Saturday, October 31, 2020


As I type this, FiveThirtyEight gives Joe Biden an 89% chance of winning and predicts that he'll win the popular vote by 8 points and the Electoral College 347-191. The Economist says Biden has a 96% chance of winning; it projects a 350-188 Electoral College win. Biden leads Trump by 7.8 points in the Real Clear Politics polling average; RCP's map with every close state resolved in favor of the polling leader has Biden at 345 electoral votes and Trump at 193.

Politico's Steven Shepard tells us that President Trump's chances of winning "hinge on a polling screw-up way worse than 2016." At The New York Times, The Upshot runs the numbers and says that Biden will win Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, and Georgia even if the polls are off by as much as they were in 2016. At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson insists that "the 2020 election won’t be a 2016 sequel" because, among other things, pollsters have learned to weight their surveys by education, which makes an undercount of non-college-educated white Trump voters less likely; because there are fewer undecided voters than in 2016; and because the polls have been stable for months.

That's the good news. Here's the dishearening news. First, from Politico's Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon:
Democrats are sounding the alarm about weak voter turnout rates in Florida’s biggest county, Miami-Dade, where a strong Republican showing is endangering Joe Biden’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state.

... Democrats are turning out at lower rates than Republicans and at lower rates than at this point in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won by 29 percentage points here and still lost the state to Donald Trump.

One particular area of concern is the relative share of ballots cast by young voters of color and less-reliable Democratic voters....

To date, Republicans have turned out 59 percent of their voters in Miami-Dade and Democrats have turned out 53 percent, a 6-point margin. That’s twice the margin Republicans had at this point in 2016.

Among Hispanic voters, who make up nearly 70 percent of the county’s population, the deficit is even bigger — 9 points.
And Bloomberg's Tyler Pager has more bad news:
In Arizona, two-thirds of Latino registered voters have not yet cast a ballot. In Florida, half of Latino and Black registered voters have not yet voted but more than half of White voters have cast ballots, according to data from Catalist, a Democratic data firm. In Pennsylvania, nearly 75% of registered Black voters have not yet voted, the data shows.

The firm’s analysis of early vote numbers also show a surge of non-college educated White voters, who largely back President Donald Trump, compared to voters of color, who overwhelmingly support Biden.
But Tom Bonier of the Democratic data firm TargetSmart says we shouldn't worry:

And in other states:

So are Democrats on track to win, or should we be bracing ourselves for another Trump upset?

I suspect that the polling margin really is too large for Trump to overcome. It's possible that Trump will win some close states where Biden has a polling lead -- I assume he'll win Florida, because Democrats routinely screw up there -- and there's a risk that the president might be one or two states away from a legitimate Electoral College win, at which point mail-ballot problems and partisan decisions by Republican judges (which is what we should always call them) could tip the election to Trump.

Or, more likely, Biden will win, but by a narrower margin than the polls predict. The betting market PredictIt is projecting a Biden electoral vote total of 305, a number that sometimes drops to 290 when bettors decide that Trump will win North Carolina. That seems much more likely to me than a Biden Electoral College win in the mid-300s.

If that's what happens, it will be because Biden didn't find a way to persuade both college-educated white voters and non-white voters to turn out in massive numbers for him. He's spent much of the campaign talking about the pandemic (which is helping him with older voters) and touting endorsements from Republicans (which might be helping him with moderate white suburbanites) -- but he hasn't done the same level of outreach to non-white voters (or, for that matter, young voters). Maybe it takes a Barack Obama to put together a coalition broad enough for a victory as large as the one he had in 2008, and resilient enough for the win he had in 2012.

But it shouldn't be that hard. Republicans are awful, and Democrats have more popular ideas. Democrats need to find a way to hold and expand on their base. I think Biden has done enough to win, but he might not have done enough to get the big victory Democrats deserve.

Friday, October 30, 2020


If Donald Trump loses the election, this is certainly plausible:
Imagine that on January 21st Kayleigh McEnany begins broadcasting regular press briefings from the Trump Hotel a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House; picture the 45th president hosting congressional leaders in a replica Oval Office reconstructed inside his hotel to plot GOP strategy and rail against the injustices done his supporters, using Twitter to stoke ongoing protests and MAGA-nation resistance across the country and touring to show up at boat parades and host his signature rallies. What if Trump wakes up each day attempting to explicitly—not just passively—undermine a Biden domestic policy at home and foreign policy overseas?
This scenario comes from a Politico Magazine piece by Garrett Graff that tries to imagine a Trump post-presidency, and it's more or less what I expect Trump to do, except for the replica Oval Office. (He'll set himself up in a replica office that doesn't look anything like the Oval, and he'll claim that it's much more impressive. I don't know how many members of Congress will actually show up, but I'm sure Matt Gaetz will be in regular attendance.)

But the next part of Graff's imagined future seems much less plausible:
[Trump] could go as far as even appointing his own “shadow cabinet,” fundraising off his aggrieved fan base as they underwrite his most loyal aides like Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, who would also be out of office alongside Trump and casting about for how to chart their own political future. They could hold their own political meetings, press conferences and appear every night on Fox to stir the national political pot.
Share the spotlight? Trump? Is Graff joking?

In everything he's attempted throughout his life, Trump has needed the assistance of subordinates who (unlike him) know what they're doing -- imagine how hapless his efforts to steal the election would be without the evil expertise of Bill Barr, Louis DeJoy, and a slew of voting-rights-averse Federalist Society judges -- but he's oblivious to this fact and continues to think of himself as a solo act. His fans feel the same way about him. Not only won't he have a shadow cabinet in his self-styled government in exile, I assume he'll never speak to Pence or Pompeo after he leaves office, or speak to any other aide who wasn't with him back in 2015 and 2016.

But I recommend the Graff piece because it runs through the many creative ways Trump can continue to be corrupt and degenerate as an ex-president. An example:
Intelligence professionals can envision, for instance, Trump standing on the world stage alongside his favorite global strongmen—say Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Hungary’s Viktor Orban or Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro—bragging about his new joint development deals and the world leaders willing to host him even as they reject entreaties from President Biden. Think “Trump Tower Damascus will be a new start for my peace-loving friend Bashar al-Assad.” Or even imagine Trump, Rodman-style, turning up courtside at North Korean basketball games with his buddy Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, just as Joe Biden turns up the pressure on the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear program.
Sounds plausible.

