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“GROW THE ECONOMY” Jaime Herrera Beutler discusses her top priority in Congress
December 2021 Volume 55, No. 6
VIRGINIA BLUEPRINT A Plan for Republicans in 2022 by TOM DAVIS
Plus... A View from the Frontlines: The Battle for the House & Senate And... The Results of The Ripon Society’s 6th Annual Survey of the American Electorate www.riponsociety.org
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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 55, Number 6 Politics and Perspective
It’s Time to Shore Up the Independence of Federal Inspectors General By Troy Cribb Inspector Generals saved taxpayers over $53 billion last year. To continue to fulfill their roles successfully, they must be able to work without interference from agency and executive branch leadership.
A View from the Front Lines: Battle for the Senate 2022 By Kevin McLaughlin Republicans have the winds at our back in the quest to take back the Senate majority in 2022 and are well positioned to gain the one seat needed to do so, if not many more.
A Clear Path Out of Challenging Times By Ed Goeas & Brian Nienaber The Ripon Society’s 6th Annual National Survey makes clear that voters are ready to embrace bold solutions and are ready to embrace politicians with the courage to take the lead on pursuing solutions.
Further Proof That Demography is not Destiny By Mike Gonzalez The left wing of the Democratic Party has gotten out over its skis with its radical ideas and overall wokeness, and the voters known as Hispanics have begun to say, “Basta!”
The Absentee Congress By Stephen Jackson & Kyle Chance Since proxy voting was established in the U.S. House in May of 2020, some Members have taken to practically never coming back to Washington – sometimes not showing up for months on end.
Ranked Choice Voting is a Growing Success Story that Provides Voters with a Greater Voice By Gary Bartlett With RCV, more voters have a voice in who wins, and winning candidates have a broader base of support when they begin serving and governing. Ranked Choice Voting Complicates the Voting Process and Distorts the Final Vote By Nick Murray Proponents claim that RCV guarantees the winner has majority support, but data shows that this often happens because it distorts the final vote.
The Virginia Blueprint By Tom Davis Elections are about the future, and Glenn Youngkin epitomized a post-Trump party and post-COVID governance. It also provides Republicans with a plan to run on in 2022.
A View from the Front Lines: Battle for the House 2022 By Parker Poling Republicans need to continue their strong fundraising and develop and articulate a message that appeals to the broad middle of the electorate.
Publisher The Ripon Society Jim Conzelman, President Editor Lou Zickar Deputy Editor Kyle Chance Advertising Coordinator Autumn Reed
Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Erik Paulsen Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Jim Murtha John Feehery
3 In this Edition 26 In Memoriam - Judy Van Rest, longtime member of The Ripon Forum’s editorial board 28 Ripon Profile - U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Todd Young – Senate Co-Chair Marsha Blackburn Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer John Hoeven Jerry Moran Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker U.S. Representatives: Rodney Davis - House Co-Chair Jackie Walorski - House Co-Chair Darin LaHood - Vice Chair, Midwest Mike Kelly - Vice Chair, Northeast Dan Newhouse - Vice Chair, West Frank Lucas - Vice Chair, Southwest Ann Wagner - Vice Chair, South Mark Amodei Kelly Armstrong Don Bacon Troy Balderson Andy Barr Stephanie Bice Mike Bost Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole John Curtis Tom Emmer Ron Estes Brian Fitzpatrick Andrew Garbarino Anthony Gonzalez Kay Granger Garret Graves Sam Graves Jessica Herrerra Beutler French Hill Trey Hollingsworth Bill Huizenga Bill Johnson Dusty Johnson Dave Joyce John Joyce, M.D. John Katko Young Kim Adam Kinzinger Bob Latta Billy Long Nancy Mace Brian Mast Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Peter Meijer Carol Miller John Moolenaar Blake Moore Guy Reschenthaler Tom Rice Cathy McMorris Rodgers Steve Scalise Lloyd Smucker Pete Stauber Bryan Steil Glenn “GT” Thompson Mike Turner Fred Upton David Valadao Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack
In this edition
Momentum is everything in politics. With it, you feel like you can do nothing wrong and your opponent can do nothing right. Without it, you feel like you are dead in the water, and your opponent is winning the race. After reading the results of The Ripon Society’s 6th Annual National Survey in this latest edition of The Ripon Forum, it is hard not to conclude that Republicans have the momentum entering next year’s campaign. Indeed, from the sagging poll numbers of the President to a political environment and issue set that favors the GOP, the Democrats are the ones who appear to be treading water less than one year out. But of course, that is the key, isn’t it? The election is still over 11 months away. And as important as momentum is in politics, equally if not more important is timing and making sure that, from messaging to fundraising to getting out the vote, everything comes together at the moment that matters most — the moment that not only separates winners from losers, but one that turns longshots into leaders who take the oath of office in the new year. Glenn Youngkin is one of those longshots-turned-leaders. A year ago, he was a political neophyte — a former business executive who had never run for office and was given little chance of winning the Republican nomination for Governor of Virginia let alone the Governor’s mansion itself. On January 15th, after running a disciplined campaign that stayed on message and did everything right, he will be sworn in as the Commonwealth’s 74th Chief Executive. As former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis writes in the lead essay for this edition, Youngkin’s victory had as much to do with his ability to manage the intraparty divisions of today’s GOP as his ability to lay out a vision for Virginia — and the Republican Party — down the road. “Elections are about the future,” Davis writes, “and Glenn Youngkin epitomized a post-Trump party and post-COVID governance.” According to Davis, Youngkin’s victory also provides Republicans with a blueprint to run on in 2022. But he adds one note of caution — and a bit of advice. “Many voters are angry and are not enamored with Republicans and our agenda. They only want to use us to balance government. Our challenge is not to make ourselves the issue.” Parker Poling and Kevin McLaughlin offer similar advice in a pair of essays examining the battle for control of Congress next year. Poling served as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, while McLaughlin served as Executive Director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Both are optimistic about GOP prospects in 2022, but both also stress that Republicans need to make sure the focus remains on the Democrats. One area where Democrats are likely to receive greater scrutiny is in their management of Congress and, more specifically, their use of proxy voting in the House over the past year. As Stephen Jackson and Kyle Chance of The Ripon Society report in an in-depth study, what started as a common sense way to keep the House functioning at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic has become a legislative maneuver that — at least among some members, one could argue — is being abused. In addition to proxy voting, another area that merits more attention in the coming year — and any year, for that matter — is how the federal government is spending our tax dollars. As Troy Cribb of the Partnership for Public Service writes, inspectors general play a critical role in that regard. With billions scheduled to be spent on infrastructure, Cribb argues that Congress needs to do more to ensure that IGs are able to work independently and free from interference from agency and executive branch leadership. In other pieces for this edition, Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation examines the results of this year’s election and explains why, given the fact that Hispanic voters are increasingly voting for Republicans, demography is not destiny for the GOP. With ranked choice voting being adopted by New York City and other cities and towns across America, Gary Bartlett of the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center and Nick Murray of the Maine Policy Institute debate whether it is a passing fad or growing success story. And in our latest Ripon Profile, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler explains why growing the economy is one of her top priorities on Capitol Hill. As always, we hope you find this latest edition of the Forum interesting and informative, and welcome any questions or comments you may have. Lou Zickar, Editor of The Ripon Forum firstname.lastname@example.org RIPON FORUM December 2021
Politics & Perspective
The Absentee Congress Unchecked Proxy Voting in the House of Representatives by STEPHEN JACKSON & KYLE CHANCE
