Nov 2, 2021

Today is Election Day.

We're taking a break from our usual format to take a look at some of the elections happening today.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, ad-free, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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Today's read: 10 minutes.

In today's Tangle, we're taking a break from our usual format to take a look at some of the elections happening today. We're also answering a reader question and we have your usual quick hits, a story that matters, and have a nice day sections.

I Voted
Photo by Janine Robinson / Unsplash

Quick hits.

  1. The Supreme Court seems inclined to allow abortion providers to challenge Texas's new law that essentially bans abortion after six weeks. (The arguments)
  2. More than 100 countries made a pledge to end deforestation at an international climate change summit in Scotland yesterday. (The pledge)
  3. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) once again bucked party leadership yesterday, saying he was not committed to voting for the Build Back Better bill just days after President Biden said he was getting everyone on board. (The announcement)
  4. The ex-wife of Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell (R) testified under oath yesterday that Parnell choked her and abused their children. (The allegations)
  5. Eleven Republican senators asked President Biden to halt his administration's talks to settle lawsuits filed on behalf of immigrant families who say they suffered trauma after being separated at the border. (The ask)

Election Day.

The big election news today is the governor’s race in Virginia, where Republican Glen Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are in a dead heat in the polls. We covered the Virginia election last week, and noted how it will give us a better idea of the mood of the country than any other race happening this fall. The economy, Covid-19 protocols, education issues, trans issues, inflation: They're all on the ballot and at the center of this race.

But Virginia is not the only big election happening today. In fact, there are dozens of fascinating races — big, small and some with historic implications — happening around the country that are worth keeping an eye on.

In New Jersey, there is another high-profile governor's race between current Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Like Virginia, New Jersey holds its statewide races in the year after presidential elections, so it gets extra attention. While Murphy appears to be in a commanding position, in 2009 New Jersey elected Republican Chris Christie just a year after the state swung huge for Barack Obama, and pollsters are very curious to see how it shakes out after Biden’s victory. No Democrat has won re-election as governor since 1977, so even though Jersey has gone blue in presidential races for three decades there's plenty of reason to believe this one is much tighter than it looks.

You can read NPR explaining the history behind New Jersey and Virginia's odd-year elections, The Philadelphia Inquirer's endorsement of Phil Murphy, or The New York Post's endorsement of Jack Ciattarelli.

In New York City, America's most populous city, residents will be electing their next mayor. Eric Adams, who won the Democratic primary, is the heavy favorite in a city that has a 7-to-1 Democrat-to-Republican ratio. The former police officer and current Brooklyn borough president looks primed to become the second Black mayor in the city's history after running on a campaign that centered on curbing crime and improving quality of life issues. He's up against Republican Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels.

You can read The New York Times endorsement of Adams (with a to-do list) or their profile of Curtis Sliwa.

Across the state of New York, voters will cast ballots on five major initiatives. One is a proposal on redistricting that would ensure non-citizens are counted in the census and that incarcerated people are counted at their last residence, not in the prison where they reside. A second proposal would give New Yorkers a constitutional right to clean air, water, and a "healthful environment," setting off a battle between environmentalists who want more legal power and state legislators who say the language of the proposal is too broad.

There are also important election reforms being proposed. After the 2020 election, New York came under fire for voting rules that are, in many ways, as restrictive as states like Georgia and Texas, despite many New Yorkers viewing those states' laws as overly burdensome. Now there are ballot measures to change that: One would allow same day registration and voting, another would allow no-excuse absentee voting. Finally, there is also a measure to increase the limit on monetary damages for claims filed in New York City's civil courts from $25,000 to $50,000.

In Pennsylvania, there are mayoral races in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, a district attorney’s race in Philadelphia and a number of school board races with culture war issues like critical race theory and the 2020 "stolen" election at the center of the conversations. Perhaps most importantly, the hugely influential state supreme court has an opening that will be filled.

