Trump mocks GOP losers who kept their distance from him
By JILL COLVIN, JONATHAN LEMIRE and ZEKE MILLER
Thursday, November 8
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rejecting any hint of a setback, President Donald Trump on Wednesday mocked members of his own party who were defeated in the midterm elections after distancing themselves from him and suggested that the Republicans’ loss of a House majority could turn out to be “extremely good” for him politically.
Trump dissected the elections in a combative White House news conference that stretched to nearly 90 minutes as he put a defiantly glossy sheen on the mixed midterm results and stressed his party’s victories in the Senate.
“I thought it was very close to complete victory,” Trump said, adding that he would “almost have to think about” whether he would have preferred Republicans to retain a slim majority in the House instead of their outright loss. Candidates who embraced his message “excelled,” and those who didn’t faltered, the president added, ticking off a selective list of defeated Republicans to support his point.
The president’s post-election readout showed his determination to put a positive spin on midterms that will bring an end to GOP control of Congress and open him to Democratic-led investigations in the House. And it made clear the extent to which Trump has remade his party to his own specifications, as he suggested that those who survived were indebted to him, a president who prizes loyalty above all else.
The results, Trump argued, were proof of his ability to turn out voters. But his message also appeared to alienate well-educated voters — especially women — in the suburbs. Democrats surged to their new House majority by picking up seats in more affluent and highly educated suburban districts
Between his sharp jabs at the press, Trump took credit for Republican wins in the Senate, claiming his “vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave” that never fully materialize. He was quick to distance himself from losing GOP House members who had been critical of his heated rhetoric, citing Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, among others.
“Too bad, Mike,” Trump said of Coffman, before turning on Utah’s Mia Love, whose race remained too close to call.
“Mia Love gave me no love and she lost,” Trump said.
Trump’s claim that those who backed him were successful was not without exceptions. Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, for example was defeated although he had embraced Trump, with both highlighting their desire to get more of the president’s judicial nominees confirmed, a top priority for many social conservatives.
The president also suggested that, somehow, losing a House majority could be beneficial to his agenda because Democrats will want to work with him.
“I can see it being extremely good politically,” he said.
The president’s rebuke was felt on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican from Pennsylvania who announced his retirement earlier this year, tweeted his displeasure: “To deal w harassment & filth spewed at GOP MOC’s in tough seats every day for 2 yrs, bc of POTUS; to bite ur lip more times you’d care to; to disagree & separate from POTUS on principle & civility in ur campaign; to lose bc of POTUS & have him (vulgarity) on u. Angers me to my core.”
Trump, who had spent months demonizing Democrats as lawless “mobs” and telling his rally crowds that their ascendancy would tank the economy and plunge the nation into crime-ridden chaos, said Wednesday it was time for bipartisan co-operation. He claimed that Democrats — who made opposing him a centerpiece to their campaign — would, in fact, be eager to work with him on issues like infrastructure. But the olive branch he extended was studded with thorns as he declared that he would retaliate if Democrats use their control of the House to issue subpoenas to seek his tax returns and investigate his business dealings, his Cabinet’s conduct and his campaign’s ties to Russia, as expected.
“They can play that game, but we can play it better. Because we have a thing called the United States Senate,” Trump said. “If that happens, then we’re going to do the same thing and government would come to a halt and we’re going to blame them.”
The White House news conference was punctuated by Trump’s escalating attacks on the media. The president repeatedly flashed his temper as he insulted several reporters by name, interrupted their questions, ordered some to sit down and deemed one inquiry about his embrace of the description “nationalist” to be “racist.”
His back-and-forth with CNN reporter Jim Acosta over Trump’s hard-line immigration rhetoric grew especially heated, with Trump labeling the reporter a “very rude person” and saying the outlet “should be ashamed of itself” for employing him.
Trump, as he did throughout the campaign, also blamed the media for sowing division in the country and insisted they were to blame for the scene unfolding in the East Room.
“I come in here as a nice person wanting to answer questions and I have people jumping out of their seats shouting questions at me,” he complained.
Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Darlene Superville and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
Coloradans reject restrictions on drilling distances from homes and schools
November 7, 2018
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Colorado State University
Associate Professor of Sociology, Colorado State University
Stephanie Malin has received funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Rural Sociological Society, and the CSU Water Center.
Tara Opsal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Colorado State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Coloradans rejected a ballot initiative that would have required new oil and gas projects to be set back at least 2,500 feet from occupied buildings. The measure – known as Proposition 112 and supported by environmentalists – would have marked a major change from the state’s current limits: 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools.
Voters also said no to Amendment 74. That measure would have changed the state constitution to let property owners sue local governments over regulations, such as new drilling rules, if those measures lowered property values or reduced revenue for landowners.
As sociologists who have researched oil and gas drilling in the communities that host it for the past seven years, we think that local governments and Coloradans need to have more say over where drilling occurs. To us, given the concerns we’ve heard from homeowners in our research, the defeat of the fracking measure demonstrates the industry’s economic power and political clout.
