Gerrymandering

State Politics Much More Complicated Than Often Realized: The Cases Of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, California

Anyone who follows American politics historically and contemporarily often seems unaware of the complexity of state politics around the nation.

We hear discussion of “Blue” states and “Red” states, but state politics is much more complicated that that.

Gerrymandering often distorts the reality of political loyalties in many states, and also the reality of about one third of voters being “Independent”, rather than loyal to Democrats or Republicans.

There are many examples of this across the nation, particularly noticeable in larger, more populated states.

Just a few examples:

New York State is often thought to be strongly Democratic, but not true in the state legislature, and New York City is vastly different in political culture from upstate New York areas, such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. Even Long Island, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, often reflect different views than the five boroughs of New York City, and within New York City, Staten Island, is vastly different from Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, with Queens County more balanced than the other boroughs in the city.

Pennsylvania is a state where gerrymandering has given the Republicans until now a great advantage, but new court ordered mandates may change that balance in Congress and the state legislature. Philadelphia has a very different political orientation than western Pennsylvania, often called “Alabama” outside of the city of Pittsburgh.

Virginia is well known to have a very liberal Democratic northern section (often called NoVa), reflecting the influence of being the Washington DC suburbs, while much of the rest of the state is reliably conservative and Republican.

Florida is strongly Democratic in the southern counties, particularly Broward and Palm Beach Counties, with somewhat less so in Miami Dade County due to the influence of Cuban Americans, but even that is diminishing, since it is now 60 years since the rise of Fidel Castro, and those directly affected negatively by Castro, are mostly no longer part of the population in Miami. At the same time, Central Florida is the real battleground in the state, the area that decides most elections. North Florida is much like Alabama or Georgia, its neighbors.

Ohio is strongly Democratic in the northern and central sections, particularly in Cleveland and Toledo, and the capital of Columbus, but in the more rural parts and in southern Ohio, near Kentucky, including Cincinnati, it is strongly Republican.

Illinois is dominated by Chicago in the northern part, but down state Illinois is much more Republican in orientation.

Michigan has Detroit as strongly Democratic but in western and northern Michigan, it is much more rural and Republican.

Texas has Democratic strongholds in the state capitol, Austin, and in Houston, while other portions of this very large state, including the rural areas, are strongly Republican.

California has Democratic strongholds in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the Central Valley, San Diego, and cities like Bakersfield, where House Majority Leader and possible next Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy resides, are strongly Republican.

The next race for the Speaker of the House could be between two Californians of totally different mentalities–Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

A basic reality is that urban areas are always much more likely to be Democratic while rural areas are certain to be more Republican.

Suburban areas are what often decides the politics of a state and in Congress and the Presidential election, as they are the balancing force that determines a state vote, and recently it seems clear the suburban areas, often Republican, are starting to move away from that long time loyalty.

Gerrymandering, Creating Barriers In Many States To Vote, And Changing Census By Adding Citizenship Question, All Designed To Help Republicans Overcome Future Diversity Of American Population!

The Republican Party has dedicated itself to using every possible method, no matter how unethical it is, to keep themselves in power, by curbing voting by racial minorities the poor, and college students, knowing they would be unlikely to gain the support of such groups in the voting booths.

So they have utilized gerrymandering to create districts that will always favor the white majority in as many congressional districts and state legislative districts as possible, although some such gerrymandering schemes have started to be repudiated by state and federal courts recently.

They have created as many barriers as possible to different groups being able to vote, as a result of the backtracking of the Supreme Court in 2013, on the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

And now, they are trying to mandate a 2020 Census question on citizenship, designed to insure that undocumented immigrants will not fill out the census forms, out of fear of deportation.

All this, being challenged, will lead to the downfall of a party that has lost all morality and ethics, and many decent Republicans and conservatives outside of government positions have already done so.

The future diversity of the American population toward a non white majority within about 25 years is certain, and the Republican Party is fighting a losing battle in that regard!

Conor Lamb Victory In Pennsylvania Congressional Race Indication Of Major Democratic Wave This November In Midterm Elections!

Democrat Conor Lamb won the Pennsylvania Congressional race in a strongly gerrymandered Republican district won by Donald Trump in 2016 by more than 20 points.