Graff also believes Trump could have a presidential library that's more like a theme park:
Trump could easily reimagine the very essence of such an endeavor, turning his presidential library into a for-profit arm of the Trump Organization that becomes a mecca for his devoted MAGA fans the country (and world) over—a “Trumpland” Florida tourist attraction to rival Disney, SeaWorld or Universal Studios, complete with regular guest appearances from his family members, live broadcasts from Trump’s own media endeavors and no shortage of Trump-branded merchandise. It’s not hard to imagine, at least in near-term years, attendance in the low millions—a potentially rich branding exercise.
In a country where there are "Trump stores" in many states, I have no doubt that the ex-president could attract many white heartland visitors to a venue like this.

But is Trump capable of getting something like this built? I could imagine plans so grandiose that the damn thing never gets built at all, just the way many of Trump's most excessive dream projects haven't been built. It would be hilarious if the guy much of America believes is the world's greatest builder became the first modern president who couldn't get his presidential library constructed. But I think that could happen.


The New York Times has published a series of op-eds about the Trump years under the heading "What Have We Lost?" Bret Stephens is one of the contributors. He writes that what we've lost is "principled conservatism," and he pinpoints a moment when he believes it all went south for his side:
How did the conservative movement reach this pass? Hemingway’s great line about how one goes bankrupt — “gradually, then suddenly” — seems apt. But the tipping point arrived on a precise date: July 20, 2015. That was the day Rush Limbaugh came to Trump’s political rescue after the developer nearly self-immolated with his remark that John McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war, refusing early release at the price of gruesome torture, should not be considered a war hero.

“This is a great, great teachable moment here, this whole thing with Trump and McCain,” Limbaugh gushed. Americans, he said, “have not seen an embattled public figure stand up for himself, double down and tell everybody to go to hell.”

Here was a stunning moral inversion. Limbaugh turned public respect for McCain’s wartime record into an act of surrender to political correctness. And he treated Trump’s shamelessness as an expression of moral courage. It set the template for the campaign, and presidency, that followed.
So conservatism was doing just fine, but then two blowhards attacked John McCain, and all the noble yeoman farmers in America abandoned principled Burkean conservatism and became howling yobs? Is that what happened, according to Stephens?

I'd call that revisionist history, but Stephens doesn't appear to be rewriting the past -- he simply doesn't understand what happened, because he lives in a rarefied sphrere and has never had any idea what rank-and-file conservatives actually believe.

A large portion of the right never trusted McCain. He wasn't fully trusted even when he emerged from a fairly crowded field as the party's presidential nominee in 2008. Many on the right hated him for supporting immigration reform, and referred to him as "Juan McCain." He was regularly denounced by right-wing media heroes such as Michelle Malkin and Mark Levin.

If this was a watershed moment, it was because it was the moment when Republican voters said, This time we can actually vote for a candidate who talks the way our favorite stars talk on AM radio and Fox News! They'd been listening to these people for years. Their conservatism was Limbaugh/Levin/Malkin conservatism already. They just hadn't had a candidate who talked like that and could win.

Why call this the tipping point? A month earlier, in his speech announcing his candidacy, Trump had denounced Mexican immigrants to America as drug dealers and rapists -- and he shot up in the polls. If the McCain incident had never happened, Trump would still have been Trump. He still would have won. And he would have won because a majority of white male America already felt the way he did, or at least didn't find anything objectionable in his set of opinions or the way he expressed them. This is what conservatism had become well before that announcement. This is what talk radio and Fox had done to the American mind. It's what Fox had done to Trump's mind. It just took a while before it disturbed Bret Stephens's brunch.

Thursday, October 29, 2020


I'm not taking this admonishment very seriously:

The first reason I'm not taking it seriously is that I know our candidate will reach out. He's been reaching out all through the campaign. I think it's a heartfelt wish of his that his overtures will be welcomed and that the GOP fever will finally break.

But the real reason I'm not taking it seriously is that the fever won't break. Trump supporters won't want a rapprochement. They now believe Joe Biden is one of the most corrupt politicians in American history. They believe he's a criminal mastermind, but they also believe he's too senile to be in charge of his own administration, which they imagine will be controlled by a cabal of radicals who want to silence dissent, take everyone's guns, and lock down the country until the economy is destroyed. A large and growing percentage of them believe all prominent Democrats are cannibal pedophiles; they think private communications from members of the Biden family will prove this. Even the ones who don't believe the truly crazy stuff think we all wallow in cop-killing and baby-killing. They think we want to ban cars, meat, and air conditioning. And, of course, they won't accept Biden's victory because they'll believe it was obtained fraudulently, no matter how large his winning margin is.

I could go on, but you know all this. You know that the goal of the Republican Party will be to make it impossible for Democrats to govern successfully so the GOP can engineer a wave election in 2022 and another one in 2024. Unlike Democrats -- who would have cooperated with Trump if he'd put forward a serious infrastructure plan, or an immigration plan that protected Dreamers, Republicans in Congress will cooperate with Biden on absolutely nothing. And the Republican Supreme Court justices -- we should all start calling them that because that's what they are -- will devote themselves to blocking everything substantial Biden and the Democrats manage to do, as well as much of the progressive change of the past century.

Under different circumstances, sure, I'd reach out after a Biden win. But there's no point.


Here's a series of tweets from Ben Shapiro:

"IFR" means "infection fatality rate." That's what most people are focusing on, inluding many of us who aren't dismissive of the pandemic the way Shapiro is.

Maybe we need to talk about the survivors more:

And here's one response to Westerfeld's tweets:

These are people whose COVID left them with physical ailments that require surgery. Then there are others are with significant cognitive impairment:
After contracting the coronavirus in March, Michael Reagan lost all memory of his 12-day vacation in Paris, even though the trip was just a few weeks earlier.

Several weeks after Erica Taylor recovered from her Covid-19 symptoms of nausea and cough, she became confused and forgetful, failing to even recognize her own car, the only Toyota Prius in her apartment complex’s parking lot.

Lisa Mizelle, a veteran nurse practitioner at an urgent care clinic who fell ill with the virus in July, finds herself forgetting routine treatments and lab tests, and has to ask colleagues about terminology she used to know automatically.

“I leave the room and I can’t remember what the patient just said,” she said, adding that if she hadn’t exhausted her medical leave she’d take more time off.

“It scares me to think I’m working,” Ms. Mizelle, 53, said. “I feel like I have dementia.”
Or breathing difficulties, like Mara Gay, a 33-year-old member of the New York Times editorial board who was a runner before her infection and went on to write:
I am one of the lucky ones. I never needed a ventilator. I survived. But 27 days later, I still have lingering pneumonia. I use two inhalers, twice a day. I can’t walk more than a few blocks without stopping.
The virus is less deadly than it was now, because we know more about treating it. It's quite possible that the current wave of infections won't result in as much death as previous waves, for that reason:

But death rates aren't the whole story. Right-wingers want them to be the whole story, and we've inadvertently given them an opening to weaponize medical science's increased ability to save COVID patients' lives. The president is talking about death only when he talks this way:
“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. That’s what it really affects,” the president said. “In some states, thousands of people — nobody young. Below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system, who knows? Take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”
But there's much more to this disease than that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


There are quite a few good polls for Joe Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party listed at FiveThirtyEight today. And then there's a poll from an obscure firm called Spry Strategies, which shows President Trump at near-parity in job favorability (49% approval, 50% disapproval) and barely trailing Biden in the presidential race (Biden 48%, Trump 46%).

