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Politics Briefing: Measuring the economic hit from COVID-19 – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

New data from Statistics Canada suggests how hard the Canadian economy was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the public-health measures intended to stop it: an 11.5-per-cent decline in GDP the second quarter ending June 30.

It’s the largest drop the monitoring agency has ever recorded. But economists say there are reasons for optimism. The drop was less than expected, they said this morning, and the recovery in June – as lockdown measures lifted – was faster than anticipated. What happens if a second wave hits, though, remains to be seen.

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During the same period, the federal government ran up a $120-billion deficit trying to prop up the economy through emergency payments and business supports.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Leslyn Lewis, who emerged as a new voice in the Conservative Party with her strong finish in the leadership race earlier this week, says she might run in a riding out west in the next election. The Toronto lawyer says her home is in Ontario, but she’s been receiving entreaties from Western ridings.

The federal government is looking to hire an executive search firm to help it find diverse candidates for high-ranking positions in the public service.

U.S. President Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for his re-election campaign with a political rally on the front lawn of the White House.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister since 2012, says he is resigning due to health problems.

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And in Lebanon, negotiations will start Monday to select a new prime minister. The country was devastated by a massive explosion at the Beirut port earlier this month, and the cause of the explosion is being blamed on a culture of political corruption. One new figure emerging in the uncertainty is billionaire businessman Bahaa Hariri, son of one former prime minister and brother to another, who had mostly stayed out of politics until now.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on whether we’ll get a fall election: “Unlike the other major opposition parties, the NDP’s strategy is to work with the minority Liberals. Many senior New Democrats think their voters like to hear them talk about making Parliament work, and that their party succeeds when it claims credit for forcing progressive policies on the Liberals. The NDP isn’t flush with cash, so if Mr. Trudeau wants to, he can bargain for its support. He’d have a hard time presenting a big interventionist budget that doesn’t get it.”

Ian Waddell (The Globe and Mail) on how the Liberals and NDP can work together: “A potential road map for Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals and Mr. Singh’s NDP could be found in the 2017 confidence-and-supply agreement between the B.C. Greens and the B.C. NDP. Both parties agreed that they campaigned on some similar points, including making democracy work for people, creating jobs, acting on climate change, building a sustainable economy that works for everyone, fixing the services people count on, and making life more affordable for people. The written agreement established a method of more formal consultation between both caucuses, and even has a dispute resolution process.”

Sean Speer (National Post) on the NDP holding the balance of power: “The choice before the party may be bigger than whether we have a fall election. It strikes at the heart of what the NDP’s identity and purpose is. Is it a political party vying for power or an ideological movement trying to shift the political centre of gravity to the left?”

Dale Smith (The Globe and Mail) on why the old tradition of prorogation ceremonies should come back: “Associating a certain amount of pomp and pageantry with prorogation ensures that there is visibility for the exercise, and would absolutely curb its tactical usage. After all, it would have been hard for Mr. Harper to write a prorogation speech in 2008 about what he had accomplished from his Throne Speech three weeks prior. In 2009, it would have prevented him from simply phoning in a prorogation request to former governor-general Michaëlle Jean, forcing him instead into the visible exercise of him walking up to Rideau Hall to make the request. In this year’s example, it would have compelled Mr. Trudeau to draw attention to his request for prorogation, so he couldn’t simply append the news to his announcement about a cabinet shuffle that same day.”

Sarmishta Subramanian (Maclean’s) on going back to school: “But this isn’t a teachers’ issue. It’s a parents’ issue, a children’s issue, and much more broadly a citizens’ issue. If a poorly conceived back-to-school plan ends up jeopardizing our hard-won gains on COVID, straining health care systems and the economy further, we’ll all be affected.”

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Georgia's political geography: A growing and diverse state gets more competitive – The Washington Post

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Image: (Lauren Tierney/The Washington Post)

Eighth in a series on swing states

When they sifted through the wreckage of the 2016 election, and reckoned with their losses in the Midwest, Democrats were surprised by what they found in Georgia. The state had not voted for a Democratic president since 1992, and it delivered 16 electoral votes for Donald Trump, continuing the pattern.

But something had happened in the suburbs. In defeat, Hillary Clinton had won more raw votes out of Georgia than any Democratic nominee in history, and she had carried the GOP’s longtime stronghold — the fast-growing counties just outside of Atlanta. Nearly half of the state’s votes came from the Atlanta metro region, and the modern GOP has never struggled so much there.

