The perils of redistricting

I noticed on the news the other day that my home state of Ohio had its proposed Congressional redistricting map tossed out by a 4-3 Ohio Supreme Court ruling, with the Republican chief justice joining the three Democrat justices in claiming the map was, “a plan that is infused with undue partisan bias and that is incomprehensibly more extremely biased than the 2011 plan that it replaced.”

I’m going to be the first to admit that the Ohio Republicans in 2010, after being infused with the energy of the TEA Party, made it their mission to wipe out Democrat representation. One memorable piece of gerrymandering was shoestringing the Toledo-based Ninth Congressional District (my former home district) along the south shore of Lake Erie to the edge of Cleveland in order to place two Democrat representatives, Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich, in the same district. When both sought the seat in 2012, Kaptur prevailed and all but ended Kucinich’s political career.

So the Republicans have to go back to the drawing board, and in an interesting twist of state law, maps that pass without bipartisan support may only be left in place for four years. And the Ohio ruling gave yet more ammunition to Democrats to claim we need a national standard – enter my old uber-regressive friend Rick Weiland, who e-mailed me to say:

Republicans are only months away from rigging a decade of elections.

(snip)

In 2016, the Democratic governor of North Carolina won re-election with 51% of the vote, the same year Donald Trump won the presidency with slightly less than 51%. Yet, even though Democrats are winning approximately 50% of the votes statewide, they’re still ending up in a permanent minority in the state legislature.

Thanks to all of our hard work, Georgia has become a quintessential battleground state. But thanks to Republican gerrymandering, Republicans are expected to win 9 or 10 of Georgia’s 14 congressional seats. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, which has seen its demographics shift from 90% white in 1990 to 30% white today, this is not at all recognized by the maps drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature.

And, in Ohio, where Republicans win about 53% of the vote, the GOP is favored to win 80% of congressional seats.

“Freedom to Vote Act would ban partisan gerrymandering,” e-mail from Rick Weiland, January 11, 2022.

You can throw out that last sentence for the moment. But let’s talk about how people vote, and I’m going to take a look at Maryland for the moment because, unlike Delaware, they actually have Congressional districts.

In the last three Congressional elections, this is the share of the aggregate Congressional vote each party has received in the state of Maryland.

  • 2020: Democrats 64.7%, Republicans 34.8%, others 0.4%
  • 2018: Democrats 65.3%, Republicans 32.3%, others 2.4%
  • 2016: Democrats 60.4%, Republicans 35.5%, others 4.0%

In that time period, Democrats have held consistent around 55% of registered voters, while the GOP slipped slightly but stayed around 25%. Given that ratio one can assume unaffiliated voters split roughly 50-50, although in 2016 it looks like they tilted somewhat toward the GOP and slightly favored Democrats in 2018. (Another factor: there were fewer third party aspirants on the 2020 ballot, as the Libertarians and Greens didn’t field candidates. That may have had something to do with ballot access issues for the minor parties in Maryland, which has a stricter criteria for access than Delaware does.)

To make a long story short, in a given election between two candidates statewide in Maryland the split should run 65-35 in favor of the Democrats – in fact, 2020 was a perfect example of this. However, when you split the state into districts you’ll find that there are pockets of heavier Republican registration, and in 2010 the Democrats (who control redistricting) chose to pack as many Republican stalwarts as possible into the First District by switching portions of GOP-dominated Carroll County into the First and burying the rest in a tide of MoCo Democrats by placing it in the Eighth. This was done in order to swamp the formerly-Republican Sixth District in a separate crush of MoCo Democrats by eliminating its Frederick and Carroll county portions and instead thrusting it further into MoCo. (And as I’ll note momentarily, it worked.)

In the 2010 district map, centrist Anne Arundel County was mercilessly jigsawed into four different districts, while the more populous Democrat enclaves of Baltimore City and Montgomery County were sliced into three and Prince George’s into a hacksawed two based on the party’s need for dominance, maintaining through the decade a 7-1 advantage gained when the Sixth District flipped from Republican to Democrat thanks to the additional leftist MoCo voters. Once the map was approved, all but one of the changes in Maryland’s Congressional delegation during the decade came from retirement or death, as the only incumbent to lose at the ballot box was Sixth District Republican Roscoe Bartlett in 2012 – the chosen victim of Democrat redistricting. The same occurred in 2002 after that round of Democrat-controlled redistricting, when the Second District seat previously held by Bob Ehrlich (who won his run for governor) and Eighth District seat held by Connie Morella (who lost a re-election bid) flipped, changing Maryland from a 4-4 state to a 6-2 Democrat state. Aside from the Democrats gaining the First District for a term with Frank Kratovil in 2008 before he lost to Andy Harris, that’s the way it stayed.

This time around it’s the aforementioned Republican Andy Harris who is the target of Democrats, as they opted to not pack Republicans into the First and instead brought it back close to the configuration that gave the First District Kratovil in 2008 as part of Anne Arundel was once again placed in the First. (Additionally, Harris no longer lives in the district, which is now completely outside his home in Baltimore County.) Anne Arundel gets a slight break this time, though, as they are only in three districts, as is Baltimore City. MoCo now has the distinction of being cut in jagged fourths by the map.

By comparison, the map presented by Governor Larry Hogan’s redistricting committee (made up of equal portions Republicans, Democrats, and independents) came up with a Congressional map that respected county boundaries as much as possible. No county was chopped into more than three districts: in Baltimore County, only the extreme southern tip was placed in the city-centric Seventh District while the rest went into a Second District exclusive to the county and the First District. Meanwhile, Montgomery County had its own district in the Eighth, with a little piece of the western end of the county staying in the Sixth District (as has been traditional) and the rest – a slice along its eastern border – joining the northern half of Prince George’s County in the Fourth District. But since that would likely be a 6-2 Democrat split, it wasn’t good enough for the rabidly partisan General Assembly – never mind that a truly representative state of Maryland would probably shake out as a 5-3 Democrat majority based on their voting pattern.

(As you’ll see in its 160-plus pages, this Hogan redistricting committee proposal also covered state legislative districts, with the key change the elimination of multiple-member Delegate districts. The Democrats hated that, too.)

In circling back to Weiland’s plea – which echoes that of the most rabid Congressional Democrats – one has to wonder where the energy for leading by example went to. What happened to criticism of states like Maryland, Illinois, or California, where Republicans are gerrymandered out of any semblance of power? This is particularly true when Marylanders were presented with an alternative that was more fair.

The problem with pretty much any district map done geographically is that keeping things compact and contiguous means that you get urban areas that vote 90% Democrat (and have enough population for a district of their own) surrounded by suburban and rural areas that swing 70-30 or more the other way. To take a state like Ohio, you could easily get a 10-5 Republican split by just keeping the large three-C (Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland) urban counties in their own districts, plus maybe one that combines the Akron/Canton/Youngstown area and one based in Toledo. Just divide the rest of the state 10 ways, and it could pass muster geographically. Move north into Michigan: give the city of Detroit its own district and split up the suburbs into thirds or fourths – those are your D districts in Michigan. Given the size of the other cities in the state, there’s not enough urban area for a Democrat-dominated district.

(Turns out they were pretty close, giving Detroit two districts and the suburbs three, including combining the downriver Detroit suburbs and Ann Arbor area for a third strong D district. But the state is being sued by the “Detroit Caucus” because the city lost a seat from the hack job previously in place.)