Proxy voting gives Members of Congress the ability to designate one of their colleagues to vote on their behalf. This was first introduced in the House of Representatives back in May of 2020 as a temporary measure. At the time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was essential for Congress to avoid cross-country travel and limit gathering in the confines of the Capitol building to slow the spread of COVID-19. On the other side of the Capitol, under both Republican and Democrat control, the Senate never adopted a proxy voting policy during the pandemic. In mid-December of 2020, safe and effective vaccines first became available to Members of Congress. And by May of this year, CNN reported that all House Democrats were vaccinated. Yet, the “temporary” ability to vote remotely by proxy has remained in place. Speaker Pelosi has extended the rules permitting proxy voting every couple of months, most recently through the end of 2021. To better understand the extent of proxy voting in the House, we logged every proxy vote cast in the 117th Congress through the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 26, 2021. From this, it is apparent that some Members of Congress have used this capability more than others – including a handful of Members who have not cast a vote on the House floor in nearly eleven months. Pelosi’s Majority by Proxy The beginning of the 117th Congress was historic because the Democrats had only a nine-seat majority. Democrats have not begun a term with a majority this slim since the 46th Congress in 1877. This majority would shrink down to as little as six seats in the first few months of the year through the passing of one Democratic Congressman and by a handful of others resigning to fill 4
positions in the Biden Administration. With little room to operate, it was imperative for Speaker Pelosi to ensure the numbers remained on her side. Before proxy voting, congressional leadership needed to navigate the inevitable obstacles of Representatives falling ill or becoming unable to travel. Votes which were expected to be close would be delayed until a missing Representative arrived in Washington, D.C. Long term absences, such as by the lateCongressman Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC-3) who missed 150 votes in the four months before he died in February of 2019, would alter the voting calculus in the chamber. In fact, earlier this year, Rep. Alcee Hastings (DFL-20) was absent for over three months before he passed in April. But, with proxy voting now available, he was still able to cast his vote in Washington eighty-six times while battling pancreatic cancer from his home in Florida. What otherwise would have been a setback to Speaker Pelosi’s narrow whip count was instead a reliable vote for her and the Democratic Caucus. How impactful has proxy voting been in the House this year? On average there were 37.9 proxy votes – 28.2 by Democrats and 9.7 by Republicans – cast during each of the 375 votes we analyzed. In fact, 32.8% of those 375 votes were decided by a margin smaller than the net number of Democrat-cast proxy votes. In other words, Democratic proxy voting swung the results nearly a third of the time. Absent Members Perhaps the most jarring outcome of perpetual
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proxy voting is some Members have taken to practically concerned about the pandemic, deciding to protect never coming back to Washington – sometimes not themselves by not travelling more than necessary. But for showing up for months on end. others, this reasoning seems to fall apart when looking at Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL-5) and Rep. Frederica Wilson what they are up to while votes are taking place (D-FL-24) have not voted in-person since January 11th, For example, despite and Rep. Bobby Rush submitting to the Clerk of (D-IL-1) has not voted the House a letter stating he Perhaps the most jarring outcome on the House floor since could not be present that day of perpetual proxy voting is some January 13th. After proxy due to the “ongoing public voting the first quarter Members have taken to practically health emergency,” Rep. of the year, Rep. Ann never coming back to Washington Rush was able to travel back Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) has to Washington on November – sometimes not showing up for not voted in person since 15th, where he attended a April 19th, about a month White House bill signing. months on end. after she announced she There, he was able to have wasn’t seeking reelection. a maskless selfie, albeit While Republicans are not proxy voting to the same outside, with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. extent as the Democrats, the top three GOP Members Despite making it back to the nation’s capital that day, proxy voted about a third of the time over the course of he was still absent from the House floor that day for the 375 roll call votes – Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL-17), votes. Moreover, photos and videos he has posted on Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16), and Rep. Brian Babin social media make clear that he has not refrained from (R-TX-36). attending in-person events, both indoor and outdoor, Some Members of Congress may be genuinely while he is at home.
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And Rep. Rush is not alone. Other Members have chosen to vote by proxy under the guise of pandemic safety in order to attend local events, such as Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-6) attending ribbon cuttings and Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10) posing for photo-ops in their districts on the same day they proxy voted. Even among Members who come to Washington every week the House is in session, it appears many like to create their own long weekends by showing up a day or two late or leaving a day or two early. Members proxy vote more often on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays compared to other days of the week – with nearly two times as many Members proxy voting on Fridays compared to Wednesdays. Not all Members who vote by proxy do so simply to avoid travelling to Washington. Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX32), for example, utilized proxy voting for three months this year when his son was born. And Rep. Elise Stefanik (RNY-21) used proxy voting for the latter part of August and into October after having her first child on August 27th. Also, not every Member is voting by proxy at the same rate. Half of all proxy votes cast can be attributed to just 38 individuals. And 106 Members have not voted by proxy at all this year – 83 Republicans and 23 Democrats. But, with 2022 and the midterm election just around the corner, it is important to point out that proxy voting, as it currently exists in the House, can easily be taken advantage of as Members hit the campaign trail next year. If left in place as is, it is possible for legislators to host fundraisers across the country and campaign back home rather than coming to work in Washington. Recommendations Speaker Pelosi has renewed the “temporary” capability to proxy vote several times since its inception last year. And though initially stated to be a tool to protect the health of Members of Congress, it seems it has become a means for House Democrats to protect her majority and for rank-and-file Members to 6
legislate at their leisure. If Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership insist on keeping proxy voting in place, then a number of reforms should be enacted to prevent possible abuse going forward. To dramatically increase transparency, the Clerk of the House should integrate all proxy vote data, including who cast proxy votes for whom, into the XML data it currently posts online for all floor votes. Congress should declare a handful of specific, extraordinary circumstances in which a Member can vote by proxy. Valid circumstances could include reasons such as parental leave, serious illness, and bereavement leave, similar to those outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act. Additionally, Members should publicly submit a letter for every proxy vote they cast which includes this justification. If proxy voting persists at the current scale, it will damage the foundation of the House and Congress as an institution. The current House schedule of fourday, three-night workweeks means legislators hardly spend enough time in Washington as it is. Some point to Speaker Gingrich as the innovator of this truncated work calendar, built to ensure vulnerable Members have adequate time to fundraise and campaign. But the issues surrounding the House calendar are now a bipartisan problem as it has persisted under majorities held by both parties. Former Congressmen point to the lack of interaction between Members as one of their frustrations with the institution and why they believe Congress is not working – and congressional scholars agree. Ultimately, proxy voting only exacerbates congressional dysfunction when it allows Members to leave town at their convenience – or avoid Washington altogether. RF Stephen Jackson is the Director of Policy at The Ripon Society and Kyle Chance is the Deputy Editor of The Ripon Forum. Further information on proxy voting in the 117th Congress can be found at www.riponsociety.org.
