2020 Election trends with Republican political consultant Luke Thompson

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Ryan Morfin:
Welcome to Non-Beta Alpha. I’m Ryan Morfin. On today’s episode, we have Luke Thompson, a Republican political consultant, talking to us about the trends for the 2020 election. This is Non-Beta Alpha.
Ryan Morfin:
Luke, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on. I really would love to get your thoughts on the Supreme Court nomination for Amy Coney Barrett. But before we get into that, you’re a political consultant. What are some of the 2020 election trends that are keeping you up at night?
Luke Thompson:
What’s keeping me up at night right now is just sort of the nuts and bolts of campaigning. Getting through approvals, making sure the lawyers sign off on everything and … I come out of the data management side of politics too, and I still do some of that as part of my general consultancy practice. And that means that there’s just a lot of moving items from A to B. Fortunately, it’s all digital now, and a lot of it is done remote, so COVID has not been a huge … hasn’t done a lot to hamper the way we do business.
Luke Thompson:
It has done a lot on the sort of campaign trail where candidates are going out, meeting with voters, shaking hands at the door. And then also on fundraising. Holding fundraising events has been pretty challenging and events, in general, have been attenuated. So campaigns have had to learn a lot about how to do that, how to fundraise over Zoom, how to do what we’re doing now, remotely. But in terms of the getting dollars turned into ads, turned into votes, hopefully, not a whole lot has changed.
Luke Thompson:
In terms of the political trends [crosstalk 00:02:06] … sorry, [inaudible 00:02:04]. In terms of the political trends, sorry, that are keeping me up, which is what you actually asked about and I forgot to answer. When you’re working … when your party has the presidency, the bottom line is, you want low unemployment and, if you can’t have low unemployment, you want unemployment to be dropping. You want things trending your way. And so the big picture trend that I’m really focused on is every sort of … every time the federal government releases some new numbers on consumer confidence, unemployment numbers, non auto durable goods purchases, those sorts of things, those are the tea leaves that we’re trying to read to figure out where the national mood is going to be.
Luke Thompson:
Obviously a lot of the polling around whether people think that the country is on the wrong … is on the right track versus on the wrong track, it looks pretty dire right now. But COVID is a unique challenge because it’s a genuine exogenous shock to the economy and that means that some of what we would normally predict about the way the state of the economy affects an election may not apply. That means, to some extent, we really are on a high wire without a net here because we just … we do not know what’s going to happen and every election is unique, but this one certainly has some degrees of distinctiveness that we don’t usually see.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, and you mentioned that COVID hasn’t really impacted we’ll call the mechanics of running a campaign, but how has it impacted grassroots? And the president just got diagnosed and is now out of the hospital. How has that impacted the kissing babies and shaking hands of a political season?
Luke Thompson:
Tons. Tons. It’s the bread and butter of politics, especially at the US House level and below, is being present so that voters can meet you. They can sort of make a face-to-face assessment of you. And it’s not that you think you’re going to meet all the voters, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of degrees of removal from a face to face contact with a large number of people to cover most of the voters in your district. And so you want to be out there having events, getting … meeting people, getting seen, showing the flag, so to speak. And this has just made that impossible.
Luke Thompson:
I think it’s probably helped younger candidates a bit. I have a client I won’t name, who’s a younger candidate challenging an older incumbent. And I think it’s benefited the younger candidate because, just put bluntly, the younger candidates always have more energy, but they also have … I think they can manage risks with a greater degree of latitude. No one wants to be reckless and certainly the average age of the electorate is far different from the average age of the population overall. So you also don’t want to be endangering your voters, but yeah, from the standpoint of running a campaign, it’s really hard to have phone banks now. It’s really hard to have a victory office. It’s hard to go door to door because you don’t always know if people are going to be … how they’re going to receive having a knock on the door.
