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Credit: AP

BY MYRA ADAMS, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR – THE HILL

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – June 23, 2021

Six months have passed since I declared myself “politically homeless” after 46 years as a loyal Republican, but still I am deluged with piles of GOP junk mail.

Recently catching my eye was a slick, oversized envelope from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with that distinct look of a fundraising appeal one would receive from a potential 2024 presidential candidate. In bold underline, the envelope screamed:

“The power-hungry Democrats, Big Tech Billionaires, and liberal media want to SILENCE conservatives like us. If you’ve seen me on TV, you know I’m fighting back and won’t back down! But I need your immediate help!”

Most intriguing was that the governor’s plea did not mention Florida or his 2022 reelection.

Coincidentally, moments before opening the mailer, I saw the Drudge Report headline “DeSantis Wins Straw Poll.” The poll had only 371 participants who were encouraged to vote multiple times among the 500 people who attended last weekend’s Western Conservative Summit in Denver. And they only voted for “approval,” of which DeSantis garnered 74 percent, edging out President Trump’s 71 percent.

The poll is junk, except for the fact that the outcome was widely reported — feeding the continuing narrative that Trump had better “watch out” for DeSantis in 2024. Undoubtedly, both men are on a collision course.

Given such high stakes, let’s “decode” what DeSantis wrote in the mailer. But honestly, no decoding is needed since the governor’s message is clear, bold, repeated several times, yet brilliantly subtle.  

DeSantis begins the four-page letter with a zinger title, “Future of GOP At Stake.” Is that a dog-whistle warning directed at the former president who, by all accounts, is still the undisputed leader of the Republican Party? Then DeSantis goes on offense with a positioning statement as his first sentence:  

“Dear Fellow Conservative, I’m writing you today because the direction of the Republican Party is totally up for grabs.”

How could the party’s “direction” be “totally up for grabs” when Trump and MAGA Trumpism is the GPS of the GOP and Trump rules with an iron fist? DeSantis knows repetition is an essential part of messaging, and why four short paragraphs later, he wrote:

“That’s why I’m personally asking you to help me set the right direction for our party and America over the next four years.”

The “help” DeSantis “asked for” was how the GOP “must not turn back to the old establishment apologists” (that means Mitt RomneyLiz Cheney and Paul Ryan). And why “we need to continue to pursue a conservative agenda like President Trump did and put hardworking American taxpayers first.”

Notice how DeSantis wrote in the past tense, “President Trump did,” instead of President Trump “does.”

The Florida governor, channeling Trump-like strength while positioning himself to be the national party leader, wrote, “I firmly believe Republican-led states like Florida must lead the way and help save America from the far-left socialist agenda that threatens our liberty and that of future generations.”

But “far-left socialists” were not among those who attacked national liberty and democracy in progress at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Therefore, let’s take a quick break from the governor’s leadership plan for a TV reality check that occurred on June 7 during Trump’s interview on Fox Business Network’s “Varney and Co.”  

Trump, who must always be on top, is the master of the political put down, especially when feeling threatened. And the former president’s blood pressure must spike when he hears the popular GOP catchphrase, “DeSantis is Trump without the baggage.”

Thus, Trump told host Stuart Varney, “I was at the beginning of Ron. I was the first one to endorse him when he came out as a congressman that a lot of people didn’t know. My endorsement helped him tremendously.”

That statement followed Trump asserting his dominance over DeSantis when first asked by Varney if he would consider DeSantis as his 2024 running mate. Trump answered: “Sure, I would. But there are numerous people who are great. I would certainly consider Ron.”

Reporting on the Varney-Trump interview was FloridaPolitics with the headline, “Did Trump create DeSantis? He certainly likes to take credit.”

A “yes” answer requires only 30 seconds of watching DeSantis’s most famous and embarrassing 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary commercial. The ad proves DeSantis — then virtually unknown in Florida — allowed himself to be created in Trump’s image.

One could argue that Trump did “create” DeSantis. However, there was reciprocity. In 2020 DeSantis helped deliver Florida to Trump by 371,686 votes, which he mentioned in the mailing, illustrating how the governor likes to placate Trump.

Moreover, DeSantis wrote that “Florida did one of the best jobs counting votes in the entire country. And you could never say that before the 2020 elections!” And he brags, “The ‘Trump Florida Firewall’ project I set up for the Republican Party of Florida was a huge success.”

That statement raises the question of why in May did DeSantis sign an election restriction bill currently being challenged with three federal lawsuits?

It is interesting that besides the photo of DeSantis on the envelope, the only inside photo is of Trump and the governor on the donate page. There, after three long pages of DeSantis touting his accomplishments from a national perspective and only once mentioning his reelection, does the reader learn that this is a fundraising letter for the Republican Party of Florida.

The mailer proves that DeSantis is a brilliant player, positioning himself as the GOP’s future while only lightly kissing the ring of his “creator.” Above all, DeSantis knows the creator must never lose or be overtly defeated because he will turn against the man he created.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor. She served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – June 10, 2021

By Myra Adams – RCP Contributor

Remember the 2012 Republican National Convention? Back then, the national debt problem was so fundamental to the GOP’s platform that the convention’s set design showcased a debt clock ticking away in real-time, edging closer to $16 trillion.

Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a conservative tax and budget expert, championed policies that slowed the debt’s alarming rate of acceleration toward what he deemed a dangerous fiscal cliff, which was not a priority for his opponent. When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the debt was $10 trillion. After fighting the Great Recession, it nearly doubled to $19.5 trillion by the end of his second term.

But the next Republican president didn’t do much better. At the end of 2020, the debt was $26.9 trillion. Today, according to the U.S. Debt Clock, it is $28.3 trillion. 

Most problematic is how gross domestic product has failed to grow commensurate with the debt. There has been a school of thought that downplayed the growing red ink, instead touting the debt-to-GDP ratio as more relevant. A brief history of that ratio demonstrates why that “school” has closed.

In December 1969, when the government spent billions fighting the Vietnam War, the ratio was 35.47%.

Interestingly, the ratio dipped to 30.86%, the 1970s lowest level, during the month when Richard Nixon resigned as president, August 1974.

By the end of that decade, the number rose slightly to 31.03%.

The 1980s ended with it jumping to 51.38%

The 20th century closed with a debt-to-GDP figure of 58.35%. 

Then came the 9/11 attacks. As a result, the government’s price tag to fight the war on terror, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, caused a substantial increase in the ratio, which rose to 92.02% by the end of 2010.