In Ohio, there are two Congressional seats up for grabs — one in the 11th District and one in the 15th District. Former Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in the 15th District for coal lobbyist Mike Carey, who was also endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Carey is the favorite in the GOP-leaning district, but he's running against two-term Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo, who Joe Biden endorsed on Monday. In the 11th Congressional District, Democratic council member Shontel Brown and Republican business owner Laverne Gore are running to replace Marcia Fudge, who stepped down to become Biden's housing secretary after 13 years in Congress. Brown is heavily favored in that race.

In Florida, 11 Democrats are vying for Rep. Alcee Hastings’ seat in what might be the biggest toss-up of any race happening today. Prior to his death from pancreatic cancer, Hastings was the longest-serving member of Florida's congressional delegation. South Florida's 20th district is heavily Democratic, so the primary special election is considered the race that will determine his successor.

In Atlanta, Georgia, former Mayor Kasim Reed and City Council President Felicia Moore are favorites in a field of 14 candidates for mayor. Current Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms shocked the political world when she announced she would not seek a second term, and now all 14 candidates are competing in what is probably the ugliest race of the cycle. If no single candidate earns a majority of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two candidates on November 30th.

In Boston, Michelle Wu is running as an acolyte of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and leading the mayoral race by 30 points. Her top opponent, former city councilwoman Annissa Essaibi George, is a more moderate Democrat. So no matter what happens, Boston — a now majority-minority city — is about to have its first woman and first person of color elected as mayor. Buffalo, Seattle and Cleveland all have mayoral races that include showdowns between the more progressive or socialist left wing candidates and more moderate, centrist Democrats — each with lots of drama and fairly competitive races.

While the pandemic slowed the rate of state ballot measures, there is no shortage of interesting measures to keep an eye on. Here are a few that caught my eye given their relevance to larger national political debates.

In Texas, voters will consider a constitutional amendment that prohibits the state or an elected official from "prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations," a response to stay-at-home orders issued during the pandemic. The state will also consider Proposition 6, which would codify the right of long-term care residents to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.

In Austin, Texas, voters are being asked whether to increase the city's police department in response to a crime wave. Proposition A would require the city hires at least two police officers for every 1,000 residents. In Minneapolis, voters are taking on some of the major police reform questions that have taken the nation by storm. The question on the ballot there will ask voters if they want to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety that "employs a comprehensive public health approach" and could also use "peace officers." Minneapolis is also considering a ballot measure to allow the city to institute rent control for the first time.

In Cleveland, voters are considering Issue 24, which would establish a Community Police Commission whose members would have final authority over the police department's policies, hiring, training and disciplinary action. Supporters argue it would ensure accountability of police while opponents say it gives too much power to unelected people with no police training or expertise.

In Detroit, the city council is considering reparations with Proposal R, a ballot measure that would establish a task force to recommend housing and economic programs that "address historical discrimination against the Black community in Detroit." In Greenbelt, Maryland, voters are also considering a 21-member commission to review, discuss and make recommendations on local reparations for African American and Native American residents.

In Tucson, Arizona, Proposition 206 will propose a $13 minimum wage in 2022 that rises to $15 by 2025. In Philadelphia, voters will have a chance to amend the city charter and urge the Pennsylvania state legislature to legalize cannabis for recreational use across the Commonwealth. In Bellingham, Washington, voters will be able to prohibit the police department from acquiring or using facial recognition technology. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Proposal B lets voters decide if they want ranked choice voting in mayoral and city council elections when Michigan authorizes the new voting method. In Maine, voters will see an amendment declaring all individuals have a "natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume food of their own choosing."

In New Jersey, voters will consider Question No. 1, which will allow state residents to bet on college sports. Speaking of gambling, voters in Richmond, Virginia, are also going to approve or shoot down the construction of a new 250-room luxury hotel and casino along the I-95 corridor.