Luke Thompson:
Fortunately, technology is at a place that you can do a lot through phones, through texts, through one-to-one communication. I’m not talking about the mass blasts that you get from people all the time, but person to person communication has been enabled by technology so the campaigns have had to adapt. They haven’t had to just stop. But yeah, it’s been a challenge, for sure.
Ryan Morfin:
And as we kind of go into this season, have you seen a huge … the media is talking about a huge uptick in early voting. Do you think that is actually playing out? And then, secondly, do you think that we’ll know on election day, or shortly thereafter, who won the 2020 election?
Luke Thompson:
Sure. So we know it’s happening. One of the largest county … some of the largest counties in Iowa have seen about two times the number of early votes they usually have. Florida is seeing a lot of early votes. North Carolina is seeing a lot of early votes. There’s some interesting trends in that. Not everyone is voting early at accelerated rates. Democrats are voting early much more than Republicans in states where we have party registration, but it’s not all Democrats. It tends to be in … I’m painting in broad strokes here, but your white, higher earning, liberal voters are voting early. That may mean that they’re cannibalizing election day turnout rather than generating new votes. But, look, a vote early is a better vote because everybody only gets one and it removes a lot of uncertainty.
Luke Thompson:
In terms of your second question, whether we’re going to know who won, I wrote a piece for the Spectator USA that I recommend everybody check out. I’m trying to allay some of the fears people have around this issue. There are two parts to early voting. So I’m going to set aside early in-person voting where you show up to the courthouse in the cast your ballot. That’s very simple. It goes in a ballot box, gets tabulated on election night, sometimes it even gets tabulated ahead of time in a lot of states. But, that stuff, not a problem. The real issue is going to be mail-in votes. And we are seeing a lot of mail-in votes.
Luke Thompson:
Now mail votes have two parts to them and this is what makes them a bit of a logistical challenge from a time standpoint. You have to first go through the validation process which is to say, “Can we confirm that the person who mailed this vote is in is the voter that it’s supposed to be tied to?” That usually means a signature match process. So you compare the signature on the affidavit that every voter has to sign on the mail ballot to the signature you have on file. If they match, then you have to take it out of the envelope, flatten it out and run it through a machine to tabulate it. That second part, tabulation, again, doesn’t take a lot of time, but signature validation does take a lot of time.
Luke Thompson:
Here’s the bad news up front. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have very short validation windows. So in Michigan, for instance … now the legislatures and the secretaries of state are trying to change to accommodate this. And, actually, Iowa has a short window too. They don’t start validating until the election or right before. Right? So, that means that they’re going to have these pallets of votes that they’re going to have to start doing signature match on sometimes when the polls open on election day. Those states could come in late, but other states are already counting votes. Colorado is already counting votes. Arizona’s already counting votes. Well, they’re not already but they will be very soon. Right?
Luke Thompson:
They will be counting two and three weeks before election day. Some states will be validating and tabulating over the weekend or a week before election day. North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Arizona. These states are not going to see significant delays, I don’t think, at least. Obviously there will be some parts of these states that have problems with elections every time. I fully expect Broward County, Florida, will be a mess because it’s always a mess, but it won’t be because of the mail-in ballots.
Luke Thompson:
If we’re going to have a delay in the election, it’s going to be because, one, the election is extremely close. If the election is extremely close, though, it’s going to be delayed anyway because the lawyers are going to start litigating like crazy, regardless of the fact that there’s a huge spike in mail-in ballots. What’s more likely to happen is we get a pretty good sense of who won on election night based on the ratios out of states like Ohio, which does a really good job with early in-mail voting, Florida and North Carolina, and we’re able to extrapolate from that based on geography, based on history, what’s likely happening in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, where we’re also going to get election day returns and be able to extrapolate from those.
