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BeyondGeography's Journal
BeyondGeography's Journal
August 13, 2019

The Pundit-Defying Idiosyncrasies of Iowa Voters (or how a Biden to Warren migration happens there)

They don’t vote for “moderates” or “progressives.” They vote for people.

On Friday, Julie Allen, a 62-year-old Medicaid consultant, took time off work to sit in the scorching sun at a midday, open-air rally for Joe Biden in Boone, Iowa. In 2016, she told me, she was “all in” for Bernie Sanders, but she now feels “he’s past his time,” and as she considers her choices for the February caucuses, he’s no longer in her top five. Instead, she’s weighing Biden, whom she supported in 2008, as well as Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana. She liked the idea of a Biden-Warren ticket, or maybe even a Warren-Biden one, since he already knows how to do the job of vice president. “There’s all these comparisons between how Warren and Bernie are so much alike,” she said. “I really think Warren and Biden are much more alike.”

This surprised me, since Warren and Biden are so far apart ideologically. But over the course of a frenetic campaign weekend in Iowa, when most of the Democratic field descended on the state, I heard the comparison more than once. Waiting to see Warren speak at the Iowa State Fair, I met Janice Martins and Kay Havenstrite, Democrats from rural farming families that, they said, have been devastated by Donald Trump’s tariffs. Both were torn between Warren and Biden. “They have a lot of differences, but there’s a lot of similarities as well,” said Martins, 49, pointing out the various ways that Biden has moved left in recent years.

After watching Biden and Warren campaign in Iowa, I think I understand why some people group them together. Both candidates are folksy, white and in their seventies. Both speak of the searing childhood experience of seeing their fathers lose their jobs, and both make economic security for the middle class central to their stump speeches. They are sincere and unscripted and have the comforting aspect of benevolent parents. Talking to voters who admire both of them, I realized, not for the first time, how little the ideological lanes that we talk about in punditland really mean.

...Ultimately, this is why I suspect Biden will fade in Iowa, despite many polls showing him ahead right now. As people see more of him, at least some are beginning to become alarmed about his pronounced verbal sloppiness. McAdams was one of the few I spoke to who worried about Warren’s electability, but she also seemed livid about Biden’s repeated gaffes. These included his recent statement that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” and the claim that he met survivors of the Parkland shooting when he was vice president, although the massacre took place last year.

“I am just ready to turn the other way and never turn back,” McAdams said. “You don’t get to continue to make all of those gaffes. At some point that’s got to stop.” She suspects that his front-runner status isn’t durable, at least in Iowa: “I think the big lead that he has in the polls is just his name recognition.” If she’s right, there’s no reason to think Biden supporters will flock to another moderate. A recent poll of Democratic voters in the states with the earliest primaries showed that a plurality of Biden supporters — 24 percent — say that Sanders is their second choice, followed by Warren, with 20 percent.

More at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/12/opinion/biden-warren-2020-iowa.html
August 12, 2019

NYT in Iowa: Ms. Warren is having a moment

On Politics: What we learned in Iowa

Over the course of the weekend, my colleagues and I spoke to dozens of voters, activists and officials, and so many candidates. Here’s what we learned about the state of the Democratic primary contest:

The race has firmly separated into tiers. Tier one: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Mr. Sanders. Tier two: Ms. Klobuchar, Cory Booker and (maybe) Pete Buttigieg. Then, there’s everyone else. Here’s how Sue Dvorsky, an influential Democratic activist who endorsed Ms. Harris this weekend, put it: “There’s a tier of likely. There’s a tier of possibles. And then there’s a tier of unlikely.” Does that mean no one can climb the ranks? Of course not. But in such a crowded field, it won’t be easy.

Ms. Warren is having a moment. In our discussions with voters, nearly everyone said they were considering backing Ms. Warren. She got the biggest crowd at the state fair and huge applause at a party fund-raising dinner on Friday night, and attracted hundreds to her events across the state. Of course, a summer surge doesn’t necessarily mean a winter win. Just ask Howard Dean.

Mr. Biden leads the polls. But that may be shifting. As Allison Engel, a former Democratic aide in the state who now volunteers for the party, told me: “He’s the candidate that people think other people are going to vote for.” An informal survey of county chairs found plenty of concerns about his age and agility. Many Democratic insiders attribute his lead to name identification. They suspect his candidacy could fade, particularly if he keeps misspeaking, as he did several times this weekend.

August 12, 2019

US budget deficit grows 27% through July

Source: ABC News

The U.S. government's budget deficit rose by $183 billion to $867 billion during the first 10 months of this budget year as spending grew more than twice as fast as tax collections.

The Treasury Department say the deficit for the current fiscal year through July is up 27% from the same period a year earlier. Spending rose 8% to $3.73 trillion, and tax revenue rose 3% to $2.86 trillion.

President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut and new spending agreed to last year have swelled the gap between what the federal government spends and what it takes in.

The Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit to begin exceeding $1 trillion a year in 2022.

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/us-budget-deficit-grows-27-july-64929418

Health care and defense were the main drivers. More details from Reuters:

In July, Washington spent $53 billion on defense programs, up from $43 billion in the same month of 2018. Spending on Medicare rose to $66 billion from $34 billion, though some of that increase was because of calendar adjustments, a Treasury official said.

When adjusted for calendar effects, the U.S. government’s deficit last month was $129 billion compared with an adjusted deficit of $122 billion in July 2018, the Treasury official said.