When I saw this, I concluded that Spry must be a right-leaning pollster. But when I clicked on the link for the poll, I saw that it's host at -- the website of WoLF, which doesn't seem right-wing.

* That female humans, the class of people called women, are oppressed by men under a male-supremacist system called patriarchy.

* That patriarchy is organized around the extraction of resources from female bodies and minds in the service of men, including reproductive, sexual, emotional, and labor resources.

* That gender is a hierarchical caste system that organizes male supremacy. Gender cannot be reformed – it must be abolished.

* That we are enmeshed in overlapping systems of sadistic power built on misogyny, white privilege, stolen wealth, and human supremacism, and all of those must be dismantled.
So this is a left-wing organization -- but from there it gets complicated. The poll includes questions about Trump and the presidential race, but it's primarily a poll meant to elicit objections to the societal treatment of trans women as women. (Sample question: "Do you think men who are sex offenders or domestic abusers should be allowed to serve their sentences in women's prisons?") There are self-declared feminists who reject the notion that trans women are women, but it's a minority position in feminism.

So what we have here is a feminist but contrarian group hiring a pollster that is -- yes -- extremely right-wing. Click the "Clients" tab at the Spry Strategies site and you'll see Florida goveror Ron DeSantis, the North Carolina Republican Party, the Business Roundtable, and the Trump-aligned Great Amerca PAC listed. Spry's Twitter feed makes the firm's leaning obvious:

If you're a left-leaning group, why would you hire these folks?

Well, Wikipedia tells us that WoLF has worked with right-wingers before:
In 2017, WoLF partnered with the Family Policy Alliance (FPA), an affiliate of the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. WoLF and FPA filed a joint amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in opposition to a lower court ruling in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender male high school student who desired to use the boys' restroom in his school.

In 2019, the Heritage Foundation hosted a panel against the Equality Act featuring members of WoLF, which sparked criticism from progressives. On August 20, 2019, WoLF filed an amicus curiae opposing the inclusion of gender identity protections for transgender people in the U.S. Supreme Court case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The head of WoLF is Lierre Keith, who (again per Wikipedia) was an anti-pornography feminist in the 1980s (which put her at odds with parts of the feminist movement and in agreement with many conservatives). She's fighting with vegans now, despite a seemingly lefty perspective on food:
Keith's 2009 book The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability is an examination of the ecological effects of agriculture and vegetarianism. In The Vegetarian Myth, she sees agriculture as destroying entire ecosystems, such as the North American prairie. Agriculture also destroys topsoil, according to Keith.

Keith is associated with the Deep Green Resistance movement, and together with Aric McBay and Derrick Jensen, she co-wrote Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet, published in May 2011. The book describes itself as a "manual on how to build a resistance movement that will bring down industrial civilization and save the planet," and "evaluates strategic options for resistance, from nonviolence to guerrilla warfare, and the conditions required for those options to be successful."
I haven't listened to this podcast interview with Keith, but it promises "The Dark Truths Behind Veganism & Vegetarianism."

Is this the horseshoe theory in action? I don't really believe that the radical left and radical right are generally allies, but there seem to be quite a few lefties (and, alas, not nearly as many righties) who like to fight with people on their own side much more than they do with the folks on the other side. That seems to be what's happening here.


Axios tells us that the GOP will need to change after the 2020 election -- no, this time for real.
Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.

Why it matters: You can't win elections without diversity, bigger population centers and sufficient money.
Actually, you can if you have enough right-wing billionaire cash and a federal court system that will tilt the electoral playing field in your favor. But go on.
Flashback: Before President Trump, the GOP acknowledged all this. Then-RNC Chair Reince Priebus said in his "autopsy" after Mitt Romney's loss in 2012:

"We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities."

What's happening: Trump threw that out and realigned the GOP base away from suburbs and wealth, and toward working-class whites in small towns.
No -- what happened is that the GOP demonized Barack Obama in the run-up to the 2014 midterms (Ebola! the caravan!) and did very well without making any effort whatsoever to change the party's level of inclusion.

And before that, there was talk of reorienting the party after the 2008 election -- remember Jeb Bush and the "pizza summit"? But the Tea Party -- which was Trumpism without Trump -- led the GOP to big wins in the 2010 midterms. So much for reorientation.

But go on, Axios. Tell us why it will really happen this time.
New Gallup polling finds Trump remains above 50% with rural residents, white men and white adults without college degrees.

But he has dropped nine points just this year with suburbanites — falling with both men and women — to 35%, after winning them in 2016.

Republicans have hemorrhaged support among suburban women during the Trump years. Now, the GOP even struggles in exurbs.
But how much of this is about the GOP and how much of it is about Trump personally?

I've been saying that Trump will continue to be the leader of the GOP even if he loses this election -- he'll insist he won and was cheated out of victory, his supporters will believe it, and he'll probably announce a 2024 run shortly after the polls close, or possibly on Biden's inauguration day. In a way, I hope I'm right, because I don't know that the Democratic gains in the suburbs can survive the end of the Trump era (and the eventual end of the pandemic). We've been hearing for years that the Republican Party is doomed, but it keeps coming back. It wasn't supposed to come back in 2016. It shouldn't be competitive this year.

I'll believe there's a change if Democrats win this year and keep winning. But they've elected two presidents in the past thirty years, and each time the party was shellacked two years after the initial presidential win. Reports of the Republican Party's death always seem to be premature. Democrats can't get complacente even if they have a big win this year. They seem to be beating Trump. But after that, they have to start motivating voters to beat the GOP the way they motivated voters to vote against Trump. Otherwise, Republicans will rise again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


I'm frequently told that I should despise critics of President Trump who are Republicans, or who are recent defectors from the Republican Party, because their party affiliation means that they spent many years doing horrible things -- agitating for war in Iraq, shoveling more and more money to the already wealthy -- while attacking the good things Democrats have tried to do (expansion of healthcare coverage, gun regulations, encouragement of clean energy).

I understand this argument. Even the most fervent anti-Trump Republicans have many sins to atone for.