Luke Thompson:
So for instance, if the election day returns, in terms of the overall number of Republican votes cast in a Republican county is way off, if it’s way short, or if it’s much larger than normal, right, then we’ll be able to say, “Oh, okay. We know what’s going on here. We have high Republican turnout or low Republican turnout.” We’re also probably going to get top line numbers, very quickly, for how many votes were cast in precincts, even as they haven’t validated and tabulated them, and those rough numbers will also give us a sense. Right? If we see through the roof ballots coming in in heavily Democratic precincts or heavily Republican precincts, even if we don’t know what the final numbers are, we can start to make informed extrapolation.
Luke Thompson:
So the short version of this answer is, we will either know on election night or the wee hours of Wednesday morning or, if we don’t know, it’s because it’s close in a lot of places and we wouldn’t know anyway. We’d be looking at like a Bush v. Gore type situation. So it could go either way. I would just remind everyone that, look, last year at this time, it didn’t … we knew late in the night, but we knew that Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton. Now we didn’t have these high numbers of mail ballots, but we were able to make informed extrapolations based on the returns we had. And even before all the votes were counted, we knew the outcome. Yes, I think it may take a day or two, but I don’t think we’re looking at the kind of constitutional crisis with people in the streets that you’re hearing a lot about.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, and so that leads us to the question about ACB. Do you think that Mitch McConnell has what it takes to get her nomination passed in the Senate prior to election?
Luke Thompson:
Well, certainly, I don’t know that the final vote for confirmation will happen before election day, but if anyone can do it, Mitch McConnell certainly can. Right now there’s a challenge, which is several judiciary committee members have been … have tested positive for coronavirus. They tested positive early enough that they should be able to … it shouldn’t affect them voting. And the Senate has already done remote hearings so, from a hearing standpoint, it shouldn’t be a huge problem. Right? We all got to meet Lamar Alexander’s dog during a Senate hearing this summer because he intervened in a Senate hearing.
Luke Thompson:
So it’s important to break out the hearing part of this from the vote part of this. I don’t know when the vote will happen, whether it happens before election day or after election day, I don’t actually think it matters in the final analysis. I believe that Amy Coney Barrett will get confirmed but, in terms of the logistics of the hearings, it will be a challenge. They may have to be done remote or partially remote. We may even have to have senators showing up in hazmat suits to cast their votes if the virus is still running around the Capitol. But, no, I don’t think that this will change whether or not she gets confirmed, and I believe she will.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, and do the … The Dems are talking that they don’t think this is a legitimate process to go through, but a little history fact, wasn’t it the Dems that changed the filibuster and then put this in place and now that we have the situation playing out?
Luke Thompson:
Well, there’s been a lot of tit for tat on judicial politics since the … well, I mean, you can date it back to the Bork hearings or back to the George W. Bush Administration, but there’s been an escalating partisan tit for tat on judicial hearings. What you’re referring to is Harry Reid’s decision to go nuclear on the filibuster, I believe in 2013, to … on lower court federal judges. And what that did was it, for all courts except for the Supreme Court, it meant that judges only needed a simple majority and you couldn’t filibuster those appointments, and it got rid of the filibuster for executive branch appointments as well. It actually held the Supreme Court out as the only place where filibuster is still applied.
Luke Thompson:
When Neil Gorsuch was nominated at the beginning of the Trump presidency, Gorsuch was an exemplary candidate, had great hearings and Democrats decide to filibuster him anyway and, at that point, Mitch McConnell exercised the nuclear option on the Supreme Court, which was the only sort of appointment area where it remained. But, in general, if you look at the broader Trump legacy with the judiciary beyond just the Supreme Court, if you look at the remaking of the Federal Bench where Donald Trump will have appointed and the Senate would have confirmed something like a quarter to two thirds or, sorry, a third to … a quarter to a third of the federal judges on the Bench in four years, that was entirely a by-product of Harry Reid’s decision to eliminate the filibuster on judicial appointments.
Ryan Morfin:
That’s a fascinating history. Well, so question on the polls, as it relates to 2016, the missing the mark perhaps. Are the pollsters in the industry, are they at risk of doing that again or was that an aberration and they fixed the models going into 2020?
