I want to tell me about their Super Bowl experiences. We had a lot of Tex Mex, that halftime show was not amongst the class, say a little more.
My alma mater performed with Prince. And what is the most iconic halftime show of them all. And so you got to live up to that standard. And weekend did not. Poor thing. Oh, my God.
Hello and welcome to the 538 Politics Podcast. I'm Galen Droog. Former President Trump's impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
It's highly unlikely that he will be convicted, but the trial ensures the cleavages within the Republican Party will be back in the spotlight a week after Republicans in the House were divided over the roles that Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene should play in their caucus. At the same time, Democrats are moving forward with their covid relief package without Republican support, which more moderate Democrats have been a bit wary of. So a lot going on in Congress. We're going to discuss it all.
We're also going to take a look at the election law changes that Republicans are proposing in Georgia and elsewhere around the country. After Trump's loss, many of the proposed changes target early in-person voting and mail voting, which Democrats disproportionately use to cast ballots in twenty twenty. So here with me to discuss all of this is editor in chief Nate Silver. Hey, Nate. Hey, everybody. Also here with us is senior politics writer Perry Bacon Junior. Hey, Perry Aisgill.
And also here with us is Washington correspondent for the Atlanta Journal Constitution HitIer.
Welcome back to the show. Thanks for joining us today. So let's kick things off with you. And this impeachment trial in particular, what should we expect from that process in the coming days?
I think we should expect the impeachment managers to work really hard to make the case that Donald Trump was at least partially responsible for the insurrection at the US Capitol on January six. I think they're also going to make an emotional case for why it matters and why that should concern Americans and why he should be held responsible. So I think they're not only going to talk about the evidence that they think proves that he helped incite the riots, not just with his speech, but with the money that Trump supporters use to help organize those protests that day.
But I think they're also going to focus on, of course, him undermining the election process or the weeks prior to that day. And then also I think we'll see them focusing on the effects of the riots, the people who died, the members of Congress who were targeted, the vandalism and violence that occurred inside of the Capitol that day.
Are we expecting to learn new information about what happened on January 6th? I know you were inside the Capitol and you were reporting live that day answering lots of questions from your audience, which I tuned into, and I thought it was super helpful. So thank you for that. And folks should go check it out if they want to learn more about what the interaction was like on January 6th. So, you know you know a lot about what actually happened.
Is the public going to learn more?
And it's funny, so much of what happened. It was weird because I was inside the chamber, of course, and I was among the group that was the last to be evacuated. So we saw a lot from inside the chamber without knowing all that was going on in the Capitol as a whole. And how many people had flooded the rotunda and how many people were outside breaking doors and windows to try to get in. So it was very surreal. But I think what we'll see is perhaps not so much about the law enforcement side as they try to figure out who broke into the Capitol and why.
But I think we might hear new information again about the lead up to the riots and what did President Trump say. And I think they're going to try again to focus on all those people who paid money, who out of loyalty to President Trump and all those Trump loyalists that had a hand in the lead up to what happened at the Capitol. And some of that might be new. That being said, the House impeachment managers, they're not law enforcement and they're not federal prosecutors.
So I think there's still a lot that maybe they don't know because most of these cases are still really in the early stages.
I generally don't expect scoops to come out during congressional hearings. I expect it to come out in The New York Times or The Washington Post or the Atlanta Journal Constitution or 538 or whatever else. So I don't know. Going to necessarily learn a lot, much more, so much as had the debate framed in a way where different senators and members of Congress want to kind of say, here is the way that the public should think of a story for time immemorial or whatever.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think we're going to learn much more per say than, again, like I mean, obviously the events were pretty terrifying. I don't know that the average member of the public necessarily thinks that because the worst outcome was narrowly avoided in the average person's mind. It's not like September 11th when every person on the streets talking about that. Right. It's like, OK, that's a little scary, but I'm going on. And so I think, you know, if you were able to command a wider audience and say this is how dangerous this was, this is the roots of it, I think that would be the purpose of it from like for Democrats or anyone who cares about.
Democracy, I want to make it sound too partisan kind of thing, yeah, so we saw Republicans in the Senate have already taken one vote. It was on the constitutionality of convicting a president who's no longer in office. What was the breakdown there? And should we just expect the same breakdown for the actual conviction vote?
So if I it was five Republicans who voted against that motion, I think it was Ben says Murkowski, Collins, Romney, the usual group of people. So I think that's pretty good. Useful guide to who might vote to convict. I know McConnell and Pat Toomey have I think McConnell additionally, who voted for that resolution to say he was unconstitutional, has left the door open to voting for conviction. I don't expect that to happen. So I think the core question in terms of what the Republicans do will be there's three positions they could take.
There's one which is that basically to focus on the this is illegal. This is unconstitutional, and that doesn't involve them. Defending Trump, it says, is illegal. The second angle is they could try to downplay Trump's role in the actual what happened on January six. You see some Republicans I think Ron Johnson is one of the shows yesterday sort of arguing that Trump may have made some comments, but that was somewhat separate from what happened at the capital.
And the third tech they could take is in some ways to go to sort of a what about ism kind of thing. And I think Rand Paul was previewing that, which is to say fine quotes from Democrats in the past that have maybe suggested violence in other contexts as well. And I think those that may be disingenuous at times, but I'm guessing they're going to scour the Internet for every controversial quote any Democrat has made about anything. I know when Maxine Waters made some controversial comments in twenty seventeen, I expect those to come back, for example.
