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Political Wire logo House Judiciary May Subpoena Barr
Trump May Now Be Forced to Pardon Flynn
Trump Approval Sinks Over the Last Month
FBI Serves Warrant on Republican Senator
Ex-FBI Official Undercuts Effort to Drop Flynn Case
Wisconsin Court Strikes Down Stay-at-Home Order

Flynn Not in the Clear Yet

Last week, the Dept. of Justice moved to drop all of the charges against retired general and former NSA Michael Flynn. This despite the fact that he copped two guilty pleas in exchange for a plea bargain, and then did not live up to his end of the deal. Under normal circumstances, he'd be hammered for the guilty pleas, and then hammered again for not fulfilling the plea bargain.

But we're not in normal circumstances these days, as the Dept. of Justice is being run by AG Bill Barr. Far from being the impartial defender of the law that the AG is supposed to be, Barr has shown himself, again and again, across multiple generations, to be a fierce partisan who is happy to tote the water for whomever the Republican-president-du-jour might be. The...irregular nature of the effort to drop the Flynn prosecution is indicated by the fact that over two thousand former Dept. of Justice employees signed a letter condemning the move. That's nearly twice the number that called on the AG to resign after he interfered in the sentencing of another Trump henchman, namely Roger Stone.

Anyhow, Judge Emmet Sullivan is not too happy about all of this, and he's the one who gets to make the final decision. On Tuesday, he declined approval for the Dept. of Justice's request, and said he wants amicus curiae briefs from outside parties who might have an interest in the case. Sullivan may not have much room to maneuver here, especially since the Supreme Court just struck down a verdict under similar circumstances. Still, at very least, the Flynn victory party will have to wait for another day.

In addition, Flynn wasn't charged with the underlying crime about which he lied, namely, being a foreign agent without registering as such. Unless the President pardons him, a future administration could charge him with the underlying crime. (Z)

Trump Has to Be Pleased with What He Heard from SCOTUS on Tuesday

Cats must be jealous of Donald Trump, since they only get nine lives. The President, on the other hand, gets out of seemingly inescapable jams so often that they should really consider casting him as the next James Bond. It's perfect; he already thinks he has a licence to kill. And based on Tuesday's hearings on the President's tax returns, it certainly looks like he's about to pull off another miracle.

Given that the President is 0 for 7 in court cases on this matter so far, it seems clear that the specific law in question here, which gives Congress the right to ask for presidential tax returns anytime they want, is not on Trump's side. On Tuesday, even the nine justices seemed to concede that point, inasmuch as they barely even discussed that law. Instead, as is SCOTUS' mandate, they dug into deeper questions of congressional authority. Even the liberal justices asked questions wondering where, exactly, the limits on Congress' right to subpoena presidential records are. "What I hold today will also apply to a future Senator McCarthy asking a future Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman exactly the same questions," Stephen Breyer said. "That bothers me. So, what do I do?"

It's possible that the Court finds a way to carve out a meaningful set of rules for when Congress can, and can not, demand information from the executive branch, and that "the President has to surrender his tax returns" is part of the verdict. Or, it's possible that the Court finds a way to carve out a meaningful set of rules, and "the President does not have to surrender his tax returns" is part of the verdict. It's possible that the justices who are in the bag for Trump (Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, probably Brett Kavanaugh) join with those who have significant constitutional concerns (Breyer? John Roberts?) to strike down this particular law, and leave it at that. Or, probably most likely, the Court could kick the case back down to the lower courts for them to figure out.

Note that the Court is also wrestling with the same issues and options at the state level in this case, substituting "New York prosecutors" for "Congress." It's certainly possible that SCOTUS could reach one conclusion as regards congressional powers, and a different one as regards state governments' powers, but that seems unlikely. And you will notice that most of the possible outcomes above either give Trump a win, or drag the case out, which is also a win for him. Anyhow, the smart money now says that his tax returns remain secret on Nov. 3, 2020.

