2020 Elections

Looking Ahead to The Fall Elections, Trump Begins to Panic

This piece was originally published on Monday, May 18th and updated on the morning of May 21st with new polling data. 

Donald Trump has long feared Joe Biden.  He hatched a vast conspiracy to extort “dirt” on the Bidens from the Ukrainian government - an illegal plot which got him rightfully impeached and should have ended his Presidency.  Faced with weak poll numbers for himself and incumbent GOP Senators, the President now appears to be panicking - and is not just rolling out ridiculous arguments against the former Vice President, but also has launched a sustained attack against Barack Obama, a political figure far more popular and virtuous than he.  As a longtime political analyst, it doesn’t make any sense to me why he would begin attacking Obama or bring up his illicit relationship with Putin - but little Trump does makes sense to me.  And that’s because despite the bluster he actually isn’t very good at being President or winning over the voters he needs to win. 

This organization has never subscribed to the “Trump has magical powers” school of political analysis.  In 2016, Trump won with just 46% of the vote and only with the help of three extraordinary, hard to replicate events - Russia’s huge intervention on his behalf, Jill Stein’s just good enough candidacy, and the Comey letter which dropped Clinton’s lead from 6 to 2 points in the last days of the election.  When Trump led Republicans into battle in 2017, 2018, and 2019, the Rs had near worst case election results each time.  In 2018, the Democrats won the House by 8.6 points (53.4-44.8), a huge margin; and in 2019, the Dems won the governorships in KY and LA, two deep red Southern states.  As NDN’s Chris Taylor wrote recently, 2020 looks and feels a lot more like 2018 than it does 2016 - which is why Trump has begun to panic.  He’s never actually performed well in an election and he isn’t going to win in 2020 with 45-46% of the vote - his vote share in the 2016 and 2018 elections, and a place where he is struggling to even get to now. 

Perhaps no event captures Trump’s ongoing failures more than his historically inept, reckless response to COVID-19. There is simply no easy way to explain his delay in engaging the virus, his lack of a sustained or understandable response, his repeated undermining of strategies which are working, or his promotion of dangerous, untested remedies.  We are re-opening the country now without most states hitting Trump’s own published criteria for re-opening, and we still don’t have the basic things that we as a nation need - a national testing/tracing regime and strategies for safe domestic travel/business protocols - in place.  We are just re-opening.  Our new infection rate per capita remains among the highest in the world, up there with Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and the UK; and while testing has improved, the US is still only around 40th in the world in per capita testing - a very, very low number given that the virus may have spread further and deeper in the US than in any other country in the world. And of course the nation is looking at Great Depression level unemployment rates and banana republic levels of debt. 

As bad as his day-to-day management of COVID has been, his political management of it has also been an extraordinary failure.  Many polls and analyses have captured this failure, but let’s look at new numbers out this morning from the Navigating Coronavirus project:

- Trump’s handling of coronavirus - 41% approve, 55% disapprove

- Has Trump’s management of the coronavirus been a success or failure - 38% success, 51% failure

- Should stores require masks - 84% yes, 16% no

An excellent new Huffington Post poll on masking has similar numbers. Perhaps the most important is the question about the whether Trump himself and othe elected officials should be wearing a mask - 63% yes, just 7% no.  It's hard to put into words how far outside science, reason, common sense and public opinion the President's crusade against masks is.  It's just breathtaking. 

A new Washington Post analysis finds that Trump's approval of his handling of COVID is lower than EVERY GOVERNOR with the exception of his close ally, Governor Kemp of Georgia.  The data is staring him right in the face - thos governors who've aggressively fought the virus have been rewarded in the polls.  Those who haven't, haven't.  To me his siding with the “Liberate!” protesters has been one of the craziest events of his Presidency - it not only makes the spread of the virus more likely, it's operating at the fringe of our politics and has helped drive his numbers down.  The number of people in this hard core Liberate! camp could be as low as 15% of the public, and is certainly no higher than 30%. What exactly are you doing Mr. President? Why haven't you course corrected, for your sake, and for ours as well?

The President is losing the election.  The Senate is imperiled too.  His ridiculous response to COVID has crashed the economy, let the virus run wild, left us without a serious strategy to defeat the virus, and is deeply unpopular.  A second wave may hit us this fall, just as people go to vote.  From where Trump sits now, things are not looking so good.  Hence the “Obamagate” absurdity and new Biden slanders.  It isn't going to help him win, but apparently it is all this spent, failed leader has got at this point. 