Yeah, I think that Trump's impeachment team has also suggested that they're going to be showing videos or clips from past statements by Democrats to talk about the public opinion surrounding all of this for a second, according to an ABC News poll released over the weekend. Fifty six percent of Americans say Trump should be convicted and then forty three percent of Americans say he shouldn't be. Slightly more Republicans think he should be convicted this time compared with his previous trial. So it's 15 percent now as compared with 10 percent around in twenty twenty.
Among Democrats, of course, support is near Universal. And then among independents, it's similar to that overall. Fifty six percent. So are Democrats on solid footing here with the public and their voters essentially? And then maybe more interestingly, the question is, what about Republicans? This is taking them perhaps one step further in aligning the party with Trump after his presidency. Are they taking any political risks here by just moving forward and making this essentially close to a party line vote?
I think that. It's telling that even among Republicans, there's more support this time for convicting the president than there was the last time he was impeached, and I think that tells us that Democrats have cover to do what they're going to do, knowing that there's probably not enough to actually convict him in again because they think they can make even more so when the spotlight's on them. The case for why this is important to Nate's point a minute ago, they'll make the case that, like, this is really important.
This was really bad. It was bad enough, could have been worse. This is why he should be held accountable. And so that is where Republicans are going to be in the hot seat. Again, I don't expect, as I said, many Republicans to vote to convict him, but they're still going to be in the hot seat because even Liz Cheney has said it like we can't let that stand. And that's to the riff that's happening in the Republican Party.
And that's really, I think, going to have long term consequences for the Republicans as far as that rift they have yet, because we don't have any.
Elections right now, and because the next elections to come up are primary elections, then like, yeah, I think all of this could be. Damaging electorally for Republicans to not repudiate Trump and for Taylor Green or whatever else, you know, I mean, the one example we have is Georgia, and that's before one sex. But like disputing election results did not seem to help Republican turnout in Georgia. Trump is not very popular, left with low approval ratings.
And I don't know how you stop the kind of anti-democratic lowercase D movement within the GOP, but I think it's also not going to be terribly popular in the Republican Party, though I think Trump still retains support among voters. And so if I'm an average Republican senator, I still think the safest vote is to vote to not convict and stick with where the party is and where the base is. And you've seen I think there's been a resolution in the state parties in Wyoming, in Michigan, in South Carolina, in Arizona.
And there's been movements to censure people who criticize Trump or voted for impeachment or so on. So I still think right now in the Republican Party, they're sort of split because in Washington last week, the party basically kept Liz Cheney in leadership, but also didn't kick Marjorie Green off the committees. They kind of split the hairs there. So I think the party is still figuring out where exactly it wants to stand on Trump and Trump ism. But I think the median position right now is to be pro Trump, but maybe not to pro Trump.
Yeah. What else did we learn about the Republican Party from those votes last week? I think the breakdown was one hundred forty. Some Republicans voted to keep Liz Cheney in her leadership position and 60 some voted against. And then you had overwhelmingly Republicans who voted not to take Marjorie Taylor Green off of her committee assignments. So what did we learn about the party?
I think it was interesting that it was Liz Cheney who was put to a vote amongst the Republican caucus, not Marjorie Taylor Green. And again, that's an indication of priorities. That's an indication of which representative caused the most heartburn amongst House Republicans. So you have Liz Cheney, who had upset members of the caucus because she voted to impeach President Trump. And then you had Marjorie Taylor Green, who, again, by how she was not necessarily put to a vote and very few members of the caucus supported removing her from committees, indicates that the things she had said were not perceived as as troubling to her colleagues.
Right now that Trump is those Trump loyalists are kind of defining the party right now. But again, we've seen in Georgia that that can backfire once you're in a ballot against Democrats. And that's the reality. That's letting things up a lot for Republicans.
Yeah, I want to add to that that in the same ABC News poll that I mentioned about how Americans are thinking of former President Trump's conviction, they asked about how Americans perceive the two parties in terms of extremism. And by a 17 point margin, Americans say there are more radical extremists within the GOP than within the Democratic Party. Do you to your point, when you zoom out from just the Republican Party, there is a potentially difficult dynamic here for Republicans appealing to a mass audience if they're by double digits.
More Americans think that Republicans are extremists than Democrats.
Yes, I think that's right. Electorally, there's a danger there because the Democrats are saying they're going to cast the Republicans as the party of Kuhnen. I believe that when I see it, I'm not totally sure how effective that is. They've the Democrats spent four years casting Trump as crazy, and that worked to some extent, but didn't really work perfectly. So I guess what I would say about the votes, though, is that it is different to allow someone to stay on their committees versus to stay in the leadership of the party like it is weird in a party where Donald Trump has basically universal support, that Liz Cheney is the number three.
And if you watched her Fox News interview after that vote, she was pretty scathing in attacking Donald Trump. So I actually was a little bit surprised that Liz Cheney get as much support as she did. I'm sort of surprised that she actually wasn't exiled from leadership because the party's voters and the members like Donald Trump and Liz Cheney is kind of an outlier. It would be like if Ben Sasse was the number two Republican in the Senate would not totally make sense is kind of why Mitch McConnell is backtracking from criticizing Trump, because the party is not there.
