Highlights from The Downballot: Primary recaps and ‘a double whammy of BS’ in New York

This week on The Downballot, hosts David Beard and David Nir were joined by political strategist and fellow elections expert Joe Sudbay to recap a plethora of primary results. They covered, among other things:
  • Madison Cawthorn losing in North Carolina
  • The GOP nominating QAnon ally Doug Mastriano for governor, and the still-undecided Republican battle for the U.S. Senate nomination in Pennsylvania
  • A fantastic win for an Oregon progressive who'd be the state's first Latino member of Congress—which was also a humiliating loss for a crypto-backed super PAC that spent massively on another candidate
The group also discussed DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney’s inexplicable, selfish decision to run in a new district where three-quarters of the residents are already represented by a progressive Black freshman, Mondaire Jones.
You can listen below, or subscribe to The Downballot wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find a transcript for this week right here. New episodes come out every Thursday!

All eyes were on North Carolina this week, where a prominent U.S. Senate Republican primary contest saw Rep. Ted Budd easily defeat former Gov. Pat McCrory, by about 59% to 25%. This ended up not being a close race at all, Beard noted. In November, Budd will face former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who narrowly lost reelection in 2020 by about 400 votes. “She is primed to go forward and take on Budd there. She had very nominal primary competition and won in a huge landslide,” Beard added.

In North Carolina’s 13th District, which lacked an incumbent, both parties had primaries. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Wiley Nickel easily defeated former state Sen. Sam Searcy, 52% to 23%. The Republican contest featured a plethora of candidates, but one candidate, former North Carolina state football player Bo Hines, managed to eke out 32% of the vote—just above North Carolina's 30% barrier to avoid a runoff.

Looking over at the opposite coast at Oregon, Nir and Beard highlighted another incumbent who is, as of right now, on track to lose: Blue Dog Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader in Oregon's redrawn 5th District. Schrader once infamously dissented on impeaching Donald Trump, likening his impeachment to a “lynching.” He is currently trailing progressive attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner. As Nir explained, as of recording this episode on Wednesday evening, Schrader was down 61-39% with around 40,000 votes counted. However, a very large number of votes remain untallied in what is more or less his home base of Clackamas County, and those ballots are going to be slow to be counted. However, the back-of-the-envelope consensus, Nir notes, is that Schrader has way too much ground to make up and that McLeod-Skinner is going to be the likely winner: “If [McLeod-Skinner] is [the winner], either way this remains a somewhat competitive district. It leans blue. It got a little bit bluer, in fact, in redistricting, thanks to Democrats, but the real news will be replacing a moderate like Schrader with a much more progressive alternative.”

At this point, Nir and Beard welcomed Sudbay to the show to discuss some of the bigger pieces of news to come out of the recent primaries.

Sudbay started with Pennsylvania, where a gubernatorial race exposed the chaos happening among Republicans. On the Democratic side, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro ran unopposed. For Repubicans, however, things look very different, as Sudbay elaborated:

They have elected, they have nominated one of the craziest, most extreme politicians that we have seen in a very, very long time. He's basically a Christian ideologist nationalist. I mean, Doug Mastriano was at the January 6th event. He is really Trumpier than Trump, which, that's kind of getting out there. But this guy, I'll tell you one of the ways I knew Republicans were freaking out … A lot of Republican donors said if Mastriano wins, they're going to support Shapiro. The other thing that happened is there was this frenzied effort to try to maybe back Lou Barletta, who used to be a member of Congress; before that he was the mayor of Hazleton. [Barletta is] one of the most extreme anti-immigrant politicians around—well, I mean, he’s just normal now for the Republican Party, but he used to be extreme in the GOP. He lost the Senate race by about 13 or 14 points in 2018. That's how desperate they were—they decided maybe Lou Barletta would be their savior. So they've got Mastriano now.

Turning to the Republican primary in North Carolina’s 11th District, which garnered a storm of media attention due to a steady drumbeat of media coverage of incumbent Madison Cawthorn’s past indiscretions, the hosts shared their thoughts on how the Republican establishment—in a rare moment for today’s GOP—succeeded in pushing back against growing extremism in their party. As Sudbay put it, “It was interesting, because every time there was a new revelation—and there were numerous revelations over the past few weeks about him—[Cawthorn] would tweet, ‘The Libs are trying to destroy me.’ No, dude. It was the Republicans that were trying to destroy you, and the Republicans did.”