Perhaps the best example of this approach is in Nebraska, where one district is basically the city of Omaha and close-in suburbs, another is the Omaha exurbs and the college town of Lincoln, and the third is everything else. In theory, all three representatives could now live within about 25 miles of Omaha – but one would have a heckuva district to cover. (The change from before is that the “rest of the state” district now comes close to Omaha – prior to this year the Lincoln district completely surrounded the Omaha one.)

What I do know is that the solution doesn’t lie in Congress. When the hypocrisy of ignoring the beam in your eye to focus on the speck in your brother’s eye (as described in Matthew 7:3) is so rampant there, they aren’t the answer. If the regressives had their way, districts would pinwheel out of urban areas in just such a manner that centrist and Republican voters would be shut out by their urban counterparts – who would also be in charge of counting the votes, and since urban areas always seem to report last, they would know just the margin of “mail-in votes” they need to create.

This is why Congress should not be in charge of their own elections – it’s bad enough what we sometimes have to put up with at the state level.

Will the ground crumble under their feet?

With more and more people crying “let’s go Brandon,” Joe Biden’s poll numbers cratering, and with a Virginia governor’s race (supposedly a bellwether race when Democrats win it) that’s tighter than anyone expected, the Democrats and all their associated special interests are deeply worried about impending doom in the 2022 midterms. They’re so worried, in fact, that I got an intriguing e-mail Saturday from my old foes at Indivisible that started out this way:

Our progressive champions in Congress have fought like hell for us this year. 

For an inclusive recovery that meets the moment. 

For affordable housing. 

For our climate. 

For a path to citizenship.

For lower prescription drug prices.

For affordable childcare.

For a democracy of, by, and for the people. 

How much of it are you willing to give up? How much are you willing to leave unfinished? How many of these things are you willing to let slip away?

Right now, Mitch McConnell and other Trump-loving Republicans are working hard to take it all away and reclaim their congressional majority. And the truth is, unless we start fighting like hell for those members of Congress who fought like hell for us this year, Republicans could win (they only need to win five seats in the House and one in the Senate).

If Republicans are successful, every one of our priorities will be dead on arrival.

Together, we’ve got to start fighting to say we’re not willing to cede any progress. Not one law. Not one priority. Not. One. Inch.

That’s why yesterday, we launched our new electoral program for the 2022 election cycle: Give No Ground. (link added)

“Make sure Republicans don’t get control of Congress next year!”, Indivisible e-mail, October 16, 2021.

In truth, their regressive champions got awful greedy given their lack of a mandate. What they thought was a mandate was really a reaction to a president for whom the media had nothing good to say and whose record should have spoken for itself – but hindsight is always 20-20. Meanwhile, the regressive track record during the Biden regime is really, really detrimental to our interests; hence, the horrible polling. So what will they do?

First off, they got their house organ of CNN to write up a puff piece, which explained that:

The list from Indivisible, a grassroots organization with groups across the country, overlaps in part with the campaign committee’s slate. The beneficiaries of its new “Give No Ground” initiative will receive an initial donation to be followed by bespoke investments, potentially including help with voter mobilization, rapid response messaging and outreach in multiple languages.

“Indivisible launches project to protect Democratic incumbents in 2022,” Gregory Krieg, CNN, October 15, 2021.

“Help with voter mobilization”? Good luck with that.

They plan to spend a minimum of $1 million of dark money (that’s not what they say, but that’s what it surely will be) to prop up seven House incumbents from six states as well as Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. The list from the House is “Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin of California, Lucy McBath of Georgia, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Andy Kim of New Jersey, Antonio Delgado of New York and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.” Except for Cartwright, these representatives came in on the Democrat ripple of 2018, while Cartwright’s district shifted that year due to court-ordered changes in Pennsylvania’s district map. (He was initially elected in 2012.) District changes for this year may make things more difficult for some of these incumbents, but most come from Democrat-dominated states.

It will be interesting to see if the program expands to Maryland once their redistricting is complete. As it stands, the First District (as it’s known at the moment) has longtime Republican Andy Harris seeking a seventh term he once pledged not to seek. (Most likely he’s wishing to be back in the majority again.) While only one Democrat, David Harden, has officially filed against Harris, the odds-on favorite to win that primary is former state legislator and onetime gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur, who moved to the Eastern Shore once she lost her race for Maryland’s top spot. She’s been outraising Harris over the last few months but Andy still has plenty of cash on hand, nearly a 2:1 edge. Yet depending on how the district is drawn, there may be additional resources flowing Heather’s way. And yes, she fits right in with those regressives because she checks a lot of their boxes: LGBT female with a very liberal voting record in the Maryland General Assembly over her tenure there.

On the other hand, the situation in Delaware is bad for Republican prospects, as the leading GOP Congressional candidate right now is the one who just lost to incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester by 17 points 11 months ago. (He did win the votes on Election Day, though – it was the mail-in ballots that provided LBR’s winning margin.) With legislators unable to “run from cover” based on a 4-year term because all 62 seats in the Delaware General Assembly are up in 2022, the question becomes whether anyone will give up a seat for this lottery ticket of a chance.

Worth remembering in all this, though, is that despite Joe Biden’s “victory” in the election last year, he had coattails that were tucked in. A party that was predicted to improve its majority in the House came close to losing it and it took two special elections in the Senate for that majority to be created. (Moreover, for want of about 15,000 votes, David Perdue didn’t get a 50% + 1 majority in his race, which would have made the point moot.) So even if you figure there was an anti-Trump vote in 2020, there’s no Trump on the ballot in 2022. Most of my readers are smart enough to know that Democrats will try to put him there in an attempt to scare independent voters, much as every Republican was a “TEA Party” Republican a decade ago whether we liked them or not.

So here’s hoping that Indivisible wastes all that money. Hey, it will keep a certain class in the Swamp afloat for awhile until they figure out the next grift.

A brief rebuttal

As I alluded to in my last post, I did get a response from Jen Kuznicki in her podcast on August 23 – a podcast I didn’t have a chance to sit down and listen to until last night. (In the interim, she’s done another I haven’t listened to yet.)

Given her response, two things were clear to me: one is that I should have done Jen’s section as a separate post from the part about the Tea Party Express. I think she got bogged down in more of a comparison with the TPX than I had intended to make. My point with them is that they were soliciting money to get consultants rich instead of really helping conservative candidates, and that point remains. Somewhere in the podcast I think Jen mentioned giving money to individual candidates, and I agree with (in fact, encourage) that approach.

The second part is that I probably agree with her assessment on the Republican Party about 70 percent, except there are portions of the country where getting involved in the GOP are more difficult than others. Just as a personal example, I was elected twice as a precinct committeeman in Toledo and surrounding areas and appointed twice. In the one election I was opposed, it was one of maybe a half-dozen contested precinct races in the entire county (out of perhaps 300, since precincts in Lucas County are generally tiny, like a handful of blocks in some cases.) In the cases where I was appointed, the precinct was empty because no one sought the job. I literally lost my election in Precinct P of my ward and immediately got asked if I wanted to represent Precinct Q next door since no one ran there.

In places like that, it would be simpler for a motivated group to take over the party – get enough people elected in home precincts and have the interest to be appointed to other precincts that need people. Then they can have the muscle to get folks elected to the executive committee where the real decisions are made.

On the other hand, my experience in Maryland was that I had to run countywide in order to get a seat at the GOP table. In one respect it was good because it skipped the really low precinct level (otherwise, our county would have had about 50 different elections) but it also made each seat require much more effort in highly competitive areas. In my first election there were seven running for seven seats countywide so I won automatically, but in my last two we had thirteen vying for nine seats. In other places around Maryland, though, there may have been a half-dozen scrambling for just one spot in a particular legislative district – it all depends on how each county does things. I think that’s a factor that can’t be ignored.

