Saturday, October 10, 2020

Last Call For Biden, His Time

If Joe Biden is winning over retirees in Florida's largest senior community, The Villages, then Donald Trump is going to lose Florida and the election.

Sara Branscome’s golf cart whizzed down the smooth asphalt path that winds through The Villages, the nation’s largest retirement community, an expanse of beautiful homes, shops and entertainment venues that bills itself as “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.”

Branscome’s cart was festooned with two American flags that flapped in the warm afternoon breeze. A line of oncoming carts bedecked with balloons and patriotic streamers chugged past while honking. Branscome jabbed her left foot on the horn pedal, then gave a thumbs-up.

“This gets you rejuvenated and ready for the next month or so, so we can do this and win. It gives you hope,” the 60-year-old retiree said.

Then she let out a whoop and two surprising words: “Go Biden!”

It’s not a cry that might be expected to resound in The Villages, and it’s certainly not one that is encouraging to President Donald Trump. Older voters helped propel him to the White House — the Pew Research Center estimates Trump led among voters 65 and older by 9 percentage points in 2016 — and his campaign hoped they would be a bulwark to cement a second term.

They remain a huge chunk of the electorate. Pew estimates that nationwide, nearly 1 in 4 eligible voters will be 65 and older. It’s the highest level on record, going back to 1970.

But there have been warnings that older voters are in play. To be sure, Trump has solid support among older adults, but his campaign has seen a drop-off in its internal research, according to campaign aides, and some public polls suggest Democrat Joe Biden is running ahead or just even with Trump

Multiple polls shoe Biden is running ahead of where Clinton was with multiple groups: with seniors, with women, with men, with Latinx voters, with independents, and especially with white college-educated women and suburban voters.  

The big difference around this time is that there's not any major third-party threat siphoning off the anti-Trump vote.  Trump's still going to get 46% of the vote just like he did in 2016. But Biden will be at 52% rather than 48% like Clinton was, and with maybe 2% voting third-party/other rather than close to 7% as in 2016.

That's why Clinton lost, especially in the last two weeks of the election. Comey's "but her emails!" convinced millions to buy into the "both sides are just as corrupt" fallacy and it gave us Trump. That's not happening so far.

And I'm making another assumption that Trump will get to 46%. The rate things are going, he may not even hit that mark. It's entirely possible that Biden's double-digit lead holds and he ends up winning something like 54-44%. Right now, the polls are in this territory and have been since Trump's debate meltdown and COVID infection.

Still plenty of time for Trump to gain ground. Clinton was up by double-digits with two weeks to go as well. But for the first time, I'm ready to entertain the thought that Biden will win, and that we're going to really pull this off.

Even if you were to construct a 95% confidence interval for how the polls at this point have differed from the result, it's about +/- 12 points. Biden's advantage is just inside of that. It suggests there is only a roughly 1-in-20 chance that Trump wins the popular vote. In other words, it's something that could occur, though is improbable. 
Instead, Trump still has a decent chance because of the possibility of a popular vote/Electoral College split. We don't know the true extent to which Trump has a better shot in the Electoral College than he does in the popular vote, but we know it exists. 
One baseline is assuming Trump does about three points better in the state that determines the Electoral College winner than he does in the popular vote. That's what occurred in 2016. This means in reality that Trump needs things to shift seven points in his direction nationally to win the Electoral College given he's down 10 points nationally right now. 
(A look at the state level polling generally confirms this rough estimate.) 
It's far from impossible that Trump closes the margin with Biden by seven points. It's an event that occurs about 1-in-7 times, if historical trends hold. 
Indeed, you can see that the chance Trump wins is more than negligible in statistical models such as those created by Jack Kersting, FiveThirtyEight and the Economist. They all point in a similar direction. 
Trump has roughly a 1-in-7 to 1-in-11 chance of pulling off the victory in November, according to all these different models. 
This may not seem like a lot, but it's not nothing. 
Pick up a simple six sided die that you probably have somewhere around your house. Trump's chance of winning is nearly as good as you throwing the die and hitting a six on your first roll of the die. 
To use an example closer to my heart, the Buffalo Bills had about a 1-in-6 chance of making the playoffs heading into the final weekend of the 2017 NFL season. By winning against Miami and Baltimore losing to Cincinnati, the Bills ended up in the playoffs for the first start since 1999. 
In fact, we've already seen a 1-in-6 possibility become reality this presidential election season. Back in the primaries, Biden seemed like he was done for after losing the first three contests. He had about a 1-in-6 shot of winning the plurality of delegates. 
Of course, we all know what happened after that. Biden won the South Carolina primary convincingly and was off and running to the nomination. 
In the real world, the seemingly unlikely things happen all of the time.

If your state has early voting next week, get to it.

Trump still wins 10-15% of the time. I'd much rather be Biden's camp right now but we cannot, cannot, cannot afford to relax.