And yet I'm grateful to them because they seem bolder in their talk than many Democrats, starting with our presidential candidate, much as I admire him in many ways. Here's one example:
Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough again called for Democrats to pack the Supreme Court in response to the GOP nominating and confirming a justice in the final year of President Donald Trump’s first term in office. Scarborough earlier this month called on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to pack the Supreme Court “in response to Republican radicalism.” ...

“The Democrats are going to expand the court unless they just want to be run over the way they were run over the past two years with Mitch McConnell changing the rules of the Senate time and time again,” Scarborough outlined. “So … that’s up to the Democrats. I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re strong enough to do it or not, but I’ll tell you what, Republicans would do it.”

“If Harry Reid had done this to them, to shove two liberals down their throats and lie through their teeth to do it both times — you know what, I’m a former Republican, but I know how Republicans think,” he continued.
And then there's this:

I do hear elected Democrats talking about trying to win a big victory (if only because they know that a small victory might be overturned by the federal courts and a smaller popular-vote victory could lead to a legitimate win by Trump in the Electoral College). But I don't hear the leaders of the Democratic Party talking about crushing Trump this way. So even though Kristol writes that he wants a crushing defeat for Trump in the hope that it will "open up the possibility for a re-making of the GOP and of conservatism itself," at least he wants to lay waste to the party as it exists now. He seems much more vengeful than Joe Biden and the Democrats' leaders in the House and Senate.

Similarly, Charlie Sykes, Kristol's colleague at The Bulwark, has said of the GOP as it now exists that he wants to "burn it all down."

I'm sure I'd loathe the party that Sykes and Kristol hope will emerge in place of the current GOP. But I appreciate the attitude. I wish the leading Democrats had some of it.


So what inspired this tweet?

A story in the New York Post inspired it:
The Post’s exposés on Hunter Biden appear to have helped spark a rush of early voters seeing if they can change their minds....

More than 58.5 million have already cast their ballots, and searches for “Can I change my vote” started trending over the last few days — linked to searches for “Hunter Biden,” according to Google Trends data.
Here's a graph of the Google Trends data that definitely looks like a completely spontaneous reaction to the Hunter Biden stories, and totally doesn't look like a coordinated pro-Trump effort to get this search trending starting at 4:00 this morning:

Remember, the Hunter Biden stories started appearing in the New York Post on October 14. Why would they lead to a tiny ripple of interest in this subject starting ten days later, followed by a sudden burst of interest today?

The only people stupid enough to believe that this is spontaneous are people living in the Murdoch media bubble, plus the president of the United States. Oh, wait, that's redundant.

The Post story correctly notes that there are some states where you do have the opportunity, up to a point, to change an early vote. So will Republicans try to throw attempts at vote-switching into the mix in order to create the confusion and bamboozlement they need to try to steal the election after November 3? And will the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court help them?

Monday, October 26, 2020


I keep thinking about this chart, from the Upshot at The New York Times:

I keep staring at the column labeled "If Polls Are as Wrong as They Were in ... 2016." I don't think they will be as wrong -- most pollsters now know that they need to weight their polls for education, so I don't think we'll have as many uncounted Trump voters. But who knows?

If we do, notice how the election turns out. Joe Biden wins the popular vote by 6 points. Let's eliminate third-party candidates and say that's a 53%-47% victory. It would be the second-largest popular-vote win this century, behind only Barack Obama's 7-point win in 2008.

But Obama won the Electoral College by more than two to one. He got 365 electoral votes. John McCain got 173.

According to the chart above, in this scenario, Joe Biden won't win Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas (where a new Times poll out today says Biden is trailing), or Maine's second district. He'll win Minnesota and Pennsylvania, but barely.

The electoral vote under these circumstances? Biden 280, Trump 258. A squeaker.

This may happen despite a popular-vote margin of something like 9 million. That's what 53%-47% looks like if -- as some observers predict -- we have turnout of 150 million voters.

And it seems to me that if the polls are off the same way they were in 2016 but slightly more so, that could give Biden a 5-point popular-vote win -- a win by 7,500,000 votes -- while Trump wins Pennsylvania and Minnesota, and is thus reelected with 288 electoral votes. (Yes, Trump could win more electoral votes with a 5-point popular-vote loss than Biden would with a 6-point popular vote win.)

Even if this doesn't happen, it's outrageous that it could happen. This is not democracy. It's insanity.


President Trump thinks the pandemic is nearly over.
“We are coming around, we’re rounding the turn, we have the vaccines, we have everything,” Trump said at a rally in Londonderry, N.H., on Sunday. “Even without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn. It’s going to be over.”
He says this amid a surge of infections in the U.S. and an outbreak in his vice president's office. None of this has changed his message. His own infection didn't change his message: The virus isn't so bad. It doesn't cause serious consequences for most people. It will disappear soon on its own. Vaccines will be here in weeks. We have a cure. And besides, it doesn't cause serious consequences for most people.

Could anything make him change the way he talks about the virus?

Oh, sure, one thing could: a Joe Biden victory.

I don't know what Trump will do about the pandemic in the lame-duck period if Biden wins. It's easy to imagine that he'd want to stop funneling money to drug companies for treatments and vaccines, just because he wouldn't want vaccines or treatments to arrive on Biden's watch, and he'd want to punish the drug companies for failing to deliver a vaccine before Election Day.

But if he loses, I think he'll spend most of the lame-duck period trying to overturn the results of the election. That will completely distract him. So I suspect that the federal government's inadequate response to the virus will be largely unchanged.

But as soon as Biden is sworn in, Trump will discover the seriousness of the crisis. I assume he'll start doing a weekly Fox & Friends appearance again, and he'll probably holding regular MAGA rallies. (I believe he'll hold one during Biden's inauguration, to announce his 2024 presidential candidacy.) Also, he'll have more time than ever to tweet.

America won't turn a corner instantly. Even if there's a vaccine soon, it will take time to roll out, and it might not be very effective. Case numbers will probably be high all winter.

So Trump -- and Fox News, and the MAGA base, and congressional Republicans -- will suddenly notice that the coronavirus is bad and we're in a national crisis. The crisis, of course, will be all the fault of Joe Biden and the Democrats. We'll hear a lot of talk about how many people died in New York State nursing homes in the early days of the crisis, under a "Democrat governor." High case numbers in "Democrat cities" will be cherry-picked. Biden's failure to instantly get case numbers down will be endlessly analyzed. Even if he does get case numbers down, a decrease in fatalities will persist for a few weeks after the case numbers start to decline. That will be Biden's fault, too.

We all assumed that nothing could get Republicans to take the pandemic seriously. We're probably about to learn that that wasn't true. It will become real to them as soon as they can blame all of it on Democrats.

