(Click here for Myra’s complete op-ed archive)


AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Re-posted from RealClearPolitics, August 8, 2019

One of my all-time favorite lines is “How do you make God laugh?” Answer: “Tell Him your plans.”

And my recent political counterpart is “How do you make Republicans laugh?” Answer: “Texas is the 2020 battleground state.”

The quadrennial three-dimensional math game, more commonly known as the Electoral College, already challenges President Trump with an excessively large number of 2016 red states in need of serious defending — with no plans to expand his base. But Texas as a bona fide swing state is the campaign equivalent of launching the D-Day invasion while fighting the Battle of the Bulge.

Widely reported nationally, the fight for Texas has in fact begun (and not as a Republican laugh line).

An early harbinger of this confrontation is the RealClearPolitics general election match-up poll average showing Joe Biden leading Trump in the Lone Star State by three percentage points. Folks, this is Texas, so Trump should be leading the Democrats’ front-runner well outside the error margin after having won there by nine points in 2016. But as Republicans laugh about “battleground” Texas, they generally downplay any negative Trump polling.

They shouldn’t. To appropriate the familiar Apollo 13 quote: “Houston, we have a problem.” In a recent piece headlined “Texas Republicans Brace for 2020 Drubbing,” Politico reported, “In one sign of potential concern about Democrats’ inroads in the state, Trump’s campaign is currently spending more money on digital ads in Texas than in any other state.”

Team Trump’s spending there in the summer of 2019 is an unprecedented warning sign that the GOP’s once-firm grip on its 38-electoral-vote ruby-red “crown jewel” could be in jeopardy.

Since 1980, no Republican nominee or incumbent has ever needed to wage a serious battle to win those 38 votes in a state long regarded as “safe.”

Texas last went “blue” in 1976 when Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford. (This was decades before states were designated as blue or red, which started during the contentious 2000 presidential election.)

More recently, the 2016 election results proved that Texas’ bright red-state star had begun to flicker. Although Trump won there with 52.2% support to Clinton’s 43.2%, it was the smallest margin of victory for a Republican presidential nominee in the 21st century. (Yes, nine percentage points is “Texas small.”)

By comparison, Mitt Romney trumped Barack Obama by 16 points in 2012, 57.2% to 41.1%. In 2008, John McCain defeated Obama by 12 points. And before that George W. Bush won his home state by 23 points in 2004 and 21 points in 2000. 

Now Trump’s margin of victory is further clouded by troubling downward trends.

According to Morning Consult’s state tracking data, when Trump took office in January 2017, his job approval rating in the state was 54% with 34% disapproving. By July 2019’s end, his rating showed a net approval decrease of 14 percentage points with 51% approving and 45% disapproving.

The good news is that the president’s Texas job approval is 7.8 percentage points higher than his national RealClearPolitics average of 43.3% with 53.6% disapproving.

Note that Morning Consult’s July data did not include any fallout from the Aug. 3, mass shooting in El Paso. But Civiqs’ survey this week of registered voters shows Trump’s Texas approval has dipped to 50% with 47% disapproving.

As a 50-50 tossup, Texas amplifies the alarms heard after 2018 midterm election when a virtually unknown (at the time) U.S. Senate candidate named Beto O’Rourke, then a three-term El Paso congressman, assembled a “new coalition” of voters — young, non-white, female, urban —  and almost unseated Ted Cruz, who won reelection only by 50.9% to 48.3%. 

For a deeper dive, read Sean Trende’s recent RCP piece, “Yes, the GOP Should Worry About Texas,”  which explains inconvenient demographic truths about why Beto’s 2018 results could be a bellwether for 2020 races up and down the Texas ballot. 

Perhaps if the late Tim Russert, NBC’s iconic “Meet the Press” moderator, were alive today, he would hold a whiteboard with the words “Texas,Texas,Texas” as the 2020 state to watch — while, in his other hand, still holding his famous “Florida, Florida, Florida” sign. Ever since the explosive 2000 presidential election, Florida has been the “mother of all swing states” with its 29 electoral votes. But in 2020 that status could be “trumped” by Texas as the “Godzilla of all swing states.”

If the Democratic presidential nominee were to win Texas’ 38 electoral votes, America would undergo a political “tectonic-plate shift.” Theoretically, the Democratic Party would dominate the Electoral College vote, painting the White House “blue, blue, blue” for the foreseeable future.

