Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
2020 U.S. election campaign June – July 31
David Frum: Where the System May Break
A war-game exercise simulating the 2020 election unmasked some key vulnerabilities
On the same morning that the United States government reported the steepest economic collapse in U.S. history, President Donald Trump mused on Twitter about postponing the 2020 election. Trump is getting desperate, more desperate by the day. What might he do? What should Americans fear?
Earlier this summer, 67 former government officials and academic students of government gathered over four sessions of the nonpartisan Transition Integrity Project to analyze those questions.
The sessions began with scenarios of what might happen on Election Day—a big Biden win, a narrow Biden win, a Trump win in the Electoral College coupled with a loss in the popular vote—and then played war games to ponder what might follow. The goal was not to make predictions, but rather to test scenarios and identify potential weak points in the system. The approach is common in the national-security world, but has not often before been applied to domestic politics.
… Under current law, all disputes over vote-counting are supposed to be resolved by December 8, 2020. … Generally, once we got past the December 8 date, the Trump team’s options for keeping power dwindled to zero. What was left then was scorched-earth self-enrichment, self-protection, and spite.
Brent Budowsky: Trump October surprise could devastate GOP
(The Hill) The odds are extremely high that the October surprise that will dominate and determine the results of the election will be a devastating new wave of COVID-19 infections, a catastrophic increase in COVID-19 deaths, and a disastrous increase in the jobless rate even more punishing and painful than what Americans endure today.
While President Trump seems to believe a miracle COVID-19 vaccine in October will save his presidency, and all normal people hope and pray this vaccine happens, the prospects for this before the election are as likely as Trump’s prediction that the virus will magically disappear — which he offered long before almost 150,000 Americans were dead and the jobless rate rose to horrifying levels.
Meanwhile, today, the national ban on evictions is expiring. Every leader of every faith should demand action. There is a grave and imminent danger of potentially millions of Americans evicted and thrown onto the streets. Where will they go, when one major protection against the deadly virus is for them to stay at home, and they have no home?
Remember these words: If this happens, many of them will fall victim to COVID-19 and an alarming and immoral number of them will suffer preventable death.
What if Trump loses but refuses to leave office? Here’s the worst-case scenario
The risk of an electoral meltdown is ordinarily rather small, but this November promises a combination of stressors that could lead to epic failure and chaos
By Lawrence Douglas
The problem begins – but does not end – with Donald Trump. He will reject any election that results in his loss, claiming it to be rigged. Alarming as this may be, Trump alone cannot crash the system. Instead, an unusual constellation of forces – the need to rely heavily on mail-in ballots because of the Covid-19 pandemic; the political divisions in the key swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania; and a hyper-polarized Congress – all work together to turn Trump’s defiance into a crisis of historic proportions.
Consider the following scenario: it’s 3 November 2020, election day. By midnight, it’s clear that former vice-president Biden enjoys a substantial lead in the national popular vote but the electoral college vote remains tight. With the races in 47 states and the District of Columbia called, Biden leads Trump in the electoral college vote 252 to 240, but neither candidate has secured the 270 votes necessary for victory. All eyes remain on Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and their 46 electoral college votes.
In each of these three states, Trump enjoys a slim lead, but the election-day returns do not include a huge number of mail-in ballots. Some states, such as Colorado, have been counting their mail-in votes from the day they arrived, but not Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These states do not allow elections officials to begin the task of counting the mail-ins until election day itself. It will take days, even weeks, for the key swing states to finish their count. The election hangs in the balance.
…as the count creeps forward, a clear pattern emerges. Trump’s lead is shrinking – and then vanishes altogether. By the time the three states complete their canvass of votes nearly a month after the election, the nation faces an astonishing result. Biden now leads in all three. It appears he has been elected our next president.
…Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania all share the same political profile: all three states are controlled by Republican legislatures faithful to Trump. And so Republican lawmakers in Lansing, Madison and Harrisburg take up the fight to declare Trump victorious in their state. Citing irregularities and unconscionable delays in the counting of the mail-in ballots, state Republicans award Trump their states’ electoral college votes.
Yet all three of our crucial swing states also have Democratic governors. Outraged by the actions of Republican lawmakers, the Democratic governors of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania announce that they will recognize Biden as having carried their state. They certify Biden as the winner, and send the certificate cast by his electors on to Congress.
It is now 6 January 2021, the day on which the joint session of Congress opens the states’ electoral certificates and officially tallies the votes. Normally this is a ceremonial function, but not today. Suddenly Congress is confronted with the astonishing reality that Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have each submitted conflicting electoral certificates – one awarding its electoral college votes to Trump; the other, to Biden. The election hangs in the balance.
Should Trump lose decisively – not only in the popular vote, but in the electoral college, too –his capacity to engage in constitutional brinkmanship will be limited. This is not to say that he won’t claim the election was rigged, only that his claim will probably not trigger a larger constitutional crisis. But should Trump’s defeat turn on the count of mail-in ballots in our crucial swing states, prepare for chaos. Our nation could witness dark times.
Trump is setting us up for an Election Day nightmare
By Fareed Zakaria
(WaPo) For months, Trump has been unleashing forces that, come November, could cause tens of millions of Americans to be convinced the election was rigged. Even if Trump leaves office in January — voluntarily or not — he will likely leave behind a political climate that verges on civil war.
… Trump and his associates have been stoking the QAnon movement, which imagines a battle between the president and a “deep state” of high-ranking officials and liberal elites who practice child torture and satanic worship. All these instincts are now being channeled into one idea, one great conspiracy: that the November vote will be rigged.
Assuming we are still in the midst of a pandemic raging across the country, all 50 states will have instituted new measures related to voting, from social distancing rules to mail-in ballots. These will vary widely from state to state. Norm Ornstein writes in the Atlantic, “The combination of fewer polling places because of the pandemic, the need to space out voters in lines, and fewer poll workers could turn November 3 into a disaster that spirals into January.”
