NDN Blog

Key Takeaways from the European Election

In a weekend Twitter thread I did a deep dive on the results from the European elections: big turnout, gains for the Liberals and Greens, losses for the establishment left and right, and less power for European parties on the right. Support for the European project held, but the governing coalition will now be broader and more complicated, with the Liberals and Greens having much more influence than before.  ew voices and new politics will emerge now in Europe. 

One group who will not have more influence is the European far right.  Overall the center-right/far right parties saw their representation in the European Parliament drop from 49.5% to 46.7%. The three far right parties went from 21% to 23%, gains that were less than anticipated, and became only a bit more of a smaller and less powerful right-of-center pie.  Even in the UK it appears those voting for Remain outpolled those voting for Brexit, though things remain closely divided there. 

Loss of ground for the center-right/rfar right, and gains for Liberals and Greens, feels similar to what we are seeing here in the US. The GOP got beaten badly here in 2018, and Donald Trump is the weakest incumbent at this point in his Presidency in the history of polling - with no near peer.  President Trump would lose to Joe Biden by a large margin if the election were held today.  In the Democratic Party, we are seeing a huge rise in the import of countering climate change, and Dem voters hold very “liberal” views on immigration and trade, supporting free trade and opposing the President’s tariffs by wide margins.  Importantly, in Europe you did not see the rise of a far left to counter the rise of the far right – the party which gained the most ground was the Liberals, a centrist pro-EU alliance.  The far-left alliance actually lost ground in Europe, perhaps tracking the decline of the Labour Party in the UK and Bernie Sanders here in the US. 

As NDN has been arguing for months, the response of the center-left to the rise of a radical and dangerous far right politics here in the US has been something that feels far more like pragmatism than anything else. It's how we won the House back in 2018, how Pelosi is leading today, and in our own 2020 field, the politician most associated with that politics holds a commanding lead.  It isn't that the rise of AOC and are allies isn't important - it is.  But is our take that their influence and the Democratic Party's leftward drift has been exaggerated.  Consider that the Justice Democrats, her group, won only 7 of its 67 races in 2018; and that 40 of the 59 new House Democrats have joined the New Democrat Coalition, a group long associated with pro-market, pro-trade "liberal" politics. 

If your basic analysis is the radicalization of the other party has become dangerous, it would stand to reason you would be wary of embracing extremism in your own party. 

I would also posit the rise of the “Greens” here and in Europe is a pragmatic response, long overdue perhaps, to a serious global challenge and threat.  Fascinating to see the response to the perceived threat of Trumpism/Orbanism/Putinism to be a pro-globalist pragmatism and one working to hasten the arrival of a post-carbon world – both of these impulses seem very much in line with what is needed now, and ones that should worry the GOP about next year. 

Invite: Thur, July 18th - "Patriotism, Optimism"

Over the past year or so Simon has been making a big argument about the past and future of the center-left in America.  Called "Patriotism and Optimism," it makes the case that America is not in decline and is in fact doing as well as it has in any point in its history. It is meant to be an explicit rebuttal to the core argument Trump is making about America and its decline, an argument which is malevolently selling America and its people short every day. 

This primary way this argument has made itself into the world is through a 45 minute long Powerpoint deck, which has been seen in dozens of showings over the web and live in person to policy makers here in Washington and around the country. Our next showing of the deck will be Thursday, July 18th from 12:00pm to 1:15pm at our new offices at 800 Maine Avenue SW, Washington, DC. Lunch will be served. You can RSVP for the event and learn more here. For background before the showing, feel free to check out some related readings below.

Key Background Readings On "Patriotism and Optimism"

The Case for Optimism: Rejecting Trump's Poisonous Pessimism, Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 6/2/17. In an essay that originally was published on Medium, Simon argues that the great rationale of Trump's Presidency  –  that America is in decline – simply isn't true, and must be challenged more forcefully.  This is the piece that spurred the creation of the presentation. 

Chin Up, Democrats, Simon Rosenberg, US News and World Report, 1/20/17. In his column Simon argues that Democrats should have pride in their historic accomplishments and optimism about the future of their politics. This one is very relevant to the presentation itself. 

A Center-Left Agenda for the Trump Era - Simon Rosenberg, US News and World Report, 12/9/16.  In the early days after Trump's election Simon layed out a possible agenda for the Democrats centering on prosperity, security, shoring up the American led liberal order and ambitiious efforts to reform our political system. 

Additional Readings

Some Thoughts On the Caravan - By Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 10/24/18.  The Caravan, composed of 7,000 poor, unarmed, mostly Honduran Central Americans, poses no threat to the US, and illegal border crossings continue to be way down. Some thoughts on what Democrats should do to respond to Trump's farcical attacks and terrible policies.