Colorado, Louisiana, Texas and Washington, are also voting on 10 statewide tax-related ballot measures — with everything from increasing the tax on marijuana to reforming antiquated state tax codes up in the air.

There are dozens of other hyper-local ballot measures happening today, including some in California, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico, Georgia and Florida. You can find them here.


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Your questions, answered.

Q: What do you make of all this "Let's go Brandon" stuff?

— Terry, Florida

Tangle: I think it's rather silly and overblown and frankly I'm very tired of the oxygen it's taking up. But it's hard to ignore.

For the uninitiated: "Let's go, Brandon" is code for "F—k Joe Biden." It was popularized during a NASCAR race in early October, when Brandon Brown (who had won the race) was being interviewed by NBC's Kelli Stavast. The crowd broke into "F—k Joe Biden" chants, which Stavast apparently thought were "Let's go Brandon" chants. "You can hear the chants from the crowd, 'Let's go, Brandon!'" she said during the broadcast.

The moment, to many on the right, was emblematic of all the things wrong with the media: Its detachment from what people were actually saying or feeling, protection of Joe Biden, and so on. Immediately, it became a meme, and then t-shirts and hats and slogans were born — an easy way for people to express their disdain for the president without cursing.

The entire thing went from inside joke to national headline after a Southwest pilot said "Let's go, Brandon" when he signed off a flight. By sheer miraculous coincidence, an Associated Press reporter who was flying from Houston to Albuquerque to report on the "Let's go, Brandon" phenomenon was actually on the flight when the pilot said it, and then dutifully reported out the scene (including alleged "gasps" from fellow passengers).

Naturally, the Twitter left then had a total conniption, doing everything from comparing it to a pilot saying "Long live ISIS" to referring to the pilot as an
"extremist" to suggesting passengers on the plane were somehow unsafe.

Yes, we are all getting dumber by the day. So what do I think? I think it says a lot about the maturity level of certain right-leaning Americans who think it's clever to curse out the president in coded language and I think the left has an incredibly short memory given how gleefully they all rejoiced in the "F—k Trump" mantra literally just 12 months ago. The pilot deserves a slap on the wrist for announcing a political view to his passengers, but the idea he put anyone in danger, must be an extremist or did the equivalent of saying "long live ISIS" is just absurd. He made a stupid joke.

Anyway, the most interesting thing about this entire story is — again —  that an Associated Press reporter who was covering the "Let's go, Brandon" meme literally overheard this on her flight! I can't get over that. The odds seem incalculably low.

Want to ask a question? You can reply to this email and write in (it goes straight to my inbox) or fill out this form.

A story that matters.

Morning Consult conducted a poll with POLITICO on the most popular items in President Biden's proposed Build Back Better plan. But the final responses have a concerning implication for Biden: Some of the most popular ideas have been cut from the framework he laid out last week. Adding dental and vision to Medicare, allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and providing free community college were all atop the poll in popularity, along with paid family and medical leave. But none of them made the framework. You can read about it here.


  • $8.8 million. The total operating expenses filed by the Cyber Ninjas, the company that conducted the election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, for their work.
  • $543,871. The amount of money they spent on travel.
  • 90. The number of countries expected to sign a pledge to reduce methane emissions today.
  • 74,504. The total number of new Covid-19 cases in the United States yesterday.
  • 1,309. The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the United States yesterday.
  • 1%. Glen Youngkin's lead over Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor's race, according to FiveThirtyEight's polling average.

Have a nice day.

While inflation remains an issue, one saving grace is that wages are rising quickly, too. In the three months ending in September, wages jumped the most they have in 20 years, a sign both of workers' growing ability to demand higher pay and of inflation's broader impacts on the labor market. Pay increased 1.5% in the third quarter, according to the Labor Department. They are still lower than inflation-adjusted pre-pandemic wages, but economists are optimistic that as inflation slows wages will keep rising — giving workers a long-desired and overdue pay bump. The Associated Press as the story.

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