May 5, 2020

General Election Update

As of Monday evening, with six months until the General Election, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a 5.3-point lead over President Donald Trump in national polls. RealClearPolitics

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From the Left

The left is optimistic about beating Trump despite some reservations about Biden, and calls for increased use of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic.

“Leaders in most peer countries saw big increases in their Morning Consult polling numbers by mid-April compared to a month earlier… Canada’s Justin Trudeau has seen a 16-point bump; Scott Morrison of Australia a 25-point increase; even the largely unpopular French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron has seen his job approval rise 8 points…

“Why has Trump’s approval bump been so small relative to most other leaders at home and abroad?... We live in a polarized political era, but structural polarization is probably not the primary factor driving down Trump’s approval bump.”
Roge Karma, Vox

“The polls clearly show that Biden is ahead and by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton was on the eve of the 2016 election… [Yet] An average of recent polls finds that a majority of voters (about 55%) believe that Trump will defeat Biden in the election. Trump's edge on this question has remained fairly consistent over time. A majority or plurality of voters thought he'd be re-elected in a February Fox News poll and a September 2019 Marist College poll. During none of these periods was Trump ahead when pollsters asked voters who they would vote for…

“It seems Americans have probably overreacted to the 2016 result. They don't trust the numbers that are in front of them. Americans think the polls are underestimating Republicans… That may be the case, but it seems like a bad bet given that polls did pretty well in 2018. My advice would be that in gauging the electorate, you shouldn't be of the mindset that Trump is going to pull it out if the polls continue to suggest he won't. Even Trump's own polling reportedly has him behind. Trump's a politician, not a magician.”
Harry Enten, CNN

“For better or worse, the first Twitter president is a master at using social media to frame the daily debate and news coverage. Mr. Trump’s flair for the outrageous helps drive that attention. In contrast, Mr. Biden’s temperance and decorum are relative strengths. But civility isn’t particularly well-suited to social media…

“Still, with creative and timely interventions, Mr. Biden can turn the tables on Mr. Trump. To do this, the challenger needs to behave more like an insurgent, building the capacity to wield facts, humor and mockery at lightning speed in those surreal moments of opportunity that Mr. Trump regularly provides. (Simple example: a Biden video, fired off in real time: ‘This is a cup of Lysol. It is poison. Please do not drink it’)… Every day, Mr. Trump provides opportunities. It isn’t hard to get a rise out of this thin-skinned president and knock him off his game. Be a speedboat, not a battleship. Make him react to you.”
David Axelrod and David Plouffe, New York Times

Regarding the sexual assault allegations against Biden, “If you thought that the evidence against Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh was sufficient to deny him confirmation to a seat on the Supreme Court, are you a hypocrite if you don’t think the Reade allegations are enough to mean that Biden should not be president?…

“This is not an ordinary political contest against an ordinary incumbent. Ensuring that Trump does not enjoy another four years in office may be enough to justify egregious hypocrisy, but it would be hypocrisy, nonetheless. Democrats and feminists should be hesitant to expose themselves, once again, to accusations that their horror over sexual harassment and assault is purely situational… If — underscore, if — it becomes clear or even likely that Biden engaged in the behavior that Reade alleges, there must be a serious conversation about whether he can be the Democratic nominee.”
Ruth Marcus, Washington Post

Regarding voting procedures in November, “No one knows how difficult in-person voting will be by the fall, but states should prepare for the worst — and Congress should immediately provide emergency funding, with up to $2 billion needed. I’d support such spending because democracy is worth spending money on… No one wants the uncertainty of an extended contested election with complaints like those we heard about the recent Wisconsin primary or the Iowa caucuses in February.”
Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg

“As election security experts have pointed out, fraud is exceptionally rare, hard to commit without getting caught and nearly impossible to do on the scale necessary to affect election results… [Moreover] Looking at voters by political party, we find that [turnout among] Democrats and Republicans [increased] about the same amount: around 8 percentage points…

For most voters, mail voting is not a partisan issue. The reform draws strong support among both Democratic and Republican voters, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. Support is even stronger among Democrats and Republicans living in states that already have all-mail voting. All-mail voting appears to be that rarest of democracy reforms: a shift that helps everyone get more involved, that reduces inequities and that attracts support across parties — if only at the grass-roots level… At this point, the burden of argument regarding the merit of mail voting should be on its opponents, not its proponents.”
Charlotte Hill, Jacob Grumbach, Adam Bonica, and Hakeem Jefferson, New York Times

From the Right

The right argues that the coronavirus has impacted Trump’s chance at re-election but sees Biden as a weak candidate, and worries that increased use of mail-in ballots could result in fraud.

