Monthly Archives: September 2020

What Happens After November 3

There’s a lot of concern about what happens after the polls close on November 3rd. Here’s the BB view: mainstream media “exit” polls will show that Joe Biden won the popular vote by more than ten percentage points. Before midnight, on the West Coast, enough California results will be published to confirm this —  Biden will gather two-thirds of the Golden State early vote. Then the nation will wait on the electoral-college results.

The Popular Vote:  For the past month, according to the 538 website, Biden’s lead over Trump has stayed between 7 and 8 percentage points.  (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/national/)  It’s unlikely that Trump can narrow this gap, but he can make it widen.  For example, Trump’s continuing harangue against mail-in ballots will hurt him with senior Republican voters — who traditionally vote using mail-in ballots.  (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/9/7/1975717/-Rep-Kevin-McCarthy-We-re-Screwed?)

Trump is likely to lose badly in the debates.  And, he is running out of money.  Ergo, the popular vote margin won’t be close.

Exit Polls:  There’s a lot of concern that Americans won’t know what’s happening, at the end of election day, because the traditional exit polls won’t work — most voters (estimated 75 percent) won’t go to actual polling places, they will instead vote by mail.  But that scenario assumes that pollsters won’t do the obvious: call up registered voters and ask, “Did you vote?  (If yes) How did you vote? Who did you vote for?”  But pollsters will adapt and the new “exit” polls will be available.

Therefore, on the evening of November 3rd, we will have exit polls projections for the national popular vote and for individual states — so we will have a preliminary electoral vote count.  And then we will wait for the actual votes to be counted.  (The deadline is December 14.)

Electoral College:  The current Cook Report electoral projections shows Biden with 290 electoral votes, Trump with 187, and 61 as tossups.  I’ll focus on eight of the Cook-designated swing states and consider how their votes will be processed and what we should expect on November 3.

Arizona:  (11 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden leading by 5 percent; Biden has been leading for several months.  (Trump has pulled his TV ads in Arizona (https://www.abc15.com/news/election-2020/president-trump-campaign-goes-dark-on-local-tv-but-for-how-long ).)

Arizona relies heavily on mail-in ballots.  (They have a permanent mail-in ballot option.)  Roughly 80 percent will vote by mail.  Ballot tallying can begin 14 days before Election Day but results cannot be released until polls close.

Prediction: Biden will win.  We’ll have most results within 24 hours and final results within 72.

Florida: (29 electoral votes, Cook rates tossup.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden leading by 1.6 percent; race is too close to call.

Florida makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  (In 2018, 31 percent voted by mail.)  Ballot tallying can begin 22 days before election day but the results cannot be released until polls close.  Unfortunately, voting in Florida has been subject to a variety of obstacles — and lawsuits.

Prediction: toss up.  We’ll have most results within 24 hours and final results within 72.

Georgia: (16 electoral votes, Cook rates tossup.)  Real Clear Politics shows Trump leading by 1.3 percent; race is too close to call.

Georgia makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  (Nonetheless, in 2018, only 6 percent voted by mail.)  While signature verification can occur when ballots are received, actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.  Georgia is another state where voting has been subject to a variety of impediments.

Prediction: toss up.  Results won’t be known for more than a week.

Michigan: (16 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden leading by 4.8 percent; Biden has been leading for several months.  (Trump has pulled his TV ads in Michigan (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-14/trump-campaign-slashes-ad-spending-in-key-states-in-cash-crunch ).)

Michigan makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  (in 2018, 24 percent voted by mail.)  Actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.

Prediction: Biden will win.  Definitive results will take a week.

North Carolina: (15 electoral votes, Cook rates tossup.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden up by 0.9 percent.

North Carolina makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot. (In 2020, the election director expects that 80 percent will vote by mail.)  Ballot counting can occur two weeks prior to Election Day — but results cannot be announced before November 3rd.

Prediction: Biden will win.  We’ll have most results within 24 hours and final results within 72.

Pennsylvania: (20 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden up by 4.3 percent; Biden has been leading for several months.  (Trump has pulled his TV ads in Pennsylvania.)