The trio also revisited Oregon, where, thanks to population growth, Democrats won a new House seat in reapportionment, leading to the creation of the blue-leaning 6th District, a brand-new open seat. Andrea Salinas won the Democratic primary here. “Democrats unexpectedly had a completely bonkers, out of control and, I will say, obscene primary that really should never have happened. But the good news is the good guys won. So what went down?” Nir asked.

Sudbay recalled that the entire race saw a basically unprecedented amount of money being spent by Sam Bankman-Fried, a crypto billionaire who was financing Carrick Flynn, an artificial intelligence researcher with no prior electoral experience:

Oh my God. The amount of money that was spent in this race by, I call him a crypto brother, who had a super PAC to elect a … I'm just going to call him sort of a no-name Democrat. And also the other thing that really struck me on this one: this crypto bro super PAC is spending money in a bunch of places. And like you said, fortunately, Andrea Salinas won. She will be the first Latina to represent Oregon.

But the other thing that happened was the House Majority PAC decided to invest in this race against her, well, for the other Democrat, which I know I keep not mentioning his name, but I am just so amazed that this was the race they chose to get into. And it really pissed off the … the Democratic House congressional caucus, because they were spending money to defeat a woman who's ... a great Democrat. She's been a state rep, she worked for Harry Reid, and it's like, where did that strategy come from? I just don't get it. I don't get that amount of spending … it was just bizarre to watch.

“It was totally bizarre,” Nir agreed, noting that “our guests from HMP came on before we learned about their decision to put $1 million in this race.” What’s more, he explained that there has been a lot of speculation that HMP made that investment because Sam Bankman-Fried, the crypto billionaire, actually runs an ‘exchange’ for cryptocurrency, and that he had possibly offered to give a donation to HMP in exchange for them getting involved on behalf of his favorite candidate. “We won't know until Friday at the soonest, which is when the next financial reports are due for super PACs like that, but it will cast a cloud over this race, no matter what,” Nir added.

The total spending for Carrick Flynn came close to $15 million for only around 15,000 or so votes—meaning that he spent $1,000 per vote. The race has not been called yet, with Salinas leading Flynn 36-18%, as Nir said: “I hope we don't see this kind of thing happen again. I'm not optimistic but this is a pretty humiliating outcome for the $15 million gang.”

In New York, the court-appointed expert released a new congressional map earlier this week that makes radical changes to existing districts. Right after this map dropped, Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced that instead of running in the district where three-quarters of his constituents currently live, he would run one district to the south, where only a quarter of his constituents live and where three-quarters of the constituents are represented by a progressive Black freshman, Mondaire Jones. “What the hell is Sean Patrick Maloney thinking?” Nir wondered.

Sudbay replied:

I think Sean Patrick Maloney thinks about Sean Patrick Maloney first and foremost and only. And that sounds kind of harsh, but that's just who he has been. As you mentioned, he chairs the DCCC, which should be solely focused on expanding the Democrats’ margin this year. And instead, he put himself first. I saw a tweet today from Jake Sherman, who does Punchbowl News, which I refer to as one of ... the Capitol Hill gossip publications. But he said, ‘Sean Maloney allies are spreading the message that Jones would be ideologically better suited for another district.’

Richie Torres, another member of Congress from New York, retweeted that and said, ‘The thinly veiled racism here is profoundly disappointing. A Black man is ideologically ill-suited to represent a Westchester County district that he represents presently and won decisively in 2020? Outrageous.’

Nir added that Maloney’s move could have ripple effects, as there are a couple of other ways this “really selfish move” could affect his colleagues:

First off, and this one is, in a way, the most important to me, is that by abandoning New York's 18th Congressional District—instead wanting to run in the 17th—he's making it more likely that we'll lose the 18th. And that's completely unforgivable. But just as unforgivable is that he wants Mondaire Jones to run in the 16th District. Well, that district is also represented by a first-term, progressive Black man, Jamaal Bowman. Maloney is trying to both risk a vulnerable seat, the 18th, and reduce representation among Black progressive men, by pushing them into a primary against one another. It's really a double whammy of BS.

The Downballot comes out every Thursday everywhere you listen to podcasts. As a reminder, you can reach our hosts by email at thedownballot@dailykos.com. Please send in any questions you may have for next week's mailbag. You can also reach out via Twitter: @DKElections.

