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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Perspective on the House
      •  Musk Undeplatforms Florida Man
      •  Ticket Splitting Made a Comeback
      •  Will Trump Sink Walker?
      •  Will Trump Mow Down DeSantis Like He Did Jeb!
      •  Trump May Have a Money Problem
      •  The Not-Trump Candidates Audition
      •  Murkowski Leads in First Round
      •  Cherokee Nation Is Fighting for Representation in Congress

Perspective on the House

Three or four House races still haven't been called by most media outlets: CA-3, CA-13, and CA-22. In California, ballots arriving a week after Election Day are valid as long as they were postmarked on Election Day or earlier. The Alaska RCV AK-AL race is also uncalled, but Mary Peltola (D) has 48% to 26% for Sarah Palin (R), so Peltola will probably win that one. David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report thinks the House will end up 222R, 213D, with the Republicans having exactly the same five-seat majority the Democrats have. NBC has it slightly different: 221R, 214D. Either way, the Republicans have control of the House. Whether the Speaker will have control of the House is an entirely different matter, however. Yesterday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) predicted that if Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) becomes speaker, he won't last very long. The most recent Republican Speaker, Paul Ryan, lasted only 14 months and he was a far better politician than McCarthy and had a much bigger majority to work with.

What is also interesting is how rigid the map appears to be. Eight districts flipped from red to blue and 18 flipped from blue to red. The other 409 stayed the same way. Here is a map showing the flips, with gray being "stayed the same."

House districts that flipped, there
were flips in just 17 states, and most of those were a small number of flips in a very large state

As you can see, in most states (33), nothing changed. In the others, one or two districts changed hands, except for New York, where the Republicans picked up four districts. Also noteworthy is that almost half (7) of the Republican pick-ups were due to redistricting, not voters changing their minds. And four of the districts the Democrats picked up were due to Republicans running super MAGA candidates who even Republicans couldn't stomach. In short, not much really changed, but in the evenly divided country, a handful of flips can turn control over to the other party. Before cheering too much, Republicans should note that if the Democrats can flip five districts in 2024, they will take control back. As an aside, if you want to see what gerrymandering looks like in practice, look at the red TX-15 district in Texas. (V)

Musk Undeplatforms Florida Man

Elon Musk sent out a tweet on Friday asking if Donald Trump should be allowed back on Twitter. On Saturday he announced that the people have spoken and Trump is now reinstated. Interesting way of learning what "the people" want. The vote was 51.8% for reinstatement and 49.2% against. Maybe Musk needs to read a biography of George Gallup, since his approach hardly produced a random selection of Twitter users (or Americans, or people in general). Further, if you are thinking this is exactly the kind of thing that would cause Russia's GRU to get involved, you're not the only one. Of course, Musk had already effectively announced the result weeks ago, just after he bought Twitter and long before his "poll."

Now the big question is whether Trump will come back. If he does, that will spell the end of Truth Social and all the grift associated with it. Killing off Truth Social will leave all the investors who put money into it holding the bag, something Trump has done many times in the past. He could care less about them. The only thing that might keep him over there for a while is if he has a binding contract to stay there with a penalty clause if he leaves.

If Trump comes back to Twitter, it will become even more of an unmanageable cesspool than it already is. Really nasty battles will break out between pro- and anti-Trump tweeters. Musk may or may not want to try to moderate that, or at least remove some of most vitriolic and obscene content, but with a skeleton staff due to his firing half the company and a large segment of the remainder quitting, he won't be able to do enforce any new rules. It could get quite messy. But so far Trump has not indicated that he wants to come back. In the end, we suspect that his love of attention will bring him back in the fullness of time because he loves attention even more than he loves money, with Ivanka in third place.

The replatforming of Trump did not go unnoticed. On Saturday, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said: "Elon Musk continues to run Twitter like this, using garbage polls that do not represent the American people and the needs of our democracy, God help us all." Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) called Musk's move "a terrible mistake."