Big oil and gas companies like Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Noble Energy Inc. and PDC Energy heavily backed efforts to defeat the anti-fracking measure and joined forces with the Colorado Farm Bureau, which represents farmers, ranchers and other agricultural interests, to support the amendment.
The community-based organizations that got Proposition 112 on the ballot spent about US$1.6 million on this campaign, while the opposition’s budget topped $31 million.
Domestic oil and gas production has soared over the past decade, leading the U.S. to become the top global producer of those fossil fuels.
Technological innovations, especially the hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling commonly called fracking, have fueled this growth. So has federal deregulation.
Partly because fracking and related industrial processes often occur close to homes, schools and other occupied buildings, the debate over Proposition 112 was contentious.
Opponents, mainly funded by industry groups, argued that stricter rules would mean less state tax revenue, job losses and weakened private property rights. Proponents expressed concerns about air pollution, earthquakes, water well contamination and explosions to explain why they wanted the public to have more sway.
But many state governments have tried to stymie the attempts of communities to gain this power. For example, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that local communities have no right to regulate where drilling occurs.
Regulations and leasing
Members of the public and local governments have successfully challenged limits on local control over fracking in court before. For example, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court affirmed the power of communities to regulate the oil and gas industry locally when it ruled in 2016 that parts of a law known as Act 13 were unconstitutional.
In that instance, the court ruled against a provision that barred doctors from sharing information about possible toxic exposure if they were given access to industry information about the chemicals used in fracking. It also blocked the enforcement of a measure that allowed the use of eminent domain to site natural gas storage facilities.
But to our knowledge, Colorado’s ballot initiative marked the first time voters have tried to control the setback distances of oil and gas facilities from rivers, homes, schools and other buildings in their communities.
Regulating oil and gas leases on private land is hard partly because they are privately negotiated contracts between companies and landowners. To learn more about what happens during these negotiations, we interviewed more than 100 Coloradans and Pennsylvanians about their experiences negotiating these drilling leases.
In our recently published study, we found that these people feel inconvenienced at best. Most told us they felt exploited and mistreated due to the leasing experience despite having made money off of leasing their land or mineral rights.
Some scholars who look at how drilling affects local communities argue that this process empowers private property owners because they play a direct role in deciding the terms of these negotiations. And some of these folks can even get rich from fracking lease earnings.
Certainly, landowners – including some of the people we interviewed – have earned income from these contracts, though the amounts can vary from a few dollars to thousands of dollars per acre. But the overwhelming majority of the Pennsylvanians and Coloradans who met with us in their kitchen tables, backyards and farms described feeling disempowered when they signed fracking leases.
During private negotiations, landmen – the company representatives who try to convince people to sell or lease their land and mineral rights – discouraged neighbors from teaming up to get a better deal or even talking with one another about the terms they’re considering, interviewees told us.
In some situations, when residents negotiated for better-than-average lease terms, landmen made them sign nondisclosure agreements that legally forbade sharing information.
Same land, different owners
Occasionally in Pennsylvania and almost always in Colorado, these fracked properties belong to two or more parties. One owns the surface and someone else possesses the rights to whatever minerals lie beneath it.
And, in Colorado, surface landowners are legally required to provide mineral owners access to their resources.
Many people we interviewed owned land but not the rights to the minerals below it. With limited power to stave off drilling in their backyards or on their farms, the surface rights owners we interviewed said they felt like “sitting ducks” and “unprotected.” They told us that they saw attempting to keep an oil and gas company off their land as “futile.”
“John,” a farmer who lives south of Denver, tried to fight the placement of a pipeline that split his farm into two less usable pieces. When he tried to fight the pipeline placement, he told us, he overheard industry representatives speculating that they simply needed to outspend his opposition.
That appears to be the strategy that oil and gas companies followed in their successful quest to block Proposition 112.
When the people we interviewed owned the mineral rights tied to their property but did not want to lease them, an energy company could pursue them through a state statute allowing a practice known as “forced pooling” in both Pennsylvania and Colorado.
It makes leasing mineral rights mandatory, leaving landowners with no way to say no when a company wants to frack their property.
We also heard about the personal costs participants experienced after they signed leases. Ranchers explained they lost productive pastureland. Other residents believed they became ill because of air pollution. And many farmers described lasting damage to idyllic homesteads.
Even when these factors violated their leases or laws governing oil and gas practices, nearly all lease signers we interviewed told us they had a hard time getting oil and gas operators with whom they’d signed leases to address any violations of those contracts.
To “Connor,” a homesteader in southern Colorado, the negotiation process felt “like having a second job.” At times,“ he told us, “it was absolutely overwhelming. I think we did absolutely everything we could as private citizens to try and mitigate the impacts and in the end, it was futile.”
To defeat Proposition 112, the oil and gas industry saturated the local media with messaging intended to make voters fear its potential negative economic consequences. That 43 percent of Colorado voters voted for the measure anyway indicates that a large share of the public wants to protect public health and the environment with stronger policies.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on Sept. 26, 2018.