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It’s Time to Shore Up the Independence of Federal Inspectors General by TROY CRIBB Since passage of the Inspector General Act of 1978, prior to removing an IG from office and would limit use of Congress has provided strong bipartisan support to inspectors administrative leave for IGs following the announcement of general (IGs) as indispensable for bringing accountability removal. When there is a vacancy in an IG position, the bill and transparency to the federal government. Now, out of would require that an acting IG be selected from among senior concern for incursions into IG independence during the last IG officials. administration and a recognition of the need for vigilance over The Senate legislation also addresses some concerns that the roughly $6 trillion approved for the COVID response and led to a mostly party-line vote in the House earlier in the year infrastructure spending, Congress and by adding procedural safeguards for the administration are taking a fresh new authority that the House bill look to ensure that IGs can do their proposed for IGs to subpoena the jobs. testimony of contractors and former Across the federal landscape, federal officials. there are 38 inspectors general In addition to advancing the appointed by the president (with pending bipartisan legislation, there all but one subject to Senate are other ways to strengthen the IG confirmation), along with 37 IGs community: appointed by agency leaders. The • Agency leaders should IGs and their staff of auditors and establish productive relationships investigators identify waste and abuse with IGs and communicate to their in agencies, provide impartial analysis employees the need to cooperate and recommendations on how to with the IGs and provide them improve agency performance, and access to the information they need, Troy Cribb independently report their findings to an approach endorsed recently by the both agency leaders and Congress. leaders of the Office of Management In the previous fiscal year, and Budget in guidance and best In the previous fiscal year, the collective findings and issued to agency heads. the collective findings and practices recommendations of the IGs • Administrations should be recommendations of the represented over $53 billion in prepared to address IG vacancies potential savings — an approximate quickly and identify in advance a IGs represented over $53 return of $17 for every dollar invested of candidates who would be fair billion in potential savings pool in the IG offices. and objective. Some IG positions — an approximate return For IGs to fulfill their roles famously have remained vacant for successfully, they must be able to work years, undermining the stature of the of $17 for every dollar without interference from agency and offices. For example, the IG position invested in the IG offices. executive branch leadership. Across at the government’s largest agency, administrations, Congress has pushed the Department of Defense, has been back when IGs have appeared to have vacant for more than 2,100 days (a been marginalized, stonewalled, or fired for unclear reasons. nomination is now pending). Just recently, the Senate Committee on Homeland • Congress should consider creating a new model for Security and Governmental Affairs advanced its version of the IG appointments. Longevity in service of IGs promotes the IG Independence and Empowerment Act with the strong independence and strengthens institutional knowledge. bipartisan support of the committee leadership and with no Congress should consider making the IG positions term opposition. positions that span administrations while allowing removal Among its provisions, the bill would require an only for cause, such as inefficiency, neglect of duty, or administration to provide detailed, case-specific reasons malfeasance in office. RIPON FORUM December 2021
• The executive branch and Congress should support the IG community in finding new ways to collaborate. Within their agencies, IGs frequently examine issues that are crosscutting such as major management challenges or fraud detection. The IGs are best positioned when they have the resources and tools to leverage each other’s efforts. • Congress should continue its support of Oversight. gov, which provides a central hub for IG reports, providing the public and the IGs themselves with a searchable repository of IG reports. • If necessary, Congress should use its power of the purse so that IGs can do their jobs, including making sure IGs have access to agency records and can conduct independent, nonpartisan audits and investigations. For example, when the Department of Commerce restricted IG access to records during the Obama administration, the Senate successfully compelled the agency to reverse course by threatening to halt funding for its general counsel. Congress similarly could withhold appropriations if an agency lacks a qualified and either nominated, acting, or confirmed IG to carry out investigations. • Congress should ask IGs to identify agency bright spots. Agencies are eager to learn from each other’s efforts
to tackle common problems. Congress should encourage the IGs to help by highlighting successful efforts in their agencies that might be replicated elsewhere, in addition to exposing problems. The IGs have been fundamental to day-to-day operations of federal agencies, but they also are critical during surges in federal spending that include major disaster relief, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and reconstruction efforts, the 2008-2009 financial rescue and stimulus spending, and now again with oversight of upcoming infrastructure projects and COVID relief spending. Congress even created a Special IG for Pandemic Recovery within the Treasury Department as well as a special interagency committee of IGs to oversee pandemic relief. The network of IGs across the government has been a resounding success in protecting taxpayer dollars and guarding against abuses. The system must be protected from political interference and provided the resources and authority it needs to keep the government honest and protect the public interest. RF Troy Cribb is director of policy for the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to building a better government and stronger democracy.
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Further Proof That Demography is not Destiny by MIKE GONZALEZ Much ink is being spilled on why this is, especially by Following Glenn Youngkin’s victory for the governorship of Virginia, and the revelation that he had won voters of Latin Politico, which has featured long essays on this subject. But origins, a wag online quipped that Youngkin had won the little attention is paid to the main reason, which Judis to his “Latino” vote, while his opponent Terry McAuliffe had won credit discussed in his Atlantic article. The assumption of Democratic-leaning Latin voters relies on another assumption: the “LatinX” vote. It was probably not very funny to McAuliffe, but it that Americans of Latin descent regard themselves as people contained an important political truth. The left wing of the of color, and marginalized minorities at that, and that their Democratic Party has gotten out over its skis with its radical descendants will as well. “This isn’t a new argument, ideas and overall wokeness (of of course — and I bear some which the term “LatinX” is a prime responsibility for it. The book I coexample), and the voters known as wrote in 2002 with demographer Ruy Hispanics have begun to say, “Basta!” Teixeira, The Emerging Democratic This is unwelcome news to Majority, laid out an overly optimistic leftists, who for decades had operated forecast of the party’s prospects in an on the unwavering assumption that increasingly diverse America,” wrote the increasing number of people of Judis. At the time, Teixeira was still Latin descent in America meant that harboring hopes that a “majoritythe country would move leftward minority” country would hand the politically. This belief was, moreover, left power. Not Judis. shared by some conservatives. “On one level, there’s no There was even a bestseller that arguing with the math. If you take the told both sides that this was assured: percentage of Americans that the U.S. The Emerging Democratic Majority. census defines as ‘minorities’ and Written by political analysts Ruy Mike Gonzalez project their past voting habits into Teixeira and John Judis, the 2002 the next decade and beyond, you’ll book promised leftists that Latins come up with a very sunny version would make the title a reality. The 2020 election of the Democrats’ prospects,” wrote “Hispanic support is a crucial part was, if anything, Judis, quickly adding, however, of a new Democratic majority,” they further evidence that “There are only two problems with wrote. this line of thinking, but they’re Their publisher, Simon & Voters of Latin origin pretty big ones.” Schuster, advertised the book saying, are increasingly pulling The Census Bureau’s prediction “Political experts John B. Judis and the lever for the of a majority-minority country by Ruy Teixeira convincingly use hard the year 2044 was deeply flawed, data -- demographic, geographic, GOP. continued Judis. I, too, have argued economic, and political -- to forecast in an op-ed I wrote with Attorney the dawn of a new progressive era.” You can pick up a copy for $1.30 online at used–book General Ed Meese that majority-minority populations are a retailer Alibris these days. Both Teixeira and Judis have political decision arrived at through census manipulation, and recanted their views. Judis was first, in a high-profile, 2017 mea can be fixed by ending such census legerdemains. Judis put the matter this way: “The U.S. census makes culpa in The Atlantic subtitled, “I argued that demographics a critical assumption that undermines its predictions of favored the Democrats. I was wrong.” Judis foresaw all this after Donald Trump defeated Hillary a majority-nonwhite country. It projects that the same Clinton in 2016, and the 2020 election was, if anything, further percentage of people who currently identify themselves as evidence that the trend Judis foresaw was cementing itself: ‘Latino’ or ‘Asian’ will continue to claim those identities in Voters of Latin origin are increasingly pulling the lever for the future generations. In reality, that’s highly unlikely. History shows that as ethnic groups assimilate into American culture, GOP. RIPON FORUM December 2021
they increasingly identify themselves as ‘white’. … In fact, it’s already happening. In the 2010 Census, 53 percent of Latinos identified as ‘white,’ as did more than half of Asian Americans of mixed parentage. In future generations, those percentages are almost certain to grow.” My belief is that Judis, if anything, understates the point. It’s not that the passage of time in this country makes these Americans of Latin origin see themselves as white — it’s that many of them did not see themselves as people “of color” when they arrived. It’s only progressive strategy to inculcate in them a feeling of marginalization that has led to the creation of the “Hispanic” category in the Census to begin with. This is one of the central arguments of my 2020 book, The Plot to Change America. This is what progressive organizer Ofelia Alonso pointed out in a November 2020 Politico article which said that in her opinion the “Latino” category was “an imprecise catchall term for members of an ethnic group in which people identify as Black, white, indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern or mixed race.” Politico quoted her as saying, “A lot of people who voted for Trump, while they’re Latino, they’re also white.” But that’s not the entire explanation. After the 2020 election, Teixeira threw in the towel -- sort of. While Trump lost, he did very well in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, the heartland of Tejano country. In these rural communities, the Mexican-American population, which comprises over 95 percent of the RGV, completely destroyed the “demography is destiny” argument. Several of the counties — Cameron, Starr, Willacy, Webb, and Hidalgo — all went over 40 percent for Donald Trump, who beat Joe Biden outright in Zapata County.
