NDN Blog

Biden Leads, COVID19 To Do List, WTF McConnell?

While it is likely that the COVID-19 crisis will create a new political dynamic in America, the current climate very much favors the Democrats and Joe Biden.  In recent polling, Biden’s lead over Trump has been consistently 8-11 points, landslide territory.  Using Real Clear Politics, Biden is ahead in most of the battleground states, with more than enough to get to 270.  Using FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s job approval is about where it was on Election Day 2018 when Democrats won by 8.6 pts and the Congressional Generic is +7 for the Democrats now.   The new NBC/WSJ poll has Party ID at 44D-36R – 8 pts.  Wherever you look, the structure of the race is 7-10 pts right now for the Democrats, a formidable lead at this point.

You can find this strong Democratic trend in the important Senate races too.  Gideon (ME), Kelly (AZ), and Cunningham (NC) have leads of 4-5-6 in polls taken in the past few weeks.  Ernst had a bad poll last week in Iowa, and the two former governors, Bullock (MT) and Hickenlooper (CO), are in very strong positions in their races (though with no recent polling).  While the GOP is likely to win in AL, the primary there has gotten really messy.  Basically everything has broken against Mitch McConnell since the Senate trial ended – at this point we think Dems are more likely than not to get to 50 in the Senate.

Joe Biden leads by a large margin in the Democratic Primary, and has big leads in all the states voting tomorrow.  NBC/WSJ had it 61/32 yesterday, so there is evidence that Biden’s lead is actually growing now.  If people vote tomorrow and he sweeps all four contests, he could grow even more and it would be our hope that Bernie gets out by week’s end.  With voting a bit in question after Tuesday, Democrats may have to do some creative things to officially end their primary and make Biden the nominee, particularly if there are no Conventions this year – watch for more on this from NDN in the coming days.

Be Loud About COVID-19 - As we wrote to you yesterday, we hope everyone reading this message calls their Senators and Representative today and demands Congress stay in until the nation has a real plan in place to battle COVID-19.  Looking at what’s been done in other nations, it is just shocking to realize how little the President has done since our first case was diagnosed a full 8 weeks ago.   In addition to the House bill which passed on Friday and still awaits McConnell's return from a four day weekend, consider all that still needs to be done:

☑ Ensure  that our national testing regime is in place and working (we’ve tested as many people in 8 weeks as South Korea does every day, and we each had our first case at the same time)

☑ Initiate Herculean efforts to build hospital beds and provide the proper equipment needed by our health care professionals

☑ Establish a clear national policy on social distancing, and don’t leave such heavy lifting to states and localities alone

☑ Pass the new Wyden Senate bill which would fund and enable a national vote by mail program for the general election ensuring that the election takes place as scheduled

☑ Launch a comprehensive, effective screening system for the millions of people who come into the country each day

☑ Appoint a COVID-19 spokesperson who American can rely on each day, and who tells the truth

☑ Create a national advisory board which studies how other nations are tackling COVID and can rush successful tactics to deployment here in the US

☑ Stand up a public temperature measurement corps which will identify carriers in public spaces and rush them to rapid testing and treatment (something being done in many other countries)

☑ Nominate and confirm people in every agency involved in the national response for every unfilled position immediately so that we are at full strength to fight in the days ahead (DHS Secretary for example!)

A new David Leonhardt analysis in the New York Times goes into detail about how the President squandered his opportunity to contain COVID-19 and has continually mismanaged the response.  There is no question that the President’s incompetence will cost Americans lives – perhaps tens of thousands – and will have done historic damage to our economy and our society more broadly.  The President had the tools to contain COVID but chose not to use them. 

Given all this, it is our hope that among the things Congress does in the days ahead is put the President’s removal back on the table.  Given the President’s unprecedented bungling of our nation’s response, he should be taken out of the chain of command now – there simply is no way he can be trusted to do what’s right in the days ahead given how much he has gotten wrong over many months now. 

If You Don't Like Trump's COVID-19 Response, Blame Mitch McConnell

“The 15 [cases], within a couple of days, are going to be down to close to zero” — Donald Trump, 2/27/20

In January, Mitch McConnell had his chance. He could have removed Trump from office. The case the House brought was overwhelming. A majority of the country wanted Trump removed. 75% wanted to see all the evidence. This venal, unwell, incompetent, vainglorious man could have been gone. Pence could have brought in Nikki Haley and started fresh, working to put Trump in the GOP’s rear view mirror. Instead, Mitch, in what was one of the gravest political misjudgments in American history, decided to keep Trump in the White House, lashing himself and his Party to everything Donald did from then on.