And it would be weird if his leadership was there. And in terms of like Green getting kicked off the committees, I think the Republicans were saying we should deal with this on our own. And it sounds like Green made some private apologies, but I. Didn't expect the average Republican to go on the House floor and to vote one of their own members off committees. I think the numbers are worth comparing, but I don't think they're totally the same event happening.
Yeah, and that vote on Liz Cheney, to be more specific, it was one hundred and forty five votes in favor of keeping Cheney as the number three in the House. And it was sixty one against. It was a secret ballot, so Republicans didn't necessarily have to think about how their constituents back home wordprocessor and if they were, that would be any kind of revenge or primary challenge or whatever. Do we think that would have been different if you had to put your name to your vote?
I think it would have been different. And I think, again, it's telling that they didn't vote at all on Marjorie Taylor Green. You know what I mean? And from what we heard that day, I was among the journalists who staked out that meeting. It was a four hour meeting. And from what we understand, Marjorie Taylor Green was only a small fraction. She got up and spoke for a few minutes, showed some remorse and toned it down amongst her colleagues.
And they gave her a round of applause and then moved back to Liz Cheney. So, again, to me, it's telling that even behind closed doors, the energy was toward Liz Cheney, not Marjorie Taylor Green, or the anger is where Liz Cheney did precisely right not to order and to specify what you say about a vote there.
You're saying in this caucus meeting where they had the private vote about Liz Cheney, they also could have voted there about Marjorie Taylor Green's committee assignments separate from Democrats if they wanted to.
And yes, they could have or anything else. You know, they could have taken a vote to reprimand her. They could have done something if they wanted to, because, again, this was just a family meeting, if you will. They could have just had more discussion on how they wanted her to move in the future and whether they wanted her to apologize more publicly, which she didn't do until Friday. And that was because the media pushed her on it.
And even then, it was a very blanket apology and probably the one incident that got her in the most trouble, which was when she confronted David Hogg, the Parkland School shooting survivor, she specifically said she won't apologize for that. So, again, it was just a family meeting. So they could have done whatever they wanted because it was just them behind closed doors. And it's just interesting that there was no action and very little time spent on Marjorie Telegram.
From what we hear, there's been plenty of analysis about the role that Trump will play in the Republican Party post presidency. In a way, these arguments have been related to Trump. But it's also, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene is not Trump. And one of our colleagues, Julia Azari, wrote a piece for the website last week that essentially said, yes, it's still the party of Trump, but that doesn't necessarily mean there's room for President Trump himself.
So his priorities and his style and things like that may be well ingrained in the party, but that he's not actually necessarily going to be a key figure in those disagreements or arguments moving forward.
Have we seen that so far? Has Trump played a role in these disagreements over Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Green or. Yes, he's there as a figure, but he's not actually playing the role in shaping the debates that the Republican Party has going forward.
It seemed to me that Taylor Green, when the comments were controversial, initially she announced I had a phone call with Donald Trump. He agrees with me. She seemed to almost be saying if she was punished, that would mean Donald Trump was punished. I think that she did a good job, sort of almost like suggesting she was endorsed by Donald Trump. So in this sense, I think he's part of it. McCarthy went down there to talk to Trump afterwards.
So it's hard for me to say that Trump has no role, but I don't think he's central in these disputes that we're having right now. I think what's really going on in Texas hitting this is the question is like, is this more of a Liz Cheney Romney party or is this more of a Marjorie Taylor Green Party? And my suspicion is most members are in between those two poles. But right now, if they were pressed if Taylor Green and Cheney ran against each other for something, I think in public they might endorse Taylor Green, even if in private they may be like, obviously, Liz Cheney's more normal.
I think the question is more like less about Trump and more about Trump ism. And they're still kind of in Trump ism. And I think it's because Republicans it's hard to win in a Republican primary without Trump's support or to put it in a different way, if Trump supports your opponent, that to be the death of you, if you're a Republican in the primary and those members know that. And so they don't want to tick off former President Trump even now because he doesn't have social media, but he can send an email, I guess, to his supporters and tank your campaign.
But again, what we saw in Georgia is depending on how that Trump ism carries over to a general election or a Republican versus Democrat ballot, that same support can be damaging, particularly if President Trump is pushing his own agenda. And undermining your campaign, and they don't want to take him off, but then if he's not helpful, then what do you do and you lose either way, that's what happened in Georgia.
At least it's a catch. Twenty two there. Yeah. I mean, I still kind of have this hot take that maybe trouble as influential as people are assuming. I mean, he's been deprived of his social media platforms and deprived of the stage of the presidency. He doesn't seem to be front and center in the conversation. In fact, I go entire days, Gailen, without thinking about Donald Trump sometimes. Wow. Wow. To bring more objective here to this.
People get like Google searches for Donald Trump. It just keeps falling a little bit every day. And maybe he's just not that interesting when he's not actually president. Hmm. How much has fallen so far?
It's hard because it's like a big bounce around the election itself, but it's like fallen by 50 percent since he left office, basically. OK.
