Trump

The President’s plan to combat COVID19 has failed. Congress must step in — now

The US had two choices on how to combat COVID-19 - a national shut down or an universal testing/isolation regime like in South Korea. Nine weeks into the crisis, the US has done neither, and so now we have some of the fastest growing infection rates that any country has experienced since the pandemic began.

Time is running out to prevent the virus from becoming something which fundamentally alters the American way of life. The President has made it clear that he cannot lead us through the crisis, and thus is it time for Congress to take responsibility for developing and implementing a true national plan. We only have a few days to get this done.

In recent days, expert opinion has converged about what we must do:

1) Surge supplies/beds/staff to the medical front lines

2) Implement a national 3 week stay at home program

3) Crash/stand up a national testing/isolation regime like in South Korea

4) Fund a “Manhattan Project” for a vaccine/therapeutics/testing/equipment both for COVID and to prepare for future pandemics

The economy and our society cannot stand back up until the virus is tamed. Washington’s focus on stimulus and worker support, while important, should have come after a national plan to combat the virus was in place. We have no choice now except to work on both in the days ahead.

It is critical that Congress also find time to pass the Klobuchar/Wyden bill that would help institute a national vote by mail program for the 2020 election. While so much else is up in the air, Americans should have the certainty of knowing that our democracy marches on, undaunted.

Finally, we need to focus far more attention on our young people. Both to help them better protect themselves from getting the virus and to help them and their families cope with what could be difficult months at home, away from school.

The President’s plan has failed, and Congress must step in now to develop a clear national strategy to tame the virus. There is no higher priority in the days ahead.

Testing Still Lags, What Are We Going To Do With The Kids? - Tue COVID Daily

This is a live document which was last updated Wednesday, April 22st at 915am.  It is going to take a hiatus for a few days as we rethink how we want to present all this information. 

Top Lines - Wed morning's numbers from the COVID Tracking Project:

801,038 cases (25k new/28k 7 day rolling average)

        776,215 Tue (25k new)

        751,062 Mon (27k)

        724,926 Sun (28k)

        696,622 Sat (31k)

        665,970 Fri (32k)

        633,775 Thur (30k)

        604,147 Wed (28k)

4,163,464 tests (137k new/149k 7 day rolling average)

         4,026,572 Tue (144k new)

         3,882,062 Mon (159K new)

         3,723,634 Sun (149k new)

         3,574,392 Sat (154k new)

         3,420,394 Fri (159k new)

         3,261,611 Thur (140k new)

         3,120,381 Wed (154k new)

We also find the Daily FT tracker useful, as are this global tracker and this sophisticated and interactive graphing tool from 91-DIVOC.  Of course Johns Hopkins has become perhaps the most authoritative US source. 

We've seen a slight reduction in the past week of the daily rate of new infections - possibly good news, though our low levels of testing make it too early to make a clear call on where we are. While lower, our daily new infection rate remains among the highest in the world. 

After running in the 100-115k range the week of March 30th, and 150k the week of April 6th, the US testing rate this past week came in at 148k a day, a slight dip and is staying there this week - not good peeps.  According to the Wordometers tracker, the US is high 30s/low 40s in the world in total tests per capita - a remarkably low figure given how widely the virus has spread here.  As of Sunday, 32 countries had done 50% more testing than the US, and 19 TWICE as much.  One would have imagined that a country this deep into its deadly outbreak would have dramatically accelerated its testing regime - and while it has improved, it has not kept pace with what is needed or is commonplace in other nations. 

The US's continued struggle with testing of course raises questions about our ability to stand the country back up, a process which will require us to be testing at far higher rates (3-5-10 times?) with tests which provide immediate results - not the many day wait which is the standard now.  Politico has a new story about our ongoing testing fiasco, as does last Friday's Washington Post.

As this Newsweek article reminds us VP Mike Pence promised 5m tests by March 13th, and others in the Administration said there would be tens of millions of tests available soon after.  More than a month later we've  only tested 4m people, and won't hit Pence's promised 5m number until the end of this month - six weeks after those tests were supposedly in place, ready to go. We still need to know what happened to all those tests the VP promised us. 