And here we are. Dangerous politicization of the ODNI and DHS — the people who keep us safe. Incomprehensively mismanaged COVID-19 response. Plummeting global markets. A savage Russian-led oil price war designed to harm our domestic industries. Empty desks in critical positions throughout the government. Daily rantings, lying, and scary delusions of a Mad King, who seems increasingly disconnected from the world the rest of us live in. America is in a profound governing crisis, courtesy of Mitch McConnell.

The public hasn’t been happy with Mitch’s big decision. Polling since the President’s Senate trial ended has been universally bad for the GOP. The President trails Joe Biden by 7–10 pts; his job approval is a point lower today (-9.6) than it was on Election Day 2018 when Democrats won by 8.6 pts; the only battleground state he leads in today is Texas. The Congressional Generic has moved from +5 for Dems to +7.3 today, the largest it has been in some time, and now finds a similar margin as the national numbers (7–9 pts). Every Senate poll taken since the trial has the frontline GOPer (AZ, CO, ME, NC) down to their Dem challenger. A new Iowa poll has Senator Ernst losing 10 pts in her job approval, 57% to 47%, and her “hard re-elect” is just 41% (meaning she can lose). House GOPers are more likely to lose seats this cycle than gain them. After leading his party into three worst case elections in a row in 2017, 2018, and 2019, 2020 could be Donald and Mitch’s worst election yet. As can be seen below, recent well-regarded national polls have Trump losing decisively to Biden in 2020:

Biden 53, Trump 43 (CNN)

Biden 50, Trump 41 (YouGov/Yahoo)

Biden 49, Trump 41 (Fox)

Biden 52, Trump 45 (ABC/WaPo)

Biden 52, Trump 44 (NBC/WSJ)

If Joe Biden wins Michigan tomorrow — and the four most recent polls in the state have Biden up 41, 30, 24, and 21 points — the Democratic primary race is over and Sanders will have been beaten fair and square. It may take a while for him to get out, but the rationale for him continuing will not exist, particularly given the grave health issues he faces. Biden’s lead over Bernie is 16 points in the last two national polls, and he is far ahead in delegates. There just is no path for Bernie. 2020 is not 2016, and we shouldn’t expect a similar outcome in the primary or the general for the Democrats. In a new Medium piece, Simon offers some ideas on how the Biden campaign can continue to grow, innovate, and win, including adopting a #DemAvengers strategy of running with 15–20 people at the top of the ticket, not just 2; and re-imagining the “War Room” so it is 3–4 million people going to work every day, not just 200 kids in a headquarters.

As we look to protect our people and the economy from COVID-19 in the coming days, we also have to work to protect our democracy too. The President has used fictional national emergencies to do all sorts of things these past few years — confiscate money from DOD to build his border wall, repeatedly levy tariffs, etc. But now he has a real national emergency, and it is essential that responsible leaders of both parties establish a bi-partisan process for making the big decisions ahead of us; the danger of him using this moment to assume dictatorial control over the nation is a clear and present one, and our eyes need to be wide open here. He has already shown he cannot lead us through the COVID-19 crisis, and Congress is going to have to step in in some dramatic way to ensure that the damage he does is limited in the days ahead. Of course, the best course would be for him to resign, and let Pence take over. While remote, I am willing to bet the talk of this in GOP circles is more common now than people think, particularly after the President’s truly unhinged and terrifying performance at the CDC on Friday.

Coronavirus Is An Economic Battle The Federal Reserve Can't Win

This piece was originally published in the Washington Post

The Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut on Tuesday certainly won’t hurt the financial markets or the real economy, but as the subsequent steep drop in stock prices shows, the cut won’t help much, either. Three forces stand in the way.

First, when a country suffers a big shock — from a terrorist attack, a hurricane or a doubling of oil prices — interest rate cuts can encourage businesses and consumers to borrow more money to invest or make large purchases. But that happens only when people believe that the serious effects of the shock are over. That’s why natural disasters don’t upend the overall economy. It’s also why the big interest rate cut in the wake of 9/11 worked: The direct damage was localized, and it wasn’t repeated. In fact, Bureau of Economic Analysis data show that consumer spending grew faster in the quarter immediately following 9/11 than any quarter for more than two years before or after the attack. But when a shock to the economy is more widespread and continuing — as is the case for the coronavirus outbreak — cutting the cost to borrow won’t stop most consumers or businesses from hunkering down.

