• The Pandemic Is Upending the November Map
• Poll: Few Americans Think the Social Distancing Has Gone Too Far
• Bomb, Bomb, Bomb...Bomb, Bomb Iran?
• Trump and Biden Will Battle over China
• A "W" Could Wipe Out Trump
• Milwaukee Will Send All Voters an Absentee Ballot Application
• Whitmer Has Not Spoken with Biden about Being His Running Mate
• McConnell Has Clear Priorities
• Postal Service Collapse Would Hit the Republican Base the Hardest
• Today's Presidential Polls
The primary season is effectively over, at least for the presidential nominations, although there are a number of senatorial primaries yet to come. That being the case, we are switching over to the general-election map today. Since we are big fans of open source, all the polling data is available for you to view, download and play with. Click on "Downloadable polling data" near the upper right-hand corner of the page for an explanation of which polls we use and why, and how to get the data as a flat ASCII file or as a .csv file that you can import into Excel to tinker with. Only the presidential data is available for the moment. Nothing on the site about the Senate except the write-ups of the candidates is up to date. Those of you in the ICT business know that software rots over time, just like old fruit left on the back porch for 2 years. For everyone else, you'll just have to take our word for it. We'll get on it soon though.
The state polling data are a bit sparse but will no doubt pick up over time. When you put your mouse on a state, you get a pop-up box telling which polls the color is based on. The date the last one ended is also there. So for Texas, for example, you see that four polls were averaged to get the result, but the most recent one is from March 2, so they are all pretty old. Of course, if Texas looks like it will be close, there will be Texas polling out the wazoo, since there is no way Donald Trump can lose Texas and win the election. In our view, which is subject to change, the only way Joe Biden could win Texas is if the oil industry totally collapses, with millions of Texans put out of work and very unhappy. That said, given what crude oil futures are trading at right now, this is not impossible.
The site has a lot more than just the main page. One particularly useful feature is the tipping-point state on the menu to the left of the map. That shows the easiest way for whomever is behind to win. If Biden is behind, read from the top down to see his easiest path to catch up. If Trump is behind, read from the bottom up to see his easiest path. For each one, the hand symbol is the key. The text on the page explains how it works.
Another useful page is "Electoral-vote graphs" page on the menu. This shows the electoral vote scores every day since Jan. 1, 2020 based on the polls up to that point. There are two versions. The top one includes every state, including those that were within the pollster's margin of error (indicated by a white center on the map). These really shouldn't be counted, but it is no fun to see "Biden: 200, Trump: 200, Ties: 138" every day. The second time series excludes the statistical ties. Being ahead there is nice, but when both candidates are below the horizontal red line (270 EVs), either candidate can still win, depending on how the close states break.
If you continue scrolling down, you can see a dramatic illustration of this point. In Nov. 2016, Hillary Clinton was way over 270 EVs—if you counted the statistical ties where she was leading. On Election Day 2016, we had 12 states that were statistical ties (i.e., white centers, meaning "too close to call"). The only state we actually got wrong was Wisconsin, where polls had Clinton ahead by 5 points (Trump won it by less than 1 point). If you scroll down to the fourth graph on the "Electoral-vote graphs" page, you see that Clinton was ahead of Trump in the solid states (outside the margin of error), but well below 270. In other words, the data were showing that all punditry aside, the election was really a toss-up. Here is a copy of the fourth graph (each candidate's solid support):
Even more significant, notice how much Clinton dropped between the third and fourth graphs near the end while Trump hardly dropped at all. That shows how soft her support was and how firm his was. In fact, Trump rose from the dead (which seems appropriate for someone whose following resembles a religious cult). Also notice how Clinton's hard support (the fourth graph) dropped off precipitously in the first week of November, after former FBI Director James Comey announced "More e-mails!". This was completely visible to the naked eye by Nov. 8 (Election Day). She was sinking like a stone and he was rising. All you had to do was look at this graph. Our data was up there in real time, with one new data point every day. Veteran election guru Charlie Cook, who is a data expert, saw the impending disaster coming and warned us 2 days before the election, but he had the same problem as Cassandra: nobody listened. If you look at the legend to the right of the map above, you see the "strongly" and "likely" Dem and GOP numbers. The sums for the Dem and GOP numbers are the ones you should keep in mind (today Dem: 215, GOP: 148), not the numbers next to the photos, since the latter potentially reflect minuscule differences that could reflect sampling error more than anything else. The data are talking to you, but you have to listen.
