Biden

Trump Is On An Electoral Crime Spree

This essay was originally published by GEN on September 9, 2020.

Trump Is On An Electoral Crime Spree

Cash-strapped and facing lagging polling numbers, President Trump is cheating — knowingly breaking the norms, rules, and laws of our political system — to remain in power. It’s not as if we shouldn’t have seen this coming: When the Senate failed to remove Trump for threatening to withhold federal aid from Ukraine unless it investigated Joe Biden and its — not Russia’s — role in the 2016 election, he would read it as a green light to cheat even more aggressively in the election this year. Sure enough, here we are.

The scale of Trump’s cheating is breathtaking: for his reelection, including on Biden at official, taxpayer-funded events; appropriating itself for partisan activity; launching a clearly illegal right before the election; ; ; itself; for Russia to once again intervene in U.S. politics on his behalf; brazenly and using other disinformation tactics; employing to hide suspicious activity; coordinating with the absurd ; and too many of Bill Barr’s activities to fit into one column. There is also the Senator Ron Johnson–led probe into a debunked conspiracy theory about Joe Biden and Ukraine — a project that reeks of partisanship and which U.S. intelligence has warned will only .

As someone who has been working in national politics and campaigns since the 1980s, I can tell you that this level of rule-breaking is unprecedented. In a very Trumpian way, what we are seeing looks more like an electoral crime spree than a traditional campaign.

In a prescient from 2018, former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner argued that the Department of Justice needed to rethink its policy of not prosecuting a sitting president; there needed to be exceptions, he argued, for election law violations — or “cheating,” as I call it. Otherwise, our system is actually designed to encourage cheating, and cheating at a massive scale. After all, if you cheat a little bit and lose the election, you could get prosecuted. But if you cheat really big and win, you can’t be prosecuted, per DOJ standards. Such is the scenario we’re now seeing: Trump has every incentive in the world to cheat at such a level that it will transform his losing campaign into a competitive one and therefore could help absolve him from prosecution.

Trump knows all this — it’s how he won in 2016. Even with the help of Russia’s attacks on the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Trump was trailing Clinton by six points 10 days out. But the infamous and DOJ norm-breaking Comey letter, which dropped on October 28, helped narrow Clinton’s lead to , and Jill Stein’s improbable campaign shaved off enough votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to give Trump a win. If any of these three things hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have Trump in the White House today. The combined efforts it took to turn this unpopular, scandal-ridden candidate into a 70,000-vote winner was extraordinary.

As we learned in 2016, all of this cheating can turn a big lead into a small one, and a small one can become an ill-gotten win for Donald Trump.

Right now, Biden leads Trump by seven to nine points. Following the path Trump set in 2016, all of his cheating is designed to chip away at Biden’s lead, to keep it close. Kayne might cut down Biden’s lead by a point or two, as would late or lost ballots. People not voting due to confusion or concerns — another point or two. Illegal use of the White House, daily partisan attacks from government buildings, the illegal $250 million campaign lying about the dark realities of Covid-19 — all combined, maybe two to three points. A Comey-like late hit by Barr or Senator Johnson — a point or two or three. Russia — who knows, maybe the whole election.

These efforts aren’t just about saving Trump; they’re also about saving the party. At the very least, even if all this cheating doesn’t save Trump, it could still prevent Democrats from flipping the Senate and blunt what would likely be a very favorable conditions for the left. That’s why you’ve seen party loyalists like USPS Chair Mike Duncan and Postmaster General Bill DeJoy going so far as to sabotage the Postal Service — they have to hold down Biden’s margin to prevent a game-changing bloodbath for the GOP.

As we learned in 2016, all of this cheating can turn a big lead into a small one, and a small one can become an ill-gotten win for Donald Trump. The more Biden’s campaign looks adroit and well-funded, and the more Trump’s own campaign continues to stumble and struggle, the better the odds the president relies on ways of staying in power that don’t involve winning a free and fair election. Keeping it close also allows Trump to launch a postelection challenge to the results and attempt to block ballots that arrive after Election Day from being counted. These efforts shouldn’t be dismissed, for in 2000, a 5–4 Supreme Court intervened to block the counting of ballots after Election Day. If it happened once, it can happen again.

We all failed to understand what was happening in 2016. There simply is no excuse this time. Trump’s extensive cheating must begin to get covered as a central aspect of his campaign — the way we treat paid media, candidate visits, Get Out the Vote, and so on. on Monday night, the last week. And the American people need to understand that the man they elected to uphold the law is breaking it daily in his dirty bid to hold onto power. The president’s rampant cheating should be a far bigger story than it is.

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis: Trump Has A Serious Young Voter Problem (Updated)

Analysis: Trump Has A Serious Young Voter Problem

Every Thursday or Friday 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.

In 2007 Pete Leyden and I wrote a long form magazine piece called the “50 Year Strategy” which made the case that two new, large and growing demographic groups – Millennials and Hispanics – had the potential to give Democrats a significant political advantage for many years to come.    We wrote that piece because in the 2006 midterms, these two groups, starting to get to a significant size in the electorate, swung dramatically towards the Democrats.  Hispanics went from 53-44 (9 pts) Dem in 2004 to 69-30 (39 pts) in 2006, and 18-29 year olds went from 54-45 (9 pts) to 60/38 (22 pts).  

2006 was the election where the modern Democratic coalition began to take shape.  Barack Obama leaned into this emergent coalition and rode it to two Presidential victories.  Democrats have outperformed the GOP in 5 of the 7 elections starting with that 2006 election, and in the two that went bad, 2010 and 2014, Democratic performance with these groups was way off (see here for an historical look at this data). 