What will be worth watching is how other social media sites react to Musk's decision. Facebook has said that in January it will consider the issue of allowing Trump back. Google has said that Trump is not welcome on YouTube until the risk of violence he poses has subsided. (V)

Ticket Splitting Made a Comeback

Despite the intense partisanship in so much of politics, tickets were split up and down the line. Most obviously, the voters gave the Senate to the Democrats and the House to the Republicans. But ticket splitting also happened at the state level. There were several states that split their tickets on high-level races. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) crushed his Democratic opponent at the same time Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) crushed her Republican opponent. In neighboring Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott (R-VT) triumphed in a landslide, as did senator-elect Peter Welch (D-VT). In Nevada, there was a similar split, only not as dramatic. Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) was elected governor at the same time Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) was elected senator. If Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) wins the runoff, Georgia will also join this club, Sometimes (but not always) candidates and personalities do matter.

Two states went the other way (i.e., Democratic governor and Republican senator). In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D-KS) was reelected at the same time Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) was as well. Kelly's victory was largely due to her opponent, Derek Schmidt (R), who is strongly anti-abortion. He must have been taking a day off back on Aug. 2, when Kansas had a referendum on the matter, and missed the result. In Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was reelected, but so was Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI). In all these cases, the voters were picky and didn't vote a straight ticket for one party up and down the ballot.

Lower down the ballot, there were also split tickets. In Arizona, Democrats won two key state offices, governor and secretary of state, and have a small lead in the attorney general's race. Yet the candidate with the biggest lead over her opponent is state treasurer Kimberly Yee (R), who beat Martin Quezada (D) by almost 300,000 votes. (V)

Will Trump Sink Walker?

Donald Trump will certainly sink Herschel Walker (R) if Sen. Raphael Warnock (R-GA) has anything to say about it. And he is already working on it with this video:

If you don't want to bother watching it, it shows Trump endorsing Walker then, at the end, the words: "STOP DONALD TRUMP. STOP HERSCHEL WALKER." appear on the screen. Warnock is trying to connect them like Siamese twins. This is precisely what Republicans are worrying about: an election in which Trump is on the ballot even though he is not on the ballot. Their fear is that it will motivate Democrats to vote more than it will motivate Republicans. It will be hard for Republicans to localize the race and make it about Georgia issues when Warnock is doing his best to make it an up-or-down vote on Trump.

Warnock's strategy has two targets. First, he is aiming at Democrats statewide. Most of them despise Trump and if they think a vote for Walker is a vote for Trump, they will make every effort to make it to the polls. Second, Warnock is aiming at the Atlanta suburbs, which includes many college-educated voters who are (or were) nominally Republicans. Quite a few of them don't like Trump, and having him thrown in their faces on television every day is going to remind them to go vote.

The only potential downside for Warnock is also motivating the Republican base. But Trump's popularity there is shrinking. The exit polls on Nov. 8 showed that only 37% of the voters approve of Trump, so he is bleeding even among Republicans. So in essence, Warnock is making a calculated (and evidence-based) bet that more Democrats than Republicans will be motivated by making the runoff a referendum on Trump.

In contrast to Trump, whose appearance with Walker would be a mixed bag, Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) is actively campaigning for Walker and has appeared on the stump with him. The Governor no doubt figures that showing loyalty to the Republican Party is worth the indirect association with Trump. Also, if Walker loses by a little bit, no one will be able to accuse Kemp of not being a team player. Just coincidentally, Kemp will be term limited in 2026, just as the term of Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) ends. Kemp probably knows that. (V)

Will Trump Mow Down DeSantis Like He Did Jeb!

Remember 2016, when Donald Trump completely destroyed a popular Florida governor despite said governor having something like $100 million in his campaign account and the support of much of the Republican Party? Are we going to have déjà vu all over again? Politico has a long piece on Trump vs. popular Florida governors. Hmmm.

To start with, there are some big differences between 2016 and 2024 that are important. First, Jeb! was caught entirely by surprise. He had no idea what hit him. He was expecting a proper debate on tax policy, immigration, trade, and things proper Republicans had always talked about. He wasn't expecting a cross between "recess in kindergarten" and "the circus is in town." He had no idea how to handle it or fight back. In contrast, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) knows precisely what to expect and has plenty of time to prepare for it. Jeb! thought attacking people was Not Done. DeSantis revels in it. He has a very thick hide and if Trump wants to play dirty, well, it's going to be mud wrestling.

