Under 100,000 Voters Could Decide 2024

Hang On, Folks. It’s Going To Be A Bumpy And Unpleasant Ride.

by Miles Mogulescu

Although between 125 million and 150 million voters will probably cast ballots nationally in the 2024 presidential election, the winner will likely be decided by only about 100,000 voters in a handful of states.

In 2020, Biden won the majority of the national popular vote by more than seven million votes. But if you put those votes under a magnifying glass, Biden only won the electoral vote by an aggregate of 42,918 votes in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia. If slightly more than 21,000 voters in those three states had chosen Trump instead of Biden, or slightly more than 42,000 Biden voters in those three states just stayed home, Trump would have won the electoral vote and would have legally become president for a second term.

Similarly, in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the majority of the national popular vote by nearly three million votes. Nonetheless, Trump won the electoral college vote 306-227. Trump only won the electoral vote by an aggregate of 77,744 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If slightly more than 38,000 voters in those three states had chosen Clinton instead of Trump or slightly more than 77,000 Trump voters in those three states had stayed home, Clinton, not Trump, would have been elected president in 2016.

In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by over half a million votes nationally but lost the election to George W. Bush by a mere 537 votes in Florida after a Republican-majority Supreme Court ordered a recount halted, handing the presidency to Bush (and after Ralph Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida.)

To summarize, since the year 2000, Democrats have won the popular vote five out of six presidential elections but Republicans have won the Presidency by carrying the electoral vote three of those times.

If polls taken ten months before an election are to be taken seriously, there’s a strong chance that Biden will win a majority of the popular vote and Trump will win the electoral vote and legitimately retake the presidency in November. A recent poll by Stack Data Strategy predicts that Biden would win the popular vote again by nearly two million votes, but that Trump would win the electoral vote 292-246 by winning four states that were decided by the closest margins in 2020—Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Similarly, the New York Times/Siena poll finds that Trump would closely win five of the six most important battleground states which Biden won in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

However, it wouldn’t take much to change between now and November for Biden instead of Trump to win the electoral college and be reelected if only a few tens of thousands of voters change their minds in a handful of swing states.

The strength of Biden’s and Trump’s ground game in the swing states could make a significant difference since, given how close the swing states are, turnout for the respective candidates could be determinative.

Also, although the economy is doing relatively well, a majority of voters currently disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. But The Wall Street Journal just reported that consumer sentiment rose by a record 29 percent since November. If, over the next 10 months, this convinces a few tens of thousands of voters in the key swing states to vote for Biden instead of sitting home or voting for Trump, the electoral vote majority could shift to Biden. On the other hand, Biden’s support for Israel’s brutal assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could cause enough Muslim voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where they are plentiful, to sit out the presidential election or vote third party in enough numbers to shift the electoral votes of these key swing states to Trump which could get him close to a national electoral vote majority.

Significantly, recent polls show that if Trump is convicted of a crime before the election, he is likely to lose his current slim lead. A recent Wall Street Journal poll shows a five-point swing from Trump to Biden if Trump is convicted. The Times/Siena poll indicating Trump winning in five of the six key swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin shows Biden winning all six of these swing states if Trump is convicted, with 6 percent of voters switching from Trump to Biden. If true, a Trump conviction could make a Biden victory probable.

As in 2000, the outcome of the 2024 presidential election could effectively be determined by the Supreme Court, which will likely hear an appeal concerning Trump’s contention that presidents are immune from criminal prosecution. While even this conservative Supreme Court may well rule that presidents are not immune and Trump can stand trial, the question is whether the appeals process will be concluded in time for a trial to be completed and a verdict rendered before November.

Get ready for a bumpy ride over the next nine months. And keep your eye on six states.

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Miles Mogulescu is an entertainment attorney/business affairs executive, producer, political activist and writer. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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The sun showed up for a change last Sunday, perhaps just to shine on the literal handful of protestors who appeared in Market Square and stood—or sat—in support of the people of Gaza, and peace in general.

