Another week with lots of mail. Hopefully we chose well.
2020 Election, National
E.K. in Brignoles, France, writes: I just finished reading last Sunday's mailbag and I agree with many points having been raised (hats off to the polls workers across the country; Ann Selzer is officially the Queen of the Polls; some people had just enough of COVID and just wanted to move on, despite the harsh reality; the Democratic coalition has been transformed thanks to Joe Biden's personality, etc.), but I wanted to add something that nobody mentioned:
Kudos to the great John King of CNN for his relentless work and pedagogy. He's a smart, likable and very professional man, and despite the fact that I've slept for approximately 8 hours in the span of 4 days and a half, I felt like I was in a safety bubble thanks to his coverage of election night plus the next 4 days. A great journalist, who should be rewarded for his work. May he run the Magic Wall and more forever. Hail to the King!
R.C. in Lenexa, KS, writes: How would one go about stealing an election?
Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has a lengthy podcast where he lays out his "theory" that Democrats had: (1) a strong motive to cheat and to steal a victory in the election, that (2) that they certainly had the opportunity to hack the software, hack the voting machines, and/or submit fraudulent ballots, and (3) that they are 100% likely to do so, and 100% likely to get away with it.
Is there any reason to assume that, if an election is corrupted, it must be the Democrats? There is very little pushback on this. Are Republicans too "pure" to engage in any shady tactics? In certain circles, it seems to be a given in American elections that Republican would win every time if only the Democrats would stop cheating.
V & Z respond: We would suggest that, just as it would be a bad idea to come to us if you need a well-drawn cartoon, it's probably a bad idea to go to a cartoonist for political analysis. That said, we linked to the podcast should anyone wish to listen.
P.H. in Pewaukee, WI, writes: I just wanted to point out that the Democrats tried multiple times to pass funding to increase election security. It seems hypocritical for the GOP and Donald Trump to claim the election was "stolen" or somehow not secure when they had the chance to combat just that. I realize the issue in 2016 and 2018 was Russian interference, but it seems now the GOP has fallen on their own sword, if you will. That said, clearly there was no fraud in this election; it just seems so outrageous (albeit not surprising) for Trump to now all of a sudden be worried about election security.
W.R. in Tampa, Florida, writes: By their past standards, the Libertarian Party had a decent election this cycle. For the first time in 20 years, a Libertarian candidate won election to a seat in a state legislature. That would be Burt Marshall, who won Wyoming State House District 39 by a vote of 1,696 to 1,420. His fellow Libertarian, Bethany Baldes, lost her run for Wyoming State House District 55 by only 32 votes (2,058 to 2,026). In Arkansas, the Libertarian candidate running against Tom Cotton for the U.S. Senate took 33% of the vote (there was no Democratic candidate). Donald Rainwater, the LP candidate for Governor of Indiana, took 13% of the vote in that three-way race. Yes, most of these races were distant misses, and picking up one state legislative seat isn't saying much, but you have to start somewhere. Maybe the Libertarians will build on their success in Wyoming and become a legitimate force in western states with small populations. Lord knows the Democrats have struggled to be an opposition party in those states.
B.S. in Springfield, IL, writes: Donald Trump won the Electoral College in 2016 by a total of roughly 80,000 votes in 3 states. Joe Biden will win in 2020 by a total of roughly 50,000 votes in 3 states (without Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia, he would have 269). This despite Hillary Clinton and Biden each winning the popular vote by millions. It occurs to me that Trump didn't defeat Clinton, Jill Stein did. And Biden didn't defeat Trump, Jo Jorgensen did. This is an incredibly stupid way to choose the person with the most important job in the world.
V & Z respond: We will point out that, in the absence of an Electoral College blowout, most presidential elections work out like this. There are at least a dozen presidential elections in the past century that came down to 100,000 votes or less across a handful of states (or, sometimes, just one state).
B.S. in Reykjavík, Iceland, writes: It seems that every presidential election in America ends up shattering some notion that has been taken as a given. A high turnout was surely going to favor the Democrats in 2020, as there was no way that Donald Trump would be expanding his base. He did not even try. Joe Biden did win the presidency but it feels like a hollow victory. A miracle in Georgia would win them the trifecta on the federal level, but with the slimmest possible margin and no mandate for any sweeping progressive agenda.
It has been taken as a gospel in liberal circles that demographic changes such as urbanization and more ethnic diversity would favor the Democrats in the future, and would push the GOP to the margins, where they would be forced to reinvent themselves to stay relevant. But then Donald Trump comes along and somehow finds 8 million additional votes over his 2016 results. Despite the loss of the White House, the GOP has to be happy. The message they are getting from voters is basically to just keep up the good work. All they need to do is nominate a more competent and less overtly racist version of Trump in 2024 and that candidate is sure to pick up some votes among the minorities that the Democrats have taken for granted.
It is the Democratic Party that has to do the soul searching now. Why do they get crushed so badly in some states? How can they connect better with rural America? Progressive policy ideas are actually quite popular across the country, but the Democratic Party seems to have trouble translating that support into support for the party. Clearly, there is time to try something new.
R.T. in Arlington, TX, writes: Being realistic about such things, the 2020 election has returned us to status quo 2014. While I expected something different, it's time to get real about what this means. What it means is that the "middle" has spoken. We have been in denial that there was a middle, but we were fooling ourselves. What the middle has said is that they don't want Trump to be the poster boy for America, but they are just fine with the do-nothing Republican Party they have experienced for 20+ years. Trumpism is not a political philosophy but an attitude. It reminds me a bit of the "let's take our pride back" attitude of the early Reagan years. Without using words, the middle has said that they do not see America as broken and in need of change and that whatever change is needed is not worth the risk of getting too much change when it happens. From one perspective, this is common sense, and from another it is boiling frogs.
So what is the Democratic Party to do? Try to change their image. Biden's win was not a changing of hearts and minds, just the swatting of a large, rather annoying mosquito. The middle is not on their side yet and is not convinced that they will be reasonable. For sure, they shouldn't let any member of Congress be rope-a-doped into repeating stupid extreme phrases like "abolish ICE" or "defund the police" or into making a public spectacle, like tearing up the State of the Union script. Simply being reactionary against everything the Republicans say is playing into the other side's hand.
The best idea I can offer is for the Democratic Party to put together common sense (not revolutionary) progressive proposals that are as moderate as they can make them while moving in the right direction. Then they need to take time and explain them to the people, in a 21st century Federalist Papers-style approach. They won't get anything actually done before 2022, but this is the best hope I can see for gaining seats in the Senate and House. And if the Democrats can get the trifecta in 2020, they cannot go wild or they will get a short tenure. Either way, I expect 2024 to be a very competitive presidential race with a toned-down but cleverer Trump-lite Republican candidate.