Even in triumph, Republicans began to worry. Once-conservative Cobb County elected a new GOP chair on the promise to “Make Cobb Red Again.” A 2017 special election for a House seat in the county went down to the wire. One year later, Democrats flipped that seat and nearly won another in Atlanta’s suburbs, as Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams lost the closest race for governor in 24 years.

“Democrats, let’s do better,” Abrams wrote in a 2019 memo to party leaders. “Any decision less than full investment in Georgia would amount to strategic malpractice.”

Have Democrats put everything they could into the state since then? Arguably not — but that’s changing. Joe Biden’s cash-flush campaign has bought ads in the state, and Abrams’s group Fair Fight Georgia has registered hundreds of thousands of voters and pumped up requests for absentee ballots. The Trump campaign has not taken the state for granted, with the president dropping into Atlanta last week to roll out his “platinum plan” for Black Americans.


Georgia’s shift from 2012 to 2016

Clinton was the first Democrat since Carter to win Cobb and Gwinnett counties, suburban GOP strongholds.

GOP won

by 250K

Dem. won by

500K votes

Atlanta Suburbs

2016

margin

Black Belt

South Georgia

North Georgia

Statewide 2016 margin

Democrats added to those gains in 2018, but Republicans held the state again with landslide support from north and south of Atlanta.

How Georgia shifted from 2012 to 2016

Clinton was the first Democrat since Carter to win Cobb and Gwinnett counties, suburban GOP strongholds.

GOP won

by 250K

Dem. won by

500K votes

Atlanta Suburbs

2016

margin

Black Belt

South Georgia

North Georgia

Statewide 2016 margin

Democrats added to those gains in 2018, but Republicans held the state again with landslide support from north and south of Atlanta.

How Georgia shifted from 2012 to 2016

Clinton was the first Democrat since Carter to win Cobb and Gwinnett counties, suburban Republican strongholds.

Dem. won by

500K votes

GOP won

by 250K

Atlanta Suburbs

2016

margin

Black Belt

South Georgia

North Georgia

Statewide 2016 margin

Democrats added to those gains in 2018, but Republicans held the state again with landslide support from north and south of Atlanta.

Like the rest of the Deep South, Georgia was dominated by conservative Democrats for more than a century, from the end of Reconstruction to the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Democrats held both houses of Georgia’s legislature until 2002 — then, in a single election, lost both, kicking off a decade of decline. Conservative Democrats below the “Gnat Line,” shorthand for where the state’s Piedmont region ends and its hotter plains begin, bolted the party and never came back.

The math only changed as the electorate got larger and more diverse. In 2004, when Democrats made no effort in the state, 70 percent of all voters were White, according to exit polls. In 2016, the White share of the electorate fell to 60 percent and Democrats won the state’s suburban Cobb and Gwinnett counties, for the first time since Jimmy Carter won the presidency. They added to those gains in 2018, but Republicans held out with landslide support from White voters north and south of Atlanta.

Republicans are slightly more nervous about those suburbs, but in a war of attrition, they have more votes to spare. We’ve split Georgia into six political “states,” starting with Atlanta, where Republicans were struggling before Trump’s presidency and have lost ground since. The Atlanta suburbs, six counties with interstate access to the city, have become the state’s most competitive region. North Georgia, the Piedmont and South Georgia are solidly Republican, and the party may have some more votes to turn out there. The Black Belt, with fewer votes than these other regions, always backs Democrats — but a turnout difference of just 20,000 or 30,000 votes, with rural Black voters being enthusiastic to cast ballots and confident those ballots will count, could swing a close statewide election.

This is the eighth in a series breaking down the key swing states of 2020, showing how electoral trends played out over the past few years and where the shift in votes really mattered. See all 50 states here.

Atlanta

Compared with the state overall, the voting population here …

  • Has a higher share of people living in cities than average.
  • Has more non-White residents than average.
  • Has more college-educated residents than average.
Image: (Lauren Tierney/The Washington Post)
Image: Illustrated map of Arizona.

The “capital of the south” welcomes tens of thousands of new residents every year, and they have only made Atlanta bluer. In 2016, Clinton won more votes in the three core counties of metro Atlanta than any Democrat in history. Donald Trump won fewer votes here than any Republican nominee in 20 years. Months later, he alienated Atlanta’s Black voters further by insulting Rep. John Lewis (D), insisting that the Civil Rights icon’s district was in “horrible shape” and “infested” with crime.