Trump declines to say whether he will accept November election results
President Trump declined to say whether he will accept the results of the November election, claiming without evidence that mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic could “rig” the outcome.
In a wide-ranging interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, the president also continued to play down the severity of the coronavirus crisis in the country, declined to say whether he is offended by the Confederate flag and dismissed polls showing him trailing former vice president Joe Biden by a significant margin.
See: Trump says supporters could ‘demand’ he not leave office after two terms
The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” (16 June 2019)
Replacing a Campaign Manager Won’t Rescue Trump from His Coronavirus Debacle
The political damage was done months ago, when the President effectively abdicated responsibility for the gravest national emergency in decades.
By John Cassidy
To the surprise of virtually no one, Donald Trump has demoted his campaign manager, Brad Parscale. On Wednesday night, Trump announced that the job would be filled by Bill Stepien, who served as an aide to Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, and who is perhaps best known for his involvement in the 2014 Bridgegate scandal, which prompted Christie to fire Stepien.
Just when it seems impossible that there could be any more bizarre developments than recent ones:
Kanye West Says He’s Done With Trump—Opens Up About White House Bid, Damaging Biden And Everything In Between
(Forbes) Kanye West’s Fourth of July declaration, via Tweet, that he was running for president lit the internet on fire, even as pundits were trying to discern how serious he was. Over the course of four rambling hours of interviews on Tuesday, the billionaire rapper turned sneaker mogul revealed:
That he’s running for president in 2020 under a new banner—the Birthday Party—with guidance from Elon Musk and an obscure vice presidential candidate he’s already chosen. “Like anything I’ve ever done in my life,” says West, “I’m doing to win.”
That he no longer supports President Trump. “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.”
That he’s ok with siphoning off Black votes from the Democratic nominee, thus helping Trump. “I’m not denying it, I just told you. To say that the Black vote is Democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy.”
That he’s never voted in his life.
That he was sick with Covid-19 in February.
That he’s suspicious of a coronavirus vaccine, terming vaccines “the mark of the beast.”
That he believes “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”
That he envisions a White House organizational model based on the secret country of Wakanda in Black Panther.
Kanye West says he had coronavirus and no longer supports Trump
Greg Sargent: Trump’s awful new reelection strategy makes a powerful case against him
The Post reports that his advisers, recognizing the dire threat the virus poses to his chances, are seeking to “reframe his response”:
“The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve.
White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.”
At bottom, here’s what the new “live with it” strategy really amounts to. By relentlessly feeding that covid-denial, Trump is operating from the calculation that his best hope of reelection is to create the widespread illusion that we’re roaring back to normalcy far faster than we actually are.
But the other central ingredient here is the ongoing effort to create the illusion that this was, and is, the best we could have done — the best we can do — under such trying circumstances. If so, we may as well get back to normal life and suck up the consequences, which were and are supposedly unavoidable.
Trump plumbed new depths of depravity this Fourth of July
(WaPo editorial board) IT SHOULD be no surprise that President Trump has chosen to center his reelection campaign on appeals to racism and the demonization of his opponents. … Still, Mr. Trump plumbed new depths of depravity in two speeches he delivered over the weekend, nominally in celebration of the July 4 holiday.
On a day when presidents typically extol the values that bring Americans together, Mr. Trump launched an unhinged attack on the movement for racial and social justice that has surged in the last month. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” he claimed — an obscene misrepresentation of the mostly peaceful marches by millions of citizens in hundreds of cities and towns. “Their goal is not a better America, their goal is the end of America.”
Trump Blames Losing Campaign on Listening to ‘Woke Jared’
By Jonathan Chait
(New York) The good news for President Trump’s campaign is that the candidate seems to be finally moving out of the denial stage and recognizing that he is losing to Joe Biden. Trump “has privately come to that grim realization in recent days,” multiple sources have told Politico.
The bad news is that Trump’s diagnosis of the problem seems to be somewhat underpowered. Jonathan Swan reports that Trump is blaming his predicament on bad advice from Jared Kushner. And while disregarding advice from Kushner is a generally sound principle, in this case, Kushner’s strategy made some sense.
Trump Is Betting His Reelection on Single-Issue Statue Voters
The president’s message indiscipline and Nazi-adjacent social-media feed have long been givens. The more fundamental issue is that he has nothing coherent to say about how he intends to improve public health or revive the economy. In fact, in a recent interview with Sean Hannity, Trump proved incapable of naming a single policy that he wants to implement if he wins a second term. In recent days, the president has given the bulk of his attention to the issues of monument preservation and “cancel culture.”
How the Trump Campaign Is Drawing Obama Out of Retirement
By Glenn Thrush and Elaina Plott
(NYT) …more than three years after his exit, the 44th president of the United States is back on a political battlefield he longed to leave, drawn into the fight by an enemy, Mr. Trump, who is hellbent on erasing him, and by a friend, Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is equally intent on embracing him.
The stakes of that re-engagement were always going to be high. Mr. Obama is nothing if not protective of his legacy, especially in the face of Mr. Trump’s many attacks. Yet interviews with more than 50 people in the former president’s orbit portray a conflicted combatant, trying to balance deep anger at his successor with an instinct to refrain from a brawl that he fears may dent his popularity and challenge his place in history.
That calculus, though, may be changing in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by the police in Minneapolis. As America’s first black president, now its first black ex-president, Mr. Obama sees the current social and racial awakening as an opportunity to elevate a 2020 election dictated by Mr. Trump’s mud-wrestling style into something more meaningful — to channel a new, youthful movement toward a political aim, as he did in 2008.
He is doing so very carefully, characteristically intent on keeping his cool, his reputation, his political capital and his dreams of a cosseted retirement intact.
Biden Takes Dominant Lead as Voters Reject Trump on Virus and Race
A New York Times/Siena College poll finds that Joseph R. Biden Jr. is ahead of the president by 14 points, leading among women and nonwhite voters and cutting into his support with white voters.
