All posts by subir

1947: When even the fruit on the trees tasted of blood.

70 years ago today, the British government, exhausted by the second World War retreated from its largest colony, India. In doing so, the British Empire finally acquiesced to the right of the sub-continent’s peoples to determine their own political fate.

The first, halting steps towards devolution of power were made in response to enormous Indian military and materiel contributions during World War I. It took decades of violent rebellion, non-violent protest and eventually, the cost of the second World War to loosen the British grip on India. After all that, in mid-August 1947, two new nations, India and Pakistan were created. Suddenly, almost 400 million people were free. Decolonization in India eventually led to the collapse of all European colonies across Asia and Africa.

There were a multitude of reasons that the Indian independence movement had split along religious lines and led to demands for two separate nations. But chief among them was identity. As with most places, the people of the sub-continent find their identities in ethnicity, language, culture, politics and yes religion as well.

It was religion and a fear of subordination that divided United India in two. Pakistan for the Muslim majority regions, and India for the Hindu majority regions. Later, in the 20th century, the two geographically separate halves of Pakistan split along ethnic and linguistic lines. East Pakistan became Bangladesh, with some help from the Indian army and much resistance from West Pakistani forces.

The primary Pakistani and Indian leaders at independence almost without exception failed to understand the ramifications of the ethno-religious-nationalism they had set in motion with partition. The New York Times has published two essays to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian and Pakistani independence, both worth reading. Pankaj Mishra’s India at 70, and the Passing of Another Illusion discusses how India’s political establishment has failed to live up to the democratic ideals expressed at independence. Abbas Nasir’s How Pakistan Abandoned Jinnah’s Ideals give the Pakistani elite the same treatment.

On August 14th, 1947, when Pakistan became independent of the British Empire, it’s precise borders were unknown. On August 15th, 1947, when India became independent, it’s borders were uncertain. For tens of millions of people in Punjab, Sindh and Bengal, the celebrations were colored by a deep uncertainty. Would their homes end up on the “wrong” side of the border, and would they be forced to flee?

Not till August 16th, 1947 was the Radcliffe line defining the borders between India and Pakistan disclosed to representatives of the two new nations. It was published on the 17th. Cyril Radcliffe, an British lawyer with no previous Indian experience was given five weeks to consult with the Boundary Commission and determine the borders based on Muslim, Sikh and Hindu majorities in different areas. Radcliffe left the country before the results were published and reportedly refused payment for the service.

As soon as the Radcliffe line was made public, a great migration was set in motion. Eventually, 15 million people would migrate under panicked circumstances, from homes within India to Pakistan and vice-versa. Over 11 million of those migrations would be in Punjab and Sindh, the vast province in the north-west. Within a few months, a society and culture that had evolved over centuries shattered along communal lines.

Sporadic violence, which had begun prior to independence, spiraled out of control as the ramifications of partition became clear to individuals and communities. Neither the British colonial authorities nor the newly constituted Indian and Pakistani governments were prepared for what ensued. As people left villages and towns that had been home to their families for centuries, theft and extortion grew rampant. Killings were followed by reprisals, rape and abduction by more abduction and rape.

By 1948, over 2 million people were believed to have gone missing. The number murdered was in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps as high as 2 million. Hundreds of thousands of women and children were abducted and new identities forced upon them.

The magnitude and scale of the panicked migration and the violence that ensued is difficult to comprehend. The ferocity and intimacy of the pogroms has few comparisons in history. In many places, neighbors murdered and preyed on people they had known for generations.

In villages where not much had changed for centuries, the migration and blood-letting erased a third or more of their population within a matter of days. Virtually every part of Punjab and Sindh suddenly lost the human element of half their culture.

Across what once was a United Punjab, in thousands of towns and villages, lie the crumbling ruins of unattended temples, mosques and gurudwaras. The people who worshipped there spirited away to the other side of the border, or killed in their homes or along the way.

Not all these abandoned places of worship are neglected. Some are tended by an aging man or woman who does not pray to this particular god. They tend to these physical spaces in the memory of a childhood friend or neighbor. It is, a higher, more human form of devotion.


During the First and Second World Wars, the civilian population of India was rarely threatened directly. The German light cruiser Emden did bombard Madras in World War I.  In World War II, the Japanese advance (aided by Bose’s INA) was stopped decisively in Kohima, though Andaman and Nicobar were occupied. The butchery of civilians that was a feature of WW-II in both Asia and Europe did not reach United India. Nevertheless, India did not remain unaffected. 2 million civilians starved to death during the Bengal famine, many in the streets of Calcutta, within sight of colonial bureaucrats who could have alleviated their suffering. This indifference reached the very top of the British government.

For most Indians and many Pakistanis, the independence celebrations on August 14th and 15th remain joyful celebrations. As the 19th and 20th centuries progressed, British rule was increasingly seen as onerous, capricious and unnatural. At Jalianwala Bagh in Amritsar, while hundreds of thousands of Indian sepoys fought across Europe and the Middle-East under the British banner, Indian Army troops were ordered by their British officer to fire on unarmed protesters. A thousand people were killed. That attack on an peaceful gathering led even the most Anglophile of Indians to question continued British presence in India.