In 2020 the COVID pandemic crashed the U.S. economy. By October, the government had spent $4 trillion in various economic bailouts, increasing the ratio to 129.09% by year’s end.

According to today’s Debt Clock, the number stands at 127.99%, a slight decrease from Dec. 31 but still precarious.

Is the government projecting that, when the economy surges back to “normal,” this unsustainable ratio will decrease?

Unfortunately, no, according to two U.S. government agencies.

The Congressional Budget Office, providing economic and budget data to lawmakers, projects that by 2025 the figure will be 124.56%. Even more daunting is the Office of Management and Budget projection. The agency within the executive branch foresees the 2025 ratio increasing to 138.69% — 10.7 percentage points higher than today! That is your government at work.

But more eye-popping is the non-governmental U.S. Debt Clock’s 2025 projections, based on current rates of growth. It shows the national debt hitting $50.1 trillion, the GDP at $26.7 trillion, and the debt-to-GDP ratio at a whopping 187.86%.

What ramifications do all these numbers have for the average American? The cost of living and anything you want to finance could cost more. In March 2021, the CBO issued a report titled “The 2021 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” which said:

“Debt that is high and rising as a percentage of GDP boosts federal and private borrowing costs, slows the growth of economic output, and increases interest payments abroad. A growing debt burden could increase the risk of a fiscal crisis and higher inflation as well as undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar, making it more costly to finance public and private activity in international markets.”

And what are the overarching reasons why the U.S government is spending itself into an ever-deepening fiscal crisis? The simple answer is our government is trying to maintain its status as the world’s superpower in a competitive 21st century global economy while modernizing infrastructure and providing for the needs of its people.

But, the hard truth is that our economy does not generate enough revenue to pay for what is required to do all three. For example, today the U.S. Debt Clock shows federal tax revenue at $3.4 trillion. That is a fraction of what the government owes just in unfunded liabilities of $149.2 trillion – payments promised to the American people.

Our nation can’t continue down this path forever because, at some point, there will be forced entitlement cuts and, worse, national instability.

National needs outpacing revenue also dramatically applies to infrastructure. President Biden proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure bill with much fanfare, widening the term’s traditional definition. And if the bill manages to pass, it will substantially increase the national debt. The need is there, but the funds are not. Everyone sees crumbling roads, bridges, and now the daunting task of fortifying cyber systems that operate critical infrastructure. The Colonial Pipeline hack showcased our national vulnerabilities — to the delight of our enemies.

Moreover, Biden’s new $6 trillion budget proposal looks like the Debt Clock’s projection of a $50 trillion national debt by 2025 could be on track.

But the most severe crisis facing our nation is denying the debt crisis. Instead, our weak-kneed leaders are afraid to level with the American people about the implications of rising debt while the government spends at rates that far exceed tax revenue and GDP. When was the last time you heard the president or leaders of either party speak out about this painful issue? Yet, any solution starts with recognizing the problem. The Republican Party used to lead on the debt problem and should again.

Therefore, I recommend that the GOP dust off its national debt clock from the 2012 convention and hang it above the floor of Congress. At least then, our national fiscal doomsday crisis will be impossible to deny as it stares leaders in the face.


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from MEDIUM on May 27, 2021

Every American knows the date of Donald Trump’s last rally in Washington, D.C. The political fallout continues with the aftermath seared into our collective memory when the president’s most ardent supporters marched from the rally and violently breached the Capitol.

In the seven days following the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” when shocking video was horrifying the nation, nobody could have predicted that the soon-to-be-former president — impeached for a second time in record time — would resume hosting his now-infamous rallies only six months later.

In America, anything is possible, and Trump proved that axiom last week. While appearing on the Trump-loving, One America News network, the former president announced his rally plans saying, “We’ll be doing one in Florida, we’re going to do one in Ohio, we’re going to do one in North Carolina,” with details released, “relatively soon.” However, Trump could be indicted, which may or may not alter his rally plans.

Aside from that minor detail, imagine how much bashing, trashing, venting, and bragging will spew from the former president’s mouth — a fact-checkers feast. But, before speculating about the rally’s theme, content and objectives, two overarching issues could become problematic for Trump and nullify any political benefits.

Security Costs

A potentially thorny issue about who will pay for what is sure to be supersized security. Of course, the Secret Service is responsible for Trump, and recently he was accused of profiting from the benefit of their protection.

But the intriguing question is whether taxpayers will foot the entire bill for all the post-Jan. 6 rallies. New ground will be broken since no former president has engaged in a sustained political come back tour on the scale that Trump is teasing.

I say “teasing” since recently, on his DonaldJTrump.com mouthpiece, he boasted about his “beautiful Boeing 757 that became so iconic during the Trump rallies.” The plane is currently being “updated” and “prior to the end of the year,” he says, “it will be better than ever, and again used at upcoming rallies!”

This year and into the 2022 midterm election campaign, his rally security costs could morph into a passionate political hot button. The negative press will emphasize that Trump is a billionaire, and his Save America PAC began the second quarter with $85 million in cash. Hence, the PAC and not taxpayers should shoulder a healthy percentage of the security costs at his highly partisan, self-serving political rallies.

Moreover, Trump uses these rallies as income generators. He collects attendee data for future fundraising solicitations while earning millions of dollars in free advertising through media coverage.

Along with increased costs incurred by the Secret Service, rallies impact the budget of local law enforcement. When Trump left office, it was reported that ten cities were owed “at least $850,000” in unpaid invoices. Recently, Albuquerque turned over a $211,000 debt to a collection agency stemming from Trump’s Sept. 2019 rally.

With that track record, will local jurisdictions demand upfront security payments before granting rally permits to the former president?

Super-Spreader Events 2.0

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Trump rallies were widely thought to be super-spreader events — proven true by a Stanford University study. As national COVID rates are rapidly decreasing with half the population vaccinated, surveys show that Trump voters tend to have lower vaccination rates.

Therefore, Trump’s 2021 and 2022 rallies could again turn into super-spreaders (and now easier to trace back), resulting in the villainization of Trump and his supporters.

Conversely, Trump has an extraordinary opportunity to generate good news at his rallies by encouraging attendees to get vaccinated or, better yet, “make vaccinations great again” and available on site.

