DiscoverVox's The WeedsGeorgia (and Obamacare repeal) on our minds

Georgia (and Obamacare repeal) on our minds

Update: 2017-06-21


Sarah, Ezra, and Matt talk about Tuesday's special elections and the soon-to-be-released Senate health care bill.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

sponsored by texture but it actually comes less weeds for fourteen day free trial and by the great courses plus the great courses plus dot com slash weeds for one month of free streaming video lectures and I mean he's good to me and ease that comes less weeds for twenty percent off your first order this is okay the media network the device he is here with us there and find that the continuing saga of the secret health care legislation to talk about the search continues was that hot white paper with with what I regard as a kind of a surprise twist ending but last night we had at was a very special special election the most expensive on a very special edition of the Democrats losing the most expensive House race in history in the Georgia Sex it was the highest turnout that we have ever seen for how special election even exceeded the turnout for the last midterm that that they hell they're really sort of extraordinary level of mobilization and engagement and it turned into a huge disappointment for Democrats the objectively terrible result but after all the hype and my knee and the enthusiasm that both sides poured in SF did exactly the same until it gets worse say what is slightly worse this I think is what actually makes it a quite difficult race to interpret I mean putting putting first it is not a good result for Democrats they actually need to win race this was an important part of winning Congress back but if you're asking this sort of more subtle question of just what kind of trends we see in the electorate the reason I think it's very hard to interpret this district is it is unusual district that had a tremendous difference between the presidential and congressional results in two thousand and sixteen sixteen this district which was a reliably Republican district is represented by Tom Price now the HHS secretary and he would win by twenty twenty five twenty seven points Hillary Clinton lost it only by one point five points and saw the one hand Price won by the huge margin on the other hand Donald Trump one by this extremely slim margin one of the question now is the right way to understand what is happening in politics the swing from Tom Price and incumbent winning twenty seven percent or whatever it was down to Karen Handel to squeaking out a victory or is it Democrats not improving on Hillary Clinton's numbers in two thousand and sixteen I find that divide is surprising is you to elect him it actually kind of makes sense that Tom Price is this guy they've known for for years there use to electing him he is someone because he's been on the Hello So Long who was the chairing a committee he was like I opened the ranks of Republicans whereas you also have the the known of a President Trump been like that kind of suburban district that I guess I am less surprised the end it seemed like at the outset of this like a last get the ball from the Democrats' perspective we are one thing I was obviously interested to watch is how health care factor in this race in a weird way it didn't as much of the candidates didn't really seem to frame it around that it did not seem like voters are out to the rebuke the health care efforts that are obvious like swirling around the selection aiding Democrats are looking at the xrays hoping they can point to it and say like we can ride is the end of it and this is literally that the moment when it is happening you like the narrative about secret to Beatty of the CEOs of the house tell it is the moments to have an election where you can criticize Republicans on health care in a way that next November will likely not be as much of that moment and it didn't really seem to to turn things very much I think if you look at this race in particular it says a lot of bad things about the sort of Democratic Party leadership and their thinking and their targeting of resources and their over extrapolate sian of certain kinds of trends but if you look at all the special elections we've had in aggregate it can say quite bleak portrait for Republicans to run through those requests yes we've had five special elections Donald Trump tweeted this morning that Republicans and five and now in um that's a a mis count one of them was at a special election to replace Javier Serra in that southern California in a safe Democratic seat in the special election to replace him Democrats outperformed by twenty points but he done before it didn't matter at all but to show that Republicans in Southern California are like their life I mean they're still out there but like they were not bothering to vote like minded candidates California Senate race between two Democrats in the electoral college there are limits to how much Democrats can weep for the games there but in the house to solat a House Republican The Californian they have like a problem in the hands of specialists in Kansas where the governor of Kansas is a Republican has become extraordinarily unpopular in his state legislature that enough Republicans to vote for a tax increase to override his veto and to their special election incredibly red stayed around which I think was watched at any rate there was a known ton of money in their side the Republican really badly underperformed I think did like fourteen points worse than my comp A O had so one is a very safe Republican seat I then went to Montana where Hillary did terribly we Democrats have the governor have a senator so that the state party has been okay the Democratic nominee IA was not