In the midst of this pandemic, we all deserve better, much much better.

Invite: Wed, June 10th, 2pm ET - With Dems Things Get Better Presentation

Please join NDN on Wednesday, June 10th at 2pm ET for our regular showing of our "With Dems, Things Get Better" webinar.  This new recurring webinar marks the debut of a new initiative here at NDN, “The Asymmetry Project.”  This project builds on a body of our work over the past few years, and makes the argument that one of the defining political developments of our time is just how different the two American political parties are, and have become.

This webinar will take place on Zoom, you can register for the event here

"With Dems Things Get Better" is a data rich dive into what has happened in America since the Berlin Wall fall in 1989 and a new age of globalization began. We ook at the performance of the two parties during this time – the 16 years of Obama and Clinton, the 15 plus years of the Bushes and Trump.  What the data shows is that America has prospered and made progress when Democrats have been in power, and fallen behind, again and again, when Republicans have held the White House.  We then spend time discussing what this all means for the coming recovery, policy making more broadly in the years ahead and in the short term, the 2020 election itself. 

We hope you can join us!  And do invite others - all are welcome.

Call Congress, Demand A National COVID-19 Response Plan Today

Over the past 10 days, we’ve been calling on the President and Mitch McConnell to match the leadership we’ve seen come from the House in fashioning a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis.  

The President’s mismanagement of the crisis has been a breathtaking sight. Eight weeks since our first COVID case, and twelve since the President was first briefed about the dangers of COVID, our national testing plan is still not up and running and thus we still can’t identify, isolate, and treat those who’ve been infected by a virus whose carriers are frequently asymptomatic; we have no strategy to build hospital beds/quarantine spaces and ensure that our medical professionals have the equipment they need to care for the sick; critical positions in the federal government’s response hierarchy, like the DHS Secretary, remain unfilled; and leadership is desperately lacking in ensuring that our elections run smoothly this year and in figuring out what to do with all of our kids if schools and summer activities remain closed and unavailable.  While the President did finally weigh in on social distancing strategies and closures yesterday, it was days after steps had already been widely implemented across the country and of course inconsistent with the guidance given by the CDC earlier that day. 

We urge everyone reading this to call your Senators and Representative every morning until a plan is in place and it is achieving clear, daily reported results.  The Senate and House must do more than legislate now – they must create a select committee of some kind to interface with the Administration each day to help expedite decision making, and hold our errant President and his team accountable.  The President has already demonstrated that he is not up to the task of leading us through this crisis, and Congress must either adopt some new kind of partnership with him or work to remove him – just allowing his dangerous flailing to continue each day is unacceptable – more can be done. 

Yesterday, on a call with the nation’s governors, the President deviated from any reasonable understanding of the Federal Government’s role in a crisis like this and told the governors that when it came to emergency hospital beds, ventilators, masks, and protective equipment for health care workers, they are on their own.  A new report says that a US-based company is ready to ramp up ventilator production but hasn’t been asked by the Federal government.  The Senate has yet to take up a House bill designed to mitigate some of the economic damage which was endorsed by the President and passed last Friday – because Mitch McConnell decided to give the Senate a long weekend off, in the middle of this extraordinary crisis.  McConnell did find time, however, to put the word out to old GOP judges that it is time to retire – so he can ram through dozens more younger judges before, it appears, the Republicans lose power this fall.  Always party over country it seems for Moscow Mitch – even in our time of COVID.

We are writing to you each day because the scale of the governing failure we are witnessing just must be more aggressively challenged by all of us.  We must rise up and demand more from our elected leaders and our government.  To be clear – the nation does not have a COVID-19 response plan.  Despite the 8 weeks, the warnings, and the deaths, we still haven’t taken the elemental steps which should have been taken in January to contain and defeat the virus.  What is happening now could have been avoided or at least mitigated – which is why we must demand the government act with informed strategic intent and stop making mistakes which will cost this great nation so dearly. 

Make your calls.  Stay informed.  Keep fighting.  We can and must do better.