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It’s Not The Vibes Giving Us A Sour Economic Mood; It’s The Monopolists

by Justin Stofferahn

In recent months a lot of economic commentators have been flabbergasted that despite low unemployment, steady job growth and easing inflation, the public mood about the economy remains dour.

Pundits have blamed social media, partisanship and negative media headlines. But what if our headline economic data simply fails to tell a complete story? Dig a little deeper and the economic challenges confronting the country sound a lot more like the misery of monopoly than bad vibes or misinformation.

Any discussion of current economic challenges begins with inflation, and for good reason. While inflation is lower, that just means the rate of increase has cooled. Prices are still 19 percent higher than before the pandemic, and wages have only recently started to keep pace, with more granular analysis revealing that most people have seen their spending power decline, meaning that simply being employed is not enough. To add insult to injury, inflation calculations do not account for interest rate hikes, increasing the monthly payments for car loans, home loans and credit cards.

Inflation on its own generates more intense anger and frustration than other issues, and this is likely exacerbated by the unfairness driving price increases. People are blaming powerful corporations, and so are government economists, think tanks, and private sector experts. Legal action has uncovered an economy apparently rife with monopoly price-gouging. A jury recently found major egg producers guilty of price-fixing and further lawsuits allege the cost of everything from meat to housing is higher because of companies illegally coordinating.

Inflation is just one piece of this misery though. The other is more existential, a sense that we no longer have control over corporate behemoths. Since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans about their satisfaction with the “size and influence” of big business and the response “very dissatisfied” has grown from 17 percent to 44 percent over the past two decades, up 12 percentage points since 2020. While consolidation has been growing for decades, this recent change in attitude about corporate power is likely a reflection of the way the pandemic brought a whole host of long-running structural issues to the forefront, including monopolization.

Monopolists have been suppressing wages for decades, but the past couple years have seen a spike in labor activism as workers fight back amidst the backdrop of rising prices and record profits. Amazon, a poster-child for our monopolized economy, finally saw one of its warehouses vote to unionize. Consolidation was front and center in the massive writers and actors strikes last year, with workers not only hitting the picket line but urging antitrust authorities to investigate the industry. Meanwhile, pharmacists working for the drugstore duopoly of CVS and Walgreens have participated in walkouts; and doctors, fed up with giant health systems, are unionizing.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice recently completed a typically obscure and wonky process of updating the merger guidelines that direct the agencies’ enforcement of business combinations. The last time they did this, in 2010, just 32 public comments were submitted—solely from lawyers and academics. This time around, the year and a half process of updating the guidelines generated over 35,000 comments from Americans across the country, tired of being pushed around by monopolists.

In October, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, who leads the antitrust division at the Department of Justice, held a roundtable in Minnesota with farmers, workers and small business owners. They did not talk about job growth numbers or the stock market. They talked about how monopolies—from tech giants to massive health systems—are making their lives and professions harder and more precarious and reshaping the very structure of the communities they live in. Farmers are earning less, nurses are leaving the bedside, and we are losing small businesses like rural pharmacies every day.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy recently wrote that “the most important economic and social interactions in your life are being dictated by… massively powerful private companies.” Yet our public discourse fails to match this reality.

The effort to frame people’s dissatisfaction with the economy as manufactured and not grounded in actual experiences is insulting and distracts from solving the problems making life so challenging for so many.

The silver lining to the misery of monopoly power is that there is nothing inevitable about it. Getting screwed by powerful corporations is a policy choice that can be reversed, but that requires identifying the source.