As a Republican, I can only imagine how a “blue Texas” would demolish the morale of red-state voters. Potentially, the loss could ignite a Republican firestorm to replace the constitutionally mandated Electoral College with the popular vote. Ironically, such as shift has long been opposed by the GOP, but the idea continues to gain traction after the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections exposed quirks and flaws in the current system. (Some would say resulting in “illegitimate” presidents.)

No one knows what will happen in 2020 except that the entire country will be a battleground, both literally and figuratively. And that is not a laugh line.

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Reposted from Real Clear Politics Feb. 22, 2019

(Click here for Myra’s complete op-ed archive)

According to today’s RealClearPolitics polling average, President Trump’s job approval is 44.3 percent with 52.6 percent of voters disapproving of his performance.

Now contrast his job approval with that of the last two presidents at this same point in their first term, both of whom were re-elected. On Feb. 22, 2011, the RCP job approval average for Barack Obama was 48.5 percent with 45.7 percent disapproving. On this same day in 2003, George W. Bush’s average was 57 percent with 37 percent disapproving.

It is also notable that Trump’s job approval average throughout 2018 and up to today has yet to reach 45 percent. Conversely, his average disapproval rating has consistently ranged between 51 and 55 percent.

Meanwhile, those dismal numbers are only one gigantic pothole on his bumpy road to re-election. What I consider Trump’s greatest foe is voter demography as outlined in the recent Pew Research Center study, “An Early Look at the 2020 Electorate.” That study projects the percentage of eligible voters from each of the nation’s four largest racial and ethnic groups. Unfortunately for Trump, the results do not bode well based on how these same groups voted in 2016.

It’s the math, stupid! Specifically, how demographic math impacts Trump’s ability to win the required 270 Electoral College votes and thus, a second term.

Let’s take a closer look, but first a caveat: Pew’s projected percentage of eligible 2020 voters by racial and ethnic group will likely differ from the percentage who actually cast a ballot.

The study projects that whites will comprise 66.7 percent of eligible voters; Hispanics, 13.3 percent; blacks, 12.5 percent; and Asians, 4.7 percent. The fact that non-whites will comprise roughly one-third of eligible voters would not be a problem for Trump and the Republican Party if they did not overwhelming and consistently vote Democratic. But the ever-increasing Hispanic vote is the GOP’s greatest cause of present and future consternation.

For example, due to Hispanic growth, traditional “ruby red” Arizona, with 10 electoral votes, will be among the most contentious 2020 battleground states. And, though Republicans fondly remember when New Mexico last went “red” — in 2004, helping re-elect President George W. Bush – it is now solidly blue.

Republican strategists also fear how the traditionally wide gap between the number of eligible and actual Hispanic voters is dramatically shrinking. It’s no surprise that as the Hispanic population grows, as with any rising ethnic group it becomes increasingly empowered, engaged, and mobilized to vote.

In fact, the 2018 midterm elections could be considered a historic turning point because Hispanics made up 11 percent of voters — a record level of participation. (The number was only 7.3 percent in the previous midterms.) Most important, that 11 percent of the 2018 electorate mirrors the 2016 presidential election turnout when Hispanics also composed 11 percent of the electorate while supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton by 66 percent to 28 percent for Donald Trump.

In past presidential elections, turnout trends for Hispanics showed both consistent growth and solid support for the Democratic candidate. In 2012, Hispanics constituted 10 percent of the voting electorate when 71 percent supported Barack Obama to just 27 percent for Mitt Romney. In 2008, Hispanics were 9 percent of the voting electorate, and 67 percent supported Obama compared to 31 percent for John McCain.

One could even go back to the 1984 Republican landslide when Hispanics made up only 3 percent of the electorate. Still, 66 percent supported the Democratic candidate, former Vice President Walter Mondale, compared to 34 percent who voted for Ronald Reagan.

The takeaway is that the Democrat presidential nominee in 2020 can count on support from at least two-thirds of Hispanic voters, who will likely constitute at least 12 percent of the electorate.

As previously seen, Pew’s study projects that in 2020 the percentage of eligible Hispanic voters is poised to overtake the percentage of eligible African-American voters, who in 2016 were 12 percent of the electorate, with 89 percent supporting Clinton. A great unspoken fear among Republican leaders is that the Hispanic vote has grown to be as solid a Democrat bloc as that of African-Americans.

