they win or lose elections. I track the political trajectories of over 11,000 candidates in local California elections and use a regression discontinuity approach. Losing an election causes 50 percent more attrition among female than male candidates: an electoral loss causes men to be 16 percentage points less likely to run again within the next four years, whereas the drop for women is 25 percentage points. Yet the gender gap in persistence depends on the setting: I find no evidence of a gap among candidates for high female representation offices or among more experienced candidates. These results are inconsistent with behavioral explanations of women’s differential attrition. Instead, the results suggest that in low information environments, voters may penalize novice female politicians, which deters women from running again. I discuss the implications of the results for the gender gap in officeholding.

How to Rebuild the Labor Movement, State by State – What progressives can learn from conservative anti-union advocacy

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, American Prospect, Spring 2019

Last year’s strikes and direct action by workers, especially red-state public school teachers, have rightly been celebrated for injecting new energy into the American labor movement. Yet these mobilizations should not distract progressives from the magnitude of the challenges facing unions and their supporters in the Democratic Party. The next time Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House, they will need to put major reforms of federal labor law front and center. In the meantime, they ought to learn from conservative anti-union efforts about pursuing change through the states and developing a politically minded strategy for labor reform.

In particular, Democrats need to think about labor law reform not just as yet another area of public policy, but rather as conservatives do: as a set of reforms that can build durable political power that enables further policy wins on other issues. Before spelling out the specific lessons that the left can take from the right’s victories, it is helpful to step back to see just how differently Democrats and Republicans think about unions.

All-Out Republican Opposition versus Democratic Ambivalence

Over the past four decades, conservative political activists and donors, often bolstered by private-sector businesses, have fruitfully used public policy as a political weapon to weaken unions, especially public-sector unions. Crucially, these cross-state conservative coalitions, above all the conservative “troika” of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the State Policy Network, and Americans for Prosperity, have never seen their anti-labor efforts as simply an end in themselves. Instead, right-wing advocacy against unions recognizes the inherently political role that the labor movement plays—and thus that efforts to weaken unions will eventually redound to conservatives’ long-term political victories. …..

2020 and the Democrats’ Theory of Change

Source: Paul Starr, American Prospect, March 21, 2019

The Democrats can and must think big, but they have to frame their ideas around the realities of a coalition party that includes suburban moderates.

Related:
Getting Serious About Power
Source: Caroline Fredrickson, American Prospect, April 17, 2019

Can we learn something about the right’s strategic coherence without emulating either their ideas or their contempt for democracy?

Secrecy versus sunshine: Efforts to hide government records never stop

Source: Brent Walth, The Conversation, May 15, 2019

….All 50 states give the public the right to see government records and documents, but many state legislatures are weighing changes in their open-records laws.

These changes rarely end up making our government more transparent. Instead, lawmakers often try to conceal public records from the people who own them – that is, you and me.

Public records laws exist to allow us to see into the decision-making of our government. When bureaucrats make efforts to obscure our view into their actions, it serves only to undermine government officials’ accountability.

It also diminishes the public’s understanding of, and faith in, democracy. ….

“Left-Wing Haters and Angry Mobs”: Primers for the Trump Resistance

Source: Patrick Dixon, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 16 no. 2, May 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The results of the 2016 election presented a crisis for American progressives that has given birth to a new genre of popular nonfiction literature focused on resistance to the Trump administration. These primers seldom consider labor to be an important element of resistance, and while they include many policy prescriptions, these are often lacking in imagination and ambition. This genre is nonetheless an instructive source, offering a historical snapshot that reveals the fissures and dilemmas facing the American Left in the early days of the Trump presidency.

Picking Winners: How Political Organizations Influence Local Elections

Source: Andrea Benjamin, Alexis Miller, Urban Affairs Review, Volume: 55 issue: 3, May 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Endorsements have become a part of most election cycles. They come from a variety of sources (civic organizations, elected officials, newspapers, etc.) and are intended to signal voters that one candidate is preferential to another. Yet, there is still a lot that we do not know about endorsements. In this article, we provide insight into the process of how organizations and newspapers endorse candidates, provide evidence that demonstrates candidates believe these endorsements are important, and test the claim that voters are aware of these endorsements even when controlling for factors such as partisanship, ideology, and education. We also test the claim that issue positions explain vote choice better than endorsements. We rely on interview data and exit poll data to test our claims. Using data from an at-large municipal election, in which voters selected up to three candidates, we find that awareness of endorsements explains vote choice better than issues.