• Trump's Approval Drops Below 40%
• Hundreds of Bush Officials Support Biden
• Trump Will Be Intensely Jealous Today
• Massive Wave of Bankruptcies Is Expected
• Cheney Criticizes Trump
• Eleventh Circuit Will Take Up Florida Felon Reenfranchisement Case En Banc
• Well, That Was Fast
• Do the Democrats Have Their Own Tea Party?
• Trump May Be Meddling with the Census Again
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
Despite Donald Trump's being the least Christian president since Thomas Jefferson (who was a deist), evangelical voters still love him. He doesn't go to church, never turns the other cheek, and does not adhere to any of Jesus' teachings. He also violates most of the Ten Commandments on a regular basis, especially #7, #9, #10—you know, the ones about adultery, lying, and coveting stuff. But despite all this, a new Pew Research Center poll taken last week and released yesterday shows that 72% of white evangelicals approve of the President and 82% say they will vote for him. Talk about selling your soul for a couple of Supreme Court justices. He could probably take a Bible, drop it in the mud, stomp all over it, and then use it to bludgeon someone to death on Fifth Avenue and it would be fine with them. Trump absolutely needs to hang onto this group and so far nothing can shake their faith. Nothing. Here are the data.
|Religious demographic||Will vote for Biden||Will vote for Trump||Result|
|White evangelicals||17%||82%||Trump +65|
|White Protestants, not evangelical||37%||61%||Trump +24|
|All Protestants||40%||58%||Trump +18|
|White Catholics||42%||57%||Trump +15|
|All Christians||43%||55%||Trump +12|
|All Catholics||52%||47%||Biden +5|
|All respondents||54%||44%||Biden +10|
|Nothing in particular||68%||30%||Biden +38|
|All unaffiliated||72%||25%||Biden +47|
|Black Protestants||88%||8%||Biden +80|
It is noteworthy that 10% of white evangelicals who don't approve of the job Trump is doing will still vote for him. It is possible that these voters are motivated by the fact that Joe Biden is a Catholic and their hatred of Catholics is even greater than their disapproval of Trump, but that is just a guess. On the other hand, white Catholics on the whole prefer a man who sins on a daily basis and never ever asks forgiveness to an observant white Catholic like themselves. It's possible that some white Catholics hold Biden's (pro-choice) views on abortion against him. But maybe religion doesn't actually matter so much. It is very possible that people's politics comes first and then they adapt their religious views to support their political views.
All is not completely rosy for Trump with white evangelicals, though. In April his approval rating with them was 78% and now it is 72%, so it dropped a little bit in 2 months. If it drops 3 points in each of the remaining months, he will have a problem. He probably isn't aware of this level of detail, but Brad Parscale sure is, and Parscale can craft television ads pointing out that Trump has appointed 200 conservative judges to try to keep them in the fold.
Finally, although the poll was really about the religious breakdown of the voters, the bottom line is that among all adults, Biden is ahead by 10 points, consistent with just about every other recent national poll. (V)
While the Pew poll gives Donald Trump something to hang onto, a Politico/Morning Consult poll also out yesterday has bad news for him. Among registered voters, 39% approve of the job Trump is doing (22% strongly) and 59% disapprove of the job he is doing (47% strongly). Being 20 points under water and below 40% approval is not a great place for an incumbent to be 4 months out. Also, 75% of the voters think the country is on the wrong track.
If we go look for incumbent presidents since World War II who lost reelection, there are only two: Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. In a way, that is good news for Trump: Incumbents generally win. However, those two presidents' approval ratings sank to 40% in June and stayed there for the rest of the election cycle. Maybe Trump can get his to move up this summer, but if he focuses exclusively on his base, as is his tendency, that is not likely to happen.
The top four issues for the voters in order are the economy (34%), health care (19%), seniors' issues (15%), and national security (13%). Nothing else is in double digits. On the top issue, Trump and Joe Biden are tied, with 43% each. However, on health care, Biden has a large 16-point lead. Biden also leads on the environment (+21), energy (+10), and immigration (+7). There is no issue where the voters trust Trump more, not even jobs, where Biden is (barely) ahead 43% to 42%.
On an issue that is likely to become central fairly soon—stopping the coronavirus—Biden is up by 14 points over Trump. On the subject of who is doing an excellent or good job of dealing with the virus, Trump is at 34%, Mike Pence is at 36%, congressional Democrats are at 35%, and congressional Republicans are at 29%. However, the voters are not just angry and think everyone is screwing up. A full 62% say Anthony Fauci is doing just fine, 59% say the CDC is doing a good job, the governors are at 54%, and the WHO is at 45%. So it is the national political leadership that is the problem, not the doctors, scientists and governors. Running against the latter may not be a smart move for Trump.