Like 2006, the 2018 midterms saw Democrats performing at extraordinary levels with these groups. The Hispanic vote went 69-29 (40 pts) for the Dems, rivaling Obama’s 41 point margin in 2012.  But it is with young people where we saw an even bigger movement towards the Democrats, Democrats had their best performance in the modern era with both 18-29 (35 pts) and 18-44 year olds (+25): 

Turnout rose dramatically in 2018 too, as the chart graph below captures. . 

Recent polls show Biden performing at 2018 levels with 18-29 year olds: 

NYT/Siena            Biden 60 Trump 26 (34 pts)  June 2020

CIRCLE/Tisch       Biden 58 Trump 24 (34 pts)  June 2020

Quinnipiac             Biden 63 Trump 27 (36 pts)  (18-34 year olds) Sept 2020

Harvard IOP          Biden 60 Trump 27 (33 pts)  Late Sept 2020

Morning Consult    Biden 65 Trump 27 (38 pts)  Late Sept 2020

In 2016, Trump lost 18-29s by 19 points, 55-36.  So he is 9-12 points below his 2016 numbers here – a truly significant under-performance in a group that is likely to be about 20% of the electorate this year.  A new poll by Clean and Prosperous America, while cutting the data bit differently, also shows big problems for Trump wth the youngest part of the electorate. 

Recent polls from NextGen, CIRCLE and Harvard IOP suggest the higher levels of youth turnout we saw in 2018 are likely to carry over to 2020.  The newly released IOP poll found 18-29 year old vote intent levels equal to or greater than 2008, a year which saw one of the highest youth turnouts in the modern era.   So this age group has swung dramatically towards the Democrats, and could vote in record numbers this year. 

Recent state polls by NYT/Siena give snapshots into how significant this emerging youth problem is for Trump: 

Georgia (45% Biden, 45% Trump) - Trump is tied or leads in all age groups over 30.  Biden leads among 18-29s by 63-34 (29 pts).   3% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

North Carolina (45% Biden, 44% Trump) – Trump leads in all age groups over 30.  Biden leads among 18-29s by 62-20 (42 pts).   18% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

Texas (43% Biden, 46% Trump) – Trump leads among 45 plus, Biden has a 45-43 lead with 30-44, and a 60-15 (45 pts) lead with 18-29.  25% are undecided or with a third party candidate.  

Arizona (49% Biden, 40% Trump) – Trump only leads here with 45-64 year olds (remarkably).   Only 18-29s it’s 53-25 Biden (28 pts), and 22% are undecided or with a third party candidate.  

Note the Trump number here – 15, 20, 25, 34.  Rough stuff for him and the Rs. 

New Fox News polls out Thursday have similar spreads:

Nevada (52% Biden, 41% Trump) - Biden leads with voters over 45 49-45; he leads with 18-34s by 63-27 (36 pts) and 10% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

Ohio (50% Biden, 45% Trump) - Biden leads with voters over 45 49-47; he leads with 18-34s 58-35 (23 pts) and 7% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

Pennsylvania (51% Biden, 44% Trump) - Biden leads with voters over 45 49-46; he leads with 18-34s 64-31 (33 pts) and 5% are undecided or with a third party candidate.

We did some rough calculations about what this means for 2020.  Assuming 18-29 year olds are once again 19% of the electorate (as they were in 2016), and turnout is 10% higher across the board (this may be conservative), if 18-29s end up +35 for Biden it means a 5-6m vote gain for Biden, or 2.5-3pts in the race.  And if Biden’s lead is about 7 pts, 50.5 to 43.5 now, this means that this shift just among 18-29 year olds accounts for at least half of the 5 point shift towards Biden we’ve seen since 2016 (Clinton +2 to Biden +7). 

In many of these polls the number of 18-29 year olds (in many cases 30-44 year olds too) who are currently undecided or supporting a third party candidate is much higher than the older electorates.  This suggests a few things.  First, it means that a plurality or even majority of the undecideds left in the race are in age cohorts which favor Democrats – bad news for Trump.  It also suggests that the Biden and other Democratic campaigns should be spending heavily now on winning over the younger voters who remain uncommitted and pushing turnout as high it can be.  Young voters, particularly 18-29s remain a very powerful area of opportunity for Democrats in the home stretch.  But like all voters Democrats should only expect them to vote for them if they are asked, and asked in culturally appropriate and compelling ways.  Both the CIRCLE poll and the new one from Clean and Prosperous America suggest that Democratic campaigns still have work to do to reach and connect with many millons of these young voters still very open to voting for them. 

As for Hispanics, our view now is that Biden is likely to come close to Democratic 2016 and 2018 margins of 38 and 40 pts.  The polling with Hispanics has been all over the place, and this is a voting group which is hard to poll due to the requirement of needing truly bi-lingual phone banks to get an accurate sample.  There are polls showing Biden below Clinton’s 2016 numbers, but there also polls showing Trump below his 2016 results.  The best recent national poll of Hispanics (NBC/Telemundo) had it 62-26 - so a 36 point lead for Biden with many undecideds. Trump is 2 points below his 28% 2016 result here, and it is likely that the undecideds break heavily towards Biden, which would get him up to the high 30s, low 40s as late undecideds usually break towards the challenger and the Biden campaign has an awful lot of material work with.  Again what we are seeing here is Trump below his 2016 number with a critical emerging part of the electorate.  