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Justin Stofferahn lives in White Bear Township and is the antimonopoly director at the Minnesota Farmers Union. This commentary was first published in Minnesota Reformer, which is part of the nonprofit States Newsroom, a national network of news bureaus supported by grants and donors. We first spotted this piece in the Maine Morning Star, also part of States Newsroom. We publish it here under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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The McIntyre is no longer an official Federal Building, but a brief consultation with the Flag Police has confirmed that its recent privatization did not confer upon this unattractive hulk any sort of exemption from the Flag Code. This display is therefore busted on three counts: Staple failure, causing the union of one flag to droop, and improper display allowing the fly ends of both flags to make contact with a concrete anti-terrorism planter.

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Next Portsmouth Democratic Roundtable Feb. 13, 2024

After 2 years of hibernation, the Portsmouth Democratic Roundtable will resume on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at a local restaurant in Portsmouth. Please call or contact Peter Somssich for the location. The Roundtable is an opportunity to socialize with Democrats and other friends without any agenda or rigid structure. It is an opportunity for new residents of Portsmouth to meet those involved in the Portsmouth Democrats and learn of opportunities to get involved, suggest new ideas, or be supportive of planned initiatives. For information or questions please contact Peter Somssich at (603) 436-5382 (No Texts Please) or peter.somssich@gmail.com.

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Why the Market—Not to Mention the Billionaires—Cannot Save Journalism

This isn’t just a journalism crisis: it’s a democracy crisis. And it’s a problem that we must collectively confront as a society.

by Victor Pickard

It’s been a particularly brutal stretch for American journalism. Even for an industry that’s become synonymous with precarity and crisis, the recent job losses have been jolting.

On Wednesday, The Messenger, a digital news startup that lost $50 million in less than a year, announced suddenly that it was closing, letting go nearly 300 employees, reportedly without warning or severance pay. The Los Angeles Times announced last week that it’s cutting 115 jobs, more than 20 percent of its newsroom. In December, the Washington Post, once hailed as a promising new model for sustaining journalism in the digital age, eliminated 240 positions through volunteer buyouts, nearly 10 percent of its employees.

This recent spate of downsizing is part of a longer trend: the U.S. has lost almost one-third of its newspapers and nearly two-thirds of its newspaper journalists since 2005. The shocking decimation of the journalism industry has led to the proliferation of ever-expanding news deserts in which more than one half of American counties have little or no access to local news. And it will only get worse.

There’s never a good time for mass layoffs in the journalism sector, but it’s especially dire as we head into a pivotal election year and the world suffers from brutal wars and climate catastrophes. This isn’t just a journalism crisis: it’s a democracy crisis. And it’s a problem that we must collectively confront as a society.

Billionaires Won’t Save Us

One lesson is crystal clear from the recent bloodletting: the “benevolent billionaire” model for saving journalism—the belief that through their noblesse oblige to democracy, wealthy saviors would transcend the merciless political economy of capitalism to singlehandedly rescue the fourth estate—was always founded on false hope. The likes of Jeff Bezos (owner of the Washington Post) and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong (owner of the Los Angeles Times) lost tens of millions of dollars last year despite sustained attempts to generate new revenue streams. Operating a newspaper is an expensive undertaking, and even billionaires can suffer from sticker shock.

Meanwhile, not all media oligarchs are as “benevolent” as Bezos and Soon-Shiong. Take, for instance, the once-formidable Baltimore Sun, which was acquired earlier this month by David D. Smith, the executive chairman of the right-wing Sinclair network of television stations that’s notorious for driving media to the right, reducing coverage of local politics, and parroting Trump talking points. Other distressed papers are being scooped up by vulture capitalists like Alden Global Capital, now the second-largest newspaper publisher in the U.S.

These downturns, even if predictable, should bring further clarity to the fact that we need systemic alternatives to commercial media, especially nonprofit and public-ownership models. Working towards a structural fix to the failing commercial model for local news means going beyond small-bore reforms. We must clearly articulate a bolder, longer-term vision for reimagining what journalism should be.

