Right Numbers, Wrong Conclusion


Philip Bump, Another warning for Republicans: Trump can’t win you your election

Yesterday, I wrote about how Trump when to Louisiana begging voters to make the election for governor a referendum on his impeachment. He wanted them to “send a message”—and said so very plainly. His efforts juiced voting among his cultists in rural areas, but they ginned up even more anti-Trump voters among African-Americans and among folks in the suburbs of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

In the remote event you pine for a lot of detailed data supporting that thesis, then Mr. Bump’s article is the article for you.

A Little More Context

I’ll add a bit more data. In 2016, 1,178,638 Louisiana voters exercised the franchise for Donald Trump, while 780,194 chose Crooked Hillary. Deceitful Donald won 58.1 percent, Crooked Hillary received 38.4 percent, and a hodgepodge of weird third-party candidates garnered a collective 3.6 percent of Louisiana voters.

On Saturday, the notorious socialist, Governor Edwards, got the nod from 774,469 voters—pretty much the same number who liked Crooked Hillary in 2016. Republican candidate Eddie “Me Hug Trump” Rispone got 734,128.

Let us take a swig of coffee and reflect on those numbers. Almost half a million Louisiana voters—444,510, to be precise—voted for Trump in 2016 but chose not to vote for the candidate Trump endorsed in 2019, all while he was begging and pleading with them to send Washington a message on impeachment. Putting it another way, 62 percent of Trump’s Louisiana voters still believe his bullshit and are still willing to do what he tells them to do. The other 38 percent of his voters? They’re either immune to his gaslighting, or maybe they want to send a different message: go ahead and impeach the sonofabitch.

Right Numbers, Wrong Conclusion

Bump writes,

To be fair, Trump has never been terribly effective at delivering general-election victories. In 2018, his endorsed candidates went about 50-50, though he’d been effective at winning primaries for Republicans.

But right now Trump needs Republicans to feel more confident in his ability to win elections than he did then. When Bevin lost, we noted the difficulty of the timing for Trump. With impeachment looming in the House, he needs Republicans to feel as though they can’t buck him without paying a political result. Expending a lot of political capital on winning gubernatorial races in red states only to see the Republicans lose doesn’t send that message. Quite the opposite.

The underlined passage is wrong. If a Louisiana senator voted to remove Trump from office, the data discussed here imply he would lose at least 62 percent of his base. “Voting to buck him” would indeed likely be politically disastrous.

On the other hand, a vote to acquit might cost up to a third of his base.

What if Someone Just Ignores a Subpoena?


Last night Dr. Aardvark and I were sitting in connubial contentment watching the PBS Evening News when she asked, “What happens if someone just ignores a subpoena?” I am afraid that my top-of-the-head answer was not entirely complete or accurate.

These two posts provide lots of helpful insights into the question:

Philip Bump, How the Trump-Congress subpoena fight is likely to play out

Martin Longman, Congress Needs to Lock Up Non-Complying Witnesses

Pollyanna Speaks Again

The flavor of the day is gloom and doom over Trump’s ability just to stonewall and “run out the clock.” But I have talked this situation this over with my daughter, Polyanna Aardvark, and she has some helpful thoughts.

First, by signaling that he will oppose any and all subpoenas, Trump has weakened his ability to advance any plausible argument he may have that any particular subpoena suffers from some legal defect.

Second, stonewalling doesn’t make you look “strong.” It makes you look guilty.

The strategy will appeal to those who don’t care whether or not Trump has done this or that execrable act. And there are many such people. But, to those who were unsure, but might be inclined to give Trump the benefit of the doubt as to his wrongdoing—and there are lots of those folks, too—obstruction will not accrue to his advantage.

Third, Pollyanna’s sense is that the situation will be very strongly influenced by what Don McGahn decides to do, or not to do.

McGahn, the former White House Counsel, current six- or seven-figure Jones Day partner, and Mr. Pack-the-courts-with-rightwingers par excellence, sang like a canary to the Special Counsel. Any arguable executive privilege has long since been waived with respect to the topics about which he would testify to Congress. Any arguable attorney-client privilege, ditto.

Jones Day partners, upon receipt of a proper subpoena, do not tell the entity that issued the proper subpoena to go take a flying fuck. For one thing, if they did take that course of action, then the D.C. Bar Association would not take kindly to it.

Trump has already “punished” Jones Day by taking business away from it. He doesn’t really have a hold on McGahn or on Jones Day.

Pollyanna thinks it’s likely that McGahn will testify in public, reprising the role of John Dean—and of Martin Sheen playing John Deen in the movie.

She also thinks that Brett Kavanaugh, who owes his seat on the Court to McGahn, will sit up and take notice.

Finally, she thinks that, in the aftermath of the McGhan testimony, things are likely to really go pear shaped for the Trumpster.

I told Pollyanna that we are getting a little ahead of ourselves, but she might well be right.

In the immortal words of President Eisenhower, “The future lies ahead.”