RBG, Michigan elections. Guests Mark Grebner, Bernie Porn, Joy Williamson and Lateshia Parker of NextGen

September 21, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, September 21, 2020

  In this episode:

  • RBG
  • Michigan election updates
  • Bernie Porn on the latest polls
  • Climate crisis
  • Peters v James
  • Election 2020 with Mark Grebner, GOTV with NextGen
  • Political notes
  • Political attack ad of the week
  • Transcript

 

Jump to:

RBG

 

 

The Supreme Court announced at 7:28 p.m. on Friday that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from complications of pancreatic cancer. NPR reported that the 87-year-old liberal lioness dictated this statement to her granddaughter as she lost strength in her final days: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced at 8:51 p.m. that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor.” That was almost the exact amount of time it took McConnell to announce after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 that whomever President Barack Obama nominated would not receive a vote. – Washington Post

 

 

 

Michigan election updates

 

 

 

Bernie Porn on the latest polls

Climate crisis

 

'It’s way past time to go fast and go big. @JoeBiden’s $2t climate proposal gets that essential point' ~ @RollingStone #GreenNewDealClick To Tweet

 

 

NASA Image Shows Fires, Hurricanes Across the U.S. | Source
 

This Suomi NPP satellite data shows the spread of aerosols from wildfires in the US on Sept. 7. NASA/NOAA | Source

Peters v James

 

 

 

Election 2020 with Mark Grebner, GOTV with NextGen

 

'We are ready to elect representatives who will reshape our institutions, so instead of holding us down, they lift us up.' @NextGenAmerica https://nextgenamerica.org/2020-plan/Click To Tweet

Political notes

 

 

Scientific American endorses @JoeBiden - 'Trump's rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S.' ~@sciam #Biden2020Click To Tweet

'in this moment of the #BlackLivesMovement, racial reckoning and demands for social justice, @JohnJamesMI bizarre ambivalence about Black civil rights ... is profoundly problematic.' ~@MIChronicle #Biden2020Click To Tweet
'@JohnJamesMI refusal to support the strengthening and renewal of the John Lewis Voting Rights Restoration Act and denying #votersuppression is profoundly problematic.' ~@MIChronicle #Biden2020Click To Tweet

 

 

 

 

Political attack ad of the week

 

Runner up: Republican Voters Against Trump – Trump Only Cares About What Fox Says About Him

 

 

Runner up: Meidas Touch – Trump Lied 200K Died

 

 

Winner: Joe Biden for President 2020 – Totally Negligent

 

 

Transcript

Walt Sorg  00:00

The presenting underwriter of the Michigan Policast is progress Michigan, providing a strong, credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable and assists in the promotion of progressive ideas.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg  00:15

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and New York City's garment district and the supreme court justice? One generation my own life bears witness the difference between the opportunities available to my mother and those afforded me.

 

Notorious RBG Rap  00:36

notorious R to the B to the G started at Harvard taking names kicking ass 500 dudes and Nine Ladies in my class once I graduated, they all hated on the faders trying to get a job but they sweeter on every case regarding women that I could get my hands on. Suddenly it dawned on me this laundry was a man's lawn. So I started preaching to the choir raise when the women on a pedestal you put us in a cage

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg  00:58

Notorious B, I G. And I had something in common. We were both born and bred in Brooklyn, New York.

 

Walt Sorg  01:09

It just we thought it couldn't get any crazier. It gets even worse with the death of the notorious rbg. It came in a week when the courts were our special focus in the battle over voting rights, the post office and the governors of battles over the covid 19 pandemic. This is the Michigan Policast your home for herd mentality. We're all about Michigan policy and politics and the national currency impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt Sorg

 

Christine Barry  01:33

I'm Christine Barry. Early voting in Michigan begins this week, we'll talk voter turnout and the latest polls with three experts. rather than relying on the wisdom of a random waiter wearing a facemask poster Bernie Porn will have the latest numbers. Longtime data guru Mark Grebner will read between the lines. And we'll hear from the leader of a drive to turn out the youngest voters.

 

Walt Sorg  01:55

We begin Christina Of course with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, probably the most beloved Supreme Court Justice in a half century since Thurgood Marshall. Both were pioneers Marshall, the first African American on the court, a giant Of course, it's civil rights. Ginsburg is the second woman to serve on the court, also a giant in the history of civil rights, and a unique pop culture icon who did push ups with Stephen Colbert. This is now we're recording on Sunday. And we don't really know where this thing is going other than mitch McConnell announced within an hour and a half of her death, that there would be a vote for whoever is nominated by President Trump, either before the election or during the lame duck session. It took him exactly the same amount of time four years ago to announce that there would be no vote on Merrick Garland, because there was an election coming up in a year.

 

Christine Barry  02:46

I don't think this can be a surprise to anybody who's been paying attention. You know, I, I think that the announcement that he wouldn't allow a vote on Barack Obama's nominee was a surprise because it was just such a violation. But all of those promises all of that talk about not voting on a Supreme Court nominee in last year presidency, I think we all knew were lies, this is about power. They have it, they'll use it, they want to keep it so of course they're gonna vote. It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody.

 

Walt Sorg  03:21

Now, former President Clinton was interviewed on a couple of the Sunday shows, and he pointed out that there is a precedent that was set by Abraham Lincoln of all people. There was a death on the Supreme Court a month before he was facing re election in 1864. And President Lincoln decided not to make a nomination because there is an election coming up. Now, Donald Trump likes to say he could be as presidential as anybody except Abraham Lincoln. And I think in this case, he's probably he's gonna prove it. He's gonna make a nomination in the next week or so it is going to be somebody who's a little bit to the right of Attila the Hun. And Mitch McConnell is going to jam it through. It's just a matter of whether he does it before the election or after the election. There's not a lot that Democrats can do, although I've heard all sorts of possibilities of things they might be able to do to gum up the works. But the fact remains, Mitch McConnell's got the votes in the Senate. If he can get it to the floor, he wins.