There’s also something to be said for political clubs, which are a large factor in some areas and basically ignored in others. Taking over a club can get you influence if you play it right, but it can also lead to a divisive conflict that allows the opposition to get a foothold.

Jen also mentioned author Craig Shirley, who I wasn’t all that familiar with. But in doing a shovel’s worth of digging, I found out he’s now a columnist for Newsmax and recently he did a piece on Reaganism I found interesting. One good pull quote:

For my wife Zorine and I who were foot soldiers in the Reagan Revolution, it began months earlier, possibly years earlier, when in the mind of a young man or young woman, or in Reagan’s mind itself, a spark was ignited and an original thought provoked which said, “Enough is enough. This is my country, and it is being run into the ground and I am not going to take it anymore. Because our ideas are better than their ideas.”

“Reaganism and Understanding It,” Craig Shirley, Newsmax.com, August 16, 2021.

Indeed, I believe our ideas are better than their ideas, which is why I keep doing this. But the one place I may disagree with Jen somewhat is that perhaps we are limiting ourselves too much if we concentrate on taking over one political party. As we have seen over the last twenty years, the fortunes of the Republican Party have ebbed and flowed based on public mood moreso than their philosophy, which has stayed relatively constant. Perhaps a better and concurrent strategy – one which the TEA Party had mixed success with – would be to take over the local boards and commissions to establish a beachhead of good governance, then work up through the system. (It seems like this is the method being attempted by the Patriots for Delaware.) As I’ve said before, governing is the hard part – but it’s harder when the citizenry is apathetic to needed improvements.

Quick fix, simmering realizations…

Every so often I get blog feedback, and generally when I mention it I like to poke fun at it. But in this case it brought back a memory that, upon reading, could really have been written in August 2021 just as easily as it was in May of 2017.

In this case, the feedback was from an outfit that must like to check my links and suggests that I prune dead links and redirect them through their site. I appreciated their advice, but instead I found an archived link for what I needed.

But it gave me the opportunity to do a throwback Thursday on Sunday the other night when I wrote this piece. At that point in life 4 1/2 years ago I was still skeptical of a Trump administration that was just starting out while I was then working a job and a half. And it was this passage that stopped me cold:

I’m no economic genius by any stretch of the imagination, but I would suspect having GDP growth exceed inflation is good, but having government spending (which is a component of GDP) increase more quickly than either is a bad sign. If you take away the government spending component the question is whether GDP growth is still ahead of inflation. Maybe it’s not.

But who profits from that? I will grant there is certain government spending that adds value: if someone in the federal DOT had the gumption to have an interstate highway built between here and I-95 by Wilmington, not only would the money create local construction jobs on Delmarva but the greater ease in access to and from points north like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia would be good for local tourism and industry by making it easier to get here and transport there.

On the other hand, simple wealth transfers from rich to poor (welfare, Medicaid) and young to old (Social Security, Medicare) don’t add much in the way of value except in the sense that their care and feeding keeps a few thousand paper-pushers employed. But they are not creating value as their wages are extracted from those dollars others earn with work that adds value like mining, manufacturing, services like architecture and construction, and so forth. (Did I mention that I’m once again a registered architect in Maryland?)

So if you know this and I know this, why is the system remaining as is? I believe more and more that there is a group of well-connected people and entities who make their fortunes by gaming the system. Instead of government being a neutral arbitrator, they seem to be putting their thumb on the scale to favor those who now participate in an ever-widening vicious cycle of dependency and rent-seeking. To me, things should be fair for everyone with equal treatment in the eyes of the law but greed and lack of respect for one’s fellow man has changed the Golden Rule to “he who has the gold, rules.”

“About my hiatus,” May 5, 2017.

And remember, I wrote this before anyone outside of a Wuhan lab had ever heard of the virus that became the CCP virus and its fourteen variants that seem to come out whenever the news is bad for the Democrats. It was a pandemic where the rich, led by Walmart and Amazon, got richer and the middle-class got pretty much wiped out by unemployment and seeing their businesses die, or both. Remind me again who determined which businesses were deemed “essential” and which were forced to close? And this doesn’t even consider stimulus packages 1-48, which have added trillions to our deficit and debt.

(Side note: I was on a roll back then with my thoughts, because the next piece just nailed health insurance. I even called Andy Harris’s margin of victory eighteen months ahead of time. I really need to write like that more often!)

So, “Ella Miller,” if you are a real person (and I’m guessing by the search engines that you are sending these out under a pseudonym), I want to thank you for bringing the dead link to my attention so I could be reminded of just how consistent I’ve been politically and how I sometimes have the spider sense working just right.

Time for a new arrangement?

I didn’t really want to end a long absence from the site with my Shorebird of the Month next week (nope, I can’t wait to restart that tradition after an unplanned and extended hiatus) and, luckily, listening to the Dan Bongino radio show for the first time yesterday gave me an idea to bounce around.

[Dan’s show has a different, more serious tone than Rush, although Limbaugh lost a little of his sense of humor in the Obama-Trump years. But it was interesting enough for me to listen for the better part of an hour as I drove around to check things off the honeydo list. I actually set out at Phillips Landing (locals know where I’m talking about) for awhile to catch this part of the show in my car, so Dan sets things up well.]

The idea Bongino got into was the thought of how to preserve and expand conservative power. Given the successes of places like Texas, Florida, and other low-taxing, lightly-regulating states in the grand national scheme of things, Dan expounded on a two-pronged plan to bring back our nation to its time-tested conservative values, with the first part being simply: move.

I preface this part by presuming there are more people who prefer a right-of-center, populist political philosophy exhibited by Trump than the radical leftist Biden regime – which is seemingly propped up by allies in the media, both social and otherwise. Evidence to buttress this point of view is the number of people leaving states like New York, California, Illinois, and Michigan for the greener pastures of Texas and Florida. Among the crowd I’m most familiar with, South Carolina and Tennessee are also popular places to go. Anyway, these folks are among those who have already taken Bongino’s advice and made these already-red states an even deeper ruby hue.

It’s a theory that makes some sense on a Presidential and Congressional level: in the next Presidential election traditional red states gained on a net basis just by the shifting of seats from Democratic bastions like the aforementioned California and New York down to Florida and Texas – and this was before the pandemic and Biden administration. Accelerating the growth of Republican-led states gives an opportunity to regain control of the House and adds to the bank of electoral votes a GOP candidate can count on when running for President.

So those conservatives who are in regressive states like New York and California were advised to move and let the Left waste a maximum number of votes. But what of those who are stuck in these states thanks to jobs or family obligations? It’s a category that I fall into because my wife and I can’t telecommute and she has a close family.

Bongino was inspired by this piece by Michael Anton at the American Mind, and it reflects some writings I’ve made in the past about a greater Delaware and how it would play out politically. While the most recent news on that front has been about the concept of a greater Idaho (wonder what my old friend Marc Kilmer thinks about that?) Dan made a point about western Maryland shifting over to West Virginia as the areas are politically closer to Charleston than Annapolis – surely they get tired of their couple state Senators and half-dozen Delegates regularly being bulldozed in the General Assembly – but the same could be argued for the Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, they really don’t have an adjacent rock-solid conservative state so their best bet may be a Delaware merger.

(Another, more academic and judicial study on the state secession subject was written by Glenn Reynolds, if you’re interested.)

