Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Reposted from October 6
By Dominique Paul Noth

Not choosing Hillary as pilot
almost as stupid as not
choosing Chesley Sullenberg.
The Democrats are praying that Hillary Clinton has long coattails and the Republicans are praying even harder that Donald Trump doesn’t. 

That’s one of the most bizarre things about this Bizarro election. When was the last time a party considered it smart to pretend to support while scurrying away from its leader?

After weeks of declaring the race a squeaker, the polls now see an undeniable national movement that puts Hillary up by six to ten points with a month to go.  Things can wobble before the Nov. 8 election -- but not just the media, for eyeballs and ratings, wants to keep this a horse race. So do Democrats. Their greatest fear is complacency – you know, “Hillary’s going to win, why should I bother to vote?”

Enough such complacency and Trump crawls back into the picture. Especially if some people don’t recognize that VP nominee Mike Pence’s performance in the Oct. 4 debate was more to position himself for 2020 than defend Trump, which he dodged doing again and again. Still, there may be some foolishly thinking he would assert some moderating influence on Trump.  That’s why Tim Kaine (not minding how much he weakened his own reputation as thoughtful and measured)  spent most of his time hammering  on what Trump thinks rather than what Pence thinks, knowing that Pence’s questionable record in Indiana doesn’t really matter right now. There’s time for that later.

But complacency could destroy the village Hillary needs to build around her to succeed as president. There is a clear strategy on both sides that transcends the debates.  Hillary doesn’t need a little win, she needs a tsunami to insure her goals. In fact, many Democrats are upset she isn’t already 10 points ahead given the general belief, even among Republicans, that Trump is unsuitable by both temperament and anti-intellectualism.

Editor's Note: When because of an Internet glitch I had to repost this Oct. 6 story, Clinton was indeed 10 points ahead.

Yet these Clinton supporters are at a loss at how to persuade people who will “never” vote Trump to turn out in record numbers to secure that “never never never” and help all the local races they should care about.   “We have scorched the snake not killed it,” to quote “Macbeth” in a modernized text and different context

For Democrats, the issue is as  lucid as picking Sully  – Chesley Sullenberger – to pilot your flight . Your other option is  that rubberband windup prop plane with a crazy man in the cockpit.  Sully had years of experience and training, test runs and millions of hours in the air, but he also had to ditch a plane once, though even that was called the Miracle on the Hudson. So you really want to go with rubberband guy?

Down the ballot Republicans are confounded by this dilemma and trying to hold Trump at arm’s length to save the core of their party.  They’re encouraging what otherwise would be blatant hypocrisy, letting candidates say they’ll kind of vote for Trump but not endorse him or  work too directly with poison ivy.  The two-face is having some success against the quiet anger among Republicans that their party is even putting them through this.

Debate points were easy for Maggie
Hassan after Ayotte imploded.
Nowhere was the dilemma clearer than in the recent New Hampshire debate between Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan and incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte. When asked if Trump was a role model children should aspire to, Ayotte fumbled and fumbled and finally said yes -- and then the next day tried to recant.  Trump is clamping many down-ballot Republicans in the same vise.

So that is why the Democrats want a tidal wave and the GOP is clinging to regional life through one hundred and six degrees of separation.  The party doesn’t want to offend Trump’s intractable core of deplorables – sorry, that should be supporters – but recognizes how many stalwart Republican households are uncomfortable to the point of bolting. 

What a double bind the Republican National Committee has created for itself! Trump is hoarding his own money and came late to the game, so the RNC is now responsible for Trump’s grassroots turnout. Yet   in state upon state it has to figure how also to encourage a compartmentalized  campaign for others on the ballot.

What will happen in Senate?

The U.S. Senate is the big target on the horizon.  From calling the outcome a tossup,  the pollsters are now leaning  to the Democratic side and a big win for Hillary could tip several close races into the Democratic column, removing control from the Republicans.

With her win, and the vice president as a tie-breaker, the Democrats need to pick up four seats to take back control.  On Nov. 8 there are actually 11 Republican seats in real play and only  two (out of what once was five) Democratic seats that the Republicans might even think to pick up. 

(Some of these Democratic possibilities are much stronger than others, but with strong turnout I think eight is doable.)

In the” keep Democrat” seats, two newcomers are way ahead – Kamala Harris to replace Barbara Boxer in California, Rep. Chris Van Hollen to step in for outgoing Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski. Sen. Patty Murray is also given the lead in Washington State, which wasn’t always the case.