Second, President Trump has pressured the Fed to cut rates for more than two years, and it has worked — but in a way that he and all of us may come to regret. The Fed reduced interest rates three times in 2019, reversing much of the Fed’s effort from 2017 to 2019 to "normalize" interest rates after many years of near-zero borrowing costs. The result is that now the Fed has much less room to support people’s economic decisions by cutting rates more.

And third, the potential damage from the coronavirus pandemic is in a different league than a half-point or full-point cut in the cost banks pay to borrow funds overnight. It’s true that we do not know how infectious this virus is, so we cannot say yet how quickly it will spread. But at a minimum, not knowing breeds uncertainty, and people and businesses don’t spend freely in uncertain times.

We also don’t know for sure how deadly the virus is, since the data from China has not been very reliable. But if it is deadly to 2 percent of those who catch it, as some epidemiologists have suggested, or worse, lethal to 3.4 percent of those infected, as the World Health Organization now estimates, the results will be tragic.

The economic fallout from this pandemic would be enormous. The disease has already slowed growth in China, South Korea and Japan. All three countries are major U.S. export markets, so as their purchases of U.S. products fall off, unemployment here will begin to rise.

We also import a great deal from them, and half of our imports from China — and a good share from Korea and Japan — are inputs our manufacturers need to make their own products. The tariff war with China has already slowed U.S. production. If the pandemic further slows imports of those inputs, our manufacturing will contract even more, with more unemployment to follow. If the disease broadly affects Europe as well, interest rate cuts will not prevent these cascading costs from jumping.

Economists have also analyzed and speculated about a different class of problems that we could face from a serious pandemic. In 2005, when we faced the threat of avian flu, a number of American and international organizations conducted a war game simulation called "Atlantic Storm" in which bioterrorists spread smallpox in New York, Los Angeles and four European cities. (Madeleine Albright played the U.S. president.) As the game unfolded, it was clear that many of the economic costs came from government officials sealing borders, grounding transportation systems and preventing people from congregating.

If the virus reaches epidemic proportions in the United States without the capacity to test or vaccinate, mayors, governors and the president could well decide to shut down the transport of goods and people across large parts of the country. That could produce widespread economic costs even if the virus isn’t pervasive. If those shutdowns persist for weeks or months and are widespread, everything could slow at the same time — consumption, investment, construction, employment and incomes. Interest rate cuts won’t matter at all.

Coronavirus panic is already driving some Americans to avoid other people — bad news for airlines, theaters, restaurants and sports teams. History suggests that most of us will keep on working until an infection severely affects our own city or town. That also tells us that if the virus spreads across much of the country, a good share of the labor force could stay home, and a large portion of the economy could shut down. Once again, interest rate cuts won’t cut it.

Coronavirus Crisis

Over the past few weeks, NDN has published several new analyses on the health, political, and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Below you can find our recent work on this subject as well as our recommendations to Congress and the Administration. 

The Need for a National Plan/Other Commentary

On COVID, WTF Is the President Doing?- Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/17/20. COVID here in the US was never tamed, is spreading again at too fast a rate in too many states for the US govt to pretend it isn’t happening or for it not to act. Because the federal government has done so little to combat COVID (allowing us to have infection rates up there with exemplars Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Sweden), there is much the President could do now to help the country re-open safely.

C'mon Mr. President, Wear A Mask- Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/26/20. The President’s defiance on masking is worth us discussing this morning.  The case for masks is a powerful one - they reduce the spread of the virus, are low cost, and are simple.  In poll after poll, support for wearing masks and other prudent physical distancing measures is overwhelming.  

Looking Ahead to The Fall Elections, Trump Begins to Panic - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/19/20. Donald Trump has long feared Joe Biden.  He hatched a vast conspiracy to extort “dirt” on the Bidens from the Ukrainian government - an illegal plot which got him rightfully impeached and should have ended his Presidency.  Faced with weak poll numbers for himself and incumbent GOP Senators, the President now appears to be panicking

White House Struggles With COVID Are An Ominous Sign For The Country-  Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/11/20. White House struggles with COVID are an ominous sign for the countryDespite warnings from experts that the virus was still too active in the US to re-open the country, two weeks ago the White House itself returned to work.  