So while Biden may not be seeing a big swing with Hispanics as he is with younger voters, even keeping Clinton’s 38 pt margin means that he will gain votes as the Hispanic electorate grows meaningfully every two years; and it is possible that +40 with Hispanics really is the upper limit with this constituency, and that Democrats got to its upper limit here earlier than they did with younger voters.  

This analysis has been updated since it was originally published on September 24th. Some enw data became available and we included it in the current version.

Analysis: Biden running strong, the Hispanic vote, Senate leans Dem, more

Analysis – Biden running strong, a look at Hispanic voters, Senate leans Dem, more

Every Thursday or Friday 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. 

Top line– the basic contours of the race haven’t changed since last week’s Poll Roundup. Biden has a large, sturdy lead, is strong in the battlegrounds, and Dems have an advantage in the Senate.

We’ve entered a new phase in the general election.  The Biden campaign has started rolling out more state and demographic specific media, and in-person voting has begun.  Democrats continue to put up impressive fundraising numbers, and will likely outspend the GOP in the closing days.  The debates are coming – Sept 29, Oct 7, 15, 22 – and Trump’s extraordinary efforts to cheat/manipulate show no sign of abating.  With FEC reports coming out in a few days we will also learn a lot more about the financial health of the Trump campaign – something that could matter a great deal this fall.  

Biden’s emerging strength in the battleground states perhaps is the most important electoral development this week.  He is at or almost at 50% in states equaling 273 electoral votes, including MI, MN, NH, PA and WI.  He also leads in AZ, FL, ME-2, NC and NV, and is within 1-2 points in GA, IA, OH and TX. Statistically at this point we are closer to Biden winning all of these states then we are Trump making the race competitive.  The campaigns are both on the air in AZ, MI, MN, NC, NV, PA, WI – read this CNN analysis to get an in-depth look at what’s happening with campaign ads and state/demo targeting.  Continued strong polling from Arizona this week for the Democrats remains a very significant development in the campaign. if Arizona slips away, Trump has to flip at least 2 of MI, MN, NH, PA, WI – all states Biden is far ahead in, and at or over 50.  

Hispanics– In a new thread Simon takes an in-depth look at recent polling with Hispanics, and doesn’t find some of the weakness we’ve been hearing about. He characterizes it more as “not yet realized opportunity.” In new high quality polls this week in AZ and FL Biden is matching Clinton’s 2016 numbers, which is a problem for Trump – bigger Hispanic electorates in these and other states means for Trump to prevent Dems from gaining votes he actually has to INCREASE his share not just hold.  There just isn’t any evidence this is happening anywhere.  There is some data suggestion Biden underperformance wit Hispanics and more broadly in Nevada, which is why I think the campaign has gone up on the air in recent weeks.  

Finally, given Trump’s record, I think almost two months of heavy engagement by the Biden campaign with Hispanic voters could do a lot of damage to Trump and get Biden up over Clinton’s strong 2016 showing with Hispanics everywhere.  Why we view the current state of Biden and Hispanics as one of unrealized opportunities, and not in any way a weakness or problem.  

Monday update - A new NBC/Telemundo poll has Biden beating Trump with Hispanics 62-26, 36 points.  In 2016 Clinton won them 66-28, 38 points.  It's another sign that Biden is holding his own here, and yet another poll showing Trump BELOW his 2016 totals.  In the past week Monmouth in FL, Equis in AZ and now this national poll have Trump below his 2016 numbers with Hispanics. 

Either way this poll is a reminder that there is a lot of vote out here still to be gotten, and that of course is far more problematic for the incumbent than the challenger. 

The Senate– AZ and CO continue to look very strong for the Democrats, and polling continues to show Dems with meaningful leads in ME and NC.  While polling for Theresa Greenfield in Iowa has been very steady for months a new poll showed Earnt with a lead – so let’s wait and see there.  Harrison and Ossoff  have made their races competitive in SC and GA, and while Bullock has had a few not so good polls in Montana, he remains a very strong candidate.  AK and KS are underperforming for the Rs so we need to keep an eye on both of them.  Bottom line – the Senate leans Dem but it is going to go down to the wire.  

All the President’s Cheating– It’s becoming increasing clear that out and out cheating has become central to Trump’s understanding of how to stay in power this year.  We think far more attention had to be paid to the President’s illicit appropriation of government resources for his campaign (what got him Impeached); the erasure of the line between campaign and government; clear election law violations; undermining of the integrity election and rancid voter suppression; the holding of rallies which violate COVID protocols and common sense; the relentless lying, disinformation and use of manipulated media…..cheating has become a central strategic pillar of Trump’s campaign, up there with paid advertising, candidate visits, GOTV, debate prep.  It is wrong, illiberal and needs to be far more aggressively challenged in the days ahead. 

Analysis: Biden Retains A Sturdy Lead, Focusing On The President’s Cheating

Analysis: Biden Retains A Sturdy Lead, Need More Focus On The President’s Rampant Cheating

Every Thursday NDN publishes its Thursday 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. 

Summary – The Presidential race remains pretty static and stable, with Biden holding a 7.6 pt lead (50.5/42.9) in the 538 polling average this morning. While the President has gotten a few good polls in Florida this week, there has been no significant shift in the battlegrounds and Biden still retains sizable leads in 4 key states – AZ (Biden leads by 5.1 pts in the 538 polling average), MI (7.4), PA (5.1) and WI (7.1).  In each of these states Biden is at 49 or above, reminding us, as we wrote last week, If Biden can gain just a single point in the coming weeks, up to 51.5%, he will be over 50 in the core battlegrounds and will be in control of the race.