Non-Reformist Media Reforms

Unfortunately, most reform initiatives thus far amount to placing Band-Aids on gaping wounds. Whether forcing platforms like Google and Meta to pay publishers and broadcasters more for their content or erecting paywalls that force readers to shell out money, the ongoing reliance on advertising and other monetization schemes are dead ends. Even most policies that call for various kinds of media subsidies—long overdue baby steps in the right direction—ultimately aim to prop up the commercial sector without making major structural changes and leaving the same ownership model intact.

The current crisis calls for “non-reformist reforms” that aim to transform journalism by mitigating or even eliminating the commercial pressures that prevent our news media from serving democratic needs. Such a project should rely on a two-pronged approach of de-commercializing and democratizing media outlets, with the end goal of building entirely new institutions committed to participatory democracy.

Ultimately, our strategies must be informed by the reality that no long-term commercial future exists for most journalism. Tweaking market mechanisms and scrambling for new business models is futile when the market itself is a core part of the problem. Our democracy requires that we disentangle news and information from capitalism—we need a horizon for journalism beyond the market.

A major impediment to this kind of radical project is our inability to imagine alternatives to the commercial media system. However, the burgeoning nonprofit news sector—though often overly-reliant on private capital—demonstrates what journalists can do when unyoked from commercial imperatives. Nonprofit exemplars such as City Bureau, Outlier Media, ProPublica, and the Texas Tribune all conduct top-notch journalism and, compared to their commercial counterparts, are often more responsive to their respective communities and to larger social missions. An infusion of philanthropic money into local news by Press Forward—more than $500 million over five years—suggests this sector will continue to expand. But it’s still woefully insufficient given the scope and severity of the crisis.

Ultimately, only a robust public media sector can commit to a universal service ideal that guarantees media access for everyone. We can leverage public infrastructures such as post offices, libraries, public access media, public broadcasting stations, and universities as initial building blocks for a new public media system. But much greater public investments are still necessary, especially with the U.S. being a global outlier for how little it funds public media.

Toward this aim, non-reformist reforms have strategic value by guiding policy interventions in the present juncture that seek to expand future opportunities—interventions that can mobilize and diversify coalitions, shift commonsense, build power from below, and broaden the terrain of struggle for structural reform. Therefore, any initiative that erodes the commercial and anti-democratic design of existing media institutions—by transitioning them into nonprofit outlets, facilitating public media partnerships, unionizing newsrooms, and establishing media cooperatives—can help radicalize news workers and engage communities while laying the groundwork for more transformative change in the future.

Ambitious plans for these kinds of nonmarket-based models are beginning to proliferate. Elsewhere, I’ve called for a practical utopianism embodied by the Public Media Center, a new anchor institution established in every community that’s federally guaranteed but locally owned and controlled. A complementary approach is the Local Journalism Initiative, which enables people to vote on allocating funds to local news organizations of their choice, thereby guaranteeing competition between multiple newsrooms in every county.

Regardless of the precise model, our North Star should remain fixed, even if it takes decades to realize: all members of society should have access to news and information from local media institutions that look like and are operated by the communities they serve. And everyone should be empowered to tell their own stories through their own media. None of this can happen, however, until we take journalism out of the market.

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Victor Pickard is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication where he co-directs the Media, Inequality & Change Center. He is the author of the recent book Democracy Without Journalism? This article first appeared at The Law and Political Economy Project. This slightly updated version then appeared at CommonDreams.org with permission. It appears here under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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Readers in Exeter: Your Attention, Please

We love to see highly-credentialed people such as Professor Pickard [above] working on ways to keep journalism alive—and working for the public good. We lack such credentials, but we do have this, the Nation’s Oldest Newspaper™.

That singular distinction, though, is no guarantee of our future. That, we believe, depends on our astonishingly cheap modus operandi, of which distribution by volunteer is a core element. And so we ask our Exeter readers to please consider the notice at the bottom of page two.

