NDN Blog

Biden's Strong Job Approval

Biden Strong Job Approval– Want to dwell on Biden’s strong job approval numbers for a minute.  In today’s 538 tracker Biden starts at 55.6 approve, 38.2 disapprove.  This means in practical terms that 62% of the country does not disapprove of what Biden is doing right now.  9% of the US voted for Trump and is not disapproving of Biden now – this is almost one in five of Trump’s own supporters.  

A strong majority of the country, even a big chunk of Trump supporters, are giving Biden a chance to move on his agenda.  It is why he should seize the moment, and go for it.  It is what 60% plus – an extraordinary numbers – want him to do right now.  

And it has to be noted that as Biden is +18 in his job approval today, Trump was only +2-+3 for a few days of his Presidency; was net negative the rest of his Presidency; and never broke 50% job approval one time, the only President in the history of polling to not get to 50% during their Presidency.  So we are really looking a dramatically different Presidency, one where opposition to Biden is nothing like the opposition to Trump.  A majority of the US is giving Biden a chance.  Trump never had the country behind him, was never popular, or seen as effective.  And this matters as the Republicans try to figure out what to do next.  For Trump was both a disastrous President and historically unpopular – why would they ever want to return to that politics? 

GOP Chooses Radicalism, Violence

Feb 1st, Washington DC - How to describe the Republican Party’s refusal to condemn Marjorie Taylor Green or to accept the 2020 election as legitimate? This isn’t politics as usual, something any of us has seen before. Behind both the Capitol Riots and the words of MTG is an ideology of violence, one which believes that Democratic elected officials should be eliminated/killed to make way for Trump to “Save America.” 

On July 4th, at an official event at the White House, then President Trump  spelled out a new mission for his Presidency and the GOP: “American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators.” This was a direct call for violence against his political opponents, a declaration that the President was putting the mighty power of the US government on the job of killing off “the radical left” as our government had used force to eliminate other ideologically threatening movements. 

There simply is no way to interpret this call any other way, and in fact as the NY Times reported this weekend, the Trump administration did begin mobilizing against the “radical left” over the summer.  Republican leaders, including ones many consider moderates, continue to use the “radical left” frame; and over the weekend MTG called her colleague Rep. Cori Bush a “leader of the Black Lives Matter terrorist mob.”  Terrorists, as the President stated above, who needed to be “chased down to the very ends of the earth.”  

Until Republican leaders explicitly renounce these violent calls, and make clear they accept the election in 2020 as legitimate, their party has essentially aligned itself with a violent, armed, and organized domestic insurgency.  It is honestly shocking we have gotten to this place, and that so many Republicans, particularly in the US House remain unrepentant.  But here we are, and this organization is going to continue to demand and expect there to be a clear national effort by the Republicans to de-radicalize, end the Trump-inspired insurgency, and return to the language and practices one would expect from any political party in any democracy, anywhere.  

Biden’s Call for Unity Met With Extremism

This essay was originally published on the website Medium on Jan 25th, 2021. 

These first few days of the Biden era have been a disappointing confirmation of just how radicalized the modern Republican Party has become. Consider:

There has been no party wide embrace of the legitimacy of the election, and thus the legitimacy of Biden’s Presidency — Despite everything that has happened in recent weeks, the Republican Party and its leaders have done almost nothing to distance themselves from the Big Lie about the election outcome being illegitimate. While Senator McConnell has called on Republicans to accept the election results, House Minority Leader McCarthy hasn’t; there is no organized effort for those who told the Big Lie to renounce it; no Republican group or leader who has participated in the insurrection has been disciplined. Senator Paul was spent his time on ABC News yesterday repeating the Big Lie.

How can Joe Biden be expected to work cooperatively with a Party which believes, falsely, that he is an usurper and shouldn’t be there? Our collective expectation as a society now has to be for the Republicans to make it clear that they were wrong about the election; that it was legitimate; and that the power the Democrats hold in Washington was legitimately earned, not stolen.