Pennsylvania makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  Actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.  (There’s legislation pending to speed this up.)

Prediction: Biden will win. Definitive results will take a week.

Texas: (38 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Republican.)  Real Clear Politics shows Trump up by 3.5 points.

Texas make it difficult for anyone but seniors to cast a mail-in ballot.  Actual ballot counting happens on election day.  Another state where Republicans have tried to impede voting.

Prediction: Trump will win. Results won’t be known for more than a week.

Wisconsin: (10 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics  shows Biden up by 6.7 points.

Wisconsin makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  Actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.

Prediction: Biden will win. Definitive results will take a week.

Summary: Biden will win the electoral vote but it will take at least a week to confirm this.  (Georgia and Texas will be a mess.)

Take a deep breath.

I Remember

I remember
the beginning
the flash of light
and
maternal cries of anguish.

I remember
being comforted
searching for a hug
sometimes
flinching from opprobrium.

I remember
Fifties California
driving among stately Fan Palms
surrounding
glistening orange groves.

I remember
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
gaping at the Cinemascope screen
swept up
by the magic lantern.

I remember
Balboa beaches
swimming alone at sunrise
experiencing
baptism in the frothy surf.

I remember
peak experiences
dancing “beneath the diamond sky
with
one hand waving free”.

I remember
optimistic America
feeling lucky
always
expecting the best.

Ten Potential Game Changers

The political conventions have come and gone and little has changed in the 2020 presidential election.  Before the conventions, Joe Biden led Donald Trump by an average of 8.0 percentage points; after the conventions, Biden led Trump by an average of 7.6 points.  (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/national/ )

Trump continues to be unpopular; his latest ratings are 53.1 percent disapprove and 42.7 percent approve.  (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/ )

For Trump to win, external factors will have to intervene.  Let’s consider ten possible game changers.

1.The Presidential Debates:  There will be three presidential debates: September 29 (Cleveland), October 15 (Miami), and October 22 (Nashville).  (There will be a Vice-Presidential debate on October 7 (Salt Lake City).)

A recent USA Today poll found that 47 percent of respondents expected Trump to prevail, versus 41 percent who thought Biden would win.  (http://poll trump expected to win debates)  This is a curious result.  In 2016 Hillary Clinton bested Trump in every debate.  (https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-trump-debate-win-hillary-1447108)  In 2012, Joe Biden defeated Paul Ryan in a Vice-Presidential debate.  (https://www.businessinsider.com/ryan-beats-biden-debate-cnn-poll-2012-10 )

The debates should be fascinating.   I expect Biden to prevail.

2. Russian Intervention: Many believe that Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral college edge was the direct consequence of Russian intervention: Millions of Russian-oligarch funds funneled into the Trump campaign via the NRA; Russian hackers providing key Clinton campaign emails to Wikileaks (Julian Assange); and Russians trolls manipulating social-media feeds to favor Trump in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The Russians are at it again, but there’s more energy directed to protecting the vote.  Specifically, there is more focus on social-media companies, such as Facebook, taking action to circumvent malignant Russian actions.

Recent New Yorker article observed that the impact of Russian disinformation is over stated: “Russian-produced disinformation certainly exists…. But compared with, say, Fox News pundits like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, let alone Trump himself, the perceived menace of Russian trolls far outweighs their actual reach.” (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/14/is-russian-meddling-as-dangerous-as-we-think? )

(By the way: Reuters reports that the White House has systematically downplayed the possibility of Russian interference in the election (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-whistleblower/former-u-s-official-told-to-halt-russia-intelligence-assessments-whistleblower-complaint-idUSKBN26032Q?).)

I expect the Russians to screw up counting the vote in at least one swing state.

3. Money:  Six months ago, when Joe Biden secured the Democratic presidential nomination, it was assumed Donald Trump would have a huge financial advantage, going into the campaign homestretch.  Now it appears that Biden has the money edge.

Recent New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/07/us/politics/trump-election-campaign-fundraising.html? ) revelations indicate that Trump’s campaign team mismanaged their multi-million dollar financial advantage and now they are scrambling for funds.  Biden is running ads in all the swing states and Trump in only a couple.  (By the way, the Trump campaign appears to have conceded Arizona to Biden.)

