Republicans Swamp Battlegrounds on Voter Registration

New Orleans      We’re at Halloween, there’s a blue moon, and it’s a super-scary time with the election only days and hours away.  What me worry?  Hell, yes!

I’m still fretting and fuming over various voter registration campaigns having, until very, very recently, ceded the work in the field to become zoombies, tele-workers, texters, and digitizers.  At the Voter Purge Project, we have continued to be disturbed that campaigns of all shapes and sizes are not reckoning with the number of voters being eliminated from the lists, even as new voters, at great time and expense, are being added.  Various campaigns have claimed voter registration gains and advantages, even while not looking at voters in total or by party registration. They were campaigning with one arm tied behind their backs.  Of course, not being willing in the pandemic, even as restrictions eased, to hit the doors, meant that additionally both legs were cemented to some office or bedroom floor, rather than beating the streets for voters.

That wasn’t a problem for the Republicans, because they did in fact let their feet do the walking, and it shows, perhaps painfully and fatefully, in the results.  A report in the Wall Street Journal documents the results to our peril:

In Pennsylvania, state records show Republican gains in voter registration. While Democrats still outnumber Republicans by close to 700,000 voters, the gap has narrowed by about 230,000 since the 2016 election. That’s a potentially meaningful change in a state that Mr. Trump won by 44,000 votes. In Florida, the Democratic advantage in voter registration has narrowed to 134,000, state records show. The Democratic lead was about 330,000 voters in 2016, when Mr. Trump won the state by about 113,000 votes. In North Carolina, Democrats have slightly out-registered Republicans since the last election, according to data from L2, a nonpartisan firm that collects voter records. Yet, other changes in the electorate have cut the overall Democratic lead in registered voters by about 160,000 as of September.

As I have said before, being afraid to mask up, talk from the porch, and hit the doors could be the reason the Democrats lose to the Republicans in the 2020 election, both at the top of the ticket and in the fight to control the Senate.  Both ideologically and tactically, the Republicans understood there was no substitute for eye-to-eye, person-to-person contact, and as much as the Democrats decry social media and the tech overlords, they seem to have been content to live and die by their tools, rather than having faith in their ability to persuade people, even in this election where the contrasts are so clear and the stakes so dire.  If the Democrats didn’t to their job of expanding the voting pool, even with a record 150 million projected voters, demographic destiny is easily trumped by dutiful attention to the doors when it comes to registration and turnout, meaning that they could drown in the swallow waters, just as easily as they could at high tide.


Unemployed are Precarious, Not Gigging

New Orleans       There was a special section in the New York Times recently where their reporters did a follow-up with workers from all around America that they had talked to during the pandemic to see how they were faring now.  That was a super depressing read!

The bottom line was clear.  Unemployed workers were able to survive when the stimulus was in place with unemployment plus $600 per week, but since July, when the money ran out, but the pandemic depression ran on, they have been barely surviving.  The meager allotment of unemployment benefits just doesn’t make it for most workers.  What should be disturbing to the White House and the Senate Majority is that this is not just true for lower wage service workers, but even for workers with multiple degrees in tech and the sciences. You know what I’m saying:  white people in the ‘burbs!  The other point that was inescapable, as I read the reports, is the number of workers of all varieties that were only making it because they had managed to find skinny little part-time jobs or jump into the “gig” job market, which hasn’t looked to pretty during the pandemic either.

One woman with a technology masters’ degree, three kids, and a partner was making it by working to deliver groceries for two different companies.  In her case, there was a somewhat happy ending when they reported that she was able to finally get a job, three days before they would have lost the house to foreclosure, and would have been homeless.  She had gotten to the 4th and 5th round for many jobs but was facing competition usually from 200 or more applicants.  She had resorted to saying that she was willing to move anywhere from their home in Montana for a j-o-b.   She was also increasingly hiding the fact that she was a mother with children, because she could sense that was one of the reasons she was not getting hired.  Researchers have now found that 1.2 million workers, inordinately female, have been pushed out of the workforce during the pandemic because of school closing issues alone.

A woman bartender from Kentucky, who was laid off after her boss got PPP money from the CARES act and was a single mother with two children, told how she had “spent nine hours a day on hold for a week before…[she]…got her first check” from unemployment.  After three months she was able to get a part-time job for only two nights per week with early closings, and she’s still waiting for her thirteen-week extension to kick in.

Others hadn’t been able to find anything.  They had lost health insurance.  They were stocking shelves.  They were teaching their children. The DOL reports that there are huge numbers of workers being pushed out of the workforce because unemployment has ended and job searches have stalled as the economy continues to only slowly recover and to lag especially in the service sector.

We learned something during the stimulus.  Workers have to have it!  America is no longer the site of the gig economy, but instead is full of precarious workers at every level.