The population of United India was just under 400 million on the eve of partition. A small fraction of the population, less than 5%, was forced to migrate. Most Muslim populations across North and South India, far from the borders stayed in place. The migrations were largely restricted to Bengal and the states along the Indus river, Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir.

Bengal remained, for a variety of reasons, relatively free of violence. The sons and daughters of Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir killed each other till the rivers literally turned red. This year again, the anniversary of independence/partition will evoke a mixture of both pride and shame for many in Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir.

The Washington Post has an article on the horrors of Partition with oral histories.

This diary’s title is taken from one of those histories:

Even the fruit on the trees tasted of blood, recalls Sudershana Kumari, who fled from her home town in Pakistan to India. “When you broke a branch, red would come out,” she said, painting an image of how much blood had soaked the soil in India.

The New York Times also asked readers to contribute oral histories. There are millions of such stories.

Several artists have mined the trauma of partition for material, producing books, short stories and movies.

Mohinder Sarna’s short stories on partition are now available in English, a collection titled Savage Harvest. They cannot be recommended highly enough. Intizar Hussein wrote extensively on partition, including in the novel Basti. Jyotirmoyee Devi’s novella Epar Ganga, Opar Ganga was translated into English as The River Churning. Numerous authors approached the vicious violence of partition from a distance, discussing it in the abstract or from a child’s perspective. Bapsi Sidhwa’s novels, especially Ice-Candy Man (later re-titled Cracking India) is a great example. Khuswant Singh’s Train to Pakistan is unflinchingly different in that respect. Saadat Hassan Manto’s short stories are generally superb, and several deal with the partitionToba Tek Singh is the most widely known. Naseem Hijazi’s Khaak aur Khoon is only available in Urdu, but Anis Kidwai’s memoir, In Freedom’s Shade, has been translated into English. Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas is also accesible in English. More recently, Anuradha Roy’s novel An Atlas of Impossible Longing is set across several decades, including the 1940s. Amit Majmudar’s Partitions narrates the story of three children and an old man trying to travel to safety. And of course, there is Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

When it comes to movies, Garam Hawa is considered the classic. Shyam Benegal’s Mammo is probably a close second. Khamosh Pani is intense and moving. Kartar Singh was one of the earliest movies on the partition, and featured Amrita Pritam’s poem Aaj Aakhan Waris Shah Nun. The later Bollywood movie Pinjar included the poem too, it is probably the most widely known poe on partition. Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan was turned into a movie, as was Sahni’s Tamas. The sprawling TV series Buniyaad aired in the 1980s and continues to find an audience.

Since the violence largely impacted Punjab, Punjabi (on both sides of the current border) authors are over-represented. It is the primary historical topic in Punjabi literature of the 20th century.

When it comes to non-fiction, Collins and Lapierre’s Freedom at Midnight is an accessible and dramatic retelling of partition. I read it as a teenager and I still recall my initial shock at the scale and scope of the violence. In most families, the trauma of partition was not openly discussed. Several non-fiction works have focused on the partition including Yasmin Khan’s The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan. Urvashi Butalia’s The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India relates interviews with a number of people who lived through 1947. Nisid Hajari’s Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition recounts the events with a reporter’s viewpoint.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted to NotMeUs.org

 

Book Discussion – Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

Jonathan Allen covered the White House and the 2016 campaign for Bloomberg News. Amie Parnes is the White House correspondent for The Hill. In 2015, they published a book titled HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton.

Allen and Parnes covered the Clinton campaign starting in 2014, planning to write another book about it. In their introduction, they explain that they thought they’d be writing about the election of a woman for the first time as President. Instead, they, like most of us, were shocked and now we have a book that chronicles infighting, mistakes and strategic errors. It’s: Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

It’s getting a lot of press. Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone is unforgiving:

Allen and Parnes here quoted a Clinton aide who jokingly summed up Clinton’s real motivation: “I would have had a reason for running,” one of her top aides said, “or I wouldn’t have run.”

The beleaguered Clinton staff spent the better part of two years trying to roll this insane tautology – “I have a reason for running because no one runs without a reason” – into the White House. It was a Beltway take on the classic Descartes formulation: “I seek re-election, therefore I am… seeking re-election.”

— www.rollingstone.com/…

Even if you detest Taibi, which doubtless many here do, it’s worth paying attention to one of his conclusions:

The real protagonist of this book is a Washington political establishment that has lost the ability to explain itself or its motives to people outside the Beltway.

Ron Elving over at NPR reviewed the book more sympathetically:

‘Shattered’ Picks Through The Broken Pieces Of Hillary Clinton’s Dream

There is no Big Reveal, no shocking secret answer. Instead we get a slow-building case against the concept and execution of the Clinton campaign, with plenty of fault falling squarely on the candidate herself.

Far from a juggernaut, the campaign we see in these pages is plagued with division, unease and anxiety practically from the outset. When things go right, it only means they are soon to go terribly wrong. Win a primary, lose a caucus. Quash a rumor, see three more go viral. Close one wound and find another torn open again. […]

The Clinton we see here seems uniquely qualified for the highest office and yet acutely ill-suited to winning it. Something about her nature, at its best and its worst, continually inhibits her. Her struggle to escape her caricature only contributes to it.

