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Salena Zito’s column asks a brilliant question. First, she made the observation that “Few focused on who wasn’t there and why they weren’t. Once again, the pundits were missing the little nuances of how much American politics really has changed, and what that may mean for future results. Once again, the pundits were missing the little nuances of how much American politics really has changed, and what that may mean for future results. Importantly, three people in states that went heavily for Trump in 2016, Indiana’s Sen. Joe Donnelly, West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin, and Missouri’s Sen. Claire McCaskill, were all absent. Two less vulnerable incumbent Democrats Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Pennsylvania’s Sen. Bob Casey were also not there.”

Then she made a statement that said “They have made the bet to pick their donors in California and New York over their voters back home.” Democrats don’t have a message but they’re well-financed. Republicans stumbled early but they’ve put together a solid list of accomplishments. Meanwhile, the RNC has been kicking the DNC’s behind in fundraising ever since Ronna McDaniel took over.

None of these so-called ‘moderate’ Democrats voted for the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Then they weren’t anywhere to be found to negotiate a DACA fix. That begs this question: what identifies them as moderates?

If anyone of those senators get caught near Trump, all of those donors would ditch them in a minute. They’re basically asking McCaskill and Manchin and Donnelly to do an act of levitation. Win without doing the things your voters would like you to do.

The question is will the voters hold them accountable? They’re gambling they won’t be held accountable. They’re gambling that Trump is so polarizing that there are no Trump voters available to them on a positive scale. They’re thinking they’re going to have to obliterate their opponent, tear their opponent to shreds.

Yet think about the margins here. Trump won Indiana and Missouri by more than 18 points. He won North Dakota and West Virginia by 30-some points. He won Ohio by 9 points. It’s not like you only need a few Trump voters to stay home, they would need a lot of them, like a third of them, to stay home. And that is just not going to happen.

A quick look around the room speaks volumes:

Heitkamp, Manchin, Donnelly, McCaskill and Brown better hope that voters didn’t notice that they didn’t support any part of President Trump’s agenda. If they notice, that fivesome is history.

Michigan’s Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s statement about the tax cuts in Michigan is the perfect example of that risk. When tax reform passed late last year, Stabenow issued a statement that read:

“I’ve said from the beginning that we need tax reform that makes the tax system simpler, puts more money in your pocket, closes tax loopholes that send jobs overseas and supports small businesses and farms across Michigan. Unfortunately that isn’t at all what this republican bill does.”

Ten days later, Fiat Chrysler announced that they would invest more than $1 billion to modernize the company’s Warren Truck Plant in Detroit, adding 2,500 jobs and moving production of its Ram trucks from Mexico. They also announced they would be giving $2,000 bonuses to their hourly U.S. workers. The company credited the moves to the new tax law.

The Democrats have been on the wrong side of the tax cuts from the start. As these bonuses, pay raises and other positive announcements get factored in, how will Democrats defend their unanimous vote against the Trump/GOP tax cuts?

The pundits talk about how the President’s party usually does poorly in a new president’s first term. I certainly cant dispute that that’s the history. What’s disputable, though, is that that pattern will apply this time. I see information that indicates it might not.

It’s apparent that Democrats don’t understand that their unanimous vote against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has painted them into a political corner. Let’s start with by examining the difficult position Sen. Manchin painted himself into.

Sen. Manchin said “he’s repeatedly tried to find areas to reach across the aisle and vote with Republicans for Mr. Trump’s agenda, but said he couldn’t do it this time. ‘There’s some good in this bill. I acknowledge that,’ Mr. Manchin said on West Virginia talk radio, after host Hoppy Kercheval pointed to the tax cuts he said the state’s middle class residents stood to gain.” Why do I think that Sen. Manchin’s constituents will hold it against him for voting against their tax cuts? Why shouldn’t West Virginians, aka Mountaineers, hold it against Sen. Manchin for voting with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the tax cuts?

Later, Sen. Manchin complained that “the bills seemed too skewed toward business, pointing to the permanent nature of corporate tax cuts, compared to the planned expiration of the reductions in the individual rate.” First, I’m reminded of President Reagan’s saying that you can’t be pro-jobs and hate the employer. Apparently, Sen. Manchin didn’t learn that lesson. Next, Sen. Manchin is whining about the Senate’s rules, which he’s repeatedly voted to approve. If the Senate’s rules weren’t so screwed up, the individual tax cuts could’ve been made permanent.

Sen. Manchin’s excuses sound like ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuses than legitimate excuses.