 

Christine Barry  04:14

I think that what we have to do is focus on the battle that's in front of us right now in that battle is to reelect Gary Peters, deliver Michigan for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and get our numbers up in the state legislature in our congressional delegation, lift our down ticket candidates as well to try to get some of these goofy sheriffs and local governments out of there. And just focus on what we can do. You know, maybe we could delay a vote on Trump's nominee, but there's still the lame duck session, even if we could get them to wait until after the election. And there's no guarantee that Trump goes away anyway. I mean, he could win the election.

 

Walt Sorg  04:57

One of the extreme proposals I heard floated by George Stephanapoulis of all people was that the democrats either impeach Trump a second time in the house and send it to the Senate, or impeach Attorney General William Barr, with the idea that that would stop everything else in its tracks and they couldn't vote on the court. I don't think that'll work. I don't think mitch McConnell would slow down, I think he'd still have his vote if he wanted to, after the election. I don't see any way they can. They can stop them. I think they really got to be thinking in terms of one, as you say, winning the election, winning control of the Senate in the White House, and then figuring out what they want to do next year, do you want to add justices to the court? Do you want to reform the court in such a way so that you rotate justices off the court on a regular basis, which is possible, you can't fire them, but you can move them to the Court of Appeals. There are lots of potential reforms that are out there. They also have to be careful to not come across as grossly partisan as Mitch McConnell, McConnell, clearly he's got no conscience on this thing. And what's so dangerous about a lame duck session is especially if the republicans lose control of the Senate, they're likely to do damn near anything, because they're going to have a bunch of people that are really pissed off, because they just got defeated, they're going to have people like McSally in Arizona, and Cory Gardner and in Colorado, and perhaps till us and Collins in Maine, and on and on those people, if they if they lose, there's nothing to stop them from doing all sorts of crazy issue.

 

Christine Barry  06:23

We have to first of all, win the elections and take control of things. And then we need to seriously look at what kind of America we're going to build with this in new power that we have. And it isn't just the federal courts, I think we have to really reimagine things. Look at Puerto Rico and DC, and the statehood for them. Look at the Electoral College and the popular vote, how do we take climate science seriously and address the health of our planet in a way that's going to be significant enough for it to matter, because things are falling apart so quickly now, there's just a lot of things that we need to do. And this is, this is beyond the things that we talk about every day, like, you know, the fight for, for minimum wage, or for Medicare for all, and that kind of thing. And so the courts is one part of it. And it's a big part of it, clearly, I would be in favor of looking at like expanding the court. I think rotating the judges is a really interesting idea. But we have to look beyond that. And so let's win our election. And then let's start really pressuring the Democratic Party and the people who can do things, to move forward on an agenda that changes the quality of life for people in this country.

 

Walt Sorg  07:43

What troubles me an awful lot about the future of this country is we like to talk about ourselves as the world's greatest democracy. But we really aren't, we're ruled by the minority party, you have a president who, for the second time of the last three presidents lost the popular vote, George W. Bush lost his vote. And of course, Donald Trump lost the popular vote. If he in fact is reelected. This time, he's still gonna lose the popular vote, he could win the Electoral College. With his new appointment, you will have five of the nine supreme court justices appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote to by George W. Bush three by Donald Trump, they will have been conferred by a majority in the Senate that got fewer votes than the minority. The current majority in the Senate, the republicans have received cumulatively about 46% of the vote in their last elections, whereas the democrats in the senate are officially the minority got 54%. The only really democratic institution we have left is the is the house. And even there, it's only because it's the 10th year of a gerrymander. And the gerrymandering was a lot less effective in the 10th year than it was in the first year. It actually was an undemocratic body for most of the first decade as well, because in fact, of gerrymandering, so you don't have a democracy in this country, you have tyranny by the minority.

 

Christine Barry  09:02

And a lot of people will argue with you and say, well, it's not supposed to be a democracy anyway, it's a republic, and they're just playing with you at that point and wasting your time. It it's,

 

Walt Sorg  09:13

well, we can go back to the system where you're not allowed to vote because you're a woman, or I'm not allowed to vote if I don't own property. Or of course, I'm not allowed to vote if I'm a member of a minority group. The reality wasn't when they started the country, the Senate was elected by members of the state legislatures, and the only people who could vote were white men who own property.

 

Christine Barry  09:32

And part of that system though, that least one part that's left over that's right in front of our faces is the Electoral College, a racist system that was built so that slaves would count as a vote in some fashion. So, you know, like I said, that that should go I understand there's a modern argument for you know, my state won't matter at all if it's just based on popular vote well, I don't know what to tell you, we have to stop rule by minority in this country, we just have to

 

Walt Sorg  10:06

any system where the 800,000 people of Wyoming have the same amount of power in the United States Senate as the 40 million people who live in California. There's something that's wrong.

 

Christine Barry  10:17

It's a mess. And it's time for it to be like I said, it just needs to be reimagined and in a move forward in a productive way, and hopefully these republicans who are coming out against Trump, even though they're republicans are willing to look at this and say, yeah, there's an issue here. And we can, we can work on that together. Voting begins this week in Michigan starting on Thursday, you can go to your local clerk's office and vote. That's also when absentee ballots will go into the mail. As of the end of last week, more than 2.3 million voters have requested ballots is already guaranteeing a record vote by mail turnout. And the vote by mail drive got a huge boost in the Michigan court of claims judge Cynthia Stevens ordered that all ballots that are postmarked by Monday November 2 must be counted, regardless of how long they are delayed by Donald Trump's post office antics. And a federal court in Washington DC ordered the Postmaster General to undo the steps he's taken to slow down the mail service. So that would be things like mail sorting machines that have been decommissioned have to be put back into operation, that kind of stuff.

 

Walt Sorg  11:32

All in all, it was a it was a good week for voting rights. The state senate even chipped in which is kind of unusual, taking a small step towards making the election work better passing a bill to allow local clerks to begin processing absentee ballots a day earlier. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson likes the bill but she says it's only a small step in the right direction.