Lewis died this year, and Atlanta continues to get bluer. DeKalb County is one of the few majority-Black places in the country where turnout in 2016 was markedly higher than 2012, and in 2018, Abrams turned out 10,000 more voters than Clinton had — an unheard-of surge from a presidential year to a midterm. Republicans still run strong in the north end of Fulton County, around cities like Roswell — just not as strong as they once did, as those cities have grown more diverse and less conservative.

2016 vote total

Donald Trump

181,710

Hillary Clinton

626,686

2016 vote totals
  • Donald Trump: 181,710
  • Hillary Clinton: 626,686

Counties included: Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton

Atlanta Burbs

Compared with the state overall, the voting population here …

  • Has a higher share of people living in cities than average.
  • Has more non-White residents than average.
  • Has more college-educated residents than average.
Image: (Lauren Tierney/The Washington Post)
Image: Illustrated map of Arizona.

The exurbs of Atlanta were built by segregation and “White flight.” The city’s geographic expansion halted in the 1960s, when such places as Sandy Springs rejected annexation; nearby Marietta became a bulwark of White conservative politics, starting Newt Gingrich on his journey to becoming House speaker.

But a steady stream of immigrants and escapees from other states has turned the region blue, with Cobb County backing Clinton by two points, then supporting Abrams by nine points. A region that gave Mitt Romney a 60,000-vote victory in 2012 gave Clinton a 48,000-vote margin, then went more solidly for Abrams and Democratic candidates, with the party picking up 11 seats in the state legislature largely through gains in these suburbs.

2016 vote total

Donald Trump

404,885

Hillary Clinton

452,450

2016 vote totals
  • Donald Trump: 404,885
  • Hillary Clinton: 452,450

Counties included: Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Rockdale

North Georgia

Compared with the state overall, the voting population here …

  • Has a lower share of people living in cities than average.
  • Has fewer non-White residents than average.
  • Has fewer college-educated residents than average.
Image: (Lauren Tierney/The Washington Post)
Image: Illustrated map of Arizona.

The reddest part of Georgia has also been making the most news lately — conservative activist and conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican nomination to represent the 14th Congressional District, and the party threw up its hands. Every county in the region backed Trump in 2016, with the GOP nominee carrying all but three precincts, in the cities of Dalton and Rome. And Trump added more than 50,000 votes to Romney’s 2012 total, finding White voters without college degrees who had been sitting out elections.

Democrats added some votes, too, because there was not much room to fall. In the past few decades, only Zell Miller, who’d been born in Towns County, was able to win votes here for Democrats. The GOP now clears 80 percent of the vote in most of northwestern and northeastern Georgia, and Gov. Brian Kemp’s 2018 win came after he did what looked unlikely — he made it even redder.

2016 vote total

Donald Trump

549,131

Hillary Clinton

156,310

2016 vote totals
  • Donald Trump: 549,131
  • Hillary Clinton: 156,310

Counties included: Banks, Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Floyd, Forsyth, Franklin, Gilmer, Gordon, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Hart, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, Walker, White, Whitfield

Black Belt

Compared with the state overall, the voting population here …

  • Has an average share of people living in cities.
  • Has more non-White residents than average.
  • Has fewer college-educated residents than average.
Image: (Lauren Tierney/The Washington Post)
Image: Illustrated map of Arizona.

Georgia, as with much of the Deep South, was built on the backs of enslaved Black people, and the legacy of the cotton trade stretches across the middle of the state. Fifteen counties in the region have majority-Black populations and have voted reliably for Democrats even as Whiter counties have shifted toward the GOP. They’re essential to Biden’s chances in the state, but no nominee has maximized turnout here since Barack Obama’s two campaigns.

From 2012 to 2016, the falloff was worth around 25,000 votes. The region’s biggest cities, Augusta, Columbus and Macon, got bluer, while Democratic margins everywhere else slightly declined. Four small counties also flipped from narrowly blue to narrowly red — Dooly, Peach, Quitman, Twiggs — as Black turnout declined, and they stayed red in 2018, even as Democratic turnout grew in urban areas. But like the Black Belt in other parts of the South, the region is slowly losing population, capping the number of new votes either party can win.