Asians too are growing into another Democrat voting bloc. In 2016 they were 4 percent of voters and, similar to Hispanics, 65 percent voted for Clinton and only 27 percent for Trump.

Finally, there is the majority white vote that the Pew study projects will form 66.7 percent of eligible voters in 2020. Shown below is how whites’ percentage of the total voting electorate has consistently decreased since 2004 – the last time a Republican president won re-election.

2004:  77 percent
2008: 74 percent
2012: 72 percent
2016: 70 percent
2020: 68 percent?? (My projection based on trends.)

In 2016, Trump won 57 percent of the white vote compared to Clinton’s 37 percent. In 2020, it is anyone’s guess how much Trump will need to increase that 57 percent in order to win re-election because, pre-election, non-white vs. white voter turnout are variables that can only be estimated and modeled.

But, common sense dictates that the shrinking white vote could negatively impact Trump’s chances of again winning the three traditionally Democrat-leaning battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin with their predominately white populations and combined total of 46 electoral votes. These three states boosted Trump’s total to 304, well over the 270 needed for victory — despite him losing the popular vote to Clinton by 2.9 million votes — 2.1 percent of the total cast.

It is also instructive to remember just how Trump won:

-Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes, a 0.7 percent margin of victory.
-Wisconsin by 22,748 votes, a 0.7 percent margin.
-Michigan by 10,704 votes, a 0.3 percent margin.

And already there is trouble brewing for him in Michigan. A recent hypothetical general election matchup poll had all four of the leading Democratic presidential candidates denying him a second term.

But, as my Republican friends are fond of saying, “We don’t believe polls” and   “Pollsters always miss hidden Trump support.”

I don’t necessarily believe my friends, but this I know, the American electorate is not minting enough new white voters to achieve Trump’s re-election unless he increases his percentage of white voters by a yet unknown number of percentage points in exactly the right combination of states where electoral votes add up to 270.

In the meantime, the president can’t change demographics, but he can and must increase his job approval numbers. As a guide, and again I state for emphasis, the last re-elected Republican president, and the last Republican to win the popular vote, won a close re-election race against John Kerry in 2004 with a 48 percent job approval and a 47 percent disapproval rating the last week before the election.

Today Trump’s approval is four points below, and his disapproval is five points above, George W. Bush’s.

Based on all you have read, draw your own 2020 conclusions.

 


Re-posted from Real Clear Politics  Oct. 17, 2018

(Click here for Myra’s complete op-ed archive)

RCP use now

“It’s gonna make ‘The Circus’ look like a zoo.” —    Mark McKinnon, GOP presidential strategist and creator/producer/host of “The Circus,” Showtime’s political documentary series, when asked to comment on the headline above.

In “normal,” pre-Trump times, the next presidential campaign began the day after the midterm elections. Now, in the Trump TV Twitter Era, with all remnants of political normalcy extinguished, the 2020 Democratic primary campaign has already been raging for months.

But come 2020, when the president wages war against the Democratic nominee, he or she will experience the new meaning of “brutal” when delivered with a Trump-force multiplier.

Before we discuss why 2020 is on tap to be the most vicious, ruthless and unpredictable presidential campaign in history, Democrats should be reminded of two overarching and inconvenient math facts:

Since our nation’s founding, the re-election rate for incumbent presidents stands at 68.7 percent, but 100 percent for the last three — all of whom were often unpopular and controversial during their first term.

And the conclusion based on the math?

The opposing party MUST NEVER underestimate the power of incumbency —   especially when that incumbent is Donald J. Trump. Aside from incumbency, here are five reasons why every American voter, including all Trump lovers and haters, should fear and loathe the forthcoming “zoo.”

  1. “Category 5” extreme intensity

Anyone who has followed politics for decades will agree that the histrionics, assets, energy, and passion displayed during the 2018 midterm cycle is more on par with the 2016 presidential election.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon framed the intense vibe of the midterm electorate, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “I think this is President Trump’s first re-elect.”

Similar to a presidential re-election campaign, there has been solid 24/7 coverage across all media platforms, led by President Trump — who, by design, is virtually at the top of every ballot. Trump being Trump has inflamed and aroused the electorates of both parties, managing to turn the midterms into the most contentious in modern American history.