closely tied to that successful state party at din really have recruiting success Bernie Sanders got excited about Rob Quest but he had a lot of tax problems in his background didn't do great but he over performed he did sort of between where the successful Democratic governor had done and where the bad failure of Hillary's campaign did and then last night we had our soph who matched Hillary's performance in a district that would be clear about this district there are a number of districts that have highly educated white populations that are represented by Republican House members that Hillary Clinton actually won the district justice was not like that hell we did a lot better than Barak Obama had done but she still lost so I want to like put it put him in that fact I would use own from the south was that he could not generate further improvements over Hillary's improvement but Indiana South Carolina you had a more seasoned have been similar to Georgia's six in his congressional performance but was demographic Lee different both more African Americans but also more working class white population and nobody put any resources into that both sides are kind of bring it off as a safe Republican when they come out to be about as close as the Georgia race so I'm looking at this in the aggregate giving a positive spin for Democrats here's what I'm seeing in places where Trump was less popular than the House candidate who Republicans had like gorgeous ex Republicans are now down to that Trump seal right it's true that awesome to not make additional gains for Hillary over eighty games there other places like Montana and South Carolina where Hillary did worse than Democrats have traditionally done we're seeing some snap back toward the Democrats fight the Democrats have recovered some of Hillary's losses but they don't appear to have lost any of Hillary's Gagne and that adds up to a bad situation for Republicans at the same time he was acquired Democrats to actually run like that right to not just like double down on the Clinton campaign had this theory right after the campaign while I post mortem some like how did she lose all these white working class voters but a week before the election campaign knew she was going to lose all these white working class voters but they thought she was going again not like some upscale whites but at time of the skylights and it turned out she gained some but not a time and then the whole OS of theory was OK we're going to go from some to a time and they didn't have a way to do that but all these other candidates in the family you can pocket the sun and go get back some of the working class voters who show us which is a totally viable way to win it's how you would think you would win a campaign like after you lose you try to just like too broadly better with all kinds of voters by having people who are not under FBI investigation now having your pony B and C I guess I mean it's like it's good but some of the intra party fights and dynamics have like a lead everyone to to pound the table and slightly like extreme demographic theories of the electorate that don't make sense to me one thing that I find difficult in just in turning special elections in general is that their special rights that is why we call them that and it one thing is worth noting special actions do not tend to be predictive of general or midterm election performance so when you look at how parties do in special elections a good look at our problems in the two thousand and nine special elections they did not do that well then you look in twenty ten And they have an overwhelming performance but my point is not to say that you should take him seriously but that they do have one incredibly different characteristic which is that they don't have the time is running in them and come is in American politics for tipping congressional elections have very very big advantage is a fund raising advantages they name recognition advantages in elections at a pretty low information they often have deep ties to the communities they represent something one reason I find it difficult to interpret the should we think of John asked if as like the Hillary Clinton election or like the Tom Price election is that in this because the points are made Tom Price was running I mean is also run against Tom Price and some kind of weird special election my assumption is he Tom Price destroyed him now maybe it would be twenty seven Maywood for Keene which would have represented a swing towards the Democrats but nevertheless one of things is hard when you're building this kind of extrapolate forward is that presumably unless there's a massive wave of retirements we're seeing some retirement not that many yet unless there's a massive wave twenty retirements are not going to be special election season may be Democrats running against incumbent Republicans that has different dynamics it just tend to be a little bit more favorable to the incumbent and a little bit less purely depending on the broader political environment I think how much more favorable it is depends in part on what they do I mean you made about don't Trump right is that having not been in office he was hard to hang him with specific things whites alike you can say that like Karen Handel voted to let cable monopoly just sell all of your web browsing data because she didn't do that but all the incumbent House members did I I think is interesting to think right if the United States was like England right where you don't have the option to like dissolve the House of Representatives have all his incumbents run for re election five weeks from now so he could obtain a starring popular mandate and like fire Bob Muller and move forward with his agenda the way he wants to would Republicans