Mitch McConnell is preventing Democrats from taking over the Senate — In what may be among the extraordinary illiberal acts of these deeply illiberal era, Mitch McConnell is refusing to allow Democrats to seat their new Senators in the various Senate Committees, which leaves Republicans still in charge of the Committees and thus the legislative process. There is no possible justification for this, and is another sign of how far the Republicans have to travel to become a conventional center-right party which respects democratic norms and the rule of law.

No pledge of support to work with Biden on any issue, including defeating COVID — Finally, where is the praise of Biden’s agenda, his speech, the clear excellence of his early transition planning despite COVID, compromised government information systems, the insurrection and degraded security environment? Where is the GOP olive branch on any issue, particularly on dealing with the incredibly reckless mis-management of the pandemic? Why haven’t, for the good of our nation in such a challenging time, Republicans offered a single thing they could work on with Biden? Let the Democrats actually be in charge of the Senate? Do away with the doubts about the legitimacy of the election?

Is it possible for the Republicans to have done less to show their commitment to the general welfare these past few weeks than they’ve done? Hundreds of Members of Congress participated in an effort to overthrow the election results, an effort which resulted in violence and death. They have refused to renounce their support of an active insurgency. They have refused to turn the Senate over to the Democrats, and slowwalked his early Cabinet choices, even in the areas dealing with domestic security. There has been no olive branch, no call for bi-partisanship, no issue identified as any area of potential cooperation.

Instead we still see and hear leading Republicans on national television this weekend using the “radical” language which helped bring violence to the Capitol a few weeks ago — the election wasn’t legitimate, we need to investigate what went wrong, Biden is embracing a dangerous “Radical Left” agenda and actually not doing anything to reach out to Republicans…….

Really? Fixing our broken COVID strategy, creating an economic package which will help struggling families, moving an immigration bill similar to one which has passed a Republican-led Senate twice in the past 14 years, rejoining a global climate agreement which has literally every other country in the world in it isn’t reaching out and is far left? This whole charade has both become both so predictable and so tiresome.

Early polling suggests Biden is uniting the country, even if Washington Republicans have been slow to embrace the new President. Some results from a new ABC Ipsos poll:

Mask wearing on federal property 81–17

Rejoin the WHO — 70–28

Biden Handling of COVID — 69–29

Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords — 65–34

Reauthorize DACA — 65–33

Trump has left the GOP a radicalized, illiberal party, and unfortunately, that radicalization has been very much on display these past few weeks. For America to have unity, or even just good governance, a major project must be undertaken to deradicalize the GOP, and help it return to a center-right party recognizable to a modern democracy. Acknowledging the legitimacy of the election and allowing Democrats to take over the Senate now would be reasonable first steps on the GOP’s post-Trump journey. Let us hope that’s what we see in the coming days.

A New Day, The Spirit of Cincinnatus Returns

New Day – Hard to overstate the significance of what’s about to happen in the next few days.  More than a transfer of power – the Biden team is coming in ready to hit the ground running as few Administrations in recent American history have.  Biden has a clear world view; has built a remarkable team; is already rolling out cogent, smart plans on the biggest challenges we face.  The change in language, agenda, orientation is going to be dramatic, jarring, needed, and oh so welcome. 

We keep coming back to the concept of experience – Joe Biden and his team just know their way around the place.  We are witnessing a remarkably sure footed operation come in at a time of enormous crisis in America – COVID, the economy, body politic, cyber, climate, America’s standing in the world – and it is hard at this point to not feel a bit lucky that Biden, like Cincinnatus, came out of retirement and suited up one more time for the good of the republic.  

In a recent op-ed Simon offers some thoughts on Joe Biden’s historic opportunity to “build back better” here in the US and around the world.   The piece argues that America’s new President should view the next few years as akin to the years after WWII; and use the need to fashion a successful recovery from a shared global trauma to reaffirm and reinvigorate the liberalism which has been so essential to America and the world’s success in the post WWII era.  

You can catch Simon talking more in depth about these ideas in a new “Unpresidented” podcast, and another one from a few months back with Salon’s Chauncy DeVega.  

Analysis: The Republicans Have An Off-Ramp - They Need to Take It

Republicans Have An Off-Ramp — They Need To Take It

This essay was originally published on the website Medium. 