New York Primary, Kentucky Senate Showdown:
There are competitive House races in New York, and Charles Booker faces Amy McGrath in the Senate primary in Kentucky. Results may be delayed because of the many voters casting absentee ballots.
Are We Headed for a Voter-Suppression Catastrophe in November?
Marc Elias, the Democrats’ top election lawyer, sees the potential for disaster.
(New York) Elias, 51, leads a sprawling team of attorneys who, together with official Democratic Party committees, super-PACs, and progressive organizations, have been appearing remotely in court hearings around the country, and their litigation list keeps growing. By last count, they have at least one active case in 18 states, including each of the six core swing states.
A handful of Democrats’ nightmare scenarios seem close to inevitable: With a massive influx of mail-in votes, we almost certainly won’t know the full results of the election on the night of November 3, and it’s not hard to imagine Trump claiming victory long before all the votes are counted in Pennsylvania or Florida or Arizona. Meanwhile, some liberals see the administration’s recent hostility toward the Postal Service as an attempt to drastically reduce its funding just when postal workers need to be conveying ballots around the country. You can consider that possibility in case the effective collapse of Georgia’s voting system on June 9, which left voters stranded in line for hours, wasn’t enough of a wake-up call.
President Trump held a rally in Tulsa Saturday, the first since restrictions were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. A smaller-than-expected crowd showed up, as the president prepared for a fight.
Kentucky braces for potential voting problems as it prepares to hold primaries on Tuesday. As states expand their capacity for absentee voting and Trump attacks the process, a Post analysis shows a minuscule number of potentially fraudulent ballots in states with universal mail voting.
Don’t believe the polls: Trump’s populist presidency may carry him to victory in 2020
Current polling shows President Trump seriously trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race — but current polls are not an accurate gauge for predicting the November election outcome.
By Joshua Sandman, professor of political science at the University of New Haven. He has studied the American presidency for five decades.
(The Hill) Biden and the Democrats need more than hope that Trump fatigue and the ongoing chaos and turmoil of his presidency will turn off enough voters to give them the presidential office. That will not be enough. The Democrats need to broaden their base of supportive voters. They will also need to fend off Republicans who actively practice voter suppression, costing Democrats votes in minority and less affluent communities.
Kentucky braces for possible voting problems in Tuesday’s primary amid signs of high turnout
Fewer than 200 polling places will be open for voters in Kentucky’s primary Tuesday, down from 3,700 in a typical election year. Amid a huge influx in requests for mail-in ballots, some voters still had not received theirs days before they must be turned in. And turnout is expected to be higher than in past primaries because of a suddenly competitive fight for the Democratic Senate nomination.
The scenario has voting rights advocates and some local elections officials worried that the state is careening toward a messy day marked by long lines and frustrated voters.
On Thursday evening, a federal judge rejected an effort to add polling places in the state’s largest counties, citing a legal standard discouraging last-minute court intervention in election procedures.
That means Jefferson County — the state’s largest, home to 767,000 residents and the city of Louisville — will have as its sole polling location a convention and expo center where voting booths have been set up about eight feet apart in a cavernous hall. About 1 in 5 residents in the county is African American, the largest black population in the state.
In Fayette County, the state’s second-largest county and home to Lexington, voters who want to cast ballots in person will have to head to the football field at the University of Kentucky, where voters will find hand-sanitizing stations and booths where they can fill out paper ballots and scan them through machines.
Voter confusion, ballot problems remain ahead of Kentucky’s primary election
Barr echoes Trump’s concerns about mail-in voting, says it could ‘open the floodgates of potential fraud’
(The Hill) Experts have said that fraud is slightly more common among mail-in ballots than other forms of voting, but widespread fraud is not an issue among all formats of voting.
Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Connecticut are all sending voters absentee ballot applications, and New Hampshire and Massachusetts have eased requirements for absentee voting. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also signed an executive order Friday to send every registered voter in California a mail-in ballot.
The debate over voting by mail has been heightened after several primaries were marred by long lines and crowded polling stations, raising health concerns during the coronavirus outbreak.
Ed Kilgore: Why Do Trump Supporters Act Like His Election Is Certain?
(New York) By any objective standard, the president’s prospects for reelection are looking down. Joe Biden is continuing to lead him in trial heats nationally (by 8.1 percent in the latest RealClearPolitics averages) and in most battleground states. The president’s job approval numbers are lower than they’ve been since last December. People are still very afraid of COVID-19, and despite one good monthly jobs report, the economy is still in the ditch, with unemployment higher than at any time since the 1930s.
Yes, yes, of course, there’s tons of time to go, the economy could somehow turn around and that second “wave” of the coronavirus could fail to appear, and Joe Biden could do or say something self-destructive. But the possibility of a Trump revival is not the same thing as its probability, much less certainty. Yet as Politico notes, there’s little doubt in MAGA-land that Trump will win in November, and maybe win big: … Here are five theories:
… 5. They are preparing to contest any defeat
Frank Rich: What Trump Will Do to Win
(New York) Trump knows he has that base’s blessing to run a full-out white supremacist campaign. He isn’t wasting any time. Even as NASCAR banned the Confederate flag yesterday, he declared that he would refuse to rename American military bases named after defeated Confederate leaders. Trump also announced yesterday that he would not only hold his first pandemic rally on June 19 — Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery — but would do so in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, in 1921, rioting whites massacred as many as 300 people and incinerated all but a block of the city’s prosperous black neighborhood. This isn’t any old racial dog whistle, it’s the screech of a pack of vicious dogs like those Trump threatened to sic on Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
John Caassidy: Why the Polls Are Alarming for Donald Trump
More than two-thirds of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, the highest figure since the President took office.