Are We Better Off Under Trump? The Short Answer Is No - By Simon Rosenberg and Chris Taylor, NDN, 10/18/18.  Most measures of the US economy are worse today than when Trump took office. Worse still, the President’s policies have made it very challenging to manage the next recession or global economic downturn.

Challenging Trump's Tariffs - An Ongoing Series - By Chris Taylor, 10/17/18.  In a new series challenging Trump's tariffs, we argue that the President's trade policy is illegal, recklessly ignorant, damaging to the US economy, and historically unpopular. Congress must step up and rescind them in the coming months. 

Trump's Immigration Strategy Is Failing - By Simon Rosenberg, NBC News, 8/6/18.  Almost nothing the President has done on immigration and the border has worked; expect more extreme policies as the elections approach. 

Congress Must Debate The Weakening of Global Order - By Simon Rosenberg, NBC News, 5/10/18.  Few presidents have inherited a world or a nation in which more was going right. Trump seems determined to undo it all.

The Pernicious Politics of Oil - Simon Rosenberg, US News and World Report, 12/16/16.  Petro-powers are challenging the global order, and the next president seems uninterested in stopping them.

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade - Simon Rosenberg, Huffington Post, 1/24/14.  The global system created by Presidents FDR and Truman has done more to create opportunity, reduce poverty and advance democracy than perhaps any other policies in history. 

Is Trumpism Failing? His Declining Poll Numbers Sure Suggest So

In a post earlier this week I noted that Trump had experienced a very dramatic decline in his standing in Rasmussen, his favorite pollster, dropping from 51/47 (+4) to 44/54 (-10) over the past 3 weeks.  Nate Silver’s 538 has found similar slippage, as Trump has dropped from 42.7/52.4 (-9.7) to 41.1/53.8 (-12.7) in just the past 2 weeks.  It is just hard not to conclude at this point that Trump’s big play of the last few months – tariffs, global saber rattling, border chaos, burying Mueller – hasn’t worked, and in fact is in some way contributing to his rather abrupt decline.  I review all this data and the points made in the last graph below in a new post today.

The media has failed to capture how fundamentally unpopular Trump is right now, and how much trouble he is for re-election.  His unpopularity is unprecedented in modern American history.  In a study released by NDN a few weeks ago, we found that this point in their first term, all post war American presidents had:

- Net approval of + 22.5.  Today Trump’s is 12.7.  He is net 30 points below the average of all first term post war American Presidents at this point.

- 72 days at -10 or worse approval.  Trump has had more than 700 days at -10 plus so far in his Presidency, or ten times all other post war American Presidents combined.

Trump is even in trouble in MI/PA/WI, the 3 states most critical to his success in 2016.  The GOP was blown out in these states in 2018, and according to Morning Consult, Trump has lost between 15 and 19 pts net in favorability in all three.  A new poll has him trailing Joe Biden by 11 points in Pennsylvania.  His America First policies have pushed the heavily Mexican American parts of the country significantly towards the Democrats in the last two elections, almost certainly putting CO and NV out of play, and AZ and TX very much in play for the Democrats.  A recent poll in Arizona had Biden leading Trump by 5 there.  And if Texas is indeed in play, it will be $200-300m problem for Trump – no small thing.

Incumbents very rarely come back from where Trump is today.  His Presidency increasingly feels like a failed one, and many more days like today and it certainly will be.

Backgrounder: Trump, The Economy, and Trade

This backgrounder pulls together our work looking at President Trump’s economic and trade policies. 

New Data Highlights That Trump's "Greatest Economy Ever" Wasn't Actually So Great In 2018 – Chris Taylor, NDN, 8/21/19 - Updated data on growth, jobs, and investment reveals the extent of Trump’s failed promises on the economy. There is little evidence that Trump’s tax and trade policies boosted investment, and both economic and jobs growth either declined or remained constant from 2017 to 2018.

Democrats Must Demonstrate Greater Leadership In Challenging Trump's Ruinous Trade Policy - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter, 5/8/19 - Democrats should be more aggressive in challenging Trump’s tariffs and trade policies given the failure of those policies to achieve their objectives and growing discontent with them around the country.

Beyond The Headlines, The Economy Continues To Weaken - Chris Taylor, Medium, 5/7/19 - The new narrative that the economy is back to growing strongly is significantly flawed, and is largely based upon two economic reports whose headlines were very strong but whose underlying data revealed continued weakness in the economy.  