All the Political Considerations

As mentioned earlier, Trump’s post-Jan. 6 rallies will showcase his penchant for bashing, trashing, venting, boasting — and don’t forget his signature name-calling. But let’s highlight the former president’s number one objective for holding rallies: To remove “former” from his current title. Therefore, at every rally, expect him to flirt with the audience asking, “Should I run in 2024?” The answer will be cheers of “four more years” with Trump 2024 banners waving — repeatedly shown on Trump-friendly media outlets.

The former president aims to clear the 2024 field, canceling the need for a GOP primary. And, he might be successful since a mid-May Morning Consult poll found that 50 percent of GOP primary voters support Trump, with his former VP Mike Pence a distant second at 13 percent.

But mixed signals for Trump are seen in a new Quinnipiac University poll finding 66 percent of Republicans want him to run in 2024, but 66 percent of Americans do not.

Trump’s second rally objective is revenge upon any GOP officeholder who dared not support his “Big Lie” or voted for impeachment. You know their names, and Trump will call them out for booing. The flip side is his support for candidates who can defeat any officeholder not 1000% loyal to Trump, rewarding them with an on-stage appearance.

Theoretically, Trump rallies are to support the Republican Party’s attempts to win back the House and the Senate — convenient cover for his number one objective. Rallies solidify Trump’s standing as the supreme Republican leader, branding the party’s present and future in his name. Candidates and incumbents are either with Trump or against him. There is no middle ground.

Attending Trump rallies will be his adoring base — the 53 percent of Republicans who believe Trump remains the “true president” and the 61 percent who say the election was stolen — according to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll.

Embracing those beliefs is Trump’s main schtick while recanting all the reasons why attendees know he is the greatest president. But alas, he was cheated and victimized by mail-in voting, election officials, courts, the FBI, voting machines, high-tech, corrupt media, social media — but still managed to win more votes than any incumbent president. That list is what they came to hear with a potential indictment only another Trump victim card to be played.

The fact that Trump’s old stage act is reopening to the same loyal audience six months after the Jan. 6 rally is not just a feat of savvy showmanship but a miraculous political resurrection.


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from TOWNHALL – May 14, 2021

In news coverage, I repeatedly see or hear a word that used to be alien to Americans since, historically, it is associated with authoritarian governments and centralized economies. That word is “shortages.”

Currently, there are 17 COVID-related shortages in major and minor consumer products and medical supplies but expected to be resolved, albeit with price increases. Included are new cars, chlorine, lumber, pet food, homes, chicken, and hotdogs, to name a few. Most formidable is a fuel shortage — already in play due to the lack of gas truck drivers (see more on that below) — but exacerbated by the oil pipeline cyberattack, on the verge of becoming a national security threat. Now, after paying ransom, the pipeline is slowly reopening, but supply vulnerabilities remain. 

Aside from short-term commodity shortages, long-term non-COVID-related human resource shortfalls have plagued five major occupations for over a decade. Think of these career fields as steel beams supporting the societal infrastructure of a thriving market economy. Moreover, the cause and effect of such chronic workforce shortages are harbingers of an existential national crisis that will take herculean efforts to resolve. But if not resolved, national decline is inevitable. Let’s briefly examine the occupations. 

Teachers

The K-12 teaching profession has been impacted by rapid cultural, societal, economic, and demographic changes, resulting in an ongoing teacher shortage severely accelerated by the pandemic. 

Recently, Frontline Research and Learning Institute conducted a national survey of 1,200 school and district leaders concerning all aspects of the severe shortage. Unfortunately, their findings “paint a grim picture,” and “only 7%” of the leaders believe the teacher shortage will improve.

The top three reasons cited are a shortage of fully qualified applicants, low compensation and benefits compared to other careers, and fewer education school graduates.

However, I know a few teachers who say the following reasons make their jobs a daily struggle and contribute to retention problems among new teachers: Parental interference, administrators’ demands, constraints on classroom discipline, and mixing students in the same classroom with the widest range of abilities, including special needs, and non-English speakers.

Then the overarching, often unstated reason for the shortage — a bittersweet by-product of the women’s movement when teaching used to be the go-to profession for female college graduates. Today women have unlimited career opportunities offering higher compensation. 

Will higher salaries solve the problem? Somewhat. But the joy and status of teaching are diminishing. One recently retired teacher told me her job became increasingly challenging because “every year the kids had shorter attention spans.” 

An effective public education system is the hallmark of a robust national economy, the great equalizer that lifts and launches all its young citizens. Teachers are the backbone, but that spine will crack unless radical changes are instituted to attract and retain new ones. 

Truckers

The trucking industry is the life-blood of our national economy, moving 71% of all freight. Truckers’ vital role becomes apparent whenever severe weather interrupts grocery store deliveries. The current driver shortage is a growing crisis expected to worsen due to the projected number of retirements.

The shortage explains why I always hear trucking companies advertising for drivers on my car radio. According to a Fox Business report, “The American Trucking Association expects the need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the [next] 10 years or an average of 110,000 per year.”

This is not an easy line of work considering the training, skill, and time away from home, but decent pay and benefits offer a secure middle-class family income.

With the U.S. economy so dependent on truckers, a continuous shortage of drivers with fewer trucks on the road means their higher wages are ultimately passed along to consumers. The inflationary ripple effect is mindboggling, especially when higher gas prices figure into the equation.

Police

There are daily headlines about police retirements prompted by deadly incidents and defunding demands. But then at the other end is the challenge of attracting new officers. Nonetheless, recruitment, retention, and retirement were widespread, pervasive problems before the current round of deadly high-profile police incidents. Dive into this 2019 “Workforce Crisis” report from the Police Executive Research Forum and imagine how the crisis has accelerated. 

In April, Jack Rinchich, president of the 4,000-member National Association of Chiefs of Police, described the demoralized state of mind among his rank and file, saying, “‘Hey, I’ve gone 20, 30 years without being sued, shot, or divorced. I’m going to get out while I have an opportunity.’”  

The “thin blue line” keeping our nation from descending into chaos is projected to grow thinner. Therefore, out-of-the-box thinking is needed to attract new police applicants, along with a societal attitude adjustment returning policing to a respected and rewarding profession. Alternatively, (and worst-case scenario) if shrinking forces reach critical lows, expect the National Guard to be called up regularly — never a good sign in a benevolent, democratic nation.

Doctors

The pandemic showcased their role, and respect for the profession grew. Meanwhile, the projected shortage is in such critical condition that a Senate bill named the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 was introduced in March to help alleviate the problem. According to AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), the “bipartisan bill aims to expand the number of federally-supported medical residency positions by 2,000 annually for seven years, directly addressing the growing physician shortage.” 

