Thursday Edition



Mail-in voting gave Democrat Tom Suozzi an insurmountable advantage in a high-profile New York special House election Tuesday, a sign of the growing importance of early voting and vote-by-mail. (Commentary)

Commentary Magazine podcast host John Podhoretz: “Suozzi won last night before they counted a single Election Day vote. That's the most important point. He was so far ahead in the early vote that there was no way for [GOP nominee Mazi Pilip] to have caught up by the time they started counting the day of vote. … [Donald Trump] is going to have to go on a major barnstorming tour convincing people that what he told them in 2020 wasn't true and that they need to vote whenever they can, however they can. Or Republicans are going to be in a lot of trouble come November because Democrats have completely adhered the early vote system.”

Under Trump, the GOP has become highly skeptical of nontraditional voting methods, such as mail-in voting. Joe Biden voters were nearly twice as likely as Trump voters to say they voted by mail in the 2020 presidential election. Only 28% of Republicans support letting anyone vote by mail, compared to 84% of Democrats.

Even putting aside the 2020 election, when mail-in voting was greatly expanded as a result of the pandemic, there’s been a years-long spike in vote-by-mail. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of by-mail ballots sent to voters nationally increased from 28.5 million to 42.4 million.

GOP strategists have realized discouraging mail-in and early voting could put them at a disadvantage in elections. Last year, the Republican National Committee launched an initiative to convince supporters that early voting and vote-by-mail is secure. Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have since come out in favor of “ballot harvesting,” a practice where third parties collect mail-in ballots from voters and submit them on their behalf. In 2021, the California GOP rolled out a campaign aimed at getting voters to trust the state’s mail-in ballot system.


The U.S. Navy is using Tomahawk missiles, its go-to weapon for attacking land targets from a distance while keeping pilots safe, faster than they can be replaced. (The National Interest)

Recent strikes against Iran-backed forces have led to significant use of Tomahawks. For instance, more than 80 were fired on opening day strikes in Yemen. The Navy only purchased 55 missiles all of last year.

Over the past 10 years, the Navy spent $2.8 billion to procure 1,234 Tomahawks. With roughly 140 ships and submarines that can launch Tomahawks, the Navy's past-decade missile purchases add up to just 8.8 new missiles per vessel. It can take two years to build a single new Tomahawk.

Why is it happening? The problem mostly has to do with how funds are allocated within the defense budget. A lot of money is being spent enhancing and modifying existing Tomahawks, instead of buying new ones. There are also challenges in increasing production due to fluctuating demand and bottlenecks, such as rocket motor shortages.

American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Mackenzie Eaglen on the impact of a low Tomahawk stockpile: During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, US forces launched roughly 800 land-attack Tomahawks during the initial invasion. By today’s production rate, that would take us a decade to replenish. Fighting China would certainly require far more—and Beijing knows it. With an inadequate supply of Tomahawks, the Navy’s land attack capability will overly rely on naval aviation, the presence of which will not be guaranteed within the ranges of China’s dense air defense network and sophisticated rocket force.”

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds all net job growth since late 2019 has come from immigrants, many of them illegal. (NY Post)

As of the fourth quarter of 2023, the U.S. has 2.7 million more people working compared to just before the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the same period, immigrant employment is up by 2.9 million, while 183,000 fewer U.S.-born Americans are working. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 1.7 million of those 2.9 million immigrants were not U.S. citizens.

Immigration, especially illegal immigration, is a hot button issue at the moment. Republicans and Democrats have criticized record-high levels of border crossings, with even many Democratic city mayors saying migrants are draining their resources. Polling shows immigration is now a top concern for voters, and the American public is becoming much more ambivalent about letting immigrants into the country.

A decline in Americans’ face-to-face interaction has coincided with an increase in feelings of loneliness, discontent and anxiety. (The Atlantic)

Americans were hanging out with each other less even before the pandemic started. From 2003 to 2022, American men reduced their face-to-face socializing by about 30%, unmarried Americans by more than 35% and teenagers by over 45%. The American Time Use Survey shows declines in volunteering and religious service attendance by about a third over the past 20 years.

  • Americans are increasingly spending more time with pets than fellow humans, with the average time people devote to their pets doubling in the past 20 years.

Surveys have shown American loneliness is on the rise. More than 1 in 5 millennials say they have zero friends. Anxiety has spiked, especially among young people. An NBC News poll last year recorded an all-time high in pessimism about the direction of the country.

The decline in social interaction is attributed to increased screen time, busy schedules and the erosion of America's social infrastructure. As journalist Derek Thompson put it, “Face-to-face rituals and customs are pulling on our time less, and face-to-screen technologies are pulling on our attention more. The inevitable result is a hang-out depression.”

Thompson: “We come into this world craving the presence of others. But a few modern trends—a sprawling built environment, the decline of church, social mobility that moves people away from friends and family—spread us out as adults in a way that invites disconnection. Meanwhile, as an evolutionary hangover from a more dangerous world, we are exquisitely engineered to pay attention to spectacle and catastrophe. But screens have replaced a chunk of our physical-world experience with a digital simulacrum that has enough spectacle and catastrophe to capture hours of our greedy attention. These devices so absorb us that it’s very difficult to engage with them and be present with other people.”


A deep dive into Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s poll numbers reveals some surprising strengths. (The National Interest)

He’s doing well with independents and young people. A November Quinnipiac poll showed Kennedy winning 36% of independents, ahead of President Biden's 31% and Donald Trump's 30%. A New York Times/Siena poll from the same month showed Kennedy leading Trump and Biden with voters aged 18-29.

He’s liked by a broad swathe of Americans. Kennedy’s favorability rating is higher than his unfavorability in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average. The same can’t be said for Biden or Trump, who are each viewed unfavorably by more than 50% of Americans. A recent NBC News poll found 34% of registered voters could see themselves backing Kennedy in 2024.

Another potential plus for Kennedy is the public’s apathy for a Trump-Biden rematch. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found 70% of Americans, including half of Democrats, think Biden shouldn't run again. 56% said Trump shouldn't run either, with a third of Republicans agreeing.

He’s still got a ways to go if he wants to catch Trump or Biden. Most recent polls show him running in the high single or low double digits.

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