This week on The Brief: The ‘existential fight’ for freedom and democracy at home and abroad

This week on The Brief, hosts Kerry Eleveld and Markos Moulitsas analyzed how a month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has played out, discussed the continued slide of the Republican Party into authoritarianism, and talked about Biden’s approval rating and how the electoral landscape is looking for Democrats heading into this fall.

As the attack on Ukraine continues, Eleveld and Moulitsas considered what the news coverage has gotten right—and wrong—so far, and how Daily Kos is offering important perspective, especially to help readers understand that the situation on the ground may not be as dire as it was initially portrayed.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, or Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy—this battle between Soviet-style authoritarian regime and Western democracy, Eleveld notes, has crystalized for a lot of Americans the fact that this type of battle is still going on in the world. And what’s more, it is ongoing and poses a huge, continuing threat not just externally, but also internally here in the United States. While progressives and Democrats had sounded the alarm throughout Trump’s tenure about where the Republican Party has been headed, few are hearing this message of, “Look, this is an authoritarian party. They want fewer people to vote, they want to control the outcomes of the vote, they’re fine being beholden to one person as long as that person manages to secure power. They really don’t seem that interested in a peaceful transfer of power,” Eleveld added.

Eleveld also thinks that the fact that Republicans haven’t wanted to explore the events of January 6, 2021, examine it, learn from it, make sure it doesn’t happen again—and have instead become denialist— is alarming in and of itself: “And it seems like independents [and those feeling on the fence about both parties] … they haven’t really grasped what this fight, what this existential fight for democracy is about.”

This conflict has really resonated and showed us exactly what’s at stake, both at home and abroad, linking war on the international stage to democracy in the U.S., she explained:

I feel like this horrific and gut-wrenching war that we have seen play out in Ukraine has crystalized for Americans, in a way, that threat that we haven’t felt in a very real way in some way since the end of World War II. I’m not saying there haven’t been instances of attacks and people feeling vulnerable, but the existential threat ... that the whole country feels hasn’t been brought home since WWII in the way that it has been brought home here. We’ve got to win this battle in Ukraine and we’ve got to do what we can to help them and hopefully at the same time deescalate tensions there. But we’ve got to win this battle at home too, and … I don’t want to dismiss what’s happening abroad at all, but this is a fight here at home in the United States. It’s an existential threat. One of our [political] parties is no longer invested in democracy, and you can see what that yields with someone like Vladimir Putin.

Moulitsas offered additional context, tying Trump and the Republican Party’s interests to Russia and Putin: “I don’t want it lost ... that the first impeachment of Donald Trump was because he was extorting Zelenskyy over javelin missiles — the same javelin missiles that have basically stopped the Russian hordes. Those were the missiles that Donald Trump was holding hostage unless Zelenskyy literally made up an investigation against Hunter Biden.”

Highlighting the urgency and interconnectedness of all these issues, Eleveld urged, “If there were ever a time to unmask the Republican Party for how profoundly unserious it is in this serious moment in history, it is now there for the Democrats, and there for their taking.”

Moulitsas agreed, highlighting gas prices—which he noted was “a plank of the Republican 2022 playbook”—as an example of how Democrats could show leadership in this moment:

Right now, the gas companies all have record profits. It’s not like it’s just a percentage or two. We’re talking like massive windfall records. The price of crude oil has been going down; the price of gasoline at the pump has not been going down. They’re pocketing that difference. It’s really easy for Democrats—I don’t understand why this isn’t happening—where you say, ‘We’re going to cut down, we’re going to eliminate the gas taxes and then we’re going to make it up with a windfall tax on energy companies.’ Boom. You’ve just shaved 30-40 cents off of a gallon of gas right off the bat, and you have the gas companies pay for it, and make it indefinite. And go above and beyond that, but there’s a way to shift this narrative [of] ‘this is Joe Biden’s gas prices’—shift that to the gas companies and make that relentless. Gas companies and Putin and war profiteers, there is plenty of that going around. Punish those people. Dare Joe Manchin to vote against it. I don’t even think Joe Manchin would dare vote against a windfall tax on gas companies.

