Archive for November, 2021

Biden slipping among key constituencies and swing voters…

November 30, 2021

Independents, suburban women and even the “well educated” are jumping ship.
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Yesterday, we posted some results from a 130,000 person survey done by a polling company called Civiqs.

The poll centered on the question: Do you approve or disapprove of the job that Joe Biden is doing as president?

Consistent with other recent polls, Civiqs found that at the national level a majority disapproves of the job Biden is doing .. and his job approval is underwater (or, “upside down”) by 16 percentage points.

Digging deeper, his job approval number is only above water in 5 Dem-heavy states … and only a (slim) majority in 2 of them —  Hawaii & Vermont.

And, digging even deeper into the poll’s “internals” …

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Education

> A majority of respondents  with less than a post-graduate degree disapprove of Biden’s job performance

> Post-grads are evenly split (43% to 43%) on Biden’s job approval.  That’s reported to be a big approval drop.

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Gender

> Only about 1/3 of males and females approve of the job that Biden is doing.

> Said differently, Biden is losing one of the constituencies that propelled him to victory: Trump-hating Suburban Women.

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Party Affiliation

> Predictably, GOP disapproval of Biden’s job performance is near-unanimous.

> A majority of Dems still approve … but even that number has fallen to near 50-50

> Most significant: Only 1 in 5 Independents approve of Biden’s job performance.

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The bottom line:

It looks like Biden’s  “I’m not Trump’ selling proposition is being dwarfed by his actual job performance … and voters are catching a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

I don’t think that there’s a vaccine for that…

Joe offered thanks to Dem-heavy Hawaii & Vermont…

November 29, 2021

They’re the only 2 states where even a slim majority  approve of  his  job  performance
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Let’s start at the top …

A polling company called Civiqs surveyed over 130,000 people on the question: Do you approve or disapprove of the job that Joe Biden is doing as president?

Consistent with other recent polls, Civiqs found — at the aggregate level — that (a) a majority disapprove of the job Biden is doing, and (b) his job approval is underwater (or, “upside down”) by 16 percentage points with 37% approving and 53% disapproving.

That’s not new news.

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But, since Civiq’s sample size is so large, it’s able to slice & dice the data by it’s component parts.

That’s where the news is.

For example, at the state level:

> Hawaii & Vermont are the only 2 states where even a slim majority  approve of  Biden’s  job  performance

> His job approval number is only above water in 3 other Dem-heavy states: Maryland (48% to 41%), (Massachusetts (48% to 40%), California (46%42%)

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On the flip-side:

> More than 2 out of 3 residents in 10 states disapprove of Biden’s job approval.

In 4 states, more than 70% disapprove of his job performance: West Virginia (76%), Wyoming (73%), North Dakota (71%), and Oklahoma (71%)

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Glub-blub-glub

> Biden’s job approval is underwater by more than 25 percentage points 25 states

His job approval is most underwater in West Virginia (57%), Wyoming (73%), Oklahoma (49%) and North Dakota (48%).

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Find your state on the heat map below:

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Happy Thanksgiving !

November 25, 2021

It has been a tough couple of years.

So, it’s a good time to focus on the many reasons we still have to be thankful.

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Are nuns doing “God’s work” … or “aiding & abetting” illegal activities?

November 23, 2021

That’s a thorny question to consider!
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A couple of weeks ago, the NY Post broke the story that “planeloads of underage migrants were being flown secretly into suburban New York in an effort by President Biden’s administration to quietly resettle them across the region.”

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When questioned by reporters, press secretary Psaki confirmed the New York Post’s reporting that the Biden administration has been quietly flying underage illegal immigrants from the border to New York.  Source 

Note: Psaki’s only pushback was whether a 4:30 a.m. flight arrival was technically “in the dead of the night” or “early morning”.

Generally, the Post’s revelation didn’t surprise me.

What caught my eye was the identification of one of the  administration’s partners in the activity.

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Specifically, the Post reported:

A source familiar with the operation at the Westchester airport said the underage migrants are bused to locations including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, upstate Newburgh, and Bridgeport and Danbury in Connecticut.

One of the destinations is the campus of a nonprofit sponsored by an order of Catholic nuns that has a contract to supply the federal government with residential services for “immigrant youth .. who are the victims of societal problems.”

An order of Catholic nuns with a government contract?

Say, what?

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The plot thickens

This week Rep. Lance Gooden (R, Texas)  made public information that he received from a whistleblower.

The whistleblower claimed that some non-profits in San Diego were running a secretive and organized effort to bring migrants into the country and then arrange for them to be transported around the country. Source

Rep. Gooden’s office claims that  they received an information packet from the whistleblower — the same one that is given to the illegal migrants.

It contains flight information, copies of the Notice to Appear from CBP, a list of pro bono legal service providers, maps of major U.S. cities, and information on how to enroll children into public schools.

The packet also contains a letter for migrants to present to TSA officials. The letter asks that the illegal migrants be allowed to board flight without the identification documents that TSA usually requires.

When contacted, TSA official said that the letters are “very convincing” so the migrants are passed through the checkpoints and  are often accommodated with early 

Checking into the matter, Gooden discovered both Catholic Charities of San Diego and the Jewish Family Association as two examples of non-profits participating in the operation.

And, he pointed to AT&T, Bank of America, and the federal government as sources of funding to these organizations.

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Government contracts and “laundered” corporate donations to well-intended religious service providers who help resettle illegal immigrants.

Does all of this sound kosher?

I leave it to you to decide:

Are the nuns doing “God’s work” … or  “aiding & abetting” illegal activities?

