More than any devastating news reports, more than any lopsided polling, more than any Nate Silver election forecasts: this convinced me that President Trump is well and truly finished this November:
Over ten million Trump cultists, masochists and rubberneckers* watched Trump’s town hall event on NBC, but the ABC broadcast featuring boring old Joe Biden drew over twelve million viewers.
In 2016, everyone watched Donald Trump’s rallies, speeches and events just to see what crazy stuff he’d do. In 2020, the novelty has worn off. Americans have well and thoroughly had enough of the Trump era and just want the madness to end.
This should also silence critics who self-righteously slammed NBC for scheduling the Trump event at the same time as the Biden event. (Sadly, the technology to watch one show and record the other for later viewing apparently doesn’t exist yet.) Not only was Trump thoroughly cornered and flustered by Savannah Guthrie, now we have definitive proof that he can’t even draw big TV ratings anymore. Trump might be indifferent to millions of Americans contracting COVID-19, but that has to hit him where it really hurts.
With less than one month before Election Day, this is not what a Republican candidate wants the Drudge Report to look like:
This is not what he wants the Five Thirty Eight election prediction to look like:
And with the crucial senior-citizen vote in the balance, this isn’t what a normal candidate would want going out in his name. But we’re not dealing with a “normal” candidate, are we?
Everyone understandably compares this election to previous American Presidential contests, but I wonder if the best comparison might be to the Canadian federal election in 1993. When an unpopular gaffe-prone incumbent political party based its entire campaign on the opposition leader being “old” and “out of touch.” And ultimately resorted to television commercials which looked like they were making fun of his facial deformity, ultimately destroying whatever pockets of support they had left.
The mighty Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was reduced to two seats in the House of Commons, never really recovered in subsequent elections, and was ultimately forced into a merger of unequals with the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance.
The Republican Party will not meet that fate in 2020 – only one-third of the Senate is up for grabs this year, and in deeply polarized America the GOP still has plenty of strongholds – but Republican strategists must be getting very nervous when polling from Georgia – Georgia! – looks like this:
In Georgia, Biden leads 51 – 44 percent among likely voters, while 4 percent are undecided. On September 29th, the race for the White House was too close to call when Biden had 50 percent support and Trump had 47 percent support. The September survey was taken before the first presidential debate and the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
Today, Democrat Jon Ossoff leads Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue 51 – 45 percent, while 3 percent are undecided. This compares to a virtual tie in late September when Ossoff had 49 percent and Perdue had 48 percent.
Senator Mitt Romney is taking heat for a statement in which he compares Donald Trump’s behavior and rhetoric to that of Keith Olbermann (who may have been fired from his own YouTube channel by the time this has been posted).
I agree that there’s absolutely no comparison. Once of these men is a pompous blowhard with authoritarian tendencies and a grossly inflated belief in his own intelligence, and who has turned off everyone he’s ever worked with and appeals only to a dwindling, fanatical cult following. The other is President of the United States.
Honestly, I’m not sure anything is going to significantly move the poll numbers by this point. If you’re still with Trump, nothing is going to change your mind by now.
But at tonight’s debate, I’d still like to see Joe Biden say something along these lines:
Mister President, COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 200,000 Americans, and the pandemic isn’t over yet. I’ve wanted to be President of the United States for many years. It is everything I have worked toward. But if dropping out of the race would somehow end the COVID-19 pandemic, I would do it without even giving it a second thought.
Would you give up the White House if you knew it would save American lives?
We all know Trump wouldn’t be able to immediately say “no.” And the true believers would rationalize it. But as long as there are some “soft” Trump supporters whose minds can be changed, it’s worth doing.
The reckless and irresponsible posts by Trump come exactly one week after the president tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask and the press hailed him as having adopted a new, more serious tone about handling the outbreak that has claimed nearly 150,000 American lives since February.
Even Charlie Brown occasionally expressed some skepticism about Lucy promising not to pull away the football.
The Alabama Cannabis Industry Association on Monday released a statement critical of the decision by an Alabama court to imprison an Arizona man for five years after his probation for a 2016 marijuana arrest was revoked in April.
Sean Worsley was an Iraq War vet who legally uses marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder, and for back and shoulder pain stemming from being wounded in an IED attack in Iraq.
He and his wife were arrested in Gordo, in Pickens County, in August 2016 after a police officer found the marijuana while questioning the Worsleys about the volume of their music when they stopped to get gas.
That Worsley had a valid medical cannabis card in Arizona — one of 33 states where that is legal — was no defense for the authorities in Pickens County. Worsley missed a court date in Pickens County after the VA rejected his application for a substance abuse program, so Pickens County issued a fugitive arrest warrant.