Therefore, if 2018 feels like a presidential election used to feel, one can only imagine the “Category 5” levels of emotion and extreme intensity that will engulf our nation in the autumn of 2020. (Note that I deliberately did not write “fall of 2020” because that could have a double meaning given reasons 2 through 5.)

  1. Chaos: This is what Democracy looks like

An increase in extreme passion will lead to frequent mass protests. Often orchestrated by professional organizers representing left-wing groups, what Republicans characterize as “angry mobs” are now part of the chaotic political/cultural landscape.

Quickly assembled via social media, and fueled by the prospects of Trump’s re-election, that political passion will likely incite more violent clashes with Trump supporters. While writing this piece I saw a newly released midterm ad from a Republican PAC warning about such chaos.

There is no doubt that our nation is undergoing rapid demographic change with a leftist tilt, so embrace a future characterized by reason No. 3.

  1. Losing the culture wars led to “uncivil war”

Two decades ago, what was quaintly tagged as “the culture wars” – the fight to keep our national culture steeped in the traditional Judeo/Christian values upon which it was founded — was lost, and defeat morphed into a full scale “uncivil war.” This term is now widely used to describe the unhinged polarization and win-at-all-costs partisanship that plagues our nation like cancer.

There is the perception that our national schism is beyond healing because, in red/blue America, more issues divide us than unites us. Worse, our leaders are no longer engaging in the art of compromise because that foundational governing concept is now seen as “weak” and “caving” to the other side. (And also sure to invite a primary opponent who “listens to the people.”)

Long gone is President Reagan’s theory of governing: “Half a loaf is better than none.” In its place, “attack” has replaced compromise, resulting in major problem-solving legislation being passed by only one party — when any manages to pass at all.

What is unique about the 2020 election is it will be the first in which the full forces of the “uncivil war” are unleashed and even encouraged by some elected leaders and media pundits.

  1. The rise of powerful identity groups

Divisive racial, gender, anti-government and single-issue-based identity groups are now permanent forces. Many are well-funded, growing more militant and on track to become even more powerful and disruptive in 2020. Moreover, identity groups are empowered by the results of bloc voting.

Ultimately, this means that instead of E pluribus unum, Latin for “Out of many, one” (imprinted on all U.S. coins since 1795), the motto should now read, “E pluribus schisma” – “Out of many, division.”

  1. Impeachment looms over 2020

In a September piece headlined “Will Trump’s Reelection Campaign Collide with Impeachment?” I wrote about the distinct possibility that in November, if Democrats win control of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump could be the first president to run for re-election while impeachment proceedings are underway. Then, piling on, earlier this week the Drudge Report linked to Peter Baker’s piece in the New York Times headlined “Trump is on a collision course with impeachment.”

Given the first four reasons stated above, the 2020 presidential election will steer our nation through a gasoline-soaked incendiary course – and that’s without impeachment. Therefore, if impeachment is thrown into the proverbial political fire, prepare for an inferno.

Why should all Americans fear and loathe the coming campaign?

Answer: Because both sides fear and loathe each other.

Now is a good time to invoke “real” Civil War history: In 1858, a U.S. Senate candidate named Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Pray for our nation!

Myra Adams is a media producer and writer who served on the McCain Ad Council during the GOP nominee’s 2008 campaign and on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team.

Click here for  Myra Adams on RealClearPolitics  


social-security-millennials-bad-deal-no-choice                                                         Credit: Larryhw/Dreamstime

Re-posted from National Review May 24, 2018

‘By 2034, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits.’

Sadly, America’s forthcoming “economic tsunami” is so predictable that our government issues an annual warning forecasting the year when — absent real reform — the monster waves will overtake all Social Security recipients and substantially reduce payments.

Am I an alarmist? No, just a realist, because once again I read the annual Social Security statement that arrived in the mail. The year 2015 was the first time I noticed and wrote  about the government-issued warning, shown below, that appears on page two under “Your Estimated Benefits.” Three years have transpired, and it’s no surprise that Congress still has taken no action to solve this impending crisis — scheduled for 2034, only 16 years from now.

SS NROLet’s translate this vastly understated red-flag warning:

“Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time.”

Translation: Wishful thinking that is politically almost impossible. No member of Congress, from either party, will vote to reduce the monthly Social Security payments received by their constituents knowing how that is a permanent one-way ticket back to their home district.