It'll be interesting if and when former President Trump tries to reinsert himself back into the conversation. How does that work? Sarah Huckabee Sanders is running for governor in Arkansas. If and when President Trump decides to hold a rally with her, does he still draw the large crowds? Does he still. Create that atmosphere and that adulation that he was used to as president, and then that'll be very telling to your point, Nate, I just feel like it's going to be hard until we see him try, because he's really been laying low for obvious reasons, not just because of the inauguration, but because the heat's been on him because of January six.
And if he continues to lay low, then you're right, he will go away. But if he tries to get back out there, then it'll be up to Republicans, mostly whether they give him the energy he thinks he can still draw or whether they've moved on. Yeah, that's a good point.
So I want to move on to the proposed election law changes in Georgia. But before we do, let's wrap up a little bit of the current business in Congress. Where does the Democrats covid-19 relief bill stand at the moment? Where in this process that is a little bit complicated when it comes to reconciliation, et cetera? Is that bill?
So they've passed in the House and the Senate now with Democrats voting only for it to set up the reconciliation process. So they've now basically said we're going to use reconciliation in the Senate. We've passed a resolution for this, and now they're going to do is write the bill itself and they're going to write it for around one point nine trillion dollars. So we've got a number they're headed toward. Now, the question is going to be what's in the bill itself?
We know there's going to be some covid relief money, some money for states and so on. Now, the question is going to be like discussions with the CBO and then the parliamentarian in the Senate about what can be in the bill and what violates the reconciliation rules. One of the big questions is Biden is for a 15 dollar minimum wage that early. That's a discussion about whether that's going to be in the bill or not. It probably won't be.
So the next phase is them writing the bill and figuring out what exactly can be in it. And that's probably going to last the next two to three weeks.
I agree. I don't think minimum wage is going to make it in the bill. The Senate passed an amendment that was just messaging. It's not binding. But basically that said, don't touch the minimum wage right now. And the deadline is March 14th when the unemployment insurance provisions in the last Colvert bill run out. And so that's their deadline that they've said that they want the new stimulus bill to be passed so that there's continuity. Speaker Pelosi has said she wants to get it done by the end of this month, which is even faster.
But again, it's a lot of work to get. Like, I think they're like nine committees in the House that are separately working on different parts of the bill. And then, of course, you've got the Senate that's got to juggle this culvert relief stuff with the impeachment trial starting Tuesday.
So there was some debate within the Democratic Party, particularly to name Joe Manchin and Chris instead of mine, in particular, some angst about passing a covert relief bill on a party line vote. They've already said that they're interested in using reconciliation to pass this bill, which means they need the 51 votes, not the 60 votes. So do we just expect at this point that this will be a party line vote, or are they still working to bring in Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski or whoever else might be a potential available moderate Republican vote?
I think be like pretending on both sides. Romney, Collins and Murkowski, Putin keep sending out ideas and Romney put out some kind of child tax rate idea last week. They're going to be pretending on their side that if Biden has enough things in the bill they're going to vote for, they're not going to vote for it. Biden is going to keep meeting with them and pretend like that he's try to be bipartisan, but he knows that I'm voting for it.
So I think that is there a potential for one Republican? I think the answer is no, because the Collins Murkowski group proposed a bill of 600 billion and Biden is pushing a one point nine trillion gap is just too big. And Biden's not looking to meet in the middle at one point two or something, as far as I can tell. So I don't see this cinema and Manchin seem fine with the big bill. Manchin, in fact, seems sort of pretty enthusiastic about a big bill as long as they do what he wants because he's president, apparently.
I think Manchin, I'm joking a little bit, a lot of power right now. I mean, I think Manchin fine with a bill as long as he likes the details in it. And I don't think Collins is going to sign on anything at this point. Who is the audience for all this pretending Kerry? Is it the media? Is it us? For Biden? The audience is obviously like he gave a unity speech in the I think the guy in the audience is the electorate, which I think he wants to.
He's talked about unifying do the primary bipartisanship for Collins in the Republicans. I think that their audience is sort of Mitch McConnell on some level, like I know that these are moderate Republicans, but there are sort of team players, too. And I don't actually think that if you're Murkowski or you're Romney, you want to vote for impeachment, attack Trump on various issues and vote for the Biden. The stimulus bill, too, so I think the Republican moderates do want to cast a no vote on a high profile issue and not align with the Democrats like Susan Collins the party's to do.
I mean, she wants to have the veneer of bipartisanship, but also want to be she's a team player. Her team is the Republicans. I think she'll stick with the team on this. They also may well get actual changes to the law that ultimately gets signed, even if they don't vote yes on it. So, you know, like, for example, Susan Collins says that she doesn't want high income earners to receive stimulus checks. She's likely to get that, it seems, based on the amendment vote.
And so she may be able to shape the law even if she doesn't vote for it. To the point that you're talking about, Americans tell pollsters that they like bipartisanship, Democrats significantly more than Republicans. But if this ends up being a party line vote, will Americans care?
I don't think Americans are going to care, number one, because to Perry's point, Democrats are giving at least the veneer of bipartisanship in that the president has met with Republicans and he said he's willing to negotiate. And so I think they've kind of checked enough boxes that most regular people at home want checks in their bank account, and that's what's most important to them. So it's like if Democrats are able to deliver on another round of stimulus and then they've also, you know, at least given the air that they tried to do it with Republicans, Republicans just didn't want to come along with them, then I think people at home are going to be quite OK with that.