What Are Kids Going To Do This Summer? — A Few Ideas - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/11/20. Over the next few weeks school will end for most American students of whatever age, from college to pre-Kindergarten. With camps, recreational centers, community pools and sports teams unlikely to be at full strength this summer or operating at all, summer jobs non-existent, parties and social gatherings scaled way back, what exactly are all these kids going to do this summer?

Tests for Me, Not for Thee- Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/5/20. Last week, the White House made a significant attempt to portray “normalcy” - we saw meetings in the Oval Office in close quarters with no social distancing and no masks; the Vice President began official travel again, still with no mask; and the White House press briefing returned, again with no masks.  It was a show, a very purposeful show, of our return to before, of opening up. 

On COVID, What's Next for the US, Trump and the 2020 Election- Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 4/27/20. Phase I of America’s response to COVID is coming to an end, and there is little question that it has been a disaster for the country and increasingly for the Republican Party.  The numbers are staggering - 50,000 lives lost, depression level unemployment numbers, and historic levels of debt. 

Daily COVID - NDN's daily look at the efforts to forge a national response to the virus. 

Where Are the Tests? - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 4/1/20.  Something has gone badly wrong with the US testing regime, again.  We need clear answers and a plan to fix it. If the WH can't do it, Congress needs to step in. 

With Stimulus Done, Congress Must Now Focus on Defeating COVID - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 3/29/20.  With US infection and mortality rates exploding, our nation's leaders must step in and force the Trump Administration to take a few simple steps it has refused to take to ensure we defeat the virus.

The President’s Plan to Combat COVID19 Has Failed. Congress Must Step In — Now - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 3/24/20 - The nation needs a plan to defeat COVID19, not magical thinking.  The President's strategy has failed, and it's time for Congress to step in. 

Demand A Plan, More Focus On Young People, Vote By Mail - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 3/19/20 - The US government's response to COVID-19 has been inadequate, and isn't getting better. Mass rapid testing is needed now, as is a campaign to help young Americans stay safe. The US should also embrace national vote by mail for the fall election.

Call Congress, Demand A National COVID-19 Response Plan Today - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 3/17/20 - Eight weeks into the COVID19 crisis, the US govt is still without a national plan to combat the virus.  Call Congress today and demand they step up and force the Trump to do what is necessary to protect us. 

Economic Response

How Congress Should Build A Stimulus Package To Counter The Coronavirus Crisis - Chris Taylor, NDN, 3/19/20 - Congress should strive for a massive fiscal stimulus aimed at three broad goals: shore up the healthcare system and pandemic-response, provide aid to workers and businesses directly harmed by the pandemic, and conduct a massive cash transfer program to boost the overall economy.

Coronavirus Is An Economic Battle The Federal Reserve Can't Win - Rob Shapiro, The Washington Post, 3/5/20 - Our long-time contributor Rob Shapiro has a new piece in the Washington Post that discusses the economic consequences of the coronavirus and argues that recent efforts by the Fed to shore up the economy likely won't be enough to stop wider economic harm.

The Politics of COVID

A New Role for Elected Officials — Community Truth Teller, COVID Navigator - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 3/26/20. The COVID19 crisis is an opportunity for elected officials here in the US to take on a new and powerful role - truth teller, community leader, COVID navigator.

Biden Leads, COVID19 To Do List, WTF McConnell? - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 3/16/20 - As the Democratic Presidential primary ends, Joe Biden and the Democrats find themselves in a very strong electoral position.  Congress needs to step up and forge a national response to COVID19 our POTUS has failed to provide.

If You Don't Like Trump's COVID-19 Response, Blame Mitch McConnell - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 3/9/20 - Mitch has his chance to remove the Mad King from office, and blew it.  Now everything he does - include the blown COVID-19 response, is on Mitch and his colleagues. 

Biden Takes Control, Some Thoughts on What Comes Next

Even for an era of unrelenting political drama, the events of the past few weeks will earn a special place in the history books. Some combination of Bloomberg’s debate fiasco, Biden’s improved public performances and strong showing in Nevada, fear of Bernie and grave Bernie missteps, Clyburn and South Carolina rallying for Biden, and the incredible sight of Pete/Amy/Beto with the VP in Texas produced one of the more extraordinary electoral nights in our storied history.