America Needs A Plan to Defeat COVID19, Not More Magical Thinking - It's been more than three months now since the first recorded COVID death in the US, and it is hard to put into words has little the US government has done to tackle the public health side of this crisis.  The President’s main initiative, his travel bans, clearly didn’t work; our testing/tracing regime still isn’t fully up and running; the President's unwillingness to provide equipment to hospitals remains reckless, inexplicable and sadistic; social distancing and school/business closures have all been done at the state and local level - a process he has repeatedly undermined. 

Recently the President said that he doesn't believe that fighting COVID19 is a federal responsibility despite his "wartime" language. He ignored repeated warnings from his own intelligence community that COVID could be the big one.  His refusal to craft a single national strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus will end up costing us many many lives and untold damage to our economy and society more broadly; that the President is relentlessly lying and misninforming all of us about what is happening makes it all that much more worse. 

We agree with with the assessment of Jeremy Konyndyk in this new thorough Guardian look at what went wrong here in the US: "We are witnessing in the United States one of the greatest failures of basic governance and basic leadership in modern times.”  The Washington Post and the New York Times have also both published sweeping examinations of all Trump's early mistakes and those the days squandered. 

The exploding infection rate here in the US proves the President's approach hasn't worked.  In recent weeks expert opinion has settled around a plan similar to the one we've been advocating:

1. Surge medical equipment/beds/staff to the front lines

2. Stand up a testing/isolation regime like South Korea's

3. Implement a mandatory national 21 day stay at home program (not just recommendations)

4. Launch a Manhattan Project for a vaccine/testing/etc (this is our #4, not all agree)

The economy cannot stand back up until the virus is tamed, and it's time for the President's magical thinking to end.  Now that Congress has taken dramatic steps to aid the US economy, it must step in now and make sure America finally has a plan to defeat the virus.  Our hope is that Speaker Pelosi form some kind of alliance with the nation's governors to not just get this plan in place but oversee its implementation in the coming months.  Getting America stood back up depends on it.  Such an alliance will also make it far harder for the President to keep pitting state against state, region against region. 

New from NBC News  - "The Trump administration's decision to let states chart their own responses to the coronavirus crisis rather than impose a national strategy will cost thousands of lives and is likely to result in an open-ended outbreak rolling across the country, a dozen public health experts told NBC News.

The only way to win what President Donald Trump has called a war against an "invisible enemy" is to establish a unified federal command, the experts insist — something Trump has yet to do. So far, the federal government hasn't leveraged all its authority and influence to dramatically expand testing and tracing measures, ensure a sufficient supply of crucial medical equipment or require residents of all 50 states to stay at home."

In a recent Today show interview Dr. Brix acknowledged the national social distancing effort has been inadequate, the national testing regime is still not yet stood up and if everything goes right the death toll in the US will be 100-200k. Senator Chris Murphy echoed this dispair at the lack of an effective national response in a new interview with Greg Sargent, and as did Rep. Adam Schiff in this interview. For more on what we need to do right now see these excellent essays:

Laurie Garrett "Sorry, America, the Full Lockdown Is Coming." Foreign Policy

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel "Fourteen Days. That’s the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus." NYTimes

Drs. Carroll and Jha "Don’t Halt Social Distancing. Instead, Do It Right." The Atlantic

Professors Romer and Garber "Will Our Economy Die From Coronavirus?" NYTimes

Ed Yong "How the Pandemic Will End."  The Atlantic

NDN's been asking  our readers and members to call Congress every day until the President puts a plan in place and is clearly producing real results.  As we say above, the plan should include 3 core elements:

Surge Equipment/Beds/Staff To the Frontlines – The President and Congress have to take responsibility for a national plan to handle the extraordinary health care crisis that the nation will face in just a few days’ time.  We need wartime-level production of protective gear, ventilators, ICU beds, and isolation/quarantine wards.  We will need a way to employ more health care workers too – perhaps with temporary unemployment rising there can be a way to take qualified people and crash train them as hospital/health care staff. 