— www.npr.org/…

Business Insider has a round-up of staffers who are challenging the depiction of infighting in the campaign. Politico is reporting the same. The NY Times review and the book discuss Clinton’s own puzzlement at why white working-class voters, who were loyal to her in 2008 weren’t on board this time around. The WaPo review focuses on the description of election night, when Obama called Hillary urging her to concede and not drag it out.

Basically, everyone’s talking about it.

I’ll chime in with my own view and then leave it to comments. I still haven’t finished the book, which seems a bit gossipy to me. But I followed along during the campaign to know the arc.

My own take is that some of the mistakes being chronicled are overblown. Presidential campaigns are insanely fast-moving affairs where inevitably, mistakes are made and bad news comes out. Enormous teams are put together at short notice, and sometimes they fuck up. People have personality conflicts and everyone’s working in a pressure cooker, the stakes are high, tempers flare, and dog-eat-dog inclinations are indulged by some. The Trump campaign was a master class of ineptitude, infighting, scandal, distaste and overall disaster.

Basically, I don’t think campaign mis-steps made the difference. In the end, I think the crucial difference was that this was an anti-establishment cycle (in terms of the Beltway establishment) and it was going to be an uphill fight for someone like Hillary Clinton. Some missteps made much earlier snowballed. High level aides okayed the paid speeches and private e-mail server, for reasons that seemed very reasonable when the decisions were made, but then turned into a nightmare when the anti-establishment climate reified. There was likely some foreign meddling, and a candidate on the other side who did his best to outflank Clinton by running as a (fake) populist. Clinton’s natural inclination towards moderation and the center, which should have been a strength, became a weakness, and the industrial mid-west was torn away. It was probably a mistake to not show up in Michigan and Wisconsin, but Pennsylvania was lost though resources were poured into it.

Personally, I regret Hillary Clinton’s loss. I thought she was the most prepared and competent candidate in 2008. I thought much the same in 2016, with several reservations. The Trump administration’s vindictive meanness and ineptitude should shut up all the people who said there was no difference between the candidates.

After all that though, the question we’re left with is why it was so close.

The blame for that cannot be placed on Hillary Clinton’s shoulders alone. Or indeed on her campaign, which was effective on many traditional measures. In a very real sense, this election was a bipartisan indictment of Washington by voters. Yes, not the majority, but we are all adults and knew what the electoral college was going into this.

In my view, to win in the future we have to focus more on local/state level politics rather than the Presidency exclusively. Income inequality is the biggest issue in this country, we have to address it head on, without reservation and our messaging should reflect that. It is actually where the fight is, though they try to hide it, the Republican objective is to maintain the current gross levels of income inequality. We have to show people we are not going to stand for that.

HR-676: Medicare for All has 100 co-sponsors. Over 51% of Democratic House Caucus now supports it.

H.R. 676 now has 100 co-sponsors, the most it has ever seen. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) was the 100th co-sponsor, he signed on yesterday:

John Conyers (D-MI) has sponsored the Medicare for All bill since 2003. Here he is explaining why:

The current tally of 100 co-sponsors is the most this bill has ever had during Conyers’ relentless effort over 15 years to get it passed. The past high was in the 110th Congress, when the bill had 93 co-sponsors. The Democratic caucus was 233 members then, which meant less than 40% of Democrats supported Medicare For All. Today, we are over 51%.

CONGRESS YEARS CO-SPONSORS
108TH 2003-2004 38
109TH 2005-2006 78
110TH 2007-2008 93
111TH 2009-2010 87
112TH 2011-2012 77
113TH 2013-2014 63
114TH 2015-2016 62
115TH 2017-2018 100

What can I do to help?

It’s very unlikely that HR 676 will be considered during this Republican controlled Congress. But it is important to get as much of the Democratic caucus behind HR 676 as we can. If your Representative isn’t on the list of co-sponsors, give them a call and ask them why not. While you’re at it, you may want to ask them whether they’ve considered joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Bernie’s the most popular politician in US. Favorability at 58% among Women.

The Harvard Harris poll sampled over 2000 voters across the country last week (April 14-17).

Sanders is viewed favorably by 57 percent of registered voters, according to data from a Harvard-Harris survey provided exclusively to The Hill. Sanders is the only person in a field of 16 Trump administration officials or congressional leaders included in the survey who is viewed favorably by a majority of those polled. […]

Only 32 percent have a negative view of Sanders, including nearly two-thirds of Republicans.

— thehill.com/…

It’s important to note that the survey looked only at current politicians, not those who aren’t in office today. Obama’s approval rating is also in the high 50s.

Equally interesting is the fact that Bernie’s support is very broad and crosses gender, race and age lines. He enjoys high levels of support among Women, African American and Latino voters. Those demographics favor him more than younger voters who are often assumed to be the overwhelming source of support for Bernie. But older voters support Bernie as well:

Sanders also has majority support among those over the age of 50.