It is important to note that the movement towards Biden began before South Carolina. Polls taken midweek last week in FL and NC showed significant movement, as did some late polls in South Carolina. Polls taken on Sunday and Monday showed continued movement, leading us to write on Monday morning that “Biden has a real shot at keeping it close on delegates tomorrow night and then opening up a permanent electoral/polling lead by later in the week — one that if maintained should be enough over time to outpace Bernie on delegates and win the nomination.”

That the movement or surge as some are calling it began before South Carolina and didn’t have one cause of course makes it more durable and sustainable in the weeks ahead. It wasn’t a blip, or an accident, but something deep and profound, as we saw last night. And to us what that means is that we don’t know if this is a two person race for the Democratic nomination any more. Morning Consult had the race at 36 Biden, 28 Bernie yesterday morning. If Biden opens up a 10–15 point national lead against Bernie this week we think the race is functionally over (far more likely now that Bloomberg has withdrawn) and Bernie will not be able to catch the VP in the coming March states. Bernie showed last night that rather than expanding his coalition it has contracted, and he is running far below his 2016 numbers, even losing states he won last time. As of this writing, he only definitely broke 30% in CO, UT, and VT. He is below 30 in Texas and may very well be under 30 in CA as well when all the votes are counted.

We assume that the race will continue through at least the end of March, and we believe the Biden campaign should welcome the fight. It is critical that the campaign takes the money it raises and starts to build out a more serious national operation, including beginning the process of creating more paid and organic state specific media and a rapid upgrade of the digital operation. Going head to head with Bernie these next few weeks and beating him will also create a clear end to the campaign, preventing the “rigged” narrative which was so debilitating in 2016 from returning.

When the dust begins to settle on the Democratic side, opinion makers are going to find Trump and the GOP looking at really bad general election numbers. Biden leads most national polls by 7–9 points; the Congressional generic is plus 7 Democrats; 538’s Trump job approval tacker among likely/registered voters is minus 8.9, slightly worse than Election Day 2018 when Trump/GOP lost the national House vote by 8.6 pts. This 7–9 point spread, a spread which opened up in the 2018 cycle, has been constant and steady for the past few years. An incumbent being down 7–9 points, in the low to mid 40s, is often a place impossible to come back from. It perhaps explains why Trump was willing to commit a series of felony level crimes to try to knock Biden from the race — he and his team know that beating Biden is going to be very very hard.

The battleground state picture is no better for Trump. Using Real Clear Politics, Trump trails Biden in AZ, FL, GA, MI, NC, PA, and WI and only leads in Texas, and there by just a few points. While we still have a long way to go in this race, if the general election were held today Biden would beat Trump, badly.

The Senate picture is also bad for the GOP. Assuming Dems lose Alabama, they need four pick ups to wrest control from Mitch McConnell if they win the Presidency. Most analysts believe Colorado is gone for the GOP though there are no recent polls. In Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly had led Senator McSally in every poll taken this cycle, and one had her at 39% (!) last week. A new poll in Maine has Democrat Sara Gideon ahead of Senator Susan Collins 43–42. A poll last week had Senator Tillis’s job approval at 38% (!) and Trump’s at 45/52 (-7 pts); a new NBC Marist poll has Tillis trailing Democrat Cal Cunningham 48–43. In these recent polls the incumbent Senate GOPers are all in the low 40s, even high 30s — again a place few incumbents ever come back from.

As for the Biden campaign now, some thoughts:

Develop A Clear Under 45 Year Old Strategy — The most important way the VP can expand his coalition in the days ahead is by developing and executing a clear strategy to reach and persuade younger Americans. This age cohort went Democratic by 28 pts in 2018, and are essential to the Party’s prospects in 2020. Engaging them will also be critical to Biden developing a truly modern digital campaign, one which can not only raise the money he needs but also begin to create the on-line army of amplifiers he needs to counter the daily barrage of disinformation surely to come from Trumpworld.

Re-Imagine The War Room — The DNC has a very competent rapid response team in place, but our networked world allows us to re-imagine it; rather than being a few dozen staff fighting it out each day, we should view the War Room as 3–4 million people in the day to day information war, wired into the HQ, taking their stuff and amplifying it through their networks, on and off line. As someone who helped design and run the original War Room in 1992, I can say it is time to update this concept for a new day.

