Feinstein: FBI probe was incomplete

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks after reading the FBI investigation report on allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted: Oct 5, 2018 8:20 AM
Updated: Oct 5, 2018 8:41 AM

Hurricane Florence reminded Americans of something that we in coastal areas know all too well -- the impact and depth of natural disasters are unpredictable. Some people are lucky enough to ride out the storm. For others, underestimating it is a dangerous mistake.

Such are the storms of politics.

Recently I had lunch with one of my favorite congressmen, Rob Woodall of Georgia. He's in a generally safe seat. He's confident not only about his re-election but also about Republicans' chances of keeping the House. Not me, I'm scared as hell.

There are many factors that potentially could make this a Category 5 hurricane.

No. 1, with only two exceptions, the party in power loses House seats. The political wreckage can be severe. Franklin Roosevelt lost 71 in 1938. Lyndon Johnson said goodbye to 47 Congress members in 1966. More recently the House majorities flipped in 2006 when George W. Bush lost 30 and then back in 2010 when Barack Obama lost 63.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has described presidential elections as aspirational and midterms as evaluational. In short, they are a report card. Translated to grades, polls show Republicans getting an A in economics but a D in citizenship. Ironically two of the failures -- not repealing Obamacare and not building "the wall" -- have ticked off both parties -- the GOP for failing and the Democrats for trying!

Then, along with 41 retirements among GOP members of Congress, we've had some ignominious midterm departures. Finally House members are the recipients of any collateral damage caused by White House missteps and tweets. Combine this with anti-Trump intensity, and the storm grows stronger.

Secondly, fundraising is breaking all records. Both parties, but particularly Democrats, have an army of outside interest groups. ActBlue, for example, reportedly has raised well over $1 billion so far this cycle. This is up from $258 million at the same point in the 2014 cycle and $634 million in 2016.

Woodall's opponent, Carolyn Bourdeaux, an ActBlue recipient, has outraised him, with more than 80% of the money coming from outside the district, according to data on OpenSecrets.org.

This year, Axios says of the $508 million given to House candidates, 73% comes from outside their districts. Meanwhile in Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz's opponent, Beto O'Rourke, has so much money he is spending millions on yard signs and $100,000 on T-shirts, according to Cruz campaign officials. That much could fund a statewide race in most states.

Another factor is reapportionment. North Carolina and Pennsylvania have been in and out of courts fighting over new lines. As a House member, I went through five reapportionments. The uncertainty invigorates the minority party as it stokes the emotions of political discord. New districts beget new opportunities, usually for the minority party. The GOP got a reprieve in North Carolina, but in Pennsylvania the new map may cost Republicans anywhere from three to five seats.

Finally, pollsters say there isn't one driving matter on the minds of voters. Republicans win on terrorism, economy, taxes, jobs and national defense. Democrats win on health care, trade, foreign policy, immigration, race, abortion rights, environment and guns. Since there's not one unifying issue such as the Iraq War in 2006 and Obamacare in 2010, neither party has a free policy ride.

But there's one exception -- an intervening event.

We now have one. This year the October surprise came in September and seems to be gaining traction day by day. The Christine Blasey Ford accusation against Kavanaugh is dicey for both parties, but Democrats have far less to lose since suburban college-educated women who are sympathetic to Ford are their growth market.

Generally lawyers agree there wouldn't be sufficient evidence to convict Kavanaugh over Ford's allegations or those of Deborah Ramirez, but in politics that's secondary if not irrelevant. Since neither the testimonies of Kavanaugh nor Ford changed any Senate votes last week, Democrats have smartly attacked the process as much as they have Kavanaugh himself.

Any objective analysis shows that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has bent over backward to accommodate Ford, Ramirez and the entire Senate, but his efforts are obscured by the frenzy. As the vote approaches. there will be more process criticism. Who was interviewed by the FBI? Who wasn't? Was the FBI investigation given enough time? What about the reported ice throwing -- is there a pattern?

Of course, the controversy could energize Republicans as much as Democrats. For example, polls have shown North Dakota incumbent, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, is now down by double digits. More than one-fifth of the voters say Kavanaugh is their most important issue, ranking well above health care and immigration. However, perhaps North Dakota is an aberration, as to date there have not been similar swings in Indiana, West Virginia, Florida or Arizona.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote on Kavanaugh, the fury won't end. It's a political gift that keeps on giving, and it has just the right ingredients for a perfect political storm.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5269106
DeSoto332627
Madison229756
Harrison215232
Rankin214628
Jackson199434
Jones177457
Forrest164053
Washington149232
Lauderdale132988
Lee123930
Neshoba119788
Lamar112112
Oktibbeha105435
Lowndes98932
Warren96427
Scott95517
Bolivar94832
Copiah91724
Panola91211
Sunflower90822
Lafayette88111
Holmes84747
Leflore84059
Pike83232
Grenada81320
Yazoo78611
Leake76825
Lincoln74540
Pontotoc7377
Wayne73321
Simpson71227
Monroe70250
Coahoma66310
Tate65023
Marion60118
Covington58811
Adams58425
Marshall5718
Winston57115
George5475
Union53113
Newton51611
Attala49824
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48536
Walthall45318
Chickasaw43819
Noxubee41910
Claiborne40013
Smith38013
Calhoun3788
Jasper3768
Clay37013
Alcorn3574
Prentiss3426
Hancock33614
Tishomingo3204
Lawrence3135
Tippah31212
Yalobusha31210
Itawamba30710
Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather