T: Hey J, we’ve been pretty mum about politics lately, haven’t we? Since the Mueller Report, there hasn’t been much for guys like us to hash over; Trump-bashing has become boring and pointless, and it’s too early to get serious about the 2020 election cycle.
J: Isn’t that the one they invalidated because of absentee-ballot fraud?
T: Yep. It was invalidated because of fraud by a GOP operative. Here’s that article.
J: Yeah, that’s the one. Reading the article, it’s a toss-up, although Trump won by 11 in 2016 and the seat has been Republican since 1963.
It’s risky to draw sweeping conclusions from one election, but that’s never stopped me before; if the GOP loses this seat, it’s a big, blinking, neon red flag for 2020. This is the kind of seat that Republicans just shouldn’t lose.
T: Both sides are treating it like a canary-in-a-cage election, like the special elections that seemed to happen every couple of weeks during 2017. The Dems kept losing those by less than expected, until Doug Jones actually beat that old pedophile GOP candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race.
J: North Carolina isn’t as Republican as Alabama; if the GOP loses this election it’d be a sure sign that the state is turning at least purple. And it’d be bad news from Thom Tillis; he’s already going to have the fight of his life to hold his Senate seat.
T: Thom Tillis?
J: He’s the Republican senator from NC, one of the seats the Dems are targeting for 2020… in a lot of trouble according to the polls.
T: Why Thom instead of Tom? Is the h silent?
T: Why isn’t it invisible?
J: I don’t know, I guess you’d have to ask his parents.
T: I mean, why? Does he have an unnaturally large tongue?
J: His Secret Service code name is “Eyebrow Licker.”
T: Um … I think I’m backing away from that.
J: So what’s the skinny on the NC race?
T: I think it’s supposed to be close, with that 11-point natural GOP advantage washed out by three factors:
1: President Trump is unpopular.
2: The suburbs are trending left.
3: The Democrats are leading the generic congressional ballot by several points.
There is a lot of overlap in there; for example, Trump’s popularity affects the generic ballot and Trump’s big-muscle reputation is more popular in rural areas than in suburban areas in ways that are not common to all Republicans.
Each individual factor cuts into that 11-point shortfall but can’t erase it, in and of itself. The fate of the canary rests on whether the combined effect can cover the vigorish.
J: It looks like McCready has a narrow lead in the most recent poll, so maybe the combination of factors is enough.
T: He has some natural advantages of his own, in addition to the generic Democrat advantages: he has more name recognition than his opponent (Dan Bishop) because he was part of the 2018 election while Bishop was not. He’s a veteran and a self-described centrist who opposes impeachment, while Bishop seems to have tied his horse directly to Trump’s sidecar. How’s that for a bloated metaphor?
J: I had to read that metaphor a couple times to parse it, but I’m on the donkey now.
T: “What’s for dinner, mom?”
“Bloated metaphors, honey.”
“Can I have mine parsed?”
“No, dear, you always dribble when you parse your metaphors.”
“I never get to have any fun!”
“Now get back on the donkey, sweetie.”
J: Trump is going to hold a rally down there for Bishop; we’ll see if he can move the needle enough to swing it to the GOP.
T: Ding ding ding! We have a winner!
J: I think you mean “bong bong bong!”
T: This is North Carolina, not Colorado.
J: Jesus Jehoshaphat, I walked into that one, didn’t I?
T: To me, the salient dynamic that makes this dorky little local skirmish a national story is that the national GOP is so bent on winning it. If they didn’t care, nobody else would, either.
J: “Trumped up” used to mean … hell, STILL means making too big a deal out of something that’s not that big a deal.
T: It’s like Webster predicted Trump. Where was Nostradamus at the time?
J: That quack? Don’t get me started.
T: Anyway, Trump is coming down to hold one of his goose-steppy rock concerts to rally support while Bishop is hanging clownfaces on national democratic figures. And the only reason that there is an election in the first place is because the GOP got caught cheating during the last one.
What does all that mean, J? Why does the national GOP care so much about this tiny local election?
J: This is the kind of suburban district that is rapidly trending away from the GOP (about 60 percent of the district is the suburbs of Charlotte). It’s the kind of district that the Republicans lost a lot of in 2018, and it’s the kind they have to win back if they want to avoid another wipeout in 2020.
