But those same polls [suggesting a Clinton lead] don’t suggest doom and gloom for down-ballot Republicans just yet. And in fact, there’s real reason for GOP optimism that Trump won’t ruin their year completely. …
For one, the so-called generic ballot — i.e., whether people prefer a generic Democrat for Congress or a generic Republican — still only favors Democrats by a small margin: 3 points in both the Post-ABC poll and NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, among likely voters. That same Democratic edge on the generic ballot is actually down from 6 points in last week’s NBC-WSJ poll.
Put plainly, these generic ballots are unremarkable and don’t suggest a big Democratic wave ahead.
Part of the reason Trump’s woes might not have filtered downballot could be that a strong majority of people don’t really associate Republicans with their party’s presidential nominee. And many people also appear to dislike Clinton enough that they like the idea of a Congress that could keep her in check.
The Post-ABC poll includes a question about whether people think Trump represents the “core values” of the Republican Party, and a strong majority of likely voters say he doesn’t — 57 percent overall.
The number includes a whopping 62 percent of independents. Just 27 percent of them think Trump does represent the GOP.
And the NBC-WSJ poll might be even more encouraging for Republicans, because it suggests a path forward for them. The poll asked whether registered voters would be more likely to support a congressional Republican who would be a check and balance on Clinton and Democrats, and 53 percent said they would. Just 40 percent preferred a congressional Democrat who would help Clinton pass her agenda.
— And now, some legitimately good news for Republicans, Aaron Blake, Washington Post, this morning
Of all the asinine comments by major political pundits about the presidential campaign during the last one and a half years, one that rates among the silliest is a recent claim by Paul Krugman on his Twitter feed pronouncing himself vindicated for his aggressive defense of Clinton as the only Democrat who could win the general election.
Why the claim of vindication? Well, because no candidate other than Clinton would have had a campaign team deft enough to recognize that Trump could be baited into a meltdown during the first debate by reciting his awful treatment of 1990s-era Miss Universe Alicia Machado because she gained weight during her reign, a meltdown that spiraled for about a week afterward. And that was what began the turning of the tide away from what appeared to be momentum for Trump and (apparently) triggered the release of the Access Hollywood Boys-on-the-Bus videotape. See?
Because the only possible way that a Democratic nominee could defeat—at all, but especially soundly defeat—Donald J. Trump was that. It couldn’t have happened instead based on, say, on a progressive platform pushed by Bernie Sanders in the primaries, or one that would have been advanced by Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown, one or the other who likely would be the Dem nominee had she or he run. That is, on a progressive agenda that is broadly popular among the dominant swath of the public that wants significant change, and much of it among pretty much everyone else who isn’t in the basket of deplorables.
Or, hell, even a platform chosen by Joe Biden, who currently is far more progressive than he had been at any earlier time in his career, had he been the nominee.
That, of course, presumes—surely accurately—that each of these candidates would have run, and run aggressively and constantly, on their progressive platform. A platform that argues for significant structural change in the power of mega corporations and the very wealthy vis-à-vis everyone whose interests are not the same as those of mega corporations and the very wealthy.
I chuckle every time Krugman or some other big pre-convention Clinton backer angrily notes that Clinton is running on the most progressive party platform ever. As if Clinton has actually campaigned on this, other than to mention it in passing when the last Trump outrage falls from constant view and his poll numbers begin to rise, or hers begin to drop because of some new email-related something-or-other.
I’ve thought countless times since the convention how lucky Clinton is to have a party platform to run on that was largely forced through by Sanders. But that has presumed that eventually she actually would begin to run on it. No. I mean actually campaign on it. It’s specifics. Godot may arrive, but he hasn’t really yet.
But if he does, it should be in the form of asking this: What part of Clinton’s agenda is it, exactly, that all those voters want a Republican Congress to halt? And what part of the Republican Congress’s agenda do those voters want Clinton to comprise on and agree to?
Ah. It must be re-deregulation of the finance industry that they want. And immense cuts in taxes for Donald Trump, his heirs, mega corporations, CEOs of mega-corporations, and the insurance that Citizens United will never be overturned, and that the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts will continue to be steady-as-she-goes unapologetic proxies for mega-corporate America; Clinton’s agenda includes some very specific legislation on campaign financing, some of proposals which I did not know of until I read yesterday’s NYT editorial listing them.
Or maybe it’s the stuff about handing federal lands and environmental and energy policy to the likes of the Koch brothers. And control of the SEC by the Mercers and the Ricketts. The Kochs don’t support Trump, but they sure as hell fund the rest of the Republican Party. And Harold Hamm, Forrest Lucas, the Mercers and the Ricketts fund Trump—bigly—as well as the Republican Congress.