Where does this leave Democrats today? How are things looking as the midterms approach? Moulitsas and Eleveld shifted the conversation to focus on what trends in polling from Civiqs are telling us about this fall. Eleveld signaled that Biden seems to be coming back from a very difficult few months, as polling has shown:

I don’t think we should be super worried about exact numbers right now as much as we should be worried about trends. When I [left for medical leave a few weeks ago], Joe Biden had been on a steady downward trajectory on Civiqs for months on months on end with a few minor breaks, and it might plateau for a second, but then it was going back down. Since then, what we have seen is that it’s started to rebound, right? After the State of the Union address, it started to rebound, and I’m inclined to think that because that rebound on Civiqs has continued, that Joe Biden is getting credit for competent handling of this global response to Putin and his aggression and this completely unprovoked war. It has been, objectively, a great response.

I think that this has been a reminder for both Democrats … and independents; [among them] he’s gotten a net plus gain of about six point or seven points since Russia invaded Ukraine … I think for Democrats, some of them, it’s really reminded them, ‘Oh my God, this is why we elected Joe Biden,’ for competent handling of the pandemic. Some people have different opinions on how competent that’s been. No doubt that the rollout of the vaccine program was incredibly competent and swift—we just couldn’t get everybody to buy into it because the Republican Party was by and large telling people, ‘Don’t do it.’ … I think it reminded independents why they voted for Joe Biden.

The sentiment seems to be common even among Trump-Biden voters, the cohosts noted, citing recent focus groups. As Eleveld summarized, “Over and over, they [are] kind of saying, ‘Look at the situation in Ukraine. Like, can you imagine if Donald Trump was [in office]? We might have World War III right now, because Donald Trump is just that [unpredictable.] I mean, maybe not, but you just don’t know what he would have done. And then [they] were talking about Trump saying Putin is ‘genius’ and just saying how ‘disgraceful’ that was. It’s just disgraceful that he built Putin up for four years and now he feels this need to weigh in.”

The big picture crystallization of authoritarianism versus democracy has been brought home to the American people as they watch the conflict in Ukraine unfold, and polling is showing a slow but sure uptick in Biden’s approval ratings as this situation in Ukraine continues to play out. Eleveld thinks that ultimately, this has put Biden and Democrats on better footing:

I can’t tell you whether or not they’re going to be able to totally capitalize on this moment here, but I can tell you, as we always say, I’m not just trying to play politics here. This upcoming election is as important to the global fight for democracy and freedom as anything else that is going on, including what is happening in Ukraine. We have to win here at home, we have to win there, we have to win everywhere.

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This week on The Brief: Elie Mystal, the impeachment vote, and potential for a third party

On this week’s episode of The Brief, hosts Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld talked all things post-impeachment and the potential for the rise of a third major party in American politics. This episode’s featured guest was Elie Mystal, legal expert and writer at The Nation.

Markos and Kerry opened the show by discussing Trump’s second impeachment trial and what the process has shown about his lasting influence on the Republican party. Markos noted that Trump has hurt the party substantially, as demonstrated by the most recent election cycle, when Democrats captured the trifecta of the U.S. House, Senate, and the presidency. Moreover, Trump is the only the third president in 100 years to lose reelection. Yet, Trump’s hold over a significant chunk of GOP voters remained clear from the way Republican leaders responded to his incitement of the insurrection. As Kerry added, “Mike Pence wouldn’t even stand up for himself and his family after it became clear that Trump had targeted him.”

Elie Mystal joined for the first half of the episode to weigh in on the impeachment trial and share his thoughts on its sudden end on Saturday. As Mystal described, the Republicans in the U.S. Senate bore responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6, and that made unifying in convicting Trump more difficult:

The Senate, I think, was cowardly in a way I think we expected them to be. They themselves were complicit in the insurrection. That, I think, was something that was lost during the House managers’ [line of questioning] … They were trying to convince Republicans to come onto their side, and by trying to convince Republicans, that means you can’t call them out for their complicity in the violence … Republicans did everything that Trump did—except try to kill Mike Pence.

Mystal cited the attack on the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ campaign bus in Texas, where Trump supporters almost ran the vehicle off the road, and how Trump expressed support for the people who committed that dangerous act. Trump had long been stoking this violence, he said, as well as Republican senators like Marco Rubio, who expressed support for attacks like these.

Regarding the Democrats’ strategy, Kerry wondered aloud about witness intimidation and if it might have occurred the night before the closing arguments were to be heard: “What happened in that negotiation that they ultimately decided not to call witnesses? Was it Democrats backing off? Was it witnesses drying up?”

