House Democrats are heading into next year with the slimmest majority either party has seen in two decades. How might this shape intra-party relations among Democrats moving forward? “The new dynamic will force Democratic leaders to change their tactics, both in drafting bills and in reining in the rank and file,” Haley Byrd Wilt writes in her debut piece for the website. Haley joined Sarah and Steve on today’s show to forecast these shifting dynamics as we approach the 117th Congress. Stick around for a breakdown of the latest drama in the House Republican conference, Donald Trump’s NDAA veto threat, and whether Congress can avert a government shutdown.

 

In the weeks following November 3, a surprising number of state Republican parties have made it their mission to attack any high ranking GOP officials in their state who have certified or somehow acknowledged Joe Biden’s electoral victory over President Trump. How will this GOP infighting play out over the next few months? Declan joins Sarah, David, and Jonah on today’s show to discuss his new piece on the site explaining this strange phenomenon, with a close look at Arizona and Georgia in particular. Stick around to hear our hosts discuss the 2021 races they are keeping an eye on, all things Hunter Biden, and Joseph Epstein’s controversial Wall Street Journal op-ed about Jill Biden.

 

How might the Supreme Court respond to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit contesting the results of the election? Why did so many House members and state attorneys general file amicus briefs in support of the lawsuit? Is Paxton’s legal effort just a political stunt? On today’s episode, Sarah and Steve are joined by Ilya Shapiro—director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and publisher of the Cato Supreme Court Review—for the breakdown.

 

The Supreme Court denied injunctive relief on Tuesday to Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly in a one-sentence order that unceremoniously ended the Republican lawmaker’s bid to overturn his state’s election results. “What distinguished this case was it actually had an interesting question of law in it,” David argues on today’s show, in reference to the Pennsylvania state legislature’s alleged violation of the state’s constitution in 2019. That Rep. Kelly brought this lawsuit after the presidential election was another question entirely, David concedes, as was Kelly’s requested remedy. On the menu for the rest of today’s episode: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s new Supreme Court election lawsuit, Biden’s latest Cabinet picks, and the origins of “believe-Trump-no-matter-what” syndrome among once-respected GOP figures.

 

After Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling asked GOP lawmakers to tone down the unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud in his state earlier this week, the Trump campaign shared a 90-second video on Twitter alleging another Georgia related election conspiracy theory. “Video footage from Georgia shows suitcases filled with ballots pulled from under a table AFTER supervisors told poll workers to leave room and 4 people stayed behind to keep counting votes,” the tweet said. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and other GOP figures have since demanded a signature audit of the presidential election in the Peach State.

 

During an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr said that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” In what seems to be a clever attempt to appease the president, Barr also said during the interview that he had appointed John Durham as special counsel to investigate the Russia-Trump probe in October. Will news of Durham’s appointment appease Republicans? Is there a legal defect in the Durham appointment? Sarah and the guys give us the breakdown. On today’s episode, our podcast hosts also analyze Trump’s election litigation madness, the ethics of COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, and last week’s killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

 

Charles Koch and Brian Hooks joined Sarah and David to discuss their new book, Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World, which is about social entrepreneurship, the principles of human progress, and empowering people to discover their gifts. On today’s show, Koch and Hooks explain how finding common ground with people across the ideological spectrum has helped reorient their approach to public policy reform as it relates to the criminal justice system, education, and more.

 

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg were in the hot seat again on Tuesday, answering questions from Senate Judiciary Committee members about the policing of misinformation and controversial speech on their platforms. The biggest takeaway from the hearing? Both political parties want to regulate Big Tech, but for very different reasons. As David argues, it’s not just that liberals want more censorship and conservatives want less of it. “It’s that liberals want Big Tech censorship in exactly the areas where conservatives want less censorship,” especially as it pertains to hate speech and disinformation. Is there any room for compromise in the war against big tech? Our podcast hosts break it down in layman’s terms. Also on today’s episode: an update on COVID-19’s third wave, Biden’s Cabinet picks, and Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election.