Sunday, October 25, 2020


A New York Times editorial blames the degraded state of the Republican Party on Donald Trump.
Of all the things President Trump has destroyed, the Republican Party is among the most dismaying.
The editorial acknowledges that the party had problems before Trump came along.
“Destroyed” is perhaps too simplistic, though. It would be more precise to say that Mr. Trump accelerated his party’s demise, exposing the rot that has been eating at its core for decades and leaving it a hollowed-out shell devoid of ideas, values or integrity, committed solely to preserving its own power even at the expense of democratic norms, institutions and ideals.
But the editorial ultimately concludes that Trump is the problem.
Today’s G.O.P. ... has ... allowed itself to be co-opted and radicalized by Trumpism. Its ideology has been reduced to a slurry of paranoia, white grievance and authoritarian populism. Its governing vision is reactionary, a cross between obstructionism and owning the libs....

With his dark gospel, the president has enthralled the Republican base, rendering other party leaders too afraid to stand up to him.
But the party was headed here with or without Trump. Keep in mind who's peddling some of the vilest opposition research against Joe Biden -- not just Rudy Giuliani, a prominent figure in the party since the 1980s, but Steve Bannon, who's been a right-wing propagandist since the mid-2000s:
Multiple videos and images purportedly showing Hunter Biden engaging in sexual acts with several women and using drugs were uploaded on a Chinese digital video platform Saturday evening.

The videos and images appear to be uploaded by a single user on GTV, with many of the photos seemingly from a third-party laptop. GTV, a subsidiary of GTV Media Group, was founded in April 2020 by Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to President Trump....

The Washington Examiner confirmed earlier this week that Bannon had access to the contents of the hard drive believed to have belonged previously to Hunter Biden.
But remarkably, this Hunter Biden leak isn't the vilest piece of anti-Democratic oppo out there right now. That honor goes to a "scoop" from a new site called National File:
National File has obtained what a whistleblower has identified as a copy of the complete diary of Ashley Blazer Biden, the 39-year-old daughter of Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, dating from during the 2020 presidential campaign. National File also knows the reported precise location of the physical diary, and has been told by a whistleblower that there exists an audio recording of Ashley Biden admitting this is her diary.

In the diary, which our source says belongs to the former vice president’s daughter, the author writes of her struggle with drug abuse. Ashley Biden’s struggle with drugs was widely publicized in 2009.

According to our source, the diary also details Ashley Biden’s unhealthy relationship with sex....
What follow are excerpts from a diary -- real? fake? -- that are extraordinarily intimate, and that none of us were entitled to see. I'll spare you the details, but even if these excerpts are genuine, they don't come close to making the case the story's author is trying to make: that Joe Biden engaged in inappropriate sexualized behavior, with his daughter as victim. If the diaries are genuine, their publication is a repulsive violation of Ashley Biden, and if they're fake, they're libelous.

And who wrote this story? Patrick Howley, who was a gutter-dweller years before 2016. Here's Howley two years earlier:
Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson has apologized for reporter Patrick Howley's sexist and inappropriate comments about Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray....

On March 19, Howley sparked backlash for tweeting “Not to make an obvious point, but who the Hell would want to pump Rosie Gray?” and "'Pumping' @RosieGray must be the most traumatic experience since Somalia," in response to a blog post which had pushed the sexist and crude suggestion that Gray got her Buzzfeed stories through a sexual relationship with another reporter.
Howley was notorious by then for sexism and racism:
... a Howley-authored piece under the headline “GOP to Howley: Stop masturbating to lesbian Ellen Page” was removed by The Daily Caller after the actress came out of the closet.

In January, Howley ridiculed “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels for doing “his duty to progressive America” and hiring “an unfunny black woman.” Clearly well-versed in the world of comedy, Howley repeatedly called the new cast member, Sasheer Zamata, “unfunny.”
More recently, he's specialized in oppo, some of it based in fact:
In 2019, Howley broke the story of a blackface and KKK costume photograph in Virginia governor Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook after receiving a tip from a "concerned citizen".... Howley's website also broke the news of sexual assault allegations against Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax, which it posted without doing fact-checking....

In 2020, writing for, Howley broke the story of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a woman who was not his wife.
Then, a few days ago, there was this:
Four of his Merchant Marine Academy classmates say Mark Kelly, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, was falsely accused of dressing up for Halloween decades ago as Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

National File, a conservative news site, published images Friday asserting the image was Kelly, along with images from a yearbook reportedly dating to the mid-1980s. The site did not quote anyone verifying the images were of Kelly....

Mark Baden, Kelly's roommate at the Merchant Marine Academy, also said the images are not of Kelly.

"I was the First Rotation Regimental Commander," Baden said. "These photos are absolutely not Mark Kelly, and anyone saying that is lying.” ...

Another classmate said through a statement by Kelly's campaign that the images are not of Kelly, a former Navy combat pilot and NASA astronaut.

"I attended the Merchant Marine Academy with Mark," Ed McDonald said. "I attended this event as well and am in this photo. This is a group from 2nd Company. Mark was not in 2nd Company, and that is not him in these photos."
Patrick Howley, the National File reporter, stood by his story.
And waho else is involved in this smear?
One classmate, Peter Lindsey, said in a statement through the campaign that he got a message via LinkedIn from someone who said he was working on a research project about Kelly and sought to verify the identity of the man wearing the costume.

Lindsey said the person shared the costume images through LinkedIn "and asked if the person in the costume was Mark Kelly. I told them no, and want to say again, Mark is not in those photos. I have spoken to numerous classmates about this this evening, and they concur that he is not in any of these pictures. The people spreading these lies should stop."

The person who reached out to Lindsey was identified by the campaign as a paid consultant for a super political action committee aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., that is spending millions of dollars to help defeat Kelly.
So the smear merchant who chose to publish extremely sensitive excerpts from a diary purportedly written by Joe Biden's daughter is peddling a false accusation on behalf of a Mitch McConnell super PAC.

Donald Trump didn't drag the Republican Party into the sewer. It was already there.

Saturday, October 24, 2020


We know the reasons for the various Hunter Biden stories: They're intended to turn the election around at the last minute, or, failing that, they're intended to keep Joe Biden under a cloud of suspicion (at least among Fox News watchers and their friends and relatives) for as long as he's president. But Anne Appelbaum, writing for The Atlantic, hints at a third use for the stories:
By talking about Hunter Biden, the Trump family, especially the Trump children, also hopes to deflect attention from their own greatest weakness, namely the amoral, kleptocratic nepotism that they embody like no family ever before in American history. Their use of this tactic is not remotely subtle. Last summer, Donald Trump Jr. was in Indonesia to promote two Trump-branded properties; Eric Trump has traveled to Uruguay; Donald Trump himself has stayed at his own properties more than 500 times as president, using his presence as a form of advertising. And yet, days after authorities approved plans for a new Trump golf course in Scotland, Eric Trump took to Twitter to declare that “when my father became president we stepped out of all international business.”
I don't believe anyone in the Trump family will ever go to jail -- Trump is a billionaire (yes, really), and America rarely incarcerates billionaires or their relatives -- but I do believe that he and his family will spend quite a bit of time in court after he leaves office.

