Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Democratic landslide might very well bury Trump

Landslide looms!

Really? It does keep looking like one.

JVL at the bulwark.com reflects on comparisons (by political operative Doug Sosnik) between Trump’s performance in 2016 vs. his performance today.

For example, in 2016 Trump won suburban voters by 4 points. Today Biden is winning that demographic by 6 points meaning that Trump has lost 10 points.

That also holds for how Biden is performing relative to how Clinton fared in 2016. For example, Clinton won white college women by 7 points. Now Biden is winning those voters by 28 points, a 21-point swing.

… the Big Takeaway from these numbers is that Trump has lost ground with every single group.

And he’s lost a lot of ground.

With all of them.

All men? Trump has lost 10 points.

White non-college men? Trump has lost 14 points.

White college women? Trump has lost 21 points.

Seniors? Trump has lost “only” 8 points.

In fact, seniors are the only group where Trump’s decline hasn’t been double-digits.

But here’s what I want to focus on: If you pull back, what you see is a president who has lost large chunks of support literally everywhere.

And that is the very definition of losing reelection efforts.

Almost all presidents who win reelection do so by adding to their coalitions. If you’re not adding support, then you’re losing. There are a thimbleful of exceptions to this rule (Obama 2012), but in those instances the sitting president started with a landslide margin of victory from his first term.

So the problem for Trump isn’t just the polling in this state or that state. It’s that the entire dynamic of the election is going the wrong way for him. And there is nothing about the last four years that suggests that he is capable of building on his 2016 coalition. Just in terms of support, this has been an avalanche moving downhill since about March of 2017. There is no reason to think that it’s suddenly going to stop and change direction.

By the way, on the subject of landslides: One of the theories I outlined yesterday about the election is that Trump could close the gap and get to +6, maybe.

I want you to think about the 2008 election and the massive victory Barack Obama won that realigned much of American politcs.

Obama’s margin of victory was +7.

Things are so bad for Trump that we are trying to conjure scenarios where maybe, if he gets lucky, he could tighten the race to the point where Biden is only winning by the same margin as Obama in 2008.

The Authoritarian Response

“… the world is looking on in horror as this country lurches from one disaster to another. …”

There is a standard response by dictators when things are not going their way. Change the narrative by sowing fear among the populace and identifying part of that populace as responsible for bad things.

Trump is doing exactly that. He cannot run on the economy. He’s screwed up handling of the nation’s response to COVID–19: the death rate is 146,000 dead and climbing. So he can’t run on his competence in managing public health.

What he is doing is creating a secret police (aka private army) and dispatching those irregular troops to America’s cities to combat lawlessness that is actually created by those troops. The intent is to redirect the narrative away from Trump’s fvckups and to focus the media on the strife in the streets.

John Cassidy at The New Yorker explains: America Is a Country Besieged by Its Own President. By sending federal agents to snatch protesters from the streets, Donald Trump is fomenting civil strife and attempting to distract attention from his pandemic failures.

(Cassidy is a native Englander.)

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that most of the people I grew up with loved the United States, or even openly admired it. Barely disguised resentment at the manner in which this country had eclipsed the British Empire was combined with a widespread contention that America was a shallow place beset by crass commercialism, high crime rates, and gaping racial rifts. But beneath the British condescension, there was also a respect for America: its technological know-how, its organizational efficiency, its democratic traditions, and its sheer heft. When my dad was away, working in Scotland, he saw the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy sail up the Firth of Forth. The vast aircraft carrier was almost a quarter of a mile long, he reported back to us in wonderment.

A half century later, the rest of the world is looking on in horror as this country lurches from one disaster to another. Trapped in a leadership vacuum created by the narcissistic reality-TV star who occupies the Oval Office, the United States seems powerless to arrest the spread of a pandemic that most industrialized countries contained months ago. As the cumulative number of infections surpasses four million, an economic rebound that began when many states prematurely reopened their economies appears to be stalling. And, with an election just three and a half months away, that same President, in a desperate effort to save his political skin, seems intent on creating violent clashes in some of America’s biggest conurbations.

So many bad things are happening, it’s hard to keep up. In many states, covid–19 hospitalizations are rising rapidly. On Wednesday, more than eleven hundred deaths were reported nationwide—the highest figure since May, according to the Covid Tracking Project—and on Thursday there were more than a thousand. “The epidemic in the United States resembled that of a developing country,” Dr. David Ho, a virologist at Columbia University, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, on Wednesday night. “This is certainly very, very sad to see.”

… With the connivance of Attorney General William Barr, his Administration put together Operation Diligent Valor, a military-sounding name for dispatching agents under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security onto the streets of Portland in camouflage gear, armed with tear gas and rubber bullets. On Wednesday night, federal agents teargassed the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, as he joined protesters on the streets.

Earlier in the day, President Trump had announced that he was sending federal agents into two more American cities—Albuquerque and Chicago—under the guise of expanding an anti-crime initiative, …

From the start, local elected officials in Portland opposed the decision to send paramilitary forces to their city. “Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,” the Oregon senator Jeff Merkley tweeted, last week. …

Tom Ridge, … the first Secretary of Homeland Security, said that the agency wasn’t established “to be the President’s personal militia.” Ridge added, “Had I been governor even now, I would welcome the opportunity to work with any federal agency to reduce crime or lawlessness in any of the cities. But … it would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities.”

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the city would gladly accept federal assistance in fighting crime, but she also issued a warning. “We welcome actual partnership, but we do not welcome dictatorship,” she said. “We do not welcome authoritarianism, and we do not welcome the unconstitutional arrests and detainments of our residents, and that is something I will not tolerate.”

These developments suggest that America as a whole isn’t failing—not yet, anyway. But its system of government, its stated values, and its claims to greatness are all under siege by a President who lacks the moral compass, self-doubt, and respect for historical norms that would restrain another leader.

From the Roman Republic to Weimar Germany, and to Russia and Turkey in this century, history shows that democratic decay is a gradual process, and authoritarian leaders rarely, if ever, achieve unchecked power without the acquiescence of some elements of the political establishment. America isn’t there , and hopefully it never will be. At this moment, though, its claim to be a model for other countries is looking horribly tattered. The election can’t come soon enough.

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