And just to add panic to the Democrats, The Wall Street Journal reported on December 8 that “the nation’s large and diverse group of Hispanic voters were now evenly split between GOP and the Democrats.” “What happened?” asked Teixeira. Yes, part of it was the wrong racial assumption, but there was more. “Hispanics were lumped in with ‘people of color’ and were assumed to embrace the activism around racial issues that dominated so much of the political scene in 2020, particularly in the summer. This was a flawed assumption,” he wrote. These voters, added Teixeira, are heavily oriented toward upward mobility, are patriotic, and are pro-law enforcement. The increasingly woke language and promises of progressive politicians clangs with their aspirations. Which brings us back to the Youngkin quip. According to Politico, a poll in December 2021 by the Democratic Party polling firm Bendixen & Amandi International discovered that “only 2 percent of those polled refer to themselves as Latinx,” the new super-woke term the hard left insists on these days. “More problematic for Democrats: 40 percent said Latinx bothers or offends them to some degree and 30 percent said they would be less likely to support a politician or organization that uses the term.” That is indeed bad news for a Biden administration that itself adopted this woke term. RF Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy and the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum fellow.
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VIRGINIA BLUEPRINT A plan for Republicans in 2022 by TOM DAVIS
RIPON FORUM December 2021
In Virginia, Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s victory, the Republican sweep of all three statewide offices and the pickup of more than enough Republican House of Delegates seats to bring them the majority (the State Senate was not up for reelection) can be credited to three factors: history, President Joe Biden, and candidate Glenn Youngkin.
his victory. But money alone can’t elect a candidate. Ask Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, Sarah Gideon in Maine, or Amy McGrath in Kentucky. Youngkin ran a smart, disciplined campaign. He is very likeable, and he outperformed Terry McAuliffe in the debates, while inspiring a broad coalition of voters who were looking for change. He stayed focused on state issues and talked about the future, while History McAuliffe talked about Trump and focused on what Since 1977 and the birth of a he did as Governor in his prior competitive two-party system in term (from 2013-2017). Virginia, only once (in 2013) has Elections are about the the party of the sitting President future, and Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governorship. epitomized a post-Trump party Ten of the past eleven prior races and post-COVID governance. went to the party opposite the He navigated the Trump factor White House. The 2013 exception brilliantly in a state Trump was Terry McAuliffe’s narrow win not only lost by 10 percentage over Ken Cuccinelli, who at the points, but where he is still time had to contend with a divided upside down in the polls. Republican Party, a significant Youngkin also outperformed fundraising deficit, and a GOP-led Trump in rural areas. This can be government shutdown the month attributed in part to the fact that before Election Day. McAuliffe’s attacks on him as a Virginia voters tend to be Trump clone kept Trump’s rural counter cyclical and use the supporters on board. Beyond gubernatorial election to send the that, Youngkin’s dominating Tom Davis President a message. performance in rural Virginia demonstrates that Republican President Joe Biden strength in rural areas is not Elections are about When Donald Trump left the merely a Trump phenomenon, White House, Democrats lost the future, and Glenn but a manifestation of rural the glue that held their coalition America’s antipathy to a Youngkin epitomized a together. The Biden coalition was a Democratic Party controlled by post-Trump party and dissonant one, united by an intense coastal elites. dislike of Trump. Independent post-COVID governance. Youngkin also made voters swung to Biden to remove inroads with minority voters Donald Trump from their living on the education issue. Parents rooms for the next four years. were frustrated, having endured These same independent voters pumped the brakes this a year of screen teaching, masking, and hearing about year. Critical Race Theory, while the Loudoun County Biden misread his mandate and Independents swung School Board disciplined the father of a daughter to Youngkin by a margin of 61-38 percent, sending a who had been raped, and at the same time ignored the strong message to Democrats with regard to the upcoming “gender fluid” rapist’s repeat offenses. McAuliffe, mid-terms. And that message is: going left is going off bought and paid for by the teacher’s unions, could only the cliff. Independents will use 2022 to put a check on mutter that “parents shouldn’t be telling teachers what the President, rather than giving him a blank check. to teach,” alluding to his belief that parents should not Polling substantiates that Biden’s honeymoon be involved in the education of their children. crashed and burned after the Afghanistan fiasco. Coupled Youngkin gained with every constituency and in with the challenges he is facing with regard to the border, every jurisdiction, vis a vis the Republican Party’s inflation, and COVID, he is not likely to recover soon. 2017 and 2020 performances. But he had 10 points to make up from Trump’s 2020 loss to Biden and won by Glenn Youngkin a close two-point margin. Make no mistake -- Virginia Glenn Youngkin had no public record and spent $20 remains a tough state for Republicans. But Biden’s million of his personal money, both of which aided in poor performance and a great Republican candidate RIPON FORUM December 2021
led the GOP to a sweep and their first statewide win in 12 years. The biggest gains were in rural counties and exurbs. Should this trend continue into 2022, look for significant GOP gains in the U.S. House and Senate, resulting in a majority in both chambers.
Looking ahead to the 2022 mid-term elections, the 2021 election results are more than “a canary in a coal mine.” The reaction to Democratic control in Washington is swift and unmistakable. As Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-7) put it, “We elected Biden to be normal, not FDR.” The last four times one party has controlled the Analysis U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and the Presidency, Although Youngkin ran statewide about six points the mid-term losses have been significant and the ahead of Ed Gillespie in 2017 and Trump in 2020, the House has flipped. In 1994, the Democrats lost 54 differences were not equal, seats. In 2006, the GOP as Youngkin ran well ahead lost 30 seats. In 2010, of them in the Richmond Republicans picked up 63 and Hampton Roads seats. And in 2018, the exurban areas. In only one Democrats won 40 seats. jurisdiction (Emporia) did Get the picture? he run behind Gillespie, Republicans are and he exceeded Trump in positioned for a great midall jurisdictions. term election with one note The interesting fact of caution. Many voters is that the voter turnout are angry and are not of about 55 percent enamored with Republicans exceeded anything the and our agenda. They Commonwealth has only want to use us to witnessed in decades. Part balance government. Our of this may be attributed to challenge is not to make Make no mistake – the new 45 day, no excuse ourselves the issue. Virginia remains a tough absentee and in person Democratic attempts to state for Republicans. But voting. Democrats carried keep “the stolen election” absentees – heavily – but and January 6 th alive, to Biden’s poor performance and Republican turnout was censure Paul Gosar, and a great Republican candidate through the roof. to go after the hard right led the GOP to a sweep and Democrats cannot of the party are intended claim voter suppression, to make the mid-terms their first statewide win as they got their voters a choice election, not a in 12 years. out. Indeed, McAuliffe referendum on them. received nearly 200,000 These tactics did not more votes than current work for Terry McAuliffe Democratic Governor Ralph Northam received four and are unlikely to work in 2022, as mid-terms tend to years prior. However, Youngkin received nearly be referendums on the incumbents. RF 500,000 more votes than Gillespie, who lost to Northam. Tom Davis served 14 years in the U.S. House of Coupled with Republican performances in New Representatives, representing the 11th Congressional Jersey (where the GOP picked up eight House and District of Virginia. He also served as Chairman of four Senate seats), Long Island, South Texas, etc., it the National Republican Congressional Committee was a solid night for Republicans. from 1999 to 2002.