 

Is the Republican Party in the midst of a policy wasteland? Today’s guest, Ben Ginsberg, surely thinks so. According to Ginsberg, who is perhaps the most prominent Republican election lawyer of our time, the future of the GOP rests on its ability to transform its policy agenda into one that appeals to minorities and women. “If [the GOP] can avoid the circular firing squad and instead concentrate on positive policy ideas to appeal to voters,” Ginsberg warns, then “there is a chance for the resurrection of the party.” Stick around for a conversation about our democracy’s nonexistent voter fraud problem and the GOP’s concerted effort to restrict access to the polls.

 

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper got the boot on Monday in a characteristic Twitter announcement from President Trump. Esper’s sudden dismissal was accompanied by a firing spree of numerous other Pentagon officials who were quickly replaced with Trump loyalists, raising a lot of questions and alarm bells in D.C.’s national security bubble. Sarah and the guys break down competing theories that have tried to dissect what the Pentagon purge is all about. According to David, “the moves only really makes sense in the context of planning for a second term.” Tune in for a discussion of emerging arguments surrounding the future of the GOP, ongoing election lawsuits, and the conspiratorial trajectory of conservative media.

 

Does a video show someone burning ballots with votes for Trump? No. Did Michigan ‘magically’ find 138,339 votes for Joe Biden? Nope. What about Wisconsin? Did voter turnout exceed the number of registered voters in the state? A thousand times no. But tight vote counts in battleground states have laid the perfect groundwork for election disinformation to explode online over the past few days. As Steve points out, some bad actors on social media and cable news simply “don’t care whether what they’re saying is actually true.” But not to worry, Dispatch fact checkers Alec Dent and Khaya Himmelman—along with staff writer Andrew Egger—join the podcast today to debunk conspiracy theories surrounding election fraud so you don’t have to.

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Minutes before 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, the president took to Twitter to claim victory in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. The president also said he “hereby [claims]” Michigan “if, in fact,… there was a large number of secretly dumped ballots as has been widely reported!” The president and his closest allies are also alleging that late-arriving votes are evidence of fraud. What should we make of all this? “This is the president of the United States acting like a Third World dictator,” Steve says on today’s episode. “It’s complete nonsense. It’s made up. The only rhyme or reason to what he’s doing is he wants to count votes that he thinks are his and disqualify votes that he thinks are not.” On today’s show, our podcast hosts dissect this year’s polling catastrophe, where their electoral predictions went sour, and what our country might look like in January 2021.

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What do Republican lawmakers want the Republican party to look like in a post-Trump era? “There’s a great fear of one scenario which is that Donald Trump loses in a race that is extremely tight,” Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tells Sarah and Steve on today’s show. “In that scenario, it would be much more difficult for elected Republicans to disown Trumpism and make the case that this was an aberrant cancer that needs to be excised.” Tune in for a discussion of Trump’s spending problem, the state of the polling industry, and what to expect from a Biden administration.

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The idea that Joe Biden will somehow heal America in a post-Trump era has become the closing argument of the Democratic candidate’s campaign. Will Biden’s “return to normalcy” pitch constrain his presidency? There’s a lot of ill will festering among congressional Democrats over coronavirus relief negotiations and the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Assuming post-Election Day Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, will Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi pull Biden further left? Our podcast hosts are here for the breakdown. With less than a week until Election Day, Sarah and the guys discuss both presidential candidates’ closing rally schedules, ongoing election litigation, and whether Mitch McConnell is the real savior of the Trump years.

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Is the presidential race where the polls say it is? What might pollsters be missing this election cycle? Is there a scenario in which Biden wins the electoral college handedly and Republicans somehow hold the Senate? Polls suggest that Republican senators’ reelection odds aren’t looking too sunny in Maine, Colorado, and Arizona. But what about Republican Senator Thom Tillis in North Carolina? “Everything comes down to whether a late breaking sex scandal in North Carolina can preserve a seat that Republicans a few weeks ago thought was lost,” says Josh Kraushaar, National Journal’s senior national political columnist, on today’s episode. “Ultimately, they’re hoping on a Democratic blunder on the last month of the campaign to save the Senate.” Join Sarah, Steve and Josh for a conversation about prospective voter turnout, party infighting on both sides of the aisle, and the senators who are distancing themselves from Trump to save the Senate.