This should not have happened, and it is a sign of a major Democratic wave this November in midterm Congressional elections.

There are 119 GOP districts which are not as strongly Republican in 2016 as this particular Pennsylvania district.

The suburbs are starting to turn against Republicans nationwide, and that is the key to Democratic victory.

Joe Biden campaigned for Lamb, while Trump campaigned for the Republican nominee, and almost completely ignored him on Saturday night, as he gave the most unhinged imaginable speech, making a fool of himself, and every time Trump gives a crazy speech, he is losing support.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden was a major factor for Lamb, and this will boost his expected Presidential campaign.

People are starting to back away from Trump and his party, and remember only 23 seats are needed as a minimum to gain control of the House of Representatives. Many Republicans have decided not to run for reelection, and those numbers will now grow as a result of this Republican defeat yesterday.

The Democrats have now won 43 races since November 2016, while the Republicans have won just 4, and this includes the Governors of New Jersey and Virginia, and the Alabama Senate seat.

The tide is turning, and the key thing is not expecting that all Democrats must be hard left, as that is a prescription for disaster, and there is a need for more moderate Democrats, who will disappoint on some bills, but will generally back the party when push comes to shove.

On Gun Regulation And DACA, Vast Majorities Are In Support, But Trump And GOP Ignore Public Opinion!

One would think that America was a nation based on the consent of the governed, but apparently not so, in the age of Donald Trump and the Republican Party in control of our government, but only due to the faults of the Electoral College and of gerrymandering.

85-90 percent of the nation in public opinion polls support gun regulation, with the large number of massacres occurring in schools, malls, churches, and other public places, but the National Rifle Association owns the Republican Party, so when mass shootings take place, little is said other than “thoughts and prayers”, and nothing is done, even to have minimal oversight of people who purchase weapons.

The same percent want the “Dreamers” under DACA to be allowed to stay. and to have an eventual pathway to citizenship, but instead, they are being victimized by the racism and nativism of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. These young people have served in the military, attended college, held responsible employment, and have not engaged in criminal activities, but are being threatened with deportation by ICE agents, because their parents came here illegally.

America is now a nation in which these two evils of gun violence and discrimination against people who are not white Anglos has become a norm, with little done to deal with either issue.

This is causing great despair as America becomes a place that resists security for average Americans, and a sense of justice and fairness toward its minority groups.

Add to this the growing misogyny, and America has backtracked so much from the image of America as a democracy that promotes equality, justice, and fair play to all who reside in the country.

The Urgency Of The Democratic Party Taking Back The House Of Representatives, And State Governorships And Legislatures In 2018

Jon Ossoff, the Democratic front runner in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia (Atlanta suburbs), fell just short of the 50 percent needed to win that seat in the House of Representatives, and avoid a runoff.

Now he will face Republican Karen Handel on June 20, and it will be more difficult to gain the seat, a traditionally GOP district in the past 38 years since Newt Gingrich won the seat in 1979, followed up by Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary, who vacated the seat to become part of Donald Trump’s cabinet.

One can be assured massive amounts of money will be spent on both sides of this race, which, if Ossoff wins, would be a major blow to Donald Trump and his agenda.

The 24 point swing in Kansas’s special election for the House, and now the 10 point swing in Georgia, in the first round, are signs that the Democrats COULD regain the majority in the House of Representatives in 2018, after eight years in the “wilderness”.

It is simply a sign of the reality that the Democratic Party, at a low point, having lost so many seats in both houses of Congress in the Barack Obama era, along with governorships and state legislatures, have the urgency to work very hard to start their revival.

The average number of seats gained by the “out” party in the midterm elections is 23 in the House of Representatives, and right now, the Democrats need 24 seats to regain control, so it is within potential gains that one might expect.

The US Senate will be nearly impossible to win seats, however, as only 8 Republicans are up for reelection in 2018, as against 25 Democrats.

Looking at the GOP held seats, the only possible gains, and not easily, might be Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona, and Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada. The only other possible hope would be if somehow Ted Cruz could be unseated in Texas, but that is highly unlikely. So at this point, the most that could be expected is a 50-50 tie in the Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence able to use his vote in a tied Senate.