 

Jocelyn Benson  11:53

While I joined the governor and thanking the State Senate for passing reform that is indeed a step in the right direction. states like Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and many others have additional days and time that go beyond the 10 hours granted in the legislation passed yesterday. The State Senate proposal will ultimately net our clerks on average of three additional hours to process balance. And that is simply not enough if we're going to meet the extraordinary demands that our clerks and their absentee counting boards we'll be facing this fall.

 

Christine Barry  12:27

Benson also warned against efforts to intimidate voters and scare them away from voting by mail or going to the polls.

 

Jocelyn Benson  12:34

So I asked all of you if you see or hear anything suspicious, anything that sounds wrong, or that just just plain confusing about your right to vote this year, reported to my office, you can send an email to us at misinformation@michigan.gov. Again, that is misinformation@michigan.gov. When you see something, say something and enable us to respond with trusted information that you can rely on to protect your voice and your vote this year.

 

Christine Barry  13:00

And joining the effort against voter suppression. The Reverend Wendell Anthony, head of the Detroit NAACP.

 

Reverend Wendell Anthony  13:07

In this era of voter suppression along with the misinformation and miscommunication from some of our nation's leading officials, we must speak up and speak out now. It is vitally important that the citizens know that we still live in a democracy. Voting is at the very heart and essence of preserving our republic. We at the Detroit branch are sending the largest body of lawyers and advisors for the November general election. We will not tolerate any individual or groups that threaten or seek to prevent members of any group from exercising their right to vote.

 

Walt Sorg  13:43

Despite voter suppression efforts the turnout should be record setting I think I could venture to say it will be record setting for just pulling numbers for Michigan show the top of the ballot races tightening. But with Democrats still in the driver's seat. For more detail. We're joined by Michigan's top ranked pollster Bernie porn of EPIC MRA.  Bernie your numbers are tightening up on the presidential race, but it's not because Trump is getting more support. But it's ratcheted down a little bit for Joe Biden. Where's it going?

 

Bernie Porn  14:12

Well, it is still a pretty solid base of support in Michigan at eight points 48 to 40%. Trump is still where he was in our last poll when it was a 51 to 40%. Lead for Biden over Trump. The demographics now are showing that the outstate areas pretty much even up between Trump and Biden. But Biden is increasing his support in Southeast Michigan Wayne Oakland Macomb and the outer metro area and the man are even up but he's as in the past surveys. Biden is getting a lot of support from women. 88% of Republicans are supporting Trump 92% of them supporting Biden and Biden is only Leading among independent voters by a few points. So that's where some of the changes come

 

Walt Sorg  15:06

based on what you're seeing with the change in the Biden's support in the greater Detroit area. That would seem to be good news for the two democrats that are on the bubble, Haley Stevens and Alyssa Slotkin, even though you didn't pull those districts, specifically, if those areas are strong Biden, there's every reason to believe that's good for them.

 

Bernie Porn  15:23

Yeah, absolutely. Again, if there is a strong letter level of support for Biden, if he wins by even six, seven points that will help down ballot not only at the congressional level, that also it could help democrats win for the state house representatives. Of course, the State Senate is not on the ballot until 2022. So that's not not in play. But democrats could potentially pick up control of the Michigan house, there's only a few seats that they need to pick up to gain control

 

Walt Sorg  15:56

in terms of the US Senate race that is also tightening. But you still got a very large undecided and we're literally days away from the beginning of early voting.

 

Bernie Porn  16:06

Yes. And among those undecided, there's a higher favorability rating for Peters than there is for James, and keep in mind that in our last survey, it was a 10 point lead now it is a four point lead 45 to 41, that James is actually getting one point more than Donald Trump. I think the higher undecided and also movement toward third party candidates is because both of these candidates are attacking each other. And they were unknown to about 20% plus in our previous survey, and now it's about 10% for both of them. So a lot of those. A lot of the voters that are seeing the negative ads, they're recognizing the candidates for maybe not feeling positive about either one of them and going to undecided or going to a third party candidate, usually the third party voters end up moving toward one of the major party candidates as the election nears,

 

Walt Sorg  17:09

what about the undecided? Do you think there's an edge for either candidate in the undecided?

 

Bernie Porn  17:14

Yes, slightly for Peters because he has higher favorability ratings among those who are still undecided. And also when you look at other responses to issues, they are likely to move toward democrats and there are more democratic leaning undecided voters than there are republican leaning undecided voters. So I think that that should benefit Peters,

 

Walt Sorg  17:38

although she's not on the ballot. Gretchen Whitmer certainly is a factor in the campaign as well. How does she measure into this election?

 

Bernie Porn  17:46

She has slipped a little bit but she still has very high favorability numbers 56% which are mirrored with her positive job rating, and we did not ask a question this time about rating on the Coronavirus but she gets to even higher ratings in our previous polling and handling of the Coronavirus at 63 64%. And it was even up to 69% in a previous poll. And when you think about Trump attacking Whitmer the Coronavirus and not opening up the economy is just a head scratcher to me. Given that he has his high unfavorable and negative ratings on handling the Coronavirus as Whitmer has favorable ratings in handling it. So why on earth he would attacker that is just nonsensical.

 

Walt Sorg  18:39

Four years ago, your polling definitely showed that Hillary Clinton's support in Michigan collapsed over the last month he had a series of polls that showed are going down and down and down. Do you see anything to lead you to believe that it could be a repeat of that this time?

 

Bernie Porn  18:56

No. For one thing in a Joe Biden is that Hillary Clinton, that's first and foremost. When the campaign began, she had high unfavorable numbers almost as high as a Donald Trump and compared how she ran against Trump. Compared to other candidates, for example, Kasich. If it were not the Trump or the Republican nominee, she would have been solidly beaten by any of the other candidates. In terms of the testing we did Kasich would have beaten her by 20 points. And so the only possible way she had a winning the presidency was in front of Donald Trump or the nominee. And even with that, he was able to target those states and and gain enough support in the key states to win the electoral college although losing the popular vote, which by the way, the polling showed would happen in the two to 3% range, which is what it ended up being

 

Walt Sorg  19:55

Bernie porn. Always a pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.