The trio then discussed the aspect of freedom of speech in the impeachment case and the Brandenburg test, which Markos asked Mystal to explain. The test is one that helps “determine when inflammatory speech intending to advocate illegal action can be restricted,” or basically when free speech isn’t protected.

Lastly, Markos, Kerry, and Mystal discussed Joe Biden’s pick of Merrick Garland for attorney general; the hopes Mystal has for the work Garland will do as AG; and the fact that Trump can still be tried for a multitude of other crimes, especially at the state level in places like New York and Georgia. Ending on a positive note, Mystal said, “I don’t know if ultimate responsibility will come to Trump, but some of these people that have been enabling him for four years, especially people like Rudy Giuliani—one of the things that Trump has shown is is that while he may be Teflon, people around him ain’t.”

After their conversation with Mystal, Markos and Kerry talked about what has happened since Trump left office and how he continues to have a hold on the Republican Party. Kerry floated the idea of a third party becoming a prominent force in the coming years and noted that support for a third American political party is at an all-time high—as evidenced by the results of a recent Gallup poll. As she explains, the infrastructure exists for a third party to rise, led by someone like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), a Republican who voted in favor of impeachment. A number of voters are changing their affiliation away from Republicans.

Kerry listed several reasons as to why she believes this:

1. The GOP’s image is plummeting.

2. There’s more support than ever for a third party.

3. Tens of thousands — a unique number of voters — are changing their affiliation away from being Republicans.

4. You have a bunch of former GOP officials who know both the governance side and the political side, the electoral side, of running a party.

Markos indicated that Trump represented a major turning point for the GOP. As he said, “How did Donald Trump get that many more votes? … And it’s one thing for him to win in 2016 when you don’t really know who he is, or you’re smitten by the fact that he’s a celebrity. But to see four years of Trump chaos and say, ‘Yeah, I want more of that.’ That’s what hurt me most on election night.”

Kerry agreed, saying, “The situation from the insurrection has really opened up a gaping wound in the Republican Party that cannot be fixed. They cannot paper over this.”

As Markos and Kerry closed out the discussion with an audience question, they came to agree that a third party is more likely to emerge from never-Trumpers, rather than die-hard Trump fans.

You can watch the full episode here:

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Live on this week’s The Brief: Impeachment trial and the future of the Republican Party

I’m excited about this week’s episode of Daily Kos’ The Brief, with me and Kerry Eleveld, featuring two fantastic guests! The first is our first repeat guest, Elie Mystal of The Nation, an expert on legal matters and one of the most entertaining people I’ve ever encountered. You’ll love him!

We also get to visit with Sarah Longwell, founder of the never-Trumper publication The Bullwark, founder of the Republican Accountability Project, and founder of Republican Voters Against Trump. We’ll talk about what happened to her party, and whether it has any future in its current state. 

The Brief is now also a podcast! You can catch it wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Please subscribe and leave a review to help the podcast grow. The more people we reach, the better we spread the Daily Kos message of grassroots empowerment and progress. 

New Daily Kos/Civiqs poll: Majority of Americans blame Trump for attack on U.S. Capitol

The best antidote to hot takes is hard data, and the latest Daily Kos/Civiqs poll is here with your cure. This survey of 1,513 adults was conducted online from Feb. 12-15 and reveals that 53% of Americans think that Donald Trump deserves “a great deal” of blame for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A majority of Americans (53%) also believe that Trump’s conduct was grounds for impeachment, and 54% say that the Senate should bar Trump from holding any federal office in the future. These attitudes are sharply divided along partisan lines: 79% of Republicans believe that Trump is not at all to blame for the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.

Other noteworthy findings in this month’s poll include:

  • A whopping 70% support sending at least $1,400 in coronavirus relief to most Americans (24% say the payment should exceed $1,400).
  • 54% of Americans support the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 68% of Americans have noticed unusual delays in postal service over the past several months. A plurality (49%) support the Biden administration replacing the current members of the United States Postal Service Board of Governors, including Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, versus only 18% who oppose this.
  • More than one in three Americans (36%), including 64% of Democrats, believe that a college education should be free.

Additional issues surveyed include views on student loan debt relief, the stimulus child allowance proposal, and viewership of Fox News, Newsmax, One American News Network, and MSNBC.

