US Senator Elizabeth Warren (C), Democrat from Massachusetts, speaks with US Senator Bernie Sanders (2nd R), Independent from Vermont, as they discusses Medicare for All legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2017. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/TNS
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/TNS

The Jolt: Medicare-for-all was an albatross for Democrats in 2018

Over at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Alan Abramowitz of Emory University has some statistics indicating that in 2018, Democratic candidates for U.S. House did “significantly worse” if they backed Medicare-for-all proposals like the ones endorsed by presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. We’ll skip to his conclusion:

This negative effect, close to five points of margin after controlling for a variety of other factors, was clearly large enough to affect the outcomes of some House contests.

It is possible that the estimated effect of Medicare for All was a byproduct of other differences between supporters and non-supporters. For example, supporters might have taken more liberal positions on a variety of other issues as well as Medicare for All. Even if that is the case, however, these findings are not encouraging to supporters of Medicare for All.

They indicate that candidates in competitive races who take positions to the left of the median voter could get punished at the polls. Democratic presidential candidates would do well to take heed of these results, particularly as the eventual nominee determines what he or she wishes to emphasize in the general election.

The AJC poll released this week came to a similar finding. From the story:

Only 40% of Georgia voters support the idea, compared with 53% who oppose it. Independent voters are almost evenly split on the issue, and nearly one-third of Democrats say it’s a bad idea. Republicans, on the other hand, are nearly united in their opposition, with more than 80% against it.

***

Our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reports that Georgia election officials are investigating two prominent critics alleged intrusions into voting areas during a test run of the state’s new voting machines:

The two people under investigation said the investigation is an intimidation tactic by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.

Marilyn Marks, a plaintiff in a lawsuit demanding that Georgia switch to hand-marked paper ballots, and Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert, are accused of “interfering with voters by being in an unauthorized area” during the Nov. 5 election, said Walter Jones, a spokesman for Raffensperger…

Marks said Raffensperger is attempting to marginalize skeptics of the state’s new voting system, which combines touchscreens and printed ballots. The system is scheduled to be rolled out to voters statewide during the March 24 presidential primary.

Some skepticism may be warranted. Keep in mind that in 2018, on the weekend before the election that would make him governor, then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced an investigation into state Democratic party officials for allegedly hacking into a state voter data base.

One year later, other than an emailed press release, we have seen no publicly available evidence that such an investigation actually occurred, or was warranted.

***

A conservative group is launching a $2 million digital ad campaign urging U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and other House Democrats in competitive districts to vote “no” if/when she’s presented with articles of impeachment aimed at President Donald Trump.

The American Action Network, is aligned with Republican House leaders, is behind the ads encouraging constituents to contact McBath and 36 other representatives to express opposition to proceedings that could -- if receiving two-thirds approval in the U.S. Senate -- result in Trump’s removal from office.

“It’s time for Members of Congress to take a stand, vote no on impeachment, and get back to work on the issues that will actually make a difference in the lives of Americans across our country,” network President Dan Conston said. “Let voters decide elections.”

On Wednesday, the first open hearings under the House probe were conducted, and more are planned. McBath, a Marietta Democrat, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which will eventually have to decide if the full chamber should vote on articles of impeachment.

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The Georgia-based co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots was among the Trump supporters defending him online Wednesday as the House held the first open hearings under its impeachment investigation.

“Democrats have gridlocked the work of the people in order to try to overturn an election by the people. It is time to stop wasting time and work with @RealDonaldTrump to keep our economy strong and our nation safe,” Jenny Beth Martin wrote on Twitter.

She essentially live-tweeted her pro-Trump perspective during Wednesday’s hearings featuring a former top diplomat in Ukraine and a senior State Department official, often accompanied by the hashtag #DemsGotNothing.

***

More evidence that we live in the Age of Moral Relativism, from the Gallup Organization:

Republicans' and Democrats' preferences for strong moral values or issue agreement as more important in a president have undergone dramatic shifts compared with what they were during the Clinton administration.

Six in 10 Republicans say they would rather have a president who agrees with their political views but does not set a good moral example for the country, as opposed to one who sets a good moral example but does not agree with them politically. In contrast, 75% of Democrats prefer a president who sets a good moral example over one who agrees with their issue positions.

