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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

All across the country, House Republicans in traditionally very safe districts suddenly find themselves scrambling to survive in the age of Trump. And now Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who easily won re-election by 35 points in 2016, is down to just an eight-point lead over his Democratic challenger, Andrew Janz.

In a new Public Policy Polling survey, paid for by Democratic political action committee End Citizens United, 49 percent of voters support Nunes, compared to 41 percent who support Janz.

Typically, an eight-point advantage is a comfortable margin. But compared to 2016, this means Nunes’ level of support has already plummeted by an astonishing 27 points in less than two years.

And given the massive scale of the campaign his challenger is running, Nunes’ support could easily drop even further in the more than four months between now and November.

Janz, a violent crimes prosecutor, has raised about four times more cash than all of Nunes’ previous Democratic challengers between 2002 and 2016 put together, according to the Fresno Bee.

Those seven previous challenges only raised $650,000 between them — but Janz’s campaign war chest is an amazing $2.5 million. That might be the most of any House challenger in the country this election cycle, Janz campaign manager Heather Greven told the Fresno Bee.

Politico reported last week that Janz raised more online in May ($461,000) than any other Democratic challenger for a House seat.

Janz’s campaign says the Democrat raised $1 million in online donations during the months of April, May and June, with an average individual donation of $28 during that period.

Granted, Janz is going to need it all to knock off Nunes, who is on pace to raise well over $6 million this campaign cycle.

But in 2014, Nunes won re-election by 44 points. Today, his lead has shrunk to single digits. His seat is by no means safe.

What’s more, this race is taking place as a groundswell of Democratic activism in California looks poised to send Trump a message in November.

Nunes is fighting for his political life after promoting baseless conspiracy theories to defend Trump during the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.

Since then, Nunes has found himself at the center of a massive backlash — even though he represents a Fresno Valley district in California that votes overwhelmingly Republican.

Nunes’ hometown newspaper recently slammed the congressman, calling his relentlessly pro-Trump behavior “nothing short of embarrassing.”

“He certainly isn’t representing his Central Valley constituents or Californians, who care much more about health care, jobs and, yes, protecting Dreamers than about the latest conspiracy theory,” the editorial warned. “Instead, he’s doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation.”

No wonder Nunes is having so much trouble in such a deeply red district.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]