Weekly Notes On The Economy - Chris Taylor, NDN, 5/7/19 - Weekly Notes On The Economy is a weekly column that NDN writes on the most recent economic news, policy, and data.

Challenging Trump's Tariffs - An Ongoing Series - Chris Taylor, NDN, 2/14/19 - In a new series challenging Trump's tariffs, we argue that the President's trade policy is illegal, recklessly ignorant, damaging to the US economy, and historically unpopular. Congress must step up and rescind them this fall.

Trump's Tax Cuts Have Failed To Deliver On Their Promises - Chris Taylor, NDN, 10/30/18 - Trump’s tax cut promised to boost growth by strengthening the labor market and investment, but today both metrics look very similar to their pre-tax cut trend. Instead, the deficit has surged to unprecedented levels and rapidly increasing interest rates are hurting ordinary Americans.

Beyond The Headlines, The Economy Continues To Weaken

This essay originally appeared on Medium.

Over the past two weeks, a new piece of conventional wisdom has taken hold in the media and the White House that the economy is strong again and concerns over growth earlier this year were unfounded. Indeed, Trump likely ordered a significant escalation of his trade war with China based upon his perception that the economy was doing well enough to handle it. The problem, of course, is that this narrative doesn't really appear to be true. It is largely based upon two economic reports whose headlines were very strong but whose underlying data revealed continued weakness in the economy. 

First, the unemployment rate in April hit its lowest level in five decades. While this headline sounds extremely positive, the reason unemployment fell was because 490,000 workers left the labor force after being unable to find jobs. According to the Census Bureau survey that the unemployment rate is derived from, total employment in April actually fell by over 100,000, and 300,000 fewer people have jobs today than they did in December 2018

Second, real GDP rose by 3.2% in the first quarter, far above market estimates in the low twos. Again, the report appears to be very strong, but the underlying data is actually poor. GDP rose significantly because of temporary, one-time boosts from inventories and net exports. The problem is that because these factors were very strong in Q1, they will actually subtract from growth in the rest of the year as firms reduce their inventory levels to deal with slowing demand and net exports fall after they had a large, one-time build-up ahead of the expected imposition of tariffs in March. Meanwhile, the core elements of growth that will affect GDP over the rest of the year, consumer spending and business investment, actually fell to their lowest levels since 2013 in Q1, meaning that growth will likely be around 2% or worse for the rest of the year.

Furthermore, closely-watched reports covering US manufacturing and services production saw major declines in April, consistent with the underlying data in the jobs and GDP reports. Last month, US manufacturing output declined to its lowest level since October 2016 and services production fell to its lowest level since August 2017, while the employment gauges in both reports were near their lowest levels of the past 2 years.

Rather than marking an unexpected uptick in the economy, data over the past month has only confirmed that economic activity continues to slow, as Trump's trade policy harms US manufacturers and farmers and his tax cut fails to provide the sustainable lift to investment that was promised. All of this makes his threats of additional tariffs against China more economically and politically risky, and we will continue to oppose these policies in the days ahead. 

Weekly Notes On The Economy is a weekly column that NDN writes on the most recent economic news, policy, and data.

Trump Is Beginning To Fold On His Trade Agenda

Since Trump began implementing tariffs on a wide range of nations in March 2018, his commitment to actually seeing through his trade agenda, even in the face of economic and political harm to himself, has been questioned. Indeed, it was widely reported that Trump pressured his economic advisers to wrap up negotiations to help the economy when the stock market suffered a large decline at the end of 2018. In recent weeks, however, clear signs have emerged that Trump is beginning to fold on achieving real concessions in his trade conflicts, in the face of economic and political costs ahead of the 2020 election. The first, and extremely significant, move in this direction by Trump was unilaterally cancelling the March 1 deadline for higher tariffs on Chinese goods , even though no concessions had been made by China. The tariff escalation if a deal had not been made was promoted by the Trump administration as creating significant leverage on the Chinese because of its significantly harmful economic effects, and yet it became clear that Trump was not willing to incur his own domestic economic hardship and simply backed down. Second, new reporting over the past several weeks has shown that US demands for Chinese reforms continue to be watered down, whether that be accepting weaker Chinese IP protections for pharmaceuticals than exist in the US or largely abandoning demands for China to reform industrial subsidies to state-run enterprises.