The attack on Congress last week, and other extremist disruptions which may come in the days ahead, are being driven by the belief that an American election was stolen, and that proud “patriots” need to rise up to defend our democracy from those trying to dishonor it.

The election wasn’t stolen of course, and thus this entire radicalized pro-Trump extremist movement has been built on a lie. To stop the violence, restore order, and allow the next President and Congress — and state governments — to get on with their important business — Republican leaders across the country simply must tell their supporters that the election was legitimate and to stand down, go home, and help bring an end to the ongoing insurrection.

We have to be clear that this if this does not happen, and the Republican Party, leadership including “Stop the Steal” sympathizers Kevin McCarthy and RNC Chair McDaniel, continue to sow doubt about the election, the insurrection we are seeing could turn into a years long domestic insurgency which will also certainly see prominent politicians attacked again and undoubtedly some will die.

The Trump Presidency has left America a domestic radicalization problem that is going to take years to address. But the role of post-Trump Republicans in this de-radicalization effort is going to be vital, essential. A first step will be to declare the election legitimate, and ask Trump’s supporters to stand down and go home. Our disputes in America are decided by debate and elections not bullets and violence.

A second and in my mind equally important step will be for Republicans to stand down from using language which whether they understand it or not is equally false and equally an incitement to violence — the language describing Democrats and Joe Biden as Marxists/Communists/the Radical Left. In the evolution of the current moment, this language came first, over the summer, from the President in a speech he gave at the White House, on July 4th. A few days after this speech I wrote:

“If you haven’t read or watched the President’s speeches on July 3rd and 4th — just do it. The language, the hyperbole, the violence will shock you. You will find phrases like “there is a new far-left fascism,” “this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” “radical assault” “the radical view of American history is a web of lies,” “unleash a wave of violent crime.” The Washington Post reported: “He celebrated Independence Day with a dystopian speech in which he excoriated racial justice protesters as “evil” representatives of a “new far-left fascism” whose ultimate goal is “the end of America.”

The single most poisonous passage came from his July 4th remarks: “American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”

Friends, we know the guy is loose with his words, but this is the President of the United States conjuring up some dangerous domestic enemy who needs to be fought the way we fought Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, ISIS and Al Qaeda, with the American military, with death and assassinations. This wasn’t a campaign speech, and the President wasn’t talking about politics or the 2020 elections. It was an official speech by the President, from the White House, on the 4th of July, and it is was a call to arms by the leader of our government to kill and hunt down a dangerous domestic other".

…..The call for domestic violence as we saw on July 6th was first made by the President that day. The frame he established — that Democrats have evolved into something akin to an existential threat to the country and thus must be violently put down like ISIS, Al Qaeda, Communists and Fascists — still lives in the language of Republicans every day. It was the core argument of the election, and it remains the essential frame of the GOP as they head into the new Biden era.

Like declaring the election legitimate and walking away from Trump’s false frame about the election, Republicans must also walk away from the false frame about the radicalization of the modern Democratic Party. They’ve invented an imaginary domestic threat which their supporters have become radicalized against. Democrats are not an extremist party, but a pragmatic one. Our governance while in the White House has made the country far stronger, repeatedly. Our current leaders come from the Democratic establishment, and Joe Biden has long been a leader in standing up for American ideals of liberty and freedom both domestically and abroad. We haven’t uses illiberal or illicit means to gain power — in fact our recent success at the ballot box, winning more votes in 7 of the last 8 Presidential elections — is the best electoral run of any political party in American history. We are historically popular, have governed well and are run by pragmatists, not ideologues.

The ongoing attacks on Democrats as “radical,” “communists” etc is itself the language of extremism, an incitement to violence, false — and like the language around the “stolen election” it must be dropped by Republican leaders in the days ahead. It is a dangerous rhetorical relic of the Trump era which has no place in a healthy democracy; or in a modern, responsible center-right party which we all hope rises from the rubble of Trumpism.