“The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2034, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits.”

Translation: Because Congress refuses to confront this problem, we regret to inform you that in 16 years your monthly payment will be reduced by about 23 percent. If you now receive $2,000 monthly, in 2034 your payment will be $1,540. Don’t complain that we didn’t warn you!

Cue the legions of gray-haired protest marchers with walkers and canes! Cue the heartbreaking stories of seniors who can no longer afford their rent.

The harsh reality is that even though the government admits that it will soon be able to “pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits,” the reduction could be even greater and sooner. The following projections show trends from four of my annual Social Security benefit statements:

Statement year   Benefit percent   Year reduced   

2009                                 78                        2041

2011                                 78                        2037

2017                                 79                        2034

 

According to the Trustees of Social Security, the problem is fueled by two factors: First, from now until 2034, “the ratio of workers paying taxes to support each Social Security beneficiary will decline significantly from 3:1 to 2:1. In 1970, this ratio was nearly 4:1.” Second, by 2034 the total number of beneficiaries “is projected to reach 87 million — 41 percent more than the number in 2017.”

Of course, aging Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are central to the issue. Pew Research reports that in 2019 there will be 72 million of us.

Unfortunately, time is running out for Social Security to be drastically reformed. Beginning in 2026 we’ll see what I call the Social Security “bulge years.” This is when all Boomers, including the youngest born in 1964, will have turned 62 and be eligible to collect retirement benefits.

Then, eight years later in 2034, when the 1964 crop celebrates their 70th birthdays and the oldest Boomers turn 88, the “bulge” is projected to burst, and only 77 percent of benefits can be paid. Sixteen years from now — if the problem is not properly addressed — such a drastic reduction has the potential to shake this nation to its very core.

Meanwhile, the cost of Social Security is staggering as displayed on the U.S. Debt Clock. (What I often refer to as the U.S. government’s “ticking time bomb.”)

Today, Social Security is the government’s second-largest annual budget expense at $967.5 billion. (It’s surpassed only by Medicare/Medicaid at $1.085 trillion.)

But in 2022, the Debt Clock’s furthest future year, the cost of Social Security is projected to be $1.166 trillion — the largest budget expense — surpassing Medicare/Medicaid at $1.138 trillion. Remember, 2022 is still four years from the beginning of the “bulge years” that start in 2026, when Social Security costs will significantly escalate.

Now get ready for some numbers that should spur Congress into action — but won’t.

Currently, per the Debt Clock, Social Security’s liability is $17 trillion, but that will grow to $24 trillion by 2022. Even worse by comparison is Medicare/Medicaid with its current liability at $27.8 trillion and slowly rising to $28.4 trillion by 2022.

Moreover, both Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, along with federal-employee and veterans benefits and debt held by the public, feed into the “mother of all numbers” —  the U.S. government’s total unfunded liabilities. The cost of benefits that the U.S. government is obligated to pay its citizens now stands at $113 trillion, but increases to $140 trillion by 2022.

Contrast those immense unfunded liabilities with the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and federal tax revenue:

• GDP, now at $20 trillion, is projected to increase to only $22 trillion by 2022.

• Federal tax revenue, currently at $3.33 trillion, rises to $3.4 trillion by 2022.

It does not take a math genius to recognize that sitting in drab Washington, D.C., federal buildings are teams of budget analysts who know that Social Security retirement is not the only government benefit program that will be forced to cut smaller monthly checks in the ensuing decades. According to the Social Security Trustees, for example, “Without legislative action, approximately 11 million disabled people and their families could face across-the-board benefit cuts of 7 percent in 2028.”

The question is when and how will our elected leaders break that news to the American people, since Congress refuses to take any action reforming any part of Social Security.

The answer is bold leadership while the economic tsunami is still offshore.

 

 

 

 

 


Presidential horse-race polls and rankings in 2014 excluded Trump

Re-posted from National Review January 15, 2018

Biden for Myra

Joe Biden attends an Obamacare anniversary event on Capitol Hill in March 2017. (Reuters photo: Aaron P. Bernstein)

 

Here is a recent headline that surely confounds young, hip, Democratic women looking forward to fresh, future leadership:

“Poll: Biden holds double-digit lead over field of 2020 Dem presidential contenders.”