Godspeed, Simon

If You Don't Like Trump's COVID-19 Response, Blame Mitch McConnell

“The 15 [cases], within a couple of days, are going to be down to close to zero” — Donald Trump, 2/27/20

In January, Mitch McConnell had his chance. He could have removed Trump from office. The case the House brought was overwhelming. A majority of the country wanted Trump removed. 75% wanted to see all the evidence. This venal, unwell, incompetent, vainglorious man could have been gone. Pence could have brought in Nikki Haley and started fresh, working to put Trump in the GOP’s rear view mirror. Instead, Mitch, in what was one of the gravest political misjudgments in American history, decided to keep Trump in the White House, lashing himself and his Party to everything Donald did from then on.

And here we are. Dangerous politicization of the ODNI and DHS — the people who keep us safe. Incomprehensively mismanaged COVID-19 response. Plummeting global markets. A savage Russian-led oil price war designed to harm our domestic industries. Empty desks in critical positions throughout the government. Daily rantings, lying, and scary delusions of a Mad King, who seems increasingly disconnected from the world the rest of us live in. America is in a profound governing crisis, courtesy of Mitch McConnell.

The public hasn’t been happy with Mitch’s big decision. Polling since the President’s Senate trial ended has been universally bad for the GOP. The President trails Joe Biden by 7–10 pts; his job approval is a point lower today (-9.6) than it was on Election Day 2018 when Democrats won by 8.6 pts; the only battleground state he leads in today is Texas. The Congressional Generic has moved from +5 for Dems to +7.3 today, the largest it has been in some time, and now finds a similar margin as the national numbers (7–9 pts). Every Senate poll taken since the trial has the frontline GOPer (AZ, CO, ME, NC) down to their Dem challenger. A new Iowa poll has Senator Ernst losing 10 pts in her job approval, 57% to 47%, and her “hard re-elect” is just 41% (meaning she can lose). House GOPers are more likely to lose seats this cycle than gain them. After leading his party into three worst case elections in a row in 2017, 2018, and 2019, 2020 could be Donald and Mitch’s worst election yet. As can be seen below, recent well-regarded national polls have Trump losing decisively to Biden in 2020:

Biden 53, Trump 43 (CNN)

Biden 50, Trump 41 (YouGov/Yahoo)

Biden 49, Trump 41 (Fox)

Biden 52, Trump 45 (ABC/WaPo)

Biden 52, Trump 44 (NBC/WSJ)

If Joe Biden wins Michigan tomorrow — and the four most recent polls in the state have Biden up 41, 30, 24, and 21 points — the Democratic primary race is over and Sanders will have been beaten fair and square. It may take a while for him to get out, but the rationale for him continuing will not exist, particularly given the grave health issues he faces. Biden’s lead over Bernie is 16 points in the last two national polls, and he is far ahead in delegates. There just is no path for Bernie. 2020 is not 2016, and we shouldn’t expect a similar outcome in the primary or the general for the Democrats. In a new Medium piece, Simon offers some ideas on how the Biden campaign can continue to grow, innovate, and win, including adopting a #DemAvengers strategy of running with 15–20 people at the top of the ticket, not just 2; and re-imagining the “War Room” so it is 3–4 million people going to work every day, not just 200 kids in a headquarters.

As we look to protect our people and the economy from COVID-19 in the coming days, we also have to work to protect our democracy too. The President has used fictional national emergencies to do all sorts of things these past few years — confiscate money from DOD to build his border wall, repeatedly levy tariffs, etc. But now he has a real national emergency, and it is essential that responsible leaders of both parties establish a bi-partisan process for making the big decisions ahead of us; the danger of him using this moment to assume dictatorial control over the nation is a clear and present one, and our eyes need to be wide open here. He has already shown he cannot lead us through the COVID-19 crisis, and Congress is going to have to step in in some dramatic way to ensure that the damage he does is limited in the days ahead. Of course, the best course would be for him to resign, and let Pence take over. While remote, I am willing to bet the talk of this in GOP circles is more common now than people think, particularly after the President’s truly unhinged and terrifying performance at the CDC on Friday.

Ridin' With Biden, Vetting Bernie, Trump Is Losing The Election

Notes on 2020 - So the big question this morning is where does Biden end up tomorrow night? State polls in FL and NC found him gaining ground even before his big win Saturday night, and he clearly outperformed the polls in SC.  With Pete getting out, far steadier performances on TV and the stump, and a torrent of endorsements, Biden has a real shot at keeping it close on delegates tomorrow night and then opening up a permanent electoral/polling lead by later in the week – one that if maintained should be enough over time to outpace Bernie on delegates and win the nomination.  The other big wild card is how well does Bloomberg do tomorrow night, and will he get out this week?

