Progressive Breakfast for October 31

Morning Message

Dead Heat: Why Are Republicans Struggling To Win On This Red Map?

The fundamentals of the 2014 Senate map are tilted toward the Republicans, with Democrats defending seven seats in states that Mitt Romney won. And yet, with only four days until Election Day (and many already taking advantage of early voting), the polls are all tied up ... hardly evidence of a major ideological shift, let alone a policy mandate. Why aren’t Republicans finishing the campaign stronger?

Positive Signs For Dems In Early Voting

“Early Voting Numbers Look Good for Democrats” reports NYT: “Democratic efforts to turn out the young and nonwhite voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections appear to be paying off in several Senate battleground states. More than 20 percent of the nearly three million votes already tabulated in Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa have come from people who did not vote in the last midterm election, according to an analysis of early-voting data by The Upshot. These voters who did not participate in 2010 are far more diverse and Democratic than the voters from four years ago.

Six states could expand Medicaid if Republicans lose gubernatorial races. Time: “In Florida, Alaska, Maine, Wisconsin, Kansas and Georgia—all of which have previously rejected an expansion of Medicaid—Republican incumbents are facing Democratic (and in Alaska’s case, Independent) challengers whose prospects look promising just five days out from Election Day.”

Obama Tries To Sell Economic Upswing

Obama touts strong GDP numbers while campaigning in Maine. NYT: “Republicans, the president said, ‘just keep on offering the same tired theories of the economy that we know haven’t worked. In fact, they’ve undermined the middle class.’ … He pointed to a new government report showing that the economy grew 3.5 percent in the third quarter as evidence that his policies have worked.”

But flat wages undermines economic message. Bloomberg: “The U.S. government’s failure to address the economy’s main weakness — stagnant middle-class earnings — damages Democrats the most … The Republican Party, which controls the U.S. House, has blocked Obama’s proposals to boost worker pay such as increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and spending more on the infrastructure to stimulate the economy.”

China’s currency strengthens. Bloomberg: “The yuan is the only major currency to strengthen versus the dollar since mid-year, making exports less competitive at a time when growth is slowing. It’s only been seven months since the People’s Bank of China engineered a record slide in the currency to deter speculators, and analysts say it may need to reprise the strategy if the yuan keeps climbing … While it wants a weaker currency for the sake of the economy, its central bank has signaled it wants to move toward a market-determined exchange rate as it seeks to promote the yuan in international trade.”

Post-Election Immigration Jockeying

House Dems push for big executive action on immigration. The Hill: “Hoping to energize Hispanic voters ahead of next week’s midterm elections, House Democrats are making the case for bold executive action on immigration reform. But the message, published Thursday on, appears to be aimed as much at President Obama … The lawmakers are pushing Obama to scale back deportations for people in the country illegally and provide more work opportunities to those waiting in line for green cards. They also want the president to make it easier for foreign students to remain in the United States and work after getting their degrees and to expand the ‘parole in place’ program, allowing relatives of U.S. citizens to seek permanent residency without having to leave the country first.”

Republicans pressure Obama to shelve executive action. The Hill: “In a letter to President Obama, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that such a move would poison the well for an immigration overhaul.”