Even if they lose at the Supreme Court level, the House Democrats have one more option if they are careful. New York State has passed a law authorizing the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to see the tax return of any New York resident. If Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) were to announce that he was going to utilize that law, Trump would instantly sue him and probably win in the Supreme Court in 2023 or so. However, if Neal were to simply write a request to the New York State Dept. of Taxation and Finance and have a staffer quietly hand deliver it, he might be able to get Trump's tax return under the radar. After all, the law is in effect until some court overturns it. (Z)

AOC to Co-Chair Biden Climate Change Task Force

Joe Biden's campaign now has a task force that will ostensibly figure out what to do about this whole climate change situation. And that task force has a brand-new co-chair in the form of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who accepted the job on Tuesday. She will reportedly liaison with the "Climate Justice community," and will be "fully accountable to them and the larger advocacy community during this process."

Around here, we are generally skeptical of blue-ribbon panels, and select committees, and task forces, and other such entities. We are particularly skeptical in this case. What on Earth (no pun intended) is this task force going to tell Biden that he doesn't already know? And if he's really and truly bereft of ideas about what to do when it comes to climate change, is a group of politicians that meets a couple times a month really the best source of insight? Seems more like a job for, you know, climate-change scientists. And, of course, the real limitation is not a lack of information or a lack of ideas, it's the Senate. Even in the best-case scenario, any significant legislation is going to have to get the votes of some or all of the most conservative Democrats there. So, the question is not what AOC and her allies think needs to be done. The question is what folks like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who just so happens to represent a major coal-producing state, will tolerate. And that's before we consider the fact that the federal government is spending trillions these days like they're billions. There may not be much appetite in 2021 or 2022, if Biden gets elected, for a massive green energy outlay (even if there should be).

Still, even Manchin is not hopeless. If a President Biden were to decide that a major infrastructure project would create a lot of jobs, he could probably get Manchin's vote for a huge factory producing solar panels or wind turbines if it were located in, say, Charleston, WV.

In any event, as a PR maneuver, this task force makes all the sense in the world. Biden gets to signal to the "Climate Justice community" that he values their opinions, and that he cares about their concerns. And AOC gets to signal that she's a pragmatist who can build bridges to all wings of the party in a manner that, say, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could not. We hate to be so cynical, but we just can't see how this arrangement has any substantive meaning beyond the various wings of the Democratic Party playing patty cake with each other. (Z)

Republican Voters to Trump: Put Some Clothes On

Well, not a full set of clothes; Donald Trump already wears suits cut so liberally he could smuggle an elephant in his trousers and nobody would know. It's one specific item of clothing, namely a mask. A new poll from Politico/Morning Consult reveals that 70% of Americans think that the President, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, should wear a mask in public (another 17% had no opinion, while only 12% said mask-free was ok by them). That includes 58% of Republican voters, a pretty sizable majority.

This suggests that some aspects of the administration's PR strategy aren't working as intended; one wonders if there are other aspects whose inefficacy is lurking just below the surface. Meanwhile, if Trump magically starts wearing a mask in the next week or two, it will give some insight as to exactly how much he's taking his own counsel on these matters. (Z)

The World of Sports Is about to Become the Next Major Front in COVID-19 Politics

One of us, (Z), when not reading about politics, reads a fair number of sports-related sites. This is how he knows about James Harden's shaky defense, the New York Yankees' work on behalf of the Lord of Darkness, and why the Packers beat the Steelers so handily in Super Bowl XLV (because Packers fans are much smarter and better looking, as it turns out). Anyhow, anytime there is a story where the worlds of sports and politics intersect—with Colin Kaepernick and his kneeling during the national anthem being the most recent high-profile example—there is invariably a large and vocal subset of commenters on the sports sites who say "stick to sports!" and "I don't come to sports sites to read about politics!" These remarks appear to come from conservative-leaning commenters most of the time. Apparently these folks have never heard of, say, Jesse Owens, or Jackie Robinson, or Muhammad Ali, or Curt Flood, not to mention the plethora of sports-figures-turned-politicians, from Bill Bradley and Jim Bunning to current Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

Anyhow, as we've alluded to a couple of times already this year, sports and politics are about to collide again in a big way. Donald Trump has told the commissioners of the various sports leagues, in no uncertain terms, that he wants them back on the field (and it's no coincidence that the two entities that have already resumed "normal" operation, UFC and WWE, are both run by outspoken Trump supporters, namely Dana White and Vince McMahon). The President recognizes that sporting events not only drive economic activity, they also serve as a visible symbol of "normalcy" (while their absence sends the opposite message). Trump has a fair number of allies in this, including most sports owners and executives (who like making money), many athletes (who are currently going without paychecks), the sports media (which is tired of reporting on tiddlywinks competitions), many fans (who want stuff to watch on TV), and the usual crew of political acolytes who do whatever the President tells them to do.