 

Bernie Porn  19:58

You're very very welcome.

 

Christine Barry  20:00

Secretary Benson was on a show in the past week talking about how it's going to be an election week rather than an election day. You have a little bit of early voting starting, but then judge Cynthia Stephens ruling about those absentee ballots allow the clerks to count absentee ballots for up to 14 days after the election. So it's going to take a while for all those ballots to be counted. And they get a few more hours in the beginning. But then they've got 14 days after to count all those ballots. So

 

Walt Sorg  20:30

that'll be 14 days of Donald Trump yelling about a rigged election too, because he will probably at the end of election night will probably be in the lead in Michigan, because of the in person voting. Most Republicans, as Bernie said, will be voting at the polls, whereas most democrats will be voting by mail. But by the time it is over, it will be the same thing that has happened in multiple elections in the last couple of years. And that is the absentee ballots will turn things around because it's just a fact that Democrats tend to vote by mail and voting by mail takes longer, at least account.

 

Christine Barry  21:01

Well amidst the political turmoil. There are also a pair of climate crises. The Western third of the United States is on fire and the Hurricanes seem to be coming weekly to the southeast. On the former President Trump assures us that the fires aren't about climate change but exploding trees and it will get better automatically.

 

Donald Trump  21:22

It'll start getting cooler. I was just you just watch.

 

Wade Crowfoot  21:26

I wish science agreed with you.

 

Donald Trump  21:28

I don't think science knows, actually

 

Walt Sorg  21:31

sort of like say the Coronavirus will just go away is a policy based on wishful thinking. Joe Biden was very quick to pounce on that combination of presidential arrogance and stupidity.

 

Joe Biden  21:44

We have four more years of Trump's climate denial. How many suburbs will be burned? And wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away? In superstorms?  If you give a climate arsonist for more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised we have more America Blaze? If you give a climate denier for more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?

 

Christine Barry  22:18

Well, and you know, it's not just that these things are happening and were denying the climate science it's that our response to them is so bad.

 

Walt Sorg  22:27

I find it amazing that Donald Trump a resident now officially a Florida who owns a multimillion dollar property that is on the Atlantic shoreline is not worried about climate change when the reality is Mar a Lago is going to be underwater, probably after Trump is dead and buried but still is going to be underwater and be worthless. One third of Florida's gonna disappear by the end of the century, according to the projections. And it could be happening faster than that you've got some glaciers now that are separating and Antarctica that threatened to raise ocean levels by a matter of inches, which during a storm is a lot of water, you know, you get these storm surges. Now, if 510 15 feet during the hurricanes, they're just going to be even worse as climate change gets worse. And they've already run out of names for hurricanes are up the storm, but they would storm beta is the one that is, as we record this, as sitting off the shore of Texas right now, right after they've already had a hurricane go through the week before.

 

Christine Barry  23:23

Apparently, we just need paper towels and rakes for the forest.

 

Walt Sorg  23:28

Well, this is all gonna go away in April, you're gonna remember that the COVID virus, which has disappeared in April, remember when Donald Trump wanted to reopen the whole country by Easter because it would all be gone? We hit 200,000 deaths in the last week. And the projections are now that we could we could double that by the end of the year, quite sadly. And it could be even worse than that. Because the President continues to have these super spreader events that send the message. You don't need masks. You don't need social distancing. Just wait for the vaccine because the vaccine will be here in a couple of weeks, which is total bull, all his science people tell him it's not true. But he doesn't care for him. It's all about the election. And he'll say anything to get through the election and after that he doesn't give a crap.

 

Christine Barry  24:08

Absolutely correct. Well, let's turn to the US Senate race with COVID-19 death toll now more than 200,000 Americans, including nearly 7000. In Michigan Health Care continues to be a top line issue. It was a focus in interviews conducted for the greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce with both Gary Peters and John James Peters provided some specific proposals, noting that he's taking direct action on health care costs by attacking the cost of prescription drugs.

 

Gary Peters  24:40

Prescription drugs continue to rise at a level that's unacceptable. We need to have more competition. I've actually written legislation and passing legislation to deal with the escalating cost of prescription drugs and make sure generics for example can be more competitive and can bring down the cost. We have to make sure is full And that's dealing with the cost structure. But just throwing out the Affordable Care Act in its entirety without a plan is irresponsible, let's make sure we're fixing what's not working the way we'd like and strengthen other areas that are already working for it.

 

Christine Barry  25:15

And that last comment was aimed directly at James has backed the Trump administration efforts to repeal Obamacare, with vague promises of coming up with a replacement plan. With no actual replacement plan in place, insurance companies would be free to resume pulling coverage of pre existing conditions

 

Gary Peters  25:33

for folks who support for example, legislation that the Trump administration has right now that would just throw the affordable care act out is, is unacceptable. And people who say that, well, I'll still protect pre existing conditions, but have no plan, you actually have to have a plan. You can't have hollow words shallow talking points aren't going to demo with the immensity of this problem with healthcare.

 

Christine Barry  25:57

James was questioned on that very issue. His answer had a lot of words but little substance

 

John James  26:04

that by actually legislating, and in getting that that ground up feedback, like I said, you're going to need the regulatory reform required in the tort reform required to make sure that we can incentivize the people who are making these decisions to care for people who need it the most, my son has a pre existing condition. And I recognize the need that we have to take care of everyone, especially the most vulnerable, I think the first start would be to make sure that we do everything we can to to listen to the experts. And and we continue to push for the reforms that we need, and get the legislation required.

 

Walt Sorg  26:42

What the hell does that mean?

