News Updates

Breaking Points: 11/3/22 FULL UNCUT SHOW

Krystal and Saagar bring the news about midterm polls, Biden’s speech, Twitter policy, Ukraine diplomacy, Biden’s stumbles, windfall profits tax, pandemic reckoning, and populist messaging!


Stan Greenberg:…

More Perfect Union:

Timestamps: Midterms: 0:0034:05 Biden Speech: 34:0641:34 Twitter: 41:3552:09 Ukraine: 52:101:08:44 Biden: 1:08:451:14:16 Krystal: 1:14:171:24:07 Saagar: 1:24:081:34:54 Stan Greenberg: 1:34:551:48:15

11/3 NEWSLETTER: Suburban Voters, Biden Speech, Ukraine Diplomacy, Covid Reckoning, & More!
Welcome to the November 3rd, 2022 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. Programming update: Next week’s shows will be on Monday, live Tuesday night, and Wednesday. Live Election night coverage will begin at 7PM EST on Tuesday and go through the night as results come in. Krystal and Saagar will be joined by Kyle Kulinski, Marshall Kosloff, Ryan Grim, Emily Jashinsky, and a slate of guests. Stay tuned for more information about this on Monday!
Now to the 11/3 show:
An exclusive poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal shows white suburban women shifting back towards the GOP in the midterms. A key voting bloc, rising concerns about the economy and inflation have supplanted fears about abortion rights. This group makes up roughly 20% of the electorate and has shifted 27 points to the GOP since Democrats’ August momentum peaked. Crucially, 85% of them are motivated to vote which is among the highest total for any demographic. Based on this poll, 54% of white suburban women believe America is in a recession and 75% think the economy is headed in the wrong direction. Inflation ranks as the top issue in the poll, with 34% of them saying it is their number one priority. The next highest issue is threats to democracy followed by abortion. On the economy and direction of the country, white suburban women’s views have become more negative since August. Democrats were hoping to maintain the support from this group who propelled them to a house majority in the 2018 “blue wave” midterm elections. Leading strategists in the Democratic party believe their messaging has not focused enough on kitchen-table concerns that matter most to voters. This problem was reflected in a working class focus group conducted by labor focused multi-media outlet More Perfect Union. The first to sound the alarm among Democrats was veteran pollster Stan Greenberg, who is the guest for today’s show.
With a barrage of polls coming in, it is difficult to do a comprehensive analysis of each one. According to the average from center-right election site Real Clear Politics, GOP candidate Herschel Walker leads Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock by 1.5 points for the Georgia senate. Over in Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly leads Republican Blake Masters by 2.5 points on average in their senate race. In Nevada, Republican Adam Laxalt is ahead of incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto by 1.9 on average. The closest of all the averages is in Pennsylvania, where the contest between Fetterman and Oz has the former up by 0.4% in polls. Factors to consider with the RCP average are the neglect of low quality polls by lesser known groups and the margin of error in each poll. A broader problem facing the polling industry is the difficulty in receiving a response from anti-institutionalist Republicans and less politically engaged swing voters. On the house side, non-partisan Cook Political Report projects a GOP gain of 12-25 seats, which would give them a house majority. They list 35 races as toss-up with 25 of them featuring Democratic incumbents or redrawn formerly Dem seats.
President Biden delivered a brief primetime address last night from Washington DC’s Union Station ahead of election day. His speech primarily focused on far-right extremism and denying results from the 2020 election. Less airtime was given to the material concerns mentioned above that Democratic messaging has ignored. At the beginning of the speech, Biden mentioned the attack on Paul Pelosi and likened it to the January 6th Capitol riot. He pitted Democrats as the party for democracy and the Republicans as the party of political violence and voter intimidation. It resembles the Biden 2020 campaign message of restoring the soul of the nation but is unlikely to have the same success without Trump being on the ballot. As Americans vote for and against Democrats in free and fair elections, the president’s rhetorical priority is unlikely to resonate over other major issues. Polls consistently demonstrate the economy and inflation are the top issues for voters, followed by crime and abortion. Biden’s speech lasted for under a half hour and received significantly lower publicity than his last primetime address.
Elon Musk continues to make announcements about Twitter at a rapid pace. He revised his blue check subscription plan to an $8/month fee, down from the $20/month proposed initially. Musk made the change public in a tweet expressing dismay at the superficial authority and status given to accounts with the verification symbol. Another announcement from Elon came when he disclosed some leaders he met with to combat hate and harassment while enforcing election integrity policies. These leaders make up a bipartisan ideological coalition from high profile activist groups and nonprofits. Musk is probably hoping to ease the anxiety held by advertisers about what his leadership could mean for the future of Twitter. Users have noticed Musk’s increased usage of the community notes feature to add context or objections to political tweets. The most high profile example of the community input tag on a tweet came from a post by the Biden administration about Social Security. The White House touted the largest increase to social security in 40 years, and users were quick to note the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) on Social Security that ties its increase to inflation. Information about COLA was added to the administration’s tweet before it was deleted.