Why has Trump changed his tune so significantly, when his promise to be tough on America's trading partners was such a big part of his campaign? Probably because he has begun to encounter significant political and economic opposition at home that has him fearful for his 2020 election hopes. On the political front, his trade agenda has encountered increasingly strong opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Over the weekend, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said that the USMCA was dead in Congress unless Trump repealed his steel and aluminum tariffs, while bipartisan bills giving Congress a check on the President's national security authority for imposing tariffs are moving through the House and Senate. On the economy, meanwhile, Trump has seen the large negative effects on the stock market and business confidence that his trade wars have created, and realizes that a strong economy provides probably the only potential path to a 2020 victory. As a result, he's unwilling to repeat the stock markets declines of late 2018, which were caused in large part due to fears of escalating trade conflicts with China and the EU. For all of the bluster and attacks on key US allies, then, what has Trump's trade strategy achieved for Americans? A weakened manufacturing sector and the loss of thousands of jobsseverely worsened relations with our allies in Europe and Asia, and few if any meaningful trade concessions. You can read more about NDN's work challenging Trump's tariffs here

Weekly Notes On The Economy is a weekly column that NDN writes on the most recent economic news, policy, and data.

NDN On The 2020 Elections

With twenty plus announced Democratic candidates in the race the 2020 election is now fully underway. Election analysis has been one of NDN's most influential areas of work over the past 14 years, and we send along some of our most recent releases below, hoping they will inform your own work and thinking in the days ahead.  Our 2018, 2016, and 2014 election analyses are also available for your review. 

Top Lines

Notes on 2020 - NDN's short, weekly takes on 2020, all in one place.

Analysis: Trump Is The Least Popular First-Term President Since WW2 - Chris Taylor, NDN, 9/11/19 - Trump is the most unpopular first-term president in over six decades and is leading Republicans down the path of the California GOP by ignoring those demographic groups that will over the next decade become more and more critical to winning elections.

Trump 1.0 Has Failed. What Comes Next? -  Evidence of the failure of Trumpism is all around us.  His poll numbers are the worst of any 1st term President, his policies have left the nation weaker, more isolated.  As he begins his re-election campaign, Trump is looking increasingly desperate, and we fear, dangerous. 

Ukraine, Russia and Impeachment

Questions Of Putin’s Influence Over Trump Will Soon Become Central To Ukraine Affair - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter, 9/24/19 - In a new thread, Simon argues that any in depth investigation into the Ukraine Affair will inevitably lead to another examination of Putin’s extraordinary influence over the American President. 

Democrats Must Make The Case Against Trump Now - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 9/23/19. Talking to the American people about Trump’s denigration of his office is our obligation now.  Our President has become desperate, and dangerous to the national interest.  It is time to act. 

Trump Has Aligned US Foreign Policy With Putin's In Recent Months - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter, 9/12/19 - In a new thread, Simon details how Trump has aligned US foreign policy with that of Russia in every issue area over the past few months, including on Afghanistan, Venezuela, Brexit, the G7, Syria, Iran, and Ukraine. 

Tariffs, Trump, And Tyrants - Simon Rosenberg - More Mad King than President, Trump's refusal to honor the laws, rules, and norms which make democracies work is the greatest High Crime of all. His ill-considered, whimsical tariffs are just the latest example, and should be forcefully challenged by Congress.

Demographic/Geographic Analysis

Americans Under 45 Are Breaking Hard Toward The Democrats - And For Good Reason - Simon Rosenberg and Chris Taylor - Among the most significant political developments of the Trump era is the dramatic shift of under 45 year old voters towards the Democrats.From 2000 to 2016 D margin w/under 45s was 6 points. In 2018 it was 25. 

Dems Have Already Won Back Voters In The Rust Belt. It's Trump Who Needs To Win Them Back Now - Simon Rosenberg - It is a myth that Trump's anti-immigrant and protectionist policies have made it difficult for Democrats to win in the Rust Belt in 2020.  Trump is trailing badly there now raising questions about Trumpism itself has become a grand failure. 

Notes On The GOP's Erosion In The Southwest - Simon Rosenberg - The dramatic erosion of the GOP brand in the heavily Mexican-American parts of the country over the past two elections is one of the biggest stories in American politics.  Trump's border extremism has cost the GOP dearly, and it hasn't kept the industrial north from slipping away. 

In All Important Florida, Democrats Lost Ground With Hispanic Voters - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 11/9/18 - In a year when Democrats made gains with Hispanics across the nation, Florida Democrats saw their performance with Hispanics decline.  Work has to be done to figure out why. 

$38 Million For Beto, And Why It Matters - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/30/18 - Democrats have been raising a lot of money this cycle.  This is not just about fear of Trump - it is about the broad adoption of a more authentic people based politics suited for the digital age championed by Dean, Obama, and yes even Trump himself.

More

Europe's Elections: Liberals and Greens Make Gains, Right Loses Ground - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/28/19 - In both Europe and the US, a new politics is emerging in opposition to the extremism of the far right. It emphasizes political pragmatism and the embrace of trade and immigration, while also focusing on the significant threat of climate change.