Luke Thompson:
It’s definitely a risk. So if you look at 2016 and you also look at 2018, we did see systematic correlated bias across the polls in certain regions, especially in the Upper Midwest. In 2018, the bias in the polls towards Democrats was about half what it was in 2016. That was largely a by-product of pollsters taking into account education as a salient variable in predicting vote choice, especially among white voters. Although also, I think, Latino voters. It will be very important if you look at states like Nevada, where you have a large Latino electorate that … where you see some real splits in … by education. I would point out that, in 16, the national polls were accurate. They got it right. They predicted Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by about three and a half points. She won it by about, what, two and a half points.
Luke Thompson:
And so it’s not all polls were bad in 16, but polling in the Upper Midwest miss pretty badly, and in 18 it missed as well, and it missed in a systematic way. So yes, it is possible that they are under counting Republicans, but pollsters are always trying to change with technology, with underlying demographic shifts, and with emerging categories of salience in terms of demographics. So I think that they will do as good a job as humanly possible, at least on the … I am not going to say anything about the media, the public polls, but the private pollsters are working very hard to get things right and I think they’re doing a better job.
Ryan Morfin:
Guys like Frank Luntz and that whole lot, are they still making phone calls? Because I don’t recognize the phone number, I never pick it up. I barely make … people making inbound sales calls barely reach me. Is that still the method of choice from a polling company standpoint?
Luke Thompson:
No. I think that one of the biggest revolutions is that there is no method of choice now. The method of choice is mixed method and there are statistical challenges that are presented by using mixed method polling. For one thing you don’t have randomness as the sort of benchmark. Right? In the old days, in the high glory days of polling, you could basically say, “Well, every voter has a landline so if we call a certain number of people at random, we can assume that the laws of probability are more or less correct.” Over time, we had demographic changes where some groups use cell phones and didn’t have landlines, especially younger voters, especially voters on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.
Luke Thompson:
Where we’ve seen change now is that most pollsters have moved to a non-probability sampling approach. That can mean a combination of random digit dials on landlines still, sometimes automated machines, sometimes human beings. You can have live calls done to cell phones. Text polling is increasingly popular and that’s actually a reasonable part of my business is we provide sample to polling companies. Typically, you text someone a link and say, “Please participate in this poll on our civic leaders.” And then also email polling, where you send people emails. Either you have emails matched to a voter file, or you build a panel of respondents over time. And now pollsters are mixing and matching from all of these different modes of communication.
Ryan Morfin:
And the … we’ll call it the data wars. Right? Some campaigns say, “Hey, we got 3000 variables in each election … I’m sorry, for each voter in the election.” I mean, the data sets that exist from social media and from Equifax, is that an accurate statement that they really do have this much data per voter, or is that kind of hyperbole and not everybody has the access to the kind of the data vaults?
Luke Thompson:
Well, it’s trivially true. I would put it this way. If nothing comes from the last four years other than the nuclear irradiation of data guruism in politics, I will be a perfectly happy person. There are … So at a baseline level, every well-funded campaign has the same data and the same math, so to speak, the same equations, the day that the campaign begins. Right? You have the voter file. You have the commercial file. You have your national party database, et cetera. What changes, and where data still matters a lot in campaigns, is what you do with the data you collect. Your first party data. The data that your volunteers are collecting, historically, at the doors. People signing up on your website. Responses you’re getting to text message campaigns, donation information, phones, et cetera.
Luke Thompson:
Well-disciplined campaigns that are collecting, collating and analyzing that data, and integrating it into the background data sets that everybody has, they can actually glean unique insights, but both national operations are really pushing very hard on these things. They’re collecting tons of information. I do think an incumbent president has some advantages because you’ve had four years of collection. So you have some longitudinal data that the other side doesn’t have. Nonetheless, on the whole, I would say that the myth of data guruism is mostly wrong, but that the power of data discipline is probably underrated in politics.