When Arizona arrested Worsley for letting his medical cannabis card expire, he was extradited back to Alabama. He is currently detained in Pickens County awaiting a spot to become available in an Alabama Department of Corrections facility.
Worsley could spend the next 60 months as a guest of Alabama taxpayers.
Police shootings and tactics get most of the attention, but ending drug prohibition is probably the best thing American lawmakers could do to show that Black Lives – and, indeed, “All Lives” – matter.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has built a five-point lead over President Donald Trump in Texas as unease over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic mounts, a new Dallas Morning News/University of Texas at Tyler poll has found.
Biden had 46% support to Trump’s 41%. If the general election were held today, the outcome could depend on the 14% of voters who were undecided or named someone else.
The story behind Biden’s slight bulge is the softening of the Republican incumbent’s support among independents and “weak partisans,” said Kenneth Bryant Jr., a UT-Tyler political scientist who helped design the poll.
“While President Trump has and still enjoys near universal approval from Republicans, and overwhelming disfavor from Democrats, he has lost considerable ground among the folks in the middle, who may ultimately decide who wins Texas in November,” Bryant said.
For years, Democrats have been counting on demographic change to flip this deeply red state, so these results must be absolutely mouth-watering. But is Joe Biden really going to beat Donald Trump in Texas this fall?
Meh, probably not. Every year seems to be the year Texas votes Democratic, but it never happens. (Remember Beto O’Rourke? No? He was a big deal once, I swear.)
The thing is, Biden doesn’t need Texas to win the election. He just needs it to be close. Donald Trump, by contrast, cannot win re-election without holding Texas.
Trump’s fluke win – and for all the talk about what it means about the American character, I still say it was very much a fluke – came about because he pulled out razor-thin victories in Rust Belt states Hillary Clinton thought she had in the bag, like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump needs to win them again, and the polling is lookingextremelybad for him in 2020.
The point is, Trump needs to throw everything he has at these states. But if he has divert desperately resources to Texas – not to mention other traditionally red states like Georgia and Arizona, where Biden is competitive – that hurts him in the swing states. It’s the political equivalent of Hitler sending troops to bail out Mussolini in he Balkans while he was planning his invasion of the USSR, and we know how that turned out.
(To be fair, Biden could make the same miscalculation and divert his scarce resources to states he’s unlikely to win, but my hope is that he learned from Clinton’s mistakes in 2016.)
As long as Biden keeps the pressure on in Texas, it throws the Trump campaign into further turmoil. And it could be a moot point anyway, with Trump also needing the state hardest hit by COVID-19 to win.
Trump even has other NASCAR drivers and racing journalists clapping back at him now. At this rate, aside from his (admittedly disturbingly large and loud) base, who will still be with this man come November?
The other day I responded to an anti-anti-Trump Facebook friend by pointing out that pretty much every criticism of Joe Biden – he mangles his words, he seems like he’s not all there sometimes, he’s a bit handsy with women, he’s in thrall to the most radical elements of his political party – apply at least double to Donald Trump.
As Jonathan Last and Sarah Longwell put in on The Bulwark Secret Podcast (which is absolutely worth sending a few bucks to The Bulwark to access it): every Trumpy criticism of Biden works only if you assume Biden’s opponent is not Donald Trump.
Jonathan Chait says that contrary to popular belief, “Sleepy Joe” is actually running the perfect campaign for 2020:
It would obviously be a fallacy to attribute Biden’s current lead entirely, or even mostly, to his campaign strategy. The polls primarily reflect a massive public repudiation of Donald Trump’s presidency. But Biden is also doing some things right.
For all the derision that has surrounded Biden’s generally low profile, it is the broadly correct move. Trump is and always has been deeply unpopular. He managed to overcome this handicap in 2016 because Hillary Clinton was also deeply unpopular, though somewhat less so, and turning the election into a choice allowed anti-Clinton sentiment to overpower anti-Trump sentiment. The fact that Biden has attracted less attention than Trump is not (as many Democrats have fretted) a failure. It is a strategic choice, and a broadly correct one.
Second, Biden’s isn’t just hiding out. He is doing some things. He has delivered speeches, given interviews, and met with protesters. These forums have tended to display his more attractive qualities, especially his empathy. Only one of them (his Breakfast Clubinterview) yielded a major gaffe.