There continue to be concerted efforts to erase the diversity of Bernie’s supporters on DKos and off it. Several diarists have continued the practice they adopted during the primaries, of referring to Bernie’s supporters as “Bernie Bros”, in a blatant attempt to paint all his supporters as white men. Kos has been providing fuel for this narrative throughout, and he continues to do it today, on and off this site:

“I would say that I’m focused on building this inclusive party of tomorrow. There was a contingent of Bernie bros that still exist, that are still whining and crying and making demands, instead of putting their words into actions,” — www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Bernie also enjoys 80% support among Democrats. Yes, that’s despite his not being a Democrat. Apparently, voters don’t seem to care, possibly because most voters are right there with him. Gallup’s party affiliation poll from last month found 40% of Americans consider themselves independents, far higher than the 30% who say they’re Democrats, and 26% who are Republicans. Most Democrats have friends, neighbors and relatives who aren’t, and they understand that values matter more than party affiliation.

Interestingly, Bernie’s name recognition (85%) is higher than that of Vice-President Mike Pence (80%), though lower than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (95% each).

Here’s a view of the 10 politicians with the highest favorables:

Politician Favorable unfavorable Net Fav
Bernie Sanders 57% 32% 25%
Mike Pence 44% 41% 3%
Donald Trump 44% 51% -7%
Hillary Clinton 42% 53% -11%
Elizabeth Warren 38% 32% 6%
Paul Ryan 34% 47% -13%
neil Gorsuch 34% 29% 5%
Nancy pelosi 31% 48% -17%
Chuck Schumer 27% 35% -8%
Rex tillerson 27% 31% -4%

It’s noteworthy that the next highest net favorables are for Elizabeth Warren, part of the Democratic wing which leans left on both economic and social issues.

The table collapses “very favorable” and “favorable” into one number. The rest of the cabinet and advisors like Kushner, Bannon languished in the low 20s or below for approval. Bannon had the worst numbers, 16% favorable, 45% unfavorable, for -29% favorability. Mitch McConnell wasn’t that far ahead, with 23% favorable, 42% unfavorable, or -19%.

Sourced from the results in the Harvard/Harris poll (link to PDF download).

— Also posted at DailyKos and Medium.

Montana and Rob Quist may be the best chance to win a house seat this year (May 25).

The next special election is for Montana’s At-Large district, on May 25. The seat was most recently held by Ryan Zinke, who is now serving as Trump’s Secretary of the Interior.

Rob Quist is running on the Democratic ticket. He is endorsed by Our Revolution and by Daily Kos. Quist is a working musician who’s performed across Big Sky Country for decades. He’s best known as a member of the Mission Mountain Wood Band which headlined bluegrass/folk music concerts across Montana and much of the US in the 70s.

How you can help

Over at Our Revolution, we’re phone-banking for Rob Quist every Thursday and Saturday. We’ll be texting for the candidate the week before the election. Join us to volunteer, or contribute to the campaign.

Rob’s opponent is Greg Gianforte, a millionaire businessman and supporter of creationist causes who moved from New Jersey to Montana.

Montana has a Democratic governor in Steve Bullock, who enjoys 60% favorability, and a Democratic senator in Jon Tester. In many ways, this is the most favorable district of the five special elections this year. Historic margins for Democrats in these five districts is below (figures in bold represent an election without an incumbent running, or where the incumbent lost):

YEAR KS-4 GA-6 PA-10 SC-5 MT-AL
2017 -6.8% Apr 18, Jun 20 TBD Jun 20 May 25
2016 -31% -23% -40% -21% -16%
2014 -33% -22% -38% -31% -15%
2012 -33% -29% -31% -11% -11%
2010 -22% -99% -10% -10% -27%
2008 -31% -37% 7% 25% -32%
2006 -30% -45% 6% 14% -20%
2004 -35% -100% -86% 26% -32%

His campaign fits Montana, though it has had a low profile nationally:

When Quist arrived last month in Fort Benton, Chouteau County’s biggest town, nearly 70 people gathered to hear him speak. “We’re a very Republican, red, conservative area,” Bailey told The Huffington Post by phone in a recent interview, describing the first rally they held with Quist in March. “I was like, ‘Holy cow!’”

Now, his rallies regularly draw hundreds. It’s precisely the kind of organizing Democrats say is essential to rebuilding the party and taking back power. But back in Washington, Democrats are conflicted on how or whether to get involved in the race. Some aren’t following it at all.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s national mobilization chair in 2016. “Montana special election?” Clyburn said, when HuffPost asked if the DCCC planned to get more involved in the race. Somebody nearby told him the race was to replace Zinke. “Oh, I didn’t know about that,” Clyburn said. — www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Quist has done a great job raising money, though we can expect his past financial troubles (some caused by poor health) to become an issue in the campaign:

We received 22,333 individual contributions with an average donation of just $40. Thanks Montana! http://robquist.org/quist-campaign-rolls-past-1-3-million-raised-releases-q1-fec-filing/ 

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has announced that he will be campaigning across Montana in May to support the campaign for Congress of Democrat Rob Quist, a folk musician from the Flathead Valley. — missoulian.com/…

View image on Twitter

If we want to build state parties, we should bypass DNC/JFCs and give to states directly.