The President’s refusal to take responsibility for this part of our national response remains hard to understand and explain.  Congress must step in here and force both a funded national strategy and compliance with it in the coming days.  If the President really wants to show his support for a robust US healthcare system, the President should withdraw his support for a lawsuit which could cripple the ACA in the midst of this pandemic and encourage every state to expand Medicaid so more of our citizens get the care they need.  The President should also reverse hiis cruel new decision to prevent states from opening the ACA enrollment period to help ensure Americans who want to find health insurance right now can find it. 

Congress should open up an immediate investigation into news reports that Trump has sent life saving equipment to favored states and held it from ones he didn't like. The Governors of CO, CT, KY, MA, MI and MT have all complained that supply orders they'd made were taken by the federal government - why is this still happening and where are all the seized supplies going?

See these compelling clips of MD Gov Larry Hogan and NY Gov Andrew Cuomo discussing the dire supply chain issues facing the country.  Reports that US companies were still selling this critical equipment to overseas buyers are disturbing, as are the wildly ignorant statements by Jared Kushner from the White House podium recently about how the national supply chain was supposed to work. 

Would the states be on their own if a foreign nation attacked the US? In a terrorist attack? A natural disaster, extreme weather event? A serial killer who crosses state lines? If immigrants surged to our border, or if cartels were flooding the states with drugs? Or a recession, like now - didn't we see a strong coordinated federal response? Why would a pandemic, which has planned for over many years, and which the US was prepared for - be any different? The idea that the states are on their own to battle something which is affecting everyone American no matter where they live is among the most outrageously stupid moments in this terrible affair. 

In a related matter, it looks like the Senate GOP's war profiteering scandal - an extraordinary betrayal of the public trust - just got a whole lot worse.

On the good news front it appears the Army Corp of Engineers is being deployed to help build more medical facilities in US hot spots.  There are many reports now of this process being well underway and successful. 

More, Better, Faster Tests – While things have gotten better on the testing front, we still have a very long way to go before our tests are ubiquitous and rapid – everywhere and done in minutes/hours, not days.  If we are ever to return to normal, efforts to aggressively screen and isolate those with infection (in public buildings, ports of entry, schools, and sports arenas) will have to become routine – like texting a friend.  This Guardian story looks at how mass testing helped slow the virus's spread in one Italian town, and this new article in Science magazine explains how mass testing was key to South Korea's flattening of the curve without major lock downs.  This new Atlantic article by Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer is an excellent deep dive on the importance of testing, and our massive failure to get it right so far. 

Developing ways of proving that you’ve had the virus and are now immune will also be really important, and would require, obviously, that every single American be tested at some point.  We found this thread by Yale Professor Nicholas Christakis to be helpful in understanding the issues around immunity and the need for rapid, ubiqitous "serology" tests which are of a different kind than the "PCR" tests which are being deployed right now.  The Washington Post just published this smart look at the importance of sreology tests for standing the country back up. 

So, yes, we are talking about billions, not tens of thousands, of tests. The government should be making this kind of ubiquitous rapid testing regime part of the mandate of a new “Manhattan Project” which works to not just defeat COVID but give America far better tools to fight future pandemics.  For more on the need for crashing a broad regime for advance a vaccine, therapeutics, hospital equipment and diagnostics see this thread from Dr. Scott Gottlieb and this Boston Globe op-ed from Senator Markey and Peter Slavin.   

We've started receiving good news on the testing front:

- the FDA recently announced the approval of a rapid point of care PCR COVID19 test by the California company, Cepheid. This test will be particularly important in hospitals and other triage facilities, and in keeping our front line health care professionals from getting sick themselves. 

- Abbott announced FDA approval for a 5-13 minute desktop PRC test - a huge advance if it can realized in the coming weeks.

- Ortho has started mass producing a lab based serology test.

Implement National Stay at Home/Develop A National Strategy For Students and Kids – As part of eventually developing a true national "stay at home" social/physical distancing strategy the US govt will have to help communities and families come to terms with what it means that kids may be home until the fall semester (no schools, summer activities).  This is a large and important area which needs far more attention and creativity, but two initial thoughts:

1) Their Health – the early messages about young people being less vulnerable to COVID-19 and thus somehow less responsible has to be corrected aggressively in the days ahead.  We know from data that young people in other countries have become infected at very high rates, and seem to be critical to the rapid transmission of COVID.  But it is also for themselves – early data here in the US show that young people are turning up in ICU units at much higher rates than in China, and COVID can permanently damage the lungs of anyone infected. 