In a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll Trump's approval rating hits 40%—exactly. His disapproval is 58%, not that far from the Morning Consult poll. Also, on the horse race question, Biden leads 53% to 41%. The national polls are remarkably consistent. Trump's approval is around 40% and Biden has a 10-point or so lead in head-to-head matchups. If the election were held today, Biden would win. But the election is not today and in politics a week is a long time. Especially when the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Trump's tax returns and faithless electors today or tomorrow. (V)
A group of hundreds of Republicans who worked for George W. Bush have banded together and formed a group called "43 Alumni for Biden." Its website, 43alumniforjoebiden.com, went live yesterday. Karen Kirksey, the project director, said that the group does not necessarily support Biden's policy goals. It just wants to rid the country of Trump and restore the soul of this nation. She said that if Biden is elected, they hope to work with him in a bipartisan way to solve the country's problems.
The group consists of many of Bush's cabinet members and other top officials. The list of members is not public (yet). One person who is not in the group is George W. Bush. His spokesman said that Bush has retired from politics and will not be wading into the election. In addition to running the website, the group has formed a super PAC, which will collect donations to try to help defeat Trump.
The website is very basic so far, including pages in a sans serif font (Montserrat, if you really want to know), with very short text lines that are fully justified with no hyphenation, leading to a pretty ugly layout that looks like it was done by an intern who never designed a website before. Most of the "content" is a plea for money and volunteers. In addition, the site is selling merchandise, like mugs and beach towels, with their logo. Nevertheless, if enough money comes their way, it could become a force later. When George Conway and friends started the Lincoln Project, it wasn't much to look at in the beginning, but now it is producing very powerful professional ads that are getting wide circulation. The ad with former Navy Seal Dan Barkhuff released Sunday racked up almost 6 million views on Twitter in the first 24 hours up there and another 800,000 on YouTube. What direction 43 Alumni for Joe Biden will go isn't clear yet to us (and probably not to them), but clearly the goal is to give people who voted for W "permission" to vote for Biden.
What is noteworthy is that we now have two groups of very high-profile Republicans actively working to defeat Trump. What we don't have is even a single group of even medium-profile Democrats working to defeat Joe Biden. Maybe there is a secret message here. (V)
Donald Trump's admiration for, and envy of, Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to go through the roof today. Yesterday, Russia held a show election to get popular approval for a series of constitutional amendments for which no popular approval was needed. After all, the Russian Duma already approved the amendments, which was all that was required, and new updated copies of the Constitution were already available in bookstores all over Russia, just in case voters wanted to know what they were approving.
Among the many amendments were ones that protected pensions, family values, animals, the Russian language, and the memory of Russians killed in World War II. Oh, and there was also one that just so happens to reset the clock on Putin, so he can serve another two six-year terms when his current one is up in 2024. Almost forgot about that one. Sorry.
If Putin were to serve until 2036, he would be 84 upon retirement. China also loves its current president, Xi Jinping, so much so that in 2018 it removed term limits to allow Xi to serve for life. This is where Trump's jealousy is going to flare up. Two of his best friends forever, Putin and Xi, get to be president for life, and he has to stop in 2025—or, if the polls are right, 2021. Clearly, this is not fair. And to make it worse, the process for amending the U.S. Constitution is very clumsy, requiring the legislatures of 38 states to approve, something that is not likely to happen. So in 2021 or 2025, Trump will have to exit stage right while his dear friends are still in power. It will be tough for him, no doubt. (V)
Unless Congress moves fast—which is pretty much a contradiction in terms—then when the current CARES Act funding runs out at the end of this month, there is going to be a huge wave of bankruptcies as small (and some medium-sized) businesses won't be able to pay back rent and other bills, let alone have a positive cash flow in a situation where they have to operate with social distancing and other restrictions. The hospitality sector is going to be especially hard-hit, but also retail and other sectors where many people are indoors close together. The downturn will also affect outdoor businesses hit by the economic downturn, who will suffer lowered demand for their products, like the shale oil business. Commercial real estate will also be hit as fewer people are going to go shopping until the virus is beaten and more people will be working from home for a while (ergo, tough times for people whose business is renting out office space).
Small business owners tend to be Republicans, but when you just lost the business you spent 10 or 20 years carefully building, are you going to be enthusiastically voting for the guy on whose watch it was destroyed? And what about your former employees? How are they going to feel when they hear that nice little restaurant for which they worked for years is gone forever?