The right argues that the coronavirus has impacted Trump’s chance at re-election but sees Biden as a weak candidate, and worries that increased use of mail-in ballots could result in fraud.

“The public is, by and large, not willing to blame the virus on Donald Trump. It wasn’t his fault that we were hit with this pandemic. But much like the captain of a ship that strikes an iceberg when he’s asleep in his cabin, President Trump will be judged on how we respond as a country. If the economy is still largely in the tank at the end of October and people are still dropping from COVID-19 in shocking numbers, the results of the ‘referendum’ will be clear and I wouldn’t bet a plugged nickel on Trump’s chances of victory…

“But if we manage to make it through the worst part of this wave and appear to be heading back toward the economy we enjoyed up until a couple of months ago, the President should be well situated.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“A new Emerson College poll shows that Trump supporters are far more enthusiastic about voting for their preferred candidate than Biden supporters… The Democratic Party has had since November 8, 2016, to work on its plan for securing the presidency this year. With so much time, one would think that its 2020 strategy would be hard to beat. But instead of offering an inspiring fresh face and bold plans, the best it can do is more of the same in the form of an elder statesman surrounded by a long list of concerns…

“The Democratic Party is certain that Trump is an existential threat. Curiously, it is not giving the 2020 election its best shot. Its collective inability to prepare sufficiently is most likely due to its obsession with Trump's every word, deed, and tweet. From the start of his term, there was talk of Russian collusion, impeachment, and the like. It was so sure that it would be able to oust him long before November 2020, that the months and years crept up on it. Then the new election season arrived, Biden ended up at the top, and together, they pretend that this is what they've wanted all along.”
Kimberly Ross, Washington Examiner

“The great ray of sunshine in the Trump camp is one Joe Biden of Delaware. Trump may be facing ugly polls, economic catastrophe, and a biblical plague on the land, but he also is almost certainly facing Joe Biden on Election Day. Biden, who is struggling under allegations that he sexually assaulted Tara Reade, a former aide, has named former senator Chris Dodd to head his vice-presidential search committee. This is political malpractice…

Chris Dodd’s Joe Biden problems are worse than Joe Biden’s Joe Biden problems, and they include an account of then–Senator Dodd and Senator Ted Kennedy sexually assaulting a waitress, in public. This is not a story from some right-wing fringe blogger — this was from Michael Kelly, writing at the time for GQ… The less obvious problem with the Dodd arrangement is that Biden and other Democratic leaders are overwhelmingly rich, old, and white in a party that isn’t. Promising to put a woman on the ticket — but only if she gets the stamp of approval from a 75-year-old white male millionaire party hack — is a dramatic illustration of where the real power still is held in the Democratic Party.”
Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

Regarding voting procedures in November, “Concerns about fraud in mail-in ballots were serious enough that a 2008 report produced by the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project recommended that states ‘restrict or abolish on-demand absentee voting in favor of in-person early voting.’... A significant increase in mail-in voting this fall could greatly incentivize ‘ballot harvesting,’ where third parties collect mail-in ballots on behalf of voters and deliver them to election officials. There’s long been a consensus that such a practice incentivizes fraud, and ballot harvesting is illegal in most of the country…

“In 2016 Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by garnering over 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump. But nearly 6 million unaccounted mail-in ballots were never counted in 2016, more than twice her margin in the popular vote. The potential to affect elections by chasing down unused mail-in ballots and [making] sure they get counted – using methods that may or may not be legal – is great.”
Mark Hemingway, RealClearPolitics

Dated But Relevant: “‘Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.’ That quote isn’t from President Trump… It’s the conclusion of the bipartisan 2005 report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III…

“In 2017 an investigation of a Dallas City Council election found some 700 fraudulent mail-in ballots signed by the same witness using a fake name. The discovery left two council races in limbo, and the fraud was much larger than the vote differential in one of those races. The case resulted in a criminal conviction… In a 2018 North Carolina congressional race… A Republican operative, L. McCrae Dowless Jr., had allegedly requested more than 1,200 absentee ballots on voters’ behalf and then collected the ballots from voters’ homes when they were mailed out. Mr. Dowless’s assistants testified that they were directed to forge voters’ signatures and fill in votes. A new election was required.”
John R. Lott, Jr., Wall Street Journal

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