Trump’s campaign aides have “settled on a theme of the ‘Great American Comeback.’ ” If the economy recovers rapidly in the coming months, and the reopenings don’t spark a big second wave of infections—two major unknowns, to be sure—the political environment could conceivably look very different after Labor Day. Fastening onto this scenario will give Republicans hope that they can still turn things around by November 3rd. At this moment, though, Trump’s reëlection campaign is faltering. (Inside the room: Trump’s top aides plot new theme)
Georgia debacle shows we’re heading toward an election disaster in November
(WaPo) Tuesday was primary day in Georgia, and things went about as well as you might have expected:
Lines snaked out the doors, some polling locations didn’t open on time and others struggled with new voting machines in Georgia’s primary election Tuesday, a potential preview of how new voting procedures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic could affect the presidential election in November.
Problems were concentrated in Atlanta and surrounding counties, where voters described arriving before polls opened and standing in line for hours, with election officials processing ballots painfully slowly because they couldn’t get new touch-screen machines to work or they had not been delivered in time.
Over the course of the day, state and local officials blamed each other; at least part of the problem stemmed from the fact that the state was using new technology, in which voters make their selections on a touch-screen and then the machine prints out a paper ballot with their choices on it.
In theory, that’s a big improvement over the previous system, which created no paper record and, therefore, could not be rechecked if there was a dispute or the need for a recount. But the new system has already encountered problems elsewhere, including in Los Angeles, where it was also used this year for the first time.
Here’s what’s really worrying: This is a microcosm of what we’re probably going to face on Nov. 3. Not just in one state, or two or three, but all over the country.
Presidential job approval: Trump’s re-election prospects look bleak
William A. Galston
The stability of the relationship between the approval ratings of incumbent presidents and their re-elect numbers is consistent with the conventional wisdom that elections are almost always about incumbents.
(Brookings) Although the president continues to receive good ratings for economic management, only 43% of Americans approve of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. His handling of the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd does even worse, with only 35% of Americans registering their approval.
It will not be easy for President Trump to reverse this tide. There’s just one recorded instance of a president moving his job approval from a level suggesting defeat to one pointing to victory during the final months of his first term. …he begins his general election campaign with approval ratings 4-5 points lower than Obama’s at a comparable point in his presidency. Barack Obama ran what many regard as the most effective reelection campaign in modern history. To have any chance, Donald Trump will have to repeat Obama’s success. Even if he does, he is unlikely to receive even a plurality of the popular vote, so he will have to hope that his support is as fortunately distributed as it was in 2016.
… An incumbent with consistently low approval ratings has really only one option, which is to shift the focus of the election to the challenger. As the election heats up, expect to see the Trump campaign throw everything they can at Joe Biden in the hope that it can deflect attention from the president’s unpopular record.
Will We Actually Get to Vote in November?
By Sue Halpern
I would like to believe that, if we are lucky, we will mail in our ballots or go to the polls in November, and the election will be free and fair. But, truly, luck will play no part in it.
(The New Yorker) We have now crossed the threshold where we must think about the unthinkable: what happens if the November election is subverted. For the past three and a half years, we’ve watched the Trump Administration, along with its enablers in Congress and in the courts, ignore or decimate democratic norms. Since January 20, 2017, we’ve seen this play out in ways big and small—the Muslim ban, the children in cages, the demonization of the press as “fake news,” to name just a few. Each outrage has undermined a basic tenet of our democracy: the American government will not discriminate based on religion, asylum seekers will be granted court hearings, and government officials will uphold and respect the freedom of the press. If we shook our collective head each time there was a new evisceration of a democratic principle, it was always with the understanding that, after four years of cruelty and kleptocracy, the American people would go to the polls and vote Donald Trump and his collaborators out of office. Even those who expected the Trump campaign to flood the zone with disinformation and find new ways to cheat, and its candidate to lie, most likely believed that if enough people voted, none of that would matter.
…the Attorney General floats a phony argument that foreign governments might manipulate mailed ballots, and the Republican National Committee, following the lead of the President, is working to limit voting by mail because it believes mail ballots would extend the franchise to the “wrong” people. Add to this Trump’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, which recently saw the installation of one of his ideologues as its head; as the President knows, a working postal service is necessary to facilitate mailed ballots.
In crucial Florida, some senior voters cast a skeptical eye toward Trump’s reelection
(WaPo) While Democrats have worried about Biden’s struggles to excite younger voters, older voters who are upset with the president are poised to be potentially more influential in November, especially in swing states whose populations skew their way, like Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin.
In Florida, more than 20 percent of those who voted in the 2016 election were over age 65, according to exit polls. In 2016, Trump won the Florida senior vote by a 17-point margin over Clinton, according to exit polls. The state ranks as one Trump must almost certainly win to insure his victory, while Biden has other paths to the White House.
Trump Is Brazenly Interfering With the 2020 Election
The president appears to be gambling that openly tweeting his threats will let him get away with them.
David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) Imagine that the White House chief of staff wrote a secret memo, at the behest of the president of the United States, to the Treasury secretary and the director of the Office of Management and Budget. In the carefully hidden memo, the chief of staff directs the two to secretly and illegally cut off all federal funding to two key swing states, both led by Democratic governors, with the goal of rigging turnout in favor of the president’s party in the 2020 election.
Now imagine that the memo leaked to The Wall Street Journal, which splashed the story across its front page. The other major papers would quickly follow. Cable news would cover it wall to wall. There would be congressional investigations.
Now imagine that instead of conducting all this skulduggery in private, the president just openly tweeted it out. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. You can just surf over to Donald Trump’s Twitter feed this morning. … two cases of Trump tweeting threats to states that have sought to expand access to voting by mail as a response to the pandemic sweeping the nation, which has already killed nearly 100,000 Americans (you know, the one Trump has repeatedly declared victory over). And for good measure, he’s tagged Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, OMB Director Russ Vought, and the Treasury Department.
Senate battle hinges on four races
(The Hill) With 200 days to go until Election Day, the Democrats’ path to a Senate majority currently hinges on four states: Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina, where Republican incumbents are fighting off challenges from well-funded Democratic opponents.
Democrats’ softest target may be in Colorado, where Sen. Cory Gardner (R) is facing changing political headwinds and a challenge from John Hickenlooper, the state’s popular former Democratic governor and the prohibitive front-runner in a crowded primary field.
