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The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Republicans could deepen their war with corporate America

The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 2000, Florida began a statewide recount of the presidential election between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The big idea

Republicans could deepen their war with corporate America

Forget, for the moment, about the prospects a Republican House majority would impeach President Biden for TBD reasons. Consider, instead, the very likely prospects a GOP-held Congress would escalate the party’s war with large segments of corporate America.

Amazon. AT&T. Boeing. Delta Air Lines. Facebook. General Motors. Harley Davidson. Lockheed Martin. Macy’s. Merck. Nordstrom. Toyota. Former president Donald Trump never shied from attacking corporations he felt had somehow crossed him, politically, financially, or personally.

Of the many ways Trump amplified or upended traditional Republican norms, breaking down the party’s century-old alliance with big business has had lasting power — and if the GOP retake one or both houses of Congress, the conflict will almost certainly escalate.

But it’s not just Trump. Here are some of the other forces at work — all interrelated:

  • A global market and a desire to reach younger, more educated consumers has led corporations to pay more attention to — and be more vocal about supporting — issues like fighting the climate crisis and promoting racial equity, putting them at odds with Republicans.
  • GOP voter support for corporations has gone off a cliff. Between 2019 and 2021, the proportion of Republicans saying corporations have a positive impact on the way things are going in the United States declined 24 percentage points, from 54 percent to 30 percent, according to a Pew Research Center study published last summer.
  • Many elected Republicans have not forgiven corporate America for vowing to stop financing the campaigns of the eight senators and 139 representatives (a majority of the House GOP caucus) who voted to overturn Biden’s victory hours after the Capitol riot. This, even though many firms quickly reversed course.

One factor there: The suddenly closed corporate wallets didn’t seem to do much damage to GOP fundraising. So it angered Republicans without showing any real power over them. That may be why House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has signaled to the Chamber of Commerce it needs new leadership to patch up its relations with Republicans.

The hit list

Likely targets, if Trump’s party retakes one or both chambers of Congress:

Democrats pressure corporations too, of course. But one major difference recently has been that they tend to threaten boycotts — that is to say, market pressure — while Republicans have tended to threaten using political power for retaliation.

So here’s high-powered GOP consultant Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responding to corporations suspending advertising on Twitter in the aftermath of Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media site:

Asked to elaborate, Holmes told The Daily 202 (in part, his whole answer is too long to quote entirely): “From a business standpoint, there has never been a price for weighing deeply into territory [corporate CEOs] don’t understand and taking positions antithetical to the interests of their consumers and workers. Those days are numbered.” 

(McConnell himself had angry words for corporations after some of the most prominent firms in Georgia criticized the state’s new elections law. “My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don’t pick sides in these big fights,” he said.)

On the same issue, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went one step further than McConnell, warning in a Wall Street Journal editorial: “I hope the Democrats take your calls, because we may not.”

Here’s Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) inviting corporations to ponder just what a sitting senator might do:

The DeSantis way

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has tried to be in the vanguard. He has attempted to punish Disney for coming out against the law he championed that prohibits any school instruction on sexual orientation or gender identify through the third grade, which critics have called “Don’t Say Gay.”

As my colleague Michael Kranish reported last month: “DeSantis has infuriated cruise lines by signing a law banning businesses from verifying vaccination status. He blocked state funding for a Tampa Bay Rays baseball facility after the team donated to a gun violence prevention program after the Uvalde, Tex., mass shooting.”

(DeSantis was in favor of Disney before he was against it. In May of last year, he signed a law aimed at preventing social media companies from “willfully platforming” politicians. The law exempted any such platform “operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park.” )

How far this might go is unclear. Republicans have sided forcefully with massive corporations in the oil and gas sector, and aren’t pushing to raise corporate taxes or impose new regulations, at least not across the board. But they seem to be spoiling for a fight.

What’s happening now

DeSantis official says Justice Dept. can’t send monitors to 3 Florida counties

The DeSantis administration is attempting to block Department of Justice election monitors from gaining access to polling places in South Florida, saying in a letter that the federal government’s involvement would be ‘counterproductive’ and in violation of state law,” Tim Craig, Perry Stein and Jacob Bogage report.

Under pressure from GOP lawsuit, Philadelphia takes step that will slow vote count

“Under pressure from a Republican lawsuit, Philadelphia officials decided early Tuesday morning to reinstate a time-consuming process meant to prevent double voting, a move that is expected to delay the city’s ability to report a final tally — perhaps by a matter of days,” Emma Brown reports.

Meta declines to remove misleading claim about blocked GOP votes

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has declined to remove or add context to a misleading video, captured during the Texas primary in March, that’s now recirculating on its platforms with unfounded claims of suppressed GOP votes in Tuesday’s midterm elections,” Isaac Stanley-Becker reports.

Happy Election Day!

Waiting on results to roll in? You might want to bookmark these pages.

The Washington Post has live election results pages for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., during this year’s midterm elections. We’re covering every federal office, as well as a large collection of state and local elections.

We’re also tracking other key results, like what’s happening in states where abortion access is at stake and where election deniers are winning.