Yeah, I'm not sure this is my feeling or not, but I do think it was. Biden gave a speech where he mentioned unity like 15 times. He didn't say unity means bipartisanship, but he didn't exactly say what unity means. The Republicans were like, oh, thank you very much for that gift. We're going to define unity as being bipartisanship. And now we're not going to give you any of that. So it's not clear to me. Was that speech a mistake?
I mean, I think a lot of people do like one of Biden's things he talked about a lot is I'm going to try to bridge the partisan divide, it looks like on the first step out he's not going to do that. So maybe he shouldn't have promised it.
Well, the way he's trying to define it now or his administration is trying to define it is does this have majority support amongst the public? And if it does, that means that there are more conservative or independent or Republican voters who support the policy, even if the lawmakers don't. I think that is how they're going to try to define bipartisanship, unity going forward. I do want to ask you, do you have any thoughts on this about the gap between where Americans tell pollsters that they are and that they want bipartisanship, but then when push comes to shove, maybe they don't actually care.
They care more about the law. Do you agree with that? Do you think that's the case?
Well, look, something like the stimulus. I mean, this is something that's going to have direct and immediate effects. People see a check. People see the fact that the economy is getting back on its feet a little faster. Maybe they see improvements in vaccine distribution and covid prevention as a result of federal money. So if you something tangible like that, then it seems like all this kind of kabuki doesn't make as much sense. I mean, look, we also know that most presidents have a honeymoon period, which then fades anyway.
So odds are that Joe Biden's approval rating will decline, his disapproval rating will fall. It's kind of probably true no matter what he does. And in the medium term, again, I come back to like if we feel like the economy in other parts of our life are getting back to normal by the summer or certainly by next year, when you have the midterms, it's going to help Joe Biden. And so I think that's going to be the most immediate concern.
All right. Let's move on and talk about the new voting restrictions proposed by Republicans in Georgia and elsewhere. But first, today's podcast is brought to you by upstart. Last year showed us that you never know what life is going to throw at you. And if you used credit cards to pay for unexpected expenses, it can be overwhelming to manage that debt. Take control with upstart. So you know exactly what to expect.
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Loan amounts will be determined based on your credit income and certain other information provided in your loan application. Go to upstart dotcom slash five three eight. Today's podcast is brought to you by C-SPAN live on C-SPAN two is the historic second impeachment of Donald Trump starting Tuesday, February 9th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
Tune in for complete coverage of the Senate proceedings, beginning with opening arguments from both sides. The former president faces a charge of incitement of insurrection for his role in the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol.
Follow it all live and unfiltered on C-SPAN two online at C-SPAN dot org or on the free C-SPAN radio app. Again, follow it all live and unfiltered on C-SPAN two online at C-SPAN Dog or on the free C-SPAN radio app. Republicans in Georgia are moving to enact more restrictive voting laws after Democrats won both the presidential and two Senate races in the state by slim margins. Last week, Republican lawmakers introduced a package of bills that would ban automatic voter registration, ballot drop boxes and no excuse absentee voting.
It's not clear how much support there is for banning no excuse absentee voting also known as mail voting. Another proposal would require voters to submit a copy of an I.D. in order to cast a ballot by mail, but not actually ban that voting process.
So Republicans in Georgia, of course, have control of the Senate, House and governorship in the state. So they'll likely be able to enact the laws that they wish to.
Much of Georgia's current election law was written by Republicans, including its mail voting laws. So why are Republicans in the state saying that they now want to change those laws?
What's at least their stated rationale for their stated rationale is that they want to increase voter confidence in the election system, make sure that voters feel that the system will not allow people to cast ballots fraudulently. So that's what they're saying publicly is the need for some revisions. But there are even some Republicans who I don't know publicly, but have said at Republican meetings, perhaps when they thought they were among friends, that this is about helping improve Republicans chances at the ballot box after Democrats had a lot of success last year in Georgia and earlier this year.
Aren't any of their claims about needing to ensure that there is no fraud and that people have more trust and legitimacy of the elections? That rationale isn't supported by evidence.
Oh, no, absolutely not. It's interesting because you have Republicans, the Republican secretary of state, the Republican who is the voting system director, who said, hey, we counted ballots multiple times. There's no evidence of fraud. We're in charge of the election and we're on the ground. And there is no evidence that anyone was allowed to cast their ballots improperly or cast a ballot for someone who wasn't themselves or cast the ballot when they weren't eligible. There just isn't evidence of that.
And Republicans are telling Republicans this, but unfortunately, Donald Trump was able to. Repeat the disinformation and misinformation so much that it gave other Republican lawmakers cover to kind of use that that election lie in and of itself is now being used as substance to push for election laws.
I mean, I'm asking kind of just blunt questions here. Maybe they sound stupid. So then why are they doing this? Why is this happening?
I mean, again, I think it's Republicans want to win and they think that more access to voting makes it easier for Democrats to run the numbers. In matter of fact, that's kind of true right now. The more access there is, the voting, the more Democrats win.
Yeah, we work with this index developed by political scientists and looked at changes in voting laws and elections since 1996. And when voting laws become stricter, it helps Republicans. It's pretty it's pretty straightforward in the data. In fact, one caveat is like obviously a lot of Republicans are trying to do is disenfranchise black people and Hispanic people. But now you have a lot of Republicans who are like white Republicans on average, are less well-educated than white Democrats and are often lower propensity voters.