D.S. in Winnetka, CA, writes: From entirely anecdotal observations of the discussions among my Facebook friends, and friends of friends, who are mainly in their fifties and sixties: Fear, stoked by the looting and violence at the protests, led to a lot of ticket splitting from people who otherwise might have voted for down ballot Democratic candidates. They either voted for Biden or left the Presidential selection blank, but voted for the Republican senators and House members to counter what they see as the "radical left" taking over the Democratic Party.
C.G. in Reston, VA, writes: The emerging narrative about the results of this election, namely that Joe Biden won by a "nail-bitingly-close" margin (as one mailbag reader put it) is alarming and inaccurate. In all likelihood, Biden will win by several dozen electoral votes, and will set a record for total popular votes ever received for president. If he had won with 270 EV's, winning Arizona and Nevada but losing Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia, calling the race a "squeaker" would be reasonable, but in this case it simply isn't true. Any victory that includes setting turnout records at such a magnitude, exceeding 50% of the popular vote, and flipping five states from 2016 is not a "disappointment" as much as it is a clear and decisive victory.
I think it is fair, however, to note that a very real blue wave was met by an almost as large red wave. In North Carolina, for example, the Democrats improved turnout by (so far) 469,000 votes over 2016, while the GOP improved turnout by 371,000 votes. Impressive work by both sides. The media is quick to point out, correctly, that it wasn't quite enough, since the GOP turnout machine was powerful to keep the Democrats from closing the 2016 vote gap completely. Endless conspiracy theories on the right managed to lather up and turn out an equal force of apolitical Trump supporters terrified of "socialism" and filled with racial grievances. This worked for the GOP this cycle, as it did in 2016. But what wasn't mentioned was how the Democrats matched and exceeded that rage with organization and mobilization all over the country. Not enough to win in some cases, but also not the complacent capitulation to Trumpism fretted over by the press.
And then there is Congress. The media and its followers, including myself, expected the Democrats to have huge wins, and the blue wave was, once again, met with a nearly equally large red one. The blue team will lose a handful of seats in the House, that's true, and it's natural to be disappointed by that. But the GOP failed to take control of the House, and they lost ground in their Senate majority to the tune of at least one seat, maybe more. The House members who did lose were all centrists in districts won by Trump in 2016 and 2020, so one could make the argument that both chambers of Congress just became a little more progressive than they were before.
That doesn't sound like failure to me. That sounds like the right wing tried to show up and defend Trump, his policies, and his government and fell quite a bit short. The entire centrist-to-left-leaning public (and media) made the assumption that fascism would be defeated as intensely as it might in an Indiana Jones movie, the dramatic Hollywood ending with the bad guy going down in flames at the end. But it just doesn't work that way in real life. And even though the right will have less power on January 20th than they do now as a result of this election, the hand-wringing and self-flagellation so common on the left has already begun.
B.M. in Arcata, CA, writes: Your analysis of the exit polls shocked me a bit, as there was little mention of the below statistic:
Demographic (% of electorate) Biden % Trump % Winner's margin First time voters (14%) 64% 32% Biden +32% Voted before (86%) 49% 49% Even
This, coupled with the amazing result that Stacey Abrams brought about in Georgia, seems to point to the most likely path to success for the Democratic party in subsequent years.
M.A. in Reston, VA, writes: I think you're doing Joe Biden and the Democrats a great disservice by characterizing the 2020 election thusly: "Except for the presidency, Republicans did quite well."
Republicans did not do well. They lost the presidency, at least one net Senate seat, and stayed in the minority in the House. They did not regain any state legislative houses lost in 2018 that I'm aware of. Their own "Red Wall" suffered structural cracks in the losses of Georgia and Arizona. Texas took one more step on the path to a blue takeover.
The expectations going into this election were set so damn high for Democrats, and in hindsight it's obvious it was wishful thinking. Nobody who is educated wanted Trump or Trumpism (i.e. fascism) to survive this election. That includes anyone doing the polling, aggregating the polling, or analyzing it. We all saw the tea-leaves we wanted, and set our expectations accordingly. And erroneously. I'm putting myself in this category. Last Tuesday night was very, very hard.
Now that the blinders are off, and the vote counting is nearing its end, it's clear that Trump suffered a devastating loss. He is on track to lose the popular vote by 5 points. I wouldn't be surprised to see Biden break 80 million votes. The Democrats did their job, they got their voters out. The unfortunate thing is the Republicans did too. The difference is, Democrats won that head-to-head contest in a landslide.
J.E. in Gilbertsville, PA, writes: In your item "Biden's Coalition May Not Be Stable," you wrote: "Joe Biden's voters were motivated primarily by getting rid of Trump. There was no outpouring of love for Biden himself, as there was for Barack Obama in 2008 and Bill Clinton in 1992." You're wrong, wrong, wrong, on that score. I live in Pennsylvania and I know a number of people who voted for Trump in 2016 and for Biden in 2020. They are the reason Biden won the presidency, and very few of them hate Trump. They are disappointed in Trump, and they voted for Biden because they really, really like him. He's a good guy. He's not flashy and doesn't have the charisma of an Obama or a Clinton, but don't underestimate how much we like the kindly grandpa types.
Every election is nothing but a big popularity contest, and you don't win a popularity contest solely through hate of the other guy. People have to actually like the winner too. Most pundits (I'll include you guys here) focus too much on the one and not enough on the other.
J.F. in Ft. Worth, TX, writes: Is the lesson of this election "Don't try to get re-elected with a VP from Indiana"?
V & Z respond: That was certainly our main takeaway.
2020 Election, Polling
S.B. in New Castle, DE, writes: Despite my fierce resistance to believing polls for some time to come, I am pragmatic. I look forward to seeing what pollsters do to correct whatever fundamental error they have. One of you suggested that perhaps a different technique is needed for each state (or region). I think there's a lot of merit in that. If we've learned anything in the past decade, there is not only a divide in politics, but a growing divide in culture in our country.
J.F. in Sloatsburg, NY, writes: Your comment last week about how it's possible that polling will have to become more specialized struck me as a declaration that the field of polling is, in fact, maturing, and that it's time for pollsters to consider maturing along with it.
In every field of human endeavor, once matters reach a certain level of complexity, "generalists" cease to exist, or become very rare. Consider, for example, that there are no longer generic computer programmers. There are html, or C, or Unity programmers, but the generic "computer programmer" of the 1990s no longer exists.
For doctors, general practitioners are a very limited group (and they're not especially "general" the way that a doctor of the late 1800s or early 1900s would have been). Instead you have podiatrists and surgeons and OB-GYNs. Even the specialties have subspecialties.