For Trump to win he will have to win 2 of those 4 states (assuming he wins the remainder of the close battleground now).   This will require him to gain 5.1 points net, and turn a 7.6 pt Biden lead to a 2.5 pt one.  2.5 pts is 51.25 to 48.75, which means Trump is will have to get up to 48.5% -49% to have a shot.  

Getting up to 48-49% is going to be very hard for Trump.  Late undecideds usually break against incumbents, not for them.  He and Republicans are going be outspent down the stretch.  He’s only hit 48-49% job approval for a few days in the earliest day of his Presidency. Using the Real Clear Politics poll averages, Trump HAS NEVER been above 45% against either Clinton or Biden, and only got to 46% in 2016 for about 48 hours at the end of the race (Rs received 44.8% of the vote in the 2018 House races). Getting to 48-49% will require him to get a place of job approval and vote share he’s never earned before – no easy thing given the state of things today.   

As we wrote on Monday, it’s hard to see an issue path forward for him.  The economy is realistically his only card to play, and he will have to somehow convince the country his record of worst job loss since Hoover, worst deficit since WWII, millions losing health insurance, give ways to companies and rich people is worthy of a second term.  Yesterday revelations about his lying about COVID and his manipulation of the intelligence about threats to the homeland will make it far harder for him to use COVID or “law and order” to his advantage.

We don’t yet know how these two big new understandings of Trump’s mendacity are going to play out, but they are far more likely to make any potential rebound for the President more challenging. There were already faint signs of the race moving slightly against the President in the daily trackers over the past few days.  As we’ve written, even a shift of a point against the President would be very perilous now.  We should all watch the daily trackers in the days ahead…….

Will Biden Expand the Battlefield?– Now that we know Democrats are likely to outspend the Republicans in the home stretch, the Biden campaign has some interesting decisions to make about whether it expands its targets both geographically and demographically.  The campaign is currently on the air in 9 states – AZ, FL, MI, MN, NC, NV, OH, PA, WI.  Will they add GA, IA and TX to the mix? With Trump cash strapped and struggling there is an argument for spreading him as wide as possible; creating a degree of complexity and difficultly that will be hard for the Trump campaign to manage.  We will keep watching this important strategic call in the days ahead.  

All The President’s Cheating– In a new GEN Magazine essay, I argue that we all need to be paying far more attention to the President’s extensive cheating this cycle.  As his campaign struggles, the President appears to relying on and exploring far more on illicit ways of staying in power.  This is no small matter, as it was cheating and outside manipulation which allowed Trump to win in 2016.  It’s my belief we should be making far more of Trump’s lawlessness in this campaign and be challenging it far more aggressively in the days ahead.  Do read the essay – it is worth your time.   

On Labor Day, the President Is Losing and Has No Clear Path Forward

On Labor Day, A President Losing and Without A Clear Path Forward

On this Labor Day, the official start of the “home stretch,” let’s take a look at the race and how important economic issues are now and will be in its final days. 

First, the race itself. Most of the big post-Convention polls have come in and their findings have been remarkably consistent – Donald Trump’s Convention failed to alter the trajectory of a race he’s losing by 7-9 points. His numbers in the battleground states remain problematic, particularly in must wins AZ and WI.  Democrats are more likely than not to flip the Senate, and Democratic candidates at all levels are raising historic amounts of money.  It’s not a pretty picture for Trump and the GOP two months out. 

We also learned that at least for now the big investment the President has made in blaming Joe Biden for the unrest we are seeing simply isn’t working.   The questions have been asked in different ways in the polls, but the new CBS poll released yesterday was pretty representative of where the polls have been this week: 

Calm the situation - Biden 49 Trump 39

Encourage the fighting – Trump 47 Biden 30

Make you feel more safe – Biden 48 Trump 43

Approve of handling of protests – Biden 51 Trump 44

Better way to end the protests – Police reform 60, punish protestors 25

It’s true in some polls support for Black Lives Matter and the protests have declined.  But those declines do not necessarily hurt Biden, as one can worry about the protests but still be with Biden on his response to them. Last week Biden’s campaign did a very good job taking on Trump’s attacks head on, and carving out a cogent and clear position on the unrest.  Whatever opening Trump had here we think has been blown, for once again the President advanced an extreme position rather than a consensus one.  Encouraging high schoolers to illegally acquire assault weapons and kill people is not something any suburban mom wants from their President, nor is encouraging and excusing police violence. It’s possible these issues turn against Biden at some point, but as of today we think the adroit Biden campaign has gained the upper hand and can win this complex and vital debate about race, policing, protest and public safety in the coming months.  

COVID Navigator chart from last week captures the challenge for those making strategy for the Trump campaign now:

Trump Job Approval  Approva/Disapprove

His job as President   43/55

Health Care                41/55

Corona                        43/55

The Economy             49/49

The Protests               41/54

If are you running the Trump campaign, and you are sitting at 42-43%, and you need to get up to 48-49%, what would you do? How do you get there? Playing the protests hard hasn’t worked, and risks continued exposure of the President’s extremism.  COVID is more likely to be worse by November than better. Your position in the midst of a pandemic is to take away health insurance and pre-existing condition coverage from Americas while your opponent was the lead in passing a popular and effective modernization of the health care system.  Legitimate questions about your candidate’s patriotism are being asked. Where do you go, what do you do? For the game now is not just taking Biden down but you have to improve your candidate’s standing to make the race competitive. 