And third, Biden has managed to communicate a coherent campaign theme. This is often a challenge for Democrats, who usually want to change a whole bunch of policies (health care! environment! progressive taxation!) that resist a simple unifying slogan. But Biden has been able to carry forward the message he used to start his campaign, which he built around Trump’s shocking embrace of racist supporters at Charlottesville, into a promise of healing racist divisions.
…Biden has also done an effective job of using the most popular parts of the protesters’ message while distancing himself from its unpopular elements. Biden speaks for the transracial majority that supports systematic police reform and opposes defunding the cops. Trump is left to represent the minority that sees Floyd’s death as an outlier requiring no serious changes.
Electability was a subject of bitter contention during the Democratic primary. Many progressive critics argued either that electability is inherently unknowable, or that the key electability dynamic was the ability to motivate left-wingers who might otherwise not vote. Instead, Biden’s campaign seems to be vindicating a more conventional theory of the case. He has appealed to progressives by adopting some of the most popular pieces of their program, while steering clear of its controversial aspects. And he is winning in the very conventional way: by stealing voters in the middle who are conflicted.
2016 was a choice between two deeply unpopular candidates. In the end, Democrats nominated the only person who could lose the election to Donald Trump, and Republicans nominated the only person who could lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
In 2020 it’s between an incumbent Republican President who is still widely hated, and a Democrat whom no one (outside of the far-right and far-left fringe) really seems to mind all that much. And as long as Biden can keep this election campaign a referendum on Trump, he was win bigly.
Biden’s opponents are making the same mistake the PC Party made while campaigning against Jean Chretien in 1993: they assumed he was yesterday’s man, out of step with the times and easy to beat.
That’s far from the only reason the once-mighty Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was routed – the PC vote was split badly by the emergence of the Bloc and Reform Parties, and the party was being led by a hopelessly incompetent future Twitter troll – but the fact is, Chretien didn’t last so long in politics without learning how to play the game skillfully. The same applies to Joe Biden in 2020.
If Hans Christian Heg didn’t want people tearing down his statue, he shouldn’t have engaged in shameful behavior like (checks notes) giving his life in the fight against the institution of slavery:
Fury exploded outside the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday night as protesters smashed windows at the statehouse, attacked a state senator, and tore down two iconic statues — including one of an abolitionist who died trying to end slavery during the Civil War.
They reject electoral politics on principle and are at best indifferent to what happens this fall. On some level they probably prefer Trump to a moderate Democrat, because they think he is hastening the demise of the system. “After Hitler, our turn.”
Megan McArdle, no Trump supporter, says the President called it after Charlottesville:
…most of us have slowly forgotten about what else Trump said, although it was almost as controversial at the time: “So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
This came in for much derision. In The Post, Princeton historian David Bell declared that the distinction between slavery-defending Vice President John C. Calhoun and George Washington “is not difficult to make.” Jim Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, called the attempt to equate Confederates with Founding Fathers “absurd” and “unacceptable for the president of the United States,” while Douglas Blackmon of the University of Virginia said, “The most kind explanation of that can only be ignorance, and I don’t say that to insult the president.”
Three years later . . . can it be? Trump looks prescient, and his critics perhaps a touch naive. The iconoclasts, having largely defeated the rebel army, are turning on the Founding Fathers. It was supposed to be trivially easy to articulate those distinctions, yet I have not seen a flurry of commentary from historians eager to educate the protesters as they schooled Trump.
Even George Washington University, whose very name constitutes an endorsement of our first president, seems to have quietly removed a bust of Washington for safekeeping after it was toppled from its pedestal, rather than loudly condemn an attack on the father of our country.
What Trump understood, and his critics perhaps didn’t, was that you cannot credibly declare that some revolution in social affairs has a natural stopping point unless you personally commit to stopping it when it goes too far. It’s not enough to say that very clear distinctions can be drawn between allowing gays to marry and forcing people to cater weddings that conflict with their religious beliefs; between the father of our country and the traitor who led a rebel army in defense of slavocracy. When the moment arrives, you have to actually draw them.
If you don’t, you will cede issue after issue to the radicals. And if uou make those tacit concessions again and again and again, then however privately you may rue it, you will nonetheless end up with something very different from your idealistic vision. Something that looks like . . . well, like the Republicans who quietly ceded their party and their conscience to Trump, one outrage at a time.
Trump may be too far behind Biden to win this fall. (The latest New York Times poll has him at 36%, approximately Alf Landon’s percentage of the vote running against FDR in 1936.) But a lot can happen in 144 days, and Trump’s only real chance is if he has this kind of culture-war red meat to throw to his fanatical supporters.
If Joe Biden hasn’t loudly spoken out against this, he needs to get in front it immediately.