However, all this talk brings up a corollary point about Senate seats.

We know that the key reason we’re talking about statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia is the four Senate seats Democrats could count on winning. (If their motive was truly representation for District citizens, it would be easiest just to allow the retrocession of all but the federal buildings to Maryland. But that doesn’t give the Democrats two Senators since Maryland is already a lock for them, although it could eventually give Maryland another House seat.)

By that same token, creating new states out of Republican areas won’t fly with Democrats who wouldn’t want the two Senators who came from those regions. (One example is the state of Jefferson, often discussed by those same Oregonians who now want to merge with Idaho. Jefferson would include rural Oregon and part of northern California.)

Anton points out that, since the Missouri Compromise, states have regularly been adopted in pairs. That pairing may be more difficult to achieve in these cases, though, since few red states have blue areas that would qualify to be states by population.

But the principle of moving to red states would only solidify those places, and when you’re talking about Senators these states already send two Republicans. So I think I have a corollary to the moving blue-to-red idea: what about moving to the smaller blue states, like Delaware? It would be something on the scale of the already-existing Free State Project in New Hampshire.

For example, Vermont is a blue state but it only has 500,000 registered voters. Imagine if 50,000 conservatives moved in to tip the scales to making it more purple and Bernie Sanders became an ex-Senator. The same type of idea might work in other small states like Maine, Rhode Island, and – of course – Delaware. Think of what those eight Senators could do if these states were flipped!

But even if just a couple of these states could be shifted, that brings up other possibilities for county shifts. I’ve talked about Delaware as a larger state, but imagine the newly conservative Vermont picking up adjacent areas of New York or Massachusetts (and gaining electoral votes.) At that point all of electoral math starts to shift in favor of the working class over the elites.

And while I’m at it, here’s another idea for the hopper.

If we did electoral votes by Congressional district nationwide like Maine and Nebraska do, the electoral fraud perpetrated by Democrats would have had much less effect. In 2020 Biden would have still prevailed but more narrowly (277-261) but then again one could speculate what turnout may have been like in certain areas where people in the real world thought they had nothing to vote for and didn’t show up.

But imagine states thought long gone to the other side, like California or Texas, now coming into a bit of play because there may be three to five EVs in play there from swing districts. While Delaware will always perfectly reflect results of the entire state unless we somehow gain a second Congressional seat, under this formula Maryland may have two to three votes possibly swing to the GOP instead of being a usually dependable 10 in the Democrat column. This would have made even an election like 1984’s blowout a little more interesting – remember, Democrats always had a Congressional majority in those days so Walter Mondale may have easily cracked 200 electoral votes despite a double-digit popular vote loss.

So I think for my next post I will clean out the old mailbox again then it’s time for the Shorebird of the Month, which may come down to how top contenders do this weekend.

The state of a non-state, 2021 edition

Four years ago, thanks to a rant by Delaware writer friend of mine by the name of Chris Slavens, I had the idea come to me of figuring out just how a state of Delmarva would have voted. It turned out we would be perhaps the most purple state in the country based on the 2016 election and how the legislature would stack up.

But because the 2020 election had a home state nominee in Joe Biden, the state of Delmarva (or you could call it New Delaware) would have been a more bluish shade this time around – that was expected. But that trend carried over in other portions of the ballot, too.

There are a few caveats with this, of course: because the three states which share Delmarva have their local elections at different times, the results downballot aren’t necessarily congruent to a real election. But having kept my 2016 spreadsheet around I could pick out some interesting trends.

Still, if Delmarva had a statewide election, the “native son” (even though he was born in Pennsylvania) Joe Biden would have carried the state, although perhaps not as convincingly as one may think:

  • Joe Biden (Democrat) 402,229 – 53.00%
  • Donald Trump (incumbent Republican) 343,352 – 45.24%
  • Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 8,155 – 1.07%
  • Howie Hawkins (Green Party) 3,280* – 0.43%
  • all others 1,950 – 0.26%

*Hawkins was not on the Virginia ballot, which may have lost him about 140 votes based on how he ran elsewhere.

Despite picking up about 23,000 more votes in the twelve counties that make up Delmarva, Donald Trump was swamped by a candidate in Joe Biden who found nearly 80,000 more votes in the heretofore tri-state area – including a hefty 32,000 in New Castle County alone (where Trump gained less than 3,000 votes.) Sussex County chipped in another 17,000 or so extra toward Biden’s total as he outpolled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 effort in all 12 counties. Donald Trump beat his 2016 performance as well in each county, but in some cases it was an improvement of less than 1,000 votes.

If you recall my 2017 article, the only two counties Hillary carried were the largest, northernmost (New Castle County, Delaware) and the smallest, southernmost (Northampton County, Virginia.) Biden kept those in his column but also flipped three that were more in the middle: Kent County, Delaware, Kent County, Maryland, and Talbot County, Maryland.

Because there was no Senate race in Maryland last year, I used the three Congressional races on the Shore as a surrogate for that race as well as the one House race that Delmarva would have. When I wrote this in 2017, I figured Delmarva would have a second seat with the extra population Delaware does not have, but a closer examination of population reveals the 12 counties have 1,474,465 people (per 2019 estimates) and the average Congressional district has just over 750,000. So Delmarva is roughly 50,000, give or take, short of qualifying.

However, if the math did happen to favor the state of Delmarva and there could be two members of Congress, the most logical district split would put New Castle, Cecil, all of Kent County, Maryland, and the northern fringes of Kent County, Delaware into one district (that would be a fairly safe Democrat district despite the heavily Republican pocket of Cecil County) while the rest would be a pretty strong Republican district notwithstanding some sag on the mid-Shore, in Wicomico County, and at the southern end of Delmarva in Virginia.

As for a statewide Delmarva Senate seat, that contest would also go to the Democrats:

  • D total 380,827 – 51.64%
  • R total 345,305 – 46.82%
  • L total 3,814* – 0.52%
  • all others 7,551 – 1.02%

*The Libertarian Party only had a Congressional candidate in Delaware.

In reality, having a much larger than average Congressional district in Delaware with a Democrat incumbent easily outweighed the similar victory Andy Harris picked up in Maryland (in the Eastern Shore half of his district.) Meanwhile, Virginia’s numbers were too small to matter and as a matter of fact had a margin of just 69 votes favoring the Republican. The Democrats only carried three counties of the twelve, but flipping Kent County, Delaware helped put them over the top.

We also elected a governor here in Delaware, which gave the state an advantage in a mythical Delmarva governor’s race that combined the 2020 results in Delaware, the 2018 balloting in Maryland, and 2017 race in Virginia to get the following results:

  • D total 340,257 – 49.94%
  • R total 329,552 – 48.37%
  • L total 4,583 – 0.67%
  • Green total 686* – 0.1%
  • Others total 6,258* – 0.92%

*There was no Green Party candidate in Virginia or Delaware. As for Others, the vast majority of that came from the Independent Party of Delaware candidate.

This was a turnout election, so the advantage went to the Democrats who won Delaware in the 2020 Presidential election over the Republicans who took Maryland in the lower turnout 2018 midterm.

Yet the Democrat success should not come as a surprise: voter registration still favors them by 11 1/2 points:

  • Democrat RV: 468,180 – 42.94% (down 0.3% from 2016)
  • Republican RV: 342,597 – 31.42% (up 0.32% from 2016)
  • All other RV: 279,645 – 25.65% (down o.01% from 2016)

Bear in mind that non-affiliated number includes the 34,281 voters in Virginia who don’t declare a party. But the interesting factoid here is that Somerset County flipped from Democrat to Republican insofar as plurality of voter registration is concerned over the last four years – the only county of the twelve to switch.