“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ 14
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A view from the front lines:
The Battle for the House by PARKER POLING Although the campaign model deployed by Hinson In the 2020 election cycle, no one gave House Republicans much of a chance. Google the headlines and others can be a difficult line to walk, it is certainly from that summer and you’ll see plenty of gloomy doable and will be necessary to flip back enough seats predictions from prognosticators about how the for Republicans to regain a House majority. Look no incumbent President’s sagging poll numbers would further than the National Republican Congressional surely doom the House GOP to even lower depths, with Committee’s (NRCC) early prized recruits, many of whom are women, veterans, predictions ranging from losing 10 and minorities like Jen Kiggans to 20 seats. (VA-2), Wesley Hunt (TX-38), Instead, House Republicans Monica de la Cruz (TX-15) and picked up a net 14 seats and didn’t Esther Joy King (IL-17). lose a single incumbent, nearly Further good news for those flipping the majority. So what rooting for a new Republican happened, and what does that tell Speaker is that both redistricting us about the prospects for 2022? and the political environment are First, Republican House winds at Republicans’ backs at candidates were able to run the current moment. Likewise, independent races from President the first mid-term election for an Trump. There is anecdotal incumbent almost always augers evidence that looking and sounding well for the minority, and history different from the President was suggests that the GOP should an advantage. In an often-cited have a good night next November. statistic, nearly every seat that Parker Poling Because of their success was flipped from Democratic to at the state level in 2020, Republican control was done so by Republicans control redistricting a woman, a minority, or a veteran. Both redistricting and the in more places than Democrats, The only exception was David Valadao, a moderate, bilingual, political environment are and line-drawing efforts look to add as many as five seats net. It former Member intensely focused winds at Republicans’ won’t be a bonanza of new GOP on local issues. And in Bidenbacks at the current seats. Unlike past redistrictings, won districts where incumbent state line-drawers are generally Republicans also won, those moment. reducing the number of Members all projected solid competitive seats nationwide. bipartisan credentials: Reps. Don In Texas, for example, we saw Bacon (NE-2), John Katko (NY10 or so competitive House districts last cycle; this 24), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). When Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia Governor’s cycle, we may see one or two at the most. No matter race in 2021, many outside observers marveled that he the environment, seats that are D+25 are unlikely to flip. was able to run a campaign that neither embraced nor But that also means that a majority won in 2022 may shunned the former President. The truth is, at least a survive the decade. The political environment also clearly favors a GOP dozen Congressional candidates had blazed that trail in 2020, from Rep. Ashley Hinson and Rep. Mariannette takeover, with both President Biden’s approval and the Miller-Meeks in Iowa, to Rep. Mike Garcia and Rep. generic ballot numbers presaging a good election night Michelle Steel in California. Building their own for Republicans. At this point in 2010, Democrats were independent image without turning off Trump supporters favored on the generic ballot by one point. Today, the generic average is 3.7 points in favor of Republicans. proved a path to success for each of these candidates. RIPON FORUM December 2021
Presidential approval is historically the best predictor strong fundraising and develop and articulate a message of Congressional election results, and today, Biden’s that appeals to the broad middle of the electorate. We average is 42% approve, 52% disapprove. That’s tough saw in 2020 that voters will reject extremist policies sledding for Democrats in close districts. like defunding the police, COVID lockdowns, limiting For direct and recent evidence of the political parental choice, and eliminating American energy. environment, we need The lesson of 2021 is that look no further than the maintaining a laser-like focus gubernatorial races in New on the issues that matter to Republicans need to continue their Jersey and Virginia, where voters, like inflation, gas strong fundraising and develop and prices, and education, is a Republicans did better than expected. Furthermore, the recipe for success. articulate a message that appeals to GOP candidate won nearly The political environment the broad middle of the electorate. all of the competitive will surely provide a boost, but Democrat-held seats in by identifying and maintaining both states, including those a meaningful message, and of Reps. Andy Kim (NJ-3), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Tom finding candidates who can demonstrate independence, Malinowski (NJ-7), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Elaine Luria Republicans will be in a strong position to win back the (VA-2), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-7). If those numbers majority in the House. RF were replicated in November 2022, the House election will be a 2010-style “thumpin.” Parker Poling served as the Executive Director of the Everything points toward a big year for Republicans National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in 2022, but as we saw in 2020, sometimes the during the 2020 cycle and is currently a partner at prognosticators and public polls are wrong. Candidates Harbinger Strategies, a federal government affairs firm and elections matter. Republicans need to continue their in Washington, DC.
60 MILLION Americans live in remote areas
and have less access
to health care FILLING THE RURAL HEALTH CARE GAP, FOR THE HEALTH OF AMERICASM
RIPON FORUM December 2021
A view from the front lines:
The Battle for the Senate by KEVIN McLAUGHLIN Arizona and Georgia, arguably our two best pickRepublicans have the winds at our back in the quest to take back the Senate majority in 2022 and are well positioned up opportunities, are represented by freshman Democrat incumbents with voting records far to the left of their states. to gain the one seat needed to do so, if not many more. But Mark Kelly and Raphael Warnock hauled in $100 million Consider the confluence of events brewing in our favor. First, President Joe Biden’s approval rating is hovering and $165 million respectively in the previous election cycle, at a dreary 42 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics and will likely raise much more in 2022. Nevada is not far average. A recent Washington Post/ABC survey showed the behind. Adam Laxalt is a proven quantity who will run a strong campaign against a weak incumbent GOP with an historic 10-point lead who barely won her first race. In New on the generic congressional ballot. Hampshire, Maggie Hassan is arguably The Democrats’ marquee legislative the weakest Democrat incumbent, and priority, a multi trillion-dollar she knows it. smorgasbord of government spending Republican retirements in despised by suburban voters, remains Pennsylvania, North Carolina, caught in the morass of Capitol Hill. Ohio, and Missouri have Democrats Inflation is the worst it has been in salivating, but fractured divisive three decades. primaries on the left stand to derail any Second, look at history. Since hopes they have. Wisconsin will be a the Civil War, the president’s party tough race no matter what Senator Ron has lost ground in the Senate in 24 of Johnson decides to do, but like so many 40 elections, with an average loss of other states Democrats are locked in a roughly 2.5 seats per cycle, according Kevin McLaughlin divisive multi-candidate primary, as to the UVA Center for Politics. Looking well. at more recent history, things only get We can’t take any of our Despite all that we worse for Democrats. In the postincumbent races for granted, either. World War II era, the party in power have going for us, the Lisa Murkowski is in for a tough battle loses 3.5 Senate seats on average, with last thing Republicans in Alaska, but if anyone wants to bet the president’s party losing ground in against Sen. Murkowski, I am glad to can do is rest on our 13 of 19 mid-terms. take that action any day of the week and Third, look at fundraising. The laurels. twice on Sunday. And don’t sleep on NRSC is crushing it -- shattering Florida -- a trending reliably red state records and outpacing the DSCC every month while investing massive sums into an already incredibly for sure, but Val Demings is raising, and spending, a fortune successful digital program that will no doubt pay dividends already. All of these challenges are far from insurmountable, as next fall. And finally, look at the Democrats. They are doing long as Republicans are unified and keep our attacks focused everything in their power to squander their Senate majority. on Democrats. If we keep our eyes on the prize, work together, Their top legislative priority, Biden’s so-called “Build and remind voters of all the crazy things Democrats are doing, Back Better” spending bill, is chock full of special interest Republicans will cruise to the majority in the United States RF giveaways and kickbacks -- not to mention tax cuts for blue Senate in 2022. state millionaires and billionaires, tax increases on the middle class to pay for more IRS agents who will spy on bank Kevin McLaughlin served as the Executive Director of the accounts, outsourcing innovation and manufacturing to China, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) during the 2020 cycle, and now is the president of Common Sense and regulating religious child care and pre-K out of business. Despite all that we have going for us, the last thing Leadership Fund, a non-profit organization that promotes Republicans can do is rest on our laurels. We have been in conservative policies of individual freedom, lower taxes, and less regulation. similar situations before and fallen short of the ultimate goal. RIPON FORUM December 2021
A Clear Path Out of Challenging Times by ED GOEAS & BRIAN NIENABER
This latest national voter survey for The Ripon Society, conducted among 800 voters from November 13-18, 2021, finds a poor political environment for incumbents, particularly President Biden. Economic turmoil, social unrest, and the continuing COVID-19 crisis are certainly major contributors to this poor environment. However, these data again make clear that voters are ready to embrace bold solutions and are ready to embrace politicians with the courage to take the lead on pursuing solutions. In fact, voters in the political center, that is voters who are not very conservative Republicans nor very liberal Democrats compromise fully seventy-two percent (72%) of the electorate. While cable news and online discourse often cater to those voters at the ends of the political spectrum, more than sevenin-ten voters are not at these ends, but rather in the middle. These centrist voters welcome solutions and look warmly upon politicians who pursue them. The political environment is quite poor. Six-in-ten (60%) voters think the country is on the wrong track, including a majority of voters (52%) who strongly believe this. There is a notable partisan split on this issue with Republicans (94% wrong track) and Independents (70% wrong track) much more negative than Democrats (27% wrong track). However, more than two-in-five moderate to conservative Democrats (42%) think the country is on the wrong track. A majority of the centrist voters (58%) also think the country is on the wrong track. At a basic level, a majority of voters (52%) report that the federal government does not meet the needs of their family. In a trend similar to the direction of the country, majorities of Republicans (76%), Independents (60%), and centrists (50%) say the federal government does not meet the needs of their family. Among Democrats, a majority of liberal Democrats (73%) say they federal government does meet their needs while a majority of moderate to conservative Democrats (50%) say it does not.