Re-Design How A Presidential Campaign Is Run — To create the maximum amount of intensity and excitement this fall, the Biden campaign should learn from its historic Pete/Amy/Beto day and think of the campaign as 15–20 top Democrats (not just the candidate and VP) all working together to win the election. This allows the campaign to reach more voters every day and more states/media markets, and creates more agile and targeted rapid response and offensive messaging opportunities. I also think it will send a power signal that the Democratic Party is united, mature, and ready to lead and govern on Day 1. The contrast of this with Trump’s band of misfits, extremists, and criminals will be very very stark and powerful.

So while there were many contributors to the great Biden comeback last night, the most important in our mind was the improved performance of the candidate himself. There have been times in this primary where Biden had seemed lost — this is not uncommon in the long grueling primary fights we have here in America. But what is important is that when candidates get lost, to win, they have to get found; and Biden did get found. He righted his own ship, he raised his game, he became far more forceful and aggressive, more compelling, more Presidential. He made the sale. He has been really good these past few weeks, showing above everything else that he will be ready to hit the ground running in January if he wins.

And unlike our current President, who won only with aid from without — Russia, Comey letter, Jill Stein — and bending the rules, Joe Biden and his campaign are doing it on their own, against extraordinary odds and unprecedented opposition (Trump/Ukraine and Bloomberg), in their own way. Campaigns which have overcome adversity as Biden’s has are often the most powerful and successful as we predict this one will be.

Ridin' With Biden, Vetting Bernie, Trump Is Losing The Election

Notes on 2020 - So the big question this morning is where does Biden end up tomorrow night? State polls in FL and NC found him gaining ground even before his big win Saturday night, and he clearly outperformed the polls in SC.  With Pete getting out, far steadier performances on TV and the stump, and a torrent of endorsements, Biden has a real shot at keeping it close on delegates tomorrow night and then opening up a permanent electoral/polling lead by later in the week – one that if maintained should be enough over time to outpace Bernie on delegates and win the nomination.  The other big wild card is how well does Bloomberg do tomorrow night, and will he get out this week?

We did a deep dive on “Bernie” 2020 last week, and what we found wasn’t pretty.  Insultingly vague domestic plans, a leading role in an American Communist Party affiliate, extremism on immigration and guns, concerning health issues, lack of support among long time colleagues, and through his Castro stumble a reminder that Bernie has never been a Democrat, has never led a Democratic ticket, has never had to win general election votes in battleground states, and is unlikely to be very good at leading a unified party into battle against Trump this fall.  His absurd calls to be declared the victor in a contest that he will not have won in a party he’s never been a part of – after making the opposite argument in 2016 – reinforce the challenges that Bernie is going to have in evolving from socialist insurgent to leader of the Party to beating Trump this fall. 

Recent polling should worry the President and his party.  As of this morning, Trump’s job approval in the 538 tracker is 43.8 approve/52.6 disapprove – the same as the morning after the 2018 election, an election the Democrats won by 8.6 points.  A selection of recent well regarded national polls also show Trump trailing by similar amounts:

Biden 50, Trump 41 (YouGov/Yahoo)

Biden 49, Trump 41 (Fox)

Biden 52, Trump 45 (ABC/WaPo)

Biden 52, Trump 44 (NBC/WSJ)

The only battleground Trump leads in, according to Real Clear Politics, is Texas, and there by not very much.  Yes, according to RCP, Biden is leading Trump in AZ, FL, GA, MI, NC, PA and WI. 

New polling also finds incumbent GOP Senators trailing in the big 3 Senate races – AZ, ME, and NC.  McSally has trailed in every poll taken this cycle, and is down 46-39 (!) in this new poll; Sara Gideon leads Susan Collins 43-42; and a new North Carolina poll is consistent with other recent polling, having the President down 49-45 to Biden and Cal Cunningham beating Thom Tillis 48-43.

While every race is different, and things can and will change, a reminder – incumbents in the low to mid 40s this late in the election cycle almost always lose.  There is a reason Trump and the GOP are working so hard to help Bernie become the nominee – the current landscape looks very very bad for them right now. 

The Risk Of Bernie

We have put together some thoughts on just how hard a journey it is going to be for Bernie Sanders to go from socialist insurgent to leader of the Democratic Party to defeating Donald Trump this fall.   This journey would be hard for any politician, but it is going to be particularly difficult for a 78 year old whose health is in question. 

The cold hard reality is that Sanders has never been a Democrat, has never led a Democratic ticket, has never won over general election voters in a swing state, has the support of very few Democratic elected officials, has positions at odds with the vast majority of Democrats in Congress, and has never faced the modern GOP media machine.  His domestic program is shockingly unserious and his foreign policy views are hard to defend.  Given where he is starting from, it is just hard to see how Sanders is able to put it all together and win this thing this fall.  The degree of political difficulty is just too high. 