And so they have to be like a little bit more careful now. I mean, you look at the runoffs in Georgia and the lower turnout, slightly lower turnout runoff was better for Democrats than the higher turnout election in November. And so, you know, it is like a little bit of a double edged sword, but historically, there's no big secret. You know, you talk about wanting to be frank about the stuff, Daylon, right. It's like making it hard for people to vote historically has made it harder for Republicans to lose it, hard for Democrats to win, to be more straightforward about it.
And that's the incentive here. And just to be very direct about this, like it's really unfortunate to see Georgia elects its first African-American senator, I think, ever historically. And then the reaction is not for the Republicans to try to think about how do we appeal to black voters better, but to how do we reduce the number of voters who turn out these effects are likely to have some impact on black voters particularly. So this is a really anti Democratic we talk about a lot.
This is really kind of the worst forms of things the Republicans do is these kinds of voting restrictions. Also, we just had an election in which Trump did better among black and Latino voters than previous Republicans. We now have actual evidence that Republicans can make gains with black and Latino voters. So why not try as opposed to the stopping them from voting like we're in a democracy? The way to win election is to move your policies and your approach to get more voters in.
Donald Trump, who I didn't think was the champion of diverse voters and lots of black people and lots of Latino voters as well, but still did better. There is a path. Every black person is not a liberal. And so it's not clear to me why they like I know it's the simplest route would be to make the voters who don't want to vote for you half of the vote. But it's actually fairly complicated. If you look at a lot of the data, if you talk to Republicans, you hear Republican comments.
Probably these efforts are targeted at making it harder for minorities particularly to vote, but they're not actually that effective. In some ways, voter turnout is pretty high among black people and has been throughout this decade of voter ID laws. So they are pursuing an anti-democratic course that doesn't work in the alternative of pursuing a pro democratic, small D course of appealing to minority voters that I would argue actually could work. This kind of gets tied together because I think I mean, this is something where people will need to do bigger statistical deep dives and maybe reporting deep dives.
I think there's some reason to suspect that the higher propensity black voters, the ones that have voted in every election since nineteen ninety six, are a very Democratic, and B, will just make extraordinary sacrifices to make sure their vote is counted. The lower propensity black voters that might only vote occasionally or Hispanic voters. By the way, I think these are people who may be missed in polls sometimes because I screamed at by likely voter models are hard to get on the phone in the first place, but they're the ones who, if you kind of put up barriers to voting, might not vote.
And they're the ones who might not actually be quite as blue, particularly for low propensity Hispanic voters. And so it is I think it is a little risky. And I want to reemphasize the data that I was looking at before is from a period nineteen ninety six to twenty sixteen or whatever, where things might get a little bit different than the political coalitions we have now, including the modest but not unimportant gains that Trump made among non-white voters.
So one of the targets in particular here is male voting. And we're seeing Republican held state legislatures in other parts of the country try to change male voting laws as well. Now, historically, there has not been a significant partisan difference in who votes by male. And historically, we think of the people who use male voting as older and whiter. Now, that changed in twenty twenty because of the pandemic on the. Democratic push to get people to vote by mail and to be clear, there were still plenty of hesitancy amongst black and Hispanic communities about voting by mail, and in many cases, they were more inclined to vote day of than vote by mail.
So do we know that these partisan differences in terms of who wants to vote by mail, how people will vote going forward, will stick because they're putting a lot of effort into changing whether or not or how people can vote by mail. Is this just based on one pandemic election? I mean, how should we think about the role that mail voting plays going forward?
Yeah, I think this is a very much a fighting the last war kind of thing where the Democratic Party put a big effort in particularly mail voting this year because of the pandemic. They might have decided to stick with that, but I'm not sure they would have because, like you said, particularly black and Latino voters who lean Democratic still tend to be leery of vote by mail. So it feels to me, again, like the Republicans are fighting the 20 20 battle and it's not clear to me that'll keep going forward.
It is worth noting that Georgia has always had a lot of early voting and vote by mail. But in a lot of states, the election laws were functionally changed by the governor, the secretary of state or legal rulings. And the legislature, which is Republican, did not weigh in on. That is something that happened. So in some ways, election law was changed in ways Republican legislators did not support and they had not signed on before to a anyone can vote by mail any time structure.
I know here in Kentucky, they're rolling that back to the Republican secretary of state had expanded vote by mail in early voting greatly. And the Republican legislators saying we never agreed to that and they're rolling it back. So to some extent, it's not clear that 20, 20 should have resulted in permanent voting system changes unless the legislators in whatever state want to sign on to the. And I think there are some Republicans who sincerely do not want a system of massive early voting, massive vote by mail.
And I think that's somewhat distinct from the voter suppression that I think are also part of this.
Right. And it's worth saying here that Georgia was a state where previous to the pandemic, Republicans had enacted no excuse vote by mail. But yes, in other states there are suggestions of limiting early voting and things like that. One of the excuses that Georgia Republicans use for why they're pursuing this is that you do have to show an I.D. in order to vote in person. You don't have to show an ID in order to vote by mail. And in an Atlanta Journal Constitution poll, along with the University of Georgia, shows that three quarters of Georgians think that you should also have to show your ID, scan a copy to submit it if you're going to vote by mail.