Ryan Morfin:
Data discipline. I like that. So you’re also the co-founder of Envoi. Can you tell us a little bit about that political technology company?
Luke Thompson:
Sure. So Envoi, E-N-V-O-I, is responsible for some of the irritating political text messages that you get. Under American federal law you cannot send a text message, from a company or a private organization or a nonprofit, to someone who has not opted in, using a machine. You can only use automated texts, that is to say, you upload a list, you send it to the carriers, the carriers distribute it to their numbers if someone has opted in. But there is an exception for nonprofits. This was originally carved out by the unions many, many years ago, and they were the first organizations to exploit what’s called peer to peer text messaging.
Luke Thompson:
What peer to peer texting is, is an individual has to click a button to send every single text. What Envoi does is we’ve built a web interface that allows our senders, who are remote, we use college students, to click and send messages to targeted voters. Sometimes they’re donation solicitations. Sometimes we send out news articles telling people, “Hey, you really need to read this.” Sometimes they’re get-out-to vote reminders. It just depends on the environment. And as I mentioned earlier, about with political polling companies who are working for campaigns and nonprofits, we frequently will send out text solicitations that ask people to participate in polls so that our pollsters can collect a sample. So I apologize for flooding your text inbox, but, hey, we’re just trying to get people to vote.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, and I’m sure my friends have been signing me up for candidates they know I don’t support, but when I text back something pithy towards the other candidate, question for you is, is that a human on the other side or is it AI responding back?
Luke Thompson:
So it depends. That’s the short version of it. We have inbox functionality, which is what we call it, so that a human being receives the texts and replies. And so it looks on our interface, like an iMessage type situation. On automated texts, the A2P, automated to person texting, you don’t have to have a human replying, although someone will read your answers and catalog them. So it will depend.
Luke Thompson:
Campaign lawyers sort of vary on this but, in some jurisdictions, campaign attorneys believe that it’s okay to have an automated response. So if I were to say, do a campaign, sending text messages saying, “Do you support Donald Trump?” And somebody wrote back, “Yes.” We could preprogram a response to say, “Great, you should sign up to volunteer here.” Or, “Do you oppose Senator X?” “Yes.” “Good, call three friends,” or whatever. So sometimes it’s automated but, certainly, at Envoi, we make a point of having someone ready to answer you in your inbox.
Ryan Morfin:
And do you … being an operative in the field, working in this industry, do you feel that there is foreign nation state actors trying to manipulate this information? How do you become aware of that? Or how do you see that, if at all, and how do you combat it?
Luke Thompson:
Sure. So in 2016, I worked for Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise, and we were cognizant that we were a target for some foreign state interference. We saw people trying to hack into things, and we pursued pretty rigorous digital security, and a lot of credit to my old boss, Mike Murphy, for making that a priority. There are really sort of two ways in which you might get foreign or third-party interference. The most pernicious is hacking. They’ll use run-of-the-mill phishing campaigns to try to get people to click on a link. This then gives you access to their email account. But you also had the Russians, in 2016, buying some Facebook ads.
Luke Thompson:
The first kind I think is a problem. Every campaign needs to be aware of it. Campaigns are getting better about it. Many of them are using two factor authentication. They’re taking a lot of communication off of email. They’re introducing 30 day auto delete email programs, which are in compliance with the FEC, but mean that you don’t have a large backlog of email. And all of that serves to make your email a less desirable target for … of both less accessible and less desirable for foreign entities that would like to do harm. On the second front, which is what you hear a lot about, about, “Oh, the Cambridge Analytica and the memes that the Russians bought.” That is … am I allowed to swear on this podcast?
Ryan Morfin:
Abso-fucking-lutely.
Luke Thompson:
Great. It’s bullshit. It’s hot bullshit. It’s stupid, paranoid, conspiracy theory bullshit. If the Russians swung the election with memes, they must’ve done an amazing job of getting corresponding turnout rates among rural, white, non-college educated voters in Upstate New York to match the ones in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. “Whoa, they’re way better than we thought and they left no fingerprints.”