That headline is not a late-night comedy joke, but it could be, considering the following: Former vice president Joe Biden is a white male born in 1942. He will be 78 years old on Election Day 2020. Biden is a poster child for the much-disparaged label “Washington insider.” His pre-VP résumé virtually defines the establishment swamp: thirty-six years as a U.S. senator and two unsuccessful attempts at a presidential run, in 1987 and 2007. Biden also has a long record as a human gaffe machine, which is mostly lovingly dismissed as “Joe being Joe.” His collection of “greatest hits” includes this racially insensitive 2007 zinger about his future boss:

I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.

At this writing, that same Biden is traveling the nation, fundraising for candidates, headlining local Democratic dinners, promoting his book — generally feeling the love — while testing the shark-infested waters for a third presidential run. Biden is fully armed (or deluded) with the two-pronged notion that he is the only Democrat who can beat Trump in 2020 and that he could have won in 2016 if only he had run for president.

Biden must be encouraged not only by having the support of 27 percent of Democrats for the 2020 presidential nomination — leading Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) by eleven points — but also with chatter that he is Trump’s most feared general-election opponent. According to Politico, Team Trump is concerned that Biden competes for, and appeals to, the same white, working-class voters who helped Trump win in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Then on Tuesday, a new CNN poll confirms that Biden is not deluding himself by considering a third White House run. The poll shows Biden defeating Trump 57 to 40 percent, the widest winning margin of all the 2020 Democratic hopefuls. But the poll results (as much as any Republican can trust a CNN poll) also suggest that Biden is going to have a tough primary, given that Bernie Sanders also defeats Trump 55 to 42 percent. Even Oprah Winfrey trounces “The Donald” by 51 to 42 percent.

However, after the first year of Trump’s robust economy, with strong economic indicators and record-high consumer confidence, if those trends continue, it will be difficult for lovable old Joe to say with a straight face, “Elect me to bring back the Obama economy.”

The messaging for a potentially brutal Trump-vs.-Biden matchup is summarized by an educated, middle-aged Hispanic woman from a key swing state who told me last week: “I hate Trump, detest the man, but I love how my 401(k) is doing.” Her sentiment represents the greatest opportunity for Republicans in this year’s midterm election and looking forward to 2020.

Before Democrats get too giddy, or young women too discouraged, about the prospects of a recycled Joe Biden as their next nominee, it is instructive to look back at the long list of 2016 Republican presidential wannabes. In particular, check out this CNN poll report from December 29, 2014:

CNN/ORC Poll: Bush Surges to 2016 GOP Frontrunner

Jeb Bush is the clear Republican presidential frontrunner, surging to the front of the potential GOP pack following his announcement that he’s “actively exploring” a bid, a new CNN/ORC poll found.

He takes nearly one-quarter — 23% — of Republicans surveyed in the new nationwide poll, putting him 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tallied 13%.

If you need more confirmation that Democrats (and Republicans) should ignore any and all 2020 horse-race polls or rankings before well into 2019, look at this Washington Post report written by two political experts, dated December 7, 2014, under the headline “Who’s most likely to end up as Republicans’ nominee in 2016 presidential race?”

Ranked one through ten, in first place was Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Second was then–New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Third was former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Fourth was Florida senator Marco Rubio, followed by a list of distinguished Republican officeholders.

Question: Who is not mentioned on the Post’s December 2014 list of ten?

Hint: At the moment he sits in the Oval Office.

In politics, always expect the unexpected. Just ask Presidents Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore.

 

— Myra Adams is a media producer and a political writer. She was on the creative team of the 2004 Bush campaign and on the ad council of the 2008 McCain campaign. E-mail her at MyraAdams01@gmail.com.


Posted on 12/15/17

Image impeachment 2

In 2018 “impeachment” will likely be the most overused word in what is shaping up to be the most contentious midterm election in modern history.

The promise of impeaching President Trump could dominate Democratic Party messaging and used to motivate hordes of anti-Trump voters to turn out and vote Democrats back into control of Capitol Hill.

Unfortunately, President Trump’s ultra-polarizing leadership style brought about his current 37 percent job approval rating, with 58 percent disapproval. This negative 21-point spread gives Democrats free rein to exploit the prospect of impeachment for self-serving political gain, whether legally justified or not. Moreover, throughout 2017, impeachment has been thoroughly embedded into the media landscape as an emotional hot-button issue and should only gain more traction in 2018.