We did a deep dive on “Bernie” 2020 last week, and what we found wasn’t pretty.  Insultingly vague domestic plans, a leading role in an American Communist Party affiliate, extremism on immigration and guns, concerning health issues, lack of support among long time colleagues, and through his Castro stumble a reminder that Bernie has never been a Democrat, has never led a Democratic ticket, has never had to win general election votes in battleground states, and is unlikely to be very good at leading a unified party into battle against Trump this fall.  His absurd calls to be declared the victor in a contest that he will not have won in a party he’s never been a part of – after making the opposite argument in 2016 – reinforce the challenges that Bernie is going to have in evolving from socialist insurgent to leader of the Party to beating Trump this fall. 

Recent polling should worry the President and his party.  As of this morning, Trump’s job approval in the 538 tracker is 43.8 approve/52.6 disapprove – the same as the morning after the 2018 election, an election the Democrats won by 8.6 points.  A selection of recent well regarded national polls also show Trump trailing by similar amounts:

Biden 50, Trump 41 (YouGov/Yahoo)

Biden 49, Trump 41 (Fox)

Biden 52, Trump 45 (ABC/WaPo)

Biden 52, Trump 44 (NBC/WSJ)

The only battleground Trump leads in, according to Real Clear Politics, is Texas, and there by not very much.  Yes, according to RCP, Biden is leading Trump in AZ, FL, GA, MI, NC, PA and WI. 

New polling also finds incumbent GOP Senators trailing in the big 3 Senate races – AZ, ME, and NC.  McSally has trailed in every poll taken this cycle, and is down 46-39 (!) in this new poll; Sara Gideon leads Susan Collins 43-42; and a new North Carolina poll is consistent with other recent polling, having the President down 49-45 to Biden and Cal Cunningham beating Thom Tillis 48-43.

While every race is different, and things can and will change, a reminder – incumbents in the low to mid 40s this late in the election cycle almost always lose.  There is a reason Trump and the GOP are working so hard to help Bernie become the nominee – the current landscape looks very very bad for them right now. 

Where Bolton Is Headed - Putin

"Where Bolton Is Headed-Putin" originally appeared on the website, Medium

I want to posit that when John Bolton’s story comes out, however it comes out, the most shocking revelations will be about Donald Trump’s treasonous fealty to Vladimir Putin.

We know that the President’s rough treatment of Ukraine’s Zelensky benefited Russia. Trump’s top Russia experts told us so, under oath, in the House hearings. And the President told us so in that infamous July 25th phone call — his first “favor” was actually for Russia and Putin, not himself.

We also know thanks to reporting from the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman that Bolton refused to go television in late August of 2019 to defend the President’s incredible advocacy for Putin at the just completed G7 meeting in France. Over the objections of Ukraine and the European Union, the President made the relaxation of sanctions imposed on Russia for their illegal annexation of Crimea a central issue in the talks. It was rightly seen as an outrageous PR gift to President Putin at the time, and one which of course has to now be seen as a critical part of Trump’s month’s long illicit shakedown of Zelensky.

We also know that the New York Times headline the day after Bolton departed the White House read “Trump Leaves Open Possibility of Easing Iranian Sanctions to Spur Nuclear Talks.” The Times pieces goes on to report “his subtle yet startling signal about relaxing the sanctions came just a day after the president unceremoniously ousted John R. Bolton, the White House national security adviser who opposed détente with Iran.”

Let’s try to put all this together. Bolton joined the Administration in April of 2018. He was there in Helsinki, when the President shamefully said he trusted Putin over America’s intelligence agencies. He was there in December of 2018 when the President abruptly announced America’s first abandonment of Syria, a geopolitical gift to Russia and its regional ally, Iran, a move that caused Defense Secretary Mattis to resign. He was there in early May of 2019 when, after speaking to Putin on the phone, the President abruptly reversed course in Venezuela, essentially once again giving a nation over to the Russians. He was there when the President lavishly praised Russia’s close ally, Viktor Orban, in the Oval Office even saying that Orban was “like me” (we know now that Bolton opposed allowing Orban to come to the White House, and that he used that meeting to help turn Trump against Zelensky and Ukraine).