I’ll cut to the recommendation first: If you’re a donor, and wish to support state and local parties, then cut the check to them directly. Don’t send funds to the DNC or to Joint Fundraising Committees. If Democrats want to have a 50 state strategy, we should give directly to state parties.

I’ll go into this in detail below the fold, but here’s the gist. I looked at the flows of contributions during the 2016 campaign between the biggest Joint Fundraising Committee (which raised over $530 million), the DNC and state parties. Donations made to the Joint Fundraising Committee end up primarily with presidential campaigns, back at the DNC, or redirected to states that are a priority for the presidential race.

Only a very small amount will actually make it down to non-battleground states to express a 50 state strategy. Fundraisers working for presidential campaigns feel they’ve brought in the money and should be able to direct it where they believe it will best help them. The DNC assisted in the effort.

If we believe that state parties should be strengthened, if we trust they know best how to organize and run campaigns in their states, if we want a 50 state strategy, then we should give directly to the state parties. Take what presidential campaign fund-raisers tell you about helping state parties with a grain of salt. Their priority is always going to be the top of the ticket, the presidential campaign.

If you’re in a state that you think don’t needs help, adopt a different state and give to them (both time and money). My “adopted state” is Montana.

Why am I bothering with this?

Here’s what got me going on this. Back in May and July of last year, Politico published a couple of articles about how little money state parties were getting from Joint Fundraising Committees they’d signed up for.

I did a diary at the time: Dear state party: We’re wiring $1 million, wire 900k of it to the DNC today (wink wink nudge nudge). The story was about the Hillary Victory Fund, a Joint Fundraising Committee (JFC) set up between the presidential campaign, the DNC and state parties. The joint effort allowed the committee to ask a donor for over $700,000 in total. This was accomplished by pooling together all their contribution limits for state, national parties and the presidential campaign. Several donors did in fact make such large donations, and at least some thought (or said) it would be going to state parties or “down-ticket”:

Then he [George Clooney] told Todd, “The overwhelming amount of money that we’re raising, and it is a lot, but the overwhelming amount of the money that we’re raising is not going to Hillary to run for president, it’s going to the down-ticket. — www.politico.com/…

I decided to take another look at this after questions were raised during the KS-4 special election. James Thompson’s campaign wanted the state party to kick in $20k, but they had a lot of other competing priorities. There was some discussion about DNC/JFC contributions and how small they ended up being. They were also meant for the 2016 campaign, but anyway, this is what prompted me to take another look.

So, what did I find?

I used data from the reports on transfer to/from affiliated committees at the FEC for the following committees/parties:

  • Hillary Victory Fund: C00586537
  • DNC Services Corp./DEM. NAT’L COMMITTEE: C00010603

These reports have information on what state parties received from the DNC and JFC, and what they sent to the DNC. The DNC and state parties can legally transfer unlimited funds amongst themselves. The JFC disbursed funds to the state parties based on a pre-agreed allocation formula. Donors who hit their contribution limits for the presidential campaign or DNC would see surplus funds sent to state parties.

Screen_Shot_2017-04-13_at_2.59.59_PM.png
Joint Fundraising Committee disbursements

The Joint Fundraising Committee (JFC) raised $530 million during the cycle. 27.4% of that went to pay for expenses, much of which was advertising that was similar to the presidential campaign and helped drive small contributions (not subject to limits).

$378 million (71.4%) was distributed the committees. Of that, 41% ($158 million) went to the presidential campaign committee which had also raised another $408 million on its own. A further 28% ($107 million) went to the DNC. That left 31% ($122 million) for the state parties.

$122 million sounds pretty good. What’s even better is that $94 million went to the 44 non-battleground states. And then something else happened. The DNC recalled $85 million from the states. That left $37 million with the states. Whoa, doesn’t sound as good.

HVF-DNC.png
Six battleground states got most the money from the JFC and DNC.

Then, the DNC distributed funds to state parties again, and they distributed more than the $85 million they’d taken out. They sent $114 million down to the states. That sounds really good!

But here’s the catch. The redistribution favored the 6 presidential battleground states disproportionately (FL, PA, OH, NC, NV and VA). These 6 battleground states net over $96 million from the DNC and JFC combined. That’s over $16 million per state. The remaining 44 state parties (plus territories) received only $55 million. That’s $1.1 million per state. A fifteen to one disparity. If we think about it another way, the six battleground states between them had 80 House seats at stake. That’s $1.2 million per house seat. The remaining 355 voting house seats got $155,000 each.

CATEGORY RECEIVED FROM JFC LESS TRANSFERRED TO DNC PLUS TRANSFERS FROM DNC
PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN $158,200,000 $158,200,000 $158,200,000
DNC $107,533,318 $192,709,118 $68,460,077
BATTLEGROUND STATE PARTY  $18,580,413  $12,001,913  $95,566,561
STATE PARTY  $93,780,949  $15,183,649  $55,868,042
TOTAL $378,094,680 $378,094,680 $378,094,680

PS. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin should have been in that mix of battleground, but that’s hindsight. Also, not every state participated in the joint fundraising with JFC, only 38 of them did. The DNC also transferred funds to states that weren’t in the JFC. Bernie’s JFC sent 250k to the DNC, I did not include that in this calculation.