The "Graphs of all polls" link has graphs of the polls for all 50 states and D.C. from Jan. 1, 2020 to today (where available, because nobody wants to spend any money to poll Wyoming). The "State poll averages" page shows you the current polling average for Biden and Trump for every state on a single page. The "House retirements" page shows you which House members are retiring after this term. When a member of Congress retires, that creates an open seat, which is much more likely to flip than an occupied seat.
The "Icons for bloggers" page might be useful if you have your own blog or webpage. If you visit this page and copy three lines of HTML and paste it into your blog or webpage, then your visitors will get the current electoral vote (and later Senate) scores whenever they visit. So all you have to do is a one-time copy and paste, and for the rest of the election cycle, your visitors will get an up-to-date map and data, with no additional work on your part. This could make your site more interesting and drive traffic to it (and to ours).
The "Feature stories" is about longer pieces we have written in the past. We would like to open that up to others; something we tried once before, but weren't quite set up for. Now, we're good to go, though. So, if you would like to write a feature, make a proposal by sending an e-mail to the email@example.com link below. The "Data galore" page has lots of interesting election-related data. If you would like to contribute something to that page, please let us know that, as well.
Finally, now that we have data on the Electoral Vote tally every day (and soon the Senate every day), we would greatly appreciate it if you would tell your friends, family, colleagues, and others about the site, announce it on social media, and otherwise give us a bit of PR. Thanks. (V & Z)
Just when all the experts had decided that there were really only five swing states left (Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida), the pandemic has changed everything. Politico reporters talked to 30 political operatives and discovered that the pandemic has created threats and opportunities for both parties. Specifically, they believe that people in the Midwest may blame Donald Trump for their troubles and be more inclined to vote him out of office than they were before COVID-19 struck. Also, minorities are being hit harder than the general population due to the administration's lackadaisical attitude, and they are not going to blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). At the same time, bluish states like Nevada and New Hampshire could go red depending on how voters respond to the general disruption of everyday life. "It's the economy, stupid" was never more true than this year, and nobody knows what it will be like in November.
All eyes are on Florida, where the popularity of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is cratering due to his keeping the beaches open too long, the spread of the virus in "The Villages" (full of elderly Republicans), and the trouble hundreds of thousands of Floridians are having applying for unemployment benefits due to a system designed to keep them from applying for benefits. On top of that, tourism, a huge industry in Florida, is not coming back any time soon. None of this gives Florida's voters a warm and fuzzy feeling about the GOP, which holds every statewide office in the Sunshine State but for one (Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried is a Democrat).
In addition, North Carolina is definitely in play (see map above). Some observers see the Wisconsin state supreme court race, which a "nonpartisan" Democrat won easily 2 weeks ago, as the handwriting on the wall about the Badger State and its neighbors in the Midwest.
The $64,000 question is how this is all going to look in the fall. Historically, if the Dow Jones index rises between Aug. 1 and Election Day, the party in the White House gets another term. However bad it may be now, if things get better in the fall—and we are going to go out on a limb here—we predict that Trump will take credit for the recovery. Of course, if COVID-19 is still rampant, hundreds of thousands of Americans are dead and unemployment is 15% or more, guess where the buck stops, even if the person at the Resolute Desk tries to shoo it away. (V)
A new AP/NORC poll shows that just 12% of Americans think the restrictions on personal freedom have gone too far, while 61% think they are just right, and 26% want them to go further to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. Even Republicans are pretty much on board with the restrictions:
The poll reveals that the small number of astroturfers demonstrating in a handful of cities are a very small, if noisy, minority, and do not represent a big group. (Sounds like a description of Twitter.) The data also show that about 80% of Americans are worried about getting the virus. When four Southern states open for business in the coming weeks, if there are big outbreaks, the governors are going to catch hell for doing something that was: (1) dangerous and (2) not even that popular. (V)
Remember all the way back in 2007, when then-senator and presidential hopeful John McCain got in big trouble for jokingly singing a "Bomb Iran" refrain to the tune of the song "Barbara Ann"? That haunted him throughout the campaign, with echoes of another Arizona senator turned presidential candidate who was just a little too casual about the use of deadly force.