It was in the late summer of 2019 when Trump gave Bolton reasons to get truly alarmed. He was there as the entire Ukrainian “drug deal” played out over the summer and early fall, including the President’s truly unbelievable suck up to Putin at the all-important G7 in late August. He then had to contend with the President inviting the Taliban to Camp David to finalize a peace deal that would humiliate the United States and provide another boon to Russia. But it was the President’s floating of the relaxation of the “maximum pressure” regime on Iran, Russia’s close ally, which seemed to be the last straw.

And for good reason. While we know the President was deferential to Putin in their public meetings, and had seemed to take a series of dramatic steps to align the US with Putin’s global ambitions in recent months in Syria, Europe, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Afghanistan, the true test of Putin’s influence over Trump would always be Iran. While nodding to Putin across the rest of the world, when it came to Iran, Putin’s ally, the President was with Iran’s enemies, the Gulf Arab states and Israel, in a big way. The President’s first foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, re-imposed sanctions, and began his campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran. He threatened Qatar for being too friendly to Iran. We know of his deep intimacy with Israel’s Bibi, and the President even looked the other way when the Saudi’s dismembered a journalist living in the US, working for the Washington Post. Weakening the Trump/Bibi/MBS alliance seemed beyond even Putin’s reach even though like Ukraine this one really mattered to him — he had soldiers fighting and dying in Syria.

Iran hawks had reason to worry about the President’s commitment to their project when he began his first pull out of Syria in December of 2018, a move seen as benefiting Iran and Putin. But it was his shifting of his position on Iran in early September, detailed above, that clearly was the last straw for Bolton and a sign that Putin had run the table with his apprentice in the White House. In reading through contemporaneous news accounts of the President’s repeated gifts to Putin, Bolton appears consistently on the other side — opposing Orban’s visit, the about face in Venezuela, the Ukraine and Afghanistan polices, and finally this new “détente” with Iran.

In the months following Bolton’s departure, events have shown that his concerns about the President’s Russian drift appear to have been more than justified. In one of the more dramatic and dangerous foreign policy acts in American history, the President finished his Syria pull out in mid-October, abandoning our allies the Kurds, risking the return of ISIS, angering our European allies, and fundamentally tipping the scales in the Middle East in Putin and Iran’s direction, all at the expense of the Gulf Arab states and Israel. Zelensky still hasn’t gotten his Oval Office meeting, and every day he and his Republican allies bash Ukraine for being a corrupt cesspool. And in something which deserves far more attention, veterans groups have criticized the Administration for not moving against a newly discovered Russian foreign influence campaign targeting vets here in the US.

But it is what has happened with Iran since Bolton departed which should have American policy makers most concerned. Inspired by the President’s apparent bowing to Russia’s will in the region, the Iranian regime became far more aggressive. It attacked Saudi oil facilities — no US response. Iran downed a US drown — no response. It then began a campaign to bully the US out of Iraq, a campaign which led to the death of an American contractor, the assassination of General Soleimani, an Iranian strike on a US base which caused extensive damage and wounded dozens of our soldiers, and a formal request for the US to leave Iraq altogether — which was the goal of the Iranian/Russian campaign from the start.

With Bibi’s loss of immunity today, and more unacceptable behavior from the Saudis in recent months including the still unfolding terrorist attack in Pensacola, the Russian/Iranian alliance while having taken some casualties in recent months seems to have come out of this skirmish stronger than ever.

The Washington Post reported this morning: “Bolton was regularly appalled by what he saw from the president, the people close to him said. He wondered at times if Trump was acting in America’s best interest or if he was inspired by nefarious reasons, according to a person familiar with the book.”

“Inspired by nefarious reasons.” We don’t yet know what John Bolton is going to say about his time in the White House. What we’ve learned so far has been pretty explosive, and it seems likely that he will be called to testify in the Senate Impeachment trial. But if I am right, and the tale he tells is about an American President repeatedly doing the bidding of Russia to the detriment of the national security of the United States, then we are not just looking at the end of the Trump Presidency but a scandal of potentially world altering proportions.

