The Sweep: Watching the Weathervanes

Campaign Quick Hits

Revisiting Hidden Trump Voter Theory: Patrick Ruffini, co-founder at Echelon Insights, lays out his case for why there were no “hidden Trump voters”—the theory that there was support for Trump that wasn’t being reflected in the polls because his voters were uniquely unwilling to talk to pollsters or lying to pollsters when they did—in Georgia in 2020. Looking at actual turnout compared to expected turnout, he argues that “any ‘hidden’ Trump vote would be contained among non-party whites in low-education precincts” and that “their relative turnout score (98.1%) mirrors the state number (98.0%) almost exactly,” which puts the final nail in the coffin for HTV Theory. Ruffini also walks through other demographics that over- or under- performed expectations leading to the shocking red-to-blue transformation of Georgia for the first time since 1992. 

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: As far back as I can remember, people across the political spectrum have thought we should have more viable, robust third (or fourth or fifth) parties. Never-Trump Republicans want to start their own party. Pro-Trump Republicans want to start one too. And yet it never happens. There are lots of reasons for this, including what I’ll call the principle of systems of equilibrium: It’s hard for a third party to get off the ground because one of the major two parties has an incentive to gobble it up before it can grow large enough to fend for itself. See for example Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party, which was re-absorbed into the Republican Party after a 1912 election in which it fractured support on the right, allowing Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency with only 40 percent of the popular vote. But that’s not the only issue, as Geoffrey Skelley lays out in his very helpful piece here: There’s a lot that’s baked into the system with winner-take-all elections and the Electoral College. And there’s also quite a bit of incumbent protection going on where, for example, the two parties have pushed for onerous ballot access laws.

The Money Comes Rolling In: There had been some speculation—including in this newsletter—that Sen. Rick Scott, now the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, could have trouble raising money for the 2022 cycle. After all, the GOP had just lost two very winnable seats in Georgia after Republicans spent a quarter billion dollars (with a B, folks) on those seats. And then companies like AT&T, Nike, Comcast, Dow, Marriott, Walmart, and Verizon vowed not to donate to any Republican senator who voted to object to the electoral slates on January 6th. But never fear, the NRSC reported bringing in over 50 percent more than they had by this time in 2019. They raised over $8 million in January—$6.8 million of which was donated after the Georgia losses—from 89,000 people. Close to 10,000 of those were first-time donors too, which is always a big sign of health if a campaign committee is bringing in new folks who they can hit up multiple times over the cycle. We’re still waiting on the DSCC’s numbers.


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