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Nota Bene: 7.28.22 Prime Badge

New congressional generic ballot poll: Suffolk, D-44%, R-40%. Meanwhile, the 538 average of these polls is now R+.02.

Numbers Prime Badge

New Georgia Senate poll out this morning from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Warnock 46%, Walker 43%. This is in line with other recent polls which show a modest but consistent Warnock lead. Meanwhile, three new congressional generic polls have come out over the last 24 hours, two of which give the Democrats a six point advantage and one of which gives a 4 point margin. One of those 6 point margins is actually a Republican Party poll. Why they chose to release it I’m really not sure.

Various other midterm metrics continue to move slowly but perceptibly in Democrats’ direction. As we’ve discussed at various points over the last few weeks, the House especially is still very much an uphill battle for Democrats. But this trend makes me think Democrats holding the House in November is definitely possible and getting more likely. Not remotely a lost cause.

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The Filibuster Is a Direct Threat to American Democracy Prime Badge
It's not just about helping Democrats or making particular legislation possible. The filibuster actually endangers the whole edifice of civic democracy in America.

TPM Reader PT notes — and rightly so — that it’s actually remarkable that there are only four Democratic senators expressing any real level of resistance to changing the filibuster rules. That’s a massive sea change from as little as four or five years ago. As I’ve noted, I fully expect Warner and King to give way in short order if their constituents press them. Its really just the two odd men (people) out: Manchin and Sinema. Today and going forward it is impossible for a Democratic candidate to be elected to the Senate anywhere in the United States while supporting the filibuster. It’s anathema among Democrats. But in this post I wanted to step back from the immediate necessity and partisan advantages of ditching or scaling back the filibuster to note how important it is for the future of civic democracy in the United States for the filibuster to be abolished.

Filibuster defenders now usually argue some future advantage. Senator King says that what seems like an obstacle today will be needed as a shield in the future. Filibuster opponents correctly respond that it is folly to believe that the current Republican Party would hesitate for a moment to ditch the filibuster if it represented any meaningful obstacle to getting anything they wanted. They took the wildly unprecedented step of refusing to entertain a Supreme Court nomination for an entire year to steal the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia. They ditched the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments as soon as they had the chance to pack the Court under Trump. Everything we know about the current GOP tells us it’s folly to believe they’d hesitate.

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Does Trump Still Need the Big Lie? Prime Badge

On Saturday, in a post about the current state of and future of Trumpism, I said that a key reason for the slow deterioration of Trump’s 2024 support is his relentlessly backward-looking and self-centered focus. In other words, it’s the Big Lie and the ways in which the Big Lie has incorporated the Mueller probe, his impeachments and all of his other first term wounds and grievances. TPM Reader TS wrote in to say that while he agreed with my argument he wondered whether Jon Chait’s related piece modified or changed my view of this. Chait argued that the conventional wisdom, which holds that Trump needs to give up his fixation on the 2020 election, is plainly wrong. Not only does he not need to drop the Big Lie — in fact, it’s his best strategy for getting the 2024 nomination.

So who’s right?

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All Going Swimmingly in AZ-2 Prime Badge

I got this fascinating report from TPM Reader EK about the situation in Arizona’s 2nd district …

I wanted to share a closer look at one House race to get some insight into where Nate may be off.

FiveThirtyEight shows Walt Blackman with an 84% chance of winning over incumbent Tom O’Halleran in Arizona’s new 2nd Congressional District.

First, the Republican primary is in disarray. Blackman has proposed murder charges for women who get abortions. Trump came to Arizona to endorse Ed Crane, who has very few ties to Arizona. Trump was actually booed by the audience because they want Ron Watkins, who had a key role in forming Q Anon.

Attached is a flyer Crane supporters mailed to Republicans attacking Blackman for the Aug. 2 primary.

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More Josh Numbers Mumbling Prime Badge

I’ve been noting in different posts that there are more disconnects than usual in making sense of the 2022 election. A lot of things don’t quite seem to fit. Is this the continuing upheaval of the last two years? A shift in the trend? Or just wishful thinking? Who knows. But TPM Reader YK noted to me recently a little detail that helps quantify that disconnect. Our friend Nate Silver’s 538 forecasts include three versions. One with a mix of polls, expert opinion and a mix of history, fundraising, voting patterns and more. It’s this last one that is usually treated as the canonical forecast. That one currently shows the Senate at 50%-50% between Democratic and Republican control. With the House it’s 85%-15% in favor of the GOP. (Technically, these are the percentage of times the computer simulation gives victory to each side.)

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Trump and the Trajectory of the Trump Presidency Prime Badge
A slow shutter speed image of former US president Donald Trump on a TV screen is seen in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 23 February, 2022. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto)

One great theme of reportage on the Trump presidency is that it took Trump almost his entire term of office to learn how to make the federal government run to his purposes, to bend it to his will. He learned to ignore his cabinet secretaries and operate through the lesser-known officials with their hands on the levers of power. He found ways to exploit the maze of loopholes, workarounds and unenforceable laws which essentially allowed him to ignore Senate confirmation and oversight. This week Axios published a big report on how Trump and his top advisors are planning to use this knowledge in a second term to gut the federal bureaucracy and restock it with an army of Trump loyalists. In other words, in term one, Trump’s very ignorance and laziness provided a critical insulation against his worst instincts and most malicious goals. In term two he will hit the ground running knowing exactly what to do.

While accurate in many regards, this view of the man and the trajectory of his presidency misses the essence of it. What hides from most, almost in plain sight, is that Trump now rarely discusses any political agenda — even in the broadest, most guttural and least policy-oriented sense of the term. There is no agenda other than revenge and payback for the injustices and injuries he personally suffered in his first term: the Democrats, the RINOs, Mueller, the impeachments, the “fake news”, what he memorably calls “Russia, Russia, Russia,” “Big Tech.” Remember that “fake news” wasn’t part of Trump’s 2016 campaign argot. That was appropriated from the growing discourse of campaign misinformation he profited from and retrofitted for use against what he perceived as an unfriendly press. Grievance and payback have always been the central touchstones of Trumpism. But this is distinct. To appreciate his arc we have to go back to the beginnings of the Trump presidency.

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The Uncanny 2022 Midterm

I wanted to flag again that the congressional generic ballot continues a small but steady creep in the direction of the Democrats. The shift is basically since the leak and then official release of the Dobbs decision. To be clear, Democrats are still very much the underdogs in the battle for the House, though they’re close to tied in the congressional generic ballot. The two prognostication sites I watch put the Dems’ odds in the 15% or less zone. So, not good! But the movement is in their direction and there’s more than three months to go.

At the same time, conventional wisdom is moving strongly in the Democrats’ direction in the Senate. There have been a lot of signs of this that conventional opinion really missed because they were seeing things so much through the prism of a GOP wave election. One of these now sees a 55% likelihood of Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and the other 50%-50%. These have each moved significantly in the Dems’ direction just over the last week.

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About Last Night Prime Badge

If you didn’t see the Jan. 6th’s committee’s (for now) final hearing, it was a powerful presentation. The two big takeaways, if you’re already pretty versed in what we know about that day, are these: the exfiltration of Mike Pence was probably a closer-run thing than we’d even imagined. Members of Pence’s Secret Service detail were apparently talking of calling loved ones to say final goodbyes before they decided to move him to the Capitol complex’s secure location. We also saw more of Trump’s alternatively sullen and desperate refusal to face reality — or, perhaps more specifically, refusal to dispel his supporters’ absolute belief that his “landslide” victory had been stolen. Just a pathetic, degenerate huckster capable of great violence and evil.

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