Krystal and Saagar talk about the Kansas abortion referendum, pro-life movement response, GOP primaries, Arizona results, Missouri results, Pelosi’s Taiwan trip, CNN struggling, primary against Biden, Barstool conservatism, and Michigan primary results!
Daniel Marans: https://www.huffpost.com/author/danie…
Timestamps: Abortion Vote: 0:00 – 23:25 GOP: 23:26 – 32:06 Primaries: 32:07 – 47:09 Taiwan: 47:10 – 1:03:34 CNN: 1:03:35 – 1:10:59 Krystal: 1:11:00 – 1:21:54 Saagar: 1:21:55 – 1:35:57 Daniel Marans: 1:35:58 – 1:50:01
8/4 NEWSLETTER: Abortion Vote, Primary Results, Pelosi Trip, CNN Collapse, & More!
Welcome to the August 4th, 2022 edition of the Breaking Points
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On Tuesday night in Kansas, a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for further abortion restrictions in the state was voted down
overwhelmingly in a deep red state. A major win for the pro-choice coalition of progressive and moderate Democrats who believe the American people have their side on a divisive cultural issue. High liberal voter turnout, strong messaging campaigns, and well funded activists on the ground enabled the pro-choice side to triumph in the referendum. The vote came after a state Supreme Court decision ruled abortion was a fundamental right in the state’s constitution. As it stands, Kansas restrictions abortion much less than neighboring red states, despite its foundational place in the generational abortion fight. Democrats are hoping the results in Kansas are an indicator that abortion could salvage a poor midterm political landscape for the party. Turnout numbers were much higher
than an ordinary primary election in Kansas, and were closer to that of a Presidential year. This neutralized
the partisan advantage Republicans hold in the state, and played a major role in the constitutional amendment being defeated. This was boosted further by a chunk of Republican voters in Kansas taking the pro-choice side on the ballot. Similar amendments
in other red states had more success before Roe v Wade
was overturned, suggesting that the SCOTUS decision had shifted the grounds of the abortion debate.
The pro-life side did not handle a resounding defeat very well. They blamed the money spent by liberals even though both sides flooded millions into the vote. Conservative activists took issue
with the media coverage, how the amendment was portrayed, and the wording of the referendum. Some pro-lifers blamed their side for not taking an incremental approach
now that the issue is up to states. Others believe the amendment failed because it did not go far enough
. GOP strategists
recognize the severity of the defeat and how abortion could hurt their midterm election performance. Pro-choice groups were successful in messaging their cause with ideas of freedom from strict government mandates
. It demonstrates the abortion groups becoming more strategic with messaging in red states now that the issue will be at the center of state level politics.
Tuesday night was a difficult night for Republican representatives who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6th Capitol riot. Out of the ten
, four have retired, two have lost and Liz Cheney is almost certain to lose later this month. Of the three left, two are in Washington state and poised to advance to the general election from runoff primaries. The other has won his primary in a California swing seat. Both of the candidates in Washington were in close contests
with Trump backed challengers for a position in the runoff election and they defended their vote. They cited constitutional duty to defend their votes to impeach Trump, and putting country over party. But they have avoided mentioning it on the campaign trail, instead opting to focus on pressing local issues. The difficulties for Republicans who voted to impeach Trump 16 months ago show the strength
Donald Trump has over the base of the party. Well known Republicans with conservative voting records who dared to cross Trump on an impeachment vote lost the President and party faithful. Their challengers both ran campaigns denying the outcome of the 2020 election as part of a MAGA warrior platform designed to win support from Trump. Democrats have been meddling in GOP primaries to promote the opponents of these more moderate Republicans, which has led to bipartisan rounds of criticism. Retiring GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger who voted to impeach Trump blamed the DCCC
for moderate Republican Peter Meijer losing his primary. For more on that, scroll down to the guest segment of today’s show. Even Democrats in mainstream media have pressed officials on the party’s hypocrisy, with them justifying their meddling by claiming it helps Democrats win elections.
Important results in state primaries across America came in Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday. In Arizona, Trump endorsed candidates were victorious
across the board in GOP contests. Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) will be challenged
by Trump and Peter Thiel backed GOP upstart Blake Masters in a vital national election for the future of the Senate. Early polling data puts Kelly on top of Masters, and indicates the Masters campaign could exploit his close ties to Joe Biden. Arizona’s Attorney General contest will feature former prosecutor and GOP candidate Abe Hamadeh against a Democratic candidate who is a law professor at Arizona State. Their Secretary of State battle will have an election denier backed by Trump running on the GOP side. Aside from Masters’ victory, the most watched Arizona GOP primary was for the Gubernatorial election to replace the outgoing GOP incumbent. As of Wednesday afternoon, the primary between former TV anchor Kari Lake and politician Karrine Taylor Robson is too close
to call. Lake rose to prominence by endorsing Trump’s unproven election claims and receiving his endorsement. The GOP establishment has thrown its weight behind Robson, a more moderate candidate. Kari Lake and her MAGA backers are claiming
the election is being stolen because of Lake’s underperformance relative to the polls. The Democratic primary was less contested, with liberal Secretary of State Katie Hobbs coming out on top easily.