The party is also confident of defeating Sen. Martha McSally (R) in Arizona. McSally already lost a bid against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in 2018 and took office only after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
And in Maine, Democrats have it out for Sen. Susan Collins (R), a four-term senator whose vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations touched off a flurry of anger from the left. She’s widely expected to face Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, the Democratic front-runner, in November.
Democrats are also looking to oust Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in North Carolina. He’s set to face off against national Democrats’ candidate of choice, Cal Cunningham, in November, and recent polls suggest a tight race.
Voting in a time of national emergency
(Brookings) Our government was apparently unprepared for the novel coronavirus despite warnings; let us not repeat that again when it comes to the election. With election day eight months away, what are we doing now to prepare to protect our citizens’ right to vote (and the health and safety of poll workers)?
Thus far this year, multiple states have delayed their primary elections. There is much less flexibility insofar as the national election. Congress in 1845 established the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the date of the general election. The 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guiding off that schedule, mandated that the new Congress convene on January 3 and the President be inaugurated on January 20.
Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), along with 24 other senators have indicated they intend to introduce the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 to allow for national vote-by-mail as well as the expansion of early voting. That all the sponsors are Democrats illustrates how the issue has often been perceived as partisan. Yet 33 states currently give their citizens the right to vote-by-mail without any extenuating excuse. Colorado, Washington State, and Oregon have all-mail elections.
The 2020 Election Won’t Look Like Any We’ve Seen Before
Voting by mail is key to ensuring the integrity and accessibility of November’s vote.
(NYT editorial board) There is no good time for a pandemic to hit. Still, it’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable moment than the one we find ourselves in, only months before some 130 million Americans expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president and thousands of other officeholders. The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics and government for decades.
Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus on public health and the national economy. But a functioning democracy requires elections that are free, fair, accurate and on time, even during a global health crisis.
For tens of millions of Americans, the traditional visit to the local polling site on Election Day may not be an option. Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason. That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November, the date of which is prescribed by federal law, and which is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20.
The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option for every eligible voter in the country. This means, at a minimum: printing tens of millions of mail-in ballots and envelopes; ensuring that all registered voters receive one automatically, can request a replacement if they don’t, and can return it by Election Day; and finally, having the human and technological resources, like ballot scanners, available to count those votes quickly and accurately.
The presidential race entered extraordinary new ground as the leading Democrats called off primary-night events in Cleveland, and President Trump’s signature rallies also faced an uncertain future.
(NYT) The new uncertainty about political rallies and face-to-face contact with voters has the potential to remake the entire presidential campaign. … It is Mr. Trump, more than any American leader in modern politics, who has used mega-rallies to motivate his supporters, dominate cable news airwaves with coverage and feed his own ego and morale.
In recent days, Mr. Trump has complained to advisers about the toll the coronavirus is taking on his efforts to campaign publicly, and has continued to insist in private, as he has done in public, that worries about the virus are being overblown, according to two people familiar with his comments. Following his lead, the campaign has told reporters that all of its activity was “proceeding as normal.”
But several people close to Mr. Trump have suggested to his campaign and White House officials that he not go ahead with rallies, a person close to Mr. Trump said. It was unclear how forceful any of them had been in pushing him away from them.
Since his 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump has left the glad-handing at dinners and the round-table discussions to surrogates, focusing solely on rallies to communicate his message and connect with supporters. Any slowdown or suspension of rallies would deprive him of a major political weapon at a time when concerns about the virus — as well as the damage to a national economy that is Mr. Trump’s calling card in the 2020 race — could further alienate some disaffected Republicans and independents from the Trump camp.
For the first time in months, Mr. Trump has no rally scheduled for the coming weeks. His last campaign rally took place on March 2 in Charlotte, N.C., on the eve of Super Tuesday. But on Tuesday evening, his campaign announced a “Catholics for Trump” event at a convention center in Milwaukee on March 19. It is not technically a rally, but two campaign officials described it as a test run to see how people reacted to the president holding a large-scale event.
We Are Watching the Probable Demise of Trump’s Reelection in Real Time
By Jonathan Chait
President Trump’s political career has consisted of a series of self-generated crises that he has improbably survived, from insinuating that John McCain was a coward for having been captured during the war that Trump himself dodged to the three-year-long high-crime (and misdemeanor) spree. Throughout these disasters, Trump has maintained a floor of support that is apparently immutable and just high enough to give him a plausible chance of reelection. Yet the pair of crises now enveloping the administration appear to be of a completely different political magnitude than anything that has faced Trump to date. It may now really, finally, truly be over for him.
The obvious factor distinguishing the coronavirus and the probable recession from the Access Hollywood tape, firing James Comey, and all the rest is that they have a tangible impact on the lives of Americans. …
Trump has done one very big thing very well: He rebranded the economic expansion he inherited as his own creation, like the licensing deals he makes to splash the Trump name over hotels and resorts other people built. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus turns his greatest strength into perhaps his greatest liability.
A somewhat less obvious factor is that Trump’s own mismanagement has demonstrably contributed to these disasters. The entire crisis has grown out of Trump’s constitutional aversion to long-term planning.
Why Donald Trump’s high approval ratings may be misleading
A statistical wrinkle makes the president appear more popular
(The Economist magazine) over the past two weeks the polls have finally been giving Mr Trump some good news. According to an average of public polling data calculated by FiveThirtyEight, a data-journalism website, he is more popular than he has been since March 2017, two months after he took office. The BBC called it Mr Trump’s “best week” yet in office. Political betting markets increased his chances of re-election by roughly ten percentage points.
… Because the people who take part in surveys are often not representative of the population as a whole, pollsters use a statistical procedure called “weighting”, which adjusts the findings to meet certain demographic targets. The technique helps firms ensure that their surveys have enough young people in them, for example, and that they achieve a good balance of minorities and working-class whites.