2016 vote total

Donald Trump

194,353

Hillary Clinton

235,000

2016 vote totals
  • Donald Trump: 194,353
  • Hillary Clinton: 235,000

Counties included: Baker, Bibb, Burke, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Glascock, Hancock, Houston, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, Marion, McDuffie, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Peach, Quitman, Randolph, Richmond, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taliaferro, Taylor, Terrell, Twiggs, Warren, Washington, Webster, Wilkinson

Piedmont

Compared with the state overall, the voting population here …

  • Has a lower share of people living in cities than average.
  • Has fewer non-White residents than average.
  • Has fewer college-educated residents than average.
Image: (Lauren Tierney/The Washington Post)
Image: Illustrated map of Arizona.

Outside of Atlanta, central Georgia is mostly rural and overwhelmingly Republican, with a few dots of blue. The University of Georgia helped make Athens one of the most liberal parts of the state, if not as liberal (or as vote-rich) as similar college towns in the Midwest and Northeast, and the places closest to Atlanta moved marginally toward the Democrats.

The rest of the region is overwhelmingly White and solidly Republican, with the party gaining strength here in every election since 2010. (Obama’s 2008 bid made a few inroads here, but only in that election.) Across these 30 counties, Trump ran roughly 17,000 votes ahead of Romney; Clinton ran roughly 7,000 votes ahead of Obama. Winning here by a smaller margin, over a candidate who has not inherited all of Clinton’s problems with White working-class voters, could hurt the GOP.

2016 vote total

Donald Trump

399,873

Hillary Clinton

197,567

2016 vote totals
  • Donald Trump: 399,873
  • Hillary Clinton: 197,567

Counties included: Baldwin, Barrow, Butts, Carroll, Clarke, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Fayette, Greene, Harris, Heard, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lincoln, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Pike, Putnam, Spalding, Troup, Upson, Walton, Wilkes

South Georgia

Compared with the state overall, the voting population here …

  • Has a lower share of people living in cities than average.
  • Has fewer non-White residents than average.
  • Has fewer college-educated residents than average.
Image: (Lauren Tierney/The Washington Post)
Image: Illustrated map of Arizona.

There are two very different political climates south of the Gnat Line; most voters live in the one that’s shifting right. Outside of Savannah and its suburbs in Bryan County, every single part of the region voted by a bigger margin for Trump than for Romney; tiny Brantley County gave Trump a 78-point margin, one of his biggest in the entire state. Across all six of our “states,” this is the only one where Clinton ran behind Obama, with Trump expanding the GOP’s margin from nearly 140,000 votes to more than 170,000 votes.

Those trends didn’t change in 2018, and strong turnout here helped Republicans cross 50 percent of the statewide vote, even though the population of southwestern Georgia has been shrinking. Like the Piedmont, this is a deep red region with a few dashes of blue in small cities; Democrats won the city of Valdosta, for example, while nearby Moody Air Force Base is a Republican stronghold. A good night for Republicans will involve landslide margins out of Georgia’s southern counties; an upset by Democrats will require enough gains elsewhere to make that irrelevant.

2016 vote total

Donald Trump

359,062

Hillary Clinton

209,990

2016 vote totals
  • Donald Trump: 359,062
  • Hillary Clinton: 209,990

Counties included: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bleckley, Brantley, Brooks, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Grady, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Jenkins, Johnson, Lanier, Laurens, Liberty, Long, Lowndes, McIntosh, Montgomery, Pierce, Pulaski, Screven, Seminole, Tattnall, Telfair, Thomas, Tift, Toombs, Treutlen, Turner, Ware, Wayne, Wheeler, Wilcox, Worth

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SAD reinventing its regional politics – The Tribune India

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Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has said the Akali Dal-BJP alliance breakup was a result of the fast depleting voter base of the Akalis. AAP leaders claimed that the breakup was not because of any difference in political ideology or the gross injustice to farmers. It is only after seeing the massive reaction that the three agriculture Acts have generated among farmers, that the SAD decided to snap ties with the BJP. Many in the party believe that the move may not help either of the alliance partners in wooing the big chunk of voters from among farmers, but they are ceding political space.“Eh nauh maas da rishta sarakde voteran ne khatam kita hai,” says state AAP president Bhagwant Mann. “Till 10 days ago, each and every leader of the Akali Dal was trying to defend the Acts. Now that they saw the anti-party sentiment, they are making last-ditch efforts to save the vote bank,” he said. tns

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Governance, politics and morality – Mumbai Mirror

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CORRIDORS OF POWER

It’s perilous to infuse a stiff dose of morality into the pursuit and practice of politics because after a point, the amalgam doesn’t work. It becomes a contortion of the envisaged formula. An excess of morality makes the mixture suspicious and hypocritical while used niggardly, the veil of righteousness comes apart before it can begin masking statecraft.