 

MUST READ: About the 25th amendment…

November 22, 2021

There are implications beyond the prospect of Kamala’s ascendency to the Presidency.
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Biden’s job approval is crashing and a majority think that he’s either incompetent or cognitively challenged (or both).

Harris’ job approval is even worse … below 30%.

So, there’s some chatter in the halls wondering what if Biden is removed from office via the 25th amendment .. or that the glaringly ineffective Harris is pushed to resign for “personal reasons”.

Cutting to the chase, here’s how the 25th amendment works…

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The Constitution

There are 4 sections to the 25th Amendment.

We’ll skip Sections 3 and 4 which deal with the political processes and focus on the core ramifications.

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Here’s how Sections 1 & 2 work

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Nixon, Agnew, Ford & Rockefeller

In 1972, Nixon was elected president and his running mate, Spiro Agnew was elected vice president.

In 1973, Agnew was investigated “on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud” … he pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of tax evasion and resigned from office.

President Nixon nominated Gerald Ford to be the new vice president pursuant to Section 2. Ford was confirmed by both the Senate and the House. by a wide majority

In 1974, Nixon resigned and Ford became president under Section 1.

The office of vice president was thus again vacant.

Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller, former New York governor, for the vice presidency. Rockefeller was confirmed by a majority of both the Senate and House.

Tidbit: Ford, who was defeated by Carter in 1976, is the only president to have been elected neither president nor vice president.

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So, what if?

Now, let’s pretend that the Dems invoke the 25th Amendment on Biden and prevail.

Vice President Harris becomes President Harris… and the VP position becomes vacant.

OK, so Harris nominates somebody to be VP.

Here’s where things get interesting…

Keep in mind that the Senate is split 50-50.

Now, when there’s a tie, VP Harris steps in to break the tie and Dems prevail.

But, if the 25th were invoked and Harris ascended to the Presidency, there would be no tie-breaking VP.

Section 2 calls for a majority … a tie isn’t good enough.

Hmmm

So, the GOP could stonewall any nomination that Harris puts forward … and in the process, deny Dems a majority vote on any issue.

Take for example, the Biden’s $3.5 trillion (now claimed to be $1.75 trillion) “Make America Sweden” Bill (aka the BBB human infrastructure bill).

The GOP could block it without even needing Mancin or Senema to vote against it.

Double hmmm.

More generally, invoking the 25th would potentially stop the Dem’s socialist agenda in its tracks.

Suddenly, the thought of President Harris doesn’t sound so bad…

WH: Just ignore the CBO score on the social spending & climate control bill …

November 19, 2021

Maybe they should since ObamaCare has been TWICE as expensive as its CBO estimate.
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Let’s start with the recent headline…

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Source

The details:

President Biden’s pledge to completely pay for his $1.85 trillion social coverage and climate control spending bundle relies upon largely on having a beefed-up Internal Revenue Service crack down on tax evaders, which the White Home says will increase lots of of billions of {dollars} in income.

However the CBO is estimating that the I.R.S. proposal would yield far lower than what the White Home was relying on to assist pay for its invoice — about $120 billion over a decade versus the $400 billion that the administration is relying on.

That’s a $280 billion shortfall … statistically significant, for sure.

In response…

Senior administration officers (and Speaker Pelosi are urging lawmakers to ignore the CBO evaluation.

They say the CBO is being overly conservative in its calculations, failing to correctly credit score the return on funding of further I.R.S. sources and overlooking the deterrent results {that an extra aggressive tax assortment company would have on tax cheats.

That’s one approach: Just ignore the CBO scoring.

Former Pres. Obama took a different approach ObamaCare was in a similar predicament…

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Flashback to 2009

You may remember that, in the stretch run, ObamaCare was running into some headwinds.

Republican Scott Brown was elected to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Brown  was seated as the 41st GOP senator, providing the GOP with the opportunity to filibuster the bill.

And, Obama got some bad news in a preliminary report from the CBO.

CBO Director Elmendorf pronounced the ObamaCare plan to be massively expensive and incapable of lowering future health care costs. Source

Rather than tell Congress to just ignore the CBO findings, Obama invited Elmendorf to the White House for a chat.

Following the meeting, a more  “enlightened”  CBO revised its projections … painting a more favorable picture of ObamaCare economics.

Republicans complained that Obama may have used the visit to pressure Elmendorf to change his stance.

You think?

The revised numbers provided John McCain (R, Arizona) with sufficient “cover” to vote to  end the Republicans’ filibuster.

And, as they say, the rest is all history…

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P.S. As it turns out, the CBO grossly underestimated to cost of ObamaCare. For details, see:

Get out your wallet: CBO says ObamaCare to cost twice the original estimates.

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Breaking news: The “Final” CBO Score

According to the WSJ:

The CBO found that the bill would contribute $367 billion to the deficit over 10 years.

Democrats have argued that revenue not captured in the CBO score shows that the bill is more than fully paid for.

For technical reasons, the CBO’s bottom line doesn’t include$207 billion in revenue that the scorekeeper estimates would result from pouring roughly $80 billion into tax-enforcement efforts at the Internal Revenue Service.

Adding that revenue to the CBO’s other estimates would make the bill’s 10-year deficit about $160 billion.

The Biden administration says its IRS spending would generate $480 billion, not $207 billion.

Arithmetic note: The difference between $480 and $207 is $273 billion.  That number is what’s called “statistically significant”.