The need speaks to AAMC data projecting a “physician shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 doctors by 2033.” Age is also a problem, “more than two of five currently active physicians will be 65 or older within the next decade.”

Earning an MD title is a long, hard slog that takes exceptional brainpower, dedication, and emotional strength. But our nation is only strong when its people are healthy and productive. Thus, doctors are critical human infrastructure that needs replacing.  

Nurses

This profession also played a starring role in COVID when much of the minute-to-minute work was in their purview. Meanwhile, the American Nurses Association projects a shortage of half a million registered nurses by 2026. Then, according to NursingWorld.org, “By 2022, there will be far more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. With more than 500,000 seasoned RNs anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs.”

Besides retirement, the nursing shortage reflects the increased needs of an aging population. Add to that a shortage of nursing schools and faculty along with burnout on display during the height of the pandemic. The reality is that nursing is hard work, involves long hours, and requires a special person to enter and stay in the field.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, these five professions are suffering shortages due to the same problem, baby boomers are retiring with not enough replacements. All are traditional careers found less attractive by younger workers who can often make a good living with an internet connection from anywhere. These old careers require someone to leave home, go to a classroom, walk the street, hit the road, or enter a medical facility. 

However, the needs of these professions are not diminishing but increasing. We often hear about workforce shortages, but these five point to a crisis requiring a new national focus emphasizing the old-fashioned concept of community service.   


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill on May 6, 2021

Could an African American congresswoman from Orlando, Florida, change the course of presidential history? Maybe.

There is a lengthy list of high-profile and contentious races in 2022. But none compares to the national impact, intensity, influence and media coverage that Florida’s gubernatorial election will generate.

Let’s set the stage.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the nation’s most recognized political leaders, is running for reelection on a solid record of accomplishment. His reelection would be merely a pit stop on the road to his likely 2024 presidential bid. And, mirroring his uncomfortably close but successful 2018 “Fox News campaign,” DeSantis is again practically on the payroll of the popular cable network. 

Ridiculing his frequent appearances, the Orlando Sentinel editorial board chided the governor in an April 29 editorial, calling him the “mayor of Fox News” and “Fox’s golden child.” The board explained, “He’s been a guest on the network’s talk shows nearly a dozen times during the [legislative] session, one of more than 40 appearances during the past year, at least half of those coming in the first four months of this year.” They also called DeSantis the “P.T. Barnum of policy.”

The paper’s criticism is poignant since DeSantis’s most formidable opponent could be Orlando’s three-term Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.). With her “it factor” aura, Demings is busy raising her national media profile before her expected official announcement. The former Orlando police chief turned congresswoman was on Joe Biden’s VP shortlist after rising to prominence in early 2020 as a House manager during Donald Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial. Demings teased her gubernatorial intentions on Tuesday, tweeting, “Ready for the moment,” a video touting her rise from poverty.

But before Demings’s “moment” as the first woman and African American governor of the third most populous state, she must prove herself worthy by winning a crowded and competitive primary. After that, she must topple the popular DeSantis – widely considered the heir to Donald Trump and Republicans’ best hope to recapture the White House — assuming Trump does not run. 

If Demings is victorious, the mainstream media will crown her a trifecta rock star — politically slaying the Trump acolyte, crushing MAGA dreams and changing the 2024 GOP presidential nomination contest trajectory. More on that below, but first, some facts and history that make Demings’s dreams both plausible and a long shot. 

Demings’s two major primary opponents are also “ready for their moments,” and one is a double repeat. On May 4, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), the Sunshine State’s Republican governor from 2007 to 2011, formally announced his second gubernatorial bid as a Democrat. His first was in 2014, when he was defeated by incumbent Republican Rick Scott, who in 2018 was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Yet, the buzz for Crist is lackluster. He is a rich white guy, nearly age 65 and likely past his prime for statewide office.

The other primary opponent is Nikki Fried, a 43-year-old white woman who, as agriculture commissioner, is Florida’s highest-ranking elected Democrat. Fried has continuously knocked heads with DeSantis, and her press release about Florida’s recently concluded 2021 legislative session accused DeSantis of running an “authoritarian regime.” But Fried has not yet caught fire, and Republicans consider her to be DeSantis’s weakest potential opponent.

Therefore, Demings’s imminent candidacy excites Democratic leaders since the party last won the governor’s mansion in 1994, when incumbent Gov. Lawton Chiles narrowly defeated Republican Jeb Bush.

Demings’s chances could also be boosted by the outcome of the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary with its crowded field of seven candidates. The two most prominent names were Gwen Graham and Philip Levine. They came in second and third, splitting the white vote. That allowed little-known Andrew Gillum, the African American mayor of Tallahassee, to win in an upset with only 34 percent of the vote, compared to Graham’s 31 percent and Levine’s 20 percent. 

On the other side, DeSantis in 2018, then a congressman representing the Daytona area, was also a statewide unknown. Yet, due to his continuous presence on Fox News and flaunting unabashed love for President Trump, he eked out the smallest margin of victory – 49.59 percent to Gillum’s 49.19 percent – a difference of 32,463 votes out of more than 8 million cast. 

2018 feels like ancient history, given that DeSantis has risen to national prominence as a strong leader and fighter in the Trump mold. The overwhelming majority of Florida GOP voters are thrilled to support DeSantis’s reelection and proud to be his home base if he wins the 2024 GOP nomination — and perhaps Florida’s first native-born president, especially if a certain New York-born Palm Beach resident bows out of the race. 

We can expect Democratic candidates and non-Republican voters to argue that if reelected, DeSantis would quickly abandon his office, using his victory as a presidential platform to campaign and fundraise across the fruited plain. Hence, DeSantis’s toughest 2022 opponent is his own ambition.

Furthermore, Florida’s explosive growth could either help or hurt DeSantis, with the population surging from 20.8 million in 2018 to a projected 22.2 million by 2022. And as is often the case, new residents tend to bring their voting habits with them. Over the last year, due to a COVID exodus, 15 percent were from New York, 28 percent from Texas and 6 percent from California — a mixed political bag.

Suppose DeSantis and Demings were to faceoff in a general election. In that case, her race and gender would play a prominent role since Democrats tend to view politics through the lens of identity. That might give Demings an edge in what will be a nasty and close super-bowl-like election. Naturally, Trump will be a wild card, but it’s unlikely that DeSantis campaigns as a Trump acolyte. Still, Democrats will try to hang the former president around his neck. 

