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Daily Kos Elections weekly open thread: Pimp your Twitter (August 28, 2015, 07:01 PM)

Are you on Twitter? Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, or some other social media site you particularly enjoy using?especially for political topics? Pimp your account in comments!

And to pimp our own, you can find Daily Kos Elections on Twitter as @DKElections. There's also a Daily Kos Elections Facebook page, too.



New Pew report offers fascinating study of Orthodox American Jews (August 28, 2015, 03:16 PM)

Rabbis from the Judaism's Chabad-Lubavitch movement pose for a group photo in New York November 23, 2008. More than 3,000 rabbis from 72 countries are meeting at an annual international conference of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries.  REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES) - RTXAVX2
Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis gather for a conference in New York City (Nov. 23, 2008)
Two years ago, Pew released a detailed study that probed the demographics of American Jewry in depth. Now they've returned to the topic (relying on the same data they collected in 2013) with a fascinating analysis of the distinctions between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews. The Orthodox, who are more religiously observant, make up about 10 percent of the nation's roughly 5.3 million Jews, and politically, they're well to the right of their brethren: 57 percent identify with or lean toward the GOP, compared to just 18 percent of non-Orthodox Jews, and they consequently tend to take more conservative stands on other political issues, like the size of government.

But just as Jews as a whole are not a monolithic group, there are differences within Orthodoxy, too. Some 31 percent of Orthodox Jews identify as Modern Orthodox, while 62 percent fall into the stricter Haredi tradition, which includes Hasidic Jews and issometimes called "ultra-Orthodox" (though never by adherents). Haredim are more even more observant than Modern Orthodox by almost every measure, such as keeping kosher or fasting on Yom Kippur.

However, Modern Orthodox tend to identify with Israel much more strongly. (There is a strong anti-Zionist tradition among many Hasidic groups, which oppose the creation of a state of Israel by human rather than divine hands.)  Haredim are also much more hostile to gays: Fully 70 percent say that society should discourage homosexuality, while only 38 percent of Modern Orthodox (and just 8 percent of non-Orthodox) agree.

Pew also notes that the Orthodox have far more children: Respondents age 40-59 have an average of 4.1 kids, versus just 1.7 for non-Orthodox, with Haredim the most fecund of all (27 percent say they have at least four children at home). You might think these numbers would mean that the Orthodox share of American Jewry should grow quickly, but as Pew observed previously, 52 percent of Jews who were raised as Orthodox no longer identify that way, a trend exemplified by the "Off the Derech" movement.

One new piece of data is that conversely, 70 percent of those who currently identify as Orthodox were brought up in the tradition, a much higher figure than that for non-Orthodox Conservative or Reform Jews (57 and 55 percent, respectively). That means that out-migration for Orthodox is relatively high, while in-migration is relatively low. Together, these two trends are holding back Orthodox Jewry from more rapid growth, meaning that the general portrait of American Jews as secular, liberal, and broadly supportive of the Democratic Party is likely to persist.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 8/28 (August 28, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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Morning Digest: Business owners remove all voters from business district, but forget one college kid (August 28, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Map of the new Community Improvement District in Columbia, Missouri

Map of the new Community Improvement District in Columbia, Missouri

Leading Off:

? Gerrymandering: Normally gerrymandering in a medium-sized town that doesn't even pertain to city council elections would be too down-in-the-weeds, but this story from the Columbia Tribune is too funny to ignore. Self-interested business owners successfully petitioned the Columbia, Missouri, city council to create a local Community Improvement District, which would have the authority to impose a half-cent sales tax increase with voter approval. However, the district lines were drawn in a manner that attempted to avoid containing any eligible voters, meaning that property-owners themselves would get to decide on the sales tax increase as a way to avoid further property taxes to pay for improvements.

Unfortunately for them, things didn't exactly go according to plan. It soon became known that a single voter, University of Missouri student Jen Henderson, was registered to vote in the new CID. That means that she alone will get to decide whether or not to approve the sales tax increase. The CID has already gone into debt to finance planned improvements and was counting on the increased revenue from the sales tax increase.

