By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, I am sure that by now you know that I don’t trust reporting on our elections very much. I especially don’t trust story selection (“the narrative”), but I don’t trust horse-race stories or candidate profiles much, either. Yet I also regard the upcoming midterm elections as consequential: Democrat control of the House would at once make impeachment more likely and provide a check on the Adminstration’s power. Moreover, the shape and direction of the slow-moving legitimacy crisis we are experiencing depends crucially on the strength of parties, especially the Democrat Party (since in the triple balance of forces between conservatives, liberals, and an emergent left, the greatest “brand confusion” exists between the latter two, both of whom are (mostly) housed in the Democrat party apparatus, the DSA and the GP excepted). However, to construct my own, presumably more trustworthy, narrative I need to start with coherent data that the press does not provide, so I can “show my work.” Hence this ongoing worksheet.
This week I want to look at two questions, the first of which you will remember from an excellent, but sadly link-free series at the World Socialist Web Site (“CIA Democrats“). For the seats that Inside Elections considers Likely, Tilting, Leaning and Toss-up Democrat — that is, the seats the Democrats must win to have the faintest hope of regaining control of the House — how prevalent are:
2) Groups backing candidates, whether liberal or on the left
(I’m limiting the data to the seats listed above on the assumption that, all other things being equal, political operatives will contest the seats that are easiest to win most hotly. In future, I’ll expand Table I deeper into the Red, to seats that lean Republican.) I should emphasize that I’m constructing this worksheet to not to handicap the race, fascinating though that is; rather, I’m seeking to understand and document the
obfuscated obscure puzzling institutional structure of the Democratic Party (see here and here), using the candidates who run on the Democrat ticket as a lens, in order to better understand the role of the parties in our legitimacy crisis, which (I would argue) first broke into the open with the “faithess electors” controversy orchestrated by Democrats following election 2016.
So I’ve added a new column, “Democratic Challengers,” to Table I. (The previous version is here.) In this post, I’ll explain the methodology and answer the questions, below the table, but before you skip over it, I encourage you to click on a random assortment of challengers (each candidate name is a link, so I’m showing my work). Not only will this give you a sense of the enormity of the country, and the differences between regions, you may find yourself encouraged by some of the candidates. I like the retired rancher from Arizona, the yoyo salesman from Florida, and the techie with Aspergers from Nevada. There’s also a forensic accountant or two.
So to methodology. Using the Inside Election candidates list to gather the states, districts, names of the challengers, I went through BallotPedia. Each challenger has a BallotPedia page; from that page, I looked for the candidate’s bio, ideally on their campaign site — not all candidates, even electeds, have sites, and some sites are broken — and otherwise in news stories, either linked to by BallotPedia or found in a Google search. (Then, I looked for insurgent backers who had endorsed challengers, from the pages of Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress, Emily’s List, and (of course) the DCCC. Indivisible has not yet endorsed any candidates). I then keyed all candidates using the notation in the Legend. So here are the results:
Table 1: Worksheet on House Races, Election 2018 (2018-03-14).
Toss-ups: 10; Tilt D: 7; Lean D: 3; Likely D: 5
Biography: m, i, l, o (“MILO”) Military, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, Other)
Backers: BN, EL, IN, JD, OR; DCCC; DP; S: Brand New Congress, Emily’s List, Indivisible, Justice Democrats, Our Revolution; DCCC; Democrat Party, whether elected, staffer, official, etc.; inspired by Sanders.
- Bio keys are m, i, l, and o) for Military, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, and Other (except I didn’t find any Others this time). A candidate who worked for the CIA is keyed i. A candidate who worked in Law enforcement and the military is keyed “lm.” “Law Enforcement” is concieved broadly, including not only police but district attorneys.
- Backer keys are BN, EL, IN, JD, OR, and DCCC, Brand New Congress, Emily’s List, Indivisible, Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, and (of course) the DCCC. In addition, there is a DP key, for members of the Democrat Party network, elected and otherwise, and S, for challengers inspired by Sanders.
Before answering the questions, a little data. By munging the Challenger column in a text editor, I find that by my count — Full Disclosure: They never let me help in the shipping room, because I’m bad at counting — 111 total challengers, who break down as follows:
- MILO: 26/111 (23%), of which intelligence (3), law enforcement (7), military and law enforcement (5), military (11).
- DP: 39/111 (35%)
- DCCC + EL: 15/111 (13.5%)
- JD + OR+ BN: 8/111 (7%)
So, to answer our two questions:
1) Yes, MILO candidates are prevalent. One quarter of the candidates fall into this bucket, far in excess of their percentage in the population. If I had to speculate, this is not a consequence — barring obvious edge cases, like Mikie Sherrill or Shelley Chauncey — of nefarious elite plotting, but rather a result of career choices in the professional class that is the Democrat’s base, along with militarism in that same class (including militarization of the police).
2) Yes, groups backing candidates are prevalent. Liberal backers (DCCC and Emily’s List) at 15 outweigh Left backers (Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, and Our Revolution) at 8. Combined, the 23 endorsements are 20% of the total candidates.
We can glean a few other factoids from our figures:
3) Democrat Party electeds, staffers, and officials are prevalent at 35% of the total candidates (unsurprisingly, in a functioning political party).
4) Looking at patterns within the columns, Liberal backers and Left Backers very rarely compete by investing in the same seats.
5) Based on this data, Sanders has not encouraged many people to run for the House. (In this iteration of Table I, I found a single example; my impression from the previous iteration is that there were more. In any case, Our Revolution is endorsing many, many more candidates at lower levels, and that’s probably a wise thing. Running for office is hard!)
 The apparent menage a trois — if, indeed, not open plural marriage — between factions of the intelligence community, opposition researchers, and pliant reporters isn’t a confidence-builder either, particularly when anonymous sources are involved.
 Unless leader Pelosi, perhaps calculating that it’s better to leave Trump “twist slowly, twist slowly in the wind,” betrays her base as she did on November 8, 2006, and takes impeachment “off the table.”
 I used these groups because they showed up in candidate bios or news coverage, unlike MoveOn, DFA, etc. Perhaps I will add those groups, and other groups, at a later date.
 I didn’t find any White Walkers, either.