New Hampshire opens its primary filing period and that is a lot of fun

Today, New Hampshire officially opened its primary filing period. Now, you may ask, what is that and why does that matter? That is precisely what I asked when I saw this float by as some kind of news. So, here’s the deal. New Hampshire, as we’ve discussed a zillion times on this show, is the first-in-the-nation primary. So that is cool and normal.

But, because they have this special status, they have turned the event of filing to be on the ballot in that primary into basically a public photo-op where all the candidates come to this one guy’s office. That guy is Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has been doing this for, I am not kidding, 43 years, and they file their paperwork and it’s a whole thing. The first candidate to file this year is Pete Buttigieg, who showed up this morning.

So here is specifically how it works, as detailed by John DiStaso of WMUR Radio in New Hampshire.

“[Gardner will] show them the legendary desk donated by the family of the late state Rep[resentative] Stephen Bullock, who authored the first primary law in 1913. He'll give them a bit of historical perspective.
And he'll likely show them the poster he created for the 2020 New Hampshire primary, celebrating the 100 years that have passed since the contest became the first in the nation.
While the 2020 primary campaign has been underway for a year, the filing period brings it into an even sharper focus. Now, it’s for real.
The next step will be for Gardner to set the date of the primary. He’ll likely do that several weeks after the close of the filing period, around the end of the month.”

Now, look, that story actually goes on for a shockingly long time, and it is WELL worth a read. It includes a photo of the Bullock desk and the poster. It also has a detailed interview with Gardner about this historic process. But beyond that, the story includes an exhaustive list of who is expected to show up to file their paperwork, including specific dates and times. Like, literally, it says Bernie Sanders will show up tomorrow at 11:30am sharp. Now, beyond all that, there is ALSO list of who has NOT said when they’ll show up, which really seems like public shaming. There is even the following amazing line regarding the filing times for Kamala Harris and Cory Booker colliding with another major candidate:

“Arrangements are being negotiated to ensure that [Vice President Mike] Pence and the two Democrats do not overlap in their filings.”

So, look, if you ever clicked a link in the show notes in your life, this one is up top just past all the social media stuff.

Voters of New Hampshire, I salute you. You have earned this. This is awesome.

The Trump impeachment stuff in three minutes or less

Next up, a new segment limited to three minutes or less. A quick update on the Trump impeachment inquiry, and other election-related stuff in the world of the sitting president. Let’s get into it.

The text of the resolution authorizing the impeachment hearing has been released. The vote on this resolution is still scheduled for tomorrow, and the resolution doesn’t have many surprises. It’s in line with existing House procedures for impeachment inquiries and testimony in general. One item that made headlines was that both the ranking Democratic and Republican members of the Intelligence Committee can question witnesses for up to 45 minutes, uninterrupted, for as many rounds as they like before passing the questioning off to other committee members. The two members would go one after the other.

Now, part of this is already in the House rules for witness questioning, which allow for up to 60 minutes combined—the change here is 90 minutes combined for this proceeding. The procedures also allow Republicans to call witnesses, but they have to be approved by the Democratic leadership. Again, that is already in the House rules for this stuff, so that’s not exactly news.

One notable item is that the proceedings will start being public where appropriate if this resolution passes. So that would be a change, given that much of what we’ve reported on so far has been through leaks, or prepared statements, or other sources, because the hearings have been private.

Today, two figures described by The Guardian as career diplomats, testified about Trump’s attitude toward Ukraine. They are Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson. Reading from The Guardian here about what their testimony means:

“…[E]ach witness seems to be helping to build a larger picture of a president using foreign policy to try to advance his re-election prospects – and a team of advisers who largely let him do it.”

Coming up on Friday, White House aide Robert Blair is scheduled to testify in the House. He was one of the many people on the Ukraine phone call, and his testimony might clarify other accounts of that call.

And one follow-up to yesterday’s testimony is that Alexander S. Vindman testified that the summary of the Ukraine phone call released by the White House was not a transcript. Now, we already knew that, because it says right in the document that it is not a transcript, but rather a reconstruction based on notes. But still, having a witness who was on the call, who took notes during the call, saying that the record of that call that has been released is missing key details…well, that’s potentially big. We do not know what Vindman said was missing from that summary, so that remains a big question mark.

A new poll helps candidates in both the November and December DNC debates

Yesterday, a poll from CNN and the University of New Hampshire actually moved the needle for several candidates in terms of qualifying for upcoming DNC debates. The poll looked at awesome New Hampshire primary voters specifically, who are, as I’ve already stipulated, awesome.

Quick methodology note. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1% on the Democratic side.

Okay, so how did this poll help candidates qualify? Well, Buttigieg has officially qualified for December, because this poll gave him his fourth result there. He is now qualified for both upcoming debates. It also gave Gabbard her second qualifying poll for November, AND it gave three candidates their first qualifying polls for December: those are Gabbard, Klobuchar, and Yang. Those three candidates still need three more and then they are on the December stage.

The other headline coming out of this poll is that it had Sanders first at 21%, Warren second at 18%, and then Biden third at 15%. The next candidate down was Buttigieg at 10%. But the headline there was Biden being in third place in a crucial early-voting state. The last time this particular poll was conducted was in July. Back then, Biden was in the lead at 24% with Warren and Sanders tied for second at 19% each—which, in that July poll, was actually within the margin of error. Now Biden is within the margin compared to Warren, so this is not exactly a moment of panic for his campaign, and we’ll look for confirmation in other polls of the state.