There has already been some news on this front this week. To start, there is already much friction between red states and blue states about the reopening of sports venues, even if no fans are to be in attendance. To take one blue-state example, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has suggested that he doesn't foresee any games being played in his state this year. On the other end of the spectrum, Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) announced that his state's venues will be open for business (sans fans) as of Saturday.

Perhaps even more significant, the owners of major league baseball unveiled and approved a proposal this week to resume play in June and July. Many of the details will be of interest only to baseball fans, who can click on the link and read if they aren't already familiar with the story. However, there are two issues that are of interest for our purposes. First, the owners are only semi-clear on what will be done to protect the health of players and support personnel, and what will be done if there is an outbreak of disease. Second, after already having agreed to financial terms for resumption of the season over a month ago, the owners are now pressuring the players to accept a new set of financial terms. You can guess who would benefit if the new set of terms is adopted.

This is where the story becomes political, because although it's baseball, it's also a classic management vs. labor struggle. Management, which will remain wealthy even if the season is a complete wash, is pressuring labor to take all of the risks necessary to making money this year. And in exchange for taking those risks, which are not inconsequential, the reward is...that management is abrogating the terms of agreements it already made, and is litigating the whole thing in the court of public opinion. The owners know—and it's already happening—that sizable numbers of working-class people, along with many additional otherwise liberal people, are somehow willing to take sides with billionaire owners against not-billionaire players. To take an example, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), who is both a Democrat and a billionaire, waded into the debate on Tuesday, and slammed the players for "holding out for these very, very high salaries and payments during a time when I think everybody is sacrificing." Undoubtedly, Donald Trump will soon weigh in on the side of ownership, if he hasn't already by the time you read this.

Of course, as with all of these "reopen quickly" schemes, Trump, Ducey, Pritzker, and other politicians are playing with fire. What if there is an outbreak of disease, and one or more teams is unable to take the field (or the court)? What if one or more people contract COVID-19 and die? What if MLB, or the NBA, or some other league tries to resume activities, and then reality forces them to shut down again after a few weeks? Then everyone would have suffered the consequences of reopening without the benefits.

Further, in this case, there is a built-in double whammy. All of the plans to reopen sports leagues are predicated upon frequent testing of athletes and support personnel. As reporter Rick Westhead points out, this will use up testing materials that are already in short supply, while at the same time overtaxing labs. What happens if granny can't get a proper COVID-19 diagnosis, or mom can't get an answer from the lab if her tumor was benign, because the Arizona Diamondbacks and the L.A. Dodgers have a three-game series to play? That would be a bad look, and it's all-but-guaranteed to happen.

Anyhow, the pressure on sports leagues to resume play is so great that it's hard to see how it doesn't move forward. So, the only questions left have to do with the consequences, both human and political. (Z)

Betting Markets Like Trump

Speaking of sports, you may have heard that some people like to bet on them. Some people also like to bet on politics. And, as Axios' Dion Rabouin points out, the betting markets are currently predicting that the next president of the United States will be...Donald John Trump. It depends on which book you deal with, but the incumbent is currently getting 10/11 in most places, which implies a 52% chance of winning. Joe Biden is getting 6/5, which implies a 45% chance of winning (they don't add up to 100% because of the books' cut, also known as the vigorish).

Is it possible that Trump is actually the favorite, and that the polls (and thus our map, above) have it all wrong? After all, political betting has been around a long time and has, historically, been a pretty accurate predictor of actual results. This is because there are a lot of data coming in, and—inasmuch as people are putting real money on the line—their "opinion" is likely to be unvarnished truth.