I think the Trumps are hoping that the Hunter Biden story will still be in the air when their trials take place so they can say, Corrupt? Us? I'll tell you who's corrupt -- the Biden family is corrupt! We're innocent compared to the Bidens!

Will it work on a jury? Will it work on a New York jury?

Hard to say, but the Trumps undoubtedly believe it's worth a shot.

Friday, October 23, 2020


Here's a debate fact check from NBC News:
Trump, defending his administration's pandemic response, claimed Thursday that "2.2 million people — modeled out — were expected to die" from the coronavirus.

Trump has made this claim previously — that original projections for coronavirus deaths in America said the country would lose 2.2 million people to the virus.

This is misleading. Trump is referring to a model published on March 17 by Imperial College London, which did predict that 2.2 million people in America could die from the virus, but only if no mitigation efforts whatsoever were in place.

In late March, White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told NBC's "Today" that the projection of 1.6 million to 2.2 million deaths referred to what could happen if America did "nothing" to stop the spread of the virus.

"If we do things together, well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," Birx said at the time.

As of Thursday evening, there have been 223,262 deaths attributed to the virus in America, according to NBC News data.
This talking point also made its way into Trump's interview with Lesley Stahl:
And we closed it up and I saved millions of lives. Millions of lives we saved.
It's good that NBC is pointing out that Trump is comparing America's pandemic response to a complete non-response. And NBC isn't alone -- Daniel Dale made the same point last night on CNN.

But the problem here isn't just that Trump is holding himself to the wrong standard. It's that he's taking all the credit for what millions of us have done.

We've quarantined. We wear masks. We practice social distancing. We avoid gatherings. We avoid visits to elderly relatives. We avoid visits to non-elderly relatives. We avoid indoor time with people we're close to.

Many of us have employers that have told us to work from home. And governments all over the country, to varying degrees, have mandated measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Medical personnel and emergency workers have done heroic work. They've saved many lives, at great personal risk to themselves.

And yes, the Trump administration has done some worthwhile things.

But Trump is giving himself all the credit for the difference between 220,000 deaths and 2.2 million deaths. That's an insult to first responders, and to everyone else who's done something to make up for his administration's inadequate response.

I assume Trump isn't trying to deceive us. I assume he actually believes that the difference between our current death toll and the worst-case scenario is all due to him.

He should be called on this. He's insulting everyone who -- unlike him -- cares about saving lives.


I watched the debate last night and felt Joe Biden acquitted himself well -- he made it clear that his mind is sharp, his ideas are good, and he's fundamentally a decent man who wants to heal the country. Unlike last time, Donald Trump mostly waited his turn to speak, and his attacks were pointed and well delivered -- but as the night wore on he was the increasingly obnoxious, wearying rage monster America got tired of years ago, a guy who won't stop arguing even after he's ruined everyone's mood and cleared the room. The country still believes, wrongly, that he's been a good steward for the economy, and he might have eked out a win based on that if the pandemic and George Floyd's murder hadn't intervened. But he's been underwater in approval polls since his inaugural, and he's trailed Biden badly since last year, so there's a very good chance he'd be losing. He has a new riff -- heard in the Lesley Stahl interview and also in the debate -- suggesting that his poll numbers were rising early this year and people who hadn't liked him were coming around to him. That may be true, though it's more likely that he was getting a poll bounce from being impeached and then acquitted, as Bill Clinton did, and he would have gone right back to his baseline as soon as that faded. (And his baseline was far lower than second-term Clinton's baseline.)

My point is: Most Americans don't like Donald Trump. They don't want every issue turned into an anger junkie's battle against a demonized enemy, especially when they don't agree that the enemy -- immigrant children and the parents from whom they've been separated, people who wear masks -- is an enemy. Beyond the issues, they're tired of the style. It's emotionally demanding when most people have enough problems of their own. It's infantile.

(A significant percentage of the country does like Trump, and finds his style bracing and energizing. But while a majority of white men in America might feel this way, a majority of Americans overall don't.)

So I went to bed last night reading debate reactions like this:

And woke up to a lot of reactions like this:

Translation: Last night wasn't a very good night for Biden, but it wasn't that bad.

Joe Biden did a better job in the final debate on Thursday, according to a CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers. Overall, 53% of voters who watched the debate said that Biden won the matchup, while 39% said that President Donald Trump did....

All told, ... the debate did not do much to move impressions of either candidate. Favorable views of Biden before the debate stood at 55%, and they held steady at 56% in post-debate interviews. Likewise, Trump's numbers held steady, with 42% saying they had a favorable view of the President in interviews conducted before Thursday's debate and 41% saying the same afterward.

More debate watchers, though, said Trump's performance raised concerns about how he would handle the presidency (55%) than did Biden's (41%).
This won't surprise you:
Women were more likely than men to say that Biden did the better job in the debate (60% of women said Biden won, 35% Trump, while among men, 47% said Biden won, 44% said Trump did).
And in a CNN undecided voter panel in North Carolina:
CNN’s Gary Tuchman was running the panel, gathered outside in socially-distanced chairs outside on the Davidson College campus....

“I want to ask you now, this is what our viewers have been waiting for, and that is this question about who you think won this particular debate,” said Tuchman, asking the voters to raise their hands to show who they thought won.

“Who thinks Donald Trump won this debate?” asked Tuchman. “I don’t see any hands. That’s a zero.”

Nine of the voters thought Biden won, and two said they thought it was a draw.
There'll be other responses, but Biden last night seemed ready to govern like a thoughtful adult, while Trump still appears to be looking for a bar fight. Biden won last night.

Thursday, October 22, 2020


So here's President Trump's Lesley Stahl interview, if you want to subject yourself to it.

Right-wingers think it's awesome, while Democrats believe Trump hurt himself by acknowledging that he hopes the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare. My impression -- although I haven't watched the whole thing -- is that Trump alternates self-pity and abuse. He comes off as an abusive spouse, treating Stahl with no respect.

Having said that, I'll add that Stahl doesn't do a great job. Trump speaks mostly in well-worn talking points -- I don't think he says anything that he hasn't said a dozen times before -- but Stahl doesn't challenge him on the facts, doesn't follow up, and wanders from subject to subject.