do that and I think they would not I mean I think that they are correct to be like feeling good about this Georgia when it was like a big one for one things where like for no particularly good reason everybody started pouring more and more resources into this one spot in the trenches it became a big deal the sunk costs became so big and now Democrats having spent all this money are bummed out but that like fundamentally they're in a pretty weak position and it seems to me that they are not re capturing that rumpled white working class magic and they are also not bringing the voters that from Lost back over to their side even though can handle whatever you may say about her age she's not like on tape about how she likes to break people he's not mocking the ears not doing all the horrible Trump stuff like push traditional Republican voters out of their column but they didn't come back and vote for the way they had been voting for Tom Price I was just a temp rises from the election when sixteen is in part driven by the fact that Democrats nominated what appears to be a fake person who did not run it oh I knew this was an issue I think it's fair to say that companies would be canned but the real candidates by big numbers and yes as usual there were a number we are cases like this so I think Pete sessions is district in Texas is the most glaring one where it's in the suburbs of Dallas Hillary carried it narrowly and the Democrats didn't run anyone so he mostly got reelected come is actually speaks like an important structural issue which is like the strength of the Democratic bench like when things you mention about Montana's they have a strong party they so end up running this guy wasn't super involved with things and eating this well you know with the special election you can find like one or two dudes to ever play women as well to run for the spots that even toss out this is something that he kept getting pushed back on that the you know he's like not really part of their zone of your neighbors is something handle like to talk about when he literally didn't live to say that a fair likelihood this is an honest critique of this present as a candidate n to think about that this is just like for a special election this is like when you could really get like the D Triple C like focus on a player cannot find a good guy likely focus on one the new expanded out to the whole map for twenty eighteen and think Where do you find the people who are going to present candidates are not going to like the invisible challenger Pete sessions I know there is like an influx of people interest in running but I think this is we talked about this on the show before the structural challenge for Democrats a lot of times the places you look are like state legislatures and state government and those have been very much control do you much more controlled by Republicans over the past decade or so than Democrats that they've really invested in state legislatures in part because it lets them kind of pass laws an issue they're interested and are regulated at the state level like abortion but also gives them a very strong bench of candidates to run and in a Wally was something like that Georgia's sixty of an advantage because you can just focus on one race human like find one guy run in that one race then you look at those larger map and where do you find those people were going to like Challenge Kit sessions or whoever dare I say for example in twenty eighteen I think about this in terms of two thousand and ten and two dozen sex so the narrative that came out of the two thousand and six Democratic wave was it the D Triple C run by Rahm Emanuel that point had done this amazing job recruiting and found all these excellent candidates in two thousand and ten the Tea Party was taking over the Republican Party and Republicans were losing all his primaries to people they consider to be Yahoo's and then just they also won the elections usually very interesting question is how much these races nationalize versus how much they don't nationalize as you say George appeared to have due to the messaging a part of both candidates extremely local character so awesome was running this campaign has handled it was about her role where she tried to get Susan G Komen Foundation to stop funding Planned Parenthood right which is a very specific Karen Handel problem she was running as awesome as somebody who didn't live in the district was like some thirty year old former congressional staffer you didn't know this guy and neither of them a handle is not running on a campaign of Donald Trump is excellent and we need to send somebody to Washington who will support him but also with the Asa wasn't running a campaign of Dalton is terrible and you need to send somebody to Washington who will oppose any use trying to sort of allowed Democratic anger at Trump organically to push Democrats out but keep hen bland and inoffensive enough that he didn't activate a Republican the hard part is like running a district that trout one right here like cognizant of not making those critiques in a place where people voted for this person way I just finished my point that I Yeah Trump won the District four months ago um Thai seven ago and the big event but I think this is where you get into pretty interesting argument from like the Bernie Sanders portion of the left and others because if you look at a district hyper high information hyper polarized presidential election what do they split the vote in Clinton and Trump that I don't know the exact phrase but my forty nine Something you're looking at a district with a salsa Siegel fifty one forty nine partisan breakdown and if you're going to change that you either need to excite more people or persuade some new people of