And besides, Biden winning is just step one in years of work ahead.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The plan to October Surprise the Trump regime to a win with "new bombshell revelations!!11!" about Hillary Clinton and the 2016 FBI investigation into the Trump campaign has failed miserably thanks to Trump's COVID collapse, and we're getting into a dangerous point now in American history.
With coronavirus running through his body in competition with a heavy steroidal dose, President Trump is frustrated that a country where over 210,000 people have died from the virus seems disinterested in the “hoax” of Russiagate.

Trump spent part of his week demanding the latest version of his Russia counter-narrative—that the intelligence officials teamed up with Democrats to invent Russian collusion in 2016—be used to prosecute his political enemies. “I say, ‘Bill [Barr], we have plenty [of evidence], we don’t need any more,” Trump told Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. On Friday, he fumed to Rush Limbaugh that Republicans are “afraid they’re going to influence the election… they don’t play the tough game.”

Providing that “evidence” to Attorney General William Barr’s special prosecutor is loyalist Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. Intelligence veterans are seething as Ratcliffe helps Trump concoct a narrative to aid him in an election. “Everyone knows the deal here,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer. “They know Ratcliffe is irresponsible. It’s just everything goes.”

Yet Trump and his aides, in recent weeks, have recognized that the public isn’t captivated by the Breitbart-friendly accounts of uncovered notes from former CIA officials four years ago, according to two sources familiar with the private complaints.

“Mainstream media isn’t covering it. So most voters aren’t aware of the facts,” John McLaughlin, a top Trump pollster, told The Daily Beast. “You’re [the] first reporter who’s ever asked me and it has yet to be a question in the debates.”

Other political advisers don’t even think it’s worth the bother at this point. Some senior Trump aides have privately insisted that amplifying the inquiry from special prosecutor John Durham is a waste of time, at least electorally. “It is not going to move any votes that aren’t already in our column,” one said.
And this all goes back to Trump's toxic narcissism. He sees the Russia investigation as a personal attack against him, and he's utterly baffled as to why the country that obviously loves him as its new messiah doesn't rise up in armed rage to throw down the Democrats. Trump, constantly surrounded by enablers and sycophants, believes the entire country is like his White House full of yes men and toadies.
“The media has worked hard to keep voters in the dark about Joe Biden colluding with Hillary Clinton to spread the Russia collusion hoax and undermining the peaceful transition of power in 2017,” Matt Wolking, the Trump campaign’s deputy communications director, said in response to a request for comment Friday.

One person who has repeatedly talked to Trump about Durham’s probe and the president’s desire to imprison many of his political enemies recounted how Trump has lamented how more people aren’t defecting from the Democratic Party for what is supposedly the “biggest scandal” in recent U.S. political history. The president also blames media outlets—including Fox—for not covering Durham-related developments as aggressively as he’d like. They’re “cover[ing] it up” for the voters and American public, Trump has said.

Another source with knowledge of the president’s griping on the matter said that there was at least one instance in the past two months when President Trump had flipped through cable-news channels looking for coverage of the probe one day, only to voice his irritation when he couldn’t find any
So this is where the danger comes in, as I've warned. When it finally penetrates Trump's shell that he's really in danger of losing this election, he's going to panic, and panicky, scared people with power do stupid, stupid things. I don't honestly know how far Trump will go, but given his documented, decades-long history of looting the place and leaving his enablers holding the bag, and his documented, decades-long history of petty retribution against everyone in a position of strength against him, the potential for a catastrophic miscalculation on Trump's part is very high.

What happens if Trump orders Barr to arrest Clinton, Biden, and Obama?

We could find out really soon.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

At this point the Trump regime has to be considered an active proponent of infecting as many Americans as possible with COVID-19, because it has ignored the recommendations of medical scientists, doctors, and public health experts at the CDC for close to seven months now. The CDC made it clear that a mask mandate was required on all US public transportation as we head into the flu season, and the White House wouldn't even consider it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted a sweeping order last month requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation in the United States, but it was blocked by the White House, according to two federal health officials.

The order would have been the toughest federal mandate to date aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which continues to infect more than 40,000 Americans a day. The officials said that it was drafted under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and that it had the support of the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, but the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, declined to even discuss it.

The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, said the order would have required face coverings on airplanes, trains, buses and subways, and in transit hubs such as airports, train stations and bus depots.

A task force official said the decision to require masks should be left up to states and localities. The administration requires the task force to sign off on coronavirus-related policies.

“The approach the task force has taken with any mask mandate is, the response in New York City is different than Montana, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama,” said the official who asked not to be identified because he did not have permission to discuss the matter. “Local and state authorities need to determine the best approach for their responsive effort depending on how the coronavirus is impacting their area.”

Most public health officials believe that wearing masks is one of the most effective ways to protect against the spread of the virus, particularly in crowded, poorly ventilated public places that attract people from all over, like transportation venues. Many feel that the Trump administration has turned the wearing — or not wearing — of masks into a political expression, as seen most dramatically on Monday evening when President Trump whipped off his surgical mask at the White House door after returning from the hospital where he was treated for Covid-19.