America Not Winning, Bernie Stumbles and Biden Leads - Notes on 2020

The images that we see today of the Senate Impeachment trial and the President at Davos while in many ways distant from one another speak to the same story – the savaging of America and its democracy by the President and his party.  The President arrives in Davos a reviled global leader, unfaithful, unsteady, and increasingly seen as dangerous.  As conservative columnist Max Boot wrote last night: “The number of people abroad who express confidence in the US president fell from 70% in 2013 to 28% in 2018 while the number who see the U.S. as a threat climbed from 25% to 45%. More Germans now view Trump as a danger than Kim, Putin, Xi, and Khamenei combined.”

Here at home, the President’s illiberal disdain for our democracy and its inherent limits and virtues will be on full display over the next few weeks. While many had anticipated that Senator McConnell would “rig” the trial for the President, few anticipated the extraordinary lengths he has chosen to go and how closely he has aligned the once august US Senate with the President’s historic venality. This type of contempt for democratic norms and institutions is part of a broader embrace by the Republican Party of what we call "Moscow Rules" in our politics. Our hope is that GOP Senators and the presiding Judge improve the absurd package McConnell has proposed, and allow a fair hearing of what sure appears to be extensive crimes committed by the President and many who work for him. 

Over the past few weeks we’ve argued that it was going to be far harder for McConnell to get the Senate to acquittal than conventional wisdom holds, and his actions in the last 24 hours actions are not those of a leader confident of winning.  A just released CNN poll shows that Mitch is right to be worried, as it confirms that he and the President are losing the big arguments that they need to win this Impeachment fight - 69% of Americans want to hear from new witnesses; 58% believe that he abused his power; 57% believe that he obstructed Congress; by 51%-45% Americans want the Senate to remove him; his job approval is 43% approve, 53% disapprove; Americans disapprove of the GOP's handling of the Senate trial by 54%-39%; and only 37% approve of Trump’s handling of the Senate trial.  These are shockingly poor numbers on issues of such importance to the President (ones consistent with the last few weeks of polling) and suggest that whatever the outcome of the trial, the President has become a spent force in the life of our country. A majority of Americans are ready to see him go. 

As for the Democrats, we share 538’s assessment that Joe Biden has the best chance of winning the nomination.  The last two polls taken in Iowa have him ahead, and 538 has him leading in all four early states right now. Bernie Sanders’ attacks on Biden and Warren have felt desperate, were poorly executed, and probably have done him more harm than good. It is a reminder that as someone who isn’t now and has never been a Democrat, Bernie has never shied from attacking Democrats and the Democratic Party itself. It remains a bit shocking that a career politician who has spent his career outside the Democratic Party believes he could ever effectively lead it. 

Countering Illiberalism's Rise

Over the past decade, a major new threat to the Western liberal democratic order has come to the forefront of our politics - the rise of far-right illiberalism. Openly supported and aided by the Putin regime in Russia, illiberal political leaders including Trump in the US, Farage and the pro-Brexit movement in the UK, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and Viktor Orban in Hungary have gained significant political power, and have begun to erode democratic norms and institutions.

NDN has written extensively about the need for all political organizations and parties to more forcefully challenge this rising illiberalism.  Some of this work is below, and you can find more related thinking in our Protecting our Elections and Disinformation programmatic area. 

The President's Illiberal Escalation in Portland Needs to End - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/17/20 - US citzens being disapeared into unmarked vans is exactly the kind of illiberal act NDN has been warning was coming.  It's not okay, and good people of both parties need to rise up and work together to prevent Trump from becoming an American Putin. 

Facing the Dark Turn of Trump's Presidency - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/6/20 - The nation has been subject to an extraordinary, relentless, and extended screed from the White House about the existential threat posed by the President’s perceived domestic political opponents, much of it imagined and fictional. The performance of the President, the White House and its allies these past few weeks has been reprehensible and dangerous

The Coming Reckoning With Russia - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/29/20- Someday, soon, America will have to look at and make sense of Russia’s years of attacks on our interests, its penetration of our political system, its brazen manipulation of our President.  It will be a very ugly but necessary process.

Crossing the Rubicon - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/29/20 - The GOP's increasing acceptance of illiberalism and actions at odds with our democratic tradition to gain/maintain power has become the most important political story of our time.

To Defeat Illiberalism, Democrats Must Embrace Their Success As A Governing Party - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/14/19 - Over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has been the most successful center-left party in the developed world.   It is time it started acting like it, and begin to far more purposefully lead the fight against rising illiberalism here and abroad. 