Another closely watched state has been Missouri, for its ultra competitive GOP primary and the surprising intrigue of the Democratic contest. Republican Attorney General Eric Schmidt was victorious
in the GOP primary. He defeated Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and scandal plagued former Gov. Eric Greitens. The GOP establishment
threw its weight behind Schmitt as part of their plan to sink Greitens campaign. Negative ad campaigns about his sexual abuse and corruption scandals combined with a successful push to prevent Trump from endorsing Greitens were decisive in deralining Greitens. Rather than endorsing Greitens, Trump endorsed
‘ERIC’ signaling he was not endorsing either candidate, yet both took his comment to be an endorsement. On the Democratic side, populist progressive candidate Lucas Kunce was narrowly defeated by wealthy heiress Trudy Busch Valentine who was backed by the Dem establishment. Kunce was a previous guest on Breaking Points
and received Bernie Sanders endorsement, compared to Valentine who ran a moderate campaign with deep pockets. The Missouri Senate seat is predicted to easily stay with the GOP because of the primary results
Nancy Pelosi’s high profile Taiwan visit has come to end, but not before it increased US geopolitical tensions with China. Pelosi explained
in an op ed why she led a Congressional delegation to Taiwan over the objections of the Biden administration. She cited her commitment to democracy, freedom, and human rights in the column. The case for why now was the right time for the visit was not made, and many of her words are common buzzwords for the US foreign policy establishment. Her visit was marked by a meeting with Taiwan’s top government officials to reaffirm the US commitment to supporting them. The trip was supported by
a significant portion of the Senate GOP in a statement put forward by Mitch McConnell and others. The Republicans reaffirmed their commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 while praising Pelosi’s trip. The Taiwan Relations Act spurred the policy of strategic ambiguity designed to support Taiwan without acknowledging their independence to prevent a rift with China. Beijing was angered by Pelosi’s visit, as was expected, and made their objection known ahead of time. Their ambassador voiced China’s frustration on CNN in response to Pelosi’s signaling support for Taiwan’s independence. To show their strength, the People’s Liberation Army of China conducted six live fire military exercises around the island of Taiwan. State backed Chinese commentators
say the demonstrations reflect a sped up escalation by China in reaction to Pelosi’s trip. It’s unclear how strongly the propaganda from Chinese officials and their media spokespeople has resonated with the population. Tightly controlled social media app Weibo was shut down
, likely because war would be unpopular during a time of domestic tumult in China. The combination of high inflation, zero-covid lockdowns, slowing economic growth, Uyghur persecution, tacit support for Russia, and now escalation with Taiwan are all challenges China faces as CCP autocrat Xi Jinping prepares for his third term.
The post Trump media world has been difficult for CNN after major personnel and ownership turnover. The liberal network has seen a major slump
in both profits and ratings that ought to alarm new management. Ratings are down 27% from a year ago, an even steeper decline than MSNBC. Their numbers are paltry when compared to the boom brought by the ascension of Donald Trump. The parent company has tried to cut down on expenses in the workplace and costly reporting endeavors to mitigate major profit losses coming to the station. It is projected that CNN’s profits will drop below $1 billion for the first time since 2016, well short of the company’s internal target of $1.1 billion. Extensive coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Chris Cuomo’s lawsuit, and lingering expenses from the CNN+ debacle have kneecapped the network’s attempts to cut expenses. New leadership has tried to steer the network away from partisan liberal coverage towards a more credible, centrist journalistic angle. The shift has not translated to higher ratings so far, and could end up alienating the devoted liberal audience CNN built by being a partisan network.
Krystal’s monologue today explores the lack of Democratic backing of Joe Biden among the party elite and what a primary challenge would have to look like. The separation from Biden among Democratic elites began with Joe Manchin, who has long distanced himself from his own party. Manchin has shied away
from backing Democrats in 2022 and Biden in the 2024 campaign. Two House Reps. from Minnesota have backed away
from Joe Biden citing the need for new leaders in their difficult battles for re-election. Additionally, two senior House Democrats Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler out of NYC refused to back Biden. Redistricting in New York pitted the two against each other in a primary contest and their comments came in a debate. Centrist establishment Democrats and progressives in blue districts are now rejecting Biden. It’s happening after extensive data has come out showing Dems are rejecting Biden, creating a real primary opening against him.
