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The Sweep: The Politics of the January 6 Hearings
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The Sweep: The Politics of the January 6 Hearings

Plus: Cross-party friendships, and the gender gap lives on.

Last week Axios reported the very unsurprising news that “Google Trends data shows midterm voters have ‘very low interest’ in Jan. 6 compared to topics like jobs, taxes and gun policy.” It also noted that a recent poll found that only 42 percent of Americans “support efforts to hold the Jan. 6 rioters accountable, down 10 points from a year ago.”

Anytime a party focuses on something that a majority of voters either aren’t interested in or don’t agree with (or both, in this case), there’s a risk of an own goal. Republicans can point to the hearings and argue Democrats are out of touch with voters on things like inflation and gas prices. 

So why are they doing it? Certainly there’s an argument to be made that there’s the principle of the whole thing. Posterity. But don’t forget small dollar fundraising. Axios has tracked more than 500 fundraising emails in the last month from Democratic campaigns, party committees and independent political spenders, including the DCCC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, that are tied to the January 6 attack or investigation. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—small dollar fundraising is a problem for both parties. Hand in hand with partisan primaries, it’s driving a political agenda totally apart from the interests of the vast, vast majority of voters at this point. But with that much money on the line, there is no turning back. And that shrinking pool of potential small dollar donors will require more and more extreme measures to reach, and more and more outrage to get them to open their wallets.

This story title from Politico’s Sarah Ferris is telling: “Dems know the Jan. 6 hearings won’t help in November. They’re leaning in anyway.”

Well, That’s Depressing 

Pollster extraordinaire Kristen Soltis Anderson looked at the ideological diversity of friendships in America. Although I doubt these numbers would hold true among Dispatch members, I doubt it will surprise you to learn that the majority of Americans report that most of their friends belong to the same political party as they do. But dive into the numbers further, and it gets way worse:

For around one-third of Democrats, they reported having no close friends of the other party. (And while the differences by age were not huge, those under age 30 were the most likely to report having zero close friends of a different political party.)

This isn’t just confined to young people or the political left; looking at divides within parties, Republicans who consider themselves Trump supporters first-and-foremost are among the most likely to say they have zero close friends with whom they disagree, almost twice as likely as for Republicans who consider themselves party supporters more than Trump supporters. 

So the Big Sort isn’t just into two camps—we’re dividing into homogenous sub-camps too. Blergh.

Gender Divide Cuts Across Race

 I’ve written before about how the gender and education gaps are starting to cut into racial divides on voting. But it’s not entirely clear to me why the gender gap remains so stark. In the past, there were a lot more reasons for men to vote differently from women. For starters, they lived wildly different day-to-day realities. But as Axios pointed out this week, “​once upon a time, grocery shopping mainly fell to women, but these days 92% of adults do it,” which means both men and women are noticing the 11.9% inflation for “food at home.” 

Women are closing gender gaps in all sorts of other areas at an ever accelerating rate—college, Fortune 500 CEOs, Supreme Court justices—but they still vote very differently than men. I can’t explain it. 

Regardless of why, these same trends are happening with black voters too. Go back to any federal election from the last 30 years and you’ll see that black voters overwhelmingly vote for Democrats no matter which way you cut it. You’ll also notice that Democrats have been slipping with black voters since 2008. But the slippage isn’t equally distributed.

After the 2020 election, I noted that Joe Biden had about a 10-point gender gap across racial lines, which is fascinating. But education was an important factor too. NBC reported that more than a quarter of black men with a high school diploma or less supported Donald Trump. But add an advanced decree and support dropped 6 points. This is, of course, exactly the trend we see with white voters, too. 

The question is whether race is going to continue to become a less reliable predictor while gender and education become more reliable, or whether this was all just a slight and inevitable correction after the end of the Obama era. 

I don’t think we’ll have the definitive answer to that question for several more cycles, but check out what just happened in the Los Angeles mayor’s race. “In a sign of how crime can divide the party in unusual ways, public and internal polling showed how the crime-and-homelessness campaign of Mr. Caruso, who is white, helped him make inroads with a large swath of Black men, even as he ran against Ms. Bass, who is Black,” wrote Shane Goldmacher for the New York Times. “In one May survey, Mr. Caruso was performing more than 30 percentage points better among Black men than women.” Caruso, a Republican until 10 minutes ago, was endorsed by a lot of Hollywood celebrities, and he outspent Bass 10 to 1. But he still has to win the runoff in November for any of this to matter much. Those facts can cut any number of ways and remind us that all politics may not be as local anymore, but all races are idiosyncratic. But even so … a 30-point gender gap?!?!? 

GOP operatives have undoubtedly taken notice. Be on the lookout for specific ads and persuasion efforts targeted at men of color this fall. 

Why Candidates Concede

 Last week, David McCormick conceded the Pennsylvania Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to Mehmet Oz. But with so many failed campaigns refusing to concede these days, it’s worth wondering why any candidates concede. 

The answer in this case turned up just a few days later. “GOP leaders, donors and strategists are urging David McCormick, the former hedge fund CEO who lost by fewer than 1,000 votes to Mehmet Oz in this year’s Republican Senate contest, to run again in two years against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey,” reported Holly Otterbein. Anytime you see unnamed generic leaders “urging” someone to run for office, you can bet your bottom dollar that the campaign pitched the story and provided some names for the reporter to call. 

And lo and behold the next line in the story: “A person familiar with McCormick’s thinking said he is already looking at the possibility.”

I bet he is.

Guest’s Far-Right Test

 The Magnolia State got an unusually spicy Republican primary race this cycle. GOP Rep. Michael Guest, who represents Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, will face Republican challenger Michael Cassidy in a June 28 runoff after failing to secure 50 percent of the vote in last week’s three-way primary. (Guest trailed Cassidy, carrying 47 percent of the primary vote compared to Cassidy’s 48 percent.)

Cassidy ran a mostly unremarkable MAGA campaign, vowing to introduce articles of impeachment against Biden related to his southern border policies and botched withdrawal in Afghanistan, and spending the campaign railing against Guest’s decision to vote in favor of the bipartisan January 6 Commission that failed to clear the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster. Cassidy did, however, come under scrutiny last week after he reportedly scrubbed his campaign website of certain social spending policies designed to “incentivize family formation,” including “giving married citizens a $250/month stipend for children under 10, and $500/month for children 10-17” and “providing newlyweds with a $20,000 wedding gift, paid back if the couple divorces.”

As Y’all Politics points out, his site now includes the following disclaimer: “Based on helpful feedback from many conservatives in the 3rd District, I’ve improved my America Dream policies by focusing on lowering the tax burden for working families with children.” Interesting stuff!

South Carolinians on the Ballot Today

 Two House Republicans are bracing for what are expected to be competitive primary races today. Rep. Tom Rice, who voted to impeach the former president last year after the Capitol riot, is facing a primary challenge from Trump-endorsed Russell Fry. And Rep. Nancy Mace is facing tough competition from Trump-endorsed Katie Arrington. Mace’s embattled relationship with the former president is complicated by the fact that she managed to score an endorsement from Trump ally Nikki Haley. 

A good explainer on this dynamic from Politico’s Alex Isenstadt: “Haley, a former South Carolina governor, has appeared in Mace’s TV ads, headlined a fundraiser that raised six figures, and is expected to close out the race by holding several events with the congresswoman,” Isenstadt writes. “Haley’s intervention in the primary represents a political bet: By throwing her political might behind Mace — a candidate derided by Trump as ‘nasty, disloyal, and bad for the Republican Party’ — and risking a defeat in her home state, Haley is taking steps to distinguish herself from a former president whom she served and who, like her, is weighing a 2024 bid.”

Fewer Number of Competitive House Districts This Midterm Cycle

 “The total number of competitive districts (as defined by the R+4 to D+4 range) declined from 84 to 75,” writes election analyst Kyle Kondik in Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “That’s just 17% of all the House seats, although there are enough competitive seats for there to be big swings from cycle to cycle. Still, one wouldn’t expect all of these seats to be competitive every year: The political environment and the candidates help determine that from year to year. One other thing to remember is that even if every state had a redistricting system designed to incentivize the creation of competitive districts, there still would be scores of uncompetitive races. It’s very hard to draw anything but landslide Democratic seats in many big city areas, for instance, and the same is true for drawing anything other than landslide Republican districts in vast swathes of rural and small-town America.” He also explains why we’re seeing a massive increase in the number of “super safe” Republican seats this cycle. Give the rest a read here.

‘You Want More Chucks? You Got More Chucks’

Audrey is embarrassed to admit she just learned about Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s nunchuck skills and she can’t stop watching. We hope this helps you get through the week.

Sarah Isgur is a senior editor at The Dispatch and is based in northern Virginia. Prior to joining the company in 2019, she had worked in every branch of the federal government and on three presidential campaigns. When Sarah is not hosting podcasts or writing newsletters, she’s probably sending uplifting stories about spiders to Jonah, who only pretends to love all animals.

Audrey is a former reporter for The Dispatch.