Klobuchar qualifies for the November DNC debate

First up today, Senator Amy Klobuchar has qualified for the November DNC debate. In a poll released today by Quinnipiac University she got her fourth qualifying poll. That means at least nine people onstage for November. So, rumors of a small debate stage seem to be greatly exaggerated.

This poll was no help for anybody else looking to qualify for November, but we do have a few more scraps of detail on the debate itself. Reading from Zach Montellaro writing for Politico:

“The debate will be held on Nov[ember] 20[th] in the Atlanta area and is sponsored by MSNBC and The Washington Post. On Wednesday, the hosts jointly announced that four women — NBC News' Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and The Washington Post's Ashley Parker — will moderate the debate.”

A new poll has Buttigieg doing well in Iowa

Today, Iowa State University released a new poll of Iowa caucus-goers, and in it, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in second place. Reading from the poll’s summary, QUOTE:

“Of likely caucus-goers, 20% said Buttigieg is their top choice among the field of Democratic presidential candidates. That moves him to second in the poll – up from fourth in September – just behind Sen[ator] Elizabeth Warren who maintained her lead at 28%.”

Now, because Iowa’s caucuses treat second-choices as super-important, these polls also asked about that. If you add up the first- and second-choices for Warren and Buttigieg, he’s STILL in second place. If you add in the “I’m considering this candidate” group as well, he’s STILL STILL in second place.

The thing that has everybody up in arms is that while Buttigieg is second, Sanders is third, the person in fourth place is Joe Biden. Reading from a tweet by journalist David Walsh:

“If accurate, it means that Biden’s support has swung pretty decisively to Buttigieg….”

The poll itself has some evidence of this. As I read earlier, Biden has swapped places with Buttigieg since last month. And by the way, the margin of error for this poll is plus or minus 5%. If the poll is a TOTAL miss—meaning the margin is wrong in both directions for Buttigieg AND Biden, they’re almost tied. So…point being, this appears to be good news for Buttigieg and potentially bad news for Biden. Remember, each candidate needs 15% in a given state to get any delegates, so having Buttigieg around 20% and Biden BELOW that 15% threshold—which is what this poll shows—could be a big change. Then again, we have seen Biden move around in polls before, so…watch this space.

The October debate didn’t seem to change anything in the polls

In a tweet, pollster Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight analyzed eight new national polls that came out since last week’s debate. He showed a chart demonstrating that there is very little difference among the candidates pre- and post-debate, if you average all those polls together. In fact, the BIGGEST change, and this is really pretty minor, is Buttigieg picking 1.1% on average.

Silver summed it up: “Little has changed.”

Now, the distinction here from the last story is that little has changed nationally, while Buttigieg does appear to have some movement in Iowa specifically. Given that Iowa votes first, a strong showing there can have major effects for a candidate later on in the race.

Democrats challenging Senate Republicans are raising more money

In The Cook Political Report, Jennifer E. Duffy analyzed a series of key Senate races—those are in Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky, and Maine. In every one of those, we have a Democrat challenging an incumbent Republican for their Senate seat. The good news for the Democrats in those states is that they are ALL outraising their Republican opponents, and in one case it’s kind of a blow-out. In Kentucky, Democrat Amy McGrath raised more than $10 million dollars in Q3 against sitting Senator Mitch McConnell, who raised about $2.3 million bucks. Now, money doesn’t necessarily equal a win, but when you rake in four times as much as the incumbent, that’s headline news. And this is a SENATE RACE, not the Presidency. But these are Presidential-sized numbers.

But not every Democratic Senate challenger is doing so well. In Michigan, the Republican Senate incumbent raised about a half million dollars more than his Democratic challenger, but that was the ONLY such race nationwide where that happened.

And reading one more tidbit from the story:

“If Republicans are looking for a silver lining in this quarter’s FEC reports, it is that while several incumbents were outraised, they still had healthy cash-on-hand advantages over their likely Democratic opponents.”

Translation: McConnell, and many of the others, have so much leftover cash from previous races, they’re still beating the Democrats in terms of total money in the bank. There is one notable exception though, which is former astronaut Mark Kelly in Arizona, whose campaign bank account has $9.5 million dollars in it, handily beating the incumbent. Now THAT is a race we will continue to watch.

Both Democrats and Trump voters are super excited to vote in 2020

Next up, writing for New York Magazine’s Intelligencer, Ed Kilgore looks at some polling data about how enthusiastic voters are to vote in the upcoming 2020 election. Long story short: very, very enthusiastic.

Some of the numbers there are way too, you know, number-y to read out to you, so I’ll give you part of Kilgore’s summary.

