The Issue Is: Carla Marinucci, Brian Goldsmith, and John Kobylt

Tuesday, the United States held its quadrennial Presidential Election. By Friday night, a winner had still not been declared.

In a year that saw an Impeachment, a global pandemic, and a Supreme Court confirmation, it’s almost par for the course that multiple states are still too-close-to-call, with others already the subject of lawsuits that may take weeks to litigate.

With so much up-in-the-air, and even more to explore in the House and Senate races, as well as at the state level, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by Politico’s Carla Marinucci, Democratic strategist Brian Goldsmith, and broadcaster John Kobylt of The John and Ken Show, to break down another historic week in politics.


The conversations kicks off at the national level, where former Vice President Biden, having maintained a lead in Arizona and Nevada, and pulled ahead in Georgia and Pennsylvania, is on the cusp of becoming the 46th President of the United States.

“Biden has said many times ‘I campaigned as a Democrat, but I’m going to govern as an American President,’ and he has said that the Presidency itself is not a partisan institution, so that message right there may give some people hope,” Marinucci said about a potential President Elect Biden.

Looking forward, Marinucci cautioned that President Trump may use the remainder of his term to throw roadblocks in Biden’s way, but that the previously-established friendship between Biden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be a positive sign of things to come.

Goldsmith said that he anticipated two major things will be seen from a Biden Presidency.

“One, the war against blue states will come to an end, that may include bringing back the state and local tax deductions,” he said. “On COVID, we’re going to have a President who follows the science and listens to the experts, rather than one who waves the whit flag and pretends it doesn’t exist.”

Kobylt pushed back, saying Biden, like any politician, “can’t stop a virus, it’s going to run its course until we get a vaccine.”

“As far as what happens in the next couple years - I mean, 60% of the country doesn’t think Biden’s going to last four years - probably nothing, he might be just an inconsequential, almost accidental President, just like Gerald Ford was,” Kobylt continued, noting a GOP-led Senate will serve as roadblock to Biden enacting a more progressive agenda of massive tax increases, a Green New Deal, packing the Supreme Court, defunding the police, and more.

On the subject of a divided country, Michaelson asked Kobylt to speak for the 70 million voters who support President Trump, despite many on the left having spent the past four years accusing him of being a liar, criminal, and worse.

“He got 70 million votes,” Kobylt said, stressing that that total exceeds any ever achieved by President Obama, President Bush, President Clinton, or President Reagan. Vice President Biden has so far amassed 75 million votes this cycle, a record. “All those people were told all those horrible things about Trump, repeatedly… clearly, at least 70 million people don’t believe all the stuff they hear about Trump, or they don’t care.”

Kobylt continued that he anticipates the President, should he ultimately lose, might run again in 2024, setting up a situation where, rather than being rid of him, the press will need to cover President Trump for another eight years, until 2028.

No matter the outcome, on Tuesday, President Trump did far exceeded the numbers pollsters had anticipated. National polls had the President losing the popular vote by 8-12 points, he’s currently down about three. One poll out of Wisconsin was almost 17 points off from the final tally.

But it wasn’t only the Presidential race that pollsters got wrong, they also missed the mark in Congress, where they anticipated that Democrats would take control of the Senate, and expand their margin in the House. Neither outcome, as of now, has taken shape.

With that in mind, Michaelson asked Goldsmith, a Democrat, where the disconnect in the messaging was.

“There was a surprise further down the ticket, and I think there are a number of things we can point to,” Goldsmith advised. 

Goldsmith suggested that Democrats examine their relationship with people of color, namely Latinos, as well as suburban, center-right, White voters. He also noted that the economic message must be stronger, assertively demonstrating to voters why Democratic policies will improve their lives more than the alternatives.

Marinucci agreed, saying that both parties need to examine their messaging and outreach - saying that the Republican party must confront the demographic changes in the country, and Democrats must work with centrists, as many working class voters have left the party as it veers to the left.


From the national races, the conversation came back to California, and a number of high-profile propositions on this past week’s ballot.

The first, Proposition 22, a costly ballot measure which sought to keep drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing apps, as independent contractors, not employees. 

As of this writing, some 13.5 million votes had been counted, and the measure passed with almost 59% support.

“From the very beginning, what voters were interested in on this issue was not what the politicians thought, it was what the drivers thought,” Goldsmith, who has consulted for Lyft, said. “The drivers have been very consistent, they want to keep their independence, the ability to drive when, and where, and how they choose, and add portable benefits.”

While Proposition 22 was supported by a wide margin, Proposition 16 met another fate, being rejected by a margin of roughly 56.5% to 43.5%. The proposition would have restored affirmative action in California.

Kobylt said the rejection demonstrated that Californian’s feeling about affirmative action haven’t changed in 25 years.

“Most people believe that the color of your skin, or your ethnicity, should have nothing to do with whether you get admitted to a University, or get hired, or get a contract with the government,” he said, citing Martin Luther King Jr.’s old adage that people should be judged not on the color of their skin, but the content of their character.

At the end of the day, Marinucci said Tuesday’s results paint a conflicting picture of the Golden State, as local issues such as LA’s DA race, and measures around schooling and taxes were emblematic of the progressive reputation of the state, but that rejection of statewide measures like Propositions 15 and 25 show California may be more purple than originally believed.


Finally, the conversation concluded with some speculation about the future.

This, as it is looking more and more likely that California Senator Kamala Harris will be elected Vice President, leaving the state’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, with the responsibility of choosing a successor to finish out her term.

Michaelson asked the panel who that selection should potentially be.

“I have no idea, you could probably pick any random person off the streets of San Francisco and they would vote exactly the same way that Kamala Harris would vote,” Kobylt posited.

“It’s not just how you vote, it’s what you do,” Goldsmith responded. “Who can put together bipartisan coalitions, who knows how to write legislation, who can actually be effective on behalf of the people of this state.”

In turn, Goldsmith said he’d like to see either California Congresswoman Karen Bass, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, or Alex Padilla, the California Secretary of State, assume the role.

Those two names were also on Marinucci’s radar, as she said the Governor has been lobbied far and wide by interested appointees.

“Is he going to go historic, maybe the first Latino, maybe the first LGBT Senator, that would be Robert Garcia, Long Beach Mayor, who is really climbing up the list,” Marinucci reported, adding that others that have been mentioned include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.


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