Also important is the narrative. Starting in August and peaking in September there are going to be endless news stories about the bankruptcies. How will that make people react when people read or hear "X million businessed have declared bankruptcy this month" followed by Donald Trump telling them that the economy has never been better? People's perception of the economy is probably more important than the actual economy, and a huge wave of bankruptcies is not going to leave people with a rosy perception. On top of that, Joe Biden might just get Ronald Reagan's old line out of mothballs and, at one of the debates, look right at the camera and say: "If you're better off than you were four years ago, vote for him. If not, consider voting for me." That killed for Ronnie, which Uncle Joe surely remembers, since he was already in the middle of his second U.S. Senate term when it happened. (V)
Liz, not Dick, that is. As Donald Trump sinks in the polls (see above), some politicians are starting to think about what is really important—themselves. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), currently #3 in the Republican hierarchy, has made no bones about her interest in becoming the first female Republican House Speaker some day. She is trying to thread the needle these days. While Republican voters still love Donald Trump, it is no secret that few, if any, elected Republican politicians think much of him, even if they pretend to for public consumption. If Cheney wants to become Speaker, she needs to be Trumpy enough to make a good impression with the voters in general, but also keep enough distance from Trump to show her House colleagues that she is sane and could lead the caucus and the House some day.
In particular, on the matter of Vladimir Putin offering terrorists a bounty for killing American soldiers, Cheney is demanding that Trump take a more aggressive stance against the Russian "president." That's not the only recent example of her disagreeing with Trump in public. A few days ago she tweeted out a photo of her dad wearing a mask:
The tweet also has the hashtag #realmenwearmasks, which is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) line and hits Trump where it hurts: his manhood. Liz knows very well that few Republicans think Dick isn't manly enough or conservative enough, especially when he is wearing a cowboy hat. She also knows that Trump doesn't want to get into a pissing match with Dick, and attacking her would do precisely that, so she is safe, no matter how much he dislikes her. Finally, she is clever enough to support Trump sometimes. She voted against his impeachment and loves to attack China, as well as Pelosi.
Some Republican politicians see her attempt to put some daylight between herself and Trump as a way to save face if he goes down in flames in November. If Trump is wiped out badly and the Republicans lose many seats in the Senate and House, the RNC is probably going to do another autopsy, as it did in 2012. The likely conclusion: Trumpism is a bad idea. Politicians who are very closely tied to Trump are going to have a problem, so Cheney is positioning herself as a different kind of Republican—one who was willing to tell the truth when it wasn't popular.
Cheney has actually been traveling this path for several months. She has strongly supported Anthony Fauci and said the country needs his expertise to beat the virus. She also attacked Trump's plan to remove U.S. troops from Germany, saying that idea was "dangerously misguided." She also blasted his plan to invite the Taliban to Camp David to chat over a couple of beers and play some golf. If she plays her cards right, she could come out of defeat as one of the top Republicans in Congress. Of course, if the Democrats end up with 300 seats in the House, being one of the top Republicans won't be worth that much. But she is only 53 and some day she may get her chance. (V)
In 2018, Florida voters decided to grant most former felons the right to vote, once they had served their time. The Republican-controlled state legislature thought this was a terrible idea, primarily because felons skew minority/poor and minority/poor people skew Democratic. So the legislature passed a law saying that before they could vote, the felons had to pay all fines and court costs, something almost none of them can do. Thus were they disenfranchised once again.
There was a court case, as expected, and in March a federal judge ruled that making people pay up before they could vote was a poll tax by a different name and clearly unconstitutional. That ruling was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Now the appeals court has decided to take the case en banc, which is quite rare. In addition, it has put the district court's decision on hold until it decides. Most likely it will decide before the election, but if it reverses the decision, the felons will be disenfranchised again. The state is likely to argue that morality and democracy are irrelevant here. What matters is whether the state legislature has the power to determine who is eligible to vote. The case could possibly end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, the current iteration of which is not known for its enthusiasm about people's voting rights. (V)
The news out of the Eleventh Circuit (see above) wasn't the only item for the legal blotter on Wednesday. Last Friday, a New York judge refused to block the publication of Mary Trump's upcoming book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. On Tuesday, a different New York judge granted a temporary injunction against the book's publication, so that he might have time to consider all the issues involved. Yesterday, a third New York judge, from a higher level of the state's court system, lifted that order, and told publisher Simon & Schuster that they can move forward with their publication plans.