Predictably, Henderson is not pleased with how manipulative this process has been. She was even asked to de-register so that the vote would revert to property owners. While Henderson hasn't publicly stated which way she plans to vote, she sounded skeptical of the proposed sales tax increase and rightfully pointed out how it is regressive in nature while the benefits accrue mainly to incumbent businesses.

In a delicious twist of irony, if Henderson votes against the sales tax increase or the vote is called off entirely, the only way for the CID to pay off its debts will be to levy further taxes on property, which is exactly what these businesses were trying to avoid. Most of the time gerrymandering is successful and unfair, but instances like this show it can sometimes backfire spectacularly.


Former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras could challenge Rep. David Cicilline in the Democratic primary (August 27, 2015, 04:25 PM)

Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline
Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline
This is very thin, but Kate Nagle of GoLocalProv speculates that former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who came in second in last year's Democratic gubernatorial primary, might be interested in challenging Rep. David Cicilline, who is also a Democrat. The only evidence in favor of such a notion is that Taveras recently bought a house in Rhode Island's 1st District, though it's worth noting that he didn't respond when asked for comment earlier in the week.

Cicilline has found himself in weak shape almost from the moment he first won office in 2010. During his first term, new revelations emerged about the poor shape of Providence's finances (where he'd been mayor), ultimately forcing Cicilline to apologize for having claimed that the city had been in "excellent financial condition" when he first ran for Congress. He won renomination in 2012 with just 62 percent of the vote (soft for an incumbent), and won re-election that fall with only 53 percent, despite sitting in a very blue district that state lawmakers had actually shored up for him.

Most scandals tend to fade over time, so you'd expect the effects of Cicilline's past deceptions about Providence's balance sheets to resonate less now. But even in 2014, he only took 63 percent in the Democratic primary against a no-name opponent, and Taveras would be able to put up a much stiffer fight. It would also get ugly: As Nagle notes, Taveras, who succeeded Cicilline as mayor, often blasted his predecessor for the city's woes, and it got under Cicilline's skin.

Taveras, however, underperformed expectations when he ran for governor in 2014. While he came in to the race as the obvious progressive standard-bearer, he never was able to mobilize the union support that should have come out heavily for him. Instead, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who had angered organized labor with her push for pension reform, defeated Taveras by a wide 42-29 margin. (Raimondo went on to win the general election, too.)

To go forward, Taveras would have to demonstrate that he learned from his mistakes, and he'd also have to offer a compelling argument as to why Cicilline should be dumped. For now, though, this is all very speculative, so we'll just have to wait to hear more from Taveras himself.


Business owners try to remove all voters from business district, but they forgot one college student (August 27, 2015, 12:51 PM)

Map of the new Community Improvement District in Columbia, Missouri

Map of the new Community Improvement District in Columbia, Missouri

Normally gerrymandering in a medium-sized town that doesn't even pertain to city council elections would be too down-in-the-weeds, but this story from the Columbia Tribune is too funny to ignore. Self-interested business owners successfully petitioned the Columbia, Missouri, city council to create a local Community Improvement District, which would have the authority to impose a half-cent sales tax increase with voter approval. However, the district lines were drawn in a manner that attempted to avoid containing any eligible voters, meaning that property-owners themselves would get to decide on the sales tax increase as a way to avoid further property taxes to pay for improvements.

Unfortunately for them, things didn't exactly go according to plan. It soon became known that a single voter, University of Missouri student Jen Henderson, was registered to vote in the new CID. That means that she alone will get to decide whether or not to approve the sales tax increase. The CID has already gone into debt to finance planned improvements and was counting on the increased revenue from the sales tax increase.

Predictably, Henderson is not pleased with how manipulative this process has been. She was even asked to de-register so that the vote would revert to property owners. While Henderson hasn't publicly stated which way she plans to vote, she sounded skeptical of the proposed sales tax increase and rightfully pointed out how it is regressive in nature while the benefits accrue mainly to incumbent businesses.