“For me the recent benchmark of voter enthusiasm was the 2008 election that lifted Barack Obama to the presidency (I will never forget the citywide street celebration that broke out in Washington the minute he was forecast as the winner). Just before that election, 37 percent of registered voters said they were “extremely” enthusiastic about voting, with 32 percent “very” enthusiastic. That’s right: More than a year out, we’re at or above 2008 levels of voter enthusiasm. And the percentage of extremely enthusiastic folks is a lot higher.
So: Is all this excitement attributable to the Resistance getting people ready to eject our bizarre and unpopular president from the White House before he commits another four years’ worth of high crimes and misdemeanors? No, not really.”

Okay, so what is going on here? Well, if you look at the CNN poll that Kilgore cites, registered voters who APPROVE of President Trump—that is his base—are super-duper enthusiastic about voting for him again. In fact, those Trump supporters are MORE enthusiastic than anybody else, by double digits.

Well, that’s notable. But does it mean that Trump will have an easy path to reelection? Let me read again from the article:

“Of course not; the same CNN poll shows every Democratic candidate they asked about beating the incumbent by at least six points. Trump’s job-approval numbers remain stuck in the low 40s, where they have been his entire presidency — except for the times when they’ve been in the high 30s.”

Kilgore’s point here is that folks who voted for Trump really want to vote for him again. His point about the head-to-head matchups is a little early—that data doesn’t mean much when you don’t actually have a Democratic candidate and you’re playing Fantasy Football here. But still, we should pay attention to the overall point. Some Democrats have probably assumed that only Democrats are super-psyched about this upcoming election. That is NOT the case, and Trump voters are not just enthusiastic—you can count of them to show up at the polls and actually vote. So, this election, like many, may come down to turnout.

The CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods might run for president as an independent

This next story is a little out of left field…or maybe right field, depending on your choice of terrible metaphor. According to an article in Politico by Natasha Korecki, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, who is Ed Stack, is thinking about running as an independent. Reading from the Politico here:

“Various messages were presented to a focus group in southern Wisconsin this week centering on the billionaire businessman, along with possible three-way match-ups against Donald Trump and Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren.
The focus group, according to a source who took part in the testing, ran through varying themes involving Stack and heavily focused on his example of “showing leadership” by halting the sale of assault-style rifles at all of Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in the wake of the high school massacre in Parkland, Fl[orid]a.
The prospect of a well-funded, third-party candidate could have a significant impact in a race where Trump is expected to be unable to win a majority of the popular vote. In 2016, Trump won just 46 percent against Hillary Clinton and has consistently scored below 50 percent in national polls.”

This is genuinely fascinating. It’s unclear how Stack would mix up the dynamic if he actually entered the race—but he might be a spoiler that would pull some Republican votes. He has been a Republican donor for years, though he also chipped in $300,000 dollars in 2016 to a Democratic Political Action Committee…so, that might mean some Democrats would go for him. And, Stack just released a book criticizing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not bringing gun safety laws to the Senate floor. So, again, whose votes he might get? I don’t know, but that’s probably why he’s running these focus groups.

Klobuchar speaks out on election security

I’ve mentioned the Honest Ads Act in this show before. It’s a bipartisan bill that would extend that disclosure requirement that you see on TV and radio ads that identify who paid for the ad. Right now, the law that forces advertisers to include that message does not apply to the internet. The Honest Ads Act would just do that. It would add the same disclosure to the internet that we see on TV and radio. It seems pretty logical, and honestly kind of simple, given that we’ve been doing this for other types of ads for decades.

The Honest Ads Act has three co-sponsors in all. One of them is Klobuchar, another is Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, and the other is Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. In a press release about the Honest Ads Act WAY back in May, Graham said:

“Hardening our electoral infrastructure will require a comprehensive approach and it can’t be done with a single piece of legislation. I am cosponsoring this legislation because it’s clear we have to start somewhere. I am pleased to work with Senators Klobuchar and Warner to address the gaps that currently exist, particularly with regards to social media. Online platforms have made some progress but there is more to be done. Foreign interference in U.S. elections – whether Russia in the 2016 presidential election or another rogue actor in the future – poses a direct threat to our democracy. I intend to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bolster our defenses and defend the integrity of our electoral system.”

Okay, so earlier this week Klobuchar spoke on the Senate floor and gave a clear, simple explanation of what Russia did in the last election, setting the stakes for the scope of the overall problem. I’m going to play some audio here, but I also think it’s worth looking in the shows—near the bottom—for the whole 20-minute speech here. This is just a tiny portion of her remarks.

I often get questions from listeners about what specifically Russia did in 2016, and why it’s a big deal. And I understand that lots of folks have not read The Mueller Report or Senator Michael Bennet’s book about the Russian hacking. So, here is a clip of Klobuchar giving us the simple version. Listen in:

[CLIP-KLOBUCHAR-HACKING]

Cool. So what happened? Senate Majority Whip John Thune blocked the bill on Tuesday. There was no vote, despite it being a bipartisan bill. On the same day, Republicans also blocked ANOTHER election security bill aimed at securing voting machines and providing backup paper ballots.