Gov Cuomo weighed in last Saturday on the need to change our collective mindset about young people, Tweeting "Younger people listen up: 55% of NYS #Coronavirus cases are ages 18-49. Young people aren’t invincible. You can get this and you can give it to someone older you love. You shouldn’t endanger your own health & you certainly shouldn't endanger other people's health. #StayAtHome." More leadership like this please.

2) Their Sanity - What do we do with our kids for the next six months if schools and summer camps are cancelled? This is not just a sanity thing for these students and families - having kids at home will make it far harder to stand the economy back up when the virus ebbs. 

It is our recommendation that all schools and colleges involved in distance learning now develop a “pandemic module” to help young people better understand how to stay safe, reduce infection, and navigate the rigors of life at home, away from their friends and the lives they’ve built for themselves.  These kinds of courses may be the most valuable things that schools can do in the months ahead.

 
 

Demand A Plan, More Focus on Young People, Vote By Mail

This document has moved to a new url, which you can find here.

Call Congress, Demand A National COVID-19 Response Plan Today

Over the past 10 days, we’ve been calling on the President and Mitch McConnell to match the leadership we’ve seen come from the House in fashioning a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis.  

The President’s mismanagement of the crisis has been a breathtaking sight. Eight weeks since our first COVID case, and twelve since the President was first briefed about the dangers of COVID, our national testing plan is still not up and running and thus we still can’t identify, isolate, and treat those who’ve been infected by a virus whose carriers are frequently asymptomatic; we have no strategy to build hospital beds/quarantine spaces and ensure that our medical professionals have the equipment they need to care for the sick; critical positions in the federal government’s response hierarchy, like the DHS Secretary, remain unfilled; and leadership is desperately lacking in ensuring that our elections run smoothly this year and in figuring out what to do with all of our kids if schools and summer activities remain closed and unavailable.  While the President did finally weigh in on social distancing strategies and closures yesterday, it was days after steps had already been widely implemented across the country and of course inconsistent with the guidance given by the CDC earlier that day. 

We urge everyone reading this to call your Senators and Representative every morning until a plan is in place and it is achieving clear, daily reported results.  The Senate and House must do more than legislate now – they must create a select committee of some kind to interface with the Administration each day to help expedite decision making, and hold our errant President and his team accountable.  The President has already demonstrated that he is not up to the task of leading us through this crisis, and Congress must either adopt some new kind of partnership with him or work to remove him – just allowing his dangerous flailing to continue each day is unacceptable – more can be done. 

Yesterday, on a call with the nation’s governors, the President deviated from any reasonable understanding of the Federal Government’s role in a crisis like this and told the governors that when it came to emergency hospital beds, ventilators, masks, and protective equipment for health care workers, they are on their own.  A new report says that a US-based company is ready to ramp up ventilator production but hasn’t been asked by the Federal government.  The Senate has yet to take up a House bill designed to mitigate some of the economic damage which was endorsed by the President and passed last Friday – because Mitch McConnell decided to give the Senate a long weekend off, in the middle of this extraordinary crisis.  McConnell did find time, however, to put the word out to old GOP judges that it is time to retire – so he can ram through dozens more younger judges before, it appears, the Republicans lose power this fall.  Always party over country it seems for Moscow Mitch – even in our time of COVID.

We are writing to you each day because the scale of the governing failure we are witnessing just must be more aggressively challenged by all of us.  We must rise up and demand more from our elected leaders and our government.  To be clear – the nation does not have a COVID-19 response plan.  Despite the 8 weeks, the warnings, and the deaths, we still haven’t taken the elemental steps which should have been taken in January to contain and defeat the virus.  What is happening now could have been avoided or at least mitigated – which is why we must demand the government act with informed strategic intent and stop making mistakes which will cost this great nation so dearly. 

Make your calls.  Stay informed.  Keep fighting.  We can and must do better.

Godspeed, Simon

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. 