Second, Bush expected to be attacked for his policies, not his person. Weak! Pathetic! Desperate! He didn't know how to handle that. In contrast, DeSantis knows exactly how to get Trump's goat. Call him a failed businessman, a failed candidate, and two-bit con man who committed crimes and was too dumb to cover his tracks. DeSantis is also sure to point out his own service as an officer in the Navy and note that Trump dodged the draft, not due to bone spurs but due to his being a coward and too scared to fight. And if that doesn't do it, DeSantis will just say Trump has the smallest hands of any president in history and watch what happens. Bush never tried to make Trump explode. DeSantis knows exactly how to do that.

Third, Trump is far weaker than he was in 2016 and DeSantis is far stronger than Bush was then. Trump just fielded a large number of high-profile candidates who lost. DeSantis just won an election by 19 points. Expect to hear LOSER! LOSER! LOSER! a lot this year and next, something that will make Trump's blood boil and make him lash out and say things that ultimately hurt him.

Fourth, Bush was a blue blood, son of a president and brother of a president at a time when people were angry with elites. DeSantis has a more modest background. His father installed equipment for Nielsen and his mother was a nurse. He made it to Yale and Harvard Law on his own. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Fifth, in 2016, Trump was fresh and exciting and people were willing to take a gamble on something new. Now he is angry, tiresome, repetitive, and boring, and a large majority of the country dislikes him. DeSantis is the fresh and exciting face this time, not Trump.

Sixth, Bush and DeSantis have enormously different personalities. Bush is civilized and polite. DeSantis is a street fighter who is fully prepared to hit below the belt as hard as he can if that is what it takes. It will be a completely different battle than 2016 was.

Seventh, although insults, rather than policy, would probably dominate a Trump-DeSantis matchup, DeSantis does have some "policy" things to talk about, if need be. There is "Don't say gay," trying to interrogate college students and professors about their political views, shipping immigrants from Texas to Massachusetts, and picking a fight with the "woke" Disney Corporation, among other base-pleasing actions that DeSantis can bring up. Bush never did anything like these stunts. Also, DeSantis can fly to some part of Texas, where there is no wall on the Mexican border and the Rio Grande is particularly narrow, for a photo-op and announce: "Trump was a failure as president; look, no wall because he failed to get Mexico to pay for it. What a failure. Worst president ever. Even worse than Jimmy Carter." Bush wasn't virulently anti-woke and wasn't any good at reaching the Trumpist base. DeSantis knows exactly how to do that.

Finally, Trump controlled the narrative in 2016. He called all the shots and Bush didn't know what hit him. DeSantis is never going to let Trump do that. He simply won't react to Trump's endless provocations and will hit back when he is good and ready and the timing is right. For example, he didn't react to Trump's announcement. He will react to Trump only when it suits him and ignore him the rest of the time, something that by itself will anger Trump no end. Most likely DeSantis won't even announce his run until after the Florida legislative session ends in May 2023. With backers like Ken Griffin, Steve Schwarzman, and Robert Mercer (see below), money won't be a problem and DeSantis can use the next half year to own the libs a few more times. The battle this time will be messy, dirty, and completely unlike 2016. (V)

Trump May Have a Money Problem

Donald Trump could have a surprising prolem during his campaign: money. Several of the biggest GOP donors, including billionaires Ken Griffin and Steve Schwarzman, have already said they won't back him. Griffin is already committed to Ron DeSantis. Schwarzman and others are probably not far behind. On Friday, Robert and Rebekah Mercer said they have also had it with Trump. Charles Koch was never interested in Trump.

If all the big donors bail, Trump will have to depend on small donations, which DeSantis will also have, in addition to the megayacht set. This is likely to mean that in a primary, DeSantis could have as much money as Trump, maybe more.

Trump already has $110 million is one of his PACs, but by law he can't use that for his campaign because it was collected for other purposes. Using it would be illegal, but since when has that stopped him? That said, if he flouts the law, that could encourage DeSantis to do the same thing in the primaries. It could also come back to haunt him, eventually, particularly if he doesn't win the election and doesn't get the strange deference the DoJ gives to presidents.