By contrast, Patrick Morrisey, Sen. Manchin’s likely opponent, will be able to vote for eliminating coal industry-hating regulations, great judges and never vote with Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren out of party loyalty. Hint: Anyone that thinks Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren plays well with coal miners should view this video:

Hillary lost West Virginia by 40+ points. What should frighten Sen. Manchin is that it wouldn’t surprise me if Hillary is more well liked than Sanders or Warren.

At a town-hall meeting in Missouri last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill framed her vote against the bill as disappointment that the plan favored corporations. She argued the bill betrayed the principles Mr. Trump had originally proposed. “This isn’t Trump’s bill,” she said at the event in suburban St. Louis. “Trump campaigned on the bill being about you.” But one resident told the St. Louis Public Radio before the event that he didn’t understand her opposition to the bill and hoped she’d explain it more. “I’m having a hard time finding a way that it does not benefit the people of Missouri,” said Dennis Hugo, a 32-year-old, self-described Libertarian.

Finally, there’s this:

In Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, another Democrat, told his voters he met with Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence over the tax bill. “From the beginning of this year’s tax reform effort, I’ve been willing to partner with Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump and his administration,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Indianapolis Star. “Despite this common ground, the bill produced by Sen. Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan was the complete opposite of what the president and I had discussed,” Mr. Donnelly added.

In North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who said last month she was open to voting for the bill, said that the $1.5 trillion in additional deficits piled up by the tax cuts swayed her to vote against it. But some voters in her state don’t see that as a reasonable opposition.

Sen. Heitkamp is gonna have a ton of difficulty peddling that excuse. There wasn’t a tax cut package that wasn’t going to pile up deficits according to the CBO’s scoring. That’s actually the least of Sen. Heitkamp’s worries. She, along with Sen. Donnelly, Sen. Tester, Sen. Baldwin, Sen. Casey and Sen. Brown, voted against significantly reducing the estate tax on farmers’ estates. The full expensing of equipment isn’t insignificant to farmers, either.

In DC, the spin will be that this helps corporations, not working people. In Indiana, Montana and North Dakota, big farms are incorporated. Saying that the Democrats’ messaging doesn’t exactly fit those states is understatement.

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Let’s be clear about something. When Doug Jones won the Alabama special election Tuesday night, he won because Steve Bannon’s candidate did what Bannon’s candidates always do. Bannon’s candidate lost a race that mainstream Republicans couldn’t lose in a million lifetimes. Predictably, Democrats are misreading what tonight’s results mean.

Tuesday night’s victory is the result of a terrible, far-outside-the-mainstream, candidate who thought he had a mandate from God misunderstanding how toxic he’d become. If Democrats think they’ll get to run against a lengthy list of candidates that share the same qualities as tonight’s loser has, they’ll quickly be disabused of that foolish notion.

Martha McSally isn’t a clone of tonight’s loser. Republicans have already recruited top-tier candidates to run against vulnerable incumbents in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana and West Virginia. Any thought that this will turn out well for Democrats in 2018 will quickly be dispatched.

The Democrats’ seismic victory Tuesday in the unlikely political battleground of Alabama brought jubilation, and a sudden a rush of confidence, to a party that has been struggling to gain its footing since Donald Trump won the presidency 13 months ago. Democrat Doug Jones’s triumph, the result of a vigorous turnout of the party’s traditional voters and of Republican splintering in a deeply conservative state, sent a thunder clap across the national political landscape that Democrats hope will signify an emerging comeback at the start of the 2018 midterm election campaign.

There’s no disputing that Democrats are feeling exhilarated after tonight’s victory. That thrill of victory won’t last long, though. Republicans will pass the tax reform bill before Jones is seated as Alabama’s junior senator for the next 3 years.

Tonight’s loser refused to admit that he’d lost:

Most likely, tonight’s winner is thrilled. MSNBC certainly is:

The best news of the night for Republicans is up for debate. Arguments could be made that the best thing is that Republicans don’t have to run with Bannon’s loser strapped to their neck. That’s certainly a positive. Another argument that could be made is that mainstream Republicans can now emphasize tonight’s defeat as proof that Bannon’s candidates are losers in primaries, thereby giving top-tier candidates a better shot at winning primaries. Still another argument could be made that the best news is that Republicans rejected sexist pigs even though it hurt their party.

Democrats tried claiming the moral high ground when Al Franken and John Conyers resigned amidst allegations of sexual harassment. It didn’t take long for Republicans, President Trump especially, to highlight that a special election in Michigan would replace Conyers with either his son or his nephew and that Minnesota’s DFL governor would pick a DFL legislator to replace a DFL senator. In other words, Democrats didn’t stand to lose a thing.