The stark reality we as a country has now is that we have a serious domestic extremist problem, one which scored an historic victory last week. It is going to grow, become more ambitious and aggressive in the coming months. The nation will need to work hard to prevent this armed, radicalized movement to do lasting damage to the country. The Biden Administration will be developing strategies to address the challenge, using all the tools available to them. But whether this movement become something truly significant, and does lasting harm, or fizzles out in the coming months will be a great degree up post-Trump Republicans. If the GOP can de-Trump, de-radicalize itself, and return to a party one would recognize in a Western democracy, it will help bring a rapid demise of the current domestic insurgency we are experiencing. But if the language and tactics of Trump, and the purposeful stoking of extremism, remains central to the Republican Party in the coming months then the kind of violence we are witnessing now could be with us for many years.

The choice for every Republican now is a binary one — drop the language of Trumpism, declare the election legitimate, tell the insurrections to stand down or become an insurrectionist, insurgent yourself. Republicans have a clear off ramp available to them from this road of radicalization. For the good of the nation let us hope they take it.

Note - I've written extensively over the past few days about the absurd notion that no one saw Jan 6th coming.  That it remains the default position of the US government - when it is so obviously untrue - should worry us all.  More here.

Confronting The Rising Threat of Domestic Extremism

The Biden-Harris Administration is inheriting an extraordinary array of problems left by the many years of misgovernance by the Trump Administration.  We know the list – COVID, a weak economy, a broken immigration system, loss of US standing in the world, a wounded democracy, a worsening climate crisis, compromised government computer systems, a resurgent Russia.  It goes on and on. Few Administrations in our history have had so many difficult challenges left in their lap, all at once. 

As critical as all these things will be there is one additional part of the terrible Trump legacy that will need a great deal of attention in the Biden era, one that will be among this talented Administration’s most difficult challenges – confronting and defeating the rising threat from right wing extremism.   

Among the things which happened in this dark week in Washington is that this movement was able to, with the enthusiastic help of the President and his family, achieve perhaps its most significant victory to date – the successful storming of the US Capitol.  There can be little doubt their success in breaching the Capitol’s defenses, occupying the building and disrupting the Electoral College vote, will supercharge a deeply dangerous movement whose adherents have already just this year plotted to kidnap kill Michigan’s governor, assassinated police, occupied statehouses, conspired to kill American troops stationed overseas, murdered the husband and son of a Federal judge and planned to firebomb police in Las Vegas. 

In a series of new writings (herehere and here) I reflect on the challenges America now faces from what will be a far more grave domestic security threat.  NDN is also calling on Congress to bring AG Jeffrey Rosen and DHS Secretary Chad Wolf in to testify, under oath, about the federal government's lack of preparedness for Wednesday's attack on the Congress. 

We also share a link to one of our main project areas, Countering Illiberalism’s Rise, which has years of our work offering ideas on how to combat the rancid embrace of anti-democratic sentiment and extremist forces we’ve seen not just by the Trump family but by the modern Republican Party.  Finally, we offer an essay I wrote recently which discusses how the Biden Administration can consciously work to strengthen our post war liberal tradition in the coming years – a vital, essential task. 

Rejuvenating post WW II liberalism and combating the rising threat of illiberalism and extremism is going to become NDN’s central focus in the Biden-Harris years. 

From the darkness of this week there can be light.  But only if we work together to make it so.  For as difficult as dislodging Trump and the Republicans has been in recent months, our most important work, together, is coming in the days and months ahead.   

Analysis: The Southwest Has Become A Democratic Stronghold

The Importance of the Heavily Mexican-American Parts of the US to the Democrats– In a lively discussion on Friday December 4th, 2020 with Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego, NDN took a look at one of the more important geographical developments in recent years - the turning of the Southwest and heavily Mexican American parts of the US much more blue.  

You can watch the discussion here, read a Greg Sargent Washington Post story which quotes both Rep. Gallego and Simon, and review some of NDN’s previous work in this space here, here here and here. Simon was also cited in a recent Claire Hansen US News analysis:

"While immigration may not be a top issue in the current debate, it has played a major role in the election – Trump's extremism on the issue has helped push the heavily Mexican American parts of the country even further away from the president and his party, making his Electoral College map far harder, and the Senate far more likely to flip," Rosenberg says.