The other big change in the last four years would have been a shift in the mythical Delmarva Senate, which would have gone from a 13-13 tie to a 15-11 Democrat control thanks (most recently) to the loss of two Republican seats in Delaware. The ersatz Delmarva House would slide from a 28-26 GOP edge to a 27-27 tie thanks to a Delaware loss in 2018. Talk about swing votes!

But what if there were another way? The one weakness with my method is that I have a lot of small districts in Delaware (less than 25,000 for House and 50,000 for Senate) but much larger districts in Maryland (about 50,000 for House and 150,000 for Senate) and Virginia, where the Eastern Shore is less than half a House district, let alone their Senate. So the state of Delaware is way overrepresented in this model.

Since this is my fantasy, I decided to use a federal model and give each of the counties two state Senators (screw the incorrect SCOTUS decision of Reynolds v. Sims), which means the 28 Senators would likely work out to be a sizeable Republican majority (on the order of 18-10) because New Castle County only gets two. Using a model like Delaware’s, with about two House members per Senator, the House count would be about 29-27 Republican but with a lot of potential flipping in several areas, making local elections become greatly important. This divided government would mean ideas from the GOP legislature would have to be appealing enough for the Democrat governor to become law (since there’s not a vetoproof majority in the House and perhaps not the Senate.)

Either way, it’s a fairly safe bet that, having a state of Delmarva, you would not see the radical left-wing nonsense that seems to be ruining both the state of Maryland (over the Eastern Shore’s objections) and Delaware (because there’s outsized influence from one liberal county that has over half the state’s population.) Even with the slight trend to the left based on 2016-20 results, this state would perhaps have the most interesting politics on the East Coast.

Let’s make a deal: Maryland gets the retrocession of Washington, D.C. while they give up the Eastern Shore to become part of Delaware. (Virginia just forgets about its Eastern Shore half the time, anyway, so if we grabbed that, too, they wouldn’t miss it until it was too late.) We could make the new Delaware into a great state – all without messing up the American flag.

Misdirection

Once again, I will caution readers that the reason I never had a big desire to run for high political office was that I hate asking strangers for money. But I was alerted to an investigation into the financial windfall a company servicing GOP Congressional candidate Kim Klacik received.

Granted, this investigation was done by the Washington Post, and they’re not going to shine a favorable light on any Republican, especially an overtly Trump-supporting minority GOP member like Klacik. But I’ll play along because it leads to another point.

As you may recall from last summer, Klacik became the “it girl” among Republican House candidates thanks to a viral ad she had shot on location in the slums of Baltimore, blaming the decades of Democrat leadership for the decrepit and hopeless conditions. It was a turn of Donald Trump’s “what the hell do you have to lose?” question to black voters, which make up the majority in Klacik’s district thanks to much of it being in Baltimore City.

Yet according to the Post:

By the end of Klacik’s campaign, she would raise a staggering $8.3 million and pay nearly $3.7 million of it to Olympic Media, according to campaign finance filings and her campaign manager. Klacik, now a frequent Fox News and Newsmax commentator, lost to Mfume in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District by more than 40 percentage points.

“Donors gave a House candidate more than $8 million. A single firm took nearly half of it.” Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer, Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The fact that she raised $8.3 million for the race based on a viral ad may be scary enough, but then considering nearly half of it went to a consultant made it worse. This reaches back to a subject for which I sometimes kick myself for not devoting more pages to it in The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and that is the effect of scam PACs, particularly in the later years of the movement. This comes from the chapter of my book called “The TEA Party Is Dead”:

The incessant fundraising off TEA Party regulars, who skewed heavily toward those 60 and over and who had the disposable income to use for political causes, made consultants – a group of characters who often countered that doing mass e-mail appeals wasn’t as cheap as those on the outside of the business thought – fabulously wealthy for next to no effort, while achieving little to assist actual candidates who could have used the funds if they were given directly. Oftentimes less than 10% of the money raised by a PAC would go toward candidates, with much larger amounts used to pay for more fundraising.

The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, p.129.

I gave the subject about a page and a half, but in retrospect it probably deserved at least twice as much. This is particularly true because Klacik, as revealed in the Post story, is another failed candidate who has began a PAC of her own, called the Red Renaissance PAC. (Just like Lauren Witzke here in Delaware.) So she will be yet another grifter taking her cut instead of moving the money where it belongs, and I think that greed is what stunted the growth of the TEA Party. Imagine if that scam PAC money had instead assisted local candidates, who may have won races they lost had they had the additional funding that instead found its way into some consultant’s bank account. Instead of paying for 100 yard signs, donors to scam PACs paid for Mr. Consultant’s yard work to be done.

There was another reason this came to mind: many Delaware school districts have at least one seat on their board of education coming up for election this spring. In my little school district, the one open seat has attracted four candidates as the incumbent decided to forgo another term. What do you think a couple dozen people of like mind donating $100 apiece could do to a candidate in a race like this where winners seldom spend more than a few thousand dollars as opposed to a Congressional election where that group of 24 is outspent by some corporate PAC that donates the maximum?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to donate to a candidate, skip the middleman of a PAC and send it directly. (Or, even better, be a volunteer for them.) It will do the most good for the people who really need it.

The first of many bad ideas

It’s sort of hard to believe, but we’re basically a couple holidays away from the beginning of a new legislative year – and in Delaware, the commencement of a new session of the General Assembly. (Unfortunately, it will be at the behest of the same old governor, John “Governor Carnage” Carney.)

While the recent election was relatively good for the Republicans on a national level in terms of keeping or gaining control of state legislative bodies, Delaware bucked that trend to a point where the Democrats now have a solid 2/3 majority in the Senate (14-7) to go along with the 26-15 margin they kept in the House. Despite that success, Democrats want to make some ill-advised changes to the electoral system instead of useful ones like photo voter ID and scrapping their previously-passed foray into early and often voting come 2022.

One proposal that quickly drew my ire is a bill (I believe this will be HB30) to move the primary date from September to April. To me, this is a terrible idea for several reasons – first and foremost, it’s because the duopoly party establishment wants it. (Of course, if it were up to them we wouldn’t even get a primary – they would simply emerge once the smoke turns white and tell us who the candidates will be.)

We went through this in Maryland about a decade ago, basically because the Democrats HATED protracted primary fights. So they moved the state’s primary up from September to the spring and, first chance they got, selected someone in the 2014 gubernatorial primary they absolutely hated by Election Day. They then doubled down and did it even worse in 2018.

As far as the Republicans went, the chances of an insurgent campaign went right out the window. An early primary gives the media more time to dig (or conjure) up dirt on the GOP hopeful once nominated and also advantages those who have name ID.

My second objection is how it would stretch out campaign season. Admittedly, this is nothing compared to the perpetual campaign for 2024 we will see from Donald Trump if the 2020 election is heisted away from him, but look at how this year’s Delaware campaign played out. The eventual Republican nominees didn’t begin campaigning a great deal until the spring – in fact, had Delaware had its primary in April with its Presidential primary, the GOP nominee would have likely been the same nominee who lost in 2016. None of the “new blood” candidates were viable in the early spring.

If it were up to me, the state of Delaware would be the trendsetter with the late primary. I honestly see no need to begin the Presidential campaign until April, with six weeks of regional eight-state primaries in June and July leading to national conventions running the week before and after Labor Day. (Iowa and New Hampshire can still go first, but having a succession of “Super Tuesday” primaries concentrated in one region beginning a week or two later means a candidate could forgo those contests and still be viable.) Regions can take turns being first.