The same is true in social fields. The general-practice lawyer largely doesn't exist anymore. Instead we have trust drafting attorneys and brownfields lawyers and criminal defense lawyers and construction lawyers. Reporters focus on one area of human activity—you don't have a sports reporter write the lead for the finance section.
Polling is going to have to go the same way. No more general polling firms—instead, we'll see "small-market commercial product polling firm" and "Florida pollster on the Selzer model" and "urban social issue pollster" and "nationwide opinion polls only." A firm will be able to focus on one or two—but won't have the expertise to focus on everything. Any firm that tries should be distrusted. Then they have to make the changes needed to make this commercially viable—though universities will have an advantage there due to having cheap/free labor.
F.B. in Berlin, Germany, writes: My suggestion for better polling in the future would be Ann Selzer telling her colleagues how to do it.
J.K. in Freehold, NJ, writes: Whatever shortcomings there were in the presidential polls, one thing they got right was that Donald Trump would likely lead in the early returns and not to panic (too much) as Democratic mailed-in votes would take a while to be counted. This was a big help, though I'd hate to be a poll taker these days, as Trump also screwed up poll taking.
D.S. in Wilson County, NC, writes: My wife and I participated in at least a dozen telephone polls this past election year because of our state of residence and possession of a landline phone. In the forefront of both our thinking was "Let's make sure they get our demographics into the survey," but in the background of my thinking was "Maybe I'm answering too many of these things and skewing the data..."
F.S. in Cologne, Germany, writes: Some thoughts about polling and the results of the election:
On November 3, your polling averages had Joe Biden leading by 6 points in Pennsylvania, by 8 in Michigan, by 8 in Wisconsin, tied in Ohio, and Donald Trump leading by 1 in Iowa. So most pollsters were way off in these states, often by 5 or more points. If I remember correctly, these are states the pollsters were way off in 2016, too. So pollsters have definitely overlooked something in these places. On the other side, pollsters did a good job in Georgia, Arizona, New Hampshire, Minnesota (which is probably the only state in the Midwest where the pollsters did a good job this time, in contrast to 2016, when they were way off in Minnesota) and Nevada. I'm curious why pollsters were way off in some states, but not in others. Hopefully this question can be answered in the future.
Based on the polling errors in various states, Donald Trump did again have a straight flush. The only difference from 2016 was that since his polling numbers were worse, he needed a royal flush this time and didn't get it. After all, the probability of a royal flush is only slighty better than the probability of sighting the Loch Ness Monster.
D.K. in Iowa City, IA, writes: Woody Allen said, "A broker is someone who invests your money for you until it is all gone."
Pollsters are getting the same reputation. They need to either pack up and quit or figure out what they have been missing or screwing up. People need good information or to be left alone.
B.S. in Olmsted Falls, OH, writes: Election polling has been revealed to be nothing more than a pseudoscience akin to numerology, astrology and trephining of yore (Capricorn, by the way). Attempting to diagnose pollsters' recent misfires is a foolish endeavor. Four years ago, the consensus diagnosis was under-sampling of non-educated white voters. How did the remedy work circa 2020? Recent postmortems on why the polls were so far off appear no better than blindfolded shots across the bow. The primary problem is that current polling techniques, at their best, have margins of error around 3% to 4% while dozens of states' presidential and congressional elections are decided by less than this threshold. Pollsters try but they can't quantify a meaningful signal through all of the human noise; we're too complex and stupid to tweeze out the truth. So quit clutching your crystals and nervously consulting your horoscopes; step out of the superstition and try something new.
V & Z respond: Well, we imagine if Winston Churchill were still alive, he would say that polling is the worst tool for projecting an election outcome, except for all the others.
E.W. in Skaneateles, NY, writes: You'll get a kick out of this list of presidential "precedents." I especially like the title text that appears when you hover over the comic!
V & Z respond: Excellent! We put this in the polling section because it's a satire on folks who try to use past, largely arbitrary patterns to predict future results, not unlike bellwether cities/counties/states.
2020 Election, Latino Vote
M.G. in Newtown, PA, writes: In regards to your item "What Happened With Latino Voters," I'd like to add an additional (possible) explanation. It's quite likely that first generation Latino voters, more often than not, detested Donald Trump and have either been directly influenced by his immigration policies or know someone who has and would not have voted for him in a million years. It's also likely that third and fourth-generation Latino voters see themselves more as Americans who happen to have Latino ancestry, and while they might not like how extreme Donald Trump's immigration policies are, they don't necessarily believe that America's borders should be open to all and that there should be some restrictions on who is or isn't allowed into the United States.
This phenomenon certainly isn't unique to Latinos, either. Throughout American history, as immigrant blocs became entrenched in the United States, their children and especially their grandchildren started to see themselves as Americans and new immigrant populations as the "other" over time. An immigrant stuck at the border or treated cruelly by ICE doesn't necessarily generate the same sympathy or outrage among all Latinos, and I suspect this is part of the reason why the vote broke as it did.
P.F. in Oakland, CA, writes: There has been much discussion recently about minority male voters being attracted to Trump due to his "macho" persona. I have to disagree. Minority male voters are more likely to work in blue-collar jobs that cannot be done remotely. I think the drop in support Joe Biden saw among these groups (compared to Hillary Clinton) is really an "anti-lockdown" vote, rather than a vote endorsing his "macho" persona. True or not, the logic guiding these voters is that Biden is much more likely to institute additional virus lockdown orders than Trump. Men perceive a need to be "breadwinners" (even if that requires some amount of personal health risk) and lockdowns get in the way of that innate drive. At the end of the day, economics drives most voters.
This theory also explains Biden's significant loss in support among Latinos in South Florida; that group is also disproportionately economically hurt by lockdowns. If Democrats pursue aggressive lockdown measures, they may do it at their own political peril in 2022/2024. If that happens, the party better hope their gains among the "work-from-home" crowd in the suburbs offset losses among the working poor. It worries me that nobody is discussing this potential hole in the party platform and I don't know how Democrats should thread the needle to save as many lives and as many livelihoods as possible.
A.A. in Los Angeles, CA, writes: I think that "Donald Trump appealed to Latino and Black machismo" is a dumb theory without any evidence and racist undertones. A Latino originating it doesn't make it any less racist. It's par for the course for Fox News and I haven't heard anyone else mention it.
V & Z respond: This was our concern when deciding whether to include that piece from Juan Williams. (Z) did some looking, and found several other Latino academics/commenters saying the same thing, and so felt its inclusion in "the theories floating around" was warranted.
S.T. in Philadelphia, PA, writes: You speculated that macho Black and Latino men voted for Trump out of misogyny and a desire to assault women. Such speculation feeds into racist stereotypes. Many see traditional machismo as a desire to protect, not to assault.
