Republicans

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: It Has Been A Very Bad Week of Polling for Trump and the GOP

Analysis: A Very Bad Week of Polling for Trump and the GOP

Every week NDN publishes its Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN is also now holding in depth discussions about the 2020 Election every Wednesday at 2pm ET – join us and feel free to invite others too. 

We’ve seen many new polls over the past week and there was a remarkable s amount of bad news in them for Trump and McConnell.  The bottom line right now is that the various strategies the GOP have employed to change the trajectory of an election they are losing haven’t worked, and there is evidence that their already weakened position may be eroding further.  

Some key takeaways from recent polling: 

Biden’s lead remains sturdy, no signs of upward movement for Trump/GOP Senate– Despite two big potentially race altering events – the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice and domestic unrest – Biden retains a very durable and significant lead and the Senate would likely flip to the Democrats.  GOP running out of time, and have no clear mechanism or set of issues, to turn things around. 

Trump saw meaningful erosion in the battleground states – New polls showed Biden tied or even leading in IA and OH, two states which were not part of the Biden target list and where they had not been advertising (the shift in these two states is the biggest news of the week).  Two new polls out in the last 24 hours have Biden up 9 in PA. A Fox poll had Biden up 11 in Nevada, a state where there had not been much polling.  New polls showed Biden leading in ME-2 and NE-2, districts Trump won in 2016.  An Atlanta Journal Constitution poll had GA tied at 47-47, and a new high quality poll in Alaska had Trump only ahead by a new single point, 47-46 (all polls mentioned in this memo can be found on FiveThirtyEight).  

Given how late it is, given Biden’s financial advantage and his sizeable lead, that Trump is seeing erosion in the battleground in places where Biden wasn’t advertising is an ominous development for the President’s campaign.  The polling in MI, MN, PA, WI this past week suggests that none of them may be competitive – which is the whole ball game.  If Biden wins those 4 states he wins the election. 

The Senate– there just isn’t any good news for the GOP here.  New polls suggest Alaska and South Carolina really may be competitive. Iowa’s trending towards Biden is a bad development for an already struggling Senator Ernst. The nomination of Judge Coney Barrows looks like really bad news for Maine’s Susan Collins, a state Biden has a double digit lead in now.  And fundraising for the Democrats in the days after Coney Barrow’s nomination has exploded. If there was any movement this week in the Senate it was towards the Democrats, and as we’ve argued before, we think if the election were held today the Senate would flip.  

GOP very clearly in the minority now –57% of the country is not with the President now.  Most Senate Republican incumbents have 55-59% of their voters not with them.  On issue after issue – COVID, health care, the protests, who caused the recession, should the Senate wait to move ahead on SCOTUS to the next President – 55-61% of the country is not with the GOP position. It is hard to look at all of the polling we see now and not conclude that at least 55% of the US is just not available any longer to Trump and the GOP – and it could actually be higher.  Their only hope is Trump’s decent showing on the economy – something we’ve argued Biden can and should be able to take away in the days ahead.  

As we wrote last week, we think the GOP’s choice of ending the election with the appointment of Coney Barrows, a very vivid reminder of their treachery and radicalism, was a very bad electoral decision. At a time when the country has decided to give the Republicans less power there is little chance for them being rewarded by seizing more of it in such an illicit manner.  

Trump has developed a serious young voter problem– NDN released a new comprehensive analysis of young voters last week.  Recent polling shows a huge swing against Trump here, and among the highest levels of vote intent ever recorded.  In 2016 Clinton won 18-29 year olds 55-36, +19.  In a series of good polls that margin this year is 33-38 points, a shift, depending on final turnout, of 5-6m votes and 2-3% points in national polling.  It’s a huge 2020 development.  

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.  

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 Roundups are on October 21st and 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.  

Analysis: More Ghastly GOP Poll Numbers, Loud Dems, Trump's Strategy

Analysis: Another Week of Ghastly Polls for the GOP, Loud Dems, Trump’s Illiberalism

Our weekly poll roundup took a break last week for there just wasn’t a lot of news – everything was still terrible, worst case scenario bad for Trump and the GOP.  There wasn’t much to add to that story.  This week, same thing but couldn’t let two weeks pass.  So, let’s go to the polls!  

New Fox New polling had Biden up 13 in MN, 11 in MI, 9 in PA.  Quinnipiac had Biden up 13 (!!!!!!) in Florida and 1 in Texas.  2 national polls had Biden up more than 10 yesterday, Gallup found Party ID going from 47D/44R to 50D/38R last month, and there is a growing body of evidence Trump’s numbers on the economy have begun to head south – an ominous development for the GOP.  Democrats continued to put up very strong numbers in the key Senate races, and the DCCC reported 50% more cash on hand than the NRCC heading into the home stretch.  

Some notes on what we are seeing: 

What is Trump’s Strategy? As people who have been in politics a long time, it’s just impossible to explain what Trump and his campaign are doing now.  When you are down like he is, you need to associate yourself with issues which bring you more voters.  But again and again – on masking, the schools, refusal to fight COVID, letting the stimulus lapse, obeying Putin, challenging the protestors/defending rogue policing – the President embraces an extreme position, ones which often poll in the mid 30s.  Not one time in recent months has he chosen the popular thing, something that would allow him to work together with Democrats, and get his numbers up.  Instead this strategy of embracing extreme positions – send all kids back to school regardless of COVID! – has driven him to some of the worst numbers of his entire Presidency, and some of the worst an incumbent President has ever seen.  It’s a baffling re-election strategy.  