Luke Thompson:
Nobody altered any votes, no voting machines were violated and the stupid memes they bought didn’t make a damn lick of difference. And frankly, the fact that this has become a prevailing paranoia, at least on the Democratic side of the aisle, is largely a by-product of irresponsible leaders saying things they either should know are false or know to be false, but they cared … they prefer to exploit for the sake of drumming up frothy enthusiasm on their base.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, that’s good to hear. It means, in my opinion, that our antiquated voting infrastructure in 50 different states is unhackable.
Luke Thompson:
Well, it is. And part of that is because you have … it’s not just 50 different states. Elections in the United States take place at the county level in almost every state. And so there’s something like 1500 or I’m probably vastly underrating the number of jurisdictions that are responsible for voting. Even if you could physically hack into them, which is impossible in most cases, it would take a miracle of logistical success as well as it would be extremely expensive.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, on this is season two, what we tend to do is ask our guests, we call it the human factor, which is just six quick questions or yes or no, kind of whatever comes to your mind. And here we go. Ready? If there was a COVID vaccine available today, would you take it? Yes or no?
Luke Thompson:
Yeah.
Ryan Morfin:
Who’s going to win the election 2020.
Luke Thompson:
Ooh. That’s a tough one. Based on the national polling right now, unless there’s significant polling error, Joe Biden will win. Yep.
Ryan Morfin:
What type of letter shape recovery, economic recovery, are we in? Is it a V-shape, a W, an L. What are your thoughts?
Luke Thompson:
A K. I thought K was an option too.
Ryan Morfin:
K is a good option.
Luke Thompson:
K is a good option. Okay. I guess I would say K, because we’re seeing a real divergence in terms of sector specific outcomes. What we don’t know is how those different things congeal later on in terms of overall consumer confidence and economic feelings in the broader electorate. Consumer confidence has stayed higher than I thought it would stay.
Luke Thompson:
I think that’s … if you’re on the Trump campaign, you’ve got to look at that and say, “Okay. Yes. We’re seeing certain sectors just get crushed. Tourism. Entertainment. Obviously the restaurant sector is just getting brutalized. On the other hand, we are seeing a lot of other parts of the economy continue to chug along and there are also geographic and demographic variations in terms of who’s getting hit.”
Ryan Morfin:
Anything you achieved this summer during lockdown … this summer that you’re particularly proud of?
Luke Thompson:
Boy. I taught my dog some tricks and I lost some weight. So I’ll settle for that.
Ryan Morfin:
That’s a pretty good summer, in my opinion. Are there any silver linings that you see in the economy for 2020? Oh, back up.
Luke Thompson:
Probably the biggest thing, it wasn’t this summer, but I got married. So, you know.
Ryan Morfin:
Ah, congrats. And you’re still married. Even more congrats.
Luke Thompson:
Well, it’s only been a month and a day. So, you know.
Ryan Morfin:
Hey, count your blessings daily. Are there any silver linings in the US economy for 2021?
Luke Thompson:
Silver linings for 2021? I think that this has been a forced updating of processes for a lot of companies and, being forced to work remotely, has probably exposed where they have a lot of slack in their operations. I also have a sneaking suspicion that remote work, while it has variable outcomes in terms of productivity, may fix a lot of HR problems because people aren’t bumping into each other in the office and performance is much more traceable.
Luke Thompson:
So I think we will see companies come out of this, emerge from it and it will vary widely by sector, a lot smarter about their operations. If I were in the commercial real estate industry, that probably would make me grit my teeth a little bit but I think, for a lot of individual companies, this will have been a shock, forced learning experience that, nonetheless, they’ll take some real beneficial lessons from.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, I tend to agree. Do you think we’re going to see a … this is the part of the human round, but are we going to see a stimulus package come out? You mentioned that earlier.