More reasons that government is ambivalent about inflation…

November 18, 2021

Bottom line: All levels of government benefit from inflation.
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In a prior post, we spotlighted the world’s worst kept secret, revealed publicly by Biden’s press secretary

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English translation: “If high gas prices bother you, get on our climate control program and buy an electric car.”

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OK, that’s one reason that Biden’s people are ambivalent or maybe even enthusiastically supportive of skyrocketing gas prices.

And, there are other reasons that all levels of government — local, state and Federal — have some degree of ambivalence (or enthusiasm).

As the WSJ puts it:

One irony of inflation is that while it’s bad for working Americans, it’s great for the government.

Tax revenues soar as nominal profits and incomes rise.

“Overall state and local government receipts including federal aid are already 23% above pre-pandemic levels … thanks to Congress’s gusher of spending.”

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How does that happen?

Let me count the ways…

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At the Federal level:

(1) inflation devalues the national debt

(2) higher nominal wages push some tax filers into higher Federal tax brackets

(3) increasing asset prices boost capital gains and push some tax filers into higher Federal income  tax brackets

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At the State level:

(1) higher wages and capital gains push some tax filers into higher state income tax brackets

(2) higher retail prices increase state sales tax revenues … assuming that consumers continue to buy the same “real” volume of goods.

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At the Local level:

(1) higher wages and capital gains push some tax filers into higher local income tax brackets

(2) higher retail prices potentially increase local sales tax revenues

(3) higher real estate prices push real estate assessment values higher and boost local real estate tax collections.

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And, there’s a blue state slant to all of this:

The WSJ observes:

Progressive states with higher tax rates are especially flush (with tax revenues).

Democratic states in particular are building in new structural spending in the form of higher pay and pensions for public unions.

As Jen Psaki might say: “Suck it up, suckers.”

Psaki: High gas prices are a blessing in disguise…

November 17, 2021

“If high gas prices bother you, get an electric car.”
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In a prior post, we opined that Biden administration policies have obsoleted the Dem’s push for a $15 minimum wage.

How?

Well,  the current labor shortage — largely induced by Biden’s ““Stay home, get paid” programs — has pushed nominal wages up.

Of course, inflation-adjusted “real” wages are down … but, in Bidenomics, that’s just a technical detail.

And, we pointed out that Biden’s promise to use the Infrastructure Bill to create “thousands of $45 per hour union jobs with good benefits (i,.e. paying about $100,000 annually … plus overtime and fringe benefits) makes $15 per hour sound “so yesterday”.

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High gas prices: A blessing in disguise?

Today, let’s shift attention to sky-rocketing gas prices … and Biden’s “what me worry” attitude towards something that the vast majority of Americans consider an economic crisis.

The Dem’s narrative: Certainly not Joe’s fault, and there’s nothing he can do about it since OPEC won’t cooperate.

Of course that’s silly.

Biden declared war on gasoline (and natural gas) … terminating the XL pipeline project, halting drilling on government lands, and hassling frackers.

With the stroke of his ever-ready Executive Order pen, he can reverse the policies that he unilaterally executed.  Gas prices would tumble and the effect would quickly spread through the economy.

He can reinstate XL, reopen Federal lands to drilling and extend an olive branch the energy companies.

But, of course, that would incite one of his biggest constituencies: the climate control devotees.

To appease them, he has to pour more billions of dollars down green energy rabbit holes and boost the price of gas.

The old school thinking on the latter: Hike taxes on gas to depress demand.

The new school thinking: Ride the tide of “unavoidable” inflation at the pump.

Maybe then, people will finally get the idea:

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Biden’s mouthpieces have finally said what their thinking — out loud:

During a recent press conference, “White House press secretary Jen Psaki argued that higher gasoline prices, highlight the need for a rapid transition to clean energy.” Source

Or, as Energy Secretary Granholm said more clearly: “You know, if you drive an electric car, this would not be affecting you.” Source

In other words: “If high gas prices bother you, get an electric car.”

Just like the $15 minimum wage, when it comes to Biden’s climate agenda, gas taxes are “so yesterday”.

Just shut a few pipelines, stop drilling and don’t push OPEC too hard.

Same outcome as higher gas taxes, with plausible deniability.

 

Biden: “Forget the $15 dollar minimum wage.”

November 16, 2021

He’s got better ideas for boosting labor costs.
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I happened to be in the car last week when Biden was delivering his Infrastructure Bill remarks at the Port of Baltimore.

Most of the words that he read from the teleprompter were 50,000 feet high pablum… what I like to call political Muzak.

But, my ears perked up when he read aloud this line:

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Say, what?

Lets start with some basic arithmetic:

40 hours per week times 52 weeks per year equals 2,080 hours per year … 2,080 hours per year times $45 per hour equals $93,600 per year.

Not bad work if you can get into a Dem-loyal union and bag one of the jobs.

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Fringe Benefits

Oh, yeah … let’s not forget the part about good benefits.

In my old managerial days, we always figured that “fringe benefits” cost us about 25% on top of the base wages.

That puts the annual benefits-loaded cost of labor at $117,000 … not counting overtime (1-1/2 over 8 hours per day, double on weekends and holidays) … or the new freebies included in the “Biden agenda” (e.g. paid family leave time).

Hmm.

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The Infrastructure Bill

Best that I can tell, the Infrastructure Bill has a couple of objectives: (1) fix some bridges and fill some pot holes, and (2) boost wages (especially for union loyalists)

Not necessarily in that order.

I guess the old goal of a $15 minimum wage is so yesterday.

Why fight that battle when you can:

(1) Set a floor on wages by paying people to stay home watching TV instead of taking “demeaning” entry-level jobs.