Democrats Must Demonstrate Greater Leadership In Challenging Trump's Ruinous Trade Policy - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter, 5/8/19 - Democrats should be more aggressive in challenging Trump’s tariffs and trade policies given the failure of those policies to achieve their objectives and growing discontent with them around the country.

Iowa, Trump, and the Politics of Globalization/Tariffs - Chris Taylor, NDN, 10/12/18 - Trump’s trade policies are hurting the Iowa economy. His tariffs are unpopular there, and his party is performing badly in the fall elections. Some thoughts on what this means for the Democratic presidential race starting soon.

Media Citations: You can find NDN in recent stories about the national political landscape in the AP, Hearst Media/San Antonio Express News, NBC News, Washington Monthly and Washington Post (here, here, here).  Our most important recent citations are below. 

Joe Biden Identifies The No. 1 Threat: Trump - Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 4/25/19 - Key passage: As Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, who worked on House races in 2018, told me, Democrats realized that both Democratic and swing voters wanted candidates who offered a "safe port in a storm" at a moment of perceived extreme danger in the form of Trump, which is why Democrats recruited many candidates with records of accomplishment and an aura of solidity and competence. 

The Biggest Field Yet. No Frontrunner. A Divided Base. Welcome To The 2020 Democratic Primary - Molly Ball and Philip Elliott, Time Magazine, Cover Package, 2/21/19 - Key passage: “The Democratic Party is going through a very large transformation,” says party operative Simon Rosenberg, who’s backed the winning candidate in every primary since 1988 but has no favorite this time. “The era of Clinton and Obama is ending and ceding to a new set of dynamics. A new Democratic Party is being forged in front of our eyes.”

This Is Why Republicans And Democrats Aren't Talking To Each Other In Washington - Ron Brownstein, CNN, 1/8/19 - Key passage: "It's fair to say that the House campaign in 2018 executed on a politics that we first saw with Obama in 2007 and 2008: It aligned the House with the way that Obama began to reorient the Democratic Party," said Rosenberg, who consulted with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee through the campaign. "There were many people who were saying that Obama's embrace of this new coalition [that was younger, more diverse, better-educated, and more urbanized] was the cause of Democratic decline in the Senate and the House. It was never true. But what was true was that Democrats had never resigned themselves to having to lean into this new coalition that Obama constructed. Now they did in 2018 -- they leaned into it -- and look what happened."

Backgrounder: Protecting American Politics From Foreign Manipulation

If the Mueller Russia Report wasn’t persuasive enough to get Congress to act far more forcefully to protect America’s politics, elections, and discourse from foreign manipulation, consider what we’ve witnessed in just the past few days: Presidential spokesperson Rudy Giuliani claimed that the President did nothing wrong in working with the Russian effort to interfere in 2016 and put him in the White House, a position which of course invites Russia and other nations to return on Trump’s behalf; in public remarks Jared Kushner downplayed the significance of the Russian operation, breaking from Mueller’s account of the gravity of the attack; Twitter took down 5,000 accounts over the weekend pushing pro-Trump memes on the Mueller Report – these accounts were redeployed from their work battling for the Saudi government in the Arabic language; and according to the New York Times, DHS Secretary Nielsen gave up trying to organize a comprehensive governmental response to this emerging threat due to the President’s concern it would bring up uncomfortable issues about how he was elected in 2016.

The President’s repeated denials that Russia intervened on his behalf and that this help was instrumental in him winning him the White House have suppressed the normal societal immune response which would have kicked in to prevent future foreign manipulation.  Smart bills were repeatedly blocked by Senator McConnell.  Critical operational capacities were dismantled. The government has not developed a plan for how to combat foreign manipulation, and no one is in charge of protecting us.  Our 2020 campaigns and elected leaders are basically on their own to navigate potential hacking and mis/disinformation from foreign hostile nation states.  The President, to serve his own interests, has betrayed our national interests in ways which have no parallel in American history.

Simply, Congress and our political leaders must act, and they must act forcefully now.  There is much that can and should be done but in a recent op-ed I laid out what I think the 3 most important things are: 1) Adopt paper ballots and audits, 2) Protect our elected officials, party committees, and candidates, and 3) Forge a pledge among candidates of both parties to forgo the use of illicit campaign tactics in our politics, including the use of fake accounts, troll farms, and the weaponization of stolen materials. 

It is time now for Congress to act. 