But even after correcting for demographic biases, pollsters’ data can still be unrepresentative. They may have the right shares of Latino voters and boomers, but nevertheless have too many Republicans or Democrats. This concern is pronounced when an event causes especially good, or bad, news for a political party. At such times surveys can suddenly be swamped with partisans who are eager to voice their love, or hate, for the president.
In the wake of Mr Trump’s acquittal in the Senate, pollsters suspect that such a bias could be affecting polls. Courtney Kennedy, the director for survey research at the Pew Research Centre, says that there is a “strong possibility” that the recent uptick in Mr Trump’s ratings has a wave of optimistic Republicans as its source. pollsters who do not adjust for partisan bias have picked up a recent—and mostly phantom—swing in Mr Trump’s favour. Yet Ms Kennedy is quick to say that weighting is not a magic wand for ensuring high-quality results. A recent Pew report found that online surveys, in particular, can also be unduly influenced by so-called bogus participants who could be causing even more errors in pollsters’ measurements by submitting nonsensical, and disproportionately positive, responses.
President Trump Has Never Been More Dangerous Than He Is Now
(New York) Taken together, Trump’s escalating authoritarianism and rising popularity make the present moment the most harrowing of his presidency thus far. With the anticlimactic end of the Mueller investigation, Trump learned that federal law enforcement cannot (or will not) hold him accountable for abuses of power. With his Senate acquittal, he secured confirmation that Congress won’t either. Now, the small but electorally decisive fragment of the American electorate that isn’t tightly wedded to either party is signaling to Trump that it won’t necessarily penalize his lawlessness either.
Meanwhile, Trump’s post-impeachment polling bounce has cowed his congressional opposition into more accommodative posture. And, thanks to the onset of primary season, the president’s most engaged and ardent critics in civil society have been consumed with our own internal disagreements. These developments have further expanded Trump’s latitude for lawlessness. He has been taking full advantage.
Back-to-back losses in key governors’ races send additional warning to Trump and GOP ahead of 2020
(WaPo) When Kentucky’s Republican governor lost his bid for reelection two weeks ago despite President Trump’s active endorsement, the president and his allies brushed it off by declaring that Trump had nearly dragged an unpopular incumbent across the finish line.
On Sunday, a day after another Trump-backed GOP gubernatorial candidate fell in Louisiana, the president and his surrogates barely mounted a defense.
In a barrage of 40 tweets and retweets by Sunday evening, Trump didn’t mention Eddie Rispone’s loss to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), even though the president had held two campaign rallies in the state in the 10 days before the election aimed at boosting his chances.
5 – 6 November
In Trump’s shadow, Republican suburban slide shows little sign of slowing
(Reuters) – The last time Democrats controlled the government in Delaware County, a suburb of Philadelphia, the U.S. Civil War had just ended.
The Democratic gains in Pennsylvania, a state crucial to U.S. President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, suggest Republicans have yet to staunch the bleeding in the suburbs, where voters have increasingly revolted against Trump’s heated rhetoric.
The results should “scare” Republicans ahead of the November 2020 election, said Douglas Heye, a strategist who previously worked for the Republican National Committee.
Democrats Win Control in Virginia and Claim Narrow Victory in Kentucky Governor’s Race
Control of Virginia’s government fell to Democrats for the first time in decades, while Andy Beshear held an edge over Gov. Matt Bevin in the Kentucky election.
Election Day 2019: Voting Today in Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi
(NYT) Kentucky and Mississippi will elect governors on Tuesday, with Democrats looking for upset victories in those two solidly Republican states.
In Virginia, voters will decide control of the state legislature, where Republicans have slim majorities in each chamber. If the G.O.P. loses, Virginia state government will be under full Democratic control.
Tuesday’s election results will offer insights on two crucial political dynamics heading into the 2020 campaign: the depth of President Trump’s appeal with Republicans and how fully suburban voters have swung to the Democrats.
Trump trails Democratic rivals in national survey as independents move away
(WaPo) One year out from the 2020 election, President Trump trails some potential Democratic rivals in head-to-head matchups, with his national support level currently fixed at about 40 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Trump’s path to victory next year is to replicate the electoral college majority he fashioned by narrowly winning Florida, North Carolina and three states that had long been Democratic presidential strongholds — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — while easily winning Ohio and Iowa, which had been swing states in recent elections.
State-specific polls often have shown Trump’s job approval rating higher than it is nationally, pointing to the challenges for Democrats in their efforts to win back the White House next year. Though the president is not in a comfortable position heading into the election, Democrats still could have limited options and some obstacles to winning an electoral college majority regardless of the popular vote.
Off-Year Election Preview: Is It All About Partisanship?
(New York) At a time when the national political landscape is dominated by the outsized personality of Donald J. Trump, odds are the elections of November 5 will be anxiously examined for what they mean for the prospect of ejecting Trump from office in 2020 or giving him four more harrowing years.
That’s not entirely inappropriate, though, because partisan polarization and the steady and continued decline in ticket-splitting is at least partially “nationalizing” state elections like those occurring in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Virginia on Tuesday (there is also a gubernatorial election in Louisiana this year, but the state has already held its nonpartisan “jungle primary” on October 12, and incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards will face Republican Eddie Rispone in a November 16 runoff). Republicans have the most to lose, though, since they currently hold the governorships at stake in Kentucky and Mississippi, along with the two legislative chambers at risk in Virginia (there are also elections in New Jersey for the lower house of its legislature, but Democratic control is not in any danger).
Frank Bruni: The Republicans Are Dropping Like Flies
We talk and write all the time about the Never Trumpers … The more interesting and maybe predictive group are the Republicans who, to varying degrees, tried to make do with Trump, found ways to rationalize him and still won’t acknowledge how offensive he is but have fled or are fleeing government nonetheless. Republicans in Congress, especially in the House [are]making their predictions with their feet, and they’re heading for the exit.