For the remaining 7 weeks before the election, I expect Biden to have more money.

4. Enthusiasm: For months, the Trump campaign has boasted of their “secret” advantage: Trump supporters are more enthusiastic about Donald than Democratic voters are about Joe.  (Of course “MAGA” voters are crazy about Donald; they are cult members.)

A recent Reuters poll ( https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-turnout-analysis/supporters-who-helped-trump-win-presidency-lagging-in-motivation-this-year-idUSKBN25Z1ID?) suggests the Republican narrative is false. “President Donald Trump’s supporters are less motivated this election cycle than they were in 2016. Although non-college-educated whites comprise 44 percent of the electorate and were pivotal to Trump’s 2016 victory, less of them support him this time around… his 12-point advantage in August is down from a 21-point lead in May, and well below the 34-point advantage he had over [Hillary] Clinton.”

Early voting numbers are out ( https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/10/democrats-early-voting-lead-412106) and they favor Democrats.  Advantage to Biden.

5. Trump health:  For months, there have been rumors that Donald Trump is in poor health; that he cannot walk a ramp without assistance, that he has trouble operating one of his hands, that he has more than his share of memory lapses…  There’s speculation that Trump, aged 74, has contracted the Alzheimer’s disease that felled his father, Fred.

What’s clear is that Trump is overweight (estimate 250 pounds), has an awful diet, and gets almost no exercise — he plays golf relying on a cart.  He has, to say the least, a high-pressure job.  My doctor friends tell me Trump is a prime candidate for a stroke.

On the campaign trail, Trump mocks Joe Biden’s health and age.  (Really!)  Advantage to Biden.

6. COVID-19 Pandemic: Trump has treated the pandemic as if it is a crisis that has been solved. Unfortunately, It hasn’t been solved and is likely to get worse when flu season starts in October. By November 3rd, 250,000 Americans will have died from the virus.  Trump can’t wish this away and most voters blame him for the crisis.  (The latest ABC News/Ipsos poll found: “A clear majority of Americans (63%) disapprove of Trump’s oversight of the public health crisis — a steady trend since early July.”)

As this was written, Bob Woodward’s book, “Rage,” was published.  Woodward taped Trump admissions of intentionally downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic.  (During a period where Trump was telling supporters the Coronavirus was a “hoax” and suggesting it was less dangerous than the flu.) ( https://www.motherjones.com/coronavirus-updates/2020/09/trump-admits-that-he-lied-about-the-coronavirus/?)

The pandemic will rage on and voters will blame Trump.

7. Economy: Trump acts as if the economy is growing but last quarter it shrank at a rate of 32.9 percent.  Trump pretends we are in a V-shaped recovery but it’s actually a K-shaped recovery where only the richest 1 percent are benefitting.  0 As the weeks go by, and Trump presents no plan to deal with the recession, increasing numbers of voters will be angry. (Voters are split on Trump’s handling of the economy (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval_economy-6182.html ).)

(At this writing, the Senate failed to approve a Republican-backed “skinny” stimulus bill (https://www.npr.org/2020/09/10/911414284/senate-gop-covid-relief-bill-fails-prospects-of-bipartisan-deal-before-election-?).)

Advantage Biden.

8. Climate Change: As we head into the final days of the presidential campaign,  Trump refuses to acknowledge climate change. Meanwhile, the west is beset by wildfires and the southeast by hurricanes.

This week Trump went to Florida and declared himself, “the No. 1 environmental president since Teddy Roosevelt.”

Advantage Biden.

9. Law and Order: Coming out of the Republican convention, Donald Trump tried to brand himself “the law and order President.”  He predicts dire consequences if Joe Biden is elected President.

A recent  CNN poll found, “Biden ahead of Trump by a 7-point margin on who [respondents] thought, if elected, would do a better job on the criminal justice system in the United States. Biden was favored by a 6-point margin on who would keep Americans safe from harm.”

Advantage Biden.

10. Trump Scandals:  As this is written, Trump is dealing with (at least) three scandals: the revelations about his attitude towards the American military (“suckers,” “losers”); the insider information from Trump’s one-time attorney, Michael Cohen; and, the publication of Bob Woodward’s book, “Rage.”