In 1999, Republicans' and Democrats' opinions were reversed, with Republicans favoring a president who sets a good moral example and Democrats preferring one who agrees with them politically.

***

Most potential U.S. Senate appointees are taking the secretive behind-the-scenes approach to press their case that they should replace Johnny Isakson. Not former Georgia congressman Paul Broun.

After news broke Wednesday that Gov. Brian Kemp would soon close the application process, Broun’s allies blasted out an email urging conservatives to sign a petition urging his appointment “because of his proven track record unparalleled by anyone in Georgia.” 

“In just a few days Gov. Kemp will appoint a U.S. Senator to take the place of Johnny Isakson,” it read. “It is critical that Gov. Kemp select a Senator who has our true conservative values and will defend our rights; but that may not happen if you do not take action now.”

The petition lists his refusal to vote for a bailout or to increase the debt ceiling as some of his bona fides. Also, it touts a 2014 proposal to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education “to return education control to states and localities.” 

***

U.S. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, on Wednesday criticized House Democrats’ attempt to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, saying his colleagues are bending the rules in order to push forward with a priority for progressives.

Democrats, who control the U.S. House, are trying to void a 1982 ratification deadline of 1982, which would allow Virginia to become the 38th and final state needed to move forward with the constitutional amendment. 

Here is some of what Collins, R-Gainesville, had to say about this maneuver after the House Judiciary Committee, where he serves as the top-ranking Republican, voted to move forward:

“Today, in defiance of historical reality, the chairman of this committee is bringing forward a resolution that denies the obvious. Now that Democrats control the Virginia legislature, the proponents of this joint resolution want to convince their base that, if it’s passed by both houses of Congress — by a simple majority vote — and signed into law, and then Virginia alone passes a resolution to allegedly “ratify” the 1972 ERA, that amendment would become part of the Constitution.

Congress, however, doesn’t have the constitutional authority to retroactively revive a failed constitutional amendment and subject citizens in all 50 states to the current political trend in just one state. The Supreme Court has already recognized that. The past Democratic leadership of this House recognized that. Apparently the current leadership on this committee, however, is intent on rewriting history.

The New York Times describes the effects of the Equal Rights Amendment as potentially widespread, ranging from pay equity and stronger domestic violence laws for women to greater access to paternity leave for men.

A bipartisan effort launched in the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year to have the state ratify the amendment, but it went nowhere -- once opponents charged that it could lead to more abortions.

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Speaking of Doug Collins, the Georgia congressman today intends to re-introduce legislation intended to encourage broadband development in economically disadvantaged communities. The bill would allow governors to designate one-fourth of their state’s low-income communities as “gigabit opportunities zones” that would provide tax incentives for companies to invest in broadband expansion. Collins introduced similar legislation in 2017.

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Gov. Brian Kemp has tapped 18 members to serve on his administration’s Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Commission, a group that includes lawyers, singers, studio executives, lawmakers and an ice cream store owner.

The group will help advise the state on policies involving the booming film industry - and perhaps help counter Hollywood blowback to the anti-abortion law that Kemp signed earlier this year. 

The members include country music singer Danny Dawson, Pinewood Atlanta Studios President Frank Patterson and several state lawmakers: Republicans Jeff Mullis, Bert Reeves and Terry Rogers; and Democrats Carl Gilliard and David Lucas.

Another appointee: Stratton Leopold, the owner of Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah and a former executive with Paramount Pictures. Any visitors to his store won’t be surprised by that fact - the walls are adorned with nostalgia from his movie-making days. 

***

Many Georgia voters are waiting to see which Democrat is nominated to run against U.S. Sen. David Perdue before deciding if they will back him for another term, according to a recent poll conducted exclusively for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

About 35% of voters said they support Perdue, a Republican, and 21% would back a generic Democratic opponent. However, another 41% said it depends on who the Democratic nominee is.

The senator’s favorability rating has increased marginally in polls since January to about 49%, but so has the percentage of voters saying they have unfavorable opinions of Perdue. In the most recent poll, 34% said they view Perdue unfavorably.

***

One Perdue opponent, Democrat Teresa Tomlinson, tells us that five-term state Sen. Lester Jackson of Savannah has endorsed her U.S. Senate campaign.

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