It is more likely that laser-targeted digital disinformation campaigns deterred voter turnout and swung voters for Trump. Black and Latino men believed propaganda targeted at them that convinced them Biden was a racial-slur-slinging sexist pedophile. (Pot, meet kettle.) See here, here, and here for coverage.
D.E. in Austin, TX, writes: Regarding Latinos, they are generally against abortion (this is a big one) and conservative in the sense that they just want to get on with their lives/work without interference. They could turn Republican if the discrimination, immigration and persecution issues lessen. They are not about government programs, Social Security, healthcare, LBGTQ, free college, Green New Deal, etc., and are certainly not about foreign affairs.
2020 Election, Senate
R.H.D. in Webster, NY, writes: I'm of the belief that when Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-CA) seat becomes vacant, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) should appoint a placeholder until the regularly scheduled 2022 election. That way, those who aspire to become the new senator can settle it in an election. For the placeholder, I would suggest former Governor Jerry Brown. He once ran for the Senate in 1982 and had aspired to be there. It would be a nice way for him to do one more thing for the Golden State.
R.E.M. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: I suggest adding Rep. Ted Lieu (Taiwanese-American, 51, vocal thorn in Trump's side) and maybe Rep. Eric Swalwell (straight white male, 40, ambitious as hell) to your list of potential replacements for Kamala Harris.
However, I think Gavin Newsom is smart and wants not to antagonize the 80% or so of Democrats whose identity representative doesn't get picked. So, he'll appoint former Senator Barbara Boxer as a place-holder (if she'll agree to do it; if not, it'll be another eminence grise), and let all the factions fight it out in the jungle special election. The people get to decide, and Newsom doesn't get his skirts dirty before running for re-election in 2022.
B.M. in Washington, DC, writes: I think it's pretty damn important for you guys to address the fact that Jaime Harrison suffered due to the interference of "progressives" who kept shouting about defunding the police. I'm sure that was not by accident. Republicans are excellent ratf*ckers.
A.F. in Boiling Springs, SC, writes: Jaime Harrison would have easily won in South Carolina. He said he would never deceive the voters nor lie. His downfall is that he started running ads nonstop for Bill Bledsoe. Bill was a Constitutional Party candidate who withdrew, but after his name could be removed from the ballot. And at the end of ads saying to vote for Bledsoe, Harrison said, "I approve this message." People were so mad he was lying, they went out and voted straight Republican tickets, causing many good Democrats to lose across the state.
S.M. in Lewiston, ME (via Acton, MA), writes: I worked in Maine this year turning out the youth vote (yes, in the oldest state, by average age, in the nation) and I wanted to contextualize some of the results we're seeing. You wrote that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) beat Sara Gideon by 8 points and while that is true, it feels less shocking when you take into account ranked choice voting. Assuming nearly all supporters of Lisa Savage (the progressive independent) ranked Gideon second, then Gideon only lost by 3.5 points, which is much more in line with the polling within the margin of error. This also explains how Collins seems to have led in some cities that you would think would lean Democratic (Augusta, Lewiston). Once you add Savage's votes to Gideon's, Gideon does win those individual cities.
I also want to caution people against seeing the amount of money raised as an indication of advantage in a race. Both Gideon and Collins had, frankly, too much money coming from in and out of state, and there are worse than diminishing returns on that. So many voters I talked to were turned off of the Senate race because they were overwhelmed and resentful at the sheer amount of advertising and glossy mailers, especially since so much of the messaging was negative. In the end, I'm not sure all that money used on ads didn't end up hurting Gideon.
K.J. in Roanoke, VA, writes: In your item on Donald Trump's endgame, you failed to list the actual reason why Trump has not conceded: There are legitimate concerns about election integrity, particularly in large cities such as Detroit and Philadelphia. I know Democrats like to claim that fraud doesn't happen, but reality says otherwise, and mass mail-in voting makes the problem far worse. Was there enough fraud to change the outcome of the election? We don't yet know, but those questions need to be answered. The media may have a lot of power, but they don't get to decide the outcome of elections. Democrats conveniently forget that Hillary Clinton recently gave Biden similar advice when she told him not to concede under any circumstances.
Democrats would be wise to allow this process to play out. It would certainly not be a good look for them if Joe Biden takes office with tens of millions of Americans viewing him as an illegitimate president. After all, Biden has already broken one promise made during the first debate (when he promised not to declare victory until the vote had been independently certified). By trying to silence accusations of fraud rather than allowing the process to play out, Democratic leaders (along with their friends in the media) currently appear to be power-hungry elitists who are trying to steal the White House, whether or not that is actually the case.
President Trump has plainly stated that he will leave the White House in January if he lost in a fair election. Whether or not you like him or the things he has accomplished, any unbiased person has to admit that he is a man who has kept nearly all of his campaign promises, so there is no legitimate reason to worry that he won't keep this one. History proves that conservatives tend to accept election losses with dignity, as opposed to the many Democrats who still haven't accepted the results of the 2016 election. Whether he wins or loses in the end, President Trump is right to fight for answers until the full truth is uncovered, whatever that may be. We will all be better off if Democrats wait patiently until those questions are answered.
D.E. in Lancaster, PA, writes: It seems the official reason that Republicans are supporting Trump's temper tantrum about losing the election is that the GOP is hoping to keep Georgia Trump supporters engaged for the special elections for the Senate. That makes absolutely no sense to me.
First off, let's just gloss over the fact that the party of personal responsibility and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" is now actively mollycoddling a grown man from having his fee-fees hurt. I understand supporting the party's candidate, but this extra special effort boxes the party into a bad corner. If the stated goal is to keep Georgian Trump supporters engaged, then my question to the Republican leadership is: "Has no one looked at a calendar?" The electors will meet in the state capitals to cast their votes on December 14. Do the Republican leaders really think that they can dodge reporters' questions about who they think is the president-elect after those votes are cast? And if the Republican leaders wait until then to acknowledge reality, then they've disheartened the Trump supporters with less time to the election than if they had faced reality now.
I guess the Republicans could keep the idea that Trump could win the election going until January 5. But being vocal for this position then turning on a dime to record the vote the next day seems a bridge too far even for Slippery Mitch. Unlike the Supreme Court nominee vote, this won't be seen as owning the libs—the GOP's last and only official reason for being—but will more than likely be seen as "We got your votes, now (deleted) you!" People of all stripes hate to feel like they are being used by politicians.