Luke Thompson:
Yeah. The president tweeted he was not going to sign a stimulus until after the election, earlier today. The market rapidly tanked. It’s unclear to me whether that’s jocking or positioning. Right now you have an administration that wants a deal done. You have a Republican Senate that’s divided roughly evenly between people who just want a deal done and people who think that the deals are too inflated and just out of whack, and you have House Democrats who, frankly, in my view, are cynically holding out on a deal in order to prevent … with their allies in the Senate, in order to prevent a deal getting done and the economy recovering going into the election.
Luke Thompson:
So there are plenty of veto points, but I do think the political pressure is picking up considerably. The one big pressure point is that, if House Democrats continue to stonewall and deal or continue to ask for Christmas tree deal with a bunch of extraneous stuff tacked onto it, they have incumbents who are in swing districts, who would be vulnerable to a generic ballot shift of two or three points against the Democratic Party, and they will start to put serious topside pressure on Nancy Pelosi to move the ball forward.
Luke Thompson:
I suspect the president’s tweet today was an attempt to put down a marker on negotiating. It may backfire and the Democrats may walk away from negotiating for a deal and just let him take the heat for it. Or it could force some people back to the table and we might actually get something done. I wouldn’t bet on a deal right now, but stranger things have happened.
Ryan Morfin:
And is there anything that you’re watching or listening to right now, or reading, that you’re using to make yourself a better professional?
Luke Thompson:
Oh, to make myself better at my job? I’m doing the same thing I always do which is, I like to read a lot of histories of 19th century campaigns. In the 19th century, obviously, the electorate was smaller because large groups of people were wrongly excluded from voting, but the political machines in the 19th century managed to secure really high rates of turnout. And so I try to learn from history and say, “Well, what are the things we can … that they did that we can bring bring back into service.” We can’t have ward bosses paying people off, shaking people down or giving people booze, unfortunately, but there are some-
Ryan Morfin:
Some Peaky blinders. Peaky Blinders.
Luke Thompson:
Yeah. Right? Exactly. So there are a lot of things that you can learn about elections because, as much as they change, there are … there is a great deal of continuity. So, that’s what I try to do to stay sharp.
Ryan Morfin:
Well, the Chicago machine was notorious. Is there a machine that nobody knows about that was just really well run?
Luke Thompson:
Well, there’s a really interesting challenge going on right now in Illinois. The notorious Illinois machine, run by Mike Madigan there, who runs the state legislature in Illinois and really runs the state, is starting to break down. Madigan’s district is near Midway Airport and is one of these, what you would call, heritage Democratic district of what sociologists used to call quaintly, ethnic white voters. Mostly sort of practicing Roman Catholic descendants of Polish, Irish and Italian immigrants.
Luke Thompson:
That area has increasingly gentrified and you have a lot more wealthier white liberals moving into that area, especially south of the sort of core district. And you saw long-term Congressman, Dan Lipinski, lose a primary to Marie Newman who challenged him two years ago, lost, challenged him again, and won. Lipinski was a sort of classic labor Democrat, social conservative, fiscal liberal. And he now lost to Newman who ran essentially on a hard line, socially progressive platform. So it remains to be seen if the Madigan machine, which geographically overlaps Madigan’s district [inaudible 00:33:22] with Illinois three can survive gentrification.
Ryan Morfin:
Fantastic. Well, Luke, thanks for coming on today and talking to us about these trends that … you’re not going to hear a lot of this on the news so we appreciate you giving us some clarity.
Luke Thompson:
Hey, my pleasure. Happy to do it.
Ryan Morfin:
All right, good luck for the rest of the season.
Luke Thompson:
Thanks guys. Have a good one.
Ryan Morfin:
Thanks for watching Non-Beta Alpha. Before we go, please remember to like and subscribe on Apple podcast and on YouTube channel. This is Non-Beta Alpha and, now, you know.
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