(2) “Create” thousands of $100,000 jobs … by ordering infrastructure contractors to staff up with a diverse army of union workers.

The best part: nobody will even notice.

Methinks we’re getting played…

WaPo: “Biden approval hits new low as economic discontent rises”

November 15, 2021

And, that’s the most favorable headline the Post could muster.
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It has been a tough week for the Washington Post.

First, confronted with facts to the contrary, the paper “amended” at least a dozen of its reports on the infamous Trump-disparaging “Steele Dossier. With some initial indictments, special counsel John Durham traced the fictional Russia-Trump collusion  directly  back to Clinton Campaign operatives.

Second, reporting results from  the most recent its most recent ABC-WaPo poll, the most favorable headline it could conjure for   was : “Biden approval hits new low as economic discontent rises”,

We’ll get back to that poll later … but let’s start with the big picture: the latest RCP poll-of-polls.

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Note Biden’s steadily increasing job disapproval over the past couple of months … and the disapproval surge in recent weeks.

Biden now stands at 42% approval, 52.7% disapproval … putting him “underwater” by 10.7 percentage points.

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The ABC-WaPo poll is right in line with the average of other polls.

ABC-WaPo puts Biden’s overall job performance at a new low (for that poll): with 53% disapproving … and 41% approving (down 11 percentage points since spring).

That puts Biden a whopping 12 percentage points underwater.

It gets worse…

Only 35% of Independents approve of Biden’s job performance …  58% disapprove … putting Biden 23 percentage points underwater.

Digging a little deeper…

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Registered Voters

Narrowing the  poll’s sample from “all adults” (the left data column) to “registered voters” (the right data column). Biden’s job approval drops to 38% (from 41%) and his disapproval swells to 57% (from 52%) … putting him 19 percentage points underwater.

And…

Among the registered voters who expressed “strong” points-of-view, 19% “strongly approved” of Biden’s job performance;  48% “strongly disapproved” … pitting Old Joe 29 percentage points underwater.

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Battleground Contagion

Biden’s poor job approval appears contagious….

ABC-WaPo did a deep dive in 8 states that are expected to have highly competitive Senate races — four currently held by Democrats, four by Republicans. Source

In these states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Biden’s overall job approval rating is 33% (compared with 43% elsewhere).

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Generic Ballot

ABC-WaPo asked respondents: For whom would you vote today  in your congressional district — a Democratic candidate or a Republican candidate?

Among all registered voters in the poll, 51% expressed support for a generic Republican candidate, 41%. In 2018, Dems had a 53$ to 45% advantage.

Compared to 2018, Republicans gained ground in all major voting blocs (the far right data column below).

Most notably, Independents swung 30 points .. from 52-42 Democratic to 50-32 Republican.

And, while Dems continue to hold a 15 point advantage among Hispanics, their advantage  is down 40 points from 2018.

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Even the WaPo has to concede that Biden’s fall from voters’ grace is of “historic proportions”.

More: Which “typological political group” are you in?

November 12, 2021

… and how many are in it with you?
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In a prior post, we summarized Pew’s nine American “typographical political groups” and asked: Which group are you in?”

    1. Progressive Left
    2. Establishment Liberals
    3. Democratic Mainstays
    4. Outsider Left
    5. Stressed Sideliners
    6. Ambivalent Right:
    7. Populist Right
    8. Committed Conservatives
    9. Faith and Flag Conservatives

You could have slotted yourself by reading summaries of the groups or, better yet, by answering Pew’s short values-based quiz and letting Pew slot  you.

If you haven’t already done so, here’s the link to the group summaries and the online slotting quiz.

OK, now that you’ve done that, let’s look at he numbers…

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General Public

Here’s how Pew sizes the groups for the general population…

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Interpreting the Pew numbers:

> About 37% of the country have somewhat mixed or balanced political views … those in the middle 3 groups

That’s a sizable group, but short of majority moderate middle.

> The most extreme groupings (top 2 and bottom 2 on the list) are sizable and statistically significant at 17% and 19% respectively).

These groups tend to “punch above their weight” in on the political scene.

> Pew’s classification scheme suggests a Democratic skew.

But, that may just be a reflection of the methodology.

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Party Affiliation

Here’s how the numbers break out by party affiliation…

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> Most “Stressed Sideliners” — who are then most mixed and balanced in their values — do not identify with a party, and those who do are roughly equally split between those who lean to the Democratic Party (26% of all Stressed Sideliners) and those who lean Republican (22% of all Stressed Sideliners)

> Only 8% of Democrats belong to a GOP-oriented typology group … and only 6% of Republicans and Republican leaners belong to a Democratic-oriented typology group.

> Just over 1/3rd of each party’s members and leaners are in their more extreme values groupings (35% of Dems; 38% of GOPs)

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The Urban Divide

The Pew Report cuts the data in a variety of ways.

One analysis that caught my eye was the urban – suburban – rural divide.

Pew asked respondents whether of not they “ prefer to live in a place with larger houses farther from schools, stores and restaurants” … and categorized them by their degree of ruralness.

No surprise,these variables are highly correlated.

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As to be expected, urbanites tend to cluster toward Democratic-oriented values (think: population diversity, collective interests and reliance/dependency on gov’t services e.g. public transportation) … rural folks cluster towards GOP-oriented values (think: independence, family-focus, trucks) … suburbanites fall between the urban-rural divide (think: nuclear families, cars & SUVs, mix of public & private schools)

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Pew’s conclusion

Based on its data and analysis, Pew drew this overall conclusion:

Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics.