In my opinion, it’s an early test of just how toxic Trump is and how much of a drag he’s going to be on the national ticket. The national party is interested because every special-election loss makes the hill they have to climb to retake the House that much steeper. This is a seat that they feel they have a realistic chance of saving, so they’re throwing everything they’ve got at it.
T: But won’t this seat be up for election again next November?
J: Well, yes, but there’s another session of Congress next year too, and losing the seat means the Dem House majority is one seat bigger. They also want to show their donors that they can win these suburban seats.
T: Show the donors. I think you got that right; that sounds like the key reason.
To me, Trump coming down and trying to rally support is very Trumpian (hey, lookit me, me, me!) but not very GOPian. I mean, why risk another embarrassing defeat? Trump is a publicity hound, a glory hound and an autocratic campaigner who thinks he has to control everything. But why in the world would the GOP let him do it?
If McCready wins, the GOP will look like it emptied its gun and still missed its target. They will all look like fools.
J: Looking like a fool doesn’t seem to concern Trump too much (see Sharpie-gate). But his appearance is, of course, all about “Trump Trump Trump.” If Bishop wins, Trump will take credit. If he loses, Trump will forget he ever mentioned his name.
T: And, of course, his followers will “forget” immediately, too.
J: Yep. And we both know the GOP doesn’t “let” Trump do anything. He’s gonna do what he wants to do.
T: All those air quotes … is air quoting (excuse me, “air quoting”) an aerobic exercise?
J: I don’t think typing qualifies as exercise.
T: Well, the whole process down in Charlotte is so overwrought … obviously, we are talking about it, so it sort of matters nationally. But does it really matter?
I mean, we care because of the canary thing; it’s a September 2019 barometer measurement, a way to gage where the parties are heading into the 2020 election cycle. But with Trump coming down for a rally, the Pelosi/OAC clown masks and the cheating scandal it’s like the GOP just can’t let even one small local election go without turning to their Snidely Whiplash tactics.
If the election is going to be a scale with the GOP’s thumb on it, will the results even be meaningful? It won’t measure the will of the public, it will measure the ability of the GOP to manipulate the “will of the public.”
J: You just burned 1.2 calories.
T: I feel so lithe now.
J: Don’t get too excited – I burned twice that much spellchecking this sentence.
If McCreary wins, the Dems will use it to boost their fundraising and so on (“See? We’ve got them on the run!”) They might do that anyway if he loses narrowly; remember, this is a seat that’s been Republican since 1963, my entire life. The fact that it’s even competitive is a win for the Democrats. It’s important to the GOP for the same reasons (“See? Not ALL suburban woman hate us!”) I think that the messaging coming out of this election is going to be far more impactful than whether or not the seat changes hands.
T: So it’s basically no more than a talking point, then. And if the result is close, as expected, then both sides will have their narrative.
In other words, is the point of this race that it’s really sort of pointless? Not to Bishop and McCready, of course — and it’s a huge deal to Charlotte — but in the national sense?
J: I think the national spin machines have already loaded up their spin, no matter what the result. The only question is which set of talking points are going to be spewed out.
I think the national impact will be bigger if McCready wins; it’ll be like that guy Lamb in Pennsylvania who won the special last year. It’ll be spun as a middle finger to Trump. If he loses, it’ll be, “well, in this district, it shouldn’t have even been close.” And frankly, it shouldn’t be. But Trump is a millstone on the necks of the Republican Party.
T: What a weird juxtaposition … Trump, six million dollars in national funds and the force of the RNC descending on a local election, and probably 95 percent of the local GOP officials are part-time volunteers.
J: Hunting rabbits with an elephant gun.
T: And if they lose, Trump will blame the locals, of course.
Some poor schlub, sorting buttons and yard signs in his time off, has to deal with whomever the current Priebus is, coming in to tear him a new asshole for losing the race.
“We gave you six million dollars and you lost to a dead country singer?”
“Wasn’t that the democratic candidate? Mindy McCready?”
“No, it was – what?”
“Was it Scotty McCreery?”
“Scotty Mc – no. No.”
J: Scotty McCreery is from South Carolina.
T: Yeah, like that’s the silliest factor in that scenario.
J: Didn’t McCready shoot a dog?
T: The guy in the election?
J: No, the dead country singer.
T: Oh, right. Yes, she shot her own dog and then shot herself.
J: Jesus Jehosaphat. That’s going to be an awkward moment at the pearly gates.
T: I got nuthin’.