Finally, a DeSantis vs. Demings race could foreshadow how DeSantis might fare in 2024 or even in 2028 against another powerful woman of color currently one heartbeat away from the presidency.

No matter who wins, Florida’s gubernatorial election will impact America’s political stage.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor. She served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – April 30, 2021

President Biden’s affinity for President Franklin D. Roosevelt is well documented. Both men took office during unprecedented economic crises and sought vast historical expansions of government programs and spending to address the turmoil.

During Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, he tried to justify tax increases on the wealthy to pay for $4 trillion in proposed initiatives — after the passage of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill — by noting that “85% of Americans received $1,400 rescue checks.”

Naturally, Biden turned to his big-government mentor, saying, “In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us: In America, we do our part. We all do our part. That’s all I’m asking.”

Describing the speech’s tenor, Axios’ Jonathan Swan wrote, “I’m told Biden deliberately echoed the empathetic, quietly impassioned tone of FDR’s Fireside Chats on the radio from 1933-44.”

Continuing that theme, the president validates the new spending as “a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself and the largest jobs plan since World War II.”

Herein lies the problem: Biden is attempting to become the modern incarnation of FDR without the equivalent of World War II. According to the U.S. Debt Clock, the national debt is $28.2 trillion, but the gross domestic product is only $21.6 trillion. Thus, the debt-to-GDP ratio is 130%. According to The Balance financial site, that number surpasses the two back-to-back ratio records set during, and just after, the war — 114% in 1945 and 118% in 1946.

Given that comparison, what if, while channeling FDR, Biden is thrust into a war that threatens our national survival?

During his speech, he patriotically talked up competing with China to “win the 21st century” as another justification for record spending and taxing. But, while briefly touching on foreign policy, he never mentioned defending Taiwan. Nonetheless, Biden said that President Xi Jinping “is deadly earnest” on China becoming “the most significant, consequential nation in the world. He and other autocrats think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century.”

As Biden spelled out, the U.S. needs domestic transformation, unification, and modernization to remain the world’s leader, but he should not ignore war clouds gathering over Taiwan. Defense leaders believe it is not “if” but “when” China will test the new president in what could begin a military showdown to “win the 21st  century.” Such a confrontation would cost untold trillions at the most inopportune time. Worse, simulated war games show the U.S. would not be victorious.

Chinese leaders watching Biden’s speech had to be delighted that he did not voice  support for Taiwan. Is Biden sending a signal of weakness, increasing a threat comparable to what FDR faced in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland?

Here is the situation as seen by Adm. John Aquilino, nominated to lead the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in late March. Asked when he thought China would militarily overtake Taiwan, he answered, “My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think.” Later he added, “Washington’s credibility as an ally to places like Japan and the Philippines is at stake if the island were to fall to Beijing.”

Even more perilous, Aquilino testified that a “Chinese military presence on Taiwan would give Beijing sway over two-thirds of global trade, which passes through the sea lanes near the island.”

How would a confrontation with China impact U.S. spending? For comparison, let’s look at the debt increases FDR incurred after the start of World War II. At that time, 1939, the U.S. national debt was $40 billion, rising to $72 billion in 1942. In 1943, at the heart of the war, debt was $137 billion. Then those debt records were set in 1945 with $259 billion and $269 billion in 1946.

If China seizes Taiwan, expect the following three questions to loom large.

First, how can the U.S. afford a war over Taiwan? At current Debt Clock projections, by 2025, our national debt will be $50 trillion with GDP at $26 trillion — a debt-to-GDP ratio of 192%. The extent to which added military spending would heighten that imbalance is mind-boggling to fathom.

Second, for the reasons stated by Adm. Aquilino, can the U.S. afford not to defend Taiwan?

Third, do the American people have the stomach for such a war? As we wind down two decades fighting in Afghanistan, you can practically hear the question on Main Street and in Washington: “Is this another quagmire halfway around the world?”

There are no good solutions. The U.S. is a racially, politically polarized nation drowning in debt, and some say that our best days are in the rear-view mirror. Meanwhile, China — now with the world’s largest navy — is itching to test Biden. If you want a reality check, read this threat assessment document from the director of national intelligence.

Then consider this: If China attacks Taiwan and the U.S. does not defend our ally, China may be emboldened and, like Hitler, continue conquering until stopped.

While emulating the New Deal FDR, Biden could also become the wartime FDR … with real fireside chats after our critical communications infrastructure is hacked.  


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – April 22, 2021

The “invisible” 2024 primary to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination is in high gear with a mini-bus full of wannabees not named Donald Trump. They are raising money, appearing on Fox News, speaking at GOP events — all the usual rituals expected from potential candidates in the permanent campaign more than three years from Election Day.

However, there are uniquely historic circumstances surrounding this election cycle due to a question with multi-dimensional answers that every player is forced to contemplate: If the former president runs again, should I drop out or challenge him in a primary fight that could jeopardize my political career?

One high-profile contender was quick to answer. On April 12, Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina governor, announced, “I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it.” Does “it” mean Haley would interview to be his running mate? Probably yes, since Trump would strategically benefit from having a distinguished woman of color on his ticket. 

For now, the rest of the field ignores “the question,” turning the early horse race into an unprecedented, bizarre waiting game. Yet, the 2024 field is forced to acquiesce while a defeated, elderly, twice-impeached former president who presided over the GOP losing control of the White House and Capitol Hill decides whether to run again. (Sounds more like the lead character from a political comedy series imagined by a scriptwriting team at the cannabis café.) 

Meanwhile, Trump’s “unscripted reality show” aired on Fox News this week. The former president, continuing to play his 2024 teasing game, told Sean Hannity’s viewers, “So I say this, I am looking at it very seriously, beyond seriously.” But beyond the audience and aimed at the ears of presidential hopefuls, Trump is really saying, “I’m in total control of this race.” And he will be as long as GOP leaders continue to kneel at his throne.

If Trump decides to run, he is likely to officially announce after the 2022 midterm elections (especially if the GOP wins back control of the House and or Senate) while claiming as much credit as politically feasible.

Conversely, as a master spinner, Trump could even leverage a losing midterm outcome to bolster his campaign message, saying, “The GOP failed to win back Congress because I am not in the White House!”

The GOP’s quandary is if Trump runs, will Republican leadership decide to surrender and “coronate” him? Well before Trump announces, the party must discuss that complex problem knowing full well his decision could hinge on their answer.