I will say that there is one part of HB30 that should be stripped out of the bill and allowed to be its own proposal, and that’s the part about changing parties. Since I happen to be in a non-principal party, I could not change my registration to vote in a primary thanks to an absurdly early deadline for switching affiliation (something like four months prior to the election.) This would change it to 60 days, which is fair. Certainly there will be more party switching if this occurs, but sometimes that’s a good political strategy when your party has no primary.

But if I have to toss that baby out with the HB30 bathwater, so be it. This idea is a bad one, which means it will probably be on Governor Carnage’s desk by early March. Such is the political idiocy in Delaware, and we blew our chance at changing that last month.

The party reports

I said a few days ago that the Constitution Party really shot itself in the foot this time and botched its 2020 election effort.

So a couple days ago I received an e-mail that agreed with me, and it was from outgoing party chair Frank Fluckiger. In it he said, “We just did not run a good campaign this year and should have gotten more votes for Blankenship than we did. We did not get serious about the campaign until early (October) and that was costly.”

Well, first of all you should have nominated a better candidate, but besides that let’s look at what happened.

Not only did they not take the generally simple step to become a write-in candidate in several states (including Delaware and Maryland) but they missed Wyoming (a state where they have ballot access) because they forgot to turn in a three-person slate of electors. Really?

And Fluckiger adds this nugget of wisdom: “Five states… got 30,772 votes for Blankenship or 52% of the total vote Blankenship got nationwide.  That is a serious indication of just how weak the party is in many states.  So, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.” (These states were North Carolina, Michigan, Utah, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. And just so you know, the CP didn’t cost Trump any of these states since he won three and “lost” by a margin exceeding the CP’s vote in the other two.)

Finally, we can place this in the hopper, too: “With the exception of Tennessee and North Carolina, we did rather poorly in the Southern States.  In (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Florida) we have next to no party organization other than just being on the ballot. That should hopefully change with the new regional chairmen in place.” Maybe, and maybe not. But their focus should be on running good candidates in the offyear election, primarily in areas where one party dominates. They can either keep a wavering Republican honest or provide a clear alternative to a Democrat.

I also received some much more cheering election news from my friends at iVoterGuide, as they were thrilled about their impact on legislative races around the country. They called it their biggest victory:

Hands down, I believe it is state legislatures. Because it is a census year, the state legislators who were elected on November 3 will have control of redistricting – redrawing district lines for both their state legislature AND the U.S. House of Representatives. The Constitution gives the legislatures this duty after each census records population changes. That means they can redraw districts to favor conservative candidates for the next decade!

In these state legislative races, Christian and conservative voters had a nearly perfect night November 3. Candidates that share your values will control the redistricting of at least 188 congressional seats, or 43 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Left will only control redistricting of 73 seats at most—just 17 percent of the U.S. House.

“HUGE! You should celebrate these Christian election wins,” e-mail from iVoterGuide, December 1, 2020.

They continued by praising the newly-elected “obstacle course” that the Left will have to outmaneuver for the next two years until the conservative Christian reinforcements arrive in the 2022 midterms.

Just to give you an idea of their perspective, this is how they graded the on-ballot federal candidates for local races:

Delaware U.S. Senate: Chris Coons (very liberal), Nadine Frost (moderate), Mark Turley (conservative), Lauren Witzke (conservative)

I could see where they came up with these, as Nadine is a little more libertarian on immigration than they may prefer. I still see her as a right-leaning libertarian relatively in line with how I think. Mark Turley is more moderate to me based on his renewable energy stance, so I would be inclined to flip those two challengers. The other two are pegged pretty well.

Delaware U.S. House: Lisa Blunt Rochester (very liberal), Lee Murphy (somewhat conservative), Catherine Purcell (somewhat conservative), David Rogers (liberal)

I think I can buy these depictions based on the evidence I uncovered.

Maryland U.S. House, District 1: Andy Harris (very conservative), Mia Mason (liberal)

I think I would call Mason very liberal, like fall off the end of the earth liberal, but that’s just me.

Having worked in iVoterGuide’s process for the 2018 election (I helped evaluate Maryland candidates) I would enjoy doing it again for 2o22, even if Delaware only has a House race slated. I could still help out in Maryland, too.

The several mornings after

I began this post late Wednesday night but I didn’t figure on getting it out until Friday. Then it’s time for a few days of well-deserved R & R.

So, about that crystal ball of mine. There are a lot of moving parts remaining in this Presidential election. I definitely whiffed on Minnesota – I guess people don’t mind rioting as much as I thought. And President Trump may well lose Wisconsin and Michigan as I predicted, but then he has to keep Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to prevail. All three are a little fishy.

Because of that, I’m reticent to discuss that race. As for the overall Senate, it may come down to Georgia either holding that 51-49 majority or possibly 51-50, as predicted. And based on the House races out and who leads, I may not be terribly far off my guess on that. It’s hard to count (and count on) little dots, but I think we may indeed have a 219-216 House if results hold. I suspect it will be a couple-three less than that because Democrats have a way of stealing finding enough votes to win races, especially in California.

My focus was pretty good on Delaware races, with one exception. In a nutshell, here’s what I guessed and the results:

  • Delaware President: Biden 56-41 (actual: Biden 59-40)
  • Delaware U.S. Senator: Coons 60-37 (actual: Coons 59-38)
  • Delaware U.S. House: LBR 55-43 (actual: LBR 58-40)
  • Delaware Governor: Carney 50-45 (actual: Carney 59-39)
  • Delaware LG: Hall-Long 60-40 (actual: Hall-Long 59-41)
  • Delaware Insurance Commissioner: Navarro 60-40 (actual: Navarro 59-41)
  • Composition of Delaware Senate: Democrat 14-7 (actual: Democrat 14-7)
  • Composition of Delaware House: Democrat 26-15 (actual: Democrat 26-15)

I literally missed the Senate race by about 1/2%, the LG race by .36% and the Insurance Commissioner race by .02%, or 42 votes statewide. The biggest error I made was overestimating the level of enmity for John Carney, meaning Delaware is a state full of sheep. (But we already knew that, given other results.) I also gave the third parties more of a wide berth than they received, but that goes back to their exclusion from debates and media coverage.

I also figured the two Republicans who were picked off in the State Senate would indeed be the ones to go. It cleaned out my entire roster of Delaware winners of the monoblogue Accountability Project’s RINO Huntee Award, although I would have definitely preferred they go by the wayside in a primary. But if you’re going to vote like a Democrat, why not just have the real thing?

So while I don’t like the Delaware results, they were pretty much in line with how I guessed they would be, moreso than the primary.

The last race – one that I could not get a sense of – was the race I talked about across the way in Wicomico County. The good news is that Nicole Acle, the Republican, leads by about 1,100 votes so far. The bad news is that there are several thousand mail-in and provisional ballots left to count and “conservative” Democrat Alexander Scott had about a 2-1 margin in the mail-in votes already received. Essentially there needs to be about 3,000 votes out for Scott to have a chance if the mail-in trend holds with those and the provisional votes. (By the way, it’s normal that Maryland’s count is extended, but what is not normal is the number of mail-in votes. In a usual year we may be talking 100 votes tops out in the district by now; for example, in the 2018 midterm there were just under 400 of these votes total for that district, and most are counted by the Friday after the election with a handful withheld to mix with late-arriving military votes for the following Thursday when they wrap up. I recall sweating bullets for a week-plus after the primary I won to retain my seat on the Central Committee – by 30 votes countywide.)