At the moment, the injunction on Mary Trump is still in effect, only the one on her publisher has been lifted. We are not clear what the practical implications of that are. Conceivably Simon & Schuster may freely publish the book but Trump may be able to successfully sue Mary to get her royalties for violating her NDA, but that is far from certain. What we are clear about, however, is that Simon & Schuster will now be able to gear up its publication machine, something they will do with all haste, and probably on a slightly quicker timeline than is normal. That means that within a week or so, pallets of books will be on their way to Amazon, Costco, WalMart, Barnes & Noble, and the like. In addition, review copies will be en route to reviewers at major (and minor) media outlets. A few Canadian bookstores will probably put their copies out early again. And, of course, a PDF or two will end up on the Internet for skilled and not-so-skilled pirates to download. In other words, if the Trump family is going to appeal to yet another judge to put the cat back in the bag, they've got just a short time left to get the result they want. (Z)
In 2010, a somewhat disorganized group of far-right Republicans simultaneously challenged Barack Obama and the Republican establishment, with roughly equal disdain. The insurgents opposed compromise as a matter of principle and wanted to force the country to move in the direction they preferred. These tea party candidates were swept into Congress in a number of states, although there were a number of near misses as well.
It is beginning to look like the Democrats are working on the mirror image of this, with a somewhat disorganized group of strongly progressive candidates united in their hatred for Donald Trump but also united in their opposition to the Democratic Party the way it is currently constituted. The challenge of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to Hillary Clinton in 2016 foreshadowed this, and the movement has grown only stronger since then.
In 2018, now-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) won an upset victory over the #4 House Democrat, Joe Crowley. Also in 2018, now-Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) beat long-time House member Michael Capuano. This year, Marie Newman ended a 30+ year dynasty in Illinois by defeating Rep. Dan Lipinski. Jamaal Bowman probably beat the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, although that is not official yet. Mondaine Jones won the primary for the seat that uber-establishment Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) is retiring from. Charles Booker of Kentucky came within a hair of knocking off establishment favorite Amy McGrath in the Kentucky senatorial primary and Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams also narrowly lost in Florida and Georgia, respectively, in 2018. And these are just a few of the higher-profile races.
Ultimately, the tea party didn't take over the GOP by winning half the seats (or anything close to that), but it won the ideological battle and now the Republican Party is heavily influenced by the ideas the tea party brought in. The big question is whether the (unnamed) collection of progressive Democrats who have suddenly materialized, including those mentioned above, and also Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN), will take over the Democratic Party and force it sharply to the left. If they succeed, it could have big consequences in 2022. This year, moderates and suburban voters all over the country may be united in their hatred of Donald Trump and may vote for the Democrats, but in 2022, Trump won't be on the ballot. If these "new Democrats" don't like the direction the Democratic Party is headed, they could revert to being Republicans again and undo many of the Democratic gains of 2018 and 2020. (V)
Last year, Donald Trump and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross cooked up a plan to add a question to the census about everyone's citizenship status. The idea was to scare undocumented immigrants into not returning the census form at all and thus not be counted. This would reduce the nose count in states with many undocumented immigrants, most of which are blue states (with Texas as the only major exception). The Supreme Court shot the plan down.
But Trump is not done with trying to monkey with the census, since ultimately it determines the allocation of House seats, electoral votes, and political power. He has now foisted two political appointees with no experience on the Census Bureau and installed them in leadership roles. These are Nathaniel Cogley, a radio commentator who will be deputy director for policy, and Adam Korzeniewski, a former Republican political operative who worked for a YouTube star known as Joey Salads when Salads ran for a House seat and lost.
The Bureau director, Steven Dillingham, praised the appointments but he surely didn't mean it. The Bureau is a fairly technocratic organization that definitely does not need or want political "guidance" on how to count noses. Neither Dillingham, nor his deputy Ron Jarmin, knew anything about the new appointments in advance. The new leaders were just parachuted in without warning. A person close to the Bureau said about accepting the new leaders: "They basically swallowed hard. They have no choice, and they must do it." Also somewhat unusual is that the new hires have rather vague job descriptions, which gives them leeway to muck around in any area they want to.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, attacked the hires as "starkly partisan." While the questionnaire is already set in stone, there are other ongoing issues that could affect the count. Key among these is how aggressively to follow up with people who haven't submitted their questionnaire yet. For example, if people who live in largely poor, black areas haven't submitted their form yet, should the Bureau spend money to try to track them down? What about if they live in rich white areas? How much money to allocate to chase down people, and in which ZIP codes, is an internal Census Bureau matter where the new hires might just have very clear opinions. Traditionally, the Bureau's policy has been "all noses count," not "all noses are equal but some noses are more equal."