Even accounting for the calendar adjustments, spending on Medicare rose 11 percent in July compared to the same month a year earlier.

August 11, 2019

Elizabeth Warren circles in Iowa as Joe Biden stumbles

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa — With fake palm trees and a huge American flag as a backdrop, Senator Elizabeth Warren skipped onstage, microphone in hand, and barreled through her proposal to help rural America. In parting, she flapped her arms in a lightning-quick dance as Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five” played her off.

“We’ve had enough of an America where government works better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top — 2020 is our chance,” Warren said to the crowd with her trademark bouncy energy. Right behind her, former vice president Joe Biden trod to the microphone, note cards in hand, and delivered a somber rejoinder, casting President Trump as an existential threat to a grieving and divided nation.

...Biden has held the lead in polls since he entered the race in April. But interviews with voters turned up doubts about his electability advantage. “I love Joe Biden, but he seemed old and tired during the debates,” said Abdi Ahari, 50, a surgeon from Mason City, Iowa, as he lined up outside the Wing Ding. “Politicians have shelf lives, and he’s expired.”

...Some voters pointed to Warren and Harris as among the candidates who are better equipped to take on Trump, suggesting the pair’s commanding debate performances could be shifting the conventional thinking on electability.If Trump were to debate Warren, said Steve Epperly, 74, “I think he would be wrestling a tiger there. “

“She’s got all her ducks in a row. She knows how to express herself. She doesn’t have to get real wordy about it,” Epperly said, adding that Biden “kind of floats off once in a while.”

...Some voters at the Wing Ding were struck by the contrast between the 70-year-old Warren, with her high-energy policy treatises, and the 76-year-old Biden and his reflective reminder of the election’s stakes. “He’s like, ‘words of wisdom.’ She’s like, ‘words of action,’” said Joyce Glover, 79, who traveled here from Wisconsin. “He’s as old as we are. I know how tired you get at this age,” said her sister, Daisy McKinley, 76. She added Warren had displayed “so much more life and oomph.”

More at https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2019/08/10/warren-circles-iowa-biden-stumbles/aw0wW0PWKco08VDxyAHJiI/story.html
August 10, 2019

Elizabeth Warren, met with the largest Soapbox crowd so far, touts her 2-cent ultra-millionaires tax

When U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren told fairgoers what America could fund with her ultra-millionaires tax on Saturday, the crowd responded with a chant.

Two cents!" "Two cents!"

...The senator from Massachusetts was met with the biggest crowd of the Register's Soapbox so far in 2019, with numbers easily in the thousands. Fairgoers stood behind the stage and spilled onto the Grand Concourse. A woman in the front row seemed to stand in adoration of Warren, and was brought nearly to tears as the Democratic presidential candidate spoke.

It took about 40 minutes for Warren to make the short distance from the west entrance of the fair to her Soapbox speech near the Grandstand. She posed for photos, ate a chocolate chip cookie from a woman's Bucket O' Cookies, and made her signature pinky promises with young girls.

When asked by the Register why she thinks she drew such a large crowd, Warren circled back to her primary message.

"I think people understand that this government is working great for the wealthy and well-connected, and just not working for the rest of America," she said. "They know in 2020, we've got a chance to turn that around. Ultimately, that's about real optimism and real determination to build the kind of America of our best values."

More at https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2019/08/10/elizabeth-warren-election-2020-iowa-state-fair-register-soapbox-caucus-wealth-tax-corruption-loan/1881764001/
August 9, 2019

Walmart shoppers threaten to boycott after stores remove violent video game displays, but not guns

Walmart is facing increasing pressure to pull guns from its shelves in the wake of the recent shootings at its El Paso, Texas and Southaven, Miss. stores that killed 24 people. Shoppers were also on edge after a man in body armor and armed with a rifle sparked panic at a Missouri store on Thursday.

Instead, Walmart ordered employees to remove video game signs that depicted violence, as well as displays for movies and hunting videos that reference gun violence. Now shoppers and the American Federation of Teachers have threatened to stop shopping at the retail giant, with #BoycottWalmart trending on Twitter on Friday.

...Walmart stopped selling handguns in the 1990s (except for Alaska), and it stopped selling assault-style weapons in 2015. It also restricted gun and ammunition sales to anyone under 21 after the Parkland shooting last year. But otherwise, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told MarketWatch earlier this week that, “right now, there have been no changes to our firearms policy.”

...Plenty of parents doing their back-to-school shopping said they will be switching to competitors like Target for school supplies this year. “Getting ALL of the school supplies at Target today,” posted one dad going by Daniel Bishop on Twitter. “Unlike @Walmart, they’re not cool with dudes walking in with assault rifles and body armor.”

...And the nation’s largest teachers union, which counts 1.7 million members, also called for Walmart to not only stop selling guns, but to stop supporting politicians who oppose gun control. “If Walmart continues to provide funding to lawmakers who are standing in the way of gun reform, teachers and students should reconsider doing their back-to-school shopping at your stores,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten wrote in an Aug. 7 open letter to Walmart’s CEO, as reported by CBS News, noting that teachers spend $500 a year on school supplies.

More at https://www.marketwatch.com/story/walmart-shoppers-threaten-to-boycott-after-stores-remove-violent-video-game-displays-but-not-guns-2019-08-09?mod=hp_investing

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