If there wasn’t already enough evidence that mail-in voting was conceived as a huge advantage to Democrats, consider that between early voting and Election Day returns in Maryland, the Trump/Pence ticket leads by about 28,000 votes. Yes, in Maryland. Unfortunately, the mail-in balloting has Harris/Biden in the lead by 676,199, meaning the overall percentage is 63-35 Democrat. That may balloon even some more as the ballots left to count are mail-in so I figure Trump may lose by 30 points this time rather than 20.

One reason is the slight shade of purple we’re now seeing on the Eastern Shore. No, Andy Harris is not in serious danger of losing with a 30-point lead but I figured on 70 percent given his Democrat opponent is a girl who used to be a guy and doesn’t actually live in the district. (Never mind the far-left political stances.)

But with some mail-in votes left to count there’s some chance that Andy may not have a 12-for-12 sweep in the counties as he usually enjoys. I know Kent County (Maryland) has had it in for Andy ever since he kicked their favored son Wayne Gilchrest to the curb and out of Congress in the 2008 GOP primary but they may turn blue in the Congressional race just as they did the presidential as Harris leads there by just 2 points. Same goes for Talbot County, another popular Annapolis exurb. Andy is hanging on to a slim 8 point lead there. Oddly enough, sandwiched between the two is Queen Anne’s County, which is the eastern terminus of the Bay Bridge – Harris has a 67-33 lead there.

So I guess my handicapping wasn’t half-bad, but now I’m going to take a weekend away. I need a break!

After that I owe you an odds and ends piece, maybe some more election wrapup, and then the retrospective things I do about this time of year. Hard to believe I am wrapping up year number 15 of this enterprise.

A cloudy crystal ball

If the Good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be in line waiting to cast my vote when this comes up. I’m writing this on Monday night.

I guess we will begin with this, since it’s the most important.

I did an electoral map the other night which is the most likely electoral scenario in my eyes. It’s enough for Trump to win but not as much as he did in 2016 because he loses Wisconsin and Michigan in my scenario but gains Minnesota. If not for that and keeping Pennsylvania he would be out.

I also believe the Republicans hang on to the Senate but it may be a 51-49 majority or even 51-50. Can’t see them gaining quite enough to take back the House but there’s a decent chance I may be wrong. I can see enough of a gain, though, to make subsequent special elections meaningful because it may be something along the line of a 219-216 Democrat majority – which will make a Speaker election dicey.

In 2016, Donald Trump lost Delaware by 11 points, but he was the closest Republican when it came to winning a statewide race. I honestly think if he were running against anyone but Joe Biden, he would have an outside chance of winning the state but in this case I think Biden carries by about 15 points – let’s say 56-41, with the other 3% scattered among the Libertarian and Green candidates.

In this case, he won’t be the closest Republican. I think that distinction will go to Julianne Murray, who just may win if this becomes a referendum on John Carney’s handling of the CCP virus and the economy in general. This race may come down to how many votes can be manufactured in New Castle County, but I suspect it will be along the lines of a 50-45 finish, with IPoD’s Kathy DeMatteis getting 3-4% and the Libertarian candidate John Machurek picking up 1%.

Next closest will be Lee Murphy, who isn’t going to lose as badly as Scott Walker did. He will give LBR the closest race she’s had, although with just two under her belt it doesn’t say much. This matchup seems like a 55-43 type of match, with the IPoD candidate Catherine Purcell getting most of the other 2 percent over Libertarian David Rogers.

In both of the other two-person races – lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner – they’ll probably end up about 60-40 in favor of the incumbent Democrats, which is simply because people vote party line and neither Republican had built up her name recognition enough to make a dent. It’s a shame because both seem like they can do the job really well.

Last but not least is our U.S. Senate race. This could either be the biggest shocker in decades or, more likely, a 20-plus point whipping of Lauren Witzke by Chris Coons. There’s already a portion of the Republican base upset with her and I’m not sure Lauren’s push for the union vote is paying dividends. I look at this as a 60-37 race, with Libertarian Nadine Frost getting more of the other 3% than IPoD’s Mark Turley.

In the Delaware legislative races, the lack of opposition put up by Republicans in some races may cost them. There are a couple districts where I can see Democrats knocking off vulnerable state Senators (who often voted with the Democrats anyway) so that they will be up 14-7 going into the full turnover in 2022. In the House, with Democrats already spotted a 15-7 lead in unopposed candidates, it’s doubtful the GOP will improve on its 26-15 deficit. I think they will hold that number.

Looking quickly at Maryland, I think Andy Harris ends up north of 70% against Mia Mason in the First District House race. And to be honest, I have no sense of how that Wicomico County race I wrote about will go. There are more Republicans in the district but the question is how many will buy the horse hockey that the Democrat running is a “conservative Democrat.”

It’s also interesting to note that, based on their daily report, Republicans are already over 30% turnout in Maryland early voting, and in that regard they are crushing Democrats by 13 points. On the other hand, Democrats have returned 81% of their mail-in ballots to the Republicans’ 75%, but there is a wide disparity in their numbers – 49.8% of Democrats requested mail-in ballots while only 25.7% of Republicans opted to vote that way. So if there are long lines in Maryland tomorrow, that’s probably good news for the GOP because more of them have yet to vote – by my quick and dirty math about 57% of Democrats have voted in Maryland compared to 48% of Republicans.

So it’s doubtful that Donald Trump would carry Maryland, but he may come within 20 points and that would be a yuge improvement over losing 60-34 there four years ago.

Odds and ends number 99

This will be the pre-election edition of odds and ends. I have so much stuff in my e-mail that’s interesting and intriguing that I’ll end up doing two parts, with the less time-sensitive stuff coming later this week or maybe next, depending on my mood.

As always, these are items I can deal with in a span of words covering anywhere from a couple sentences to three or four paragraphs, give or take.

The media is not your friend

I get a lot of items that pick on the media, but none have said so more succinctly than The American Spectator‘s editor Melissa McKenzie. This wasn’t from a featured article, but an e-mail summary:

Whether Trump wins or loses, THEY’VE ALREADY LOST. Their industry is over. Their ideological hegemony is done. They are relics of a bygone era. The worst part is that they’ve done it to themselves. They’ve torched their credibility and manage to cover nothing of importance. 

(…)

The insanity you’re seeing from the mainstream media is terror. They hate Donald Trump, but without him, they’re over. They’ve boxed themselves into a corner.

So while marveling about the MSM’s nuttiness, keep in mind that it’s not really about Trump. It’s about them. They’re experiencing existential dread. They’re right to be afraid.

“Trump: The End is NOT Nigh,” Melissa McKenzie, October 5, 2020.

To take the point further, Erick Erickson compared two styles of new media, pointing out the difference between Left and Right:

The difference is that the conservative sites are frequently just running pre-written PR pieces. The Acronym sites actually have reporters and editors, running as partisan news operations. They are actively digging dirt and churning stories to damage the GOP. Their efforts are not to facilitate truth, but to advance a leftwing narrative.

(…)

As an aside, conservatives need to take note on this. In the past, conservatives tried to do something similar to what Acronym is doing. Unfortunately, the donor structure on the right largely exists to make a profit and see a financial return on investment. Progressive donors want to affect change and see their return on investment based on narrative shaping and advancement of an agenda.

“A Tale of Two Stories With Common Facts,” Erick Erickson, October 19, 2020.