Kenneth Prewitt, a former Bureau director, said of the new hires: "They're very well equipped to advance political interests, especially of the Republican Party. That's their background and career goals." He also said that dropping new management into the Bureau in the middle of a census is unprecedented. (V)
Colorado, once a swing state, is now a dark blue state. That's bad news for Colorado's television stations but good news for Colorado's television viewers as there won't be any ads from the presidential candidates there this fall. Fortunately for the stations and unfortunately for the viewers, that means even more ad slots will be available for John Hickenlooper and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) to buy.
The Montana poll is one we had been waiting for. Donald Trump has a solid lead there even though Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) is ahead in the Senate race. It is very unusual for a people to split tickets like this, but the underlying dynamics are: Montana goes red in presidential elections but many individual Democrats are personally popular. (V)
|Colorado||56%||39%||Jun 29||Jun 30||PPP|
|Michigan||50%||44%||Jun 26||Jun 27||PPP|
|Montana||38%||52%||Jun 17||Jun 26||U. of Montana|
Having won his primary, John Hickenlooper is in good shape to take on Cory Gardner, who is by far the most endangered Republican senator. The GOP will probably do everything it can to save him, until it becomes clear that he is a lost cause. At that point he gets dropped like a hot potato and the money goes to Montana and North Carolina. (V)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Colorado||John Hickenlooper||51%||Cory Gardner*||40%||Jun 29||Jun 30||PPP|
|Michigan||Gary Peters*||47%||John James||39%||Jun 26||Jun 27||PPP|
|Montana||Steve Bullock||47%||Steve Daines*||43%||Jun 17||Jun 26||U. of Montana|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul01 ...and So Does McGrath
Jul01 COVID-19 Looks to Be Headed from Bad to Worse in the United States
Jul01 Democrats Stake Out Their Positions
Jul01 Trump Campaign Recalibrates
Jul01 Anti-Trump Book Blocked, at Least Temporarily
Jul01 Some Gettysburg Distress for Trump
Jul01 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul01 Today's Senate Polls
Jun30 Russian Chicanery Gives Trump Another Self-Made Disaster
Jun30 Donald Trump, Threat to National Security
Jun30 SCOTUS Gives Pro-Choice Forces an Apparent Victory
Jun30 Social Media Ain't Switzerland
Jun30 House Passes Obamacare Update
Jun30 Jacksonville (Un)Masked?
Jun30 Three More States' Voters Head to the Polls Today
Jun30 Today's Presidential Polls
Jun29 COVID-19 Hits Grim Milestones
Jun29 Trump's Next Problem: Superspreading Superchurches
Jun29 Fox News Kept Millions in the Dark about COVID-19
Jun29 Republican State Legislatures Are Trying to Reduce Absentee Voting during a Pandemic
Jun29 GRU Paid Taliban Bounties for Killing American Soldiers
Jun29 Trump Retweets "White Power" Video
Jun29 Can Trump Beat the Florida Convention Jinx?
Jun29 Another Take on 2024
Jun29 The 2020 Census Will Change the Distribution of Electoral Votes for 2024
Jun29 Don't Forget What Is Going on Downballot
Jun28 Sunday Mailbag
Jun27 Saturday Q&A
Jun26 Time for a COVID-180?
Jun26 Legal Matters, Part I: Obamacare
Jun26 Legal Matters, Part II: A Win for Trump
Jun26 Legal Matters, Part III: A Loss for Trump
Jun26 A Tale of Two Conventions, Part I: the Republicans
Jun26 A Tale of Two Conventions, Part II: the Democrats
Jun26 Democrats Are Liking Biden's Bunker Strategy
Jun26 Kooky Candidate Watch: Winnie Heartstrong
Jun26 COVID-19 Diaries, Friday Edition
Jun26 Today's Presidential Polls
Jun26 Today's Senate Polls
Jun25 Biden Leads Nationally by 14 Points
Jun25 Poll: Trump's Approval for His Handling of the Coronavirus Is A Record Low
Jun25 Flynn Is In Like Flynn
Jun25 Zelinsky Testifies that the Justice Dept. Is Politicized
Jun25 Obama Raises Over $11 Million for Biden
Jun25 Trump's Hold on Republican Senators is Ebbing
Jun25 Second Presidential Debate Is Moved to Florida
Jun25 Is Trump Too Racist Even for Republicans?
Jun25 Jacksonville Voters Don't Want the Republican National Convention
Jun25 What If Trump Loses But Refuses to Concede?