So, it could be that we're learning something important from the bettors. However, we doubt it. This cycle has already given us a bunch of wonky betting odds, in particular overrating Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg. You could also argue that, at 100-to-1 (or anything other than ∞-to-1), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was overrated too, inasmuch as she is not eligible to be elected. And there are certainly some things that are skewing the current odds. First, it's not like things got "reset" when Joe Biden became the presumptive nominee, which means that Donald Trump's current odds are at least partly an echo of the campaign phase when he was the only Republican, while Democratic money was being split across multiple candidates. Further, and in a related point, the Democratic money is still being split, as Hillary Clinton is still getting 25-to-1 (4%) at most places, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is getting 35-to-1 (3%).

In addition, there are likely other dynamics at play here. Among the possibilities:

  • Manipulation: Because political betting markets involve relatively small amounts of money (relative to, say, football betting markets), it's possible for one or two bettors to distort the odds. In 2012, for example, the betting markets said Mitt Romney was a shoo-in to win the White House. It turns out that one extremely pro-Romney voter dropped between $4 million and $7 million on Romney bets, as a combination gamble and PR investment. We doubt that is what is happening here, but we would be remiss if we did not mention the possibility.

  • Selection Bias: Call this the "1936 Literary Digest" thesis. In that notorious example, the Digest used telephones to conduct its annual straw poll, working from lists of the magazine's subscribers, of telephone owners, and of automobile owners. Overlooking that all three categories skewed heavily Republican in 1936, they predicted a big win for Alf Landon (R), who was then swamped by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the actual election. In 2020, it's likely that the folks who have money to burn on political bets are doing ok, and have not lost their jobs or their rainy day funds to COVID-19, and so likely skew Republican. Or, at very least, they skew not-furiously-angry-with-Trump. If every person in America was given a dollar and allowed to bet it on the race, we doubt the President's odds would remain where they are.

  • Emotion: As any serious bettor knows, the money is to be made when folks are betting with their hearts rather than their heads. So, bet against the Mavericks on the day of Dirk Nowitzki's final game. Bet against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the day that Tom Brady debuts as their quarterback. Bet on the Astros in every game, since everyone outside of Houston hates them now. Our guess is that Trump is more likely to attract "fan" bets than Joe Biden is.

  • Betting as Entertainment: Speaking of serious bettors, they are not in the habit of laying bets that don't pay off for 6-12 months, and letting the books have a nice, interest-free loan. Consequently, most of the bettors right now are surely dilettante bettors, who are just interested in having something to watch and root for. This doesn't necessarily argue for a pro-Trump bias, but it does argue that the current numbers are not necessarily reflective of cold, hard, rational decision-making.

It's still fun to check in on the odds, and we will continue to do so from time to time. However, to the extent that they can be taken at all seriously as a predictive tool, that time will not arrive for several months, at the earliest. (Z)

This Year, the Haters Hate Trump More

There are a number of constituent groups that get a lot of attention on sites like this one: Latinos, union workers, Second Amendment fans, Midwesterners, suburban women, etc. These days, with such intense polarization, there may now be an important group that needs to join the list: haters. That is to say, people who intend to vote, and don't want to blow their vote on a third-party candidate, but can't stand either of the major-party candidates. This group, which makes up as much as 25% of the electorate, includes a lot of disaffected Republicans, Bernie Sanders supporters, and independents.

In an interesting piece for Politico, David Siders points out that in 2016, with two historically unpopular candidates, Trump won the "hater" vote by 17 points. This year, with Trump still historically unpopular, but the response to Joe Biden being mostly tepid, the President is trailing among the "haters" by a whopping 40 points. We will have to double-check our math on this, but that looks like a 57-point swing to us.

Undoubtedly, this is not merely because Joe Biden is more popular than Clinton. Some of it has to be that he also has a Y chromosome, and some of it also has to be that Trump has gone from "unpopular, but something of a cypher, politically" to "unpopular, but with a clear record." In any event, many politicians have had long and successful careers based on being the least unpalatable option (e.g., Mitch McConnell). It looks like that's Biden's niche this year. (Z)

Now We're Talking Apples to Apples

During this campaign season, we've cautioned against reading too much into presidential fundraising totals, as one sitting president is invariably going to raise less than a gaggle of aspiring presidents, and at the same time is going to raise more than any individual goose in that gaggle. In other words, Trump vs. Biden was not a fair comparison, nor was Trump vs. Sanders or Trump vs. Warren. At the same time, Trump vs. the field was not a fair comparison, either.