One must realize that while many of the 25 Democratic seats are seen as safe, a large number are not so, including Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Jon Tester in Montana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. Note that Heitkamp, Manchin, and Donnelly tried to protect their flank by voting for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but McCaskill, Tester, Nelson and Casey did not do so.

But beyond Congress, it is urgent that state governorships be gained, as well as control of more state legislatures, all in planning for the next census of 2020 and the redistricting of House seats and state legislative seats that will come after 2020, with the evil reality of gerrymandering affecting the next decade.

Trump Drops To 35 Percent In Gallup Poll, With 59 Percent Negative Toward His Presidency

Donald Trump is falling fast in the polls, hitting an all time low for a new President after 70 days, of only 35 percent in the latest Gallup poll.

Trump is striking out at the House Freedom Caucus, threatening primary challengers to the extreme right wing group, not realizing that in their gerrymandered districts, they are likely to beat any primary opponents in 2018.

Trump talks about cooperating with Democrats, but why would they, since he wishes to destroy Obama Care, and has forced an extreme right wing judge, Neil Gorsuch, on them, with the potential for this man who seems to be to the right of Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, to be on the Court for the next 30 or more years, as he is only 49.

59 percent in the latest Gallup poll have a negative attitude toward Trump, and his second Muslim Ban has again been held up in the courts.

His Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has admitted that building a Mexico Wall will be a major challenge due to topography, including the Rio Grande River in Texas.

And the Russian connection is being ratcheted up by the Senate Intelligence Committee headed by Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner.

Finally, there are reports that former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, is ready to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution so it now seems likely that Donald Trump will NOT finish his term, and that Mike Pence will become President during this term.

Final Projections On Congressional Elections: The House Of Representatives And US Senate 2016

With five days to go to the Presidential and Congressional Elections of 2016, I wish to state what I believe will be the likely results in the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

It is very difficult to project the results in 435 Congressional elections, but it is clear that under present circumstances, and with the existent gerrymandering, the Republican Party has a tremendous edge in House races, and they have a 30 seat edge over the majority of 218 seats required.

Presently the balance in the House is 247-188, and I forecast that the Democrats will gain 18-20 seats, to a total of 229-206 or 227-208, a major gain, but not enough to gain control.

So we will have divided government, as we had in 2011-2014, but with the Senate assuredly going Democratic from a present total of 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats, to at least 52 Democrats and 48 Republicans–a six seat gain.

Illinois–Tammy Duckworth
Indiana–Evan Bayh
Wisconsin–Russ Feingold
New Hampshire–Maggie Hassan
Pennsylvania–Kathleen McGinty
North Carolina–Deborah Ross

Also, three other seats are possible:

Florida–Patrick Murphy
Missouri–Jason Kander
Arizona–Ann Kirkpatrick

Finally, Nevada will elect Catherine Cortez Masto to replace Harry Reid, keeping that seat Democratic.

So if everything went well, the maximum Democrats in the Senate would be 55-45, which would be significant, since in 2018, the Democrats have to protect two thirds of the open seats, and the party in the White House tends to lose seats in midterms, so if only 52, the Democrats might lose the Senate two years hence!

Trump Effect: Likelihood Of Major Democratic Wave In 2016!

The effect of Donald Trump’s Presidential candidacy is the likelihood of a major Democratic wave in the upcoming Presidential and Congressional Elections of 2016.

Polls indicate that the Electoral College could be a landslide for the Democrats, with the chance to gain such states as North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona, major areas of Hispanic and Latino growth, and indications of many registering to vote because of Trump’s anti Hispanic and anti Latino rhetoric, including against the nation of Mexico, which shares a 2,000 mile boundary with the United States.

The Senate has 34 seats facing election, with 24 of those seats being Republican, and at least ten seats of Republicans in danger of being lost, which would create a large margin of Democrats in the upper chamber.

The House of Representatives is a tough nut to crack, due to gerrymandering and the largest Republican majority in the lower chamber since 1928.  At the least, the large GOP majority will dwindle, with an outside chance of a slim Democratic majority, which probably would be lost in the midterm elections of 2018.