For starters. There’s also the healthcare-insurance public option.
Every one of those proposals by Clinton is supported by a majority of the public, some by wide margins. And every one of the Republican Congress’s proposals are opposed by a majority of the public, most by very wide margins. Yet Clinton’s campaign focuses so little on this that, according to that poll, 53 percent said they want a Republican Congress, to keep Clinton from enacting these policies, and just 40 percent preferred a congressional Democrat who would help Clinton pass her agenda.
I’ve wondered—and wondered, and wondered—for many weeks now why Clinton continues to allow the misconception to persist that Trump’s general election campaign is not funded in part by billionaires and has no ties to the finance industry. I actually had expected her to mention at one or another of the debates that Trump is funded extensively not only by two oil-and-gas billionaires, Hamm and Lucas, but even more so, apparently, by two finance-industry-titan families: the Mercers and the Ricketts.
When she didn’t, and didn’t mention the Mercers and the Ricketts even when campaigning in Toledo, Ohio, I presumed it was because she was concerned about angering some of her Wall Street donors. But in light of the leaks of the transcripts of her paid Wall Street speeches, I think there was something more. I think she knew or suspected that these had been hacked, and she didn’t want to provoke their release.
So now, to borrow from Trump, she’s been unshackled. She can detail to the public the reports that the Mercers in particular, but other billionaire donors as well, including the fossil fuel ones, are directly dictating policy proposals to Trump.
And that the Heritage Foundation—the far-right policy arm of none other than Congressional Republicans, the very ones whom the public wants to write laws, rather than seeing Clinton’s administration do so—in fact has written a fiscal and regulatory policy agenda for Trump that curiously mirrors the policy agenda of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Neither of whom is exactly popular.
In my opinion, there isn’t much in Clinton’s paid speeches—at least from the articles I’ve read about them—that are really a problem, other than that she said that Wall Street folks should help craft the laws to reign in Wall Street, since they know better than anyone else how Wall street works. Well, not better than Warren. And not better than some other law and business professors. And not better than former Wall Street folk who left in disgust. But, okay; that was three years ago, in a paid speech.
What is seriously problematic, in my opinion, though, is the hacked email discussion about how to go about trying to persuade an angry, adamant Hillary Clinton that Bill Clinton should cancel his paid speech to Morgan Stanley scheduled for a few days after Hillary Clinton was scheduled to announce her candidacy.
The hero in that incident, as in several others, was campaign manager Robby Mook, who appears to be the only actual modern-era progressive in Clinton’s entire inner circle. He’s a millennial, but so are a (precious) few others. But only Mook appears to be a circa 2016-style progressive.
Trump likes to say that if it weren’t for the conspiratorial news media, he would be beating Clinton by 15%. But that misses, well, a few points, but this one in particular: that the news media and the Clinton campaign seem to have conspired to keep from the public the most critical fact of all. Which is that Clinton’s progressive policy agenda is the agenda that a majority of the public wants.
And that the Republican Party’s, so much of it actually adopted by Trump, with a steroid cocktail thrown in, is precisely the opposite of what that very majority wants.
Krugman’s Times column today is largely about the striking similarities between Trump’s depiction of the current state of this country and Ryan’s warnings in a speech last week about this country’s future if Clinton wins. But the similarities are more in style than in substance. Krugman writes:
But for what it’s worth, consider the portrait of America Mr. Ryan painted last week, in a speech to the College Republicans. For it was, in its own way, as out of touch with reality as the ranting of Donald Trump (whom Mr. Ryan never mentioned).
Now, to be fair, Mr. Ryan claimed to be describing the future — what will happen if Hillary Clinton wins — rather than the present. But Mrs. Clinton is essentially proposing a center-left agenda, an extension of the policies President Obama was able to implement in his first two years, and it’s pretty clear that Mr. Ryan’s remarks were intended as a picture of what all such policies do.
According to him, it’s very grim. There will, he said, be “a gloom and grayness to things,” ruled by a “cold and unfeeling bureaucracy.” We will become a place “where passion — the very stuff of life itself — is extinguished.” And this is the kind of America Mrs. Clinton “will stop at nothing to have.”
So, DSCC and DCCC, why not take this ball and run with it? Why not take that little clip and juxtapose it with parts of the Dem Party platform and pieces of Clinton’s proposals, such as those on campaign finance reform? And follow that with a summary of, say, Ryan’s budget’s Greatest Hits?
Clinton, of course, could do this, too. Robby Mook, can you try to persuade the candidate to start campaigning on this, now that the sexual assault and voyeurism admissions and allegations are becoming old news?
I said here after the second debate that I myself believe that Clinton is very much a changed person now in her support of genuinely progressive structural-power changes. I still believe that. But she already has my vote.