It was back in May when I first asked the question, “Will Democrats use impeachment as their 2018 midterm message?”

Now, in December, I am confident that the answer is not only, “Yes” but “Hell yes.”

Also in that same piece, I was half-joking when I wrote that Democrats’ 2018 bumper stickers would read “You vote, we impeach.” Now, I am totally convinced that will be their call to action.

This week I asked Roger Stone, the high-profile political operative and long-time confidant of President Trump, for his thoughts on the midterm election. Stone replied: “There can be no doubt that impeachment is on the Democrats’ bucket list. Should Democrats take the House, any trumped-up charge against the president could serve as the basis for a railroad impeachment.”

Stone’s prediction is sound given that Democrats’ desire to impeach Trump began on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017, as reported in a Washington Post headline: “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.” And indeed it did.

Immediately swinging into action as the congressional leader of the impeachment brigade was, and still is, 79-year-old Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

Although first elected to Congress in 1991, Waters quickly learned in 2017 that impeachment is a great media-profile enhancer and effective “everywhere” for fundraising. Banging her impeachment drum not only earned Waters folk-hero status but injected new life into the twilight of her long, lackluster political career.

Competing with Waters for using impeachment as a self-enhancement vehicle is another Californian named Tom Steyer. As a billionaire former hedge fund owner, Steyer morphed from spending his millions fighting climate change to his new role as Trump’s impeachment poster-child. Starring in his own $20 million television and media campaign, Steyer’s message is:

“Donald Trump has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice, and taken money from foreign governments. We need to impeach this dangerous president. Sign on now.”

Steyer’s accusations are short on facts and lack evidence – but why should that matter? In what Obama’s former chief strategist David Axelrod called a “vanity project,” Steyer’s commercials, delivered in his raspy voice-of-doom-like-whisper leaves viewers with the impression that his $20 million ad campaign is as much about fueling his political ambitions as impeaching President Trump.

Comically and fittingly, the Washington Free Beacon calculated that on Dec. 6 “when Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, introduced articles of impeachment, and the House voted overwhelmingly to kill the resolution,” Green’s resolution “received just 58 votes, bringing Steyer’s bill to $344,827.59 per vote.”

Surely that cost imbalance will not stop Steyer’s quest for recognition. But, what makes someone like Steyer dangerous is when voters repeatedly see his impeachment ads, the gravity of impeachment is diminished as the most severe constitutional action against a sitting president. After all, it is human nature that the more often one hears about a potentially threatening situation or action, it tends to make that situation or action appear less threatening. And so it is with impeachment.

Barring any bombshell evidence of “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors” uncovered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Americans must be educated about the impeachment process – how it was never meant for personal political gain and could tear this nation apart. Here are two key points:

1. The vast majority of Americans are unaware that in our nation’s 241-year history no president has ever been impeached, convicted and removed from office. Not one.

The two presidents who were impeached by the House of Representatives – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 – were not convicted by the U.S. Senate of the charges filed against them. Both Johnson and Clinton remained in office until the end of their terms.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon was heading for impeachment and a likely conviction but resigned before the proceedings commenced.

Thus, at this writing, it is doubtful President Trump would be the first U.S. president to be impeached, convicted and removed from office.

2. If Democrats manage to win back control of the House of Representatives in 2018, and in 2019 by majority vote impeach President Trump on charges presented by Robert Mueller, (what Stone called “trumped-up charges”), it is highly unlikely that two-thirds of the U.S. Senate would vote to convict and remove Trump from office. Even if Democrats controlled the Senate in 2019 by a small margin, winning the votes of two-thirds of the senators is still a very high number by design of the Founding Fathers. Besides, do Democrats really want a President Pence?

Given all of the above, I stand by my prediction that impeachment will be the most overused word in 2018. Impeachment is tantamount to verbal catnip for use by Democrats who yearn for a higher media profile and a party seeking to placate a base that is demanding political payback while still reeling from devastating loses in 2016.

In our political system, absent “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors” the voting booth should always trump impeachment.

And with that thought in mind, remember 2020 is only 34 short months away!


This piece first appeared April 25, 2017, on  Washington Examiner . Then Drudge linked to it on June 13, 2017. I say to my friends, “File this away!”)

