Monday, April 3, 2017

The Trump-Hate Weather Vane

It's Olivia Nuzzi.

I tweeted her a while back, asking why she left the Daily Beast. But she didn't respond. Oh well.

At the New Yorker, "Will Anti-Trump Fury Help Flip the Electoral Map for Democrats?":

In all senses, the sun was shining on Jon Ossoff. It was early in the evening on a Sunday in late March, and the suddenly very visible 30-year-old Democratic candidate in the first competitive special congressional election of the Trump era was riding shotgun in a sooty-black Chrysler Sebring, hunched over a paper plate of cheese and crackers, while a member of his staff steered toward the next fund-raiser through the hills of suburban Atlanta. The back of the car was piled high with half a dozen Nike shoe boxes, a stuffed owl, and a reporter. Between bites, Ossoff stared ahead at the road, indulging in long pauses as he considered what to say about his new life as the luckiest young man in American politics. “There’s nothing that I would love more than a freewheeling conversation about political philosophy,” he said. “But I’m cautious because, as you know, the knives are out right now.”

That is not exactly how things appeared to most observers of this breakneck two-month campaign to fill the House seat vacated by Tom Price, the new secretary of Health and Human Services. Outside of the Sebring motorcade, Ossoff looks like the poster boy of the resistance, the grassroots opposition to both President Donald Trump and the wave of nationalism that installed him in office. He is a relative neophyte running 20 points ahead of a divided Republican field in a congressional district that hasn’t been blue since Jimmy Carter, also a Georgian, was president; an anonymous congressional aide turned documentary-film producer made into a national political figure mostly by love from readers of the Daily Kos; a pleasant, generic hipster-technocrat vessel into which an entire nation of angry Democrats has poured its electoral hopes (not to mention its millions of dollars — literally millions, a wild haul for a first-time nobody in a two-month race).

In this brave new post-2016 world, the Ossoff campaign is an experiment of sorts, a Trump-backlash trial balloon that might — on April 18, when the first round of voting is held, or on June 20, when the likely runoff will be completed — tell us just how much the president has reshaped the electoral map. It may also tell us that Democrats will have to do a whole lot more than just ride the wave of Trump hate to have a real chance of puncturing House Republicans’ red wall in 2018. Which is where Tom Perez, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, tends to come down. “Our mistakes, I think, were not just in 2016,” he told me, sketching out his vision for how the party might win back control of the federal government. “Our mistakes were a number of years in the making. We ignored too many voters. We got away from a 50-state strategy. And we took too many people for granted.” Now, Perez said, he’s focused on making up for lost time, which includes plans to channel resources into Georgia’s Sixth District. “We’re going to work hard down there,” he said, “because underdogs win.”

By March, anti-Trump enthusiasm and the national spotlight had made the Ossoff campaign look considerably less underdog-y; most recent polls put him at 40 percent, within striking distance of a majority (which would win him the seat outright and allow him to avoid a runoff in which a Republican candidate could consolidate conservative voters). The Atlanta suburbs seemed so upended by the race it almost didn’t feel like the South at all; traveling from Trump’s Washington, D.C., to what Ossoff hopes will soon become his Georgia seat is like walking out of the Gathering of Juggalos and into the Metropolitan Opera. “He’s our hope,” Carol Finkelstein, a 71-year-old from Sandy Springs, told me in her placid living room on a recent Saturday, just before Ossoff took to the carpet to address her neighbors. “He can’t stop a runaway train, but I’m hoping he can at least be a voice of reason.” Nearby, Barbara Brown, a 93-year-old who’s also committed to voting for Ossoff, was less diplomatic. “I’m an Independent,” she told me. “My husband was the Republican, but we don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
Well, this oughta be interesting.

Keep reading.

RELATED: Here's the gag me factor to this race, celebrity carpetbaggers flooding suburban Atlanta. At the AJC, "CELEBRITIES AND POLITICS: Alyssa Milano and Christopher Gorham stump for 6th District candidate Jon Ossoff."