To recap: Before the 2018 midterms, 46 Republicans but only 20 Democrats decided not to seek re-election to their offices in Congress, and among those, 32 Republicans and 11 Democrats weren’t doing that in order to run for some higher, different post. They were just bolting. The discrepancy between the Republican and Democratic numbers amounted to a weather forecast — and an accurate one at that. Although Democrats didn’t improve their standing in the Senate, they picked up a whopping 40 seats in the House.
Heading into the 2020 election, 19 Republicans in Congress have already announced that they won’t seek another term in their current office, a number higher than at the same point two years ago. Of the 19, 17 aren’t retiring from Congress to pursue some kind of political promotion. Meanwhile, only four Democrats in all are retiring from Congress. To analyze these numbers in the context of what happened in the midterms is to conclude that Republicans are limping toward a disastrous Election Day.
Trump in high-stakes balancing act between oil and corn ahead of 2020 bid
(Reuters) – At a closed-door meeting at the White House on Aug. 19, President Donald Trump looked increasingly alarmed as his top envoy to China delivered evidence of rising Farm Belt frustration over his biofuel policy along with a stark warning: You’ve got a problem in Iowa. … the political bind Trump has found himself in as he looks to two of his most prized constituencies – Big Oil and Big Corn – to again propel him into the presidency next year.
It also shows how the biofuel debate, once an overlooked policy backwater, has become a volatile flashpoint as Trump tries to appease these competing interests.
The Renewable Fuel Standard requires oil refiners to blend biofuels like corn-based ethanol into the fuel pool or pay a price, but allows the government to issue waivers to small refineries who can prove compliance causes a hardship.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has handed out 85 such waivers since he took office, saving the oil industry hundreds of millions of dollars but enraging the corn lobby which argues it kills demand.
John Cassidy: “Sharpiegate” and Donald Trump’s Perpetual Cone of Uncertainty
As we move closer to the election, Trump’s war on the news media, and on the very notion of truth, will only intensify. As the past few days have demonstrated, even the onset of hurricanes or other natural disasters won’t stop it.
Trump is in serious danger, and his own advisers know it
By Greg Sargent
(WaPo) Trump’s conduct is so outsize and crazy, and his advisers’ defenses of it are so strained and absurd, that we often end up overlooking the much more mundane explanation for all of this — that Trump is failing on many fronts, and as a result, he and his advisers fear he’ll lose reelection.
Politico has an illuminating new report that helps pry loose this mask. The gist is that Trump’s own advisers are aware that there are multiple flashing indicators right now that very well might put Trump’s reelection in serious doubt.
Among these: Trump’s trade war with China will likely worsen; his rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement might not pass Congress, denying him a badly needed victory on a signature issue; and the likelihood of a recession has increased. What’s more, the U.S. manufacturing sector just contracted by one very closely watched metric, and Trump’s trade wars are a key reason for that.
‘They are riding a rubber ducky into alligator-infested waters’
(Politico) Trump faces a contracting U.S. factory sector, a narrow path to trade victories and investors spooked by recession risks — all before an election year.
One of these statements might be dismissed with a sardonic remark, but taken together they indicate a man who is seriously sick and delusional. It is horrific.
The 7 Most Unhinged Things Trump Said on Wednesday
“Numb to Trump” op-eds have become their own micro-genre in the past few years, but every so often a day will come along in which a string of jaw-dropping comments will slap the desensitized awake. Wednesday, was one of those days, with Trump declaring himself the “chosen one,” reiterating that he’s intent on ending birthright citizenship, and joking (maybe) about giving himself the Medal of Honor. Here are all of the unhinged Trump musings you may have missed.
When Trump Talks About Jews, He’s Really Talking to Evangelical Christians
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) Trump’s not as interested in Jewish opinion as he often sounds. He’s just using Jews and Israel to express his solidarity with Israel’s, and God’s, truly loyal followers over there in that nice Evangelical church. He needs every one of them in 2020.
Trump says that Jewish people who vote for Democrats are ‘very disloyal to Israel,’ denies his remarks are anti-Semitic
“I think if you vote for a Democrat, you are very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people,” Trump said in an exchange with reporters outside the White House before departing for an event in Kentucky.
On Tuesday, Trump had criticized Democrats over the views of Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Both women have long been fierce critics of Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. They support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a global protest of Israel.
Trump has one playbook, and very few plays left in it
By Dan Balz
(WaPo) After a week in which the threat of recession rocked global financial markets, his trade war with China showed no signs of progress and the government of Israel got into a nasty dispute with two members of Congress, President Trump went to bed Thursday night with other weighty issues on his mind.
“Great news,” he tweeted. “Tonight we broke the all-time attendance record previously held by Elton John at #SNHUArena [Southern New Hampshire University] in Manchester!” This is the frivolous mind-set of the president of the United States. Trump’s statements over the past few days have brought into focus once again something fundamental about him: He has little understanding of what it means to govern.
… a new Fox News poll of the 2020 campaign showed Trump losing to every Democrat tested. More telling was that the incumbent president did not break 40 percent against any of them. Polls are polls, and the election is more than a year away, but those numbers should concern the president’s advisers.
Trump is following the same limited playbook that got him elected. Whether those tactics have the same potency they once did is the question that will determine his and the country’s future. Meanwhile, serious problems are in front of him, and he is struggling to find the answers.
Trump’s State-by-State Approval Ratings Should Scare the MAGA Out of Him
(Politico) There has been a lot of discussion in political circles about Donald Trump’s job-approval ratings, what they portend, and Trump’s Electoral College strategy for 2020, which doesn’t necessarily require a popular-vote plurality. But in the end, of course, the conjunction of the Electoral College with Trump’s state-by-state popularity is where the deal will go down.
The online polling firm Civiqs has published a new set of state-by-state job-approval ratings for Trump as of August 11, and it shows how the president’s overall standing (a 43 percent approval rating nationally, which happens to match the current RealClearPolitics polling average) might translate into electorate votes. It’s not a pretty picture for the president, to put it mildly.