Now, however, it's a one-man show on both sides of the aisle. And in the first full month of fundraising since that became the case, the cash chase is...almost even. In the last month, the Trump + RNC total was $61.7 million, while the Biden + DNC total was $60.5 million. Of course, the President still has a big advantage in terms of cash-on-hand; his $255 million in the bank is undoubtedly much higher than the Biden campaign's as-yet-unannounced total.

This is right in line with the last election with an incumbent running, namely 2012. In that year, Barack Obama built up a war chest of about $200 million while Mitt Romney was still fighting for the Republican nomination. Then, once Romney was his party's candidate, he and Obama basically paced one another. So, even though Biden 2020's fundraising got off to an inauspicious start, it doesn't look like he'll be hurting for cash, or that he'll be in a significantly worse financial position than any other nominee who is challenging an incumbent president. (Z)

Could the South Carolina Senate Race Become Competitive?

There have been a few interesting things happening in South Carolina recently. First, Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison has been raking in the money; his Q1 total of $7.3 million significantly outpaced the $5.5 million of incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), especially in a state where a couple million goes a long ways. Harrison has enlisted some big-time bundlers, so he should continue to be well-heeled.

Meanwhile, a long-time, high-profile Graham supporter has gone apostate. That would be Richard N. Wilkerson, a corporate tycoon who has steered millions toward the Senator. This week, Wilkerson wrote an op-ed endorsing Harrison and explaining that he "no longer recognize[s]" Graham. In the key passage of the op-ed (or, at least, the passage that's getting all the attention), Wilkerson writes:

I supported Lindsey Graham until 2017. I saw him as a moderate Republican who could work across the aisle to get positive change made. But I started having real misgivings about him when he failed to mount any significant defense when Donald Trump attacked his best friend, the late Sen. John McCain.

I asked myself, "What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend? If he won't defend John McCain, why would I expect him to defend any of us in South Carolina?"

My conclusion was that he was more interested in currying favor than in honoring the memory of a true American hero whom he had described as his best friend.

This is a pretty spot-on assessment. It would be difficult to think of a current U.S. senator who is more chameleon-like than Graham. More specifically, it would be hard to come up with a senator whose transition from "I hate Trump!" to "Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread!" has been more visible, or more ham-fisted. Maybe Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), but that's about it. Certainly, Graham is the Trump-rear-end-kissing champion, non-Cuban division. And if Wilkerson's op-ed puts into words what many South Carolinians were already feeling queasy about, it could do some damage to the Senator.

So, could Harrison actually make a race of this? As a well-funded, moderate black candidate up against an incumbent with only 48% approval, he just might. The most recent poll of the race in our database had Graham up 17 points (54%/37%), but that one's nearly three months old. There has been one more recent poll that had Graham up just 4 points (47%/43%), but that was a partisan poll so we don't include it. When the next non-partisan poll comes out, don't be too surprised if it's about halfway between those two extremes, and has Graham up just 7-8 points. And from there, it's just a hop, skip, and jump to "in play." (Z)

Republican Leads in California Special Election

As of midnight PT, defense contractor and former fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R) is leading State Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D) in the special election to succeed former representative Katie Hill (D), who resigned due to a sex/nude pictures scandal. With 81% of precincts reporting in CA-25, which has a PVI of even, Garcia had 80,337 votes (56%) to Smith's 62,998 (44%). Nobody is calling the race yet, and neither candidate gave a speech on Tuesday night, so it's possible Smith could rally based on the strength of those outstanding ballots, as well as the remaining absentee ballots to be counted. Not likely, though.

If the result holds, it will mean a double victory for the Republicans, as State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R) easily dispatched school board official Tricia Zunker (D) in the special election occasioned by former representative Sean Duffy's (R) resignation. There, the margin was 57.2% to 42.8%. As the district, WI-07, is R+8, that result was not unexpected.