These days, the 2007 campaign, and the standards that politicians were held to back then, seem like ancient history. Surely we can agree that joking about bombing Iran, while distasteful, is nowhere near as bad as actually ordering the armed forces to do it? Right? Well, that is exactly the order that Donald Trump gave on Twitter on Tuesday night:
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
It is unclear if this is just a bluff, or it's a general order that has actually been issued, though Trump certainly makes it seem to be the latter. Is he really that cavalier about possibly starting a war in the midst of a pandemic? Does he really not know that you don't "shoot down" boats? Except, of course, flying boats. All of these are good questions.
Perhaps the most important question, though, is what prompted the tweet in the first place. Iran has certainly taken a more aggressive posture in recent weeks, and hours after the Trump tweet, they launched their first "military satellite." Undoubtedly, U.S. intelligence knew this was coming; maybe Trump was doing some chest-thumping in advance.
Another possibility is that this is a "wag the dog" scenario, and Trump (whose "create a distraction" immigration order was a PR disaster) is just trying to change the narrative. He is, after all, a fellow who repeatedly predicted that Barack Obama would bomb Iran in search of political gain. This tweet is just one example among many:
Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2012
If the goal really was to take people's eyes off of COVID-19 for a while, then Trump failed. While cavalierly threatening Iran was huge news 13 years ago, these days the Trump reality show is such that the President's borderline-declaration-of-war-by-Twitter barely moved the needle. (Z)
Donald Trump thinks he can win this year's election by labeling Joe Biden as a China appeaser. That's not going to be so easy, because all Biden has to do is bring up Trump's many tweets praising China, like these:
China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days. Nothing is easy, but...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2020
In addition, there are many interviews that Trump has done praising Chinese President Xi Jinping. Biden is going to blame Trump for tens of thousands of deaths and millions of jobs lost because he was afraid to stand up to Xi. There are miles of video in which Trump says wonderful things about the Chinese president, and Team Biden is busy working these into ads as you read this.
The fight over China lays bare different temperaments, worldviews, and political instincts that separate the two men. It also will involve industrial blight in the Midwest, the rapidly declining fortunes of farmers who used to sell much of their crops to China, trade wars, and Trump's "America First" policies vs. Biden's instinctive preference for working with other countries, rather than attacking them. After COVID-19 and the economy, China could be one of the top issues in the fall. (V)
No, not George W. Bush, who was seen as a bumbler during his presidency, but now appears to be a wise statesman when compared to Donald Trump. The problem is that economists have pretty much given up all hope of a V-shaped recession—a rapid drop followed by an equally rapid return to normal. Many economists now expect a W-shaped recession—first down hard, then up somewhat, then down hard again, before a slow and final return to normal. The W is most likely to be triggered by reopening the economy too fast, resulting in widespread spread of COVID-19, followed by another abrupt shutdown. If that happens, no one will be willing to go outside until a vaccine is available, and the second hit to the economy could be worse than the first one. If the second drop occurs before November, it will be the end of Donald J. Hoover...er, we mean George H. W. Trump...er...well, you get the point. Although the President would never be caught in a church unless he was holding a rally outside one and it started to rain, he'd better pray that if there is a W-shaped recession, the second leg comes after November. If it comes before November, Joe Biden will be asking himself why he even wanted his new job. On the other hand, he was Barack Obama's right-hand man for 8 years, so he knows a little something about cleaning up a recession that began on a Republican president's watch.
The second leg of the recession could also be triggered by a wave of bankruptcies when the stimulus money runs out. As companies close up permanently, their workers lose their income, so they can't pay their rent or mortgage and the whole economy spins out of control. Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said: "Pretending the world will return to normal in three months or six months is just wrong." Early warning signs are already visible, as large companies like Macy's and Neiman Marcus are in big trouble.
A third possible cause of a W-shaped recession is the double whammy caused by a resurgence of the coronavirus at the same time the flu season starts. CDC Director Robert Redfield is afraid of a coronavirus pandemic and a flu pandemic at the same time. That would wipe out the health-care system and take the economy down with it. Redfield said the government has to prepare for a dual pandemic now, stockpiling medical equipment and resources, starting now. Don't count on it, though.