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Report of the Woodchuck* Committee

A Timely Excerpt from the Journals of the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire, 1883

“The committee to whom was referred the whole woodchuck subject, respectfully submits the following report:

“Your committee has learned on inquiry that much of the apathy and disinterestedness on the part of the members of this house concerning the woodchuck arises not so much from an unwillingness to give the subject a thorough and conscientious consideration, as from a prejudice born of an uncertain knowledge of the animal and its habits.

“First of all, the woodchuck has so many aliases that mankind may easily be misled by the confusion of names. That the woodchuck is a notorious character is apparent by the load of names under which it waddles.

“Even men of science disagree as to the proper appellation to be given to this crusader of the fields. […].

“[…]. The Canadians, being of a conservative cast of mind, still call it the ground-hog and the siffleur, according to whether the farmer is an English speaking individual or [Ethnic slur deleted.] The animal is known in that vast fur-bearing region about Hudson’s bay, and answers to the name of the Thick-wood Badger, while away to the westward the hardy inhabitants of Alaska mean woodchuck when they exclaim Tarbagan, and the wild Chippeways grunt Kath-hilloe-Kooay. Your committee, however, cannot be led away from woodchuck by all the [Ethnic slur deleted] tribes and scientific dudes in Christendom. Woodchuck appears in the Atlanta Constitution; and Daniel Webster fought for it. […].

“Your committee finds that the woodchuck is absolutely destitute of any interesting qualities, that is, such qualities as would recommend it to the average inhabitant of New Hampshire. It is a thief by nature and a freebooter by profession[…].

“Its body is thick and squatty, and its legs so short that its belly seems almost to touch the ground. […]. As an illustration of the utter want of grace in the animal, the committee would ask the attention of the house to the fact that the woodchuck is fond of sitting on its haunches and letting its fore paws hang loosely down. It also has a very comical rotary movement of the head while engaged in feeding. Your committee is unable to account for this.

“The predatory habits of the animal make it the common foe of mankind, for it is a sneak-thief, first, last, and all the time. As the woodchuck cannot be sued for trespass or imprisoned for larceny the only thing left is to fight it to the bitter death. […]. The woodchuck devours corn, vegetables of all kinds, even pumpkins, and it just dotes on nice grass. Your committee was very much impressed with the similarity existing between the woodchuck and the office-holders. They both prefer to live in clover. […]. Contemporaneous with the ark, the woodchuck has not made any material progress in social science, and it is now too late to attempt to reform the wayward sinner.

“The average age of the woodchuck is too long to please your committee, but the estimate of woodchuck population can only be approximated. One of your committee, however, counted seventy-two of these creatures in going a short distance; so it is safe to assume that there are millions in the state. In some parts of the state it is found necessary to shovel a path through the woodchucks in order to reach the barns. This is not right. Hunters will not kill them, for the fur is worth nothing; and now [Ethnic reference deleted], any prospective value the woodchuck might have had as an article of food is also gone. It is therefore manifest to your committee that something has got to be done for the protection of the farmers of New Hampshire. […]. The animal, so they say, takes its bed about October 1, and forthwith rolling itself into a ball becomes torpid and to all appearances dead. Unfortunately for the farmers, this interesting habit only goes into effect at that season of the year when nobody cares a snap about the woodchuck or the clover crop. […]. It does prove, however, that the woodchuck must have laid in an enormous amount of plunder during the summer campaign. Your committee also believes that this torpidity has nothing to do with a smitten conscience. The woodchuck is not only a nuisance, but also a bore. It burrows beneath the soil, and then chuckles to see a mowing machine, man and all, slump into one of these holes and disappear. […].

“Your committee has given this important subject a most thorough examination, and finds the woodchuck one of the worst enemies ever known to the farmer; and unless the legislature will do something to rid the state of these animals, the chances are that the woodchuck will have things its own way. Your committee is confident that a small bounty will prove of incalculable good […].”

CHARLES R. CORNING,

For the Commitee.

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