Jennifer Medina, who liveblogged the elections for The New York Times, observed as part of her analysis that "If Garcia indeed wins, expect Democrats to downplay the loss by saying that the special election is too idiosyncratic to draw lessons for the fall." This makes it sound as if pointing out the idiosyncrasies of the California election is merely partisan spin. But, in fact, it is idiosyncratic. Special elections are always a different kettle of fish, even under normal circumstances. Then, throw in COVID-19. Who can possibly know how that affected things?

That means that it would be silly to draw conclusions about what will happen in November based on these two elections. Well, ok, you can conclude that when Tiffany and Zunker meet up again (as they will), Tiffany will probably win again. But as to Garcia and Smith, when it's a general election and we don't know what the COVID-19 status will be and California is mailing postage-paid ballots to everyone? Who knows? Normally, being the incumbent is worth a couple of points right there, but we're not even sure that holds true here, since Garcia will have less than 6 months of incumbency. Further, during that time, he'll have responsibilities in Washington, while Smith will be able to stay in California and focus on her campaign. So, this may actually be the rare circumstance where there's an incumbency penalty.

In short, the Republican Party got a PR victory on Tuesday, which will help them with their fundraising, along with a net gain of 1 seat in the House Republican caucus. But beyond that, there's no larger significance that we can stand behind. (Z)

The COVID-19 Diaries

Note: For the last month or so, we've had weekly updates on COVID-19 from Dr. Paul Dorsey in New Jersey, giving a front-line view of what's happening. He has kindly agreed to increase that to twice a week, with Wednesday postings being more general, and Sunday postings more specific. At least, that is the plan on paper; we'll see how it works in practice. Anyhow, below is his first Wednesday report.

We seem to get briefings and articles that are entirely steeped in trying to spin a narrative in one direction or another. Someone asked me: "OK, if you could do the briefing, what would you say?" Well, something like this:
As we start to reopen the country, we need to recognize that COVID-19 remains a dangerous and deadly disease. COVID-19 has been and remains devastating to many parts of the country. In New York City and neighboring New Jersey, the virus took hold and became, in all senses of the term, a pandemic. Starting in the middle of April we have seen dramatic drops in hospitalizations and then deaths in those two states and we applaud the response of both the medical professionals as well as the state and local officials who worked so hard to contain the outbreak.

We are fortunate that much of the country has had relatively few cases. It is easy, in those areas, to dismiss COVID as not very dangerous. That would be a mistake. COVID is dramatically more infectious than the common flu and is also more deadly. Every part of this great country could be devastated by this disease if we do not remain diligent.

I am pleased that social distancing has had a positive effect throughout the country. The rapid spread of the disease has slowed in every state. If we want to prevent everyone in the country from being exposed to this virus, we will need to continue with social distancing for the foreseeable future.

For the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, I suggest that you self-isolate completely, particularly in areas where there are more reported COVID cases. This is a matter of life and death. Where COVID is usually not serious for the young and healthy, for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, it is frequently deadly. If you have friends or relatives who are in this vulnerable population, please help them stay isolated by shopping for them, making sure they have what they need and just as importantly, talk to them frequently using the phone or internet so they do not feel isolated.

We do not have enough masks and other protective medical equipment to meet our current demand. We do not even have enough masks for the doctors and nurses who are on the front lines fighting this disease. So, while we encourage you to use masks while out in public, please do not use masks of the type used by medical workers. The highly effective N95 masks particularly should only be used by medical personal. If you have any of these unused masks in your possession, please take them to your local hospital where they can help to save many lives. At the same time, we are doing our part. We are doing our best to increase production of these vital supplies, but this takes time. We will need your cooperation for the next month or two while we catch up with the demand.

We also need to do more testing. We are still striving to know exactly how far this disease has spread. We are doing our best to increase the production of tests, but these tests take time to design, manufacture and distribute. We are working diligently to get more tests and we are making great progress. We are still a month or two from having enough tests for our needs.