 

Christine Barry  26:44

It doesn't mean anything. First of all, he was stammering so much is clear that he's uncomfortable with the question itself. That's that was my interpretation of it. Second, he used his son again, I think that if you are a wealthy person, and your child has a preexisting condition, that is a completely different situation than someone who is relying on the Affordable Care Act to cover the preexisting condition of a loved one. I think it's a little bit different for wealthy people. Health care always has been different in this country for people who have extra money to do extra things. It's not apples to apples, and stop using your son if you're going to complain about Gary Peters using a child in a in a commercial. John James put out that ad with his wife and his son in it. His wife said stop using children like my son, and her son is sitting on her lap. It's foolishness. But it is a strategy. As I read the other day, it's a strategy that Republicans have been using in other ads as well, that they bring their families on to talk about pre existing conditions, and then they say stop using our children.

 

Walt Sorg  27:56

It's crazy. With this election, just like every election will come down to voter turnout, the rod number of voters and the composition of the voting universe. Nobody follows the numbers more closely than Lansing political consultant Mark Grebner, Grebner, Stratford, Michigan's first data based political consulting firm nearly 50 years ago. He's been crunching numbers and voter lists ever since. He joins us for his outlook on the election. 2020. Mark, you've been tracking elections statistically since for almost 50 years now, as you look at what's coming up in November, what are you seeing, first of all, in terms of turnout? Is it going to be as high as the absentee voter requests would indicate?

 

Mark Grebner  28:38

Well, I don't think the absentee requests tell us much. Because the world has changed so much that the relations that existed before don't pertain anymore. There. They've just all been rewritten. I think that the turnout is likely to be extremely large, largest Michigan's ever seen. We normally have roughly 5 million people vote in the presidential general election. And this year, I've been saying we're going to have 6 million votes. Maybe COVID-19 is going to screw that up. But I think we're going to see something close to 6 million votes. And of that, I think over half will be absentee.

 

Walt Sorg  29:15

even looking at the data behind that total number for absentee. What trends are you seeing there's anything that you can discern from where the requests are coming from?

 

Mark Grebner  29:24

Well, it's fascinating. It's there were a lot of people who vote absentee regularly and have voted that way, years and years and years. They're mainly old people, almost entirely people over the age of 60 because that's the old state law. But the question is who has been newly recruited because prop three opened up the door. That group is overwhelmingly democrats because the Trump people have managed to vilify absentee voting in a way that only affects their people. If Donald Trump says don't use an absentee ballot that may be effective for Republicans, but it certainly isn't going to stop any democrat from voting absentee And so he has succeeded in encouraging Democrats to vote absentee and discouraging Republicans. In the August primary. The absentee vote was overwhelmingly democratic, even in republican counties. I mean, I looked at rural Kent County, and there were townships out there that are overwhelmingly Republican, they've never elected a democratic official for any purpose. A paralysis of their absentee vote was from Democrats. There aren't any democrats there. So I mean, I don't know how you could even find enough Democrats to be a plurality. And it was just funny. So in November, we're seeing the same phenomenon, that that most of the absentee ballot requests we're seeing are from Democrats.

 

Walt Sorg  30:41

Let's look at turnout in two areas that are going to be critical. Obviously, in November 1 for Michigan, the eighth congressional district, Elyssa Slotkin is very worried because Michigan State University is not in session, she didn't win by much the last time 15,000 votes. And about half of that margin came from the campus.

 

31:01

I wouldn't say 15,000 isn't alive as that's okay. And the trends in that district are all favorable to her. And she doesn't really have very serious opponent. And I mean, I don't think that's a real race. But certainly, if it were, if it were a strongly contested race and a difficult year, it would not be good to have a mess on campus, but she has a mess on campus. That's right. I could say a lot about the East Lansing situation. But the Slotkin campaign is really driven by national consultants that I don't think that they, I don't believe that Alyssa Slotkin knows that I exist, or knows anything about the MSU campus. So if they happen to catch this podcast, I'd be happy to talk to them ever from the slightest interest in in anything that I do. So I have a list of the exact names and addresses of all MSU students, I picked it up, got a copy of it two days ago. And so I know who's registered to vote, and I know where they're registered. And I know what their majors are and where they're living, at least what they told the university about where they're living, it seems like to be a useful list. But anyway, I haven't heard from the Slotkin campaign. And I keep sending feelers out that way, and nobody ever actually calls me back.

 

Walt Sorg  32:12

Let's go about 85 miles to the east to Detroit, where turnout was down in 2016 may have contributed to the neuro Trump victory in Michigan. And the polling that we just talked with Bernie porn about shows that in fact, the undecided voter amongst black voters appears to have gone up, although he cautions his sample was pretty small. What are you seeing there? statistically,

 

32:35

I don't think anything interesting is happening there. In the first place Detroit's turnout, if you just take the number of votes. If you take a percentage, you never know any, because the Detroit voter rolls are so bad, that you're dividing it by a number of registered voters and the registered voter list includes God knows what I worked with the voter file there all the time. It's not a situation that you should count. If you go to the doors of all the registered voters, you will discover many of the registered voters live in empty lots. And that's not because of voter fraud. That's just because the voter files are out of date, and there's no method of keeping them up to date. You should understand though, that then if we're talking about the black vote in Michigan, it's not Detroit, it used to be synonymous with Detroit, you could refer to Detroit and the black vote you were they were just two words for the same phenomenon. At this point, over half of all black voters live outside the city of Detroit. The question is, to what extent black voters wherever they're located, actually turn out and vote. My guess is that Donald Trump's done a pretty good job motivating everybody. And I don't think any particular poll is going to persuade me That isn't true. People are obsessed by Donald Trump. And Donald Trump has made it turn out the vote regardless of whether anybody makes phone calls or puts flyers under door mats or whatever they do.