something and it now I sort of went down a rabbit hole would have to tune of watching Joss the fats as it it it was really like they were parodies of like an ad in which the person was trying to say nothing right is just as about to go to waste like over and over and over and over again he was running a campaign based on being an offensive based on some it is like not for Trump but also not a scary liberal Democrats I think you've really revealed some problems in here so Nancy Pelosi was a figure in this campaign and some people in as Kristen Graham pointed out on Twitter she's actually less popular nationally than Donald Trump is a more unpopular figure the Donald Trump and when House Democrats run what they are saying even the loss of said technically like you wouldn't commit to voting for speaker but of course he was tough because the saying is if you give us a majority we will put this person you don't like in charge of the house which is not a super exciting campaign for people whether dislike of clothes his fair or not that's a different argument that but it does exist and I do think Democrats need to ask themselves this question If you're going to try to re Orient some the dynamics here which is it's why people I think thing Corbin outperformed although he still Austin in bran they do it seems to me need to give people something to vote for right because if you just let the basic partisan dynamics of the country take over particularly in the House or Democrats have a geographic disadvantage a Presidential e there's a theory that the demographics of the country favored Democrats and actually because the little bit true it just the Jr via that method that wasn't enough to win the election even they won the vote but in the house where district gerrymandering where are the ways Democrats live really geographically inefficient if you just a partisan dynamics takeover Democrats are going to lose to have to heavily outperform its already been going on which means I think the people not to like Trump the actions of people like them I think that like the people from the more centrist we have a party they need to like fill the bath tub with ice water and dunk their heads at and come up and like reboot a little bit like I wrote last night that should have tried to run and some more substantive issue is that is what I said I do not say he should run like nationalizing the coal mines or anything but like what you think I'm some issues and I was getting like all this like applause and had a boys from the red roses and Twitter have a Tarzan that I had people calling me a Bernie bro and like I swear I can remember like way back to like two thousand and thirteen when like Democrats of all stripes believe that they had ideas that they thought were good and that they wanted to talk about and then you had the Hillary Clinton campaign which had creative ideas but also had developed the notion that they shouldn't talk about those ideas and then it seems to have like curd older from there into the hood since you're not gonna talk about the ideas you may as well that have them at all the snow of having ideas has become like the socialist talking point and like they really need to like pull themselves out of that tail spin like it doesn't make sense right if you want to say ok Bernie Sanders is issue message is not going to carry the day in the suburbs north of Atlanta that's fine so then like ask yourself what issue message will carry the day in the suburbs north of Atlanta if the answer is like dun like actually tax cuts for the rich in this horrible health care bill are great what are you doing taxes for the rich and this harbor have to build able pull terribly people so terribly that it can possibly be popular even in the suburbs of Atlanta so talk about that instead these as we like it was as if he was running against Donald Trump great Clinton theory of trying to like downplay issues was that Trump was so terrible was such a maniac like people of all stripes might just go vote for Hillary Clinton as long as she didn't point out to them that is going to be unlike free abortions for every body can handle do not have those characteristics no it was true that you could have made the argument which also didn't make that we need someone who's going to go there and rain in doctrines corruption but even that is an issue like I'm going to go to Congress I'm going to insist on this and that animal human so whatever you can talk about health care you could talk about taxes but you just get this a national fund raising apparatus based on the idea of anti Trump energy but then just run a campaign that's like wow I'm here to create jobs in Alpharetta like that it's dumb it doesn't make sense it's so bad that there's actually a good Federalist article about this with this because papers know th from web so yeah and it all just him to to Wendy Davis twenty four team which I thought was actually kind of why I like when you see this BK team famous nationally for this like stirring defense of late term abortions which is good for her like there was a large national consider the people was like waiting for somebody to say that obviously a stirring defense of late term abortions is not a good issue profile for a statewide one in Texas like she wanted to run statewide in Texas and then she wanted to like be a celebrity nationally would raise money based on this but then to run in Texas as like this incredibly milk toasts interested in me any kind of sense it's like you have to commit to your philosophy and it was workable and what's not workable and if the problem in this Georgia district was that a backlash to Trump was going to drive traditional Republicans into our arms you would have had to like really drive that message