Republicans and Democrats agree on very little — and when they do, they most often share the belief that they have little in common.

So much for the moderate middle, right?

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Here’s a link to the full Pew Report … it’s worth reading!

Which “typological political group” are you in?

November 11, 2021

Pew says that there are nine possible groups that you might be in…
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In a prior post, we asked: Does America have a “moderate middle” any more?

Referencing some Pew data, we reluctantly concluded that the moderate middle has been dwindling for years … and polarization has been accelerating.

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Right on cue, I got a coincidental blast email from Pew announcing their most recent comprehensive analysis of the American Political Typology which “provides a road map to today’s fractured political landscape by segmenting the public into nine distinct groups, based on an analysis of their attitudes and values.”

Note: Pew’s approach is a variant of “psychographic segmentation” – a technique used by marketers, for years, to segment people by their attitudes, interests and opinions … rather than grouping them by demographic variables such as age, income or race.

Pew calibrated its nine political groups … and drew this overall conclusion:

Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics.

Republicans and Democrats agree on very little — and when they do, they most often share the belief that they have little in common.

So much for the moderate middle, right?

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Back to the headlined question

Which of Pew’s nine typographical political groups are you in?

For openers, read the below summary descriptions and pick the one that most closely describes where you really fit … not the one that you want to be perceived as being part of … nor one that is more aspirational than real

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Pew’s American Political Typology:
The Nine Groups

Progressive Left: A majority white group that has very liberal views across a range of issues – including the size and scope of government, foreign policy, immigration and race and supports far-reaching changes to address racial injustice and expand the social safety net.

Establishment Liberals: While just as liberal in many ways as Progressive Left, the Establishment Liberals are far less persuaded of the need for sweeping change. They are some of the strongest supporters of the Democratic Party. They tend to be more inclined toward more measured approaches to societal change than their Progressive Left counterparts.

Outsider Left: The youngest typology group, they hold liberal views on most issues. About half say they are independents but vote overwhelmingly Democratic. They are deeply frustrated with the political system – including the Democratic Party and its leaders. They have deeply negative views of the GOP.

Democratic Mainstays: The largest Democratic-oriented group. Racially diverse and older, they are unshakeable Democratic loyalists. They are economically liberal, pro-military and moderate on immigration and social issues

Stressed Sideliners: The only typology group without a clear partisan orientation. This  group has the lowest level of political engagement. They are generally disconnected from politics and the two major parties and vote at lower rates than most other typology groups. Their political views and demographics are mixed. They are largely defined by their minimal interest in politics.

Ambivalent Right: The youngest and least conservative GOP-aligned group, hold conservative views about the size of government, the economic system and issues of race and gender. But they hold more moderate stances on several social issues including abortion and immigration.

Populist Right: Very conservative and overwhelmingly Republican, They hold highly restrictive views about immigration policy and are very critical of government and major U.S. corporations.

Committed Conservatives: Staunchly conservative and overwhelmingly Republican. They hold pro-business views traditionally associated with the Republican Party, have favorable attitudes about international trade and favor a limited role of government.

Faith and Flag Conservatives: They are highly religious, politically engaged and both socially and economically conservative. They favor a robust role for religion in public life and a smaller role for government in society, and they hold that a strong American military is essential in international affairs.

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Take the test

Now, test your self-perception by running through Pew’s short battery of values-based categorization questions.

It takes less than 5 minutes … and its answer may surprise you.

click to take the test
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For the record

Here’s where the Pew test slotted me:

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What’s your best fit?

Does America have a “moderate middle” any more?

November 10, 2021

Maybe my sample isn’t projectable…
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I recently had a very encouraging experience when I went to one of my granddaughter’s cross-country running meets.

There were 20 Baltimore area teams … about 400 runners … most of whom had family & friends there to root them on … a very diverse group.

Everybody seemed to be having good family time … most adults were encouraging all the runners … regardless of their team affiliation, their speed and position or their race … no chatter about CRT or any other political hot buttons.

Everything seemed so normal.

When I told my story to some friends, they opined that there’s still a big group of people “in the middle” … far away from the loud extremist positions … more concerned about family life and community than political scuffling.

That meshed with my cross country experience but, of course, I had to get analytical …

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values … more liberal values sort to the left … more conservative values sort to the right.

Here’s how America looked about 15 years ago … in 2004.

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Democrats clustered to the left (the light blue hump), Republicans clustered to the right (the red hump ).

The dark blue hump in the middle is the moderate middle … consisting of both Democrats and Republicans who shar similar values.

Back in 2004, both the Democratic and Republican humps peaked relatively close to the middle … and the moderate middle was sizable.

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Now, fast forward to 2017 — the latest Pew survey.

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Democrats cluster further to the left, Republicans cluster further to the right.

The distance between the peak in the Dem’ hump and the peak in the GOP’s hump widened.

Less than 10 percent in each party overlaps ideologically with the other side.

So, the moderate middle substantially shrank.

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What has happened since 2017?

While Pew hasn’t published a directly comparable study since 2017, they did run a poll that asked whether the country is more or less divided before and after the pandemic.

The bottom line: Most people believe their society is now more divided than before the pandemic.

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Said differently, the moderate middle is continuing to shrink … and is being swamped by the the increasingly distanced partisan groups.

Apparently, my real life sample isn’t projectable.

That’s sad.

Maybe some day.

Hopefully sooner rather than later.

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Click here to see the complete evolution in the Pew graphic from 2004 to 2017 … with some situational commentary.