 

Walt Sorg  33:56

Let's go have short form answers. I know that's hard for you. But first of all, Michigan democrats want to flip the state house they need four seats to flip in order to do that. What do you see is the chances they'll be able to,

 

34:10

you know, it's like flipping a coin a bunch of times, that the cumulative uncertainty is so large that it it finally comes down to chance. This is the end of a redistricting. The Republicans drew a great gerrymander 10 years ago. But a 10-year-old gerrymander is like a 10 year old car. It still drives but it doesn't work as well as it did 10 years ago. And the gerrymander is starting to break down because all kinds of demographic assumptions they made 10 years ago, aren't true anymore. So in the first place, the gerrymander is breaking down somewhat and second place. Trump has got things so screwed up, that there are people voting democratic, who never knew they were Democrats. So I'd say there's a pretty good chance, but it still comes down to it. Like rolling dice and what's the chance you'll get a a six or higher if you roll two dice, answers, it's better than 50%. But it's still comes down to rolling dice.

 

Walt Sorg  35:12

The third and the sixth congressional districts both are possible flips. In the third you've got Justin Amash has seat with Peter Meijer running against Hillary Scholten. In the sixth you have got representative Jon Hoadley trying to up end 30 year incumbent Fred Upton. They sure didn't mean to draw those two. They'd be marginal. The Republicans when they drew them back in 2010 2011. And they've both become doubtful that I've seen polls in both cases that you just throw up your hand say, God, that's weird. Both of them are plausible. Both it might democrats might take one or both those seats. Yeah, might happen.

 

Walt Sorg  35:52

Mark we'll get back to you in December when we know the results of the election.

 

Christine Barry  35:58

A big part of the Democratic Party's get out the vote effort is targeting young voters, including potential first time voters. Historically, this age group has the lowest turnout, the challenge that is being taken on by next gen.org. We're joined by Jay Williamson, executive director and Lateshia Parker, communications director of the Michigan chapter of Next Gen.

 

Walt Sorg  36:20

Let's start at the beginning, Jay, and that is next gen, you date back to the 2018 cycle. How did it get going? How is it evolved since then?

 

Jay Williamson  36:29

Sure. Well, prior to my joining NextGen, NextGen started as a climate action committee, just before the 2016 election. And then after that, after Donald Trump's win in 2016. That's when we reformulated ourselves into being a much broader political action committee, committed to the youth vote. And then when I joined in 2018, that's when we expanded into Michigan. And I was the Media Manager here. And so I handled like the press secretary job. And then also I was doing digital work in Michigan, and that was for the gubernatorial election. And then so we know that we had a really a lot of weight, a lot of wins in 2018, in Michigan. And so I would say that was like the year of a woman right. And so we elected Gretchen Whitmer. And then we also had Dana Nestle selected. And that was really great year for the youth vote. Also in Michigan, we saw a huge like a dramatic increase in youth voter turnout, and also an absentee youth voter turnout. But the way that we really how the way that we gauged young voter enthusiasm in 2018 had a lot to do with polling locations. And so we monitored what we were calling YVIPS. And so that was youth vote indicator precincts. So we literally chose polling locations that were in precincts where it was more than 80% of the registered voting population were of the ages 18 to 35. And then we just monitor those polling locations all day long on election day. And we took the turnout from 2018 and compared it to the turnout in 2014. And we saw the turnout like quadrupled at those precincts. So like we know already that like young voters are hungry and that they're ready for change. And we're looking like, we're already seeing that, like we saw what like a 900% increase in absentee ballot. absentee ballots cast in this August primary versus the 2016 August primary. So like, we're seeing that like young voters are like dramatically engaged. And that's even like when you can't like in a time of Coronavirus, like when like we can't be in the field like you can't tangibly see what's happening, right? So like we're all here, like viewing it on our screens. Like we're just doing it from home, which makes it like really hard to see the impact of your work. But what we're seeing anyway,

 

Walt Sorg  39:02

you're also dealing with a different layout for the election. And voting actually starts on Thursday. When people can start early voting, there's, as you say, there will be a ton of absentee voting. So you've had to change your tactics that plus of course, you can't do any canvassing anymore. How have you adjusted to the new world?

 

Jay Williamson  39:19

Slowly and instantly, right. So like when this happened, um, when quarantine happened, we I mean, we are unionized, our organizers are unionized. And we want to take very, very, very good care of them. We care about them very much. And so we immediately pulled everybody out of the field. And we had to pivot right away with our tactics. So we went to completely remote and completely digital. And that's something that we had done a lot, right, like we are an organization of young organizers and so like digital tactics had always been part of our toolbox but like, we also were like very field oriented and so now like we have gone to 100% digital assets. And so that's meant, like, organizing tactics that a lot of other organizations have employed. So that's meant like online events, a lot of texting, a lot of calling a lot of like, excuse me sliding into people's DMS, but also like creative things. I mean, other states have done things like events on Animal Crossing, a lot of trying to be like, really creative, like what is getting like people's attention. We've tried to do like, a lot of anti-racist, impactful events, and talk about that, so that we can like be part of like the black voter outreach, movement, especially in Michigan, because we feel like that is like, incredibly, incredibly crucial here. But in terms of like, what, what that looks like for us, or like, what digital or what like our focus is, I think our focus really is pivoted from, like making sure your voter registration address is updated. So ignore in a normal year, I guess, like to back up a normal year, what we would be really looking at is like, is your voter registration address updated so that you can vote on campus? And now we've really pivoted away from that, to looking at? Well, no, are you able to vote safely and vote from home? Because people aren't going back to campus? So we want you to like be looking at like, Is everybody going to be voting absentee this year? And that's a major shift for us.

 

Walt Sorg  41:28

You campaign on progressive issues, a variety of issues. What are you finding is getting the most response from the people when you talk with them right now, I would think that climate change would be higher on the list, especially right now with half of the, with the West, burning down hurricanes every other day, it seems like in the southeast, just those two things alone would really be energizing people on that issue.

 

41:54

Climate change is always high on the list. But I mean, we survey people. So when we talk to people, we ask them to commit to vote in November. So we asked them to take a pledge to vote, but that's also a survey. So we're always asking people about the issues that matter most to them. And we're in 11 states. And so it varies by state to state, I think vary widely. What matters most to them. We're seeing a lot of racial injustice is high on people's lists, cost of college employment issues. Lateshia maybe could you speak more to that? Have you looked lately at what the most recent figures are?