A broad coalition of Democratic voters is ready to move on from Joe, and a campaign that unites them could defeat him. To thread the needle, electability would have to be at the center of the campaign. As a selling point to dissatisfied party loyalists, the campaign would have to make the case for Biden being unelectable in a mournful, polite way. Showing appreciation instead of tearing Biden down would be the best way to do it. The campaign would need to show competence in organization and governing, instead of unserious activism. A platform to unite the coalition could come in the form of universalist economic progressivism without entirely dismissing civil rights issues. A Jacobin survey of working class voters shows this model could be very attractive
if the campaign ignores the activist language of the woke left. A populist economic platform that swears off a vocal minority of the activist class without entirely ditching the culture war that resembles Bernie 2016 might be the answer. There’s a reason Bernie and Biden had the most overlap in terms of voter support. The final piece would be about running with an inspiring message that uplifts rather than resorting to cynicism. Coming together to rebuild the prosperous middle class and talking about the heroism of ordinary Americans would galvanize people. The national project would have to make Americans heroes instead of bystanders. If this broad coalition is united by a primary challenge, it could beat Trump and bring real change to America.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar respond to the moderates at the top of leadership abandoning Biden. The electability at the heart of Biden’s political case is gone, though the weak Democratic bench of candidates will not challenge him. An outsider would have to run the campaign, and the timidity of Democratic insiders show their reluctance to challenge him. There is a window for an outsider, who knows if they will take it.
Saagar’s monologue today is about Barstool conservatism after the abortion vote in Kansas. After the Dobbs
decision, the pro-life movement was ecstatic about its future after a generational win. The theory was that repealing Roe
was unpopular, but abortion would not matter nearly as much as the economy. It did not account for the consequences of reviving the abortion question in national political discussions and media coverage. Republican rhetoric about national abortion bans after Roe
and questioning decisions about contraception and gay marriage further fanned the flames. The stunning results in Kansas
were a reality check for the pro-life movement after their side was defeated by 17 points in a deep red state
. Overturning Roe
is deeply unpopular even in very red states, showing the power of the Barstool Conservatism
theory. The culture wars of today are winnable with center right positions on political correctness, gender ideology in schools, critical race theory, academic jargon, and everything that can be called woke. Old culture war issues of abortion, guns, and gay marriage are not central to this equation. A political orientation of people being left alone tracks to these positions. When the right coalesced around opposition to vaccine mandates and support for free speech, it led to major political gains in the 2020 election. Millions of people headlined by Elon Musk and Dave Portnoy joined the Trump coalition to rebuke the people who wanted to govern their lives. Barstool conservatism turned upside down when Barstool founder Dave Portnoy
came out in support of Democrats after Roe
was overturned. He said that the GOP position on abortion would change his vote in the upcoming election. Figures in the conservative movement said goodbye to Portnoy when he said this, but they might want to think again. Tens of thousands of Republicans in Kansas voted for a ‘stop the steal’ candidate and the pro-choice amendment. It vindicated the Barstool conservatism thesis and people being able to make up their own minds.
The left embraced the language of freedom
in their messaging around the Kansas vote. The pro-choice side called itself Kansas for constitutional freedom
and adopted the playbook of conservative messaging in red states. Their words about anti-mandate, pro freedom were successful because the GOP used the same language on vaccine mandates and guns. Social libertarianism, not social conservatism, is the organizing principle of the GOP coalition. It is more about opposing the overbearing, crazy people who are trying to run your life than support for conservative stances. That side of the social fight represented the left when the religious right revived itself, and now they could take the mantle again if the GOP squanders it.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar point out the excuses made by pro-lifers about the results in Kansas and how the pro-choice side won the messaging battle. The voters are much less religious than the pro-life side, and voters who are religious are not GOP loyalists. A particular brand of Christianity embraced by the professional right is not in touch with the population. The party of weird scolding will not be on the side of Americans in the culture war and the GOP’s overreach will force them to learn the lesson once again. Barstool conservatism is a cultural ideology about live and let live, divorced from any economic concerns. If the right overreaches on its opposition to woke ideology and gender issues, it could generate a larger exodus of libertarian oriented voters.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by HuffPost senior reporter Daniel Marans to discuss the Michigan primary results in both parties. Redistricting in the state caused two Democratic incumbents to face off in a fight for a seat in Detroit’s Northern suburbs. Moderate Democrat Haley Stevens triumphed over
progressive Andy Levin in this high profile race for Michigan’s 11th district. Stevens was buoyed by large contributions from outside Democratic groups and her positioning as a female candidate. Levin had been a supporter of the Green New Deal during his time in Congress. The district became much more Democratic due to the new mapping, making Stevens return to congress a near certainty. On the Republican side, a hard fought primary ensued
between moderate GOP Rep. Peter Meijer and challenger John Gibbs. Meijer previously voted to impeach Trump and positioned himself in Congress as someone who could work with liberals. Gibbs was endorsed by Donald Trump and ran a hard right campaign backed by money from Democratic groups who meddled in the election. Meijer’s fundraising advantage was not enough, and Gibbs narrowly won Michigan’s 3rd district. Meijer did not immediately endorse Gibbs and ruled out a write-in campaign. The heir to a supermarket fortune, Meijer blasted Democrats primary meddling and does not regret his vote. Gibbs will be running against immigration lawyer Hillary Scholten in a Biden +9 district, meaning Meijer’s defeat has likely placed the district in liberal hands.
Thank you for reading this edition of the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. Remember to buy your live tickets and send feedback on the show. The next full broadcast will be on Monday, so look out for weekend content in the meantime!