The explosion of opposition to his praise of Castro from prominent Democratic leaders is an early sign of the troubles Sanders will have in bringing the Party along behind him.  It is no exaggeration to say that he may have just put the most important general election swing state out of play for Democrats, and for what? That Trump, Russia, and Fox News are all working to promote Bernie should also be another big flashing warning sign about the dangers of his candidacy. 

Yesterday, we shared our thoughts about how Joe Biden is the only Democrat left in the race in a strong enough position to beat Bernie.  We still believe that today, and hope that some of the other candidates in the “Establishment” lane – including Mike Bloomberg – withdraw from the race before Super Tuesday.

Biden Or Bust, Vetting Bernie, Four Ways To Combat Trump

From this morning’s Politico: “For the establishment, I think it’s Joe or bust,” said Simon Rosenberg, NDN president, who served as a senior strategist for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2018. “Biden is the only one who has a path to defeat Bernie. It would involve him winning South Carolina and then performing well enough in the early March states to keep the race competitive,” Rosenberg said. “I don’t think Bloomberg can recover quickly enough from the hits he’s taken in recent days to remain competitive or win the nomination.”  

Implicit in this argument is our take that while Mayor Pete and Senator Warren have done well, they haven’t done well enough to be competitive after the early March states.  But at this point one of them staying in the hunt is far more likely than Bloomberg getting himself back into a race he should never have entered in the first place. 

Defeating Bernie at this point will not be easy but it’s not impossible.  A thorough vetting of Bernie has only just begun, and his disastrous 60 Minutes interview last night is a good sign of how rough it’s going to be for him now. He insultingly couldn’t explain how the basics of his health and economic plans would work, and showed an admiration for the Cuban Castro regime that was just jawdropping (and shows how little he understands about leading a party into an election, not just an insurgency). Dr. Rob Shapiro has a smart look at how little reality there is to what Bernie is promising to do, and Ron Brownstein also has a good take on Bernie’s fantasy promises. 

Bernie’s covering up of potentially disqualifying health issues and his long history of pro-gun, anti-immigrant politics are also sure to come to light in the coming days.  That Trump, Russia, and Fox News are all promoting his candidacy remains an extraordinary concern, as does his leadership role in the Socialist Workers Party in 1980, an American affiliate of the Communist Party in the days the Soviet Union still existed. 

If Biden wants to win he will also have to quickly overhaul his strategy and his campaign.  He is ceding way too much of the under 45 vote to Bernie, and got into the digital organizing part of modern politics way too late.  He should address the youth problem by immediately appointing a youth strategy team which should be co-chaired by Rep. Abby Finkenauer among others. 

New polling shows why the stakes of the Democratic Primary are so high – Trump is losing the 2020 election right now, and the GOP’s hold on the Senate has shown real signs of erosion in recent weeks.  Trump’s job approval sits about where it sat on election day 2018 when GOPers lost by 8.6 points in the House, and using Real Clear Politics Biden leads in every battleground state right now including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin (MI and PA are gone for Trump, Texas is very close to being competitive).

In the Senate, new polls have McSally trailing Mark Kelly 46-39 in Arizona and Collins trailing Sara Gideon 43-42 in Maine. In North Carolina, a new poll which did not test D/R head to heads has Trump’s job approval at 45-52, while Senator Tillis’ approval rate is only 38% - taken together these three polls suggest that the Democratic quest to take the Senate back is within reach.    

As for the battle to prevent our Mad King from doing further harm to our Republic, Simon’s new piece lays out four ideas for what the House and Democrats can be doing now to more aggressively challenge the escalating lawlessness of the Trump regime.    

Trump, Russia, And The 2020 Elections — Four Things We Can Do Now

This piece was originally published on Medium.

While there are limits to what Congress and Democrats can do in the face of an out of control President and his cowardly enablers in the Senate, I offer ideas for four things we should consider doing in the days ahead:

Launch A Broad Security Review — Over the next few months, the four main House Committees concerned with defending the nation — Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Homeland Security — should conduct a broad, coordinated review of the nation’s security in the wake of years of gross mismanagement and corrupt self-dealing by the President and his advisors. The American people have a right to know what has been done in their name, and months of public hearings will help inform the political debate this summer and fall.