The other 2018 midterm wave: A historic 10-point jump in turnout among young people
November 8, 2018
Director, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University
Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg receives non-partisan research funding from Ford Foundation, Democracy Fund, and McCormick Foundation she is affiliated with Democracy Fund, TurboVote Challenge, Nonprofit VOTE and Generation Citizen. She is not paid by any of these organizations.
Tufts University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Voter turnout among 18 to 29-year-olds in the 2018 midterm elections was 31 percent, according to a preliminary estimate by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
That’s the highest youth turnout my colleagues and I have observed since we started collecting data in 1994. It’s also a major increase from turnout in the 2014 midterms, which was 21 percent.
Young people showed decisive support for liberal candidates and ideas. About 67 percent of young people supported Democratic House candidates, compared to just 32 percent for Republican candidates. This 35-point gap is even larger than their preference toward Democrats in 2008, when President Barack Obama was first elected.
This preference no doubt helped some Democratic candidates in states such as Wisconsin, Montana and Nevada.
For example, Senator Jon Tester of Montana won his reelection by a narrow margin of less than 6,000 votes. Young Montanans, by favoring him by 67 percent to 28 percent, gave him a relative vote advantage of over 25,000 votes. If young Montanans voted like older Montanans did on Tuesday, Montana would have a Republican Senator today.
In many ways, this election cycle showed how different groups can create diverse paths to political engagement. It shows in the numbers, and importantly, in young people’s faces. Young people should be feeling powerful and hopeful that they can in fact exercise their votes to affect American politics.
Going back 40 years, young voters have a reputation of not showing up to the polls, especially in midterm elections. So how do we explain this year’s enthusiasm?
This fall, my colleagues and I conducted two large-scale national surveys of 2,087 Americans ages 18 to 24 to document and understand what Gen Zs are thinking, feeling and doing when it comes to politics.
Here’s what we found.
All signs pointed to wave of young people
The proportion of young people who joined protests and marches tripled since the fall of 2016, from 5 percent to 15 percent. Participation was especially high among young people who are registered as Democrats.
We also found that young people were paying attention to politics more than they had in 2016. In 2016, about 26 percent of young people said they were paying at least some attention to the November elections. This fall, the proportion of youth who reported that they were paying attention to the midterm races rose to 46 percent.
It’s clear that more young people were actively engaged in politics this year than 2016.
Cynicism and worry aren’t obstacles
To learn more about what might was motivating Generation Z to vote, we asked survey participants to rate their level of agreement with three statements.
“I worry that older generations haven’t thought about young people’s future.”
“I’m more cynical about politics than I was 2 years ago.”
“The outcomes of the 2018 elections will make a significant impact to everyday issues involving the government in my community, such as schools and police.”
In this year’s survey, we found that young people who felt cynical were far more likely to say they would vote. Other research has found that cynicism about politics can suppress or drive electoral engagement depending on the contexts.
Among young people who said “yes” to all three of those questions, more than half – 52 percent – said they were extremely likely to vote. Among young people who said “no” to all three of those questions, only 22 percent were extremely likely to vote.
Our poll results suggest political involvement in this generation is far above the levels we usually see among youth, especially in midterm election cycles.
In fact, almost 3 out of 4 youth – 72 percent – said they believe that dramatic change could occur in this country if people banded together.
This year’s voting surge by young people did not happen overnight. Nor was it driven by a single issue like gun violence, though Parkland no doubt played a very important role by activating many young people and voter engagement groups.
Our research shows that Gen Z is aware of the challenges ahead and they are hopeful and actively involving themselves and friends in politics. Beyond almost any doubt, young people have gotten involved and felt ready to make a change in American politics – and so they did.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on Oct. 19, 2018.
McConnell: ‘The Mueller investigation is not under threat’
By BRUCE SCHREINER
Friday, November 9
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Senate’s top Republican expressed confidence Friday that the Russia investigation will be allowed to run its course, saying President Donald Trump has never signaled to him that special counsel Robert Mueller could be fired.
Speaking to reporters in his home state, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also predicted that Matthew Whitaker’s stint as acting attorney general will be short. McConnell said he thinks the president will “pretty quickly” send the Senate a nominee for a new attorney general.
McConnell, a close Trump ally who said Friday that he talks frequently with the president, insisted that Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in 2016 is not under threat.
“The president has said repeatedly he’s not going to dismiss the Mueller investigation,” McConnell told reporters at Kentucky’s Capitol. “He’s said repeatedly it’s going to be allowed to finish. That also happens to be my view.”
McConnell, who sets the Senate’s agenda, reiterated that legislation to protect Mueller from firing is unnecessary. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons say they will try to force a vote next week on the measure.
Trump has told confidants he remains deeply annoyed by the 18-month-old Mueller probe, believing it is not just a “witch hunt” but an expensive and lengthy negative distraction. The latest indication of his fury came Wednesday when he forced out his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whose recusal opened the door to Mueller’s appointment.
McConnell didn’t weigh in on whether Whitaker should recuse himself from the Mueller probe. He added that Whitaker’s role heading the Justice Department will be a brief one.
“I think this will be a very interim AG,” McConnell said.