One remarkable set of stats which Simon shared during the discussion showed just how much ground the GOP have lost in this region since Bush swept it in 2004.  A snapshot of how much has changed from 2004 to 2020 in AZ, CO, NM, NV:

Dem Electoral Votes – 0 in 2004, all 31 (100%) in 2020

Dem Senate Seats – 2 of 8 (25%) in 2004, all 8 (100%) in 2020

Dem House Seats – 6 of 21 (29%) in 2004, 14 of 23 (61%) in 2020

Dem Govs – 0 of 4 in 2004, 3 of 4 (75%) in 2020

In 16 years Dems have picked up 31 Electoral College votes, 6 Senate seats, 8 House seats and 3 governorships in these 4 southwestern states.  When you expand this analysis to include CA and TX, you get: 

Dem Electoral Votes – 55 of 118 (47%) Electoral College votes in 2004, 86 of 124 (69%) in 2020

Dem Senate Seats – 4 of 10 (40%) in 2004, 10 of 12 (83%) in 2020

Dem House Seats – 55 of 106 (52%) in 2004, 69 of 112 (62%) in 2020

Dem Govs – 0 of 6 (0%) in 2004, 4 of 6 (67%) in 2020

If current census projections hold, Biden's 306 Electoral College vote total will shrink to 301, the region will pick up 4 to get to 128, and the # of EC votes coming from the 4 states will grow to 33.  At 301 and 33, this means that Biden is at 268 without AZ, CO, NM, NV, further reinforcing the political significance of the region. 

From this region today comes the next Vice President, the current Speaker, and the next HHS Secretary who will be leading the fight against COVID.  The DCCC Chair in the 2018 cycle was from NM; the current DSCC Chair is from Nevada; the next DGA Chair is from New Mexico.  All four of Dem Senate pick ups over the last 2 election cycles have come from this region – Rosen (NV) and Sinema (AZ) in 2018, Hickenlooper (CO) and Kelly (AZ) in 2020.  

This recent transformation of the heavily Mexican-Americans part of the country, which includes our two largest states, ranks as one of the most important geographic and/or demographic stories of early 21stcentury American politics.  It is deserving of far more attention.  

Young Voter Turnout in Early Vote Way Up from 2016

This analysis was put together by NDN’s Simon Rosenberg and Bill McClain of the advocacy group Clean and Prosperous America. We will be providing updates of this data thru Election Day – do check back on both of our sites to get the latest on this important 2020 development. 

Young Voters Voting in Large Numbers, Youth Share of Early Vote up 31% Since 2016

In the past few months two respected analysts of youth civic engagement and voting, Tisch College/CIRCLE, and Harvard’s Institute of Politics predicted that, based on their polling of young voters, youth turnout could be very high this election, potentially matching the historic youth turnout in the 2008 elections, according to Clean & Prosperous America.

Early voting data available through the TargetEarly site is finding higher youth early voting rates than in either 2016 or 2018.  In their age breakouts, 18-29s, 30-39s, 40-49s are all voting at higher rates than in either of the last two elections, while voters over 50 are seeing their relative voting rates decline.  A breakout of some of this data is below. A new CIRCLE study has similar findings.

“If there was any question about whether young people were going to turn out in 2020, the early data suggests we have an answer – young people are highly motivated and are voting in very large numbers this year.  While things could change, all the data suggests we are on track to see very high youth turnout in this election, perhaps even record breaking,” said Simon Rosenberg, national political strategist and advisor to Clean & Prosperous America (CaPA).

“Given that Biden is winning about two thirds of young voters right now, a very large youth turnout will help Democrats win elections all across the country.  Indeed, it is increasingly possible that Biden could match Obama’s historic 2008 youth turnout rates and strong Democratic performance. It’s a major development in the 2020 election,” said Bill McClain, Research and Marketing Director, Clean & Prosperous America.