Some examples from the rough transcript at
Lesley Stahl: Let me ask you what you think your um, the biggest domestic priority is for you right now.

Donald Trump: Um, well, ultimately, let, let me, and I'll tell you, it was happening. We created the greatest economy in the history of our country. And the other side was trying --

Lesley Stahl: You know -- you know that's not true.

Donald Trump: It is totally true.

Lesley Stahl: No.

Donald Trump :Best unemployment numbers, best employment numbers. 106 million people working. Highest stock market price. You wouldn't say that to Biden, what you just said to me if he had it, if he had it, you would never say that to Biden. We had the best stock market price ever. And we're getting close to that price again. We had the best, everything was the best. Our companies were doing better than they've ever done before. You cannot even think about talking about that.

Lesley Stahl: Well, I don't, I'm not gonna fact check you. You know, I'm not gonna do that.
Did they have an agreement? No real-time fact-checking? It sure seems that way.
Donald Trump: I think we've done a great job with COVID. And we've hired --

Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but the numbers are going up.

Donald Trump: Excuse me, 11.4 million people. Why, because the last report was a little bit, just a little bit off. And this is for that?

Lesley Stahl: No, sir. Excuse me, cases are up in about 40 states.

Donald Trump: Okay. You know why cases are up also? Because we do more testing. If we didn't do testing, cases would be way down.

Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but why are you saying they're not up? You know well, pe -- You're saying things that people [Crosstalk]

Donald Trump: Uh, no, no. What I'm saying to you, Lesley is the following. We do more testing than any country in the world by far. Second is India with 1.5 billion people. We do more testing. If we did half the testing, we'd have half the cases. If we did no testing, like many countries, we would have very few cases. Because we do such much testing, the fake news media loves to say cases are up. The fact is we've done a very, very good job.

Lesley Stahl: Cases are [Crosstalk]

Donald Trump: We have done -- That's right, because we're doing so much testing.

Lesley Stahl: But cases -- Will you at least say cases are up?

Donald Trump: Yes, cases are up because we are doing tremendous testing. And we're finding where there's a problem. Testing is a good thing, but it's also very misleading.
At this point I'm screaming at the monitor, "Ask him why hospitalizations are up! And can't a person who has the virus but hasn't been tested give it to other people? Is that what he wants? More people walking around who don't know they're infectious?"

Eventually Trump says:
Donald Trump: We have turned a corner. We understand the disease. We understand the elderly, and we're taking of them at a level like nobody's ever taken care of the elderly, especially the elderly with diabetes problems, heart problems. We are taking care of them like nobody's ever taken care of 'em. We also understand youth. 99.9% -- As an example, Baron had it. And it was gone in no time. It was just [Inaudible] he had it. It was gone, hardly even knew he even had it. So, we are taking care of our people. But uh, we've done a great job with the ventilators, with the equipment, with stocking governors that were not stocked. We've made a lot of governors look very good that shouldn't look good. And that's okay with me.
Stahl gives up:
Lesley Stahl: Okay. Let me, let me ask you something about suburban women.
And we're off on that tangent.

It's all like this. In Stahl's defense, she may be planning in her final piece to edit in the facts that rebut what Trump is saying here. So maybe this is interview is intended just to get Trump on the record, not to challenge him.

But if she lets him hold forth in the final edit with all these excuses, then the piece will be a failure. It doesn't look very strong in raw form.


We know that President Trump actually believes it's possible to initiate an investigation into Joe Biden that will lead to an indictment between now and the election.
President Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to “appoint somebody” to launch an investigation into his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter before Election Day, now just two weeks away.

“We’ve got to get the attorney general to act,” Trump said in a telephone interview with “Fox & Friends” when asked whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to probe unverified allegations against the Bidens. “He’s got to act. And he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election.”
But since we're not quite far enough down the road to totalitarianism for that to happen, it appears that Trump will settle for the next-best thing.
President Trump and his advisers have repeatedly discussed whether to fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray after Election Day — a scenario that also could imperil the tenure of Attorney General William P. Barr as the president grows increasingly frustrated that federal law enforcement has not delivered his campaign the kind of last-minute boost that the FBI provided in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter.

The conversations among the president and senior aides stem in part from their disappointment that Wray in particular but Barr as well have not done what Trump had hoped — indicate that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden or other Biden associates are under investigation, these people say.
I assume Trump is saying this because he genuinely believes he'll win the election. But if he doesn't -- if Biden wins unambiguously -- I wonder if Trump will try a last-ditch gambit to save his presidency.

Even of Biden wins by a large Electoral College and popular vote margin, he won't officially be the president-elect until states certify the vote totals, electors vote in the individual states, the electors' vote tallies are transmitted to Congress, and Congress ratifies the Electoral College results. The voting takes place on December 14; congressional ratification happens on January 6.

If Trump doesn't win, and loses so badly he can't plausibly contest the outcome, he might still spend the rest of his presidency demanding that the FBI and Justice Department indict Biden before the Electoral College vote, in the hope that he can persuade Biden electors to abandon him. Maybe he'll hold out hope until January -- sure, he'll think, the Electoral College voted for Biden, but Congress can't possibly certify him if he's been indicted, right?

Trump won't get what he wants. But I think he'll continue demanding it, because demanding that people satisfy his whims and cravings is what he usually does all day, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


I guess someone at Fox has been looking at the channel's own polling data:

I say this because there appears to be a sense of panic at Fox. Here's what's front and center on the homepage as I write this:

It looks as if people at Fox aretrying to do an intervention. They're begging Trump not to continue blowing this election.

The lead story quotes Karl Rove:
With less than two weeks left before the 2020 presidential election, former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove said it would be more “effective” for the Trump campaign to focus on the economy as opposed to the Hunter Biden “scandal.”...

Rove pointed to a Washington Post op-ed written by former White House chief speechwriter Marc Thiessen in which Thiessen argued that President Trump “needs to stop talking about Hunter Biden” and “start winning over reluctant voters.”

“He argues the focus ought to be on the economy and the big contrast between the policy prescriptions of President Trump and those of Joe Biden and frankly I’m in agreement with him,” Rove, a Fox News contributor, said.
There's also this story:
President Trump is making a "mistake" if he focuses on the Hunter Biden laptop story on the campaign trail and at the next presidential debate, Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee said on Wednesday.

"Yeah, it is a mistake because the average person doesn't understand it, it is too complicated, and, frankly, it doesn't matter to them," Huckabee said in response to "Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade, who asked whether Trump should emphasize the story in the campaign's closing days.

"They care about their health care costs, they care about their taxes, they care about safety and their neighborhood on their block and in their yard. Focus on that and he wins the election by a landslide," Huckabee suggested.
Which is a follow-up to this from a couple of days ago:
During a preview segment for the final debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, scheduled for this Thursday, Steve Doocy [of Fox & Friends] explicitly warned the president not to talk about Hunter.