In a delicious twist of irony, if Henderson votes against the sales tax increase or the vote is called off entirely, the only way for the CID to pay off its debts will be to levy further taxes on property, which is exactly what these businesses were trying to avoid. Most of the time gerrymandering is successful and unfair, but instances like this show it can sometimes backfire spectacularly.


Poll shows Hillary Clinton leading. Headlines show ... something else. (August 27, 2015, 09:59 AM)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden smiles as he delivers remarks at the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum in Washington July 13, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTX1K90R
Another day, another round of breathless reporting over a seriously problematic presidential election poll.

Up now, a Quinnipiac poll that shows any number of things?Donald Trump takes 28 percent in the Republican primary, more than twice the 12 percent of runner-up Ben Carson; Hillary Clinton has 45 percent to Sen. Bernie Sanders' 22 percent and non-candidate Vice President Joe Biden's 18 percent?but there's one thing that's making the headlines. In way-the-hell-out hypothetical general election match-ups, Clinton and Biden both beat Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio (that's the Republican leader and two of the people tied for third), while Sanders beats Trump and Bush but loses to Rubio by one point. The headline: Biden's lead over the three Republicans is slightly larger than Clinton's lead.

If you read a report on this poll that is all about how Biden looks stronger than Clinton in the general election without noting that Biden is not a candidate and that this makes a significant difference in how he polls, adjust your view of that reporter downward. If the report focuses on Biden's favorables being better than Clinton's in this poll, adjust your view downward again. Why does it matter to how we understand this poll that Biden isn't a candidate (yet)? I'd refer you to something David Nir wrote Wednesday about reporting on Hillary Clinton's favorables having dropped through the course of the campaign so far:

When you leave a high-profile, nonpartisan post like secretary of state to run for elective office, you can't possibly sustain the broad appeal you once did when you were globe-trotting to meet with foreign leaders. As soon as you're back in the muck of the campaign trail, you're going to get viewed through the polarized prism of American politics. For Clinton, it was a predictable development that many did indeed predict.
Vice president is a more politicized role than secretary of State, but Biden benefits from this phenomenon, too. As long as he's not a candidate, he's the jovial sidekick we can all be fond of without thinking too hard about it, the guy who launched a thousand jokes in The Onion and then gained emotional gravity through (another) family tragedy. Once he's back in "the muck of the campaign trail," his favorables will decline, too.

After weeks of serious chatter about Biden possibly entering the presidential race, he's gained five points in the primary poll over his standing at the end of July. Bernie Sanders has similarly gained five points ... leaving Hillary Clinton with a 23 point lead.

Clinton then leads the three Republicans Quinnipiac elected to test for the general election ... but despite her leads, the headlines present the poll as bad news. It's conceivable Joe Biden would do better than Clinton in the general, but until he's entered the race and been recast in the popular imagination as another dirty politician, the polling is all but worthless.

Also, he'd have to do something about the minor complication of being third in the Democratic primary.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 8/27 (August 27, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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Morning Digest: Good riddance to a craptacular ex-Democrat (but maybe not) (August 27, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Ex-Rep. Artur Davis
Artur Davis (right) loses again
Leading Off:

? Montgomery Mayor: On Tuesday, Artur Davis' comeback attempt fizzled out. Davis, a former Democratic congressman who joined the GOP soon after Team Blue overwhelmingly rejected him in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, placed a distant second in the non-partisan contest to become mayor of Alabama's capital city. Republican incumbent Todd Strange outpaced Davis 57-27, with three other candidates taking the rest; because Strange took more than 50 percent of the vote, he does not need to face a runoff.