Why Isn't Mitch McConnell In Washington? There Is So Much Work To Do

Mitch McConnell’s disastrous tenure as Senate majority leader went to an even darker and more dangerous place this week – in the midst of Congressional efforts to make up months of inaction by the President, Mitch McConnell left town and let the Senate adjourn.  The delay of the House package which passed Friday night will literally cost American lives and further erode the public’s confidence in their government at this critical time. 

We write to once again ask you to contact your Federal representatives and demand that they do not recess until we have a clear and comprehensive national response to the COVID-19 pandemic in place.  Call every morning, twice a day if necessary.  Beyond the House package waiting to get passed, we will still have so much to do – ensure our national testing regime is in place and working; 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; launch a comprehensive and effective screening system for the millions of people who come into the country each day; create a national advisory board which will study how other nations are tackling COVID and 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 treatment (something being done in many other countries); and 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!). 

It is hard to put into words how far behind we are right now.  The President squandered seven weeks, and still has done almost nothing to establish a comprehensive response to COVID-19.  Much of what has been done – the testing, the travel bans, the Google triage system, preparing the public for what is to come – has been an extraordinary failure.   Congress must stay in and be vigilant now for we simply cannot trust the President and his son-in-law to do the right thing, particularly as things get worse in the days ahead.   We applaud Gov. Andrew Cuomo for demanding that the federal government do more – more in this case are things which should have happened months ago. 

In an essay I wrote last week, I argued that because Mitch didn’t remove the President when he had the chance it was up to Mitch now to lead us out of this COVID crisis which has been made so much worse by the President’s inaction, lying, and Olympian incompetence.  Instead, Mitch chose to leave town at this critical moment.  We all need to demand that he, and all of our Representatives, stay in Washington in the coming weeks to ensure that the government does everything it can to battle and ultimately defeat COVID-19. 

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.

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. 

Dems Fight It Out, Delusions of A Mad King, Nevada This Saturday

Notes on 2020 - There has been lots of polling over the past few days and it tells a simple story – the Democratic race is very competitive and what happens in Nevada and South Carolina is really going to matter. Perhaps the most important development has been the slew of good polls for VP Biden in NV, SC, and other states showing him very much in the game.  Tomorrow’s Nevada debate, with Mike Bloomberg on the stage, will be a significant moment. Lots of drama ahead for the Democrats.

One bit of drama we hope we don’t see again is the troubles which plagued Iowa and which may repeat in Nevada this weekend. NDN believes it would be wise for DNC Chair Tom Perez to take some concrete steps to improve his operation in the coming days, sending a clear signal that he knows he needs to do better, and regain the trust of Democrats across the country.  This will be particularly important if Dems look like they are headed to a brokered convention, something which will put a much greater burden on the DNC to carry a negative message against Trump for the next 4-5 months, build a true general election operation for the nominee, and manage a divisive and challenging convention.  

As for Trump, his numbers remain bad and he has not shown any kind of significant bump from his illicit acquittal.   There is no doubt he is building a powerful juggernaut, which is why Dems not having a nominee until late July will be so problematic.  But some perspective here please.  Trump only won 2016 with the extraordinary trifecta of Russia’s enormous intervention, a left leaning third party candidate, and the Comey letter;  the GOP has had three truly awful elections since including the 8.6 point win for the Dems in 2018; incumbents in the low 40s as Trump is now almost never win; and do we expect him to behave more like Reagan and less like Caligula in the coming months?

The big story with Trump remains his dangerous disregard for the rules and laws which make our democracy, and all democracies, work.  In just the past few months he has solicited campaign help from a foreign nation, illegally held back information for a legitimate Congressional investigation, and corrupted the Senate Impeachment trial, and he now appears to be trying to turn the Department of Justice into an arm of his political project and campaign (something he did with the White House and State Departments in the Ukraine affair). 

What worries us the most is that the latest revelations about Trump and Barr are not just corrupt and illegal, but represent an attempt by the President to replace the story of the past few years with a new, fictitious, and delusional one.  It feels really crazy and dangerous  - as if the President has really lost contact with the real world, becoming in every way the Mad King our Founders so feared.  It remains shocking that the Senate GOPers and Barr are playing along with this destructive and out of control man. 

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