“So you gotta figure the president’s gonna try to bring up Hunter Biden in some manner,” Doocy said....

“And the base loves to hear that stuff,” Doocy continued. “But what the consultants are telling the president is, in the race to the final 15 days, do as much about the economy as you possibly can.”

Spelling out the “best message” for the president, the Fox host added: “President Trump built a great economy, then COVID screwed things up, and President Trump is better at rebuilding than Joe Biden. That’s the message they would like to see.”
Hey, folks at Fox: Do you really want Trump to stop talking about Hunter Biden?

Then maybe you should talk to your prime-time stars and tell them to stop running segments like this:

And this:

And this:

Trump doesn't just watch these shows -- he injects them into his veins. So if cooler heads at Fox think Trump is about to blow the election and take Mitch McConnell down with him, they should have a talk with their own prime-time stars. Get them to stop talking about Hunter Biden, and maybe then they can persuade Trump.


At, Tom Del Baccaro offers "10 tea leaves" allegedly pointing to a Donald Trump victory. Among them:
1. Pennsylvania Voter Registration

... In 2016, ... [President Trump] won Pennsylvania by a slim 44,292 votes out of nearly 6 million. That November, the Democrats had nearly a 900,000 voter registration advantage over the Republicans. That number is now down to a 700,000 registration advantage and has narrowed by 100,000 in the last year....

2. Florida, too.

In 2008, Democrats held nearly a 700,000 voter registration advantage and Barack Obama carried the state by 236,148 votes. By 2012 that advantage slipped to 558,272 registrations and Obama won there by 74,309 votes.

In 2016, Democrats had a 327,483 registration advantage and Trump carried the state by 112,991 votes.

Now the Democrats' voter registration advantage is down nearly 200,000 to just a 134,242 lead, which Politico called a “historic low.”

Obviously, the movement towards Republicans bodes well for the president.
But FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley says that surges in GOP voter registration might not mean what they appear to mean. One key point:
In recent years, a growing number of voters don’t want to be associated with either of the two major parties, and instead register as independent. After hovering in the low- to high-30s from the late 1980s to the late 2000s, the share of Americans who identify as politically independent has now reached or even topped 40 percent in recent years, according to Gallup.

... The reality, of course, is that most independents lean toward one party, but their preferences are still masked at the voter registration level. This is especially tricky in battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania that have seen major upticks in the share of voters who have registered with no party affiliation.

... younger voters are more likely to identify as independent than older voters. And importantly, younger voters of color are also more likely to register as independents, as Florida’s registration figures have shown. Both of these groups tend to lean Democratic which means that even if many of these voters don’t openly identify as Democrats, they’re more likely to vote for Democrats than not. More broadly, polls show Biden ahead of Trump among voters who identify as independent. That means even if Republicans are winning the registration battle in some key states, it might not be enough to offset the number of registered Democrats and independents who may back Biden in the end.
According to the polls, Biden has a large and durable lead -- a lead much larger than Hillary Clinton's. (At Real Clear Politics, Biden's lead is 8.5; at the comparable point in the race, Hillary Clinton's lead was 5.4.) It really looks as if he'll win.

But if he does win -- possibly by a wide margin -- he's doing so in a country that's not enthusiastic about his party. He's winning thanks to people who aren't Democrats.

We shouldn't be surprised. As I regularly say here, Democrats never tell the public that the Democratic Party is simply better than the Republican Party. They never say that the Republican Party is bad for America. (Republicans say that every day about Democrats.) And this year, much of Biden's message has been Hey, you can vote for me safely -- I'm okay! Republicans say so!

So this election could be a win -- even a big win -- but Democrats have a lot of work to do as a party. They've done nothing to build the Democratic brand -- in fact, they're hurting it by suggesting that Democrats need a Republican imprimatur to deserve victory.

I think those independents will come through for Biden. But for the future, we need to turn them into Democrats.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


I'm told there's a chilling climate of censorship and "cancel culture" that prevents all messages that aren't left of center from getting a proper hearing in America.

Forgive me if I'm skeptical.
Facebook and Twitter's frantic attempts to stop the spread of the New York Post's Hunter Biden story didn't prevent the article from becoming the top story about the election on those platforms last week, according to data from NewsWhip....

The Post's story generated 2.59m interactions (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook and Twitter last week — more than double the next biggest story about Trump or Biden.

5 of the 10 biggest stories were about the Hunter Biden story, the fallout, or how Facebook and Twitter reacted.

It was the 6th-most engaged article this month....
See also this piece in The Atlantic about QAnon, by Renée DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory.
By the time Q’s first post appeared on 4chan in 2017, conspiracy theories of all sorts were multiplying and thriving on social media, as their adherents formed dedicated Facebook groups and YouTube channels. Algorithmic recommendation engines accelerated their growth and cross-pollinated their beliefs. Over time, these engines nudged anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers to join QAnon groups and pushed QAnon videos to far-right political communities.... The recommendations worked: People who followed other conspiracy theories often were receptive to QAnon, primarily because of a shared distrust of government and authority....

Positioned between internet message boards and mass outlets such as Fox News is a kind of demi-media—hyperpartisan outlets, such as Gateway Pundit and One America News, that have a significant following on social platforms, high engagement from audiences, and a history of boosting narratives that bubble up from internet users....

In recent months, Facebook and YouTube have moved aggressively to interrupt the flow of disinformation, in part by banning QAnon groups and channels.... But the moves against QAnon come too late. Even as the platforms have begun to take steps to limit the algorithmic amplification of content tied to QAnon-specific groups, already-converted true believers continue to act as pollinators themselves, pushing the QAnon view of current events into unrelated communities—Star Trek fans, essential-oil moms, the “reopen” groups campaigning against shutdowns imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. And in the right-wing demi-media, any actions by Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube against the QAnon groups are covered as further evidence of tech censorship run amok, and an ominous harbinger of the end of free speech.
When you read a complaint by Ross Douthat, Bret Stephens, Bari Weiss, or Andrew Sullivan about our censorious culture, remember that what they're talking about is what's going on in media outlets favored by the well-educated and urbane. But that's not the media ecosystem in most of America. Right-wing messages have ample opportunity to reach the public via many channels that are ignored or mocked by well-educated coast-dwellers. In addition, complaints about censorship are opportunities for the right to get its messaging into the mix (or further into the mix). So the right's messages spread via media outlets we disregard, then spread again when right-wingers complain about the relatively few outlets that are putting up resistance to the spread. And so the spread increases.