So the question becomes: "When are the Republicans planning on ripping off the band-aid?" Are they really hoping that Trump is going to go gently into retirement, only to be called forth for conventions if needed? Can the GOP really be that obtuse about Trump's pattern of behavior? In recruitment, there is a phrase that says "the past is predictive of future behavior." I think quickly after the inauguration, Trump will start making noises about running in 2024. As you point out in Saturday's answers, that could dry up the Trump lane for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-OK) or Mike Pence. Yes, Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) want to run, but having the uncertainty of a Trump run will surely make them more cautious about entering the race. Even if Trump does decide to retire, does anyone seriously think he's going to remain quiet? Also is the base going to feel as passionate about typical politicians like Sasse or Hogan? Past elections have shown that Trump-wannabes do not fare so well as Trump Toadies—think Virginia's Corey Stewart or Kansas' Kris Korbach vs 98% of the Republican party. So again the Republicans find themselves trapped by Trump's fervent base.
One is tempted to compare the GOP to Frankenstein being hounded by the monster they created. But in reality, the Republicans seem like drug addicts. They went into the 2016 campaign thinking they could control Trump's base, but now five years later discover that they are more in need of their votes and his mercurial whims than ever before. As with any addiction, the addict needs to hit rock bottom before they can admit to themselves that they have a problem.
A.B. in Wendell, NC, writes: Just let Sean Insanity or Faux Noise complain about Donald Trump not getting the PDB. The perfect response would be to say Trump did not care to read the PDB when he was President, otherwise he would have known about Russian bounties on American troops, and many other things on which The Donald was completely clueless, or at least claimed to be clueless.
Let them say every ex-President since Dwight D. Eisenhower got the PDB, and we say, every ex-President since before Eisenhower conceded gracefully when they lost, and every ex-President since before Eisenhower also attended the incoming new President's inauguration, and every ex-President since before Eisenhower cooperated in a peaceful transfer of power that Trump is fighting. Let them go there...we have enough ammunition to shut them down.
Also, as a transgender woman in America, you absolutely cannot know how relieved and grateful I am at Trump's election defeat! I got what I wanted for Christmas!
S.G. in Washington, DC, writes: You alluded to the song "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" not being about Biden. You might be interested to know there was a song written long ago specifically about Donald Trump, according to the liner notes of the album it is on. The song is "All There Is," by the late Dan Fogelberg, and it's available on YouTube for review, farewell celebrations, etc.:
It was written way back in 1993, so we had plenty of warning about him long before the Republicans chose him over 15 or so other candidates, including 6 Republican governors, among them John Kasich, the popular and successful governor of the country's largest swing state.
But after all, from Pearl Harbor to Sputnik to AIDS to the Challenger disaster to 9-11 to Katrina to Deepwater Horizon to COVID-19, we as a nation often oversleep the crisis wakeup calls. I suppose the Trump presidency can be added to that list.
V & Z respond: Trump was also the inspiration for the ultra-sleazy businessman Biff Tannen in the film Back to the Future, Part II, made in 1989.
D.G. in Montreal, Canada, writes: Mikhail Gorbachev once remarked that Chernobyl was the incident that sparked the end of the Soviet Union. Chernobyl laid bare the lies and greed upon which the Soviet system was based, allowing all to see the sham for what it was. The nuclear meltdown triggered a meltdown of institutional distrust. People began to doubt the system and within 5 years, the superpower had collapsed.
I fear we are witnessing something similar here with Trump & Co.'s efforts to sow doubt and delegitimize the election results. "Stop the Steal" has become a rallying cry for millions who, even after Biden is sworn in, may never again trust the democratic process. This loss of faith may be the most long-lasting and dangerous element of Trump's legacy.
One extremely odd ally of the MAGA crowd has been certain elements from within the yoga and wellness community. This overlap is captured by the "Conspirtuality." Simply put, there are many factors that unite these unlikely bedfellows: an emphasis on feeling over reason, a general distrust of authority, the belief that a secret, nefarious group controls the world, and that a wonderful future awaits if only more people would just "wake up," etc. Yesterday, my YouTube feed suggested something from a popular influencer in the wellness crowd whose material I had enjoyed before. I was shocked to see him repeating many of the same talking points as OAN, and even more so that it had racked up nearly 1 million views in a few days. Out of all strange things that have happened in 2020, witnessing how some people within the yoga crowd have risen up to support authoritarianism takes the cake for me.
H.B.S. in Portland, OR, writes: I work in a blue-collar workplace that is 95%+ non-college educated men (majority-minority). Here is why I think Donald Trump is so popular with a large swath of America.
My co-workers are those who know from experience that, no matter how hard they work—I regularly see guys over 60 running to work heavy-labor overtime in the middle of the night—they aren't cut out to "make it" in America; they are not attractive, fit, well-connected, educated, wealthy, bright, or socially adept. Many of them chose a job in the trades to escape small towns, inner-city blight, lack of options, family drama, and/or criminal records. They discover that outside the US, their money—we make far more than many of our "esteemed" white-collar colleagues, without the college debt—can buy them what they could never "merit" in America: the attention of attractive dates/partners, stays at fancy hotels, a big house, a family and, especially, the admiration of others. In short, the "American dream."
They look at how Trump presents himself and they see a man who very obviously doesn't have the looks, physique, demeanor, brains, or even real wealth of the A-listers, yet he's managed to marry models, make millions licensing something as insubstantial as his name, and even get himself elected president. All while refusing to abide by a single social more—doing whatever the hell he wanted and grabbing at everyone and everything along the way.
Far from hurting his support, the New York Times' tax story only enhanced Trump's prestige: He's made an art of figuring out how to get everything for nothing. In the last week before the election, the growing news story was how we'd all have to buckle down and pay taxes, how we'd all have to buckle down and deal with COVID, how we'd have to get "real jobs" and stop hustling on the side for secret cash. Trump kept demonstrating that Americans could do whatever they wanted, at the expense of everyone else, and they'd come out on top. This is, of course, mathematically and civically impossible—but to those who have spent their entire lives knowing that no matter how hard they work or how much money they earn, they'll never "make it" in America, this is a seductive, powerful vision of the American Dream. Americans have been deeply accultured in recent years to desire "me, me, me," and the Instagramming of America has taught younger folks that image means everything. It's no surprise so many people, and late-deciding voters in particular, bought enthusiastically into this mirage of the American Dream by voting for America's id—Donald Trump.
L.S. in Greensboro, NC, writes: I find this to be very interesting. In 2016, Donald Trump got 45.9% of the popular vote. As of Thursday, he's at 47.3% of the popular vote in 2020, and will likely drop further since there are still several million as yet uncounted votes, mostly in very blue states. So in the end, even with a much smaller share of people voting for third party candidates, his overall share of the vote won't be all that different from four years ago (probably less than 1% higher). This really validates the idea that he did absolutely nothing during his first term to increase his support, and that the supporters he does have are slavishly loyal.