Published Work

Questions Of Putin’s Influence Over Trump Will Soon Become Central To Ukraine Affair - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter, 9/24/19 - In a new thread, Simon argues that any in depth investigation into the Ukraine Affair will inevitably lead to another examination of Putin’s extraordinary influence over the American President. 

Trump Has Aligned US Foreign Policy With Putin's In Recent Months - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter, 9/12/19 - In a new thread, Simon details how Trump has aligned US foreign policy with that of Russia in every issue area over the past few months, including on Afghanistan, Venezuela, Brexit, the G7, Syria, Iran, and Ukraine. 

Re-imagining the Parties In An Age of Hacking, Disinformation - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 9/7/19 - New digital threats will require US political parties to start seeing themselves as front line actors in our national effort to protect our elections and discourse.  Some thoughts on how the parties can re-imagine themselves to meet these challenges head on. 

GOP Bringing “Moscow Rules” on Disinformation to American Politics - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/26/19 - A series of events over the past several months raises questions about whether using Russian style disinformation tactics has become a core part of the GOP’s electoral strategy in 2020.

Our List of High-Volume, Pro-Trump Twitter Accounts Up to 232 - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/29/19 - Every Monday we will be updating a list of high volume pro-Trump Twitter accounts, ones we call "amplifiers."  The goal - to get a sense of how many of these accounts there are out there. 

ASDC Resolution on Protecting our Elections from Foreign Manipulation - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/19/19 - This is the resolution passed unanimously by the Association of Democratic State Chairs (ASDC) on June 15th in Santa Fe, New Mexico which addresses foreign manipulation of our democracy and elections.  

Biden, Democratic State Parties Embrace Call to Forgo Illicit Campaign Tactics - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/18/19 - Vice President Biden and the Chairs of the State Democratic Parties have now advanced the idea of a pledge to forgo illicit campaign tactics.  Is another encouraging sign that American has begun to take the necessary steps to combat foreign manipulation of our democracy.

Three Things We Need To Do Now To Protect Our Elections In 2020 - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 4/10/19 - America’s leaders should prioritize three things to protect our elections in the run-up to 2020: require paper ballots and audits, protect candidates from hacking and disinformation, and enter a pact to forgo the use of illicit campaign tactics

Trump Doesn't Take Russian Electoral Interference Seriously. This Is What Democrats Did To Oppose It In 2018 - Simon Rosenberg and Aaron Trujillo, NBC News, 12/18/18 - The U.S. and its politics are not powerless to stop the kind of foreign hacking and disinformation tactics we saw in 2016. In the 2018 midterms, the DCCC developed a series of tools and strategies for reducing the influence and impact of malicious actors. Far more can now be done to protect our democracy and our discourse — and doing so should be a very high priority for the new Congress in 2019.

NDN Hails Progress Made Towards 2020 Pact on Disinfo, Hacking – Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 4/23/19 - This post is a roundup of all the recent developments in the establishment of a new pact or pledge to forgo the use of illicit campaign tactics in the 2020 elections.  It includes links to the pledge which many European political parties and Vice President Biden have signed on to, and recent statements from the DNC, State Parties, and the Gillibrand campaign. 

Protecting the 2020 Dem Primary from Disinformation, Bots and Hacking- Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/29/19-  Democrats must come together now to prevent what happened in 2016 from happening again this time.  NDN is calling for all 2020s to sign a pledge forgoing use of illicit campaign tactics in the Democratic Presidential Primary.

The Country Needs to Stop Downplaying The Enormity of the Russian Intervention in 2016 - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter Thead, 1/25/19.  In a widely shared thread Simon goes through what Russia did in 2016 and concludes that the campaign was far bigger and more impactful than conventional wisdom holds, and clearly delivered a very close election to Donald Trump. 

The RNC's Russia Problem - Simon Rosenberg, US News And World Report, 4/14/17 - The Republican National Committee has a particularly important role to play in future efforts to protect America's elections. For as we've learned over the past two years, the RNC was at the center of two of the most important components of the Russian campaign – the penetration of Trump's campaign by the Russian government, and the normalization and use of Russian disinformation.

Media Citations:

Our Next Election Is Dangerously Vulnerable, A Top Democrat Warns. Does Trump Care?- Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 6/25/19 - In a piece in which Greg Sargent links to NDN work on cybersecurity, he examines the question of whether Trump will warn Putin at the G20 against launching another attack on our political system. 

Simon In Richard Clarke's Future State Podcast On "The Future Of Hacking Democracy" - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/19/19 - Simon talks with Richard Clarke about what Russia did in 2016, new trends and threats we've seen in the past few years, and what steps we should be taking now to prevent foreign governments and domestic actors from manipulating our elections and discourse.