Particular focus should be given to the President’s relationship with Russia, and the dramatic steps the President has taken in recent years to support Putin’s ambitions on the global stage. The process should begin next week with hearings about what Russia has been doing to help the President’s re-election, and what steps are being taken to shut down the operation itself and prevent further damage to the election which is currently underway.

Secure Our Elections — Events of recent days have shown how unready we are for what is to come in 2020, and proud patriots of both parties should work to restore the integrity of the ODNI, shut down any foreign influence operation underway here in the United States, re-open the FEC, and pass some of the many bipartisan election security bills Moscow Mitch and the President have been sitting on in the Senate. In a recent opinion piece, NDN called on DHS to establish a “gang of six,” a regular convening of the heads of the six federal political party committees as a way of acknowledging the critical role these institutions play in protecting our elections and domestic discourse.

In that same piece NDN called on the six federal party committees to make two structural changes to better allow them to better manage their new cyber responsibilities:

1) Appoint a Senator or House Member Vice Chair for Cybersecurity and Countering Disinformation from one of the Congressional committees of jurisdiction like Homeland Security or Intelligence. Their subject matter expertise and security clearance will make it easier for the each Party Committee to interact with DHS and the intelligence community, particularly in a time of crisis

2) Hire a Chief Security Officer with a true cyber and technical background and ensure they are in the management team of the committee, a direct report to the executive director or chief executive. The DNC’s appointment of Bob Lord as its CSO is a step in the right direction.

Establish A Bicameral Rule of Law Rump Group — Recently we suggested that leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi appoint a bi-cameral rump group of Democrats whose mission it is to fashion a broad strategy to push back against the President’s assault on the rule of law and help the public understand the gravity of what we are witnessing.

Our thought is to keep it small — under 10 Senators/House Members or so — and start with the former state AGs in the Senate — Blumenthal, Harris, Whitehouse. For more on this idea visit here.

The DNC Should Adopt The Social Media Framework Endorsed By The State Parties — In June of last year the state Democratic Parties endorsed a framework that would govern the use of illicit tactics used by Russia against the Democratic Party in 2016 by Democrats in their own campaigns. The DNC should adopt this framework, and encourage every Democratic campaign to adhere to its requirements in the coming election. Democrats just have to do everything they can to make it more difficult for our politics to descend into an era of what I call “Moscow Rules.”

There has never been a moment like this in American history. Our President aspires to be a king, not just a President, and he is also showing clear signs of mental decline and what may best be called madness. There are no pivots from this awful reality, no waiting for Mueller, no “let’s focus on health care.” This is an all hands on deck moment in the history of our Republic, and Congress must do more than express concern — it must act. I’ve offered some ideas on how to proceed, but whatever the plan it must begin in the days ahead.

Recession Fears Resurface As Coronavirus Batters The Global Economy

Over the past week, the S&P 500 has fallen by almost 5%, the yield curve - considered a reliable recession indicator by the Fed - has inverted to its weakest level since October, and a key survey of the manufacturing and service sectors has dropped to its lowest level since October 2013. All of a sudden, the tepid economic recovery since late last year has ground to a halt. Two key factors underlie this startling new trend. The first, of course, is the emergence of the coronavirus epidemic, which has ground the Chinese economy to a halt with major knock-on effects for the rest of the world. The rapid spread of the virus in recent days to Italy and Iran, the first major outbreaks in countries not neighboring China, have in particular sparked fears that the epidemic will last longer than expected. The second factor, however, is that the US economy was in a weak structural condition even before coronavirus began affecting global markets. While swift action by the Fed likely forestalled a recession in 2019 or early 2020, growth was still forecast at 2% or lower for 2020 and manufacturing remained mired in a deep recession.

Much of this pre-coronavirus stagnation is due to the fact that, even with the phase 1 trade deal with China, Trump's trade wars are very much still alive and running. The average US tariff on Chinese imports is still today at 19.3%, compared to just 3.1% when the trade war began in March 2018 (and Chinese tariffs average 20.3% today, compared to 8% in March 2018). Furthermore, steel and aluminum tariffs are still in place on the EU and Japan, and the President continues to habitually float imposing major auto tariffs on the Europeans. As a result, if the Administration wants to cushion the likely significant impact of coronavirus on the US economy this year, it would be wise to also de-escalate its ongoing trade wars which have harmed American jobs, growth, and wages. For more on NDN's work on economic and trade policy under the Trump administration, please click here.

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