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More: Before you get too excited about the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill …

November 9, 2021

WSJ: Strong leadership will be essential to ensure the projects are completed on time and on budget.
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Yesterday we tried to rein in infrastructure bill excitement since:

  • Less than half of the trillion dollars is going to roads, bridges, electrical grid and other “hard” infrastructure
  • Save for Eisenhower’s interstate highways and Kennedy’s moon landing, the Federal government’s recent track record on big projects  is less than stellar. Think: “shovel ready”, “cash for clunkers”. Solyndra and the SoCal-to-Vegas bullet train

On cue, the WSJ ran a Harvard prof’s op-ed: “Don’t Let the Infrastructure Bill Become a Boondoggle”.

The article highlighted the infrastructure’ bill’s size and complexity, its political overtones … and the need for strong managerial leadership.

Here’s a condensed version…

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An Analogy

Boston’s Big Dig highway project began in 1991.

It was supposed to have been completed in 1998 at a cost of $2.8 billion.

Instead, it wasn’t finished until 2007, and the total cost (including debt financing) has been estimated at around $23 billion.

The project improved Boston, but its legacy was tarnished by waste, corruption, design flaws and poor execution

Once Pres. Biden signs the bill into law, the true work of fixing our infrastructure will begin.

The bill could easily lead to out-of-control costs, blown deadlines, and both real and metaphorical bridges to nowhere.

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The Infrastructure Bill

At more than $1 trillion, the size and complexity of the infrastructure bill guarantee that it will be difficult to implement.

The plan will involve nearly every corner of the often unwieldy government bureaucracy.

Large-scale projects inevitably provoke battles for funding and cause confusion over who is doing what to carry out the plan and time-wasting arguments over jurisdiction.

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The Need for Leadership

Successfully enacting the provisions of the infrastructure bill requires leaders who can:

  • Break tasks down into deliverable items
  • Create teams with clear responsibilities
  • Establish milestones and measures
  • Hold people accountable

Biden will probably appoint a series of czars to oversee different parts of the bill.

He needs to resist appointing political leaders who lack experience managing large bureaucratic organizations..

President Biden must assemble a great team of leaders.

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Color me pessimistic

Keep in mind :

> 55% of Americans say the Biden administration is not “competent in running the government.” Source

> There’s just cause for the rating: the border, the Afghan withdrawal, the snarled supply chain, soaring energy costs, etc.

> Biden has already assembled a team that can’t shoot straight:

  • Harris … who has done such a great job as Border Czar
  • Buttiigieg … when he makes it into the office
  • Raimondo … who says there’s nothing that can be done to unjam the supply chain
  • Granholm (who laughs off our surging gas prices)?

In the sage words of former President Obama: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f–k things up.”

Before you get too excited about the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill …

November 8, 2021

Remember “shovel ready”, “cash for clunkers”. Solyndra and the SoCal-to-Vegas bullet train?
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According to a recent USA Today poll:

The infrastructure bill, which passed Friday with some bipartisan support, is backed by 2-1 (61%-32%) among those surveyed.

Almost everybody agrees that major parts of our infrastructure — roads, bridges, electrical grid, broadband, drinking water — need to be upgraded.

Other parts of the infrastructure have strong urban, coastal and climate control support — e.g.  inter-city rail (especially DC to Boston), metro area public transportation, EV subsidies and charging stations.

Below is list of infrastructure programs included in the bill

For the sake of argument, let’s assume all of the above are worthwhile endeavors.

Here are some things to think about…

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How much on “infrastructure”?

> For openers, according to a Forbes recap, less than half of the $1.2 trillion — $550 billion — is going into hard infrastructure …  the rest goes to the usual grab bag of government giveaways, pork  and crony paybacks.

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Deliverables, schedule and budget?

> Of course, this program will end up  taking forever (thanks to gov’t red tape and climate control reviews) and go way over budget.

There will be union and diversity requirements on all contractors …, and, a shortage of certifiably vaccinated labor will push wages through the roof.

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Government track record?

> The Federal government’s most recent track record on these omnibus programs is less than stellar.  Just flashback to the Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The ARRA gave us “shovel ready”, “cash for clunkers”. Solyndra and the SoCal-to-Vegas bullet train.

Off the top of your head, can you name any significant infrastructure improvement that came out of that program?

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Who’s in charge?

> Who — from among the gang that can’t shoot straight — is going to manage this trillion dollar project? Biden (who Obama tasked to oversee the ARRA)? Harris (who has done such a great job as Border Czar)? Buttiigieg (when he gets back from his paternity leave)? Granholm (who laughs off our surging gas prices)?

Seriously, who’s going to run this massive project?

The only “for sure”: Nobody will be held accountable.

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What are the odds?

By the law of averages, something good may come from this massive program, but I’m bracing for disappointment … even faster inflation with few concrete infrastructure successes to point to.

In a few years (or months), we’ll be hearing: “Gotta upgrade our infrastructure”.

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In the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill:

Roads and bridges: Headlining the 2,702-page bill‘s spending, roughly $110 billion of new funds would go toward improving the nation’s roads and bridges, and investments in other major transportation programs.

Public transit: The package also includes the largest-ever federal investment in public transit, allotting $39 billion to modernize systems, improve access for the elderly and people with disabilities, and repair more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars and thousands of miles of train tracks.

Amtrak: The legislation marks the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago, with $66 billion earmarked for high-speed rail, safety improvements, Amtrak grants and to modernize the rail route connecting Washington, D.C., to Boston.