But even a two year “window” would allow a Democratic President with both houses of Congress in his favor to accomplish major changes!

And, of course, the transformation of the Supreme Court would occur, which would have a long range effect.

This is what Donald Trump has done to the moribund Republican Party, and it looks more likely by the day!

The Crisis In The Speakership Of The House Of Representatives: Not A Laughing Matter!

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is, under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, second in line for the Presidency behind the Vice President of the United States.

Therefore, who is the Speaker of the House is not an idle matter, but of crucial importance, that he or she be a mainstream, responsible public official.

The Republican Party has produced disasters in the Speakership since 1994.

First, we had Newt Gingrich, who had a scandalous private life, and was extremely confrontational in his dealings with President Bill Clinton, and yet, right wing conservatives were unhappy with him, and he resigned after two terms as Speaker, a total of four years.

Then, his theoretical successor, Bob Livingston, was forced to turn down the Speakership, due to his own private life scandals.

Then, Denny Hastert became Speaker, seemed noncontroversial, and in comparison to Gingrich and Livingston, was just that.  But now, years after his decision to leave Congress after the Republicans lost control of the House in 2006, Hastert faces prosecution and is involved in a sex scandal involving when he was a high school wrestling coach 35 years ago.

And then, there was John Boehner, who lasted almost five years, but was under constant attack by the far right Tea Party Movement, and now has decided to resign at the end of October.  Boehner created constant confrontations with Barack Obama, but also, at times, was cordial with limits imposed by his party’s dynamics.

Eric Cantor, who was supposed to be Boehner’s successor, unexpectedly lost his seat in a nomination fight last year, just as he had the chance to become the first Jewish Speaker of the House, and his defeat apparently delayed Boehner’s decision to leave, until now after the Pope has visited the United States, and spoken before the Congress in joint session.  This event brought out the tears so common to Boehner, a devout Catholic.

Now the issue is who should succeed Boehner, two heartbeats away from the Presidency, with new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy  of California favored even though he has only been in Congress nine years, has sponsored no important legislation, and never would have been in this position had Eric Cantor not been defeated  last year.

McCarthy seems pleasant enough on a personal basis, actually more than Gingrich, Livingston, Hastert, and now Boehner, but will the right wing Tea Party movement be satisfied with him, and will he be responsible enough to conduct himself with a willingness to work with President Obama for the next year?

What if a true right wing extremist ends up as Speaker, with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a possible successor seen as a true extremist and often compared by many to David Duke, the former KKK leader, due to Scalise’s opposition to a Martin Luther King Holiday in Louisiana, one of the last states to adopt it?

America cannot tolerate a right wing extremist to be two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and it can be hoped that, under the present circumstances, Kevin McCarthy become Speaker, but somehow, although unlikely, hope that disillusionment with the Republican control of Congress leads to Democratic control of the House, as well as the Senate, to occur in the 2016 national elections.

Since the House is gerrymandered, giving the GOP control despite more total popular votes for the chamber being Democratic, this seems unlikely, but those who feel it is urgent that the next Democratic President have both chambers of Congress willing to work with him or her, must work very hard to try to elect a Congress controlled by the Democrats!

The Confederate South Lost To Democrats For The Long Haul!

Hard to believe, but 150 years after the Civil War, the party of Abraham Lincoln, which was hated in the South for a century, now controls 70 percent of all Congressional seats, helped along by Republican gerrymandering, and the future is gloomy for the Democratic Party in the Confederate South.

For the eleven states involved, there are now only four Democrats to the 18 for the Republicans, and it is thought likely that Mary Landrieu’s Louisiana Senate seat will be lost in the runoff election in that state in December. Only Bill Nelson’s seat in Florida and Tim Kaine’s and Mark Warner’s seats in Virginia are Democratic, and Warner nearly lost his seat eleven days ago!

In the House of Representatives, in the eleven states, there are only 37 Democrats to 99 Republicans, and 21 of the 37 Democratic seats are in mostly urban areas of Texas and Florida, and most of those seats are held by African Americans, Latinos, or Jews.

So the South has become an area totally different now than in the 19th century, but with, sadly, the same mentality on race, and lack of concern about the poor amongst themselves!