Lavrov Comes To America For A Russian Victory Lap - Simon Rosenberg, GEN, 12/9/19 - In country after country over the past year the President has taken steps to align US foreign policy w/Russia's. It has been a dramatic, little understood development, and has left America a weakened power, Russia a rising one. Congress must step in.

Tariffs, Trump and Tyrants - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/31/19 - 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.

The End of Pax Americana?, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/26/17. Donald Trump is taking radical steps that is weakening the global order America imagined and built after World War II.  Before he does more harm to our interests, Congress must force a big debate about his vision, and challenge him if necessary.  

The Pernicious Politics of Oil Dec 16th, 2016.  Petro-powers are challenging the global order, and the next president seems uninterested in stopping them.

The West Is On The Ballot, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 11/4/16. In the column, Simon argues that Trump isn't running just against Clinton, he's also running against what America has become and the world it has built.

Calling all Patriots, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/13/16. While in a reflective mood about the future, their nominee, and party, Simon suggest two other activities Republicans should swiftly denounce and distance themselves from.

Trump's Worrisome Embrace of Putin, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/12/16. In this column, Simon does a deep dive on Trumpland’s embrace of Russia’s Putin, and why their admiration for his “strength” is a betrayal of our values.

The Liberal Order Needs an Upgrade - Simon Rosenberg, US News, 9/23/14.  President Obama should breathe new life into the international order when he speaks before the U.N.

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade Jan 21, 2014 - 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. 

"Forward, or Backward?" - The Descent of the GOP Into A Reactionary Mess 10/25/12 - In a new magazine essay, Simon argues that the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant the Republican offering is becoming.  In both Spanish and English.

Protecting Our Elections, Countering Disinformation

In the 2018 election cycle, NDN's Simon Rosenberg built and oversaw the countering disinformation operation at the DCCC - the first ever of its kind at a national party committee. 

Over the past year NDN has been at the forefront of the discussion about how best the US and other nations can protect their elections, domestic discourse and citizens, working to prevent "Moscow Rules" from becoming the norm here and in democracies throughout the world.  While some progress has been made, we an awful lot of work to do.

There is a lot of material below, but if you are interested in learning more about our thinking start with national security expert Richard Clarke's interview with Simon on his Future State podcast (episode 20).  It does a good job at covering most of the major issues we are wrestling with these days. 

Top Lines

Trump Needs To Re-Open The FEC Right Now - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/9/19 - On the same day that the Administration learned about the whistleblower complaint alleging felony level US election law violations by the President in the Ukraine scandal, the independent body overseeing US election law was shut down.  It must re-open. 

Re-imagining the Parties In An Age of Hacking, Disinformation - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 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, Medium, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Other Materials

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.  

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. 

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. 

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.

2020 Election And Political Analysis

Election and political analysis has been a major program area for NDN over the past 20 years. Here you can our work on the 2020 general election and democratic primary, Trump's popularity through three years in office, and more detailed geographic/demographic analysis. As well, our 2018, 2016, and 2014 election analyses are also available for your review. 

On Wednesdays, be sure to catch our weekly look via Zoom at the 2020 elections and US politics. We do it every week at 2 pm ET, with alternating topics each week. The data is always fresh and current, so if you join us each week, you will always learn something new.

Thursday Poll Roundups

Every Thursday NDN publishes its Thursday Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too.  Our last three are below. 

Analysis: Another Week of Ghastly Polls for the GOP, Loud Dems, Trump’s Illiberalism - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/25/20 - Our weekly look at 2020 polling finds more brutal poll numbers for the GOP, Dems building a 2020 jaggernaut and mytification and worry about Trump's emerging strategy for staying in power.

Analysis: Should Dems Go For It? - Simon Rosenberg NDN, 7/9/20 - The Biden campaign faces a big strategy choice in the coming days - how manystates to play in? How big shoulld the battlefield be? Argument for going big is very compelling right now. 

Analysis: Another Brutal Week of Polls for Trump/GOP- Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/2/20 -  Another week of really bad polling for the Rs - Electoral College gets harder for Trump, good poll for Bullock in Montana, is North Carolina joining FL and WI in slipping away?

Demographic/Geographic Analysis

Americans Under 45 Are Breaking Hard Toward The Democrats - And For Good Reason - Simon Rosenberg and Chris Taylor, NDN, 8/2/19 - 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, NDN, 6/5/19 - 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, NDN, 2/11/19 - 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."

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