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The story that the New York Post published last week about Hunter Biden raised all sorts of red flags for veteran journalists. How did they come into possession of the information in the first place? How did they authenticate the story before publishing it? All things considered, the available reporting process indicates that the New York Post’s story was so shaky within the Post’s own staff that the person who wrote it didn’t want his name on the byline. “That doesn’t say that the information is false,” David concedes on today’s episode, “But what it says is that the procedures to vet the information before they put the information into the public square were inadequate.” Tune in to hear our podcast hosts discuss voter enthusiasm, liberal anxiety over a 2016 repeat, and what to expect from Thursday’s presidential debate.

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How do journalists and tech platforms determine what information is verifiable online? How can news consumers determine which media outlets to trust when the line between partisan bias and disinformation becomes hazier and hazier? On today’s episode, David and Sarah are joined by Renée DiResta—a technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory and a writer at Wired and the Atlantic—for a conversation about disinformation online. “Anybody with a laptop can make themselves look like a media organization, can use a variety of social media marketing techniques to grow an audience, and then can push out whatever they want to say to that audience,” DiResta warns. Where do we go from here? Tune in to learn about journalistic ethics surrounding the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story and what to expect from disinformation actors this election cycle.

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How is Amy Coney Barrett holding up in her Senate confirmation hearings? Well, her record is squeaky clean, she’s held fast to the Ginsburg rule, and she’s remained calm and collected despite the Democrats’ best efforts to break her composure. Another benefit from this hearing, as Sarah points out, is that “the media has finally come around to understanding that the Affordable Care Act is not going to be tossed in the trash.” On the flip side, the language of court packing on the left has shifted in the opposite direction, where Democrats now argue that the term simply refers to the act of filling existing vacancies with conservative judges they don’t like. On today’s podcast, Sarah and the guys walk us through the evolution of court packing in recent decades before giving us a temperature check on the presidential election, several competitive Senate races, and the unmasking probe commissioned by Attorney General Bill Barr.

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Donald Trump is trailing in the polls by roughly 4.2 points in Arizona, a state Republican presidential candidates have won consistently in recent decades (with the exception of Bob Dole in 1996). Our podcast hosts are joined today by New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin, who explains the demographic changes that have resulted in such a quick political realignment in Arizona and the Sun Belt more broadly. If the polls are all correct and the GOP is at risk losing Arizona, then why is Trump spending so much time campaigning there? “The difference between a modest Biden victory and an electoral landslide is the Sun Belt,” Martin tells Sarah and Steve.

Beyond demographic changes in key battleground states, public opinion surveys have continuously shown that the American public is much more cautious about the coronavirus than the president. For months, President Trump has downplayed the pandemic by holding in-person rallies, refusing to wear a mask, and railing against the efficacy of mail-in-voting. Do Trump’s advisers simply not have the guts to tell him that his mishandling of the coronavirus is losing voters? “It’s just hard to use polling data to get him to act in ways that he does not want to act,” Martin argues. Listen to today’s episode for some thoughts about online campaign fundraising, Mitch McConnell’s last ditch effort to save the GOP’s Senate majority, and the life expectancy of “Anti-Fake News” Trumpism in the Republican Party.

Do this week’s national presidential polling averages doom Donald Trump’s chance at winning the election? Joe Biden has maintained a steady national polling lead of 6 to 9 points for months now, with no signs of letting up as we approach November 3. The latest CNN, NBC, and Rasmussen polls from this week show Biden in a 16-, 14-, and 12-point lead, respectively. “Even if [these polls] are outliers on the top number,” Jonah says, “The unspoken story about all of this is Biden is running away with it with seniors.” Trump won seniors decisively in 2016 and a Democrat hasn’t won the demographic since former presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000. All things considered, our podcast hosts warn that this could be one of the biggest presidential sweeps since Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole in 1996. Tune in for a conversation about the right’s transition to online social media trolling, the president’s Twitter addiction, and tonight’s upcoming vice presidential debate.

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