There are seven weeks left until the presidential election.  It’s reasonable to assume that every week will see some new revelation about Trump’s conduct.  Trump’s base will be eroded to the hardcore — below 40 percent of voters.

Advantage Biden.

Summary:  Most potential game changers favor Biden.  The notable exception is Russian interference in the election.  Next time I’ll take a closer look at election interference, in general.

Morality

Don’t say you believe
ethics have no cost.
Faith’s easy to cleave
integrity lost
What values your soul?
Is it white or black?
What gives you control?
Is it strength you lack?

Make truth your defense
to status be blind.
Learn from mistakes past
stand in the light hence.
Keep ego confined
probity will last.

The Biden-Harris Wave

In 1936, Frankline Delano Roosevelt won his second presidential election, garnering 60.8 percent of the popular vote. Until now, that was the largest margin of victory in any presidential contest. But Joe Biden has a chance of defeating Donald Trump by a similar percentage.

Coming out of the Republican National Convention, Trump is at the peak of his popularity.  Trump will steadily drive away voters until his base remains — slightly under 40 percent.

Consider this: 68 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/direction_of_country-902.html).  Biden has an overall lead of 7.3 percent in the polls (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/national/ ).  Trump remains unfavorable (43 percent approve versus 52 percent disapprove).  Meanwhile Biden has a net favorable rating (46 percent favorable versus 40 percent unfavorable).  (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trumps-favorability-perceptions-covid-19-response-stagnate-post/story?id=72705268) (By the way: Kamala Harris is viewed more favorably than Mike Pence.)

The latest Economist forecast gives Biden 88 percent chance of winning the electoral college (https://projects.economist.com/us-2020-forecast/president ).

Trump is campaigning with a multiple disadvantages.  He’s in poor health.  Donald is no longer the outsider, the novelty.  He does not have an unpopular opponent.  Furthermore, Trump has to account for four simultaneous crises, happening on his watch: the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession, racial injustice, and global climate change.  In the next 60 days these crises are not going away.

1.COVID-19 pandemic: The RNC treated the pandemic as if it was a crisis that had been solved. Unfortunately, It hasn’t been solved and is likely to get worse when flu season starts in October. By November 3rd, 250,000 Americans will have died from the virus.  Trump can’t wish this away and most voters blame him for the crisis.  (The latest ABC News/Ipsos poll found: “A clear majority of Americans (63%) disapprove of Trump’s oversight of the public health crisis — a steady trend since early July.”)

2. Economic recession: Republicans act as if the economy is growing but last quarter it shrank at a rate of 32.9 percent.  Trump pretends we are in a V-shaped recovery but it’s actually a K-shaped recovery where only the richest 1 percent are benefitting.  Republicans don’t appear to care about the millions who are losing their unemployment benefits or facing eviction. As the weeks go by, and Trump presents no plan to deal with the recession, increasing numbers of voters will be angry.

Most voters feel the economy is in bad shape.   The New York Times reports: “Most polls now find Americans are evenly split on whether they approve of [Trump’s] handling of the issue.  Gallup, for example, found Mr. Trump enjoyed a 48 percent approval rating on the economy this month, down from 63 percent in January.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/24/us/politics/trump-economy.html )

3. Racial Injustice: Trump does not believe that Black Lives Matter and  refuses to acknowledge the tragic death of George Floyd and the maiming of Jacob Blake.  This attitude will cause him to lose support in the Black community.  Trump is betting that going all out on “law and order” will sway most white voters; it won’t.  (By the way: the ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 62 percent of respondents believed the shooting of Jacob Blake was: “A sign of broader problems in the treatment of African Americans by police.”)  The latest Quinnipiac poll found: “Fifty percent of likely voters say having Donald Trump as president of the United States makes them feel less safe, while 35 percent say it makes them feel more safe.”

4. Climate Change: On night three of the GOP convention, a major hurricane slammed into Louisiana, while wildfires torched the west.  Trump refuses to acknowledge climate change as we’re heading into what promises to be a ferocious hurricane season.