“I think masks are the most powerful weapon we have to confront Covid and we all need to embrace masks and set the example for each other,” Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, who oversaw the drafting of the order, said in a recent interview.

Dr. Redfield has been publicly at odds with President Trump for promoting mask wearing along with social distancing, and for warning that a vaccine for the virus won’t be widely available until next year.

The thwarting of the mask rule is the latest in a number of C.D.C. actions stalled or changed by the White House. Late last month, the coronavirus task force overruled the C.D.C. director’s order to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February. That plan was opposed by the tourism industry in Florida, an important swing state in the presidential election. Political appointees at the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services have also been involved in rewriting the agency’s guidelines on reopening schools and testing for the virus, bypassing the agency’s scientists.

Some other members of the White House Task Force support a mask mandate. But others do not, among them Dr. Scott W. Atlas, a radiologist who has become Mr. Trump’s closest adviser on the coronavirus, and Mr. Pence, who runs the panel and sets the agenda.
Under this logic, there's no reason to even have a United States of America, because New York is not Montana, so national laws cannot be applied to any damn thing.
Except that public transportation is interstate travel. 

We could have stopped the spread of this stupid pandemic months ago, but we refuse because of politics and racism. Rural white folk are still hoping the pandemic will kill as many of those urban people as possible so they get more political power, I guess.

At this point, I actively consider every Trump voter to be okay with racism and okay with mass carnage of non-Trump voters because they're a dangerous death cult. Trump himself is a walking public health hazard who should be in quarantine.

They're trying to kill everyone. If they can't do it with a pandemic, they'll do it with violence.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

 The Republican rats are headed for the lifeboats off the sinking USS Trumptanic.

For Republicans, fearful of a possible electoral disaster just weeks away, it has become safe at last to diss Donald Trump — or at least to distance themselves from him in unmistakably purposeful ways.

A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent.

This is far from an insurrection. Republicans in the main aren’t outright repudiating Trump. But they are effectively rolling their eyes in exasperation with him, and especially his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the most vivid recent examples:

* Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas acknowledging in a Friday interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he’s “worried” about the election, which he warned could be a “bloodbath of Watergate proportions” for his party, depending on how voters view the pandemic and economy on Election Day.

* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling reporters Thursday he has not been to the White House in more than two months, since Aug. 6, because he doesn’t have confidence that Trump and his team are practicing good coronavirus hygiene. McConnell said, “my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.”

* Sen. Thom Tillis, in a perilous fight for reelection in North Carolina, telling POLITICO in an interview that one reason to vote for him is to help Republicans keep their Senate majority as “the best check on a Biden presidency.”

* Sen. Martha McSally, running behind in her bid to keep her Arizona seat, refusing to say at a debate with challenger Mark Kelly — despite being pressed repeatedly by the moderator — whether she is proud of being a backer of Trump. “Well, I’m proud that I’m fighting for Arizonans on things like cutting your taxes … ” she filibustered.

* Sen. John Cornyn, still ahead in polls but facing a tougher-than-usual race in Texas, told the Houston Chronicle that Trump did not practice “self-discipline” in combating the coronavirus, and that his efforts to signal prematurely that the pandemic is receding are creating “confusion” with the public. Trump got “out over his skis,” Cornyn said.

* Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican in a historically Democratic-leaning state, said this week that Trump has been “incredibly irresponsible” through words and actions “to ignore the advice of so many of the folks in the public health, epidemiol infectious disease community.”

* After Trump abruptly called off talks on a new economic recovery plan this week, a number of Republicans publicly broke with Trump’s strategy. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection, went so far as to call Trump’s move a “huge mistake.” Rep. John Katko of New York, who represents a district Hillary Clinton carried, made clear he “disagrees” with the president. And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Trump ally who is locked in the toughest race of his political career, urged Trump to come back to the negotiating table. In the face of the uproar, Trump did reverse course, though a deal remains highly uncertain.

What’s going on with all this GOP static? In the past, Trump has been able to effectively end the careers of people who drew his ire. Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, an occasional Trump critic, was in a tough primary challenge in 2018 when Trump weighed in decisively against him in the closing hours. The New York Times said Sanford’s loss proved that, “having a conservative voting record is less important than demonstrating total loyalty to Mr. Trump.” Later, Jeff Sessions, trying to return to the Senate from Alabama after losing Trump’s confidence as attorney general, learned the same lesson.

One thing that’s changed, operatives in both parties say, is that there is now strength in numbers. A growing roster of Republicans are stepping sideways or ducking from the camera to make sure they are not captured in the same frame as Trump. In addition, Trump is simply too consumed by the resident chaos all around his West Wing in the closing weeks of his own reelection campaign to carry out punitive measures against GOP disloyalists.
It's all starting to come apart for the regime. Once you show weakness like this, things only get worse for strongmen and authoritarians like Trump. Trump's either going to need to crack down on his party, or it's game over for him. Without the support of his enablers in Congress, he's as good as toast.
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