Back in the day I used to be one of those conservatives who knocked themselves out doing news reporting and commentary. Over the years I have worked with a bunch of news aggregators; here’s a list gleaned from my blog categories: Examiner.com, Conservative Weekly, Red County, Watchdog Wire, and Liberty Features Syndicate. Except for the pittance I made off the Examiner, these weren’t paying gigs because of what Erickson noted – these entities had to make a profit and could not with paid contributors. (The Examiner got less and less lucrative over time, too.)

But there is a market out there that’s being filled with videos and podcasts, and someone somewhere is making money for nothing, as Dire Straits would sing. That’s where people are going for news, and it’s driving the gatekeepers crazy.

The realms of money and mail in politics

Did you know that over 40 percent of Democrat donors are unemployed? That’s what a September story in PJ Media claimed. It was even more pronounced in 2020, as the number edged up over 50 percent.

I think there’s something wrong with the system when it’s being gamed in that way. But that’s nothing to how vote-by-mail seems to be manipulated: here’s a list of recent vote-by-mail disasters compiled by the fine folks at the Capital Research Center.

Then again, if you asked Rebecca Mansour and James P. Pinkerton at Breitbart, this is all part of a seven-part scheme to promote vote-by-mail “chaos.” Add in accusations of ballot harvesting, and, if the Russians’ goal was to sow distrust in our electoral system then the Left is helping them succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

All I know is that I’m going to go express my preferences on Tuesday, and hopefully the state and national voters agree. Let’s just say I won’t be supporting the ones who are the target of these allegations.

The coming unrest

As I’ve probably mentioned from time to time, I keep tabs on the Indivisible movement. While they have reached the late TEA Party stage of constantly begging for money, they also have their little schemes and one they recently hatched is called “Protect the Results.” (Why do I suspect the only results they are interested in protecting are the ones where they are winning?)

They claim that they “created a coalition of more than 100 organizations that are committed to protecting our democracy if Trump and his desperate Republican allies throw our country into a manufactured constitutional crisis.” If it takes until January to find the needed votes for Joe Biden Kamala Harris, they are willing to wait.

At the time I initially heard from them, they were up to 240 events nationwide (now it’s 471) but the one I’m most interested in is slated for Ocean City on November 4. (There are none in Delaware or elsewhere on the Eastern Shore.) Of course, the location is not released but we know the sponsor: “Join Indivisible Worcester MD to wave signs to honor the valid results of the 2020 election, ensure that every vote is counted, and show up to demand the peaceful transition of power. We’ll have some signs but not enough for everyone, so bring signs if you can.”

There are only so many outdoor locations in the Ocean City area where a crowd of a couple dozen would be noticed at this time of year, so be looking and if you see them ask them if they’ll accept a Trump victory.

One problem I have with Trump

There are a lot of things I’ve liked about Donald Trump, as I detailed yesterday. But one bone I have to pick with him is his energy policy – while he isn’t going to ban fracking like Joe Biden, he’s leaving a lot of chips on the table and one of those was his recent extension of an energy exploration ban in the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic until 2032. We just finally got to energy independence, so why leave these potential assets to wither?

As API’s Mark Green opines:

Most concerning is the abrupt about-face for U.S. energy policy embodied in the president’s executive order. Suddenly shelving the vast oil and natural gas potential of the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic, which would be critically important to the nation’s strategic energy needs, is a 180-degree shift from the U.S. “energy dominance” theme heard so often from the administration the past few years.

Mark Green, “The Administration’s Misstep On Eastern Gulf, South Atlantic Offshore Policy,” Energy Tomorrow, September 14, 2020.

We don’t know how much oil is down there, but without seismic testing and exploratory drilling, we won’t know if they are going to find dry holes or millions of barrels we can use. We should make the attempt to find out – not just in those areas but farther north where it can perhaps create jobs unlike the wind turbines no one but the moneyed interests want.

Misdirection

Charles “Sam” Faddis is a veteran intelligence operations officer, so I think he has a pretty informed opinion when he writes:

The Iranians have already begun sending spoof emails to potential voters seeking to sow dissension. The Russians may soon follow suit. Americans need to be on guard.

(…)

The same FBI that wants us to believe that Iranian spam is a serious threat to our democracy is the same FBI that has been sitting on Hunter Biden’s laptop for ten months. That laptop is filled with evidence of what appears to be a worldwide operation by the Biden family to cash in on Joe Biden’s position as Vice-President and then as former Vice-President. It is also filled with evidence to suggest very strongly that Joe Biden – the Democratic Party candidate for President – looks like he may be bought and paid for by Beijing.

Charles Faddis, “Are The Chinese One Step Away From Putting Their Man In The White House While The FBI Worries About Iranian Spam Mail?” AND Magazine, October 22, 2020.

It’s somewhat unfortunate that the Hunter Biden child porn angle has drawn the most attention in this scandal. Hunter Biden isn’t on the ballot, but Joe Biden is and anything that ties him into this sordid tale is more important to know than the drug habit and other details of his son’s tawdry life.

Sunday evening reading (on Monday)

Erick Erickson is back on here, and this time he says he’s gonna make you mad. But I didn’t get mad because I just remember God is in control.

You’ve got two old geezers who act like they’re fighting over the last chicken wing at an all you can eat buffet early bird special who the American public has concluded are the best we can do in a nation of over 350 million people and that is a damning indictment on the whole nation. Part of me thinks your excitement and enthusiasm for your particular candidate is just to cover the shame of these two candidates being the best we could do.

(…)

PS — while you were out on your boat parade or car parade or in your socially distanced circle of jerks bragging that your side was all masked up unlike the other side, you weren’t phone banking, you weren’t knocking on doors, and you weren’t getting out the vote in the closest presidential election in our lifetime. Now you can get off my lawn.

Erick Erickson, “Gonna Make You Mad This Morning,” October 30, 2020.

What’s really funny is that I just read a Facebook post from a self-styled Maryland political expert (and #NeverTrump) who complained the exact same thing about the 4,000 to 5,000 cars that participated in a mobile Trump rally along the Beltway.

Of course, that implied these people were going to help out in the campaign. There are a lot of people who do political volunteering, but 95% of those drivers in that parade weren’t political volunteers and never will be. It’s like a mobile yard sign – if not, why would it be a big deal when President Trump draws 60,000 to a rally and Joe Biden has half a hundred? The CCP virus is just an excuse – Trump backers are passionate, and they will show up at the polls. Just make sure you bring a friend or two.

What’s at stake in Delaware?

If you are a recipient of e-mail from A Better Delaware, you’re already aware of this, but they came up with an outline of their priorities.

There are ideas to return the estate tax, and increase the top rate for income taxes – which are already rather high to begin with. They will also create issues for small business, many of which have owners who file as individuals and not businesses.

They point out that proposed regulations and mandates on businesses will result in job cuts. These mandates include paid family leave and increasing the minimum wage.

The government transparency that was already an issue before the CCP virus has been enhanced by the suspension of FOIA compliance and lack of input into the budget process, including how to spend our (surprising) budget surplus. It was never explained how some businesses were deemed essential while others withered on the vine.

Corruption in the state – it’s not just shady land deals, but a legislature that routinely ignores its own rules.

Certificate-of-need laws the federal government scrapped end up restricting our access to health care.

I’m going to talk a lot more about Delaware in the post-election edition, but this is enough for now. Tomorrow I’ll make a few wild guesses and we will see if 2020’s election is just as bad as the rest of the year.