What does this tell us? Basically, that the DNC and the Joint Fundraising Committee were focused on the presidential campaign. Heck, that is actually the DNC’s job and the Joint Fund-raising committee was called “Hillary Victory Fund”. It wasn’t called “50 state strategy, down-ballot candidates Victory Fund”. So it should be obvious what the intention is.

However, claims were made that donations would help build state parties and down-ballot candidates. At least when we follow the money, that doesn’t seem to be true.

As an aside, the same thing was happening on the Republican end as well. Kansas Republicans got $1.35 million from their JFC (Trump Victory), and they sent $1.37 million back up to the RNC.

Which states got the least?

I’ll share the complete data set I was working with in a comment after a couple of days. But here are a bunch of states that were part of the Joint Fundraising Committee and received money from the Joint Fundraising Committee, only to send it up to the DNC almost immediately.  They were essentially used as a pass through account.

STATE FROM JFC SENT TO DNC LEFT WITH DNC LATER SENT NET NET AS % OF JFC
MISSOURI  $3,043,700  $3,033,700  $10,000  $693,142  $703,142 23%
INDIANA  $3,015,400  $2,947,000  $68,400  $634,688  $703,088 23%
NEW MEXICO  $2,494,300  $2,494,300  $-  $649,690  $649,690 26%
TEXAS  $2,993,000  $2,978,000  $15,000  $523,625  $538,625 18%
LOUISIANA  $3,018,100  $3,008,100  $10,000  $424,981  $434,981 14%
OREGON  $3,024,500  $3,014,500  $10,000  $339,004  $349,004 12%
UTAH  $3,011,700  $3,001,700  $10,000  $328,576  $338,576 11%
MISSISSIPPI  $3,025,700  $3,015,700  $10,000  $313,120  $323,120 11%
KANSAS  $2,496,300  $2,496,300  $-  $317,766  $317,766 13%
ALASKA  $3,005,700  $2,995,700  $10,000  $298,125  $308,125 10%
OKLAHOMA  $3,013,100  $3,003,100  $10,000  $296,830  $306,830 10%
NEW JERSEY  $2,509,800  $2,509,800  $-  $300,009  $300,009 12%
MONTANA  $2,996,900  $2,986,900  $10,000  $289,273  $299,273 10%
WYOMING  $3,023,500  $2,970,000  $53,500  $225,933  $279,433 9%
MASSACHUSETTS  $3,017,800  $3,005,800  $12,000  $260,809  $272,809 9%
WEST VIRGINIA  $3,015,400  $3,005,400  $10,000  $262,012  $272,012 9%

Many of them have small populations, are deep red/blue and didn’t have a senate race. But they did participated in the JFC and their contribution limits helped raise high-dollar amounts from donors. And these state parties need the money. Let’s take Kansas for example, they raised about $800k from other sources for this cycle. Their total operating budget was $1.2 million, which was better than Kansas Republicans at $423k, but if they’d been able to keep a larger portion of the $3 million they initially received, the party would be transformed.

Mississippi, is an even more extreme example. Mississippi Democrats raised $140k total, their total operating expenses were $454k. That’s for the entire 2016 cycle, start to finish. If Mississippi had been able to keep the $3 million initially sent to them by the JFC, the state party would have had ten times the money they did. They might have been able to run more voter registration drives, help with local campaigns, groom future candidates, support volunteers on the ground. Instead, they sent it back to the DNC, who in turn sent it to Ohio because it was a priority for the presidential campaign.

Yes, this ignores many things. The presidential campaign and DNC spent on technology that arguably helped all. The DNC funded the convention, education and training for state parties. A presidential campaign has coat-tails and presidential campaigns help turn out the vote for down-ballot candidates. But did that really happen in Mississippi?

PS. Let’s avoid the pie fight in this diary, that was not the intent here. When I write a pie-fight diary you’ll know it.

— Cross-posted at DailyKos | @subirgrewal

Koch Industries almost got a progressive Democrat as their Congressman.

* Since corporations are people, I think my headline is fair.

The difference was just about 6,000 votes. There were a lot of nay-sayers, including on this site. Several people assumed the GOP was playing mind-games or fifth-dimensional chess by diverting resources to this race.

The closeness of this race should be a reminder that progressive Democrats do have a chance to win, even in the reddest of districts.

We have a chance to win districts that are 84% white.

We have a chance to win districts that are home to Koch industries.

We have a chance to win districts where the Republican won by 30% in the previous election.

What it takes is a candidate who is willing to do the work and has a message that resonates with working people.

As volunteers, we should flock to such a candidate to help campaign and GotV.

For everyone who says Democrats don’t vote in off-years, this district puts you to shame.

YEAR R VOTES D VOTES R DROP D DROP
2004 173,171 81,388
2006 113,676 60,297 -34% -26%
2008 177,617 90,706
2010 119,575 74,143 -33% -18%
2012 161,094 81,770
2014* 138,757 69,396 -14% -15%
2016 166,998 81,495
2017 60,945 51,467 -64% -36%

*No libertarian candidate ran in 2014.

