Politics

Nate Silver Says Dems Missed Opportunity With Franken Response

Polling aggregation website founder Nate Silver believes the Democratic Party should have been tougher in responding to the sexual harassment allegations against Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken.

Silver, the editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, wrote an op-ed Thursday titled “Democrats Missed A Chance To Draw A Line In The Sand On Sexual Misconduct.” Democrats should have called for Franken to resign after news anchor Leeann Tweeden said he sexually harassed her multiple times during a USO entertainment tour in the Middle East in 2006, Silver wrote.

Silver said he assumed that Franken would resign, and he expected Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other top Democrats to call for his resignation due to the countless sexual misconduct allegations that have emerged in recent months.

“I thought the Democrats had an opportunity to maintain the moral high ground without having to pay a political price for it,” he said.

Silver also predicts that many more allegations of sexual misconduct are going to emerge, which will cause many politicians in both parties to be removed or forced to resign.

“Of course, what might be politically expedient for Democrats isn’t necessarily expedient for Schumer — or for McConnell, or for the White House, all of whom may be acting out of a sense of institutional self-preservation,” Silver wrote. “If there’s a precedent that sexual harassment is grounds for removal or resignation from office, then a lot of members of Congress — including some of Schumer’s colleagues and friends — could have to resign once more allegations come to light, as they almost certainly will.”

The pollster also made the point that if Franken were to resign, Democrats still would not lose a Senate seat. Silver explained that an interim replacement would be named by Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who would most likely appoint another Democrat to fill the seat. A special election would then be held the next year to elect someone to serve out the rest of Franken’s term, which ends in 2020.

Silver said Democrats could have set an example by forcing members to resign when there are “severe instances of sexual harassment,” but instead, “Democrats basically punted on the question.”

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