J.P. in York, PA, writes: In our neighborhood, there was a home that had lots of Trump signs: a giant one on the barn with a giant Eagle painted on it, lots of smaller lawn signs (Drain the Swamp, etc.), smaller signs on the barn that read "Keep America Great" and "4 More Years," and a streamer. On the day after the election, the lawn signs were gone. A day later, the giant sign on the barn was down. By November 11, the streamer and "4 More Years" were gone. Now, the only thing remaining is the Keep America Great sign. It seems that the owners of this very pro-Trump home realized the race was over pretty soon, and went with the recount strategy until they determined that was hopeless. They have shown much more class than the person they supported in the election. I have to give them some points for their response to the situation.
D.T. in Parsonsfield, ME, writes: A few weeks ago I wrote a letter that detailed my observations about political yard signs in Trump country Maine. I mentioned that there were a number of ostentatious displays supporting Trump. I am pleasantly surprised to see that all of them, with one exception, have been completely taken down. These include the most memorable one, which had at least 10 small yard signs, a large flag, a huge banner, and 24-7 lighting.
Although I have no statistics to back me up, I will attempt to draw a conclusion from my observations. Trump is continuing to maintain that he won the election and is behind in the count due to fraudulent ballots, ballot count cheating, etc. One of his goals, I am sure, is to keep his supporters fired up and to do damage to the legitimacy of Biden's win. When I see his supporters taking these displays down so quickly after the election, especially with the drawn out ballot counting, it leads me to conclude that the percentage of Trump supporters who are embracing his narrative of the election is rather small.
C.N.F. in Minneapolis, MN, writes: This whole debate about whether Donald Trump will accept defeat and leave the presidency is just more of his shtick. And the media's treatment of it, this site included, is exactly how Trump was empowered in the first place. In the end, when he leaves, it will be a media event, and he will use the act of leaving to garner the largest amount of publicity possible. The media will play along. This is just good television: "Will he stay or will he go? How will they wrap up the season?"
Trump is good for business. He generates profits for media corporations. The media can endlessly debate this, while avoiding any substantive discussion of the Biden transition team or cabinet choices, and pretend that this debate is actually serving to inform the people about their government. This is what U.S. democracy has been reduced to. The facade has become all important, it's all you can read about now. Trump's job was to be a troll, to further divide the working class electorate, and the corporate media was in lock step with this process. The left is so blinded with Trump rage they go running into the arms of Big Daddy Biden, who tells us the American dream is alive and well. Biden's history speaks for itself on this matter.
A.R. in Los Angeles, CA, writes: Saturday, on NPR's Weekend Edition, Ron Elving was asked how to describe the Republicans in Congress who have refused to acknowledge the election results and Biden's victory. He said they are "in a difficult position." Eeehh! (Insert loud buzzer sound here.) Wrong answer. This is precisely the problem with the media coverage of yet another Trump-manufactured "controversy" and the Republicans who exploit it. In a stable democracy that has just witnessed one of the most smoothly-run and glitch-free elections in modern times, and where there is not a shred of doubt about the outcome, every elected official would be accepting the outcome and encouraging supporters of the losing party to come together to support the president-elect. As I recall, Republicans have for 4 years railed against any and all efforts to hold Trump accountable for his corrupt and criminal actions by proclaiming it to be an effort to overturn the 2016 election. Now we have a sitting president who is directly trying to overturn an election simply because he lost. And Republicans are acting as though this is the most common-place and acceptable action when someone doesn't like the results. The media perpetuate this view by parroting the grievances. It matters not a whit to say that the claims are "baseless" or "without evidence." By repeating those claims, it gives them oxygen and amplifies the lies.
Mitch McConnell and his stooges are not "in a difficult position." Their priority should be the health of our democracy, whose foundation is built on the public's confidence in our electoral process and the peaceful transfer of power. If that were their priority, they would be recognizing Biden as the president-elect and congratulating election officials on their success in running this election with record voter turnout and during a pandemic. And that's what the media should be covering as well. This election is a success story, not because Trump has been voted out but because of all the poll workers, all the clerks in the recorders' offices and secretaries of state (both Republican and Democrat) across the country who did their job with integrity and dedication and professionalism in the face of enormous pressure. We owe them a debt of gratitude and every American should be proud of this achievement. Shame on McConnell and other Congressional Republicans for undermining our democracy to serve their own political ambitions and shame on the media for yet again normalizing these aberrant and dangerous actions.
B.J. in Boston, MA, writes: I am not a lawyer, but I have a legal opinion.
In addition to the reasons you gave, there is another reason that a hard coup is simply impossible: the consequences of failure. If Donald Trump tried to use force to remain in power and failed, he would be charged with fomenting insurrection, he would be guilty, and he would be headed for a stiff prison sentence. So would everyone who participated on his side. Trump is a coward and would never take that risk. Neither would any significant number of members of the military, because they aren't stupid.
E.C.R. in Helsinki, Finland, writes: Just before the election, the webpage of the Finnish national broadcaster Yle (equivalent of BBC) had 3 stories, all about the US election. When I told colleagues at work before the election that Trump might well be re-elected, likely by ensuring that not all votes were counted, the reaction was bemused disbelief. Now that he seems to be attempting, however lamely, to overturn the results of the election, the tone of the stories and radio hosts has become distinctly snarky. It's been a tad embarrassing to be an American abroad these past months, but we've now veered into banana republic territory and I am strongly tempted to start introducing myself to new business contacts as Canadian. In my opinion, being American in Europe has become as toxic as it was at the height of the Vietnam war.
N.P. in Warlingham, UK, writes: Just to pass on the news from Aberdeen that Donald Trump's golf course in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland has been instructed to ensure that all of their hotel rooms are available from the end of the first week in January for an "extended stay by the Trump family."
Not that this will be popular in Scotland, which is more left wing than the UK generally, and where he is loathed for destroying parts of the coastline ecology in breach of commitments given when he obtained permission to build his golf course. I suspect Donald Trump won't be too worried.
Of course, the UK and US have a very strong extradition treaty which is biased toward supporting extradition from the UK to the US; perhaps, if Trump opts for the highlands, the New York AG can relieve the Scots of their unwanted guest?
C.M.W. in Myrtle Beach, SC, writes: Things like this are what make the internet the most amazing invention in history: loser.com.
J.K. in Short Hills, NJ, writes: I noticed that Joe Biden did not include any economists on his Covid-19 task force. Health vs. the economy has been a reasonable debate throughout the pandemic. I do not understand why the President-Elect, or Donald Trump for that matter, apparently does not see the need to get both the medical and economic experts together in the same room at the same time in an attempt to find the right balance, if feasible, between the two sides.