Off-year voter turnout for Democrats is better than it is for Republicans. The one outlier (2014) isn’t perfectly comparable because no Libertarian ran.

So let’s not say Democrats don’t turn up to vote in off-cycles. Democrats showed up to vote, we beat GOP turnout by 28%.

There will be a lot of discussion about this race. Was it a sensible allocation of resources to send $8 million and boatloads of attention to Jon Ossoff in GA-6 while sending no money and no attention to James Thompson? Would national Democrats have responded differently if Dennis McKinney had won the primary (i.e. was it about the candidate rather than the race)?

If everyone is afraid of “nationalizing” races and attack ads the GOP might run featuring Pelosi/Schumer etc, shouldn’t we all just go hide under a rock till the GOP promises never to run attack ads? Did the “stealth strategy” achieve its purpose? No, the NRCC eventually did run ads tying Thompson to Pelosi, Cruz visited and Trump robocalled. Shouldn’t the DCCC follow the NRCC’s lead and compete everywhere? Or should they keep all their powder dry for GA-6? It’s the only race they’re asking people to volunteer for.

Whatever you think about those questions, today’s result should lead you to one conclusion. We can win. We can win in Kansas, we can win in Montana, we can win in Georgia, we can win in South Carolina. We need to put in the work, and do it everywhere.

There is not a liberal America and a conservative Americathere is the United States of America”. — Barack Obama

Next stop, Montana. Let’s work on election Rob Quist to Congress. Donate to his campaign here. Rob is well known across Montana, and is endorsed by Our Revolution which will GotV for him. He has momentum. Please help by volunteering. You can text, phonebank, or donate.

* GA-6 will likely end up in a run-off on June 20.

— Cross-posted at DailyKos.com | @subirgrewal

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. Did national Democrats do enough to support Thompson’s run?

James Thompson lost last night. I want to discuss why national Democrats (DCCC, DNC, Senators, etc) were conspicuously absent from the KS-4 race. I think these are worth discussing, since the same questions will come up in the other races. Particularly MT-AL, where Rob Quist is running.

No Democratic celebrity donors were asked to pump cash into the Kansas race for TV ads or other campaigning. The campaign decided not to fund a poll because they were prioritizing other spending. This is a sharp contrast to GA-6, where major donors have pumped in over $8 million in cash. High profile politicians have been talking that race up for weeks.

More below the break.

Was KS-4 too red? Would it have been a waste of resources?

This is the most popular explanation for why the campaign received no help from the national party.

Here’s a look at the five special elections we have coming up. CA-34 isn’t that relevant since two Democrats made it into the run-off, pretty much what has happened in the last two cycles there.

Here’s a table with the Democrat’s margin in house races going back 12 years. -20% means the Democrat lost by 20 points. Positive values mean the Democrat won. We’ve lost both KS-4 and GA-6 for a dozen years. Keep in mind districts were redrawn for 2012 after the 2010 census.

YEAR KS-4 GA-6 PA-10 SC-5 MT-AL
2017 -6.8% Apr 18, Jun 20 TBD Jun 20 May 25
2016 -31% -23% -40% -21% -16%
2014 -33% -22% -38% -31% -15%
2012 -33% -29% -31% -11% -11%
2010 -22% -99% -10% -10% -27%
2008 -31% -37% 7% 25% -32%
2006 -30% -45% 6% 14% -20%
2004 -35% -100% -86% 26% -32%

Cells in bold are elections where the incumbent lost, or where no incumbent was running.

KS-4 is a red district, reddest of the bunch. But it’s not that much redder than GA-6.

And there was reason to hope, Estes was in Sam Brownback’s cabinet, and governor Brownback’s approval ratings were at 23%. Estes also ran a lackluster campaign. Thompson is a veteran and ran a campaign that fit his district (yes, he did have a campaign ad with him shooting a rifle at an outdoor target range).

Is a seat in the US House of Representatives worth enough that we’ll spend to turn out another 6,000 voters? We know the voters are there. 81,495 people voted for the Democratic candidate in the November election for the House seat. 55,310 turned up to vote in yesterday. If the DCCC had funded a poll, or helped with some outreach earlier (they eventually made 25,000 live calls a day before the election), could we have turned out 6,000 more voters?  We’ll never really know.

Was it best to be in “stealth mode” in KS-4?

A lot of people said it didn’t make sense to “ nationalize” the election. The funny thing is, the Republicans weren’t scared to “nationalize” it. They sent in Ted Cruz, they made ad buys, they had Pence and Trump record robocalls. Volunteers (including me) doing GotV days prior to the election, would still run across Democrats who didn’t know there was an election on April 11. Would Democrats “nationalizing” the race have brought out a few more of them?

Anybody looking at this race should have known abortion related ads would be run against James Thompson (who is pro-choice). The NRCC ran ads claiming Thompson supported late-term abortions and abortions for gender selection. This is the district where George Tiller was assassinated. A new local blog actually wrote a piece about Thompson with this note:

Then too, for all those years that George Tiller was running the most prolific late term abortion mill in the western world right in Thompson’s backyard, one is hard pressed to recall a single Democrat anywhere registering an objection, let alone Paul [sic] Thompson.

