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  • Thursday Edition: Losing Democracy?

Thursday Edition: Losing Democracy?

Plus: Americans don't really like politics. Bad news on the debt.

1. Democracy on the Ballot

How much will fears about “losing our democracy” impact the 2024 election? (Puck News)

A new Echelon Insights poll: 56% of likely voters think Donald Trump will try to hold on to power in 2028 if he wins in 2024.

  • 48% believe Trump might try to pick the next president “by means outside of the electoral process.”

New reporting from Axios: Top Democrats are losing faith in President Biden’s reelection strategy, which focuses on Trump’s behavior and democracy, as polls show voters are more concerned about inflation and the economy.

Protecting democracy ranked 5th — behind the economy, inflation, crime and health care — in a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll of voter concerns.

  • While a majority of Americans say the Capitol Riot was an attack on democracy that should never be forgotten and 52% say Trump should have been charged with a crime for his actions on Jan. 6, Trump still holds a slight lead over Biden in national polls.

  • Nor has Trump’s felony hush money conviction last month dinged his support much, if at all.

An eye-popping statistic: Independents view Biden as the bigger threat to democracy, according to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll from May.

  • 53% of independents believe Biden will hurt democracy in a second term.

  • Compare that to just 42% of independents who say the same about Trump.

MSNBC analyst Susan Del Percio responding to the poll: “I can’t make sense of that number. I wish I could.”

Bubba’s Two Cents

Jan. 6, the unique threat Trump poses to democracy, his legal problems — I don’t think any of this stuff is going to move the needle that much when it comes to the election. It’s not that the public doesn’t care at all, but it just seems like these issues are priorities mainly for Americans who are already voting for Biden. The people most turned off by Trump’s Jan. 6 actions? Democrats. Which voters are overwhelmingly likely to approve of the former president’s felony conviction? Democrats. Who is most worried about the future of American democracy? Dems.

2. More Bad News on the Debt Crisis Front

Just when you thought the federal government’s debt and deficits crisis couldn’t get any worse, the Congressional Budget Office has issued new projections on the long-term outlook. (NYT)

The CBO report: The budget deficit for 2024 is expected to be $1.9 trillion, up nearly $400 billion from the CBO’s estimates in February.

  • The national debt is projected to exceed $56 trillion by 2034.

  • Over the next 10 years, the government will run an estimated $22 trillion deficit.

Why are the projections higher than they were a few months ago? New foreign aid packages and the Biden administration’s $100 billion+ student loan debt plan contributed to higher deficits, according to the CBO.

Why this is bad: The debt’s gotten so big a greater and greater share of revenue is going just toward paying off interest.

  • Mandatory spending, already the lion’s share of the budget, is also trending upward, meaning less wiggle room to slash debts and deficits.

Bubba’s Two Cents

Maybe the most worrying thing about all this is that no matter who wins in 2024, it’s not all that clear this problem will get tackled. Trump has at least signaled the issue’s on his radar by vowing to make broad funding cuts to government programs. On the other hand, some of Trump’s recent proposals (like his plan to replace the income tax with tariffs on imports) would likely make things worse.

3. Getting In the Way of Building Stuff

Red tape is thwarting many of the Biden administration’s big ticket initiatives. (The Washington Times)

The latest: President Biden signed off on a $42.5 billion federal program to provide rural Americans with high-speed internet in 2021, but it’s yet to connect a single home or business to a broadband network.

Washington Times national politics correspondent Susan Ferrechio:

Lawmakers and internet companies blame the slow rollout on burdensome requirements for obtaining the funds, including climate change mandates, preferences for hiring union workers and the requirement that eligible companies prioritize the employment of “justice-impacted” people with criminal records to install broadband equipment.

Also: Launched in 2021, the Biden administration’s program to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 has produced just seven so far.

  • Department of Transportation staffers told the Washington Free Beacon construction’s been slowed by the White House's diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

What one senior Department of Transportation official said:

These onerous diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements handcuff professionals from making proper evaluations and prevent the government/public from funding the most deserving projects, instead funneling money towards less qualified applicants.

Related: California’s high speed rail project, which was launched in 2015 and has ballooned to a cost of $128 billion and counting, is still years away from completion.

  • The ambitious plan to build the nation’s first bullet train has been hampered by rising costs, bureaucracy, politics and consultants.

  • This week, GOP lawmakers in Congress penned a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg blasting the Biden administration for allocating “substantial federal taxpayer dollars to this highly questionable endeavor.”

4. Is Politics Making Us Hate Politics?

Americans, generally, aren’t that into politics. (The Ezra Klein Show)

In a new episode of The Ezra Klein Show podcast, University of Michigan professor Yanna Krupnikov discusses the pile of research showing “politically disengaged” voters make up the vast majority of the country.

  • 80-85% of Americans follow politics casually or not at all, while only 15-20% follow it closely.

  • A Pew Research Center poll in September found 65% of Americans frequently feel exhausted thinking about politics; 55% feel angry.


Our research repeatedly pointed us to this really interesting place, which is that people don’t like talking about politics. People don’t like others who talk about politics.

Interest in politics has been on the decline: The share of adults who closely keep up with the news fell from 51% in 2016 to 38% in 2022, according to Pew Research Center.

  • Cable news ratings and traffic to news sites tanked in 2021 after Donald Trump left office.

  • According to ComScore data obtained this week by media reporter Paul Farhi, news sites continue to lose audience.

Bubba’s Two Cents

So at the same time as people are getting more and more turned off by politics, it seems like politics is infiltrating every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s the left inserting politics into business (ESG) or the right putting it into our sports and pop music (the Taylor Swift controversy), it’s getting harder to escape it. Every day another partisan product pops up — from anti-woke beer to uber woke ice cream — and another company declares itself aligned with [insert liberal] or [insert conservative] cause. If you feel like it’s all a bit much, you’re probably not alone.

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