We can practically hear some party leaders and other presidential hopefuls on cable news shows saying, “Republicans don’t coronate. Trump must earn the nomination as he did in 2016. His strength with the base must be tested in primaries.”

Undoubtedly, after Trump has been the leader of the free world, it is hard to imagine him trudging through Iowa debating Ted Cruz at the Des Moines Rotary Club. More awkward is Trump slogging through New Hampshire snow to speak at town hall candidate events next to his former VP Mike Pence and former Sec. of State Mike Pompeo.  

Hence why many political prognosticators believe that Trump is only flirting with a 2024 run to stay relevant in order to maintain his power position as king of the Republican Party.

Alternatively, other party leaders might argue, “Trump won a record 74 million voters in 2020. Let’s build on that base, continue to raise millions, and not waste time and resources with presidential primaries. Trump rallies will be the new primaries, so forget about debates and small ball retail politics.”

Conceivably, any remaining candidates who were bold enough to challenge Trump are strongly encouraged to drop out, and Trump is de facto coronated one rally at a time. Then, when not at rallies, he campaigns on Fox News and other Trump-friendly media platforms that gladly welcome his ratings boost.

But that rosy scenario is way too easy.

There exists the strong possibility that a Trump run fails to meet expectations. What if polls show that the GOP base yearns for a new, younger face with Trump-like fighting qualities? Is there someone who embraces “Trumpism” without all the baggage?

That sentiment appears to be on display at PredictIt — the political prediction “stock market” where shares are bought and sold based on the outcome of political events.

At this writing, the prediction market for the GOP 2024 presidential nominee shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leading trading at 23 cents, with Trump at 22 cents. (A 23 percent probability that DeSantis comes out on top.) Far behind is Nikki Haley, trading at 10 cents, while Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Pompeo and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) trade even lower. (And now former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is rumored to be considering a run with or without Trump, so watch his trading value.)  

You might ask, “How did PredictIt predict the 2020 presidential election?” On Nov. 2Joe Biden’s shares traded at 64 cents, with Trump at 42 cents.

PredictIt is an excellent indicator for gauging candidate strength, and Trump nearly tied with DeSantis signals that Trump is not a shoo-in. Ultimately, perhaps Trump will offer a grand excuse not to run or bow out if the going gets tough to save face and not show weakness, which he is known to loathe.

No modern former president has ever positioned himself into the upcoming elections as much as Trump is doing now and will over the next two to four years. But if Trump is forced into the 2024 background, we can bet that his behavior will launch another fascinating reality show and new problems for the GOP. Until then, coronate or primary is the question.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor. She served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – April 8, 2021

BY MYRA ADAMS, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

Never before has the Republican Party’s present and future been so dominated by leaders from one state. Currently, four Florida politicians are in line to influence the results of the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential contest, making Florida, not Capitol Hill, the GOP’s real national headquarters.

Furthermore, due to population growth, the Sunshine State is likely to add two congressional seats to its delegation in 2022, increasing its Electoral College votes from 29 to 31. That means, even more, that Florida is the red state presidential prize, upping the stakes for the four men intertwined in a web of power and ambition.

At the web’s hub is the entangler-in-chief ensnaring the other three.

Former President Donald J. Trump

Exiled to Mar-a-Lago, ruling over “The Office of Donald J. Trump,” the 45th president is occupied with four missions. The first is to act powerful and stay relevant in the midterm election cycle. Then, take full credit if the GOP regains control of Congress. Second, seek revenge against officeholders who voted to impeach him and voted on Jan. 6, 2021 to certify Joe Biden the 46th president. Third, continue molding the GOP into the MAGA Party in his image. Fourth, work towards coronating himself as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee without a primary. (“Think of all the money and time we save!”)

The success of these four missions hinges on four factors, and the first is Trump’s ability to continue raising barrels of cash. Second, ensure that MAGA candidates continue visiting Mar-a-Lago to “kiss his ring” — seeking an endorsement or contribution. Factors three and four are linked: Trump maintains his power through fear while using fear to freeze the field of 2024 presidential wannabees – three of whom are Florida officeholders. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis

DeSantis won his title in 2018 thanks to President Trump. Then DeSantis emerged as the runaway 2024 frontrunner – Trump’s “heir apparent” – a dangerous title after dominating the CPAC poll without Trump in the race. (CPAC moved to Florida, of course.)

Republicans already perceived DeSantis as the new Trump, “fighting” against the liberal establishment. However, this week he enhanced his reputation by engaging in a high-profile media brawl with CBS over his controversial “60 Minutes” interview. DeSantis is now the new hero, earning accolades from the conservative media. That makes him a national target and his 2022 reelection more challenging. A poll in March against the leading Florida Democrat showed him virtually tied, but after “60 Minutes,” everything changed.

DeSantis’s reelection mission is to win big and emerge as the uncontested 2024 frontrunner not named Trump. Then, once reelected, DeSantis dreams of Trump kissing his Harvard Law School ring, while the former president anoints him the GOP’s “MAGA approved” 2024 candidate.

Conversely, an inevitable Trump vs. DeSantis showdown could turn into a “who blinks first” drama. The young governor, born in 1978, has White House time on his side. But in politics, timing is everything.

Ultimately, Trump and DeSantis are politically joined at the hip, and Trump will either be a blessing or a curse for DeSantis’s reelection and his presumed 2024 presidential bid.

Another Florida officeholder closely aligned with DeSantis has recently become a curse. His name is Matt Gaetz. How closely aligned? After DeSantis was elected in 2018, FloridaPolitics wrote, “Gaetz is one of four co-chairs of DeSantis’ transition team. He was also one of the earliest and most outspoken backers of DeSantis’ underdog bid for Florida Governor.”

No doubt that Trump and Gaetz’s longstanding alliances with DeSantis will provide ammunition for Democrats who desperately want to defeat the Florida governor before he gets near the White House.

Two more Florida men’s national political fates are also tied to Trump and DeSantis.

Sen. Marco Rubio

When Rubio ran for president in 2016, he “crashed and burned.” Then he quickly backtracked, filing for Senate reelection just days before the June deadline. (Coincidentally, DeSantis was running for Rubio’s open seat. Rubio’s change of heart caused DeSantis to drop out and run for reelection to Congress.)

Fast forward to a January 2021 radio show, when Rubio said, “When you’re running for reelection in the Senate, you’re signing a six-year contract.” Still, he dreams of being the first Hispanic/Cuban president.