Broadband internet: Tacking on to billions authorized by last year’s American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill includes $65 billion to bolster the country’s broadband infrastructure and help ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, with one in four households expected to be eligible for a $30-per-month subsidy to pay for internet.

Electric grid: Though many clean-energy measures were cut from the bill to satisfy spending-weary lawmakers, a $65 billion investment will help upgrade the nation’s electricity grid, with thousands of miles of new transmission lines and funds for environmentally friendly smart-grid technology.

Electric cars, buses and ferries: In addition to $7.5 billion for the nation’s first network of electric-vehicle chargers along highway corridors, lawmakers have shored up $5 billion for zero-emission buses (including thousands of electric school buses) and $2.5 billion for ferries.

Clean drinking water: Following high-profile water-supply crises plaguing cities like Flint, Michigan, the legislation includes a provision for $55 billion to replace all the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, representing the largest investment in clean drinking water ever.

Great rivers and lakes: Among the bill’s $48 billion for water infrastructure improvements, about $1 billion is slated to go toward the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a sweeping clean-up measure targeting toxic hot spots—or areas of heavy industrial pollution—around the Great Lakes region.

Airports: More than $25 billion has been allocated to help modernize America’s airports—funds the Airports Council International says will help tackle more than $115 billion worth of project backlogs.

Road safety: The deal invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, particularly among cyclists and pedestrians.

Sources: Forbes, Zero Hedge

Is Biden “not being read in”, forgetting or just plain lying?

November 5, 2021

Either way, it raises questions about who is running the country.
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Have you noticed the pattern that’s appearing … in public view?

Afghan Withdrawal

Biden stated that nobody recommended (i.e. he wasn’t “read in”) that Bagram be kept open to facilitate a smooth withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops, diplomats and Afghan allies (e.g the translators).

Specifically, he said that none of those people would be left behind.

General Milley, et. al., testified under oath that they told him more time and troops would be required to effect a smooth withdrawal and slow the Talban takeover of Kabul.

The State Dept later reluctantly reported that about 10% of the vulnerable had been left behind … and a statistically significant number of them are still there.

Not read in, forgetting or lying?

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The Australian Submarine Deal

Proudly, the State Dept. announced a deal with with Australia to build nuclear submarines to patrol Asian waters.

The French withdrew their ambassador in protest since the new deal, in effect, nullified a multi-billion dollar deal that was in place for the French to build similar subs.

At the recent  G20 Climate Control meeting, Biden publicly apologized to French President Macron, saying the U.S. was sorry, but don’t blame him because he (Biden) “hadn’t been read in” to the program.

Not read in, forgetting or lying?

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The $450,000 Lotto

When Biden was at the G20 Climate Control meeting, the WSJ broke a story of a Biden Administration plan to issue pay-outs of $450,000 (per person) to illegal border crossers who have suffered emotional pain and suffering when being resettled in the U.S.

During a rare Q&A with reporters this week, Biden was challenged about the program.

He said that the reports were “garbage” … and those payments “wouldn’t happen”.

The next day, his designated press spokesperson walked back those comments. indicating that Biden is “comfortable” with the program and the the Departments of State and Justice are in the process of hammering out the details and exact amounts.

Not read in, forgetting or lying?

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I think there have now been enough of these high level incidents to warrant worry…

Either Biden isn’t being “read in” on important matters and somebody else is really running the the show.

Which raises the obvious question: who?

Or, Biden is being “read in” and but forgets.

That raises questions about his cognition and competence.

Or, Biden is flat out lying.

Which goes to the question or integrity.

Pick your poison. folks.

Which ever it is, it isn’t a pretty story.

Don’t fret, Dems: Youngkin will be a Hogan, not a Trump.

November 4, 2021

Gov. Hogan is thriving in deep-blue Maryland

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I’ve lived for years in Virginia  and Maryland.

So, I’ve had a keen interest in both states’ politics.

My view: There are compelling commonalities between Gov. Hogan (Maryland) and Governor-elect Youngkin (Virginia).

Specifically…

> Both Hogan and Youngkin are Republicans in blue states.

> Both were successful business people … Hogan in real estate, Youngkin is private equity.

> Both were big underdogs in their election campaigns.

> Both adopted a similar political modus operandi.

The WSJ’s Peggy Noonan:puts it this way:

1. Be a respectable, capable-seeming person who focuses on legitimate local issues (schools, taxes.)

2. Don’t say crazy things.

3. Don’t insult Donald Trump but do everything to keep him away.

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For the record:

Hogan was elected in 2014 and is winding down his 2nd and last allowed term as governor.

How has he done?

First, the most obvious: he was re-elected in one of the bluest of blue states.

Why?

He has been a model of balance and rationality.

He doesn’t do dumb things … and. in a divided government,  he roadblocks dumb things that Dems want to do  … protecting them from themselves (and their innate over-reach tendencies) … and protecting all Marylanders from them.

“Hogan has lived up to his promise to be a good conservative manager and not an ideologue …voters have rewarded him for living up to his promise.” Source

His current approval rating is a robust 68%.

That compares quite favorably to Maryland’s Democratic senators … Chris Van Hollen (44%) … and Ben Cardin (46%).

Some pundits think hat Hogan might be a credible candidate for president in 2024

I agree … what he lacks in charisma, he makes up for in reasonableness, experience (in both biz and government) and performance.

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Bottom line:

Youngkin can rejoice that Virginia voters were as rational in 2021 as Maryland voters were in 2014 and 2018.

With Youngkin heading to the governor’s mansion, Virginia Democrats can relax.