But there will be winners as well as losers. Big law firms are urging their lawyers to brush up on bankruptcy law, in anticipation of lots of business in the coming months. Another possible winner is...Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). For decades he has been saying that tying health insurance to your job is a bad idea. For decades everyone else has been saying: "Tying your health insurance to your job is a wonderful idea." With (probably far more than) 22 million people recently unemployed, millions of them will have lost their health insurance—and during a pandemic, no less. When that $100,000 bill from the local hospital's ICU arrives and the recipient no longer has a job, savings, or health insurance, it may begin to dawn on him or her that the good Senator may have had a point after all. It is not hard to imagine a scenario sometime next year when a majority of the country wants to scrap the employer-based health-insurance system and adopt Canada's health-insurance system, which doesn't rely primarily on private insurance companies. (V)
While Republicans in Congress are blocking an all mail-in election, Milwaukee may solve the problem on its own. The Common Council has voted to send every registered voter in the city an application form for an absentee ballot. The letter from the city will also include a postage-paid envelope, to help young residents who don't know what a stamp is and old ones who do but can't afford one or can't get to the post office to buy one.
If this program is successful, other cities could copy it and also send out absentee-ballot applications. The ironic thing here is that big cities are more likely to do this than rural areas, resulting in the worst of all worlds for the Republicans: City dwellers voting absentee and rural ones having to risk trudging to the polls. One can imagine Republicans warming up to vote-by-mail very rapidly. (V)
On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) said that she has not had any discussions with Joe Biden about being on the ticket with him. Roughly translated, this announcement means: "I am definitely available and would very much like to be on the ticket and you know, I could bring in Michigan, a key state you need to win. If you have any questions, just let me know." What's the opposite of the "full Sherman" (If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve)? Maybe it is the full Abrams, named after Stacey Abrams, who also yearns to be Joe's running mate and is not the slightest bit shy about telling him so.
One complication is that Whitmer is currently running a state with a large number of COVID-19 cases. Could she campaign (whatever that means this year) and also run the state? Or would she have to resign and let the young (37) Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D-MI) take over? Resigning would give her more time to campaign, but also means that if Biden loses, she would be unemployed. (V)
No one can say that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) lacks a clear vision of what is important. This week he made his priorities crystal clear. First, he said that he doesn't think another coronavirus relief bill is a good idea because he is worried about the deficit. We guess he must have some new information, because the trillion-dollar tax cut in 2017 and the 500-billion-dollar slush fund in the third relief bill didn't seem to alarm him much, even though they vastly increased the deficit.
Another issue on which he has a clear position is whether the federal government should bail out states hard hit by COVID-19 or just let them go bankrupt. His view: Let them just go bankrupt. Actually, that isn't possible under current law, but McConnell could push a law through the Senate to let states go bankrupt. Bankruptcy has several aspects, but for a state, the most significant one would be to wipe out the pensions of state employees. If the states in question are blue, all the better. However, if the collapse of the oil industry brought down states in the oil patch, you can bet McConnell would quickly arrange for Uncle Sam to bail them out.
McConnell is setting himself up for a major clash with Nancy Pelosi, who said yesterday that she wants a new relief bill that will target much more aid to states and local governments.
On the other hand, yesterday he made clear that since the Senate isn't going to have to waste any more time on relief measures, it can focus on confirming more conservative judges. After all, in a pandemic, it is important to have judges who will shoot down whatever measures Congress dreams up to help people. During Donald Trump's presidency, the Senate has confirmed 140 district judges, 51 circuit court judges, and two Supreme Court justices. This is the second-fastest total ever. Haste is needed here because there is no guarantee that the GOP will control both the White House and the Senate come Jan. 3, 2021, so it is time to make hay while the sun shines. Come January, it could rain on McConnell's parade. (V)
Republicans in Congress hate the U.S. Postal Service, which they see as a wasteful, bumbling bureaucracy. The service is now facing a crisis with revenues down and a 2006 law requiring it to prepay billions for retiree health benefits. If it really runs out of money, something would have to give. Increasing the price of a stamp would be unpopular, so the only realistic option would be to cut service. How about mail two or three times a week instead of 6 days a week?