Two other “protect” seats look better right now for the Democrats -- Catherine Cortez Mastro seeking to retain Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada and long threatened Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado finally ahead in the polls against Republican Darryl Glenn. So at this point, the Democrats may not lose any of their seats. 

The Republicans have more to protect and less likelihood of doing so. Wisconsin is the standout predicted pickup with Russ Feingold over Republican incumbent Ron Johnson.  In Illinois, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, whose personal story as well as voting record are hard to combat, is leading incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. 

Recent polling puts Kate McGinty ahead of GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and the afore-mentioned Hassan ahead  of Ayotte. Newcomer John Kander has stunned GOP Sen. Roy Blunt in the unlikely swing state of Missouri by running ahead. 

Indiana lures Even Bayh back.
In Indiana, popular former  governor and senator Democrat Evan Bayh was lured back when GOP Dan Coats retired from the senate, and he is facing a tougher contest than anticipated (the state’s governor is on the ticket with Trump and the state itself is on a Trump-Clinton seesaw). There is little polling in Indiana but Bayh still has a lead over Todd Young.

Even in Arizona, where legacy fondness may still give the nod to Sen. John McCain, the Democratic challenger, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, has pulled even in the polls.

The Democrats’ hopes are not done yet. In the always difficult North Carolina, little-known Catherine Ross remains tied with GOP incumbent Richard Burr, who has failed to untie himself from Trump. 

It looks bad for Democrats in Iowa where Patty Judge is trailing Sen. Chuck Grassley and even more disappointing in Ohio given Ted Strickland’s surprisingly light showing against GOP incumbent Rob Portman.  

These are races where high Democratic turnout for Hillary could make a difference --  which is also true in Kentucky, where Jim Gray, the first openly gay  politician to run for Senate, has surprised Rand Paul with his strength. In Florida, the on-again off-again reluctant incumbent Marco Rubio mystifyingly  has more traction right now than  Patrick  Murphy, who gave up a sure Democratic seat to run.

Making the House friendlier

Over in the House, where the Republican control seems too large to turn around until 2018, the Democrats are already assured of making inroads that will cut the margin, tame the Tea Party extremists and give Clinton a more malleable GOP to work with – high time that something in  this dam of resistance was blown up.  It’s not that Hillary will charm them into submission. The political reality of being weakened could do that all by itself.

Even expect some change  in Wisconsin’s House. Gerrymandering has protected so many GOP congressional districts by packing more Democrats into safe seats like Milwaukee Rep. Gwen Moore’s, and redesigning others to add Republican strongholds, as was done to protect Paul Ryan in CD1.

Hopes are high that Sarah Lloyd can
replace the grotesquery of Grothman
But the Democrats expect a pickup by Tom Nelson over Mike Gallagher in the open race in CD8 (GOP Reid Ribble is stepping away, so that looks like a pickup).  There are still hopes –turnout hopes more than hopes with evidence -- for Sarah Lloyd, an agricultural expert whose voice and experience are more empathetic with the needs of CD6 than Tea Party cartoon Glenn Grothman. And some even believe communications professor Mary Hoeft may finally rid the House of another GOP embarrassment, Sean Duffy in CD7.

Madison makeup could also change

It is the statehouse races that are more likely to reflect formidable change in Wisconsin. It is almost an echo of the national situation.  The Democrats are within three seats of taking back the Senate and are poised to  cut into the Republican grip on the Assembly.

The current once-safe  incumbents have a lot to explain back home, given how the GOP dominated legislature has set back local schools, local control and highway and ecological concerns throughout the state.   The well recorded distrust  rural communities  feel for big city Democrats may not stand in local races, where they know the sort of Democrat who is running.

It’s here the length of  Hillary’s coattails may combine with a Democratic strategy that is gaining editorial notice -- pumping in new blood and fresh names . That could begin a mighty rescue operation (particularly  if the myth of keeping taxes down runs hard into the business losses,  potholes, half-done highways, schools robbed of proper finances, and on and on through the failed GOP playbook).

Moderates as well as left of center voices with clear plans on the local level  could not only make gains. They could also stifle the worst instincts of Gov. Scott Walker, who has two more years in office but would be rendered impotent by a more balanced, alert legislature. 

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He also created its Friday Weekend section and ran Sunday TV Screen magazine and Lively Arts as he became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for 

No comments:

Post a Comment