This poll’s numbers reveal that not only do Americans support the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief plan, but also that Americans hold Trump responsible for the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol and believe that he should be barred from holding public office forever.

Civiqs is an award-winning survey research firm that conducts scientific public opinion polls on the Internet through its nationally representative online survey panel. Founded in 2013, Civiqs specializes in political and public policy polling. Results from Civiqs’ daily tracking polls can be found online at civiqs.com.

This week on The Brief: Impeachment, the future of the Republican Party, and Biden’s performance

This week, hosts Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld talked all things “(im)peach-y,” why Republican senators seem poised to once again protect Trump, and the tasks facing Joe Biden. For this episode, they were joined by political historian Kathleen Frydl, who talked about the potential for a transformative Biden presidency; and Joan McCarter, Daily Kos staff writer, who shared her thoughts on the difficulties the Senate faces with competing priorities thanks to the impeachment and senators’ regular work, as well as on Biden’s first few weeks in office.

The big event looming over this whole week is Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. With Republican senators once again lining up to stymie impeachment and protect Trump from facing real accountability, Markos wondered if they would “go down with this ship,” anticipating a kind of collapse of the Republican Party. Kerry replied:

It’s a level of stupidity that, frankly, is jaw-dropping. But on top of that, the betrayal of the country that they’re getting ready to pardon is just … this guy has not only been impeached once, and now twice, but in the last impeachment ... in Adam Schiff’s closing arguments, he predicted that Trump was a menace. And that if you didn’t teach him a lesson, if you didn’t convict him, this was going to be a disaster for the country. And then what did [Trump] bring to the country? Disaster. Like, the first president-inspired attack on the homeland, on the seat of national government, right? It’s never been done before. And now, apparently, 45 of them have already voted to set up this whole argument that supposedly you can’t convict a former president, a former official—which isn’t true.

Trump is costing Republicans all the “growth demographics,” Markos noted, as they are falling out of favor with young people, suburban white women, and people of color. Kerry mentioned the fact that the party at large will face inertia without a different strategy that relies on something other than voter suppression.

The pair were first joined by Kathleen Frydl to talk about the potential of the Biden administration and what it would take for Biden to deliver a great and potentially historic presidency. Frydl believes there is great promise for this new presidency and laid out the groundwork for what Biden must do to deliver for the country:

This presidency does have the potential to be a great, a historic presidency … but the task before Joe Biden echoes the task that Franklin Roosevelt faced, which is restoring confidence and legitimacy in government and making the federal government, especially, work on behalf of ordinary Americans. That’s a task that we have drifted away from, and it’s something that Franklin Roosevelt really presented to the American people and really forged an entire Democratic coalition on that precedent.

She also praised Biden’s leadership style, which she indicated has been less about his personal appeal or charisma and focused on “depersonalizing” his political persona—which he is likely bringing with him to the White House. Prior to Trump, Frydl believes, “we were engaged in a very performative political culture,” and a return to substance, policy, and regulation could benefit us. Because Biden centers policy and his Cabinet members, there’s a much better chance they will accomplish their goals and help everyday Americans.

On the future of the Republican Party, she had this to say:

Since 1968, the Republican Party has forged their presidential coalition—so, their national coalition—on a politics of whiteness … I’m talking about a party that’s dedicated to preserving the mechanisms of institutionalized racism … but the political destiny that awaits this country is quite different from the politics of whiteness.

What’s more, Frydl wondered if we will continue living in a country that is predicated on a two-party system, noting the extent to which whiteness is a unifying force in American politics and that, even if its power wanes, new power structures and factional lines will emerge to complement or replace it—especially in the Republican Party—long after Trump is gone. As she explained, “Republicans can’t win with Donald Trump, but they can’t win without him either. He was their Faustian bargain.”

Next, McCarter joined the show and offered her insights into how quickly the U.S. Senate can get its work done with impeachment looming over their heads, how Biden has been doing on the job so far, and if we will see additional financial regulations enacted in the coming years.

McCarter believes that the Senate’s work will still move quickly, especially now that Democrats have captured both the House and the Senate. Despite everything, she believes Biden has done well. As she said,

[He is] trying to get this government up and running [when] … Trump trashed absolutely everything—and the people who are left are downhearted, they are exhausted, they are depressed. They’ve got a lot of building-up of morale to do just to get the government functioning again … They want to get a lot of Obama administration back in to try to shore up where they’ve had losses, but they’ve got to weed through a lot of political people that Trump put in. So, that they’re moving this fast and doing this well considering what they’ve inherited—I’m impressed … Joe Biden, so far, is a really good president.