Now that Trump is formally a candidate, he will be on the hook for legal fees for cases in New York, Georgia, and D.C. Since he will have to pay those out of his own pocket, he may not be willing to fund his own campaign, as he did in 2016 (and did not do in 2020), so money could become a serious issue for him.

Of course, every Republican voter knows who Trump is, so he doesn't need the publicity whereas DeSantis is less well known and will have to spend big time just to become known. Nevertheless, Trump having a money problem would be something new for him. Well, it would be new for him in politics, at least. (V)

The Not-Trump Candidates Audition

One of the earliest cattle calls for the upcoming presidential election is the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, the baby of Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. Adelson didn't show up this past weekend at the Venetian Hotel because he was in Israel—about 2 meters under the ground—but the event happened without him. Most of the folks who see themselves as the Republican nominee did show up however. Ron DeSantis was the keynote speaker and he received a raucous reception when he announced: "The state of Florida is where woke goes to die."

But DeSantis wasn't the only presidential wannabe there talking to the donors, operatives, reporters, and others. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was taking selfies. Mike Pompeo was distancing himself from Donald Trump. Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) was there calling Trump a "loser." Nikki Haley was there, for some unidentified reason. Mike Pence has dreams that aren't going to come true, but he doesn't know that, so he showed. As we approach the bottom of the barrel, we encounter Chris Christie, also there. Even Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH)—one of the longest of longshots—showed up. Adelson's money made this event a must for Republican candidates for years. Maybe they don't know that he died 2 years ago and that his wife, Miriam, is not really that interested in politics.

One theme that we have pointed out repeatedly here was apparently also front and center among the potential candidates: the mechanics of the Republican primaries. Most of them award all the delegates to the candidate who gets the most votes. That means if Trump gets a consistent 35-40% of the vote and the rest is divvied up by half a dozen candidates in each contest, he will get all the delegates and the nomination. All the wannabes know this, but each one wants all the others to drop out.

The situation for the not-Trump candidates is not hopeless, though. The Democratic field in 2020 was also badly fragmented. But after Joe Biden swept South Carolina and Super Tuesday right afterwards, most of the others saw the writing on the wall and dropped out. That could happen with the Republicans in 2024, except that most of the wannabes have gigantic egos and all of them have much more loyalty to themselves than to the Republican Party. Nevertheless, they are all aware of the problem, and that is the first step to dealing with it.

In a more perfect world, all of them could make a pact now saying that after the delegates are awarded on Super Tuesday, everyone except the top two candidates will drop out. But that is not going to happen. Traditionally candidates drop out not when they think their chances are nil, but when the money dries up. If the donors were to agree to support only the top two candidates based on the delegate count after Super Tuesday, that would de facto also solve the problem. But don't count on that either. (V)

Murkowski Leads in First Round

Republicans, particularly Trumpy Republicans, don't like ranked choice voting because in races where a Republican is leading on the first round that candidate can ultimately lose as ballots are redistributed on subsequent rounds. They loudly complained about the Alaska special election for the House, which used RCV, because although Sarah Palin (R) got more first-place votes than anyone else, in the end, she lost.

The Trumpists were all set to whine about the Alaska Senate race between Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Trump endorsee Kelly Tshibaka (R). But then something happened. Murkowski pulled ahead of Tshibaka in the first round. With 98% of the votes now counted, Murkowski now leads by 0.4 points. If she holds that lead as the dog sleds haul in the last outstanding votes, then the Trumpists will have to find something else to whine about because if the race was simply most-votes-wins, then it would be over with Murkowski the winner. However, it is not over because Murkowski is far short of 50%, so there will be a second round in which Buzz Kelley (R) will be eliminated. But no matter how that goes, neither candidate will hit 50%, so a third round will be needed, in which Democrat Patricia Chesbro's votes will be redistributed. It is expected that roughly 100% of them will go to Murkowski and she will win.

The significance of this development is not that is will change the election result. Murkowski was always the favorite and still is. But what it does is make it impossible for Trumpists to blame their loss on the system. With or without RCV, they (probably) lost because the non-Trumpist got more votes. (V)

Cherokee Nation Is Fighting for Representation in Congress

All 50 states have at least one representative in the House, but there is a quasi-member who is not from any of the states: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). She represents D.C. in the House and can do anything a representative can do except vote on the floor of the House. She is a member of some House committees and can vote on them. She has an office in the House office building and a staff. Her position goes to show that people can serve as a representative-lite without actually representing a House district. Furthermore, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also have nonvoting delegates in the House, although none of them have the profile and clout of Norton.