It’s clear the President has to try to spend the final months living in the only place where gets up into the high 40s and that’s the economy.  But consider how hard that will be to sustain – Trump is running with one of the worst economic records in US history.  He will be the first President since Hoover to see net job loss on his watch; the deficit is hitting its worst annual rate since WWII; millions have lost their health insurance; the trade deficit has exploded.  And yes the stock market has performed well but of course that will become an opening for Biden to go after Trump for his give-away-to-the wealthy and blow-the-deficit tax cut.  It’s not easy to see how Trump wins this debate against Biden, who will also be able to evoke the important role he played in helping lead America out of the last Republican-caused recession.  

We have to remind ourselves that the President was so scared of running against Joe Biden that he committed High Crimes and was impeached over them earlier this year.  He’s continued his desperate law breaking and cheating, sabotaging the postal service, wrecking the census, incessantly and illegaly using tax payer dollars to support his re-election, creating an illegal 3rdparty strawman candidate, clearing a path for Russia to once again come to his aid and every day it seems doing something to undermine our collective confidence in our election system.  

In 2016 this cheating and election manipulation worked for Trump. It made his long shot campaign competitive, and he squeaked it out in the end.  And that’s why we have to view all this cheating as part of his electoral strategy. If he can shave off a point or two through each of these strategic initiatives – mail ballots being lost, voter suppression/confusion, Kayne’s lunacy, hundreds of millions of free and paid media stolen from tax payers, Russia’s ongoing efforts, who knows what else to come from Barr or others - then he can make another long shot race close at the end, and then anything can happen. But they have to make it close, and that’s what worries us the most.  It’s not clear he can make it close through traditional politics as we just reviewed.  So the cheating becomes more important, essential.  

It is Labor Day 2020 and things look bleak for the President and his party.  Perhaps there is no greater measure of that then the scale of the cheating we are seeing and will likely continue to see in the days ahead. But this cheating is very risky. People are breaking laws, and getting caught. State AGs are getting involved, who are outside the reach of Barr and the President’s pardon power.  And it is going to be very hard to defend this lawlessness in the upcoming debates, where it is certainly going to be an issue.  

Joe Biden and his campaign have had a very good few weeks and head into the final stretch with a bit of wind at their backs, a good candidate in touch with who he is, a clear plan for the future, lots of money, a strong leadership team and an united party behind him and his exciting partner, Senator Kamala Harris.  

Analysis: Biden Taking Control of the Race, Trump Goes On A Crime Spree

Biden Taking Control of the Race, Trump Goes On A Crime Spree

Every Thursday NDN publishes its Thursday 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.

Top Line- So the post-Convention polls have started rolling out and most of them are finding Joe Biden ahead of Trump by 7-9 points.  The 538 average has the race at Biden 50.2% Trump 42.9%, plus 7.3 for Biden.  But what matters most is that in the two sets of polls from battleground states (Morning ConsultFox News) Biden is at 49 or above in every state polled except Ohio and Texas.  Why does that matter? For it means that if the Biden-Harris ticket picks up a single percentage point nationally and in these states – just a single point - he will at 50+1 in AZ, FL, GA, MI, MN, NC, PA, WI and will then be not just ahead, but winning the election.   

The Fox News state polls have to be particularly rough for Trump this morning, as they find the President far behind even after his 4 day Convention in 3 critical states which in most scenarios are must wins for him: 

AZ  Biden 49% Trump 40%

NC Biden 50% Trump 46%

WI Biden 50% Trump 42%

A reminder that, historically, most late undecided voters break for the challenger, against the incumbent.  They’ve looked at the incumbent, know the incumbent, and just don’t want to go there. It’s what’s happening with Trump now, who seems stuck at 42-43% nationally.  While we think it’s possible he claws up to 45-46% it just clear how much vote is left for him out there above where’s he sitting today.  He only got to 46% in 2016 even with the help of Russia/Comey/Stein (which was in our view was 2-3 pts); the GOP received 44.8% in the 2018 midterms; and Trump has only seen his approval rating top 46% for a few days of his Presidency.  For the past 4 years, including the 2016 election, the President has bounced around in the low 40s, only hitting 45-46% for a few days and never getting above 46% in any head to head with either Clinton or Biden.  Just really hard to see how 45-46% isn’t his ceiling this year  - and that just isn’t going to be enough for him to make the race competitive.  

If must win states like AZ and WI really are starting to track the national spread it means that Trump may actually after to win the popular vote to win the electoral college this time something that just seems out of reach for him. 

Finally, Democrats are going to be very loud down the stretch, far louder than in 2016.  Not only are Democratic candidates raising historic levels of money up and down the ticket, Democrats have all the candidates who won in 2018 for Governor, Congress etc running for re-election or aiding the Biden campaign.  The success of Mark Kelly in Arizona, Theresa Greenfield in Iowa, Cal Cunningham and Roy Cooper in North Carolina, or Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Tony Evers in Wisconsin all gives even greater permission for late breaking undecideds to vote Democrat this time.  Cannot understand the impact of all these new great candidates and elected who were not there in 2016 – it makes the collective voice of the Democratic Party far louder, and compelling.  All of this – the money, the talent, a competent Biden campaign, the power of Kamala Harris – will make the Democratic Party’s close far more formidable than 2016. That too should be worrying Donald Trump this morning. 