Markos then brought up Wall Street reform and financial services taxation, as this administration seems less likely to take it on directly. With many Elizabeth Warren allies in the administration, “most of the work done will be regulatory,” McCarter said, and corporate reforms remain at the top of the list of the administration’s priorities. This would be achieved through the Department of Justice and the Treasury and would “start to restore Americans’ view of government and what a government can do for them,” Kerry agreed.

You can watch the full episode here:

The Brief is now streaming on all podcast platforms near you!

This week on The Brief: Impeachment round two, more COVID-19 relief, ending the filibuster

This week, hosts Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld were joined on The Brief by two guests: Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, who talked about the attempted terrorist coup at the Capitol, another economic stimulus package for coronavirus relief, and priorities under the Biden administration; and Adam Jentleson, former Deputy Chief of Staff to former Sen. Harry Reid and author of the new book “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate,” who shared his thoughts on the shifting makeup of the Senate, the emergence of a new centrist Republican contingent in Congress, and ending the filibuster.

Sen. Schatz kicked off the episode by reflecting on last week’s attempted violent coup by Trump supporters and discussing what’s at stake as Democrats move forward with impeachment proceedings and welcome Joe Biden as the new president. In the aftermath of last week’s violence in the Capitol, Schatz emerged with an even stronger resolve to ensure that democratic processes would continue as normal in the face of threats and other acts of intimidation, saying, “We weren’t going to allow an attempted insurrection to intimidate us or to prevent us from discharging our constitutional duties.”

On priorities, Schatz is passionate about climate action, but he believes a COVID-19 relief package is the most crucial priority at this time—which is especially important for the millions of Americans who are jobless and struggling to make ends meet. He also believes that it is not contradictory for Congress to work on impeachment and also help the Biden administration carry out its policy goals within the first few months of his presidency:

I guess I just want to reject as publicly as I can this premise that the Senate can or should only do one thing at a time. The amount of damage that has been done to American institutions, and to Americans, is just too vast for to say, ‘Well, I mean, can we just fit that into a reconciliation bill? I don’t know.’ And the framing, even among liberals, has always been sort of that Rahm Emanuel conversation with Barack Obama: Do you want to do healthcare, or do you want to do immigration, or do you want to do climate, and in what order, because you know, you’ve only have so much political capital you can spend? … I really do think that we should reject that thinking.

In thinking about the impeachment process and passing legislation during the next four years under the Biden administration, Schatz also criticized another roadblock that has been normalized, which is the slow pace of passing legislation — making Congress less efficient: “Our inability to process legislation quickly is a huge part of the problem in the United State Senate.”

Next, the pair welcomed Jentleson onto the show, a veteran U.S. Senate staffer who weighed in on what the new chamber dynamic will like be now that Democrats have regained the majority after last week’s victories in the Georgia runoffs. But even with the majority, Democrats could find themselves obstructed due to the filibuster. To Markos’ question about whether or not Republicans might join in to help bring an end to the filibuster, Jentleson said:

You can sort of see this centrist party taking shape before our eyes, and mainly taking shape in the Senate, where you have Murkowski, Collins … Romney, and on our side, Manchin and King, and the thing about majority rule is that it would actually dramatically empower that group of centrist Republicans. That’s, you know, not my goal here. But it is still a fact that in a majority-rule Senate, those people, like Murkowski, are far more powerful than they would be in a sixty-vote Senate. In a sixty-vote Senate, they’re just one faction among many that you’d have to assemble to get to sixty. In a majority-vote Senate, they are the ones straddling that threshold, and they’ll be the kingmakers on every single bill.

When a minority of the Senate represents as little as 11% of the U.S. population, Jentleson emphasized, the filibuster process can result in particularly skewed policy results. Even the framers of the Constitution understood this:

Fundamentally, the problem that we face, and the reason Democrats are going to face obstruction from Republicans—and the reason that Biden’s agenda is likely to be blocked—is that Republicans will simply use this power to force a sixty-vote hurdle and block everything the Democrats want to do. And so reforming all the hours, and all that stuff, I don’t oppose it. But it doesn’t fix the fundamental problem—which is taking away the power from the minority to block the majority from doing anything … The reason that is such an important dynamic is that we live in such a polarized environment where … once side succeeds by making the other fail.