… If you credit these polls at all, Trump’s reelection will require (1) a big late improvement in his approval ratings, which is possible but unlikely based on long-standing patterns during his polarizing presidency; (2) a campaign that succeeds in making the election turn on theoretical fears about his opponent rather than actual fears about a second Trump term, which won’t be easy either; (3) a big Republican turnout advantage, which is less likely among the larger presidential electorate than it was in 2018; or (4) some diabolical ability to thread the needle despite every contrary indicator, which superstitious Democrats fear for obvious reasons.
Trump warns he’s not ‘prepared to lose’ reelection
President Trump declared that he is not “prepared to lose” reelection in 2020, saying he does not believe the official results of the popular vote count from his first election
Trump stages his greatest show yet
The president’s elaborate reelection rally in Florida featured thousands of adoring supporters
Trump, at Rally in Florida, Kicks Off His 2020 Re-election Bid
President Trump delivered a fierce denunciation of the news media, the political establishment and what he called his radical opponents on Tuesday as he opened his re-election campaign in front of a huge crowd of raucous supporters by evoking the dark messaging and personal grievances that animated his 2016 victory.
… Mr. Trump mocked and disparaged Democrats, calling them the leaders of an “angry, left-wing mob” and declaring that the 2020 election will be a “verdict on the un-American conduct of those who tried to undermine our great democracy, undermine you.”
He extolled his record as president — the growing economy, the tax cuts and deregulation — but did not offer any new policies or a cohesive agenda for a second term that might expand his political appeal. As he formally declared his intention to run again, he told the audience that his new slogan would be “Keep America Great,” pledging to wage a relentless battle on behalf of his supporters. Fact-Checking Trump’s Orlando Rally: Russia, the Wall and Tax Cuts
Trump Should Be a Shoo-in for 2020, But Low Approval Holds Him Back
By Shannon Pettypiece, Mike Dorning, and Bloomberg June 18, 2019
(Fortune) Donald Trump enjoys a strong economy, a nation at relative peace, the advantage of incumbency and a well funded campaign — assets that make him a good bet for re-election, even though most voters say they don’t like him.
Trump will formally kick off his 2020 re-election bid in a prime-time speech to as many as 20,000 supporters in Florida on Tuesday, beginning a contest that serves as a referendum on both his job performance and his personal conduct in office.
Set aside his sagging approval ratings, the Mueller report and other controversies that have surrounded Trump’s Oval Office. The bottom line is that incumbent presidents seldom lose re-election, especially with a peacetime economy as strong as the U.S. presently enjoys. And Trump has made clear that he wants voters thinking only of dollar signs when they go to the polls.
As 2020 looms, everyone is taking Trump’s bid for a second presidential term seriously
By David Shribman, Executive Editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(Globe & Mail) Hardly anyone took Donald Trump seriously when he rode an escalator down to his Trump Tower lobby four years ago and said he was running for president. When he repeats the campaign-declaration exercise Tuesday in a 20,000-seat arena in Orlando – no downward descent by escalator this time, as the Trump team will take no chances with the metaphor that might prompt – the country, the world and especially his two dozen Democratic campaign rivals will be taking very seriously the man who is the unlikely 45th president of the United States.
Once again Mr. Trump lags in public-opinion polls and in the very public opinions of the American political establishment. But this time he begins his presidential campaign with the symbolic and real advantages of the incumbent:
A stunning Air Force One jetliner that attracts awe and attention wherever it lands (“The No. 1 perk of being president,” in former president Barack Obama’s estimation);
The power of the White House “bully pulpit” (the phrase comes from one of his Republican presidential predecessors, the fellow insurgent Theodore Roosevelt);
The ability to convert campaign notions to national policy with the stroke of a pen or, just as likely, with the signature Trump twist of a tweet (a capacity available to no one else in politics).
Those Trump second-term advantages are married with substantial challenges, not least of which is that the President lacks several elements his re-elected predecessors have possessed:
Personal discipline (Mr. Trump is contemptuous of the conventional political advice he receives from seasoned veterans);
The authentic support of party leaders (like Mr. Carter, Mr. Trump has surface loyalty from his party but that loyalty is like 19th-century American pioneers’ description of Nebraska’s Platte River, which they had to cross while moving west: broad but shallow); and
A genuine geopolitical base (Mr. Trump commands the Southern states of the Old Confederacy and some of the traditional Midwestern bloc, but many of the farm states are reeling from his tariffs on agriculture exports and his hold on vital swing states is tentative at best).
A grave danger sign for Mr. Trump: The three most important swing states outside of Ohio, which Republicans traditionally capture if they win the White House, are Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. All sided with Mr. Trump in 2016. All elected Democratic governors last year.
Trump Wants to Neutralize Democrats on Health Care. Republicans Say Let It Go.
(NYT) As President Trump prepares to kick off his bid for a second term this week, he is anxiously searching for a way to counter Democrats on health care, one of their central issues, even though many of his wary Republican allies would prefer he let it go for now.
Since he announced his previous run four years ago, Mr. Trump has promised to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law with “something terrific” that costs less and covers more without ever actually producing such a plan.
Now he is vowing to issue the plan within a month or two, reviving a campaign promise with broad consequences for next year’s contest. If he follows through, it could help shape a presidential race that Democrats would like to focus largely on health care.
Conservative Icon George Will Shreds Republicans For Turning Into A Trump ‘Cult’
The Republican Party was for decades the party of conservative ideas, but longtime conservative columnist and TV commentator George F. Will said the GOP has abandoned those tenets to support President Donald Trump.
“It’s become a cult ― it’s become a cult because of an absence of ideas,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC. “Because they’ve jettisoned the ideas.”
Then he gave one example of how quickly they’ve sold out a once-core principle to appease Trump:
“For years, decades, all the 20th century almost, conservatives said, ‘We’re for free trade.’ Trump said, ‘By the way, you’re not anymore.’ And they said, ‘OK, we’re not for free trade anymore,’ or they pretend to be.”