Trump has failed.  He will fall further behind in the polls because he is playing a losing hand.

On November 3rd, voters have a chance to not only defeat Donald Trump but to dramatically change the face of American politics.  Here are 5 key states where  this can happen:

Arizona: What was once a reliably red state has become “purple.”  Recent polls have Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump.

Arizona has one Democratic Senator (Sinema).  Five of nine congressional districts are represented by Democrats.  In 2020, the incumbent Republican Senator (McSally) is challenged by an outstanding Democratic candidate (Kelly).  In addition, Arizona Congressional District 6, represented by a Republican (Schweikert) is challenged by a strong Democrat (Tipirneni).

In addition, Democrats have a good shot at taking over the Arizona legislature:  Currently, Republicans enjoy a 31-19 advantage in the Arizona House and a 17-13 advantage in the Senate.  (The Republican governor is up for reelection in 2022.)

Georgia: Another “red” state that has become purple.  Recent polls have Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump.

Georgia has two Republican Senators up for reelection: Perdue and Loeffler.  Perdue is in a tight race with Democrat Jon Ossoff.  Loeffler is in a complicated race that may pit her against either a Republican (Collins) or Democrat (Warnock).  Five of fourteen Congressional districts are represented by Democrats.  However, one Republican district (GA 7) is open and a Democrat (Bourdeaux) is favored to win.

Flipping the legislature is a long shot.  The Georgia Senate has 56 seats: 35 Republican and 21 Democratic.  The Georgia House has 180 seats: 105 Republican, 75 Democratic.  Nonetheless,  Democrats think they have a shot.  (The Republican governor is up for reelection in 2022; there are rumors that Democrat Stacey Abrams will run for this seat.)

Montana: In 2016, in Montana, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 20 points.  In 2020, in the latest Montana poll, Trump leads Biden by 4 points.  That’s not to say that Montana will suddenly become “blue” but it does illustrate that it’s in play.  And, there are three close races.

Montana’s Republican Senator (Daines) is being challenged by Democrat Steve Bullock — the race is a tossup.  Montana’s single House seat is in play; Democrat Kathleen Williams appears to hold a slight lead.  Montana’s State House is also in play;  Republican Gianforte holds a slight lead over Democrat Cooney.

North Carolina:  A legitimately “purple” state.  Recent polls have Joe Biden slightly ahead of Donald Trump.

North Carolina’s Republican Senator (Tillis) is being challenged by Democrat Cal Cunningham — Cunningham holds a slight edge.  The existing Democratic Governor (Cooper) holds a substantial lead over his Republican challenger.  There are two open congressional seats that could go to Democrats: NC 2 (Ross) and NC6 (Manning).

Democrats forced North Carolina to be redistricted.  As a result, control of the state legislature is in sight.  Demos need to win five seats in the state senate and 6 seats in the house.

Texas: What was once a reliably red state has become “purple.”  Recent polls have Joe Biden tied with Donald Trump.

There’s a Senate seat in play but the Republican incumbent (Cornyn) seems to have a comfortable lead over challenger (Hegar).  There are 36 congressional seats: Democrats hold thirteen of these.  Four additional seats are in play: TX 21 (Davis), TX 22 (Kulkarni), TX 23 (Ortiz-Jones), and TX 24 (Valenzuela).

Democrats also have a fighting chance to take control of the Texas Legislature.

Summary: Supporters of Joe Biden are scared.  They’re afraid that Donald Trump will steal the election.  They’re afraid that Trump will do something awful.  (Newsflash: Donald will do something awful but it won’t be enough.)

We can’t let our fear paralyze us.  We must do everything we possibly can to defeat Donald Trump.

We must unite to seize a historic opportunity.  Donald Trump is a threat to Democracy.  Each day, more and more voters understand this.  The tide is running in favor of Joe Biden, and Democrats in general.  We must do everything we can to take advantage of this moment.

Can’t Feel At Home

“This world is not my home I’m just-a-passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
Carter Family

Trapped in an MC Escher  parking garage
careening around
searching for
a way out

DRAFT Nextdoor Ad
Elderly couple seeking refuge
no coronavirus
no climate change