The President’s Focus on The Unrest Isn’t Working– There just isn’t a lot of evidence that the President’s months long focus on blaming Joe Biden for the unrest we are seeing is working, or is working sufficiently to change the trajectory of the race.   My favorite data point on this is from yesterday’s Navigator daily track which found that only 10% of Democrats and independents thought “violent crime” was among the most important issues facing the country, far far behind things like defeating COVID and the economy which were both way up over 50%.  That track also found Trump’s approval on “the protests” at 41%-54% - again, a bad sign.  A new Morning Consult/Politico poll found 47% of voters trust Biden to handle public safety issues, compared to just 39% for Trump

The Biden campaign clearly recognized that if they didn’t engage the President could make all this into an issue, so they did what a competent campaign does – they engaged. The VP gave a good speech, is heading to Kenosha today and has launched a major ad buy with the VP talking directly to voters about all this.  At the end of the day the VP will end up winning this debate with the President for the President’s position is extreme – ignore police brutality, encourage kids to go illegally acquire guns and kill people? – and the VP’s position, as he spelled it out this week, is common sense, an approach which works and which can garner broad support.  Whatever opening was there for the President will not be there much longer as he once again – like every other issue this year – descends into extremism, Hannityism, and loses any chance of improving his standing and gaining votes.  

All the President’s Cheating– What should worry and outrage everyone is the scale of the President’s cheating right now.  We’ve been writing about this a great deal in recent weeks (here,here,here) for the President won only through cheating in 2016; attempted to cheat in 2019 with the crazy Ukraine scandal and was caught and Impeached; and is now on what we’ve been calling a crime spree.  It really is incredible what’s happening now – the sabotage of the USPS, the wrecking of the Census, the illegal use of the federal government to aid his re-election (many many examples), the fake Kayne campaign, the relentless attack on the legitimacy of mail voting and the election itself (designed to suppress vote, law ground work for an illicit challenge), the increasing use of manipulated media, and perhaps most pernicious of all the clearing the path for Putin to return and once again help his friend in his election.  

Yes Biden-Harris need to stay focused on COVID, the economy, health care, healing the nation – all that. But Trump cheated his way to victory in 2016 and is attempting to do it again. We all should be doing more to stop him. It’s a rancid betrayal of our democracy with no analog in US history. It’s Watergate x100.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised given his history and the history of the post Reagan GOP (FL 2000, a decade of illegal redistricting and voter suppression, government shutdowns, Merrick Garland, the suppression of witnesses and evidence at the Senate Impeachment “trial”) but the cheating we are seeing is not something that is compatible with a democracy, and needs to be more aggressively challenged in the days ahead.  

In Salon Interview, Simon Talks About The Future of the Dems, Trump's Illiberalism

To mark this week’s Democratic Convention, we send along a newly published interview of Simon by Chauncey DeVega of Salon, the on-line magazine.  It covers a lot of ground, and includes an extended section about the how the Democratic Party has been, through a period of repeated modernization and innovation, the most successful center-left political party in the developed world, and has been for some time.  These are the themes we hit in our signature presentation, “With Democrats Things Get Better,” which will be shown again next Wednesday.  Try to sit in if you can. 

The interview also does a deep dive on a subject NDN has invested a great deal of energy in over the past four years – countering the rise of illiberal politics, here in the US and abroad.  With the Senate releasing clear, incontrovertible evidence of the President’s partnering with Russia to cheat his way to victory in 2016, we need to make sure we are not now – on the postal service, on his use of the White House for partisan reasons, his corrupting of the IG system and DOJ itself, the Kayne absurdity, on Russia’s return – looking the other way; but rather as we’ve been arguing on the President’s recent sabotage of the postal servicefighting him with everything we have.  It is what our democracy, and all democracies deserve – a vigorous defense, a plan for victory. 

While here, feel free to check out our regular series of pieces looking at the 2020 election including significant deep dives on recent national and state polling; our months long advocacy for the need for a national strategy to defeat COVID; Rob Shapiro’s new Washington Monthly essay on how the GOP is flirting once again with ushering in an all-out depression; Simon’s extensive commentary in Ron Brownstein’s New Atlantic piece on Trump’s weaponization of the USPS and Census, “Just How Far Will Trump Go?” and Mike Tomasky’s rave review of our new presentation, “With Democrats Things Get Better” in the Daily Beast. 

Other work you may have find of interest: 

Congress, States, Cities Must Rise Up, Fight for the USPS – 8/13/20 - NDN is encouraging elected officials from across the country to rise up and help end the President's sabotage of the postal service. 

Taking Trump’s Ongoing Assault On Our Democracy Seriously - 8/10/20 - The President is on a political crime spree - breaking laws, cheating in the election, encouraging Russia to intervene on his behalf - again.   We cannot let him get away with it - again.

Returning to School Is Going To Be Very Hard – 8/3/20 - Just like the President has left the nation to fend for itself in fighting COVID, he is leaving all of us, and our children, to go it alone on returning to school.  It is "tragic and grotesque." 

Analysis: Another Week of Ghastly Polls for the GOP, Loud Dems, Trump’s Illiberalism -  7/25/20 - Our weekly look at 2020 polling finds more brutal poll numbers for the GOP, Dems building a 2020 juggernaut and mystification and worry about Trump's emerging strategy for staying in power.

Analysis: Should Dems Go For It? - 7/9/20 - The Biden campaign faces a big strategy choice in the coming days - how manystates to play in? How big should the battlefield be? Argument for going big is very compelling right now. 