People who live in cities, many of whom have high-speed Internet and live within three blocks of a drugstore, don't rely on the postal system much and would barely notice. In fact, throwing out junk mail only twice a week could be a plus. In rural areas it would be a disaster. McClatchy reporters talked to some people in rural areas about this possibility. Army Veteran Jack Bainbridge (70) said that if he couldn't get his medicine reliabily through the mail, he would have to drive 90 miles round trip to pick it up from a VA medical center. Retired teacher Deborah Arnold (72) said that she needs medicine to treat her glaucoma and if she had to go to a pharmacy to get the medicine in person, she would have to weigh the relative merits of getting the medicine along with COVID-19 and possibly dying from it, or skipping the medicine and going blind. Bob Ritzinger (81) is a Navy veteran who receives multiple medications from the VA by mail. His wife said: "I can't imagine us not having a post office here. It just scares the daylights out of me."
In general, it is seniors, people in rural areas, and small businesses (a.k.a. the Republican base), who depend the most on the Postal Service. That notwithstanding, Republicans in Congress hate bailing it out. In their vision, delivery can be done much better by private carriers. In the extreme case that Mitch McConnell decides not to save the Service and it goes under, no doubt Fedex would pick up some of the business. But the price of sending a letter would suddenly go up from 55 cents to $8.50 (what Fedex charges for a letter). And a private company like Fedex could easily examine its business model and decide that serving Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas wasn't profitable, so it could just terminate all service there. Good luck to Jack, Deborah, and Bob.
Republican members of Congress from rural states and districts understand this, but try to have it both ways. On the one hand, they love to grandstand and rail against the big bad quasi-governmental Postal Service, but they would never let it go under because it would be a nightmare for their constituents. So in the end, they always come through for it, despite the whining. (V)
Starting today, new polls released the day before posting will be listed here. The convention is to put the leader's score in boldface and color the leader's box in light or dark blue or red, as the case may be, if the lead is at least 5 points (which is generally statistically significant). If both boxes are white (as they are today), it is better to think of the leader as probably ahead, but it is not a sure thing.
|Florida||46%||42%||Apr 16||Apr 20||Quinnipiac U.|
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Apr22 House Moves Toward Vote by Proxy
Apr22 Trump Immigration Ban Is Mostly a Paper Tiger
Apr22 Kemp Gets Much Blowback
Apr22 NFL Draft Starts Tomorrow
Apr22 Trump Lags Biden in National Polls
Apr22 Biden Campaign Arguing Over Leadership of Online Campaign
Apr21 Trump Says He Will Suspend Immigration
Apr21 Four States Get Ready to Reopen
Apr21 Incompetent or Corrupt?, Part I: Small Business Funding
Apr21 Incompetent or Corrupt?, Part II: Emergency Equipment Funding
Apr21 Oil Prices Fall Below Zero
Apr21 Trump Snubs Romney
Apr21 Democrats Are Raking It In
Apr21 Democrats Want Obama
Apr20 Biden Sweeps Wyoming Caucus
Apr20 Voters Dump Trump Bump
Apr20 Trump's New Election Strategy: Run on Dividing the Country
Apr20 Coronavirus Is Starting to Hit Red States
Apr20 Some Sanders' Supporters Are Undecided
Apr20 A Nationwide Mail-in Election Is Not Likely to Happen
Apr20 Michael Cohen Is Writing a Tell-All Book
Apr20 Can Political Parties Fall Victim to COVID-19?
Apr20 This Is What Good Old-fashioned Traditional Corruption Looks Like
Apr20 What Is Essential?
Apr20 Democrats Outraised Republicans in Key Senate Races
Apr19 Sunday Mailbag
Apr18 Saturday Q&A
Apr17 Trump Unveils Re-Opening Plan...
Apr17 ...and Governors Do Their Own Thing(s)
Apr17 Intelligence Community to Probe Chinese Origins of COVID-19
Apr17 Small Business Funding Runs Out
Apr17 Never Trump Republicans Rally
Apr17 What to Make of Tara Reade?
Apr17 Warren Is Angling for VP Slot
Apr16 Amash May Run
Apr16 Warren Endorses Biden
Apr16 Trump Faces Blowback on WHO Funding Cut
Apr16 Trump Threatens to Adjourn Congress
Apr16 Retail Sales Drop in March by the Greatest Amount Ever
Apr16 Democrats Are Motivated Like Never Before
Apr16 Poll: Biden Should Pick Experienced Running Mate
Apr16 Some States Are More Ready for Mail-in Voting than Others