Also, according to sources close to the Biden transition team (as reported by Bloomberg), former Federal Open Market Committee Chair Janet Yellen is under consideration for Treasury Secretary. She was an advisor to the campaign on the economy and should sail through confirmation. Such an appointment would allow current Fed Governor Lael Brainard to ascend to the role of Chair (Jerome Powell's term ends at the end of January in 2022), which is the job she supposedly wants.
I.H. in Meridian, ID, writes: There is a very real possibility that 5 of the first 6 people in the line-of-succession in Joe Biden's administration will be women:Vice President: Kamala Harris
Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
President Pro-Tem: Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) or Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Secretary of State: Susan Rice
Secretary of the Treasury: Lael Brainard or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Secretary of Defense: Michele Flournoy or Tammy Duckworth
I believe that Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) would be an excellent choice for AG, so that is why I am stopping this list with Defense.
L.R.H. in Oakland, CA, writes: Your roundup of potential nominees for Secretary of State omitted an extremely qualified candidate who would enrage the Senate GOP: Hillary Clinton.
Would Mitch McConnell literally blow a gasket if Joe Biden floated her name? Kentucky has a Democratic Governor and is a gubernatorial appointment state, so nominating Clinton could...kill two birds with one stone.
V & Z respond: Or one bird and one turtle.
H.F. in Pittsburgh, PA, writes: As a sign of bipartisan outreach (and also to annoy Donald Trump), Joe Biden could bring back a few of Trump's ex-cabinet secretaries (and cabinet-level staff), the ones who were let go for not being obsequious enough (for example, Mark Esper, Rex Tillerson, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, and Dan Coats). There's no way Senate Republicans could refuse to confirm them, since they sailed through the first time.
Or, to really stick it to Trump, Biden could appoint the witnesses who testified at the impeachment hearings, like Alexander Vindman, Fiona Hill, and Marie Yovanovitch. And if Biden really wants to go scorched earth and punish Trump for not conceding (admittedly, not the President-elect's style) he could appoint the Ukraine whistleblower or "Anonymous."
V & Z respond: You forgot Robert Mueller, George Conway, and Michael Cohen.
L.E. in Putnam County, NY, writes: Regarding the suggestion from W.L. in St. Louis, MO, that there should be a mandatory retirement age for holders of high political office, one thing I do is study extreme longevity. One 108-year-old woman (who died months later) told me "people shouldn't live so long" when I was visiting her nursing home for another resident's 113th birthday. I know that Joe Biden adviser Ezekiel Emanuel has written that he hopes to die at 75 and intends to refuse any significant medical care after that age. I don't know if he'd advise the 77-year-old Biden to give up on life.
I can't agree with W.L.'s proposal that the ever-growing over-75 age bracket be denied any representation in elective office and I wonder how far from that age W.L. is? To impose such a limit would remove a great deal of the current leadership in Washington and I think unavoidably disadvantage the over-75s in terms of policy if they were disqualified from decision-making.
If you take a look at the membership statistics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they recorded under 900,000 members in 1941, and about 1.2 million in 1953...compared to 16.5 million now. For only about a year and a half since 1941 has the church president been under 75. Since 1953, for less than three years has the president been under 80 while for over a third of that time he has been over 90 (the current president is 96 with men aged 88 and 92 next in succession and his other top aide 87).
Not for 25 years has there been a Pope under 75, and the Catholics haven't folded either.
I can't see the Congressional octogenarians approving their own disqualification from office, but I don't think age discrimination is a good idea period. The impatience of youth fades with time and experience.
P.D. in Petaluma, CA, writes: Age limits, yes! Just imagine how much better off we'd be if RBG had been kicked off the Supreme Court in 2003 or 2005, or Benjamin Franklin hadn't been doddering around at the birth of the nation in the late 1770's. Who needs the late work of Monet or Picasso, the late music of Haydn, the performances of Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Willie Nelson, and Paul McCartney, or the humanitarian energies of Jimmy Carter?
Well, I must toddle off to my nursing home now (if I can remember where it is). But just before I go, might I suggest that your correspondent take a look at George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language"? As Orwell persuasively argues, bad writing that reaches for tired cliches ( "reinforce...echo chambers," "fan the flames of anger") in place of clear, fresh phrasing is a sign of something worse than mere laziness. It betrays a failure to think—a willingness to let someone else prefabricate one's thoughts—that does damage to our politics as well as our language. Of course, no one watching phone-bound pedestrians step without a glance into the path of moving cars could possibly think that inattention is a dangerous disease of our time, certainly not one to compare with the scourge of 70-year-olds running for office.
B.W. in Schaumburg, IL, writes: Since Barack Obama received a Nobel Prize for essentially not being George W. Bush, what can Joe Biden look forward to for not being Donald Trump?
V & Z respond: We wouldn't be surprised if they gave Biden the Peace Prize as well, and also tossed in Nobels in Literature, Economics, and Physics for good measure.
J.C. in Binan, Laguna, Philippines, writes: As a biology teacher, I took exception to your description of the interaction between Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin was an esteemed fellow of the Linnean Society, and Wallace was a nobody scientifically, operating in a scientifically obscure corner of the world (near where I am now). Eighteen years after Darwin came up with his theory, after having long vacillated out of concern for how it would affect his wife and for what Victorian Society would think of him, he received the letter from Wallace. That letter was the impetus for Darwin to really move forward on publication. He was under no obligation to do so, but he presented his first chapters of Origin at the Linnean Society, along with the letter from Wallace, who was still in Indonesia. It was a joint presentation. Had Darwin not done so, Wallace would never have gotten a hearing from that esteemed society. But Darwin felt honor-bound. If Wallace felt scooped, it never showed up in any of the long correspondence between the two scientists, who greatly respected each other, and who both relied on each other for insights. Wallace remains the preeminent expert in island biogeography.
Incidentally, in the year that Darwin read his chapter and Wallace's letter, the head of the Linnean Society remarked in regards to his organization, "Nothing significant happened this year." When Origin was published, it sold out on the first day.
A.E. in Oakland, CA, writes: In regards to the question posed by G.T. in Budapest, it was fascinating to learn in your response about the deep shenanigans of the 1888 election.
I understand that, despite the ugly campaign, there was considerable civility between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. I say this because of the Benjamin Harrison episode of The Washington Post's podcast, "Presidential." To quote Michelle Krowel of the Library of Congress: "And so, apparently in 1889, when they were going up to Harrison's inauguration, it was bad weather and Cleveland stood there with the umbrella over his head—over Harrison's head. I don't get a lot of political animosity between the two of them. They were both men who saw that they were doing their duty. Neither one of them had a burning passion to be president."