McAuliffe
With a recent poll finding that 45 percent of Democrats long for a new national leader, could Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe be the man to watch? Even McAuliffe himself is dropping hints. Is that laughter I hear from Republicans saying, “Yes, yes, bring him on”? But I also hear echoes of Democrats laughing at the prospects of running against Donald Trump in 2016 and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Here are six reasons why the GOP should not laugh at Terry McAuliffe’s presidential rumblings.

1. Terry McAuliffe is ambitious, wealthy and power-hungry with nothing to lose

By law, Virginia governors can only serve one four-year term. Thus, on January 13, 2018, Governor McAuliffe will become a former governor after only four years of elective experience. But do years in office even matter anymore? Besides, McAuliffe’s strength is his political credentials that far exceed other potential 2020 Democratic candidates. Furthermore, in party leadership circles McAuliffe is a living legend.

For starters, McAuliffe currently serves as chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA). McAuliffe’s best friend, President Bill Clinton, was NGA chairman during the 1986-87 term.

In 2008 McAuliffe was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign.

Between 2001 and 2005 he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee. During that time in 2004, McAuliffe served on the Clinton Foundation board of directors.

In 1996 he served as co-chairman of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.

2. McAuliffe is putting out feelers for his 2020 presidential run

The leadership vacuum at the top of the Democratic Party is tailor made for a power-player such as McAuliffe, and he has twice hinted about a 2020 presidential run.

First on February 26 in the New York Times: “Asked if he wanted to be president, Mr. McAuliffe said, ‘I don’t know, I might.’ ”

The second was on March 29 when McAuliffe told ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein: “‘You know my personality, go big or go home, adding I’m not thinking about it, but I never take anything off the table.’ ”

Translation: Watch out 2020 Democratic hopefuls. McAuliffe is in exploration mode, and if he decides to move forward, prepare to be crushed.

3. Good news — bad news, McAuliffe is best friends with the Clintons

For decades, Terry McAuliffe was the Clinton’s go-to-money-man-fundraiser-extraordinaire. Then, as governor in 2016, he delivered Virginia’s 13 electoral votes to Hillary’s column and greased the skids that anointed Virginia senator and former governor Tim Kaine as her running mate.

The good news is that in one day before lunch, McAuliffe could reassemble any part of the Clinton machine worth saving. By afternoon he could enlist his own vast network of loyalists, and by happy hour, “Help Terry Dump Trump 2020” will be ready to roll.

But the bad news is that McAuliffe is perceived, rightfully so, as a “son of the Clintons.” Certainly, Clinton fatigue would be McAuliffe’s biggest obstacle, along with his dubious past as a wheeler-dealer businessman. (See President Trump, Donald J. for how to handle that problem.) If McAuliffe were to run, he must first establish himself as his own man, and as governor of Virginia and chair of the NGA, he is doing exactly that.

4. McAuliffe could suck up all the early oxygen from the rest of the 2020 field

Yes, McAuliffe could easily raise well over a billion dollars – what it will cost to run for president in 2020 — but his skill set extends far beyond fundraising. After decades as a top-tier Democratic Party leader, Clinton acolyte, now Virginia governor and NGA chairman, McAuliffe has formed strong alliances with other national leaders. Potentially those relationships might lead to early endorsements, leaving many vacant seats on what looks like now could be a mini-van full of 2020 candidate wannabes.

5. Watch the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial race and 2018 midterm elections

McAuliffe’s hand-picked successor, Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, is in a tougher than expected primary race. If Northam were to win his June primary and the general election victory in November, that would signal Governor McAuliffe’s strength in a swing state and act as his national springboard. (Update: Northam won) Currently, McAuliffe enjoys a 52 percent approval rating. But even more telling will be how active McAuliffe becomes in the Democrat’s midterm election quest to win back Congress. If McAuliffe is in the thick of the national fight, it is a sure sign that his own 2020 announcement is forthcoming.

6. Who better times two?

In 2020 who better to contest President Trump than another multi-millionaire businessman with decades of political experience and tons of business and political baggage?

If McAuliffe “went big” as hinted to ABC News, he will attempt to avenge Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat. McAuliffe could joke, “You wanted her but you got me.” Who better than a close family friend who for decades has stood in Washington’s center court playing hardball power games?

My fellow Republicans, are you still laughing?

Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign’s creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign’s ad council.