The Coming Reckoning With Russia - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/29/20- Someday, soon, America will have to look at and make sense of Russia’s years of attacks on our interests, its penetration of our political system, its brazen manipulation of our President.  It will be a very ugly but necessary process.

Wednesdays at NDN - A Weekly Deep Dive on the 2020 Election

A quick note to invite you, your friends and colleagues to the 2020 election series we are calling “Wednesdays at NDN.”  Each Wednesday at 2 pm ET we conduct a live session looking at the election, rotating each week between two different presentations.  Just bookmark that time and try to make as many of these as you can. 

Wednesdays at NDN rotate between two presentations:

The 2020 Poll Roundup – A live look at recent national polling, this Wednesday presentation dives into the most current data the way political analysts do.  Along the way you will not only get up to speed on all this important election, but you will learn how to analyze public opinion data the way the pros do.   The presentation is live over Zoom, takes about 25 minutes and we will leave 30 minutes for discussion.  Our next Poll Roundup is on October 28th.  Feel free to invite friends and colleagues - all are welcome. 

With Democrats Things Get Better – This is our signature 2020 presentation, and a deep dive into the performance of the two political parties over the past generation of American politics.  This too is about a 25 minute presentation, with 30 minutes of discussion which follows.  You can learn more about this presentation and the broader project behind it here and read Mike Tomasky’s glowing review of “With Dems” in the Daily Beast.

Due to interest in current polling we are suspending our regular presentations of "With Dems" until after the election. 

We hope to see you at a future event, and feel free to invite others.  The more the merrier for Wednesdays at NDN!

Taking Trump’s Ongoing Assault On Our Democracy Seriously

Taking Trump’s Ongoing Assault On Our Democracy Seriously

In an NBC News column a while back, Glenn Kirschner, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor, made a really compelling point – the current DOJ policy preventing the indictment of a sitting President, whether just or not, should not apply to crimes against our democracy, or cheating to win an election.  “If a president can act unlawfully to influence an election,” Kirschner wrote, “he does not deserve the protections of his ill-gotten office. This incongruity encourages lawlessness in the quest for the presidency and then rewards that lawlessness by inoculating the criminal president against prosecution. Such a construct is dangerous.”

In my conversations with Kirschner we discussed how this absurd formulation has created a massive incentive for American Presidential candidates to cheat and cheat big – for the candidate who doesn’t cheat, loses; or if you cheat just a little bit you lose and can be indicted.  The candidate who cheats in a big way and wins escapes prosecution.  We are in such a horrific situation right now with President Trump.  Trump is struggling to win a traditional free and fair election and has begun cheating/law breaking/ignoring the Constitution at a level never seen before in an American election (this thread details all the ways Trump is cheating now – it’s an exhausting list).  

And Trump does all this knowing that if he wins AG Barr will be there to ensure he isn’t indicted, and if staff broke laws getting him elected – even working directly with Russian intelligence assets – he can pardon them (as he did Roger Stone example).  As Kirschner predicted, there is no reason once you start cheating to do it at the margins of an election – you just have to go for it.  For if you cheat and lose, you and your team can be indicted.  Immunity only comes from winning or staying in power illicitly.  

That Trump is a cheater/law breaker/criminal is well established.  Despite all the cover the AG has given him, the President is under criminal investigation in NY for tax and insurance fraud.  A trial involving rape allegations against the President is moving forward.  Michael Cohen went to jail for their plan to repeatedly break election law in 2016, and the Trump family foundation’s law breaking (including 2016 election law) was so extreme the foundation was dissolved by the state of New York.  We know the President accept and encouraged illicit help in 2016, and even built and designed campaign strategy around information Russian assets provided to the campaign in advance.  And then there is whatever drove Comey to make his dramatic intervention ten days out in 2016 – a move which gave a losing Trump campaign an ill-gotten victory.  Trump was Impeached in 2019 over a truly brazen and months- long effort involving senior leaders of his government to cheat in the current election – a lawless move which was given sanction by the Attorney General and the Senate Republicans.  

The political crime spree the President is on right now has no precedent in American history.  He is breaking/damaging ancient foundations of our democracy – the Postal Service, the Census, Separation of Powers, our Election itself.  He’s using the vast powers of the US government to illegally aid his re-election every day, every day – it’s the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars of campaign spending paid by you, me and other American taxpayers.  The absurd, fake Kayne campaign. Russia has returned, and this time the collusion is out in the open, overt; and this time, the government is providing intentional cover for Russia’s intervention, laundering it to make it legitimate.  The President asked China for electoral help, his Ambassador to Brazil asked the Brazilian government for electoral help too.   He’s invented a domestic terror threat which doesn’t exist.  He’s using authoritarian means to stifle domestic dissent, and is threatening an all-out war by the United States government itself against “The Radical Left” (whatever that is).  His Presidency has become an orgy of illiberalism – and as we see in the crack downs in Hong Kong and Belarus, we cannot look the other way, pretend this isn’t happening here.  Trump has shown too much admiration and kinship with authoritarian oppressors throughout the world for us to believe it cannot happen here.  Of course it can.  

In 2016 the media and political elites were slow to recognize the illicit activity which helped give Trump an ill-gotten win.  We naively “waited for Mueller.”  The Republican burying of Trump’s Impeachment – essentially not even allowing a Constitutionally required trial – was for us here at NDN a “Crossing the Rubicon” moment, a moment when the US was no longer really a functioning democracy as we have been taught to understand them.   And so here we are, the place Rep. Adam Schiff and my friend Glenn Kirscher predicted we would be – the President has launched enormous effort to stay in power using all means necessary.  He’s in the process of denying America a free and free election.  He is cheating and breaking American election law at a truly massive scale, right now, every day, in front of our eyes.  His partner, Putin, has returned, and is aiding his re-election again.  There simply is no reason to believe he is going to leave office without a fight.  

