Refrigerator Magnet Talking Points From the GOP

Let’s get this straight.

Republicans want you to believe that there is a groundswell of public support for the kind of shenanigans Mitch McConnell has been playing with the federal courts. They want you to believe that since court nominations have to be approved by the Senate, the tactics they have been using have the broad and growing support of the American People.

That’s absolutely false. The Democratic Party has been outdrawing Republicans at the polls by a 20% margin since Trump became president.

They are doing this, in part, to try to use the courts to rig the election, but also because they know they are headed for disaster in November. They want Biden supporters and voters for Democrats in the senate to give up hope.

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Four days ago, Mitch McConnell, supposing to justify reversing his own 2016 “rule” prohibiting taking up a Supreme Court nomination in a presidential election year, had this to say:

Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.

Of course the 2016 version of McConnell’s ‘concern for the will of the people’ resulted in the effective theft of what was to become Merrick Garland’s seat on the Supreme Court.
That hypocrisy has been well-covered. It’s not the focus here.

In essence, McConnell claims that the 2016 and 2018 Senate elections amounted to a ratification of Republican policy and a mandate for the Senate to rubber-stamp Trump’s pending Supreme Court nomination.

The data says otherwise:

2016 — Republicans actually lost two seats

From McConnell’s statement, the 2016 election amounted to some sort of ratification of the “Garland refusal.” (“Americans reelected our majority.) In truth, Democrats picked up two seats, in Illinois and New Hampshire. Republicans did not pick up new seats anywhere. The Republicans went from a 54-seat majority to 52.

2018 — Republicans picked up two seats, but . . .

Republicans picked up a net of two seats in 2018. The “class” of Senators exposed to election that year consisted mostly of Democrats, and three were from deeply Red states who had benefitted from Obama’s coattails in the 2012 election.

Democrats’ seats in Missouri, Indiana and South Dakota were known to be on life-support going in. A fourth seat, in Florida, was flipped by a margin of 10,000 votes out of 8.1 million cast — with the usual dollops Florida election-integrity questions in the Republican-run election.

Democrats flipped two seats from Red to Blue, in Nevada and Arizona.

So with 10,000 votes going the other way in Florida would have resulted in a 3-to-3 standoff in seats.

Popular Vote — The Biggest Lie

So the entire rationale for playing hardball with the current nomination process is that the American People had ratified Republican rule in the last two elections because they so loved Trump’s “outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary.”

Adding up the popular vote in the senatorial contests from each year repudiates McConnell’s thesis:


Republicans: 40,402,790 — — 42.40%

Democrats: 51,496,682 — — 53.8%


Republicans: 34,723,013 — — 38.80%

Democrats: 52,260,651 — — 58.40%

Note that Democratic popular support actually increased in 2018, contrary to McConnell’s claims that voters intended to ratify Republican policy. And Republican support actually dropped by about 6 million votes from 2016 to 2018.

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The truth of the matter is that the Republican party is on life-support. The fact that barely populated Red states get the same number of senators as California gives the GOP a disproportionate advantage in the Senate. Listening to McConnell, you’d think that in terms of the popular will, both parties are roughly equal.

Even with the inherent Red tilt, there is a better than even chance that the Democrats will regain control of the Senate in 2020. FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats 61-to-39 percent chance of regaining a majority.

This is also why there has been revived interest in adding the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as states, something that could be accomplished by majority vote in Congress if a Democratic Senate is elected along with Biden.

So McConnell’s pronouncement, quoted above, is just so much word salad. It’s refrigerator magnets: “American people” plus whatever else is within easy reach.

It is also part of the propaganda war: That same pitch was recited dozens of times by flip-flopping Republican senators in interviews on television and radio over the past four days.

It sounds pretty reasonable. Unless you know the facts.

[Election data from Wikipedia: ]



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