Here are a few live results pages you can follow throughout the day and in the weeks to come:

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Pennsylvania voters scramble to cast new ballots after GOP lawsuit

“Six days after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated thousands of mail-in ballots in response to a Republican lawsuit, citizens in Philadelphia and other parts of this battleground state scrambled to cast replacements so their votes will be counted on Election Day,” Emma Brown and Amy Gardner report.

Justice Dept. dispatching Election Day monitors to 64 jurisdictions

The Justice Department announced that it will dispatch workers to 64 jurisdictions in 24 states on Election Day to ensure that they are in compliance with federal voting law, an increase from the 44 jurisdictions to which it sent monitors for the 2020 presidential election,” Perry Stein, Emma Brown and Beth Reinhard report.

Emboldened GOP makes closing pitch as Democrats try to head off big losses

“A tempestuous midterm campaign in which candidates clashed over inflation, abortion, crime and other divisive issues barreled toward its conclusion Monday, with Republicans making final appeals to install new leadership in Congress and Democrats racing anxiously to try to head off large-scale losses,” Colby Itkowitz, Annie Linskey and Hannah Knowles report.

… and beyond

GOP activists and candidates set stage to claim elections they lose are stolen

“Imagine this, mused Abe Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, on Twitter last week: 1940’s-era election officials were able count all U.S. ballots on election night. So why, he implied, can’t Arizona’s modern-day election tabulators do the same? The kicker: Hamadeh’s tweet showed the historic picture of Harry Truman holding up 1948 a front page headline blaring ‘Dewey defeats Truman’ — which is, of course, historic for being wrong,Politico’s Heidi Przybyla reports.

“The apparent missed irony is just one example of the eagerness of Trump allies — many of whom subscribe to debunked conspiracy theories around voting machines and Democrats’ manipulating computer algorithms — to stoke suspicion of election results in the run-up to Election Day. Meanwhile, they’re encouraging voters to do the very things likely to cause vote-counting delays.”

How Tennessee disenfranchised 21% of its Black citizens

“One in five Black Tennesseans are … barred from voting because of a prior felony conviction. Indeed, Tennessee appears to disenfranchise a far higher proportion of its Black residents — 21% — than any other state,” ProPublica’s Bianca Fortis reports.

“The figure comes from a new analysis by the nonprofit advocacy group The Sentencing Project, which found that Mississippi ranks a distant second, just under 16% of its Black voting-eligible population. Tennessee also has the highest rate of disenfranchisement among its Latino community — just over 8%.”

The latest on covid

Paxlovid may reduce long covid risk for some patients, VA study finds

Covid patients who were treated with Paxlovid, the oral antiviral that has proved highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death among elderly and at-risk people, appeared less likely to suffer from several key symptoms associated with long covid, according to a new study,” Frances Stead Sellers reports.

The Biden agenda

Biden courted oil companies before threatening them with windfall tax

Before President Biden lambasted oil companies for excess profits last week and threatened to slap a ‘windfall tax’ on them, several of his top energy advisers privately attempted to woo that same industry only to get rebuffed, according to seven people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity,” Timothy Puko reports.

Biden’s future closely tied to midterm outcome

“Personally and politically, Tuesday’s election stands as a momentous event for Biden. The outcome could shape whether the rest of his term is marked by additional steps on his priorities — or the standoffs, investigations and brinkmanship that could follow a GOP takeover. It also could determine whether Biden, who turns 80 this month, can convince his increasingly anxious party that he is the right person to lead the ticket in 2024,” Toluse Olorunnipa reports.

Jill Biden’s last, relentless push to boost vulnerable Democrats

Is there a bat signal that vulnerable Democrats send into the dark night to summon first lady Jill Biden? If so, it has gone up in an astounding number of states with the country’s most competitive races — Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Virginia and Maryland — over the past two weeks,” Jada Yuan reports.

How long it took to count votes in 2020, visualized

Across the country, counting the midterm ballots could take longer than usual, experts warn, particularly in swing states with competitive races. The result: Americans might not know which party controls either chamber of Congress by the end of election night — or even longer,” Danielle Paquette reports.

Hot on the left

Democrats are belatedly addressing the concerns of working families. Will it come too late?

“This should have been a golden age for ordinary people flocking to the banner of Democrats as their champions, against a corporate class that has grown ever more rapacious at the expense of the common American. Instead, it was a time when working-class voters deserted Democrats for a Republican Party that slavishly favors corporations and bankers over workers. And this was happening well before Donald Trump used crude racism and hyper-nationalism to divert popular frustrations from pocketbook issues,” the American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner writes.

Hot on the right

Trump spooks GOP with abandoned talk of presidential launch on eve of vote

Republican leaders succeeded in talking Trump out of announcing by telling him it would get buried under election news and he’d get more attention later, people familiar with the discussions said. Trump is scheduled to interview staff later this week for the nascent campaign,” Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey report.

“Party leaders feared announcing Monday would gin up Democratic turnout, particularly in razor-thin Senate races where the control of the chamber is in the balance.”

More: Trump says he’ll make ‘big announcement’ Nov. 15 in Florida

Today in Washington

Biden is in D.C. He does not have any public events on his schedule this afternoon.

In closing

So … see you all at Martin’s later?

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.