Discover more from The Bulwark
The No Labels Delusion
Plus: Indictment watch.
An employee at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence drained the resort’s swimming pool last October and ended up flooding a room where computer servers containing surveillance video logs were kept, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
While it’s unclear if the room was intentionally flooded or if it happened by mistake, the incident occurred amid a series of events that federal prosecutors found suspicious.
Trent Crimm fromThe Independent: Trump suggests he is about to be charged in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.
Cornel West (!) is in. Pence is in. Christie is in. WSJ: Chris Christie to Enter GOP Presidential Race as Chief Trump Antagonist. (A bunch of other folks also appear to be running. See today’s Bulwark: “Wait, How Many People Are Running for President Now?”)
Sununu is out. Wapo: “I’m not running for president in 2024. Beating Trump is more important.”
Our party is on a collision course toward electoral irrelevance without significant corrective action. The stakes are too high for a crowded field to hand the nomination to a candidate who earns just 35 percent of the vote, and I will help ensure this does not happen.
RFK, Jr. is still a dangerous loon. NYT: Robert Kennedy Jr., With Musk, Pushes Right-Wing Ideas and Misinformation
“[Kennedy] said he planned to travel to the Mexican border this week to ‘try to formulate policies that will seal the border permanently,’ called for the federal government to consider the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Russians and said pharmaceutical drugs were responsible for the rise of mass shootings in America.”
Appeasement Caucus update. Punchbowl: McCarthy pumps the brakes on Ukraine funding
The prospects for Congress approving more Ukraine funding seem to be getting dim.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy told us Monday that a supplemental spending package for Ukraine is “not going anywhere” in the House, essentially putting the brakes on any immediate plan to send more money to Kyiv — or get around new spending caps.
The call is coming from inside the house. CNN’s own media reporter, Oliver Darcy writes: “Red Licht Flashing.”
In the wake of The Atlantic's explosive story, I've spoken with dozens of staffers across the company. There are a wide range of emotions coursing through the halls of CNN. Some staffers are frustrated. Others are angry. Many are sad about the awful state of affairs that has taken hold of an organization they love.
There is one near-universal sentiment, however, that has been communicated to me: Licht has lost the room.
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This is what we don’t know: Whether Jack Smith will indict Trump in the MAL doc case. Or when he will do it.
We also don’t know what the exact charges would be (obstruction/espionage?).
But here are five things we do know:
A federal judge has already ruled that there is enough evidence of a crime to pierce the attorney-client privilege in the case, a very, very BFD.
Jack Smith sat in on yesterday’s meeting with Trump’s lawyers.
The grand juries are in session.
Donald Trump is losing his mind on social media.
All of which suggests that sh*t has gotten very real.
Make sure you read Philip Rotner in today’s Bulwark: “Here’s Why Trump’s ‘Declassification’ Defense Falls Apart.”
The No Labels fantasy map
There is delusional. And then there is this.
The folks at New Labels are out with a map that attempts to illustrate how a third party candidate would have a “real and viable path” to 270 electoral votes.
“On its face, the map is challenging for any political professional to take seriously,” wrote the folks at Third Way in a new memo: “Does No Labels’ Math and Map Get Them to the White House?” (Spoiler Alert: Not in any known universe.)
The Third Way memo is worth quoting in detail because it thoroughly demolishes the chop logic behind the
grifty quixotic No Labels attempt to recruit someone like Joe Manchin to run as a third-party candidate next year:
History makes clear that the No Labels candidate is unlikely to win even a single state.
But if we suspend disbelief to explore their argument that they can pull this off, it would have to start with them winning ALL of the closely contested 2020 battleground states (the seven states decided by three points or less: AZ, GA, MI, NV, NC, PA, and WI).
A friendly reminder: the most successful third-party candidate since the dawn of the modern two-party system (Teddy Roosevelt) won only six states. And though the seven closest states in 1992 were all decided by less than 2.5 points, Ross Perot won zero of them. Indeed, Perot did not manage more than 27% of the vote in any of those seven states.
But even if No Labels somehow were to run better than TR and Ross Perot, they would still have only 93 EVs.
To get to the next level, No Labels would then have to win ALL of the remaining gold states on their map decided by between 4-10 points in 2020 (FL, IA, ME-02, MN, NH, and TX). So, let’s consider the feasibility of that. The least difficult perhaps would be NH and ME-02, with their famous independent streaks.
But what about Florida, which has moved from Trump prevailing by just one point in 2016 to DeSantis cruising to reelection by 19 points in 2022? Or Texas, where Republicans have won in the presidential in every cycle since 1976 and held all statewide offices for almost 30 years? Or Iowa, which now has zero statewide elected Democrats and none in their congressional delegation? None of those are credible No Labels targets.
But even if they somehow pulled off a miracle and flipped ALL six of those (in addition to the battlegrounds), they would end up with 184 electoral votes. That means they would need to find 86 more, and to do that, they would need to flip some of most solidly partisan states in the country.
“Middle Ground” Partisan States
The clearest path to winning those additional 86 EVs would be to flip the least partisan states (with a partisan voter index of 8 or less) among those that remain. But taking a closer look at those remaining states reveals how unlikely (read: impossible) that would be. To get the remaining 86, they would need to win every single state in the following list: RI (Biden +21), WA (Biden +19), DE (Biden +19), IL (Biden +17), NJ (Biden +16), OR (Biden +16), CO (Biden +14), NM (Biden +11), AND VA (Biden +10). So, Biden would have to lose his home state, as well as Illinois, which he won by a million votes and Washington, which last went red in 1988. To be fair, if they felt that +21 Rhode Island was just too far out of reach, they swap in Alaska, which was “only” Trump +10.
Based on their map, that’s the easiest path for No Labels: win 21 states (plus Maine’s 2nd), nine of which went for Biden or Trump in 2020 by 10+ points (and some by 15+). But what if they don’t win ALL of those states? Where do they say the final EVs would come from? Their so-called “stretch states.”
No Labels’ claim that they have a shot at winning their “unity stretch states” seems, to put it mildly, to strain credulity. They say they could win deep-blue Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont, all states Biden won by 30 points or more. They assert they can be competitive in crimson-red states in which Trump shellacked Biden, like Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas. (Ok, not crimson—they concede Alabama.) Trump won Arkansas by 28 points, Tennessee by 23, and Missouri by 15, and in each, his job approval was above 54% even after the January 6th insurrection. That’s pretty rock solid. It seems fair to conclude that if they can’t get to 270 by winning the purple battlegrounds and the least partisan of the remaining states, they can’t win, because they have no realistic shot at picking up any of these “stretch” states.
For the sake of argument, we tried in this memo to chart a path for No Labels to an incredibly improbable and history-defying victory.
But even with both thumbs on the scale, we couldn’t get them close to 270 electoral votes in a manner that did not violate every known law of political physics. You don’t have to believe us that they won’t win anywhere. You just have to believe they won’t win in places in which their victory would fall somewhere between highly unrealistic and impossible….
The Dem’s RFK, Jr. Problem
On Monday’s podcast, Will Saletan and I discussed Steve Bannon’s favorite Democrat; the blowback to Trump’s praise of Kim Jong Un; the cynicism of Nikki Haley; and how CNN tried to make Trump happy.
What fresh hell?
Left-wing loon update.