A notable op-ed calling for diplomacy on the Ukraine war appeared in The New York Times, written by former Obama official Charles Kupchan. He is a well respected member of the Washington foreign policy elite who holds a senior fellowship at the Council of Foreign Relation. Kupchan specifically made the case for a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia that would prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and give certain parts of the Donbas region to Russia. He also outlines the reasons why escalation must be avoided and how America needs to be involved diplomatically. It came out that phone calls between Russian officials and western officials were conducted to lower the nuclear tensions that exploded a month or so ago. Russian military leaders were seriously considering the use of nukes before the talks began. Communication between hostile regimes matters for protecting the world from nuclear weapons, as America knew during the Cold War. Another diplomatic move came yesterday, when Russia reversed its decision to pull out from a Ukraine export deal. Kyiv has given Russia assurances that it will not use the shipping corridor for military action. The parties involved still have to renew the UN & Turkey brokered agreement scheduled to end on November 19. Calls for diplomacy have been sparse in Washington and the New York Times op-ed could invite permission for more debate. A greater amount of pressure could spur western officials to keep talking to their Russian counterparts and bring the Ukrainians to the table.
On Wednesday, North Korea fired 23 missiles into the sea, including one that landed less than 40 miles off the coast in South Korea. The president of South Korea and officials in Washington slammed the move, calling it reckless and territorial encroachment. Kim Jong Un’s missile barrage comes after the US conducted military drills with South Korea, who responded by firing three missiles near a disputed Korean border. Wednesday marked the first time Pyongyang fired a missile that landed south of the disputed maritime border, despite a 2018 military agreement designed to prevent it. South Korea is reeling as a nation from the death of 156 people in a crowd stampede that broke out in Seoul.
President Biden appeared to mistake the Iraq war for Ukraine and bungled details about the death of his son during a speech this weekend. Biden went on to correct himself about his son Beau, who died of brain cancer after serving in Iraq. He was trying to explain how inflation was exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and the geopolitical instability it has wrought. The verbal issues were enough to generate a write up in The New York Times, which could indicate elite Democrats’ are worried about Biden. At the same time, buzz was generated by Washington Post columnist George Will’s call for Biden and Harris not to run again. He made the case that Biden’s verbal difficulties make him unfit, and Harris’ repeated blunders demonstrate her inability to understand the issues. Will is a longtime conservative commentator and author who defected from the Republican party following the rise of Donald Trump. He expressed dismay at the possibility an unfit Republican candidate could be matched up against an equally unfit Democrat.
Krystal gives her thoughts on Democrats’ last ditch play to go after oil and gas companies ahead of the midterm elections. Biden slammed the record profits made by oil companies as energy prices remain high. For example, Exxon Mobil made $2 billion more in net income than they did last quarter, bringing in a record $19.7 billion overall. High post pandemic demand and prices have brought profits for oil giants to unforeseen heights. Biden’s message against them is a political strategy and an economic policy at the same time. The economic thinking is that oil companies are spooked to invest their record profits because of recession risk, lockdowns in China, green energy policy, and other factors. Natural workings of the market will not push them to invest, so the thinking is a windfall profits tax could be enough of a threat to spur investment. A tax on excess profits might not lead to more short term investment in oil production, but the tax revenue could be used to fund energy alternatives for the future. Politically, it’s a no brainer for Democrats to support a windfall profits tax. Back in March, 80% of voters supported a windfall tax proposal, and 87% supported a crack down on oil companies for driving up prices at the pump. When Ohio Democratic senate candidate Tim Ryan suggested it at a Fox News town hall, the crowd erupted in applause. White House officials have been paying attention to the political power of gas prices for a while now. Many Biden aides believe his popularity is closely tied to gas prices, including WH Chief of Staff Ron Klain. He has a political case for the gas prices obsession, given how Biden’s polling data has tracked with gas prices. The price of gas has mostly been trickling down, even though it is still $3.76/gallon on average. Economists have been stumped at gas’s disproportionate electoral impact, which can be explained by its visual prominence and how frequently people go to the pump. Perhaps the late decline is coming at the right time for the White House, or it’s too little too late ahead of the midterms.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar question the Biden administration’s prioritization of democracy rhetoric over gas prices in his last primetime speech. The White House keeps lying to people about the economy instead of talking about the cost of living. Regardless of how you feel about a windfall tax, it is a politically potent idea that they only mentioned in an afternoon side speech once. Whoever in the White House is obsessed with gas prices is clearly disconnected from Biden’s closing midterm pitch and Democratic messaging.