like why should your discomfort with Donald Trump make you vote for John stuff and it was like nothing there they were hoping I guess that in the end Republicans wouldn't turn but that the really I love magazines I got my start working magazines my mother worked for most of her life in the magazine world I hate physical objects paper piles of unread or have read issues that stack up in and also what's great about sort of timeless journalism is you don't need to read it the day that comes out but it's hard to find anything in all back issues that makes the text wrap so amazing it's a bunch of the world's different leading magazine publishers have come together to it is one amazing app that you can use your phone or tablet I have had all the time and you can browse to basically every major magazine out there you can look back issues of special features that do so much great stuff at Fast Company Get Rolling Stone get Sports illustrated checking out if you're interested at all is reading it and journalism and quality like relaxing content experience they're so confident that you cannot love textured that they've got a special offer for its listeners detection dot com site needs a fourteen day free trial so yes I was one of this before for good health care I've a theory that I do not currently have hard evidence for but it connects some of the Hillary Clinton some the awesome stuff because the podcast for a lot to speculate wildly I'm going to speculate wildly something you hear from her alot from the Clinton campaign about their messaging right why they did a lot of Donald Trump is of unstable maniac not issue ads to be heard from the Office of Campaign to wait waited all this candle is a G Komen executive would fund Planned Parenthood and waste in government is that they say look we do the focus groups we have all this data and the Dow says this is the best way to persuade these voters I have a theory that one thing that we're starting to see is one part of an identity we know is strengthening its getting even harder to pull people over from the other side of whatever so that might be but also that Democrats are getting a little bit led astray by their own focus grouping that put nodding vigorously put in a room like respectable people ask if you know this sort of argument may change their minds like Yeah that that is a kind of are going to change the mind of someone like me and they're just not reliable maybe believe it's true but it isn't baby actually was never true but that sort of weak arguments that Paul someone a little bit it's like you're only a fifty eight percent Republicans alike this a plea over top fifty one percent Democrat that they're just not enough anymore and that something is happening in these discussions where you know the folks of all the doubt are looking without us telling them and saying OK go with this strategy that is meant to build the widest possible base by being pretty inoffensive but it's also pretty gentle form of persuasion rated say hey maybe that person isn't great there still are public again but maybe this one to vote for Democrat and that appears to not be something people are doing and that you actually need to like push people over a much larger hump or you need to excite more of your inside or something but I'm watching these campaigns are based on as I am certain I am certain these folks are listening to sort of Monday morning quarterbacking say fuck you like we did a million focus groups had a million poles you're just pulling stuff out there and that is true that is how all this works we're pulling things out of thin air but I've now heard enough of this thing about focus group as not working that I am starting to wonder if there is a actual shift in what that data is really telling you give and how difficult it is to dislodge peoples partisan identities now that strategies built and assaulting a partisan identity just this one time based on a non ideological message they might work in a room where people are sort of trying to act like a normal human beings not just of like a rabid partisan all the time but they don't work in the privacy of the voting booth one thing about focus groups in particular is a research method is that you're necessarily doing them to grope group of people and obviously more efficient if you're like a researcher you want to like put a bunch of people in the room and like you nice in this I've conducted focus groups on Obamacare and you kind of like often see this ripple effect through the rumor one person says like I agree with that another book I agree with that and link it feels than a few people email me to study research methods who have argued like we should be using focus groups that box that like there are some flaws with the way that those work and do not know enough about this to like make a judgment either way but I think it is something interesting to keep in mind about the particular research method that is often used and the fact that you're saying it's nine in pie that is necessarily with the researcher and as with these other people and you can certainly see these ideas can ripple through this group of eight people who kind of want to fit in like and what is a rang like it's more comfortable like fit in with this group of people go home and be like the garbage and is going to do whatever I want then like that one guy in a focus group was going to like say like no actually I don't care about this message that all totally know it keeps group dynamics from taking over secrecy doing everything secret I see her focus groups now the focus groups yes today Wednesday tomorrow is Thursday when the Republicans well supposedly
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Georgia (and Obamacare repeal) on our minds