He’ll be way more Hogan than Trumps.

That’s a good thing.

The Virginia election in four pictures…

November 3, 2021

There were a couple of events (and people) who impacted Youngkin’s election victory.
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Father of Assaulted Schoolgirl

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A Loudoun County father is arrested for “disrupting” a school board meeting by calling attention to his daughter’s sexual assault in a girls bathroom.

School board members denied the claim, but … the perpetrator — a gender-fluid, biological male wearing a skirt — was subsequently convicted of the crime.

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Merrick Garland

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AG Merrick Garland responded to a National School Board letter, which was coordinated with  White House staffers, calling parents “domestic terrorists” by issuing orders to District Attorneys and the FBI to surveil parents at school board meetings and crack down with the full force of law … then expresses bewilderment that his action might be interpreted as suppressing parents’ freedom of speech.

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President Biden

image

 

Along with other Democratic personalities (Obama, Harris, Abrams, et. al.), President Biden swept in to rally support for McAuliffe.

His cameo reminded voters that McAuliffe is inextricably intertwined with him and his policies … policies that 77% of Americans think have the country moving in the wrong direction.

McAuliffe dreamed of a similar picture showing Youngkin and Trump joined at the hip … but his wildest dreams never materialized.

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Randi Weingarten

image

McAuliffe literally closed out his campaign by middle-fingering parents concerned about their children’s education.

At his final campaign rally, McAuliffe showcased his education alter ego, Randi Weingarten … President of the American Federation of Teachers President.

Weingarten personifies the clout of teachers’ unions (over parental involvement) … and, is probably the person who bears “the most responsibility for many school systems’ total abdication of responsibility to families during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Source

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Bottom line: Youngkin was a strong candidate who ran a great campaign  … but he might not have prevailed without some help from McAuliffe’s “friends”.

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P.S. And, don’t forget that Facebook and Twitter banned Trump on social media … essentially silencing him during the campaign.

Power to the parents!

November 3, 2021

Majority of Virginians love their kids more than they hate Trump…
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McAuliffe hasn’t conceded (yet), but all major news outlets (including AP, NYT, CNN and MSNBC) have declared Youngkin the winner.

Youngkin’s margin of victory 2.1%, buoyed by 57% of suburban women who turned the page on Trump and voted in the best interests of their children by reasserting their parental involvement in education.

image

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Northern Virginia

Last week week, we spotlighted the Northern Virginia counties (Fairfax and Loudoun), reminding readers that:

In 2020, Biden walked away with a 10 point statewide win … easily carrying the predominantly Black precincts in southeast Virginia (Richmond, Virginia Beach) … and crushing Trump in Northern Virginia (Fairfax County by 40 points, Loudoun County by 20 points).

And, we predicted:

If Youngkin slices, say, 10 points off the GOP disadvantage in Loudoun County (narrowing the gap from 20 to 10 points) and Fairfax County (from 40 to 30 points) … then Younkin very likely pulls off an upset.

Well, here’s what happened…

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Fairfax County

In Fairfax County, Youngkin did, in fact, cut the gap by 10.1 percentage points … from 40% to 29.9%.

image

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Loudoun County

Ditto in Loudoun County, where Youngkin narrowed the gap 9.5 percentage points …  from 20% to 10.5%.

image

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Bottom line: Youngkin crushed McAuliffe in the vast majority of Virginia counties, turned some blue counties red, and made the necessary inroads in Northern Virginia.

click for the NYT interactive map
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VA Gov Race: Final Polls

November 2, 2021

Just for the record…

The 538 (Nate Silver) poll-of-polls is weighted by “quality of the poll” and recency has Youngkin up by just under 1%.

image

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The RCP poll-of-polls has Youngkin up by 1.7%

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> Neither candidate breaks the magic 50% level

> The 3 most recent polls average Youngkin up by 44%

> Dropping the Fox Poll cuts Youngkin’s advantage to .4%

Reminder: in 2020, liberals praised the Fox News stats crew for calling Arizona early on election night.

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The Trafalgar Group — right-leaning, rated “A” by 538 for reliability, most recent poll — has Youngkin up by 2.3%

image

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Averaging the 3 above sources give Younkin about a 1.5% advantage.

If 1.5% is the over/under, I’m betting the over (way over)

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Reminder: Fairfax County is Deep Blue, heavily populated with gov’t employees & contractors, and always posts results late … so, Younkin supporters shouldn’t do touchdown dances prematurely.

Biden touts:“America is back on the world stage” but …

November 1, 2021

A couple pictures are worth thousands of  words to the contrary…

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First, let’s set a benchmark.

At the end of G20 Summits, there’s a group photo (aka. “family picture”) taken of the attending world leaders.

Below is the family pic from the 2018 G20.

Note the guy in the red tie (circled in yellow).

Yep, that’s President Trump standing in the front row, close to the middle.

Keep that image top of mind.

image

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Now, lets fast forward to this year, 2021.

image

Note the open spot in the front row near the middle (the yellow box).

Hmmm.

Now, note the “world leader” standing to the far left in the photo (red arrow and circle)

Who can that be?

Let’s zoom in.

image

OMG: It’s President Joe Biden.

> Distanced from the “power center” of the front row.

> Appropriately positioned at the far left in the picture.

> Literally separated from the pack of other world leaders … barely even on the world stage

Joe may think that he’s led America back, but world leaders may be sending another message:

Sometimes, it’s better to be respected (feared?) than it is to be liked (being pushed around while handing out freshly printed, borrowed dollars).

Hmm.


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