Selected 18-29-year-old performance at this point from TargetEarly: 

 

2016

2020

Share of early vote so far

National

7.0%

9.2%

(31% Increase)

Michigan

3.6%

7.9%

(120%)

Texas

6.6%

10.2%

(55%)

Minnesota

7.9%

10.8%

(37%)

Florida

5.2%

7.0%

(35%)

Wisconsin

3.9%

5.1%

(31%)

Georgia

7.5%

9.1%

(21%)

Arizona

7.3%

8.7%

(19%)

North Carolina

8.9%

10.3%

(16%)

Ohio

6.6%

7.6%

(15%)

Nevada

7.7%

8.7%

(13%)

Iowa

8.6%

8.4%

(-2%)

Pennsylvania

15.6%

9.5%

(-39%)

NOTE:  Data Current at 9:30am ET on 10/23/2020.  New Hampshire is not listed because no 2016 data exists for comparison to 2020.  And while PA has seen its share of the youth vote decline this year, the raw vote has increased from 19,000 at this point in 2016 to 112,000 today.  It is a reminder of how remarkable it is we are seeing the youth vote share grow in all these states given how many more people are voting this time.  Nationally, and in many states, the youth vote is a larger slice of a much larger pie.

Analysis: There's A Whole Lotta Voting Going On!

Every week NDN publishes its Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN is also now holding in depth discussions about the 2020 Election every Wednesday at 2pm ET – join us and feel free to invite others too. This piece was updated on Friday morning, October 16th and was cited in Greg Sargent's smart new piece looking at all these people voting!

Polls have been telling us that interest in voting this year was at historic levels.  In a Tweet a few days ago election analyst Nate Silver noted that a new Gallup survey found one measure of voter enthusiasm among the highest it has ever recorded, slightly above late 2008 measures.  A recent Harvard/IOP study found vote intent among young voters to be significantly higher than 2016, and on par with the big youth turnout year of 2008. We know that 2018 was a very high turnout election, and all indications have been that this one will be too. 

And what we are seeing in the early days of the 2020 voting window is that turnout is very high indeed.   A new Washington Post story reports:

“With less than three weeks to go before Nov. 3, roughly 15 million Americans have already voted in the fall election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation despite barriers erected by the coronavirus pandemic — and setting a trajectory that could result in the majority of voters casting ballots before Election Day for the first time in U.S. history.

In Georgia this week, voters waited as long as 11 hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting. In North Carolina, nearly 1 in 5 of roughly 500,000 who have returned mail ballots so far did not vote in the last presidential election. In Michigan, more than 1 million people — roughly one-fourth of total turnout in 2016 — have already voted.

The picture is so stark that election officials around the country are reporting record early turnout, much of it in person, meaning that more results could be available on election night than previously thought.

So far, much of the early voting appears to be driven by heightened enthusiasm among Democrats. Of the roughly 3.5 million voters who have cast ballots in six states that provide partisan breakdowns, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 2 to 1, according to a Washington Post analysis of data in Florida, Iowa, Maine, Kentucky, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.”

So people are voting in big numbers, and about two thirds of those who’ve voted are Democrats. A new YouGov poll finds that 80% of Democrats (80%!) are planning on voting before Election Day.  Remarkable news indeed.  

To follow early voting tallies as they come in, we recommend following Professor Michael McDonald and his US Elections Project site, and Tom Bonior of TargetSmart and a site he and his team have put together.  

If you haven’t made your vote plan yet, be sure to do so by using the I Will Vote site, and be sure to vote early, perhaps on the very first day, however you choose to vote.  

Many states now allow you to track the status of your ballot if you have mailed it in or dropped it off.  I checked the status of my vote this morning here in DC, and found that it has been accepted - was really cool to see.  It is important to check the status of your absentee ballots for if anything has gone wrong you still have time to fix it and make sure your vote is counted.  

What This Big Early Vote Means for Election Night

This very heavy early Democratic vote is going to make it harder for the President to disrupt, contest or steal the election in at least four ways: 

1. Every day which goes on it becomes clearer our voting systems are working as intended, and that people are being able to have their say.  The process looks and feels legitimate, and it will just be harder to claim it has been corrupted somehow.   

2. Any planned Election Day disruption by the President or his “poll watchers” will have a far more limited impact as few Democrats will be voting on Election Day.  