Given the utter lack of civility of our current President (who seems to have a graduate degree in spite), it is absolutely inconceivable to imagine this kind of gesture occurring in the upcoming inauguration. Of course Trump will not attend. He will make the fourth no-show after the Adamses and Andrew Johnson.
A.B in Lichfield, England, UK, writes: You answered a question from A.C. in Aachen by noting that three U.S. presidents are now members of the small club of chief executives who've lost the popular vote in two consecutive elections.
However, both the 1828 and 1892 elections were rematches between the same candidates who'd finished in the top two in the previous election. This means that Donald Trump is the only U.S. president to have lost the popular vote to two different candidates.
Truly this places Mr Trump in a unique class of presidential loser; he must be very proud of his achievement.
S.E. in Okemos, MI, writes: Donald Trump's special place in history:
S.K. in Sunnyvale, CA, writes: In reply to J.P.R. of Westminster, there's still time for Donald Trump to cut a deal with Mike Pence to resign in exchange for a pardon, making Pence president #46, and Biden president (and vice president) #47.
J.M. in Portland, OR, writes: "...though Trump's balls weren't nearly as impressive as Obama's." Did you really say that? Too funny.
A.R. in Nashville, TN, writes: "...Trump's balls weren't nearly as impressive as Obama's." This is just one of the many reasons I love this site.
V & Z respond: (Z) felt the need to be a little less subtle on Thursday, after nobody seemed to pick up on this line from Tuesday: "Cal Cunningham has conceded, his dream of being a member of the Senate at an end."
B.L. in Reading, MA, writes: Several weeks ago you mentioned that the Cheers barfly, Cliff Clavin, was on "Jeopardy!" You even mentioned some of the categories (Mothers and Sons was the best!). But you never mentioned how he did. Was he a winner? I can take a good guess, but I'm waiting for the official results to be made clear.
A: Alex Trebek
Q: Who will be sorely missed?
V & Z respond: We'll answer your inquiry about Cliff's success in the form of a question: Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?
B.R.J in San Diego, CA, writes: Since you brought up Chick Hearn, he had the perfect metaphor for the transition period (if not the entire time from Donald Trump's descent down the Golden Escalator until Biden's inauguration): "Garbage time."
N.M. in Pittsburgh, PA, writes: I love your site and have read it nearly every day since at least Bush/Kerry.
You can pick on the Steelers and their six Super Bowls, but if you start in on the Penguins, we're going to have a problem.
C.B. in Williamsport, PA, writes: "[A]bout as foreseeable as the President claiming victory on election night, or the sun rising in the east, or the Steelers losing to the Packers in the Super Bowl"?
Whoa, whoa, whoa—you leave the Steelers out of this or I'm helping turn Pennsylvania red again in 2024!
S.S. in Athens, OH, writes: As a Raiders fan from birth (I was at the Heidi Bowl!), I must take exception to your response to T.D. in Rogers.
And I will do so, as vehemently as is humanly possible, as soon as I stop laughing and finish cleaning up the coffee I spit out all over my desk.
V & Z respond: Steelers and Raiders jokes are all in good fun, as long as we can all agree that the Chicago Bears are the real enemy. Well, them and the Dallas Cowboys.
K.M. in Olympia, WA, writes: In response to R.J. in San Francisco, I'm one of the minority of women who follow your site, but I'm not in any way tempted to write Votemaster/Zenger slashfic. A Mary Sue story, on the other hand...
V & Z respond: Much better.
M.L. in West Hartford, CT, writes: You noted that Canadians had arranged for one of their own to play President-Elect Biden on "Saturday Night Live." Yet you failed to mention that SNL Creator and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels is himself a Canadian! Clearly, this plan has been a long time in the making.
V & Z respond: Thank you for pointing this out. Obviously, the conspiracy is much broader than we had imagined. Of course, who was serving as PM of Canada when SNL went on the air in 1975? Why, it was Pierre Trudeau, father of current PM Justin Trudeau. All of a sudden, everything becomes clear.
If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.
- firstname.lastname@example.org For questions about politics, civics, history, etc. to be answered on a Saturday
- email@example.com For "letters to the editor" for possible publication on a Sunday
- firstname.lastname@example.org To tell us about typos or factual errors we should fix
- email@example.com For general suggestions, ideas, etc.
To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.
Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov13 What Is Trump's Endgame?
Nov13 Stealing the Election Is Not Plausible
Nov13 Don't Count on a "Normal" Inauguration
Nov13 What Happened with Latino Voters?
Nov13 McDaniel Likely to Keep Her Job
Nov13 The Pandemic Rages, Unchecked
Nov13 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of the Treasury
Nov12 Biden Picks Chief of Staff
Nov12 Republicans Win in Alaska
Nov12 Exit Polls
Nov12 What's Going on with the Polls?
Nov12 Biden's Coalition May Not Be Stable
Nov12 Democrats Can't Win Senate Seats in Trump States
Nov12 Georgia on My Mind--Until Jan. 5, 2021 at 7 p.m.
Nov12 Stacey Abrams Raises $6 Million for the Georgia Runoffs
Nov12 Michael Cohen: Trump Will Go to Florida for Christmas--and Stay There
Nov11 ACA Looks to Be A-OK
Nov11 Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
Nov11 The Vaccine Conspiracy Theories Are Already Flying
Nov11 Pennsylvania Got Only 10,000 Ballots after Nov. 3
Nov11 Trump's Loose Lips Could Sink Ships
Nov11 Trumps May Be Plotting Hostile Takeover of the RNC
Nov11 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of State
Nov10 Esper Is Out
Nov10 Three GOP Lanes Are Forming
Nov10 COVID-19: The Short-Term Prognosis Is Not so Good...
Nov10 ...But the Long-Term Prognosis Is Looking Better
Nov10 COVID-19 Diaries: The Darkness Before the Light?
Nov10 Democrats Score Their First Big House Flip
Nov10 Bustos Is Done as DCCC Chair
Nov09 The Emperor Has No Coattails
Nov09 Election Takeaways
Nov09 Biden Beat Clinton in Most States
Nov09 Biden Won the Suburbs
Nov09 Biden Will Immediately Reverse Many of Trump's Policies
Nov09 The Polls Failed--Again
Nov09 Whither Trump?
Nov09 Preview of the Georgia Senate Runoffs
Nov09 Seven New Senators Were Elected
Nov09 The Battle for California Is Heating Up
Nov08 Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe
Nov08 Sunday Mailbag
Nov07 Biden Inches Closer to the White House
Nov07 Saturday Q&A
Nov06 Biden Inches Closer to the White House
Nov06 Saturday Q&A
Nov05 Biden Wins Michigan and Wisconsin
Nov05 The State(s) of the Presidential Race
Nov05 Let the Lawsuits Begin