And one item that made roughly zero headlines, but I’m gonna mention anyway, is Joe Sestak. As I reported a few weeks ago, he recently walked the length of the state. He is now at 1% in this latest poll, compared to zero in previous polls, so that walk probably helped him.

What that poll told us about the Republican primary

So here’s a quickie. That poll I just mentioned also asked Republicans about their primary, and though those results didn’t make huge headlines, I thought I’d tell you about them here. The margin of error on the Republican side is plus or minus 4.6%, and again, we are just talking about New Hampshire primary voters.

So, obviously the most important question is which of the four declared candidates a given Republican says they would vote for. President Trump has 86% of that group. Bill Weld has 5%. Mark Sanford has 1%, and Joe Walsh also has 1%. Interestingly, 3% of the group said they’d vote for somebody who wasn’t listed, and only 4% said they didn’t know or were undecided. So…yeah, this is a tough result for the non-Trump candidates.

The only possible silver lining there is that New Hampshire is NOT a winner-take-all state for Republicans. That means that a candidate who wins a percentage of the vote can actually get some delegates going into the convention. Unfortunately, that percentage is 10, so at the moment none of the three challengers would actually get any New Hampshire delegates at the convention.

Moody’s Analytics attempts to predict the 2020 presidential election

Two weeks ago, Moody’s Analytics released its 2020 Presidential Election Model. Within this, they run three mathematical models for predicting whether a given presidential candidate will win the general election. They’ve been doing this since 1980, and they’ve been correct in every race except one, and that race happens to be 2016.

Under all of three models Moody’s uses, Trump is projected to win in 2020—in some cases, by a landslide. However, there is a fair amount of hedging of predictive bets going on. Let’s briefly walk through the three Moody models. First is the Pocketbook Model, which relies on various consumer goods prices including gasoline and housing, plus changes in income for workers. Second is the Stock Market Model, which relies mainly on a forecast of how the S&P 500 will do. And third is the Unemployment Model, which, you know, mainly relies on the unemployment level.

As with any projection, these models are all subject to change based on a variety of factors. For instance, the model could just be wrong. Moody’s actually points to this in their introduction, saying that in 2016 their model may have failed because it doesn’t consider the nature of the actual candidates running. And it noted that Clinton and Trump were not what they consider, and I quote, “generic” candidates.

The two big factors that could swing this thing are the economy and voter turnout. Now, Moody’s does attempt to predict both of these, but they admit that sometimes that’s tough to do. Reading from the report:

"The top of the business cycle is a difficult place from which to forecast, and the economic outlook is filled with substantially more uncertainty than usual.”

It goes on to suggest that if there is a moderate recession in the coming year, Democrats win according to the average of the Moody’s models. And then there’s the matter of voter turnout. Reading again from the report:

“Under the assumption that the nonincumbent share of turnout in 2020—that is, Democrats and independents—were to match its historical maximum across all states, only the pocketbook model predicts a victory for Trump. Under such a high-turnout scenario, the Democratic Party nominee would win handily under the stock market model and by the skin of their teeth under the unemployment model.
An average of the three sets of model results suggests that if turnout of nonincumbent voters in 2020 matches the historical high across states, then Democrats would win a squeaker. …”

So unusually high turnout or a downturn in the economy could flip the script. So if you’re rooting for Trump, hope for normal turnout and a stable economy. If you’re on the other side, maybe don’t root for a bad economy because that tends to harm people, but maybe work on voter turnout.

The pro-Biden Super PAC now officially exists

Next up, that Super PAC we’ve been discussing since last week, that will support Joe Biden, has now officially been created. It’s called “Unite the Country,” and its treasurer is Larry Rasky. Now, Rasky also happens to have worked on two previous Biden presidential campaigns, so he is a familiar face within the Biden world. Writing for Politico, Theodoric Meyer and Maggie Severns added some context.

“The same super PAC previously went by a different name, For the People PAC, but it existed only briefly in April, shortly before Biden launched his run for president. At the time, Matt Tompkins, a Democratic fundraiser, told The Hill: “You won’t win in 2020 by unilaterally disarming.”
But Biden senior adviser Kate Bedingfield shut down For the People PAC’s buzz when she replied to a tweet about the group with a brief statement: “[Joe Biden] does not welcome support from super PACs.” For the People PAC went quiet shortly afterward and never reported raising or spending money.
The filing for Unite the Country, which was first reported by Bloomberg News, marks the official beginning of an outside effort to boost the former vice president, a move that could raise and spend unlimited sums of money and give the cash-strapped Biden campaign a boost.”

There’s actually quite a bit more in that Politico story about who Rasky is, as he’s been involved in Biden campaigns for a long, long time. Link in the show notes as always, so check that out if you are curious.

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Okay, so I got a lot of feedback about the Robert Caro books. And part of me was filled with that odd feeling, and I feel like there might be a German word for this—I feel like this is something I’m forgetting—that feeling when you finish a book that you have both completed something, but you also feel a sense of loss because there is no more book to be had. That’s kind of how I felt at the end of this book Working by Robert Caro. So my wife had some leftover audiobook credits on Audible. So I looked up The Power Broker and it is 66 hours long. And, you know what? I clicked that. I downloaded that. I have not yet begun my 66-hour odyssey. I might need to sign up for some time on a container ship or something, to make the mental space for all that. But still, it beckons to me from my phone. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.