 

Lateshia Parker  42:33

Yes. So the issues that young Michiganders care most about our health care, cost of college racial equality and justice. And as you mentioned, climate change.

 

Walt Sorg  42:44

Now, this rise is not a surprise at all. And in terms of commitments to vote, is interesting. I just happened to get pulled last week by somebody who was doing the survey. But that was one of the questions they asked me was the intensity of whether or not I was going to vote? What sort of intensity Are you seeing from people as you talk with him?

 

Jay Williamson  43:02

Yeah, I mean, enthusiasm is a very, very high in fact, we just do we do like what we call a vibe check. Every month, I'm young voters. And we did just send out our most recent polling numbers. I wish I had those handy for you. That's probably something we'll have to follow up with to get you. But yeah, it's I mean, people are more hungry than ever to get out there especially and like, I know that young voters were much greater advocates for Bernie Sanders. But really, like, now everybody's turned their attention to like, this is more crucial than ever, the stakes are higher than ever. And so like we need to unify, to get Donald Trump out of office. I know like that some of them felt that like Joe Biden was a little bit milk toast, but I think that that that tide has been turning.

 

Walt Sorg  43:57

If people want to get involved with NextGen is it too late for the cycle?

 

Jay Williamson  44:01

have absolutely not, it's never too late. It's not too late, like up until like the day of the election, we are going to be making I mean, we're going to be making a couple hundred thousand calls and sending a couple of hundred thousand texts. And we'll be making them like up until Election Day. And we know that it's probably not going to be over on Election Day, right? In fact, we have a fellowship that's open right now we'll be looking for probably we'll be as hiring as many as 50 people in the next couple of weeks. And that pays $1,000 a month. So that's $17 an hour for 15 hours of work a week to make calls and send text to help us get out the vote. remind people to vote. Right now. We're still doing the absentee ballot prime work. We're going to be switching very shortly to the ballot chase work, especially because of the delay in the United States Postal Service. We want to make sure that we're like telling people to be sending their ballot in at least two weeks out ahead of time, and that, like if that hasn't happened, that we're switching our messaging to please, you know, take your ballot in person to the clerk do so safely, that we're helping give people advice and tools about how to do that safely. But we really, we need a lot of help to get that messaging out to as many people as possible.

 

Walt Sorg  45:20

Jay Williamson and Leticia Parker, thanks for joining us on the Policast. Appreciate it.

 

Christine Barry  45:24

All right, time for some political notes. First up the governor, facemasks and football, the governor ordered that face masks or face shields be worn in both training and competition when it comes to sports that cannot keep a distance. But her office says she's open to talks with the conference regarding this mask order. And that's the big 10 the state has launched a public relations PSA type of campaign called spread hope not COVID, which encourages people to wear masks and it is meant to inspire people and comfort them and say that Be patient. We're getting there, we're making progress. There are people who have come out against this wearing masks and participating in sports. One of our football coaches at the high school has tested positive for covid. And I don't know that anybody cares about that. But I just thought it was relevant. Since we're talking about not wearing masks while also playing the sports where everybody's in close quarters.

 

Walt Sorg  46:26

And I find it a little bit disturbing to the big 10 is already making plans on how to have tiebreakers in the event that one or more schools has to cancel a game as a result of COVID infections, the way their schedule is set up. There are no buy weeks for any of the teams. So if all of a sudden you find your offensive line is all got COVID-19 positive, you're just not going to play that week. It's a real iffy situation. I'd be very surprised if the season comes off without a hitch Major League Baseball as you recall when they started up in the in the late spring, they had a real problem with it. Because in the first week they had games canceled, complete games complete series canceled because teams became infected. Also this week, the redrawing of Michigan's congressional and legislative districts got underway with the brand new citizens Redistricting Commission, the reform that was set up through the passage of proposal two back in 2018. And as one of the people who helped draft the way that the commission would be selected, which is basically a random draw amongst voters who apply, there was always the possibility you're going to end up with 13 people in the commission, who were potted palms. I mean, they just wouldn't know anything, they wouldn't have a clue they wouldn't have the intelligence to handle it. What was a great relief is I've monitored the meetings online, which of course, all of them will be online, but I was watching both their first two orientation meetings. And you've got a bunch of very bright, very committed citizens of this state, none of them very political in terms of political activism, because the amendment was set up to avoid the political activists being on there. And I think they're gonna do a good job. I think the system is gonna work. I was very, very encouraged. The new chair of the commission is an attorney from interlocking whether it was Stephen lead, he's one of the independent commissioners, and they're off to a really good start.

 

Christine Barry  48:12

And we have a couple of really interesting candidate endorsements. Note, the Michigan Chronicle, the largest newspaper targeting an African American audience in our state has endorsed Gary Peters for reelection. This is significant given the unique status of John James, as a rare African American Republican candidate.

 

Walt Sorg  48:32

I think that is really, it's a big deal for Gary Peters. To get that endorsement, you would have assumed that the Chronicle would want the African American candidate, but they've examined both of them on the issues and they've decided, Gary Peters was the person who is best for our constituency.

 

Christine Barry  48:46

And they were so thorough and detailed and their endorsement as to why they supported Gary Peters over John James. And that's true for the second one, too, that I'll get to in a moment, that these endorsements are very detailed and worth reading. And considering because they're just so spot on with the issues. And not only the how the candidate takes a position on the issues, but also the significance of the lack of taking a position, which, you know, John James has been doing this whole time. The second endorsement we're looking at is basically the Bible of science journalism for about 175 years, Scientific American, has endorsed a candidate for president for the first time in its history, choosing Joe Biden over the scientifically and cognitively challenged Donald Trump.