This lack of interest, or effort, in raising his standing concerns us.  It’s as if he has given up maintaining power through the election itself, and begun to lean into a series of truly extraordinary illiberal acts as his means for maintaining power – weakening the Postal Service, partnering again with the Russians to smear his Democratic opponent, delegitimizing the election, throwing Michael Cohen in jail/pardoning Roger Stone and perhaps most importantly, his fascistic mobilization against his domestic enemies, “the Radical Left.” 

As we’ve written, we worry that the speeches the President gave on July 3rd and 4th were an open admission that he was now going to attack “the left” not just through ads and a campaign, but with the United States government itself.  How else can you read this passage: “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 as we’ve seen in Portland in recent days, that process of using the government itself to attack his domestic opponents appears to have begun.  Everyone has to have eyes wide open here.  

The Democrats Are Going To Be Very Loud In the Home Stretch – Another thing which will make a GOP recovery this year far more difficult is what’s happened below the Presidential level these last two cycles.  As we enter this final push Democrats are going a new, extraordinary array of capable, well-funded candidates and newly elected statewide elected officials augmenting Biden’s campaign message – Senate races in battlegrounds with unprecedented amounts of money, inspiring House freshman running full out from their re-elections and incumbent Dem governors in MI, NC, PA, WI.  Despite not having the White House, the Democrats will have the money, the talent, the argument and superior campaigns to potentially control the dialogue in the final weeks, or at the very least, make it far harder for Republicans mount a serious counter in the closing days.  A good example is Arizona.  What does Mark Kelley spending $60m and leading by 7 in the Senate race mean for Joe Biden there? A whole heckuva lot.   

Another thing to watch for which may matter in this closing dynamic is whether Trump/GOP money begins drying up.  My guess is that it will, which could create an even more powerful vicious cycle for Trump and his party – to raise grassroots money in the end they have to embrace ever greater extremism, that extremism drives their poll numbers down even further, and so on……That stories appeared this week raising questions about the Trump family’s mismanagement of the campaign’s fundraising could be a sign that money is indeed beginning to dry up.  

Analysis: Should Dems Go For It?

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’s Simon Rosenberg also does a regular Wednesday webinar on national polling trends – learn more, sign up here.  

Thursday Poll Roundup – Should Dems Go For It?

Top lines – Polls this week show no great change from the basic structure of what’ve been seeing over the past few weeksBiden is up by 8-10 points, Congressional Generic is 9, Trump job approval is -15, battleground states moving toward Biden, and Dems continue to outperform GOP Senate incumbents in AZ, CO, IA, ME, MT, NC – enough to flip the Senate. Early Q2 Senate Dem fundraising numbers show extraordinary, unprecedented hauls, meaning the Dem challengers will have enough money to tell their own stories, in their own words – as Dem candidates did so effectively in the 2018 cycle.  

Should Dems Go For It? A new Politico story about the Dems and 2020 has this passage:

"Simon Rosenberg, who worked as a senior consultant for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2018, when the party swamped Republicans en route to the House majority, said the environment is just as ripe this year.

“The rationale for going big is clear: it can help flip the Senate, create a more powerful mandate for governing, and lock in wins for the coming reapportionment,” he said. “From a governing and party perspective, there will be a powerful case for going big, and trying to get to 400-plus Electoral College votes.” "

Targeting – choosing the strategy for how you win an election – is one of the most important parts of any campaign. Like anything involving strategy, the process of choosing targets must be data driven; and changes to that strategy, which always arise, must also be driven by data and the new campaign art of “analytics.” There is no right way or wrong way – just making calls based on what the data is telling you, and making adjustments as things change.

In 2018, the DCCC knew from its research that there were far many more seats available to us than there had been in previous elections, and the Committee, led by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Exec Director Dan Sena, made the decision to go for it, playing in 70 plus districts. Democrats ended up picking 40 seats, the very upper end of what was possible, winning many more seats than most experts predicted. With investment, well run campaigns, and good candidates, Democrats expanded the battlefield, which also had the advantage of spreading the GOP tactically thin and lessening their traditional advantage in fundraising. 

In politics, like life, you can’t score unless you shoot – and sometimes losing comes as much from not attempting or understanding how to win as it does from the other side beating you. In 2018 the DCCC took lots of shots and it paid off. 

To us, the choice the Biden campaign has to make whether to go big and expand the map is similar to what the DCCC’s team was looking at in 2018. Reach states like GA, IA, NC, TX (and maybe OH) are in play, and if there is enough money, investment, smart campaigns in those states these states can be won by the Biden campaign. We are skeptical at this point that the presidential race is going to tighten up – the structure we discuss above wants this to be an 8-10 point race, where it is now. Trump won 46% in 2016 and 44.8% in 2018 and has never shown the ability to crash through that very low ceiling. 45-46 puts the race at 8-10 pts. 8-10 pts means GA, IA, NC, TX are in play. 

The upside Dems are looking at by expanding the map and going for it is significant. Investing in those states and winning there helps the Senate flip; provides a deeper and broader governing mandate for President Biden; and locks in these gains for the all-important re-apportionment to come after this cycle. This is a very big upside indeed. 

Fighting for GA, IA, NC, TX (and maybe OH) doesn’t mean abandoning the core battleground states of AZ, FL, MI, PA, WI (and NH, NV to a lesser extent). The Biden campaign has a very experienced Presidential crew leading it and has been impressively sure-footed these last few months. They know what they are doing, and are agile enough to shift their strategy if the race does indeed tighten, protecting their leads in the core battlegrounds. But the data today sure suggests like 2018 Team Biden should expand the map and go for it – the upside for everything Democrats care about and have fought for is immense.  

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