In his monologue, Saagar weighs in on the topic of ‘pandemic amnesty’ raised in a piece for The Atlantic by Brown University Professor Emily Oster. Her article created a firestorm in the political discourse over the past few days, and the crux of her argument is that Americans need to forgive each other for what happened early in the pandemic. It’s worth going through the history and why people are so angry because of how much blowback she received. She focuses on April and May, the problem is her dishonest portrayal of what happened at the time. Nobody is mad about schools closing in March, the problem is that schools were not reopened in August after six months of data showed kids were not at risk. People are not mad about masking for the first couple months, the fury comes from outdoor mask mandates continuing for more than a year, even when we knew covid did not spread outdoors. Lockdowns in the first two months were not a problem until the public health establishment justified people taking to the streets for a particular cause. The same can be said for indoor dining bans that stretched for a year after covid began. Much of the anger around vaccines comes from its false billing as a preventative measure rather than a therapeutic and the promotion of endless boosters afterwards. Thousands of people were fired from their jobs for what ended up being a false premise about the effects of the vaccine. This diatribe demonstrates all of the societal costs to the wrongs in the pandemic.
Some can be forgiven for a lack of knowledge early on. But once June 2020 happened, lockdown policy and mask rollouts should not be forgiven. The coverup of the lab leak theory should not be forgiven as people continue to fund the same kind of scientific research. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s legacy is up there with George W. Bush for the damage he wrought on this country. He lied about the lab leak hypothesis, he admitted to lying about herd immunity, he manipulated the media throughout 2020 and 2021 to impact policy which by definition curtailed the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans. Giving a pandemic amnesty would prevent a reckoning with elite failures in a similar fashion to the Iraq War, financial crisis, and turbocharged cultural liberalism that happened before Trump got elected. Elites in charge can never admit they have been wrong and many are still making millions of dollars here in Washington. A pandemic amnesty would go one way, where elite crimes are forgiven while the millions of Americans who suffered during covid get no recourse. People in power must pay a price, now we can argue exactly what it should be.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar examine the freak out about the piece and how angry it made people. Letting neighbors off the hook is a different story from letting elites off the hook. We ended up in our current political state by refusing to hold elites accountable for their failures. Oster framed the piece as forgiven neighbors but she ends up lumping elites together with them, while only focusing on the first two months instead of the pandemic. Comparing mask mandates in May of 2022 to May of 2020 is incredibly dishonest because of the information we have and how public posture shifted. Beyond public trust, the CDC and FDA’s internal processes have to be burned to the ground. It turns out approval processes and the revolving door have corrupted the scientific establishment. We could have a once in a lifetime reckoning coming for our entire healthcare system. National figures are the ones who deserve the most scorn and accountability, whether it’s from a covid commission or democratic mechanisms for replacing officials.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by veteran Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg to better understand Democrats’ messaging failures. He co-authored a Memo To Democrats written in The American Prospect about how the party should be running more on economic issues as midterm campaigns finish up. Talking about abortion is vital for turning out base voters but to broaden the coalition, Democrats must show people what they want to do about inflation. When conducting focus groups, Greenberg and other pollsters noticed that voters were not explicitly blaming President Biden for inflation. Supply chain issues and price gouging by monopoly corporations who have moved jobs overseas receive significant blame from voters for inflation. People have made it clear that cost of living is their top concern and they want politicians to solve their economic problems. When Democrats do not talk about it, voters do not believe their priorities are being heard by Democrats. Washington elites are viewed as out of touch, and ignoring the top priority among voters is not the way to combat this view. Economic concerns are particularly important for blue collar workers, young voters, and minority groups. Democrats have policies such as the Child Tax Credit and covid stimulus to run on for people to get behind. They should not lie about the economic situation; instead they should show empathy and give people a plan for how they will fix it. Populist messaging is proven to work, especially if you contrast it with Republican plans to give tax cuts to the wealthy and cut social security. Fighting special interests to help working people handle economic struggles resonates more than browbeating people about how the economy is actually good. The voter is hurting and they want people to help them, instead of ignoring them. You will not convince people that the economy is dynamic, which is what most Democrats have been doing. Recognizing what’s happening to working people and empathizing with them in a genuine way is how Democrats should approach the economy. While the odds are against him, Tim Ryan in Ohio is an example of what this message could look like for Democrats. Biden’s speech last night represented the problems with Democratic messaging. Economic issues and Democrats’ plans for them were not mentioned.
Thank you for reading the 11/3 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. Be sure to tune into Counter Points with Ryan and Emily tomorrow morning!

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