Rubio has yet to declare his reelection intentions, but laughingly, Matt Gaetz decided against a primary challenge, as did Ivanka Trump. In January, The Hill listed Rubio on “Seven Senate Races to watch in 2022,” citing his closeness to the party’s “Trump wing” as problematic. Then in March, CNN ranked Rubio among “10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022.”

What role will Trump play in helping or hurting Rubio’s reelection? Will DeSantis have coattails? For the GOP, retaining Rubio’s seat is a foregone conclusion while trying to win back control of the Senate — the job of another Floridian.

Sen. Rick Scott

The former Florida governor-turned-senator in 2018 is not up for reelection until 2024. Then, it is widely presumed he will run for president while appearing at the top of every 2024 “Most Vulnerable Senators” list. Now for the 2022 midterm cycle, Scott relishes his role as chairman of the NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee). The organization is responsible for recapturing the Senate while providing Scott with an opportunity to raise his national profile and earn IOU’s for 2024.

The tangled web of Scott vs. DeSantis vs. Trump (with Rubio dreaming) makes Florida the 2024 GOP presidential epicenter and the state to watch in 2022, while Florida basks in its golden age of Republican dominance. 

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and writes a Sunday Bible study on Townhall. She served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.

TAGS DONALD J TRUMPRON DESANTISRICK SCOTTMATT GAETZMARCO RUBIODONALD TRUMPIVANKA TRUMPJOE BIDENFLORIDA REPUBLICANSREPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA2022 ELECTION2024 CAMPAIGN


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – April 1, 2021

By Myra Adams – RCP Contributor

As a political observer and loyal Republican for nearly a half-century, I know well the GOP’s dependence on senior voters heading toward the 2022 midterm elections. But is it an over-dependence?

Over the last four presidential elections, the Republican candidate won 65-plus voters by an average marginal difference of eight percentage points – consistently the highest among the four standard voter age groups. Yet the 2020 election yielded the GOP’s smallest senior margin of victory when Donald Trump won only 52% compared to 47% for Joe Biden.

Even more concerning, those five percentage points were Trump’s largest victory margin among any age group. In second place were 45-to-64-year-old voters, whom he won by one percentage point, 50%-49%. Far behind were voters ages 30 to 44, whom Biden won by six percentage points, and he won 18-to-29-year-olds by a whopping 24 percentage points.  

Nonetheless, my analysis last month for RealClearPolitics included some good news for seniors and the GOP: “In 2020, 65-plus were 22% of voters, while only 17% of the U.S. population, meaning seniors are ‘fighting above their weight’ by five percentage points.”

That fact prompted an email from Saul Anuzis, the president of “60 Plus” — an organization positioned as the conservative policy alternative to AARP, the political behemoth that tilts Democratic.

Anuzis, a former Michigan Republican Party chairman, activist, and strategist, wrote, “Older voters are key for Republicans not just in the presidential, but in taking back the Senate and the House in 2022.”

Do the facts support that assumption? Let’s examine data from the last midterm election and recent RealClear Opinion Research polling to glean insight into seniors’ voting behavior.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2018 midterm election saw record turnout with 53.4% of the voting-age population casting ballots compared to 41.9% in 2014. The general consensus was anti-Trump sentiment drove the 11.5-percentage-point increase that dramatically flipped the House of Representatives to the Democrats (while Republicans maintained control of the Senate). 

It is too early to predict if the 2022 midterms will generate a similar voter surge, but Republican leaders counting on seniors to help win back Congress should pay close attention to 2018 exit polls. Data shows 65-plus voters accounted for 26% of the electorate even though they were only 16.1% of the population. But (and this is a big “but”) only 50% of seniors voted Republican compared to 48% who supported Democrats. That two-percentage-point difference indicates that higher senior turnout alone does not proportionally equate to more Republican votes. Moreover, data showing seniors’ voting by race and party reveals a familiar GOP problem:

  • Whites 65-plus voted 56% for Republicans, 43% for Democrats, and were 22% of voters.
  • Blacks 65-plus voted 88% for Democrats, 11% Republican, and were 2% of voters. 
  • Hispanics 65-plus voted 71% Democrat, 25% Republican, and were 2% of voters.

Hence, if a record number of seniors turn out in the 2022 midterms, expect the impact of white GOP senior voters to be diminished due to increased numbers of white and non-white Democratic-voting seniors.

Republican leaders dream of a more “normal” 2014 midterm election with its low 41.9% turnout. Voters 65-plus were 22% of the electorate that year; 57% voted for Republicans and 41% for Democrats. The 2014 election cycle saw much backlash against President Obama, resulting in the GOP retaining the House and winning control of the Senate. Ah, the good old days.

Anuzis’ optimism about 2022 stems from an elemental tendency: “Seniors are the most loyal voting demographic in America, and they tend to vote conservative.” All true, and the 65-plus voter group is also growing by 0.4% annually — from 17% of the population in 2020 to a projected 21% by 2030.

Anuzis will try to leverage these demographics. “Many underestimate the power of the senior vote,” he says, “while others assume they are predominately liberal and only interested in government handouts. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Anuzis also cites a difference between the 2018 and 2022 midterms: “In 2018, the GOP had the political power, now the Democrats do and will have to own all of the disastrous policies leading up to the election.”

Whether seniors consider Biden’s policies “disastrous” remains to be seen, but surely they will turn out to vote in numbers greater than their percentage of the population. The new survey by RealClear Opinion Research  found that 77% of 65-plus voters said they “definitely will be voting” in 2022, with 11% saying they “probably will be voting.” If these extraordinarily high turnout numbers hold, seniors will either be a blessing or a curse for Republicans eager to take back Congress.

Even though President Biden will not be on the ballot in the midterms, his popularity will significantly impact the outcome. At the early stages of the new administration, the RealClear survey found that 49% of 65-plus voters view Biden favorably and 50% unfavorably. But his job approval rating with seniors was slightly lower, with a net 47% saying “good” and net 52% “not so good.”

Seniors are apparently tougher on Biden than all voters because the RCP poll average has him with a 53.5% approval vs. 42.5% disapproval. By comparison, at this time in Donald Trump’s presidency, his RCP average poll rating was 41.1% approving with 52.6% disapproving. 