Ironically, this is exactly what the framers foresaw when they argued vehemently against imposing a supermajority threshold in the Senate. They wrote in the Federalist Papers that you can’t give what they called a ‘pertinacious minority’ the ability to block the majority, because if you did, they would be unable to resist that temptation, and they would use it to embarrass the majority repeatedly. So they knew exactly what was going to happen—they foresaw Mitch McConnell, they saw him coming … We have to take the option away from the minority to just block the majority for the purposes of making them look bad, and then the minority rides voter discontent back to power in the next election.

You can watch the full episode below:

Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) talks to Daily Kos, live today on The Brief

My YouTube show The Brief, co-hosted with Kerry Eleveld, airs every Tuesday, 1:30PT/4:30ET. Today we’re going to go deep into the Senate with the help of two amazing guests: U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Adam Jentleson, former top aide to Harry Reid and author of his new book “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.” 

We might have some things to talk about, like the brand new Democratic Senate majority  in the wake of the Georgia runoff elections, the insurrection at the Capitol, the looming impeachment trial, and the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s 100-day agenda with our narrow 50-50 majority and the destructive filibuster (which is the topic of Jentleson’s book). 

The show is also expanding into a podcast as well. Links to all the relevant podcasting platforms are being finalized and I’ll share those as soon as we get inclusion. 

Drop any questions you might have for Sen. Schatz or Jentleson in the comments below!

Daily Kos straw poll: Elizabeth Warren wins a plurality, Sanders and Bloomberg round out top three

In the first post-Yang Gang straw poll, we’re finally back to having a clear picture of the Daily Kos community’s presidential preferences. And as of now, Elizabeth Warren is still top dog around these parts. 

    Elizabeth Warren 33

    Bernie Sanders 25

    Mike Bloomberg 13

    Amy Klobuchar 9

    Joe Biden 8

    Pete Buttigieg 7

    Tom Steyer 1

Despite a mediawide effort to erase Warren, she retains the plurality lead among Daily Kos readers (and outsiders urged on in various online forums). The two progressives in the race have 58% of the total, which is in line with results we were seeing last year. The difference? In October, the numbers were Warren 41, Sanders 15. Sanders has been consolidating the left offline, and he’s done that to some extent here online. 

The big surprise, or better said, disappointment, is that Bloomberg would get 13% around these parts—which just happens to be the rate he’s currently getting in the outside world. Turns out, sometimes we’re not just that different from the broader party. 

New Daily Kos/Civiqs poll: Most Americans disapprove of U.S. Senate’s handling of impeachment

The best antidote to hot takes is hard data, and the February Daily Kos/Civiqs poll is here with your cure. This month’s survey of 1,543 registered voters was conducted online from Feb. 11-14 and reveals that 60% of Americans disapprove of how the U.S. Senate conducted Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. And with the Iowa Democratic caucus debacle just behind us and the Nevada caucuses imminent, 58% of Americans support eliminating the presidential caucus system.

Other noteworthy findings in this month’s poll include:

The majority of Americans (52%) disapprove of Trump’s job performance as president. Support for eliminating presidential primary caucuses cuts across party lines. Majorities of Democrats (68%), Republicans (51%), and Independents (54%) want to end the practice. More Americans rank George W. Bush’s presidency above Trump’s (48%-44%), but 91% of frequent Fox News viewers rank Trump over Bush.

Additional issues surveyed include support for continuing Trump investigations by the U.S. House, the Trump administration’s newly expanded travel ban, and support for the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

February’s numbers unequivocally reveal that Americans feel the GOP Senate majority failed in its duty to administer the impeachment trial fairly.

This month’s survey provides additional evidence that frequent Fox News viewers are deeply disconnected from mainstream Americans. While 60% of all Americans disapprove of how the Senate conducted Trump’s impeachment trial, 68% of faithful Fox viewers approve. And while only 45% of Americans believe Trump is handling his job as president well, a whopping 93% of frequent Fox viewers think he’s doing great.

Civiqs is a survey research firm that conducts scientific public opinion polls on the internet through its nationally representative online survey panel. Founded in 2013, Civiqs specializes in political and public policy polling. Results from Civiqs’ daily tracking polls can be found online at civiqs.com.