We will now begin to reopen the country. Our economy and way of life have been devastated by this horrible disease. I will defer to the states on how exactly they want to manage opening, but I urge caution. Social isolation is not a temporary measure that will go away in a few weeks or months. Until we have a vaccine or a very effective treatment, this disease is going to remain a challenge for us all. (PD)

Also, several letter writers this week specifically referenced Dr. Dorsey's reports. To E.D. in New Jersey, who commented on the progress of COVID-19 in his home state, suspecting it spread from New York City to Bergen County, and then went from there, Dr. Dorsey responds:

You are exactly right. I was also observing what seems to be a peaking and dropping off in the ravaged areas. But there needs to be a reason for that curve. Either it is herd immunity (a really good reason that gives us hope) or it just killed off all the people in the at-risk group (a not so happy reason).

To R.M. in Brooklyn, New York, who looked at the numbers and worries that the death toll could reach the millions, Dr. Dorsey responds:

This is not an unreasonable analysis. This was the same number I came up with early on. It is an upper bound that can be brought down with a vaccine, herd immunity (as yet unproven), or micro-exposure rather than full exposure. It is a higher number than anyone with a model is claiming, but it is within the margin of error.

To L.W. in Singapore, who felt that Singapore was being unfairly slurred, Dr. Dorsey responds:

Yes, the Singapore data don't support any kind of "second wave" conclusion. Singapore was on a consistently exponential growth curve through mid to late April when it was brought under control.

Today's Presidential Polls

There have been 10 polls of Wisconsin this year. Though Joe Biden's lead has never been commanding (his best is +5), he's come out on top eight times, compared to just one lead for Donald Trump, and one tie. (Z)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Wisconsin 46% 43% May 03 May 07 Marquette Law School

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May12 If the Election Were Held Today, Democrats Would Capture the Senate
May12 Apparently, the Crisis Is Over
May12 Farmers Are Really Getting Plowed
May12 Pelosi and Co. Are Getting Ready to Shoot for the Moon
May12 Biden Campaign Working on Republican Outreach
May12 Harris Is Reportedly in the Lead for VP Slot
May12 Sanders Is Done Running for President
May12 An Ace in the Hole for House Democrats?
May12 Missouri Republicans Decide that Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
May12 Today's Presidential Polls
May11 Fauci Is Self-Quarantined...
May11 ...And Mike Pence Isn't
May11 The Worst Is Yet to Come
May11 Job Losses Have Been the Worst in the South
May11 Supreme Court to Hear a Case Tomorrow about Whether the President is Like a King
May11 California Will Mail Every Registered Voter a General-Election Ballot
May11 Two Democrats Can Cancel the Republican National Convention
May11 Republicans Might Win a Special Election in California Tomorrow
May11 Trump's Move to Florida May Not Be So Easy
May10 Sunday Mailbag
May09 Saturday Q&A
May08 In Like Flynn
May08 Trump Is Just Making It Up As He Goes
May08 Lincoln Project Getting Plenty of Oxygen
May08 Trump Campaign Prepares to Launch "Death Star"
May08 Trump Campaign Also Investing in Suits over Voting Laws
May08 A Somewhat Good Poll for Trump
May08 Burr's Brother-in-Law Also Dumped Stock
May08 Today's Presidential Polls
May07 Amash May Hurt Biden More than Trump
May07 Trump Is Planning to Call the Number of COVID-19 Deaths Fake News
May07 Trump Doesn't See Eye to Eye with His Campaign
May07 Trump Doesn't See Eye to Eye with His Attorney General
May07 Trump Doesn't See Eye to Eye with Senate Republicans
May07 Private Payrolls Dropped 20 Million People in April
May07 Temporary Layoffs Are Becoming Permanent
May07 Walker Sails Through Confirmation Hearing
May07 Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments about Trump's Tax Returns Next Week
May07 The Streisand Effect, Part II
May07 Today's Presidential Polls
May06 White House Coronavirus Task Force to Shut Down
May06 Republicans Go to Court to Fight COVID-19 Restrictions
May06 Lucy Flores Says She Believes Tara Reade
May06 More Health Issues for Ginsburg
May06 New York Primary Is On, After All
May06 Bernie Just Mild About Liz
May06 For Republicans, Things Are Getting Rocky in the Rockies...
May06 ...and Things Are Getting Ugly in Maine
May06 Today's Presidential Polls
May05 Death Toll Will Shoot up as States Reopen