Davis was once a Democratic rising star, and he served as both an Obama co-chair and a major DCCC official during the 2008 cycle. But while Davis was already more conservative than his safely blue Birmingham-area House seat, he lurched far to the right in preparation for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Davis calculated that he could win the general election as a conservative Democrat, but he especially angered Alabama's Democratic base when he voted against Obamacare. Davis lost the primary 62-38 and joined the GOP not long after leaving Congress. Davis became a prominent Mitt Romney supporter, and he flirted with various runs in his new home in Northern Virginia.

But only months after ruling out a bid for Virginia's 10th Congressional District in 2014, Davis moved back to Montgomery, a city he had grown up in but never represented in the House. Davis made it clear he wanted to run for mayor and he hoped that Strange would retire (Davis may also have thought that his early campaign would entice Strange to call it quits). But Strange announced in January that he would seek another term, and Davis decided to push on.

But despite his huge loss, we may not have seen the last of Artur Davis. In his concession speech, Davis declared that he "still intend[s] to be the next mayor of Montgomery, Alabama," and that "[i]t may be four years later than I wanted it to be." Of course, who knows where Davis will be living in 2019, or what party he'll belong to?


Hillary Clinton's poll numbers haven't dropped at all?and this one chart proves it (August 26, 2015, 02:17 PM)

Chart of poll numbers of Hillary Clinton versus 10 GOP candidates (March 1 through late Aug., 2015)
(click to enlarge)
It's been inescapable for weeks: Beltway hacks have been braying about Hillary Clinton's "falling poll numbers," eager to fan the flames of Democratic discord and generate column-inches about intra-party conflict where none exists. What's most pathetic about this latest anti-Clinton drumbeat, though, is how it's directly contradicted by, well, the polls.

The chart above shows a combined average of every single national poll taken since March 1 of this year that pits Clinton against the 10 leading Republican candidates?197 matchups in all, courtesy of Huffington Post Pollster. The key takeaway, as you can see from the blue and red trendlines, is that the race has been remarkably static.

In fact, at the beginning of March, Clinton led the GOP field by an average of 50.3 to 42.6, or 7.7 percentage points. Now, in late August, she leads 48.7 to 41.2, or 7.5 percent. Clinton's "collapse," in other words, is 0.2 percent! No serious analyst would consider that anything more than a rounding error. (And we're not cherry-picking the start date, either: The picture is the same if you dial it back to Jan. 1.)

So what are these pundits on about? Well, they're very focused on Clinton's favorability rating, which has indeed trended negative over this same timeframe. But it's also been headed downward for years?long before anyone ever heard about any email servers?and for a very simple reason: When you leave a high-profile, nonpartisan post like secretary of state to run for elective office, you can't possibly sustain the broad appeal you once did when you were globe-trotting to meet with foreign leaders. As soon as you're back in the muck of the campaign trail, you're going to get viewed through the polarized prism of American politics. For Clinton, it was a predictable development that many did indeed predict.

Now of course any politician wants her favorability numbers to be in positive territory. But it doesn't matter nearly as much as you might think, because if you're running for president in this 50-50 nation of ours, there's a very good chance your opponent is also under water. Clinton's favorables, according to HuffPo's average, stand at 42-50 today?not great, but Jeb Bush's are quite a bit worse, at 33-47. Yet we haven't seen panicked media reports about Jeb's lousy numbers. That ought to tell you something.

Want an even sharper contrast? Look at Donald Trump: He's at just 37 percent positive to 56 percent negative. In fact, every single Republican contender tracked by HuffPo (except for Ben Carson) currently sports a negative favorability score. This is why pollsters test direct head-to-head matchups between actual candidates, because favorability ratings can only tell you so much. If you have two popular?or unpopular?candidates, someone still has to win.

And the person who's winning is Hillary Clinton. She was winning half a year ago, and she's still winning now. Could that change by next year? Of course. But the point is that despite efforts to foment panic in certain quarters, nothing's changed in the last six months. If Clinton's margins were to remain the same going forward (and she were to secure the Democratic nomination), she'd win as big a victory as Barack Obama did in 2008. If anyone should be worried, it ought to be the Republicans.


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