A federal government that cannot meet the needs of most of its citizens and one that has the country on the wrong track is in a poor place. In looking at the issue matrix, this situation will be challenging to improve as voters have strong concerns about a variety of issues. Voters were read a list of 11 issues and asked to rate their importance to them as extremely, very, somewhat, or not at all important. As seen in Chart 1, 10 of the 11 issues have a majority of voters indicating it is extremely or very important to them and 9 of the 11 issues have at least one-third of voters saying this issue is extremely important to them. There are times when a singular crisis dominates the issue matrix and political leaders can build goodwill by focusing on that issue. This era is not one of those times. The electorate has diverse interests and a high level of concern about a variety of issues. The concerns of centrists mirror the concerns of the overall electorate. A majority of centrists select protecting individual freedoms and protecting the country from foreign threats as issues that are extremely important to them. In addition, the issues of jobs, inflation, crime, and improving education all rank as extremely or very important to at least three-in-four of these centrist voters. Both the overall electorate and the center want to see solutions on a variety of issues. Unfortunately for President Biden, the lack of notable progress on many of these issues is having a negative impact on his job approval ratings. Overall, President Biden has a job approval rating of forty-six percent (46%) approve and forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove. As seen in Chart 2, on the economy, immigration, cost of living, and inflation, President Biden has an approval rating below his overall approval rating and a majority disapproval rating. There is a remarkable level of polarization in these assessments. Forty percent (40%) of voters and seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans approve of President Biden’s job performance on zero issues. Just under one-quarter (24%) of
Ripon Society’s 6th Annual Survey of the American Electorate
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voters and forty-nine percent (49%) of Democrats approve of President Biden’s job performance on every issue tested. However, President Biden has notably more goodwill among centrists. They give him a majority approval rating overall (50%) as well as majority approval ratings on jobs (52%) and education (51%). This gives him a strong opportunity to use this goodwill with this significantly sized segment of the electorate to pursue solutions, particularly on the critical issues of jobs and education. The upcoming elections for control of Congress have a similar dynamic. Republicans have the advantage on most of the issues and on issues likely to be important in the 2022 cycle like the economy, cost of living, jobs, and inflation. However, as seen in Chart 3, neither party has the trust of the majority of the electorate on any of these issues. There was also a similar level of polarization on this measure. Twenty-eight percent (28%) of voters and a majority of Republicans (59%) select the GOP in Congress on every
issue. Thirty-one percent (31%) of voters and more than threein-four Democrats (77%) select the Democrats in Congress on every issue. So, a majority of voters (59%) select one of the parties in Congress on every issue tested. However, among centrists, Democrats have the advantage on the additional issues of cost of living and jobs along with majority support of education (52%) and dealing with COVID-19 (51%). Even with a political environment that favors the GOP, this measure demonstrates that Republican candidates will need to make an affirmative case about the merits of their policies. Victory is not assured by party affiliation. What will endear candidates to voters is being willing to make deals. We presented voters with two options: (1) a politician who consistently fights for my values, even if this means not finding a solution very often, OR (2) a politician who is willing to work together to get things done, even if it means compromising on my values sometimes. A strong majority of
CHART 1 Issue
Extremely+ Extremely Very Very Somewhat Not at all
Protecting the individual freedoms of Americans
Protecting the country from foreign threats
Inflation and the rising cost of living
Improving education at all levels including vocational education
Jobs and the economy
Dealing with supply chain problems
Improving our energy grid
Dealing with climate change
Holding China accountable
Regulating tech and social media companies
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CHART 2 President Biden Job Approval by Issue
Dealing with COVID-19
The cost of living
voters (69%) selected the politician willing to work together. This of voters indicate they have a child at home and would qualify includes majorities of crucial voting blocs like seniors (70%), for this benefit. A majority of non-parents (55%) support these African Americans (74%), Independents (58%), Democrats payments. A broad coalition of voters supports providing some (83%), and centrists (69%). Even demographic groups where assistance to parents. one might expect more support for fighting consistently for Voters do strongly support a work requirement for values like partisan Republicans (45%), evangelicals (54%), this benefit. Fully seventy-five percent (75%) of voters and and those who use cable TV as a top news source (71%) all seventy-nine percent (79%) of centrists support adding a work select the dealmaker-oriented politician at a notable level. Voters requirement to this benefit, so that the parent must be working across the political, ideological, and cultural spectrum prefer or a stay at home parent caregiver. This series of questions politicians who are willing to work to get things done. is an excellent illustration of a policy solution that should As seen in Chart 4, the policy landscape is fertile with garner strong support – needed assistance for parents, but proposals that garner strong majority support among both the with safeguards to ensure this money is not just a handout that overall electorate and centrists. Indeed, every one of the proposals discourages working. tested had majority support and seven of them have the support of at least two-thirds of the electorate. Politically viable policy solutions on GOP in DEM in issues ranging from better Issue handling Congress Congress coverage for mental health services to tax reform are Immigration 49% 43% available. They just need bold and courageous politicians The economy 48% 42% willing to work on them. In addition, the The cost of living 48% 42% expanded child tax credit tested well. After a brief Jobs 47% 43% description about the $300 per month per child benefit, a Inflation 47% 40% majority of voters (54%) and Education 40% 48% a majority of centrists (58%) support these payments. Dealing with COVID-19 35% 48% This level of support is remarkable given that only twenty-nine percent (29%)
RIPON FORUM December 2021
Throughout this data, we found that despite a political environment in which voters are clearly frustrated and concerned, there are a variety of ways political leaders at all levels could be the type of deal making leaders that most voters want. Most of the popular solutions in this study are not from either ideological extreme. Instead, they are reasonable solutions to challenging issues like treating mental health, limiting pollution, reducing the meddling power of the federal government, limiting health care costs, and providing a budget friendly solution for paid parental leave. Voters are ready for solutions and they are clearly frustrated by the lack of achievements by the Biden administration and
the Democratic controlled Congress. This frustration provides a strategic opening for Republican candidates across the country. However, these GOP candidates cannot simply be against Biden and his Congressional allies. These GOP candidates need to be for solutions, particularly well-received ones. It is not enough to be the party of “no”; Republicans need to be the party that can pivot the country to pursuing popular solutions that benefit so many. Wins will need to be earned by offering better solutions. RF Ed Goeas is President & CEO and Brian Nienaber is a Vice President at The Tarrance Group.