Anuzis calls Trump “the wild card” in the 2022 election, but other, unforeseen ones are likely to emerge. For example, RCP’s Susan Crabtree last week wrote, “As of February, some 43 state legislatures had proposed more than 250 bills aimed at overhauling election laws” to counter Democrats’ efforts to expand mail-in voting. It would be ironic if new voting laws wind up subverting GOP midterm turnout among seniors, many of whom relish the convenience of absentee voting.

Ultimately, the Republican Party is waging a battle against Father Time by depending on predominantly white 65-plus voters to tilt elections in their favor. Those days are going, going, almost gone, since the 2018 midterms saw 18-to-29-year-olds vote Democratic by a 35-percentage-point difference and 30-to-44-year-olds by a 19-point difference.

Republicans were “saved” in 2018 after narrowly winning the more mature 45-to-64-year-olds by one percentage point. These middle-agers were the largest demographic group, 39% of the electorate — one point more than in the 2020 election that saw the same single-point GOP margin of victory.  

Unless current voting trends change and a large chunk of 45-to-64-year-olds have a Republican conversion, the GOP may be relegated to minority status in Washington for the foreseeable future.

Related Topics: Senior CitizensJoe BidenRealClear Opinion ResearchPoliticsElection 2022Republican PartyOlder Voters


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – March 19, 2021

In 2020 the Republican Party broke its own record by losing the presidential popular vote for the fourth consecutive election. The previous GOP record was three elections beginning in 1992 when Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush and ending in 2004 when President George W. Bush won reelection.

Yes, “Dubya” in 2000 and Donald J. Trump in 2016 were elected because an Electoral College win overrides the popular vote total. Nonetheless, a president or candidate popular enough to win both the people’s vote and the Electoral College symbolizes and idealizes how Americans think the system should work without the “quirk” in the Constitution.

The fact is that after landslide Republican victories in 1980, 1984, and a sizable win in 1988, five GOP presidential nominees and two incumbents lost the popular vote in seven of the next eight quadrennial elections.

Why that happened involves a complicated set of variables including rapid social, cultural, religious, educational, demographic, and political change occurring on a grand national scale since 1992.  

How that happened can be seen in voter data over the last four presidential elections from four age groups: 18 to 29, 30 to 44, 45 to 64, and 65 plus. All the data shown for the years 2008-2016 is from the Roper Center’s “How Groups Voted” compilation. For 2020 I used CNN and NBC exit polls with matching age group voting data. (Roper not available.)

Examining the data will help determine if the GOP is on track to lose the popular vote for the fifth consecutive time in 2024. But before we explore these revealing percentages, here is a quick decades-old conversation summarizing a Republican mindset that has permeated GOP policy and philosophy.

After Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection, a veteran GOP strategist told me that unless the party can attract the youth vote, winning the White House again would be problematic. The strategist was alarmed that 18-to-29-year-old voters accounted for 17% of those casting ballots, and Bill Clinton won them by 20 percentage points. Then the strategist shared his hope for future GOP wins: “When the kids grow up and start paying lots of taxes, they will vote Republican.”  

Did that happen? The answer is a mixed bag, with increased GOP margins for older voters, though not large enough margins to win the national popular vote. It takes time to undo youthful Democratic voting habits that turn into established middle-aged behavior.

What follows are 18-to-29-year-olds voting percentages over the last four presidential elections (when the GOP lost the popular vote). Their share of the voting electorate is shown in parentheses.

2020: Biden 60% – Trump 36% (17%)

2016: Clinton 55% – Trump 36% (19%)

2012: Obama 60% – Romney 37% (19%)

2008: Obama 66% – McCain 32% (18%)

With 18-to-29-year-olds, the average marginal difference favors Democrats by 25 percentage points over the last 16 years.

In 2020, Joe Biden walloping Trump with under-30 voters by 24 percentage points meant that Trump had to make up the difference with older voters. As shown below, the 30-to-44-year-old’s were acting somewhat according to the GOP’s plan of “growing up and voting Republican,” but Democrats still prevailed. Again, voter electorate totals are in parentheses.

2020: Biden 52% – Trump 46% (23%)

2016: Clinton 51% – Trump 41% (25%)

2012: Obama 52% – Romney 45% (27%)

2008: Obama 52% – McCain 46% (29%)

For 30-to-44-year-olds, the average marginal difference favoring Democrats falls to only 7.25 percentage points – a dramatic decrease from the Democrat’s 25-point average marginal difference garnered from the 18-to-29-year-olds.

The next, largest, and most hotly contested voter group are 45-to-64-year olds. Republicans gained ground, but not enough to win the overall popular vote.

2020: Biden 49% – Trump 50% (38%)

2016: Clinton 44% – Trump 52% (40%)

2012: Obama 47% – Romney 51% (38%)

2008: Obama 50% – McCain 49% (37%)

The average marginal difference favoring Republicans is three percentage points for this all-important group. This is a pitiful percentage in what should be the GOP’s most fertile age demographic during their peak earning and taxpaying years.

In 2020 this enormous group comprising 38% of voters decreased their support for Trump from 2016, contributing to Biden’s 51.4% to 46.9% national popular vote win over the incumbent president.

At last, and shown below, is some good news for Republicans. The 65-plus age group is increasing in number and will continue to grow when the youngest of the 1946-to-1964-born baby boom generation reaches age 65 in 2029. Seniors traditionally are the most loyal Republican voters. In 2020, 65-plus were 22% of voters while only 17% of the U.S. population, meaning seniors are “fighting above their weight” by five percentage points.

2020: Biden 47% – Trump 52% (22%)

2016: Clinton 45% – Trump 52% (16%)

2012: Obama 44% – Romney 56% (16%)

2008: Obama 45% – McCain 53% (16%)

Republicans won seniors with an average marginal difference of eight percentage points in the last 16 years. Again, not good enough for the GOP to win the popular vote. Trump won 65-plus voters but did not increase his winning percentage from 2016. Meanwhile, Biden increased the losing margin by two percentage points over Hillary Clinton in 2016, giving him an edge to win in states such as Arizona and the Rust Belt with their large concentration of older white voters. 

Unfortunately for the GOP, it appears that the four age groups have well-established voting behaviors. Therefore, it would take an unforeseen set of factors for voters to suddenly favor the Republican nominee in numbers large enough to win the popular vote in 2024.

Not that winning the popular vote couldn’t happen, since, in politics, anything can and does occur. However, suppose in 2024 that the party loses the popular vote for the fifth consecutive election. Then Republicans will need lightning to strike a third time, delivering an Electoral College win. Statistically improbable, but nothing is impossible.