Yes I know there are big issues in front of our campaigns now – COVID, our recession/depression, return to school, health care, climate, fighting systemic racism.  But we all must find time in this challenging time to talk about what our President is doing to our democracy itself.  It is a betrayal of country without peer or precedent.  We simply have to do everything we can to make it harder for him to cheat, or stay in power illicitly. We have to prepare the American people for the struggle ahead, and we have to fight – using the Congress, state legislatures and Governors, Attorney Generals and city prosecutors.  The director of the USPS should be in front of Congress explaining himself TOMORROW not in mid-September.  If state and local laws are being violated by Trump prosecutions should happen.  State AGs can subpoena the USPS, WH COS Meadows, others in the WH and ask them to explain in public what they are doing.  Our electeds in the states should hold hearings and events educating the public about how to vote, and the threats we see.  There has to be an enormous national effort to not just defeat Trump in a traditional election but to defend our democracy from his ongoing assault.  But that starts with not looking the other way, pretending there are more important issues to talk about – we can wage both a traditional campaign, and a campaign to preserve our democracy.  We have no choice really.  We can and must do both now. 

We know from history how dangerous this moment is – fellow patriots, let us commit to rise to this moment, together, and do everything we can to defeat this extraordinary threat to everything that has made America great, and an inspiration for free people throughout the world for centuries.  

“Long delays in getting test results hobble coronavirus response”

“Long delays in getting test results hobble coronavirus response” reads the Washington Post headline not from March, or May, but from this morning, July 13.  

The story goes on to say: “More efficient testing — such as in South Korea, where results are often given the next day — might have prevented the Bottomses from getting the virus. But such turnarounds seem out of reach in the United States because of a lack of federal coordination, supply shortages and surging demand as outbreaks in some states spiral out of control.”

When briefings with senior Administration officials about COVID and our possible responses began in January, they were told a nation like ours only had a few tools to use until anti-virals and a vaccine were developed – shut down international travel, rapid testing and tracing, internal lockdowns, easy access to PPE. social distancing and masking.  At a strategy level the whole game is to catch a pandemic early, before it spreads widely, and snuff it out.  This is what Europe has done, New Zealand, China.  It’s all we know how to do. 

But here in the United States, our President, and his government, choose to do none of those things, and is still doing none of those things except limiting international travel– and thus is the virus rages here today like no other country in the world.  The damage to our economy, to the physical and mental health of our people, is becoming incalculable; something so immense that we can no longer really easily describe it, understand it, particularly as we may have another year or so of what we are experiencing now.  

For a man who claims to be a nationalist, it remains hard to understand why the President never came to conclude that whatever we did as a nation it had to be done together.  Whatever our strategy was it had to be a national one; we had to work together to snuff out, tame the virus, for if it raged anywhere in America it could re-ignite and spread again across the whole country. To fight this pandemic, as we would any other threat to the nation (invading army, terrorism, cyber attacks, extreme weather, etc) the nation had to act together.  The states weren’t on their own to counter the economic fallout of the pandemic; haven’t been on their own to counter protestors or pursue “rioters and looters;” haven’t been on their own to repel people trying to cross the border……why we still do not have a single national response, fully funded, well run, aggressive to counter this national threat? It remains incomprehensible.  

The simple reality is we can’t stand the economy back up, return our kids safely to school, have sports again until we have a sustained national effort to snuff out the virus.  We have to consider “a test” to be something that comes back in less than 12 hours, and requires mandatory quarantine until the results are back.  We should put unemployed people back to work through a national, unified tracing regime, one that easily crosses states lines and shares information.  The Administration should lead a national conversation about the sacrifices we have to make to get us to the other side – we will have to mask, socially distance, give up our privacy for a time, listen to our local elected officials rather than rage at them – to get there together, as a single nation, as Americans.  And above all else the Administration stop yelling at people to go back to work, to go back to school when the President and his team haven’t done the work other nations have done to make it safe to do so.  For the President to lecture people to be strong and tough it out when he himself is living in a world of rapid testing and tracing – something no one else in the country has – feels feudal, medieval, let them eat cakish.  Trump has become an evil character out of a Charles Dickens novel sending the children and the lows to the mines despite the risks…..it’s just mind-bogglingly horrible.  

If you haven’t yet, spend time at this site to explore the magnitude of the failure we are witnessing now.  It’s breathtaking, and dispiriting.  

What is clear now is that our politics here in the United States is going to be dominated for many years now by our response to the virus.  Can we really as one nation together to defeat it in the days ahead? How do we rebuild, work to prevent anything like this from ever happening again? 

And we end on a bitter note.  Last week, on July 3rd and 4th, the President did attempt to rally the nation against a perceived threat to our great country.  In his July 4th from the White House the President said: "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."

So the President has begun rallying the American people not against the virus, not against Russia or champions of totalitarianism, or the very real threats of climate change, or systemic racism; he has chosen it appears to rally one part of America against another.  And as long as he continues to see the big fight as that, as American versus American, rather than all of us together against the virus, the virus will continue to rage, and America will continue to be irreparably harmed and weakened.    

This great country deserves so much better.  

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