3. In theory, fewer absentee ballots will be arriving after Election Day in those states which allow post-election counting to take place.  Trumpian efforts to disallow these late arriving and/or counted ballots will also have a far more limited impact if somehow successful.  

4. A majority of the important battleground states count their absentee and early votes before Election Day, and many release those tallies as soon as the polls close.  This means that on Election night big states like Florida and North Carolina will be starting the night off with potentially significant Biden leads.  While Trump is likely to make it close as the night goes on, he may never actually lead in states which Biden eventually wins and which count ahead. This will make any premature claim of victory by Trump on Election night much more challenging. 

This Washington Post article does a good job at breaking down how critical states count their absentee ballots.  Only 2 of the Presidential battleground states start counting their ballots on Election Day (though Michigan only starts counting the day before): 

Ballots proceeded upon receipt – AZ, CO, GA, MN, NC, NV (really good)

One week or more before Election Day – FL, KY, ME, OH, TX (good)

Less than a week before Election Day – IA, MT, MI, NH, SC (okay)

Processing starts on Election Day – AL, MS, PA, WI (ugh) 

We will have a good sense of where the Senate stands on Election Night as AK, AZ, CO, GA, KS, KY, ME, NC, TX should be complete or almost complete that night.  AL, IA, MS, MT, SC will likely come very late that night or a day or two after Election Day as their counting process starts later than these other states.  A New York Times look at all this does a very thorough job looking at how the counting will work in key Senate races.   

Based on what states can count ballots received after Election Day, when they begin counting their absentees and how close things may be it’s pretty clear we won’t know the outcome of AL, IA, PA, MI, OH, WI until after Election Day.  Though if Biden is winning in PA, MI and WI by the margins he currently holds it is unlikely that Trump will end the night with a decisive lead in any of these states – again making it far harder for him to prematurely declare himself the winner. 

One wonders whether the President's incessant attacks on the integrity of our voting system isn't a major cause of the high Democratic turnout we are seeing.  The issue of voting, and how people vote, has been a top issue for months now.  Folks have been talking about it, discussing their own vote plans with others.  It's been top of mind - and when early voting began, they were ready! 

Anyway, this early and enthusiastic vote is just great to see, and raises the likelihood we will know the winner on Election night.  

The President creates a huge COVID outbreak, does nothing to stop its spread

When we look back at the Trump era one of its great mysteries will be the President’s refusal to fight COVID.  Objectively he’s done more to combat an imagined terror threat than he has the very real and deadly threat of COVID.  It’s not easy to understand.  At some point in December or January, the President had to have received a briefing about what we do when a pandemic strikes.  It’s pretty simple, as we don’t have a lot of tools.  We have social distancing, masking, testing/tracing/isolation, travel bans, shut downs, therapeutics, vaccines.  The key as he was told was to move quickly, catch it early, prevent a wide spread that becomes hard to reverse.  Clear Presidential communication with the public about their role in preventing the spread is critical too. 

The President was informed that he had a tried and true set of tools he could use when we knew the virus was really here – and the story, incredibly, is that over all these months he has chosen to use none of them.  He has just let the virus ravage the country, while also working really hard to prevent other government leaders from setting up effective regimes in their own cities and states.  It is perhaps the worst governing disaster in American history.  We’ve experienced mass death and one of the worst economic collapses in our history.  Kids are missing school, workers aren’t working, businesses are shutting down for good, social isolation is doing perhaps irreparable harm to millions. Countless lies have been told, scientists undermined, medical quackery celebrated.  It has been, as Joe Biden has said, a dark period in our history.  

In August the President returned to campaigning.  He started holding rallies without social distancing and masks.  He has repeatedly broke state and local COVID protocols banning mass gatherings, and requiring local quarantine, masking and social distancing.  People returned to full time work at the White House without masks.  Reporting suggests that the testing regime around the President began to let up.  The President wanted a return to normal, and around him, at least, normal did return.  