Let’s just say a pro-choice stance is courageous.

Did the DCCC ignore Thompson because he’s a Bernie-crat?

Thompson, a civil rights attorney, said he was inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign last year and decided to run for Congress. A group that formed following Sanders candidacy, Our Revolution, supported Thompson during the campaign through social media and recruited volunteers to make phone calls on his behalf.  — NPR

For the record, I was one of those volunteers. I usually text, and I had over a thousand contacts for Thompson.

Thompson had beaten Dennis McKinney, who was the former minority leader in the Kansas House of Representatives. McKinney is anti-abortion, voted yes on the Kansas measure to define a fetus as a person, and was previously endorsed by Kansans for Life.

Many volunteers are left wondering whether the DCCC and national Democrats would have been in “stealth mode” if McKinney had won the primary. Check out the responses to this Chuck Schumer tweet.

I feel sorry for Chuck’s social media person.

Did independent progressive groups provide enough support?

There’s a messy argument on Twitter right now:

To which Our Revolution responded:

The fact is that DKos came very late to the Thompson party, about a week before the election. Why wasn’t the candidate “endorsed” well before-hand? The endorsement came only after news that national Republicans would be advertising for Estes while the Kansas Democratic party didn’t have $20k to spare for the candidate. There are a variety of reasons that is a variety of reasons. The fundraising campaign DKos ran split the donation between Thompson’s campaign and Daily Kos. There was a technical glitch with this that prevented some people from donating for hours.

What can we learn?

This entire saga raises a couple of questions.

  1. Does winning an open Democratic primary mean something?
  2. If it does, shouldn’t they commit a certain level of support for any candidate running on the party’s House/Senate ticket?
  3. If the impression among grassroots volunteers is that the party establishment picks favorites among Democratic candidates, what do we think the end result is going to be? Disillusionment or further engagement?

Dave Weigel has a piece up at WaPo:  Four big lessons from Kansas’s special election

  1. The GOP machine is battered but efficient
  2. Democrats can’t get cute about campaign spending. People notice.
  3. In rural America, Democrats still have a brand problem
  4. Social issues still matter

It’s worth a read.

What do we do now?

This is all very interesting, but for me, there’s really only one question. What are we going to do for Rob Quist in Montana? He’s pro-choice, supports public schools, renewable energy and Native American rights (Montana has a large population). He’s a progressive Democrat endorsed by Our Revolution. How can we help him?

I know I’ll be volunteering for his campaign. I “adopted” Montana several cycles ago and have contributed to and volunteered for campaigns there since 2004. It’s more interesting than the sometimes somnolent NY politics. Those of you who live in “safe” districts/states may want to consider doing the same. I’ve been talking to voters in Montana for a dozen years. It is a great experience.

I would encourage to give time and if possible, donate to Rob Quist’s campaign.

— Cross-posted to DailyKos | @subirgrewal

Mitch McConnell is the least popular senator is the US. Bernie Sanders is the most popular.

Morning Consult polled 85,000 people across the country to see what they thought of their senators.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has the highest approval rating of any U.S. senator in a new poll. The Morning Consult poll showed a 75 percent approval rating for the Vermont senator. Sanders, who lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton last year, has remained popular. He is now a vocal critic of President Trump.

— The Hill

Leahy is next, with 70% of VT constituents approving of his performance. Sanders’ approval is down though from last September (when it was 87%)

Pollsters found Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the least popular senator, with a 47 percent disapproval rating. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at 43 percent and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at 40 percent were second and third on the least-popular list. — The Hill

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was the least popular senator:

Forty-four percent of Kentucky voters say they approve of the 30-year Senate veteran, while 47 percent disapprove, making him the only senator with a net negative approval rating. It’s not all bad news for McConnell, though: He’s trending in the right direction when you consider what voters from the Bluegrass State thought of him ahead of the 2016 elections. In September, more than half (51 percent) said they disapproved of McConnell, compared with 39 percent who approved of his performance.

McConnell has consistently been the least popular senator in the Morning Consult rankings, but he’s closer than ever to breaking even. — Morning Consult

John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were next on the least popular list with 43% and 50% disapproval ratings.

— Cross-posted at DailyKos |  @subirgrewal

Louise Mensch thinks Ferguson was a Russian conspiracy

The twitter musings of an ex-Tory MP would normally not be worth spending time on. But, this is Louise Mensch, who is getting a lot of air-time for her Russia/Putin theories. Here’s another one to add to the list.

This isn’t the first time Mensch has said something that requires a double-take, which is why so many people have stopped paying any attention to her theories. But this is a particularly egregious one, because there is a long history of activists for civil rights, and particularly black activists being accused of being Communist or Soviet/Russian agents.

Mensch has been getting a lot of play on networks and from several Democrats, who should know better:

They should reconsider their support, but really, they should have reconsidered after any of the following incidents. Accusing ProPublica of being pro-Trump or “Bannon”.

Or when she claimed Anthony Weiner wasn’t really sexting a 15-year old, it was a Russian operation to set him up. Or any of her several other questionable claims documented here.

— Cross-posted at DailyKos | @subirgrewal