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‘America is changing’: Pollster warns GOP that their hard-right turn on social issues could blow up in their face

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On Tuesday, Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that the GOP’s conventional efforts to split fiscally liberal and socially conservative voters are no longer as effective as they were back when the first George Bush’s campaign launched their infamous “Willie Horton” ad — and that Republican attempts to recreate those tactics could backfire.

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“The country is dramatically changing since then,” said Belcher. “You now have majorities who are for gay marriage. And the polling is fairly clear on, the vast majority of Americans don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned.”

“The numbers are not that close,” agreed Todd. “And sometimes we cover the issue as if it is a close call.”

“Particularly if you look at independent voters, you know, 60 percent of independent voters want it legal in most cases,” said Belcher. “So the numbers are clearly not on their side. Even when you look a pathway to citizenship, another culture war there, poll numbers are clearly on the Democratic side. So I think the culture wars now would be different, because America is changing and it’s changing dramatically. Some of those culture wedges don’t wedge the way they used to.”

Democrats, said Todd, should understand the limitation of their ability to win over voters by simply ignoring Republican extremism on social issues and pursuing an economic message. Trump’s win in 2016, he noted, “was a cultural message. No economic plan [Hillary Clinton] could have come up with that would have won her Pennsylvania.”

“I agree! But that’s part of the problem, Chuck, to this whole conversation,” said Belcher. “Democrats are still talking about an economic message and not talking about our values … If Republicans want to make this about a woman’s choice and a woman’s right to choose an abortion, I think Democrats would be silly not to take them on, looking at the numbers.”

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“And also, and this is really important, for the first time in 2018, Democrats won college-educated voters on the backs of college-educated women, which means the suburbs became more competitive,” added Belcher. “If those suburban white women think for one moment that Republicans are going to be the party that overturns Roe v. Wade, it will be a monumental shift.”

That backlash, said Belcher, might even be enough to help Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), widely considered the most vulnerable incumbent senator going into 2020, to hold his seat.

“I think it gives Democrats an opening throughout the Bible Belt,” said Belcher. “If you can put Pat Robertson in your ad, that’s a new kind of day for Democrats. If you can have a conversation, particularly with suburban-leaning Republican women about this issue in a way that you haven’t been able to before, all of a sudden you can, in fact, put — there are segments of a Republican-leaning group of voters and white educated voters than I think you put in play.”

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Rick Santorum starts shouting about Joe Biden after being unable to defend Trump’s Ukraine scheme

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After Tuesday's impeachment testimony, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) tried to defend President Donald Trump's Ukraine scheme to a CNN panel — and was reduced to shouting about former Vice President Joe Biden as his co-panelists tore down his arguments.

"Every one of the people there had the same thing, which is to change the Obama policy, which was leaving Ukrainians without any way to defend themselves ... we have [Trump] in there and fighting for Ukraine and now the Democrats are saying, well, this is wonderful, BUT..."

"Let me just ask you the question," said former Obama strategist David Axelrod. "Because this lethal aid has been important, it gives them quite a bit of leverage, the president, if he wants them."

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Sondland is in ‘tremendous trouble’ no matter how he tries to change his testimony tomorrow: NYT columnist

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On Tuesday, in the wake of testimony from several witnesses in the impeachment hearing that broadly implicated EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in improper backchannel foreign policy, New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali suggested that Sondland is in "tremendous trouble" — and that no testimony he could give tomorrow will get him out of this mess:

No. He will be trying to save himself. The perjury plus multiple stellar witnesses paint a damning portrait. He's in tremendous trouble. https://t.co/CxN5w0EErb

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Even the Republican witnesses make Donald Trump look like a depraved criminal

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The second half of Tuesday's hearing offered something new in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry: Witnesses called by the Republican minority on the House Intelligence Committee. It's understandable why Republicans would want these two men.

One of them was Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide who is among the few people directly exposed to Trump's famous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who claims to believe there was nothing wrong with it. The other was Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, who appears to have been a major actor in Trump's extortion scheme in that country. Indeed, Volker was deemed one of the "three amigos" — along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Trump donor/EU ambassador Gordon Sondland — who Trump entrusted with Ukrainian relations as he exerted increasing pressure on the country's leaders to give into his extortion scheme.

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