Will It Use Hacked Materials Again? Trump Campaign Will Not Say - Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer, The Washington Post, 4/26/19 - Key passage: "Refusal to forgo both hacking and the use of hacking materials is a great start, but clear stances on use of fake social media accounts, fake websites and images, high-volume bots, troll farms, and other illicit tactics in common use today by Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and other authoritarian nations will also be necessary," said Simon Rosenberg, who was senior advisor to the House Democratic campaign arm in 2018 and helped run a program to search for online election interference. 

Simon Discusses How To Protect Our Elections On CNN's Situation Room - Simon Rosenberg, CNN, 4/24/19 - Simon appeared on CNN's Situation Room earlier this week to discuss how the Trump administration is actively hindering efforts to protect our elections in 2020, and what our political leaders must do now to prevent what happened in 2016 from happening again next year.

Trump, GOP Won't Act On Election Interference Warnings - A.B. Stoddard, Real Clear Politics, 2/25/19 - Key passage: “Trump’s denial the Russia attack ever took place,” [Simon Rosenberg] told RealClearPolitics, “has suppressed the normal immune response which would have kicked in to protect ourselves from future attacks.  Bills have been blocked, common-sense steps not taken, some important government capacities have even been unraveled. All of it has left us unprepared for what is coming this election cycle, and it is important that both parties in Congress come together in the days ahead around a few simple, achievable things which can make it less likely foreign governments can once again manipulate our elections for their advantage.”

Top Democrats Want 2020 Candidates To Sign Non-Aggression Pact - Natasha Korecki, Politico, 2/26/19 - Key passage: “If we know the campaigns aren’t doing it, it’s going to be much easier to find it and make it go away. If this becomes widespread, it will become truly impossible to root out what’s coming from foreign powers. There’s something bigger than all of us here, and that’s our democracy. Democrats should make a clear stand, understanding that if we don’t set clear norms and rules soon, we could see a proliferation of this illicit tactics that could do permanent and lasting harm to our democracy and other democracies throughout the world.”

Pelosi Just Challenged Trump's Corruption And Lies. Here's What Should Come Next - Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 2/22/19 - Key passage: Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, a leading advocate for this approach, argues to me that the 2020 Democrats should join in a pledge condemning all tactics of disinformation warfare, such as "fake accounts, trolls, hacking, and the use of hacked materials." He adds that this can be part of a broader project of making "the repair of our democracy central to the conversation they are going to have with the American people."

Simon Discusses Protecting The Democratic Primary From Disinfo And Hacking On MSNBC's Joy Reid - Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 2/2/19 - Simon appeared on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show last Saturday to discuss his ideas for how Democrats should be working to protect the 2020 Presidential primary from bots, disinformation and hacking.

While Trump Blames The Fed, The Real Cause Of The Growth Slowdown Is His Trade Policy

On Sunday, Trump once again blamed the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell for the economic slowdown that has intensified since late 2018, and that will likely see 2019 growth close to 2% rather than the 3%+ promised by the President. If Trump actually wanted to find the culprit for this deceleration, however, he would be wise to take a look in the mirror. Indeed, Trump's protectionist trade policy has created enormous business uncertainty around the world and has led to a steep fall in global trade, causing a decline in both US and global growth. Last week, the IMF downgraded 2019 global growth from 3.5% to 3.3%, and similarly reduced their US growth projection for this year from 2.3% to 2.1%. In their analysis, they cited increasing trade tensions as the top risk to global growth and wrote that a failure to resolve Trump's trade war with China and a potential one with the EU would cause a further economic decline.

Furthermore, CNBC's March Fed Survey saw a downgrade in expected 2019 US growth from 2.45% to 2.3% according to 43 market investors, who blamed global trade conflicts and slowing global growth for the slowdown. Finally, the WTO early this month projected that global trade growth would fall from 3% in 2018 to 2.6% in 2019, significantly below its 2000-2018 average of 3.8%. America has witnessed an unprecedented experiment with protectionist trade policy during the Trump administration, and the results of this experiment are now clear - significantly slower US and global growth, and a large hit to the stability of the rules-based global trading system. You can read more about NDN's work challenging Trump's trade policy here, and find our recent piece about the WTO's legal blow against Trump's tariffs here

Weekly Notes On The Economy is a weekly column that NDN writes on the most recent economic news, policy, and data.

Three Things We Need To Do Now To Protect Our Elections In 2020

This essay originally appeared on Medium.