What do we know about the impact that that has? Is that cover, is that legitimate? What should we make of that kind of rationale here?
So I think some of that is because if you don't vote by mail, you don't understand the process. So Georgia's current processes is you have to sign an affidavit and their signature matching, and that's how they determine that the person who submitted the absentee ballot is who they say they are. And if your signature doesn't match, then there are remedies they can contact you and allow you to fix it. So I think there is perhaps some misinformation about how do you verify already under the current law and the voter ID, you'll hear Democratic groups and voting rights groups say no one that can be problematic because that's putting, you know, your driver's license or your personal information in the mail.
And now anybody who does want to do something bad knows, oh, let me get these absentee ballots, because I know they've got some information I can use. It may be a little bit overstated, as you guys have noted, because Democratic groups and voting rights groups have showed this year that they can be adaptable and they find a way to work within the rules, whatever they may be at any given time. So I'm sure that should the law change and this voter I.D. for absentee balloting looks to be the most likely of all the proposals in Georgia that will become law.
I think you'll see the groups that are out there engaging voters will figure out a way to adapt so that, you know, any changes or any effects would be negligible.
I think, if Democrats had won this landslide victory in twenty twenty instead of this pretty good kind of complicated result. Then it might be more straightforward, right? I mean, if Democratic elites get together, if the Biden and the DNC, whatever, get together and they say, do we feel like male voting is really a good thing for voters or not, then their conclusions might be kind of ambiguous. I don't know. I mean, usually once you pick up a habit, it's sticky.
So if you pick up the habit by voting by mail, you might do it the next time that maybe Democrats will say, like, actually, we don't want to have to deal with post office delays. We don't particularly like to have to deal with the blue sheft or the red shift and the narratives that creates. You know, Republicans got a big Election Day turnout. I mean, I don't know how Democratic bigwigs feel about this, but I think to this point is really important, which is that Democrats are listening to their elites.
And so if the Biden campaign is saying vote early in person, don't vote by mail, then in some ways because Democrats are the better. Cohesive and organized party, I think at the moment, in some ways, their voters will maybe follow instructions a bit more because clearly there have been a partisan split in male voting before this year. And people listen to Democratic leaders when they said, yeah, you want to vote by mail. And so we'll see.
We're also assuming there's no pandemic, there's no covid. Twenty three. But there could be. Right.
And that's the other thing, particularly in Georgia. One of the reasons why Democrats embrace voting by mail, particularly for the general election, is because the primaries were a mess in Georgia this year because of covid. But just in general, particularly in the Atlanta area, they're notorious for long lines and long waits and having to keep precincts open late because of technical difficulties. So it was a moment in time, but it'll be interesting to see if Democrats shift back.
But that shift, again, came from a real place that in some ways preceded the pandemic because even with early voting and in-person voting, it could be not a good experience for voters, particularly in the Atlanta area.
So from your knowledge of Georgia and the dynamic amongst Republicans there, what's your sense of the likelihood that these changes will go into effect? You said probably the ID associated with mail voting is the likeliest. What else do you think that they'll also do away with automatic voter registration or ballot drop boxes, things like that?
So I think that probably the least likely to occur is getting rid of no excuse absentee balloting because some of the Republican leaders in Georgia are not in favor of that because, again, Republicans have used that to their advantage. And it also, I think of all the changes would make the Republicans look most hypocritical because they're the ones who changed the law. I think it was two thousand five to introduce no excuse absentee balloting. So that one's probably the least likely in the middle.
Are these proposals about ballot drop boxes. But again, those became popular because the Postal Service was a mess this year during the pandemic. So that one might be easy to do, but it also might be one that, again, doesn't have as big of an effect if we're no longer in a pandemic. So I think there's an array. But again, most likely to pass voter ID for absentee balloting, least likely to pass no excuse absentee balloting.
So to lay out some of the landscape here, according to the Brennan Center, there have been about one hundred six bills that have either been introduced, pre filed or carried over into this year that would restrict voting and that's happened in twenty eight states. Now, of course, there are also bills that are looking to expand opportunities for voting, automatic registration, mail, voting, things like that in Democratically controlled states as well. Georgia is particularly interesting here because there's a trifecta controlled by Republicans, whereas in a lot of the other close states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, there are Democratic governors who could veto any changes that Republicans wanted to make there.
So it seems as though this could become a midterm issue, essentially, when those governors are defending their jobs and perhaps Republican legislatures, Republican controlled legislatures have pushed for more restrictive voting laws. My question here is, is this the kind of issue that motivates voters like are people going to get out to the polls and have they in the past when Republican legislatures have passed voter ID laws and things like that? This is something people always ask me when I was reporting on gerrymandering, a lot like do people vote based on gerrymandering?
Does that get people angry? And I think no, people vote when they have a general sense that there's corruption or they're like angry. They don't trust their lawmakers. But what information do we have about how this could or could not become a political issue in the next two years?
So I think we know from polling that voter I.D. laws themselves. So the literal requirement that you present an I.D. to vote in that's physically has been most of the polling is. But I assume by mail, my guess is that idea itself will be popular and we'll get a majority support and voter ID law as narrowly as voter ID is not unpopular. When you get into things that are sort of like if there was a poll about should we get rid of mail voting or should we make it harder for black people to vote than those things are obviously more unpopular.