CHART 4 Approve (All voters)
Providing incentives for health insurance companies and employers to provide more benefits and services for mental health programs.
Promoting private sector programs that lower emissions and lower the cost of energy.
Reducing burdensome regulations on businesses in order to promote job growth.
Reforming federal spending by creating an independent committee of experts to eliminate federal programs that are no longer needed.
Providing federal funding so every child can attend preschool for free.
Reforming health insurance by ending surprise billing, a practice where a patient is billed an out of network rate even though they get treatment at a facility in their network.
Reforming the tax code to make certain wealthy individuals and corporations pay more in taxes.
Allowing parents to receive Social Security benefits early so they can take up to four weeks paid leave after they have a child.
Experiment with a performance-based funding model in K-12 education, rewarding schools for producing successful graduates.
RIPON FORUM December 2021
Ranked Choice Voting is a Growing Success Story that Provides Voters with a Greater Voice by GARY BARTLETT Elections in 2021 accentuated the growing implementation of ranked choice voting. popularity and success of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), One of the first goals we undertook was to establish which allows voters to rank their preferences among a relationship with voting equipment manufacturers candidates rather than being restricted to selecting just and vendors. Their voting systems lacked basic RCV one. tabulation capability and had limited ballot layout The success story began with New York City’s RCV options. The market was very limited, and most vendors Primary Elections, along with 32 cities in seven states felt they could not justify the cost of developing these which used RCV in November. It capabilities. Without tabulation also included the passage of three capability, however, the market city ballot measures to adopt RCV could not develop so we took on elections for the future. There are this challenge. additional success stories in other Tabulating RCV results jurisdictions for elections in 2022 to determine winners and and 2024. The bottom line is that visualization of results was a Ranked Choice Voting is a viable labor and time intensive process. voting method and has benefits To accomplish this, we received over a winner-take-all voting volunteer help from a group of method. excellent software developers who The Ranked Choice Voting produced two useful tools - RCTab Resource Center is a 501(c) and RCVis. RCTab uses cast (3) non-profit specializing in vote records (an electronic record education, training, and research of each ballot) to tally roundGary Bartlett of RCV for election officials, by-round results until there is a policymakers, candidates, voters, winner. RCVis is a visualizer to other stakeholders, and the general display election results. Both were public. Our website contains a With multiple used by numerous jurisdictions in wealth of information, including 2021 RCV elections. candidates, RCV a model implementation plan, all Another groundbreaking provides common laws pertaining to RCV, RCV Maps effort by two staff members is the detailing every state’s readiness ground where voters work during the last five years to administer RCV elections, with NIST’s Voluntary Voting can agree if their first a collection of best practices, Systems Guidelines (VVSG) choice does not win podcasts, webinars, and a library of Voting Methods Working Group. helpful RCV materials. but a subsequent vote The Group has identified RCV From our beginning to standards for voting equipment goes to a winning present, a majority of our staff vendors, and for Legislators and candidate. have a connection to RCV election stakeholders who need to know administration at the local and there are defined standards for state levels. In addition, we have former educators and developing RCV procedures. Staff is drafting a report legislative assistants. In developing a solid foundation, of their work and its importance to be issued in early we concentrated on infrastructure needs. We pride 2022. ourselves in helping policy makers and election With assistance from the Center For Civic Design, administrators to facilitate the smooth adoption and (cont’d on page 24) 22
RIPON FORUM December 2021
Ranked Choice Voting Complicates the Voting Process and Distorts the Final Vote by NICK MURRAY Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), also known as Instant- ballots among electorates with more elderly and nonRunoff Voting (IRV), is often portrayed as a fresh, college-educated voters. new way to engage disaffected voters and reinvigorate Often because of high rates of exhausted ballots, American democracy. While birthed from a real concern, more than six-in-ten RCV winners do not earn a majority its proponents’ lofty claims do not match real-world results. of votes cast. Some say this can be solved through voter RCV allows voters to rank multiple candidates rather education, but McCarty saw higher rates of exhausted than supporting just one. If no candidate reaches more than ballots even among electorates with more experience with 50 percent in the first count, those who cannot win are RCV elections. eliminated and their supporters’ votes Under RCV, not only must voters redistributed to successive choices. This understand the issues and candidates on process repeats for last place candidates their ballots, but they must strategically in each round until one has a majority of plot their choices to maximize their the remaining votes. effect on the outcome. By declining Some communities across the U.S. to rank every candidate or choosing to such as San Francisco, Minneapolis, and vote for less-widely popular third-party Portland, Maine have long experience candidates, their ballots are unwillingly with RCV. Other jurisdictions like, diluted. Pierce County, Washington and Aspen, In this way, RCV has its own Colorado, repealed it after just a short “spoiler effect,” similar to the way in time. Proponents claim that RCV which today’s third-party voters must guarantees the winner has majority succumb when asked to choose one of support, but data show this often happens the two major party candidates to avoid because RCV tabulation distorts the final “throwing away a vote.” It is certainly Nick Murray vote count. no better in this regard. Less than one percent of mailed The story of Burlington, Vermont ballots are rejected in the average U.S. highlights another crucial flaw. In 2009, Proponents election, but a 2019 Maine Policy a three-way RCV race for mayor pitted claim that RCV Institute analysis of nearly 100 RCV Progressive Bob Kiss against Democrat races found that, on average, “exhausted Andy Montroll and Republican Kurt guarantees the ballots” made up more than 10-times Kiss won the election, but could winner has major- Wright. that amount. For those not familiar with have lost if more Wright voters ranked ity support, but the term, exhausted ballots occur when Kiss first. This would have sent Montroll a voter does not rank one of the two to second place in the first round, giving data shows that final-round candidates, and their ballot is enough votes from Wright in the this often happens him removed from the final tally. second round to defeat Kiss. Montroll because it distorts lost, even though he was the “middleIn other words, these voters cast legible ballots, but were ultimately of-the-road” candidate preferred over all the final vote. excluded when determining the others head-to-head. Counterintuitively, “majority winner.” voters who ranked Wright first and A report by Princeton professor Nolan McCarty Montroll second would have been better off not voting at submitted to the U.S. District Court in Maine found that, in all. 15 of 98 races studied, more than 20 percent of ballots were The following year, 52 percent of Burlington voters, exhausted. McCarty also found higher rates of exhausted (cont’d on next page) RIPON FORUM December 2021
and confusing to voters than the status quo, which is (Murray, cont’d) among the most progressive local electorates in the country, reflected in the level of exhausted ballots and disaffected voted to repeal RCV. voting blocs. Conservatives and libertarians should also be skeptical This critique should not be read as an absolutist defense of RCV because it requires centralized vote counting. of plurality voting. Systems like approval voting — which Decentralized, local-level is simpler than RCV reporting is an important and does not require part of American election voters to either endorse a Conservatives and libertarians integrity. But in rural candidate they don’t like should also be skeptical of RCV RCV states like Maine and or risk being removed because it requires centralized Alaska, the secretary of from the final count — state contracts with private may indeed serve us vote counting. couriers to transport hard better in the long run. drives of ranked ballot data Whichever voting to a centralized location system is used, it should in order to be tabulated by RCV software. This opens up meet some basic criteria – including making sure that the vote counting process to greater risks of fraud and casting a ballot is as easy as possible, and that every voter mismanagement. is assured that his or her vote will count equally toward the Indeed, these are among the reasons why Massachusetts result. voters, especially those in working-class areas outside the Unfortunately, Ranked Choice Voting fails even these elite bubble of greater Boston, rejected RCV in November simple tests. RF 2020. Despite out-spending the opposition nearly 3,000-to1, RCV proponents ultimately lost by 10 points. Nick Murray is policy analyst with the Maine Policy One thing is certain: RCV is inherently more complex Institute.