 

Walt Sorg  49:36

Well, he is the most anti science president we've had in modern times. He absolutely rejects climate science. He absolutely rejects healthcare, science, COVID science, everything else, and instead just relies on what his waiter tells him about masks and exploding trees and all the other crazy things that he says I can understand Scientific American making this choice. As a kid I remember reading science A typical American every month is a part of our science class. And I'd be willing to bet Donald Trump never heard of the magazine until this endorsement came out,

 

Christine Barry  50:08

like I said about the Michigan Chronicle. It's a really thorough, detailed endorsement. They talked about how Trump removed the health rules from the EPA. So there's no consideration for things like heart disease when you're making policy on pollution, for example, they mentioned his efforts to reduce agencies like the CDC and NIH. So you know, making it more challenging to have scientific knowledge in the future. Both of these, again, really well thought out detailed endorsements. They're not endorsement by proxy by any means, like you've seen with some of the endorsements by John James, he clearly picked up simply because Trump had endorsements and so they sort of passed that on to James, Gary Peters and Joe Biden here picked up some really well thought out endorsements.

 

Walt Sorg  50:55

And for the gun lovers, it's good news for you, you can still bring your guns to the Capitol, whether it's an assault rifle or a semi-automatic, but you can't bring signs. The State Capitol commission, which is an appointed bipartisan group, in charge of the Capitol Building, has decided even though they were told by their lawyer and by the Attorney General that they had the power to do it. They still didn't want to take the step of banning guns from being brought right into the galleries of the House of Representatives in the Senate. There was a very impassioned plea from state representatives, Sarah Anthony of Lansing, who is personally very fearful as she walked, tries to walk to work. Basically, she's walking into her workplace, surrounded by some Yahoo's carrying assault weapons and looking like the Symbionese Liberation Army out there. She just was incensed over the thing, one of the things Democrats have done is retaliation for this decision, is introduced legislation to abolish the State Capital Commission, and turn control of the Capitol building right over to the Legislative Council.

 

Christine Barry  51:57

Yeah, I don't know how that legislation will go over. But I do know that there are a lot of liberal groups that are in favor of open carry. And personally, I'm not an open carry advocate. But there are a lot of liberal groups, and in far left groups that are and I'm not a big fan of proliferation or escalation, but things would be a lot different. If those groups showed up with their rifles, as I think it would things would be different for Shirkey and Chatfield and the Michigan Capitol Commission.

 

Walt Sorg  52:30

Yet if you tried to walk into the White House carrying an ak 47 What are your chances of getting out alive?

 

Christine Barry  52:36

I just personally think this is foolishness. It's foolishness to be able to carry this this kind of firearm, any kind of firearm really, into the Capitol. It's just foolishness. You know, it's intimidation. I really don't care to hear anybody's you know, argument about shall not be infringed. That's ridiculous. There's our lawmakers in there. They don't need to be, you know, intimidated by your stupid a weapon that's hanging off you like some kind of genital.

 

Walt Sorg  53:06

For the history lovers out there. Go back to the late 40s, early 50s when a group of fanatics regarding Puerto Rican statehood invaded the US House of Representatives.

 

Christine Barry  53:19

Well, let's move on to the attack ad of the week. The long format of the week is a two minute plus digital ad from Republicans for Biden, featuring former Mike Pence senior staffer, Olivia Troy.

 

Walt Sorg  53:32

Since it does run two and a half minutes we will play it here but we will have a link to it on it. Well, we'll post it on our website. It is pretty powerful though because this is somebody who was in the room and she says basically, Donald Trump doesn't give a damn about your health. He's just worried about re election.

 

Christine Barry  53:47

And and she has credibility, although both pence and Trump and you know, some of the people around them have tried to come out and, of course discredit her right away.

 

Walt Sorg  53:56

Trump says he doesn't know which is a standard defense against all of the people in his administration, who say that he's a bad person.

 

Christine Barry  54:04

Well, the runner up is the Meidas Touch for Trump lied 200,000 died.

 

The Meidas Touch PAC  54:10

It goes through. You just read that that's how it's passed. He knew what could cost him votes is more deadly than your strenuous flus. He knew it could cost him great anguish. Not just old people, but plenty of young people. He knew it could cost him popularity. This is deadly stuff. So Donald Trump hit the truth about COVID-19. It's a little like the regular flu. If you're healthy, you'll be fine. Children handle it very well. This is that new hoax. It's going to disappear and cost more than 200,000 people their lives. Because it's really working out. I think we're doing a really good job. He lied. people died. I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down plain and simple. Meidas touch is responsible for the content of this advertising.

 

Walt Sorg  55:10

But our winner this week goes to the Biden campaign also on the theme of Republicans who are crossing over, it features a Pennsylvania farmer whose messages Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

 

Joe Biden for President  55:25

On the third generation on his family farm, out here in western Pennsylvania, this farm has been here since 1949. It's a great lifestyle. It's not the one of the rich and famous, but it's a lifestyle that I wouldn't treat anybody for. Yeah, I voted for Trump in 16. And I'll be the first to tell you, I made a mistake. pandemic, it's been tough on everybody. You know, President Trump is not responsible for this virus. Nobody was gonna be able to stop that. But he was totally negligent on how he informed people. I mean, the guy, the guy gets the blame for what's happening. If he would have did things right day one. We wouldn't be where we're at today. You know, with Joe Biden, I think we got a person that's got some compassion, and he's got a real plan to get things going turned around. I made a mistake and 16 I won't make a mistake in 2020. I'm Joe Biden, and I approve this message.

 

Christine Barry  56:23

And that's all for this week. So please head on over to our website MichiganPolicast.com to see the show notes, I will have links and the full lawsuit text for all of the election stuff we've talked about this week, as well as links to our other sources and you know, tweets and photos and all these ads and everything. MichiganPolicast.com.

 

Walt Sorg  56:47

a little preview of next week we will be joined by Barbara McQuade, the former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, MSNBC political commentator, and all-around good person who also teaches law at the University of Michigan. You can email us at MIPolicast@gmail.com if you want to pitch about what we're saying, or you can reach out through the Michigan Policast page on Facebook or on Twitter. absentee ballots go into the mail this Thursday. Watch your mailbox and vote early or head over to your clerk's office and vote right away. Michigan Policast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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