‘Naitikta’ and ‘sadachar’ are Hindi synonyms for morality and feature like a mantra, especially in the speeches of BJP leaders. The temptation to treat every political and policy initiative as a religious crusade, a ‘dharma yudh’ against a degenerate system, is the hallmark of BJP politics. The crusading zeal was tempered by pragmatism in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee era because Vajpayee was realistic enough to know that the cocktail of ‘naitikta’ and ‘shuddh rajneeti’ was deadly and not worth experimenting with. He had a horde of dissimilar parties in the NDA coalition to keep his government going. Not all of them shared the RSS’s contorted notions of pedagogic politics.

There was a phase when hard as it tried, the BJP couldn’t ambush the Congress on corruption, even when the dirt flew all over in the UPA’s second tenure. By then, the Congress had dug up dope on the BJP’s wheeling and dealing, BS Yeddyurappa’s allegedly shady land transactions, the Bellary brothers and so on. Therefore, when Anna Hazare arrived from the boondocks of Maharashtra to Delhi and declared a holy war against the UPA’s corruption, the RSS quickly co-opted the former military man as a mascot. It ensured that the BJP was in the shadows lest its presence discredit the Hazare project. He fitted into the RSS’s idea of a ‘model’ citizen because he whipped tipplers in his village square. To the Sangh, drinking alcohol was a blind imitation of the derivative practices that came to India with colonialism along with English and the suit-boot and knee length dresses for the Macaulay ‘putra’ and ‘putri’. Never heard of ‘bhang’ and ‘handia’, bhang being de rigueur with northern BJP leaders during Holi?

Narendra Modi is not Vajpayee. He has the numbers in Parliament, an Opposition that awakens from slumber now and then, the state’s iron boot and the RSS’s endorsement. Whatever else Modi cherishes, he is steeped in the RSS’s ideas and way of life. He subscribes to the Sangh’s definition of dharma, which is not religion as you and I understand but a larger moral and cultural order that must permeate and ‘cleanse’ society of western thoughts and values. Therefore, when corruption was fought against, the drive got evangelic and enmeshed with the RSS’s certitude of upholding ‘public morality’. Tax compliance was enforced through a regime that put the fear of god in the corporate sector and the small and medium enterprises, which were sold on Modi’s ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ maxim before 2014. India Inc was one of Modi’s strongest supporters in 2014 and 2019. Wonder what the big wheels have to say about the enforcement agencies’ pursuit of a celebrated banker and her family? She was the toast of the Vibrant Gujarat summits hosted in Gandhinagar.

Like Bollywood. Remember that epic selfie that the bright young actors and directors clicked with the prime minister shortly after he won asecond term? They looked obsequious. Think of the one who stuck out prominently for attention. His spouse was quizzed for allegedly smoking weed and her phone was impounded. This is jihad against Bollywood’s drug mafia. So what if the stars stood up for Modi?

ABJP cheerleader excitedly framed the crackdown on the film industry as the only way to exhume the trail that cannabis and cocaine consumption left, smash it and ‘detoxify’ the moral environment. The sadachar underpinning of the “crusade” against corruption and the drug league is unmistakeable. If the exercise was merely political and administrative, it wouldn’t click with the RSS-BJP faithful and an ever-expanding constituency that has begun to view Modi more as a savant, a maharishi, and less as a politician.

Does gender parity bother the RSS because the drug sleuths have demonstrated a preference to go after women? No, because feminism is an imported concept that doesn’t go with their image of a ‘sanskari’ woman, who is naturally underempowered and never thinks for herself. The obsession with a warped view of morality drove the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, to unleash anti-Romeo squads on young couples dating in public spaces and initiate ‘Mission Durachari’. The latter operation intends to name and shame harassers of women on posters. In a state that reports at least one rape and murder of a minor every other day (what of the rapes and assaults that go unreported for fear of social ostracism?) and holds little or no hope of convicting the rapists, the mission makes no sense except to score a moral point.

Ravi Kishan, the Gorakhpur MP, was the first BJP leader to publicly laud the anti-drug movement in Bollywood. Kishan drew his salience from being a part of the same industry about which he is self-righteous. His moral demagoguery was rejected by his BJP colleagues, Hema Malini and Babul Supriyo, both celebrities and successful politicians. Is there a cautionary tale for the virtuous custodians of the Sangh Parivar?

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