Despite how front and center Russia’s significant campaign to influence the 2016 elections has been in our politics these past few years, little has been done to ensure it doesn’t happen again in 2020. No major bill addressing foreign interference has passed the Congress, the strategy of the United States government remains opaque at best, and of course our President has still not accepted that Russia did intervene last time. This lack of action comes despite the US intelligence community giving repeated warnings about Russia and other nations trying again in the 2020 election; and in recent weeks FBI Director Wray has been loudly raising the alarm about an unprecedented rise in cyber-attacks happening now against American interests. Given how late we are to taking action — the election began three months ago, twenty candidates are actively campaigning for President and voting begins in January — there are three things which the nation’s political leadership should prioritize and make happen in the coming months:

Require Paper Ballots And AuditsFirst and foremost: make sure every state uses unhackable paper ballots and conducts mandatory post-election risk-limited audits of votes (something currently required in Colorado, Rhode Island, and Virginia). Getting this done by the November 2020 elections is going to require swift action, strong leadership from the Administration and Congress, and federal resources. Our current system of leaving election security up to the states, with no minimum mandatory standards, isn’t an adequate response to the reality of the threat today. The simple truth is without paper ballots and audits we have no way of knowing whether our election results have been altered. The lack of leadership from the White House on this fairly straightforward issue has been profound, and dangerous.

Protect Federal Candidates From Cyber Attacks/Hacking And DisinformationWhen it comes to protecting political candidates for federal office from the kind of activity we saw in 2016, the candidates and their political party campaign committees are essentially on their own. The Department of Homeland Security just isn’t yet in this business, and the extraordinary turmoil we are seeing at DHS now will make it far less likely a real program will emerge in the coming months. The cyber protections that federal elected officials receive in their official capacity as Senators and House Members do not extend to their campaigns or private activity, nor does it extend to candidates who are not yet elected. Essentially, it’s up to the candidates and campaigns to protect themselves — even though few politicians are cybersecurity experts — from Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean government hackers and disinformation campaigns.

A series of things must be done here to address these emergent challenges. First Congress should work with DHS to establish a clear and transparent process for information sharing and technical support at the very least with the six federal party committees — the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, DNC, DSCC and DCCC — who can then extend similar services to each of their campaigns. Next each party committee should add a Vice Chair for Cyber Security to oversee these efforts and a Chief Security Officer to ensure the Committee’s access to the technical knowledge required to truly protect our candidates. The strategy for how each Party Committee approaches their responsibilities in these areas should be public, perhaps on their FEC filings; and robust programs with modern tools, fulsome information sharing and extensive training should be funded and executed.

The two offices that provide cyber security for Congress, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the House Chief Administrative Officer should be given additional authorities and resources, including the ability to help extend protections to the political and private communications of Senators and House Members. Congress should also make counter intelligence and cyber security training mandatory for all principals and staff, and this training should be conducted at least annually as the threats, tactics and tools are always evolving.

Candidates Should Enter Into A Pact To Forgo Use Of Illicit Campaign TacticsOne of the great dangers facing the US in the coming years is that the kind of illicit tactics used by the Russians — hacking, weaponization of stolen information, extensive use of fake accounts and inauthentic amplification — becomes commonly used by domestic actors here in the US against one another. It is vital that responsible leaders of both parties come together and commit to forgoing the use of these kinds of tactics in our democracy.

Many European political parties have signed on to a pledge to forgo these kinds of illicit tactics in their May elections. The Democratic Party State Chairs of the four early primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — have expressed support for the idea of the Democratic Presidential candidates entering into a binding pact with one another committing to forgo the use of a wide range of these tactics. Encouragingly, all of the Democratic candidates up and running in late February agreed to forgo the use of stolen or hacked material in the 2020 elections, a tactic central to how Russia influenced our election last time. It is a good first step but much more must be done.

As an advisor to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2018 elections, I supported both extensive cybersecurity security and countering disinformation operations run by the Committee. We worked with the social media platforms to take down illicit activity, and reported cyber intrusions to the FBI. But at no point did we work cooperatively with anyone else in the federal government. The systems for information sharing, joint learning, training and tool evaluation simply aren’t there yet. We were on our own, as are the campaigns and party committees of both parties this election cycle.

Simply put, we are not ready. The country hasn’t taken the kind of commonsense steps to protect ourselves that we should have taken after Russia’s historic attack on the nation in 2016. The kinds of things I describe above should have happened in 2017 and 2018, and been up and running on January 1st, 2019. They didn’t happen — but they should now. While there are many things which can be done to protect our elections (like the Honest Ads Act and DETER Act, and of course HR1) to me these three steps are the most important and achievable in the coming months. I urge our candidates, elected leaders and the Trump Administration to step up and work together to get them done as soon as possible.

Syndicate content