The New York Times has the big Senate story Thursday on Democrats’ plan to make the midterm electorate more friendly. It’s also another signal to allies about why the party needs help on TV.
— The DSCC will run a $60 million field operation, using a staff of thousands to find, register, and turn out eligible but irregular voters in 10 states. If this was easy, it wouldn’t be interesting, but it might be the best path forward for Dems. The voters are out there: It took over 2 million voters to win North Carolina in the 2008 and 2012 elections, but Sen. Richard Burr (R) won in a relative landslide with fewer than 1.5 million votes in 2010.
— The “Rising American Electorate” on which Democrats rely so heavily (minorities, young people and unmarried women) turns out in droves in presidential years and grows each time, but it lags 10 years behind in midterms: RAE turnout in the 2010 midterms basically matched its 2000 presidential turnout. This turnout project is Democrats’ attempt to build a time machine for the midterms.
— Don’t miss an important subtext in the NYT, where Senate Dem strategists again not-so-subtly call for help in the TV war. AFP has already spent $27 million, most of it against Democratic senators, and the media has been full of appeals for big Democratic donors to step up. DSCC director Guy Cecil saying he’s “not willing to sacrifice the turnout operation” looks like another nudge for help on the airwaves.
The early TV battle right now is catching eyes now, but field programs will play a critical role later. Democrats will hope they have money behind both.
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"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."
Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, "said on Wednesday she's open to using a subpoena to investigate President Donald Trump's tax returns for potential connections to Russia." She said the committee is also open to subpoenaing Trump himself. "This is a counter-intelligence operation in many ways," she said of Russia's interference. "That's what our committee specializes in. We are used to probing in depth in this area."
"Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months." Meanwhile, NPR has launched a "Trump Ethics Monitor" to track the resolution of ten ethics-related promises that the president has made.