So it was inevitable that once the President really started traveling and doing more intimate gatherings he and his team would get the virus.  And at some point, perhaps on Friday the 25thor Saturday the 26thof September the President got COVID, and so did lots of people around him.  RNC Chair McDaniel was with him on the 25thand now has COVID.  At least 10 people at the Sept 26thConey Barrett event have COVID, including people who returned home to states like CA, IN, NJ. At least 11 Ohio residents who worked on the Sept 29thdebate in Cleveland have COVID now.  At least 2 campaign staff involved in debate prep with the President have COVID.  Dozens of people who work in the White House alongside the President have COVID.  3 US Senators have COVID.  On Sept 30th, almost certainly infectious, the President spent the day in Minnesota – dozens of Republican elected officials and party leaders there are now isolating.  On Thursday, symptomatic and knowing by then he had been exposed, he went to his property in Bedminster, NJ and spent time with 225 people with no social distancing, no masking.  

Sometime that week – Monday? No later than Thursday morning – the White House learned COVID had spread to the inner sanctum around the President.  At that point, if the White House was concerned about stopping the potential spread of the virus their reckless behavior had caused, it needed to start a vigorous testing/tracing/isolation program.  The President and his team had come in contact with vast numbers of people that week, far more than another group in the US could have possibly come in contact with in such a short period of time.  The chance they could have spread the virus not just through the White House and DC, but other places like CA, IN, MN, NJ, OH and anywhere else people who had come for the Coney Barrett event, the debate, the Bedminster event had come in from was very high.  No precautions had been taken, common sense protocols were never followed.  It had been a week of Typhoid Donald with Air Force One and mass gatherings.  It was a dangerous moment. 

So what did Mark Meadows and Donald Trump do to stop the spread in all these places in those first critical 48 hours? Nothing.  They did nothing.  As of Monday morning officials in DC, MN, NJ and OH said the White House wasn’t working with them on contract tracing.  The White House said the President’s physician was overseeing a limited contact tracing effort, something Dr. Conley denied at the press conference yesterday. The President risked new infections by interacting with staff and Secret Service MASKLESS EVEN WITH COVID.   And every day we learn more people are infected but as there is no central system to track what’s happening so we don’t really know what’s happening.  Though if secondary and tertiary infections began mid last week, we could see a significant uptick in positives this week. 

Over the past 10 days the President not only didn’t protect the American people from COVID, he used his immense powers to actually spread the  virus widely – in a way no other American could - and has done nothing to help slow the spread he’s caused or treat those who have become ill.  Both the WaPo and the NYT Times have stories this morning about White House staff freaking out at the chaos and lack of concern for their safety. Prominent Trumpites who have been exposed – Pence, Meadows, Barr, Coney Barrett – are refusing to follow CDC guidelines and isolate.  The President exposed all sorts of people last night who worked on his video as he isn’t isolating and isn’t wearing a mask.  He has also revived his ridiculous narrative that fears of COVID are exaggerated, that all our precautions unnecessary.  

I don’t know what is going to happen to the President’s health but if in the next few days the virus spreads even more widely, as it may, due to their recklessness and inaction, I think the President will be finished.  He and his team are already responsible for the deaths of tens and thousands due to their inaction and negligence; if he closes the election reminding us of his unwillingness to do literally do ONE THING to protect us from COVID this could be a huge Biden blowout indeed.  

As the resident of a city which is now experiencing an outbreak due to super spreader events and crowded unsafe work conditions in a very busy and large office complex, I hope the DC govt gets together with MD and VA to forge a regional alliance to force the White House to turn on its contact tracing powers and help ensure the Coney Barrett outbreak doesn’t become something truly dangerous. And we end where we began – why in the world has the President continued to play down the threat of the virus, and why has he done nothing to fight it? It remains the most inexplicable – and deadly – chapter of this dark era.  

PS - In a David Nakamura Washington Post article from October 2nd, I addressed the White House's over-reliance on testing: :

“It’s not just Trump. It’s the entire senior team around the White House participating in this fiction that, ‘We can ignore it,’ ” said Simon Rosenberg, founder of the liberal think tank NDN. “They’re not in a bubble if they’re around other people and not wearing masks. The whole reliance [just] on testing was insane.”

Syndicate content