Republicans voted their values despite the fact that they lost an important Senate seat. Finally, it’s worth noting that ‘moderate’ Democrats will have to defend their voting in lockstep with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on judges and on cutting taxes. They also have to explain why they threatened to shut down the government.

This morning’s article highlights how difficult 2018 will be for Senate Democrats. Everyone knows that Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Joe Manchin, Sherrod Brown and Joe Donnelly are vulnerable in 2018. They’ll be fighting a difficult, uphill fight this time.

There’s another tier of Democrats that are vulnerable, though they aren’t considered to be as vulnerable. That list includes Heidi Heitkamp, Bill Nelson, Tammy Baldwin and Debbie Stabenow. That might be shifting. First, Bill Nelson is in for a dog fight:

Term-limited Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is expected to challenge incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in next year’s Senate race. A new poll from the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida shows Scott trailing Nelson by just a single point, 37 percent to 36 percent, with one in five voters undecided.

Scott holds a much higher job approval rating than does Nelson among voters in the state, 59 percent to 35 percent, which may be attributed to his recent response to Hurricane Irma. A separate poll out this week from Mason-Dixon showed that two-thirds of Floridians gave Scott a rating of “excellent” or “good” for his handling of the hurricane.

Florida isn’t the only state where Democrats might be in a difficult spot. Salena Zito’s article highlights the possibility of Michigan being more competitive than expected:

DETROIT — John James emerges with confidence from a former Detroit elementary school that has been transformed into a charter high school in the northwest side of the city. It is a stride any parent would hope to see in a son or daughter graduating from this school, founded by Jalen Rose, a former NBA player and member of the University of Michigan’s legendary “Fab 5” squad.

Outside the leafy campus of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy High School, parents wait for their children to emerge as a handful of students play on the school’s clay basketball court. James, a member of the school’s board, has just finished a board meeting, to discuss his decision to run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

That isn’t all:

James is young, accomplished, black, determined, devout, and the kind of new conservative that the Grand Old Party needs in order to shake up next year’s midterm election cycle. He is at once full of energy, grace, command, and passion. When he tells you he is running on conviction, everything about this young man tells you he is not a poser. “I am called to a life of service. I want to serve my country and my community and my state. When I would come back from Iraq on leave during the great recession, the economic and societal devastation I saw here in my own state floored me,” he said.

To be fair, James is competing against other GOP candidates. Still, he’s the type of candidate that seems straight from Central Casting. If James wins the GOP primary, he’ll have a better-than-expected shot at defeating Debbie Stabenow.

Tammy Baldwin is a far left lefty whose political career is about to come to a crashing halt. According to Ed’s post, Sen. Baldwin announced that she’s supporting “the full socialist.”

Ed’s post includes a paragraph that says “Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Tuesday became the single-payer bill’s first supporter from the class of Senate Democrats up for reelection next year in states Trump carried. But other politically imperiled incumbent Democrats have said no to Sanders.” Sen. Baldwin just gave the Republican Party of Wisconsin a sledge hammer to pound her over the head with, which I’m certain they’ll do.

The headline is worth its weight in gold but it’s the underlying facts that’ll bury Sen. Baldwin. As Ed highlights, “Socialized medicine got rejected in more places than just Vermont. Colorado voters balked at it after discovering that it would cost more than their state budget too — and that it would drive costs upward continuously, forcing either higher taxes or sharper rationing of care. California’s state senate passed single-payer, but the assembly tabled it after no one could figure out how to get $400 billion a year to pay for it, which is more than twice the annual state budget.”

Let’s get realistic about this. California represents approximately 12% of the US population. Multiply that $400,000,000,000 (four hundred billion dollars) times 8. That means the federal tab for Sanders’ bill would cost the US $3,200,000,000,000 or north of three trillion dollars each year.

Sen. Baldwin should start writing her concession speech. In a state that’s looking more red each year, Baldwin just announced that she’s heading in the opposite direction as Wisconsinites. Claire McCaskill is toast, too:

Sen. Claire McCaskill said in a brief interview that lawmakers have more work to do to keep health care costs in check “before we would think about expanding that [Medicare] system to everyone.”

The problem for Sen. McCaskill isn’t that answer. It’s what she’s said in the past:

Four months ago, Sen. McCaskill opposed Medicare for all. Unfortunately for Sen. McCaskill, that wasn’t her final position:

Check out that 34-second clip. She used 4 qualifiers in the first 14 seconds to tentatively support Medicare for All. Can we officially call that ‘leaving a politician some wiggle room’? That’s what career politicians do. The last thing they want is to stake out a principled, firm stand on an issue. On an issue like this, the last thing Sen. McCaskill wants is to be pinned down.

The bad news is that voters want politicians pinned down on the biggest issues of the day.

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