That brings us to the subject of this item: The Cherokee Nation, one of the three officially recognized Cherokee tribes. In 1835, a treaty signed by President Andrew Jackson promised the Cherokee Nation federal representation. They still haven't gotten it, but now they are pressing hard to get a delegate, just like Norton. There is now a clear precedent, so the argument that only states can have (quasi-)members doesn't really hold water. The Cherokee even have a proposed delegate, Kimberly Teehee, the director of government relations for the tribe. She was also a senior advisor on Native American affairs to Barack Obama, so she knows something about how the government works.

The Cherokee Nation is located largely in Oklahoma, as a result of the Trail of Tears, in which Jackson (and his successor, Martin Van Buren) forced them to relocate from the South. Many Cherokee died on the way. Senator-elect Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and is a strong supporter of making Teehee a delegate to the House. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, also supports Teehee, but has raised the question of whether other tribes should also have representation in the House. We've written about this subject before, but with a member of the Senate and a member of the House now actively pushing for the U.S. to honor its treaties with the tribes, this could be the moment when something finally happens on this front. Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) is also a Cherokee, but she lost her election this year to Gabe Vasquez (D). (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov20 Sunday Mailbag
Nov19 Garland Appoints Special Counsel
Nov19 Boebert Wins
Nov19 Saturday Q&A
Nov18 Pelosi to Stand Down
Nov18 Hutchinson Pondering a 2024 Presidential Run
Nov18 Lake Prepares Her Sore Loser Act
Nov18 Same-Sex Marriage Bill Is on Track
Nov18 L.A. Has a New Mayor
Nov18 This Week in Schadenfreude: "Positively Dystopian"
Nov18 This Week in Freudenfreude: Profiles in Courage
Nov17 White House Will Face Red House
Nov17 Is DeSantis Now Inevitable?
Nov17 Republican Senators Want to Audit the NRSC
Nov17 Senate Republicans Pick Mitch McConnell as Their Leader
Nov17 Lake's Defeat Is Splitting the Republican Party
Nov17 Arizona Attorney General Race Is Virtually Tied
Nov17 Democrats May Not Have the Votes to Raise the Debt Limit Using Reconciliation
Nov17 Conservative Group Gets Massive Dark Money Donations
Nov17 Select Committee Needs to Address Subpoena Enforcement
Nov17 Republican Push for Winning School Boards Failed
Nov16 He's Baaaaaaaack!
Nov16 Alex Mooney Throws His Hat into the Ring
Nov16 Where Things Stand
Nov16 The Congressional Leadership Dance Continues
Nov16 Missed It By That Much?, Part II: House Retirements
Nov16 Warnock Sues Georgia
Nov16 Senate Expected to Have a Gay Day Today
Nov15 Sunken Lake
Nov15 Let the Leadership Dance Begin
Nov15 Ronna Romney McDaniel Wants to Keep Her Job
Nov15 Are You Certain You Want to Announce Today, Donald?
Nov15 There's One Mystery Solved
Nov15 Gallego Goes After Sinema
Nov15 Reports from the Front Lines, Part II
Nov14 Where Things Stand
Nov14 Democrats Did Well in the State Legislatures
Nov14 Most of Trump's Picks for Secretary of State Lost
Nov14 How Fetterman Won
Nov14 Let the Finger Pointing Begin
Nov14 Missed It By That Much?, Part I: New York Democrats Were Too Greedy
Nov14 Postmortem, Part I: How Did the Pollsters Do?
Nov14 Democrats Will Tackle the Debt Limit in the Lame-Duck Session of Congress
Nov14 Outlook for the Georgia Runoff
Nov13 Democrats Hold the Senate
Nov13 Sunday Mailbag
Nov12 Where Things Stand
Nov12 Trump Sues 1/6 Committee
Nov12 Saturday Q&A
Nov11 Where Things Stand