I don't think I see a lot of evidence that this is actually a motivating issue. Black turnout is pretty high already, that black people lean pretty Democratic. It's not clear to me that there's a lot of vote change based on voting laws or based on these democracy issues more broadly, the sort of changes, the rhetoric of the campaign in that my guess is in Georgia, you'll hear a lot of a lot a lot of the people who organize black voters use the message of their trying.
I think Kamala Harris said this during the campaign this year, that the reason, one reason to vote is they're trying to stop you from voting. So that's a reason to vote. And I think those messages I'm suspecting are useful to say. But again, I would not suggest that black people are voting because the Democratic Party is saying the Republicans are trying to suppress your vote, because I think people vote for all kinds of reasons. So I'm not sure there's a great electoral effect from these kinds of arguments.
I think one of the key questions here is how come black voters are voting with Democrats 90 percent of the time in most elections are nine percent of black voters are voting with Democrats. Is the notion, well, well reasoned notion that Republicans don't want us to vote, therefore, we're going to stick with Democrats if we have critiques. I mean, how much of that is part of that entrenchment the Democrats have had for many, many decades with black voters?
I don't know. Just a little hard to pull that apart.
So on the flip side here and in US Congress taking votes away from the states and putting it back in Washington, Democrats, of course, after they won the twenty eighteen midterms, the first bill that they picked up in the House, H.R. one, was big democracy reforms, as they call them, changes to election law, federal election law, because, of course, a lot of this is determined on the state level. And there's been a lot of talk amongst Democrats about picking something like this back up and trying to pass it while they have full control of government in Washington.
The things that they're looking at are like insuring a certain amount of time for early voting across the country. They want to limit gerrymandering. Does it seem like this is something that could actually become law? Because I don't think that this is something that they could pass the reconciliation necessarily.
No. So this is the big fight. This coming is the bills you're talking about. It's called H.R. one, to have all these good government reducing gerrymandering, expanding early voting is called H.R. one. The Democrats pass it in 2019. So this kind of voting bill does not affect fiscal policy. So it could not be passed through reconciliation. So you would need to get 60 votes or you need to get rid of the filibuster. And what's going to happen later this year is the Democrats in the House and probably the Senate are going to push this H.R. one bill, get it passed in the House, bring it to the Senate, and they're going to demonstrate it has majority support from the senators.
And this is where this filibuster question is going to play out, which is now it's going to be Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin, Senator Feinstein. OK, we have a bill that can make it easier for people to vote that probably polls among 75 percent of the electorate. It will be good for Democrats Capital D. It'll probably be good for democracy. Small D, do you actually want to keep the filibuster in place and block this kind of bill? Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema, Senator Feinstein, my guess is Manchin and Feinstein have thought about this already and are perfectly fine with blocking this bill.
But that's where this is coming, is like the pro-democracy bill is going to be what the filibuster fight in the Democratic Party is over by September. All right, I agree completely. Even in the Senate, it's been introduced, Rafael Warnock is going to be one of the leading sponsors pushing this bill for obvious reasons, being on the ballot in twenty twenty two, it being a very populous bill, him being the first black Democrat elected from the Deep South.
So this bill is called the For the People Act. And I do think after we get past impeachment and culvert relief, it's going to be one of the top priorities for Democrats. And I definitely think it could be the bill that Democrats used to make the case for why they should blow up the filibuster and everything in the for the people that can't become law. Just it's right now it's packed with everything Democrats would ever want, including some campaign finance reform, its voting, its gerrymandering and his campaign finance reform, even like restoring voting rights for people who were served time after being convicted of felonies.
It's a lot in the bill, so it can't all get passed. But if they tear it down and get to a place where it's really, really popular amongst voters, I think Democrats are going to do what they can to pass it, even if it means getting rid of the filibuster.
And you think that Manchin Cinema Feinstein might get on board with getting rid of the filibuster in that situation?
I think they could. I think it's easy for them to say they want to keep the filibuster when there's not something on their plate to have to weigh in on. And there's not any pressure right now from voters to get rid of the filibuster. But if Democrats find a bill that is really, really popular, whether it's the for the People Act or something else down the road, that'll be really harder for those Democrats to be perceived as standing in the way of, as you all have said, lowered democracy being made stronger.
It also if Republicans are standing in the way, then there'll be pressure on Democrats like, why are you letting Mitch McConnell do this? Because he didn't let you all stand in the way when he wanted to confirm judges for President Trump.
All right. Well, you've all laid out some very interesting political and policy arguments that are going to be made throughout this coming year. And I'm sure we will stay on them, keep track of them. But that's it for now is a good place to leave things. So thank you, Nate, Perry and Tia, for this really valuable conversation today. Thanks, guys. Thank you. Thank you. My name is Galen Droog. Tony Chow is in the virtual control room.
Claire Videgaray Curtis is on audio editing. You can get in touch by emailing us at podcasts at 538 dotcom. You can also, of course, tweeted us with any questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show, leave us a rating or review in the Apple podcast store or tell someone about us. Thanks for listening. And we will seize. One of the most powerful ways to improve your overall health and happiness is to get a good night's sleep.
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