(Bartlett, cont’d) Who benefits the most from RCV? The voter RCV usability studies have been conducted researching and democracy! Jurisdictions which have primaries, voter preferences and feedback including ballot styles, elections, and run-offs see participation dwindle layout, and instructions. Additional studies include and added expense. With multiple candidates, RCV UOCAVA (Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee provides common ground where voters can agree if their first choice does not win but a subsequent vote goes Voting Act) voters and voters with disabilities. One high level finding is that voters successfully to a winning candidate. More voters have a voice in ranked six or more choices without confusion or voter who wins, and winning candidates have a broader base of voter support when fatigue. Also, most they begin serving and ballot styles appear to governing. work when simple, clear More voters have a voice in who While there is voting instructions wins, and winning candidates have no perfect voting were provided. And a broader base of voter support method, RCV while ranking is not a offers documented problem, understanding when they begin serving and advantages over single round-by-round governing. choice voting. The tabulation until there Ranked Choice Voting is a winner needs Resource Center is explaining. Voters responded well to a one-page fact sheet explaining working hard to make RCV the best experience for ranking and round-by-round tabulation. Due to the voters and those who govern to the benefit of our time, distance, and ballot access issues with UOCAVA democracy. RF voters, RCV offers promising improvements for voting by UOCAVA voters, especially where primaries and Gary Bartlett serves as Executive Director of the runoffs are employed. Voters with disabilities did Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center. He previously extremely well with few issues. Their experience was served as Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Elections for 20 years. similar to those who do not have a known disability. 24
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JUDY VAN REST
September 17, 1946 - November 24, 2021
Washington is filled with quiet leaders who believe “Judy was an inspiration to everyone in the IRI in the promise of America and dedicate their lives to family and a powerful voice for those struggling to live making our country and our world a better place to live. a life of dignity free from political oppression,” IRI’s Judy Van Rest, who served as a member of The Ripon President, Daniel Twining, said in a statement released Forum’s Editorial Board for 11 years and passed away shortly after her death. “Her lifelong dedication to last month, was one of those leaders. democratic progress and women’s empowerment will Born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas and continue to resonate around the world. Judy’s passion a graduate of the William Allen White School of for equipping and empowering women to participate Journalism at the University of Kansas, Judy moved to in the civic and political life of their countries was our nation’s capital in 1976, where she began a life-long an animating force throughout her career. She was career in politics and public service. Her resume as a a champion of liberty for all people, and she will be public servant was as impressive as they come. missed.” In the early 1980s, In addition to Judy served in the Reagan working at IRI, Judy White House, working was a member of the as Deputy to the Special Women’s Initiative Policy Assistant to the President Advisory Council at the for Intergovernmental George W. Bush Institute. Affairs. From 1989 She also served on the through 1992, she served boards of the Women’s as Chief of Staff in the Campaign School at Yale U.S. Office of Personnel University and the United Management. She would States Institute of Peace. later hold management From 2003 to 2004, she positions at the U.S. served as Senior Advisor Agency for International for Governance and Development (USAID), Director of the Office of Judy Van Rest the Smithsonian Democratic Initiatives for Institution, and the the Coalition Provisional Republican National Committee. Authority in Baghdad, Iraq. In the early 2000s, In 2004, Judy was appointed Executive Vice Judy served as Regional Director for Europe, the President of the International Republican Institute. It Mediterranean, and Asia at the Peace Corps. was at IRI that her reputation as a defender of freedom Her efforts over the years won her respect and and champion of women’s rights really took off. admiration on both sides of the political aisle. Under her stewardship, IRI became a global leader “Judy was a true public servant who dedicated in promoting good governance, the empowerment of her life to creating a more just, free, and democratic women and youth, political party strengthening, and world,” stated Republican Senator Dan Sullivan (AK), free and fair elections. who serves as Chairman of the IRI Board. “Her work In 2006, Judy founded IRI’s Women’s Democracy will live on, particularly in helping women around the Network, which has worked with thousands of women world achieve a greater participation in the political in 80 countries — empowering them to participate in process and civil society. Julie and I are deeply the political process and equipping them with the skills saddened and extend our condolences to Judy’s family to assume leadership roles. Judy also oversaw IRI’s and friends, the IRI team, and the literally thousands Freedom Award Celebration, which honors individuals of people at home and abroad who she positively who have made extraordinary contributions to the cause impacted.” of liberty, often under the most difficult circumstances. Democratic Congressman David Price (NC-4), 26
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who serves as Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership, struck a similar note. “Judy’s time at IRI was marked by a strong dedication to promoting democracy and good governance worldwide, which contributed greatly to the collaboration between HDP and IRI over the past fifteen years,” Price said in a statement. “I remember fondly running into Judy in Kyrgyzstan as we were both preparing to meet with new Members of Parliament. The development community has a lost a dear friend today, and we extend our condolences and best wishes to Judy’s family and colleagues.” Members of the international community took to social media to mark Judy’s passing. “When a mentor believes in you, hold on to him/her tightly,” the Women’s Democracy Network in Uganda (@WDNUganda) tweeted. “Ms. Judy Van Rest the founder of @wdn believed in women & their abilities to transform the world. We will honor Ms. Judy’s vision for @wdn by even being more resolute in our work towards creating a fair society for all.” The Women’s Democracy Network in Albania (@
WdnAlbania) echoed this sentiment. “A true role model Judy Van Rest passed away losing the only battle that challenged her forces,” the group said in a tweet. “She has been a champion for democracy and governance work around the world, and especially @wdn. We will continue to build her legacy through our work.” Judy’s loss will also be felt at The Ripon Forum. “At every editorial board meeting, Judy brought her vibrant, welcoming personality, thoughtful commentary, and most importantly, her positive outlook on life. No issue, in her mind, was too tough to tackle,” said Jim Conzelman, President and CEO of The Ripon Society. The Forum’s Editor, Lou Zickar, agreed. “Her insights and observations about the world — and about America’s vital role as the leader of the free world — have helped shape the editorial focus and direction of our pages for over a decade,” he stated. “We will miss her sage advice and counsel moving forward. More than anything, though, we will remain forever grateful that we had the opportunity to call her a colleague and a friend.” RF
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Name: Jaime Herrera Beutler Occupation: Congresswoman representing Washington’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Favorite holiday tradition: In Southwest Washington, we have a great local small business that offers a “cut-your-own Christmas tree” experience. I love taking my kids there and seeing them run around to pick out the family Christmas tree. Those are memories my husband and I and my kids will always remember and cherish. Individual(s) who inspired you as a child: Abigail Adams. I named my first-born daughter after her. Issue facing America that is not getting enough attention: Maternity-related health care, and the lack thereof. Each year, around four million women give birth in the United States. But even though the U.S. spends significantly MORE on childbirth than any other industrialized nation, we continue to rank far behind almost all other developed countries in healthy births. Between 700-900 women die each year in our country from pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths. As a mom of three young kids, I’m very familiar with the services and information available to pregnant moms, and my goal is to use this experience and translate it into real, tangible solutions to improve birth outcomes. It’s part of the reason why I co-founded the bipartisan Maternity Care Caucus – the first of its kind in Congress. As co-chair of the Maternity Care Caucus, we’ve achieved several successes, including passing landmark legislation in Congress – the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act – which was signed into law in 2018 to help reverse this crisis. Challenge facing your District that you are working hard to address: My top priority in Congress has always been to grow the economy and help create good-paying, family-wage jobs. I’ve never taken my eye off of that goal. Each year I host a “Jobs Fair” in my district, where we work to match folks who are looking for jobs with hiring employers. I will never forget my first Jobs Fair back in 2011 – the line to get into the fair was out the door, around the building, and down the block. Back then, many of the counties in my district were dealing with double-digit unemployment – people were struggling to find work. Since then, I’ve worked in Congress to give the tools workers and small businesses need to survive and thrive. 28
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