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Political Wire logo Quote of the Day
Trump Leans Into Attacks on Biden’s Family
Fauci Says Masks Should Be Mandatory
Group Plotted to Arrest DeWine for ‘Tyranny’
Jared and Ivanka Threaten to Sue Lincoln Project
Biden Gets Late Boost with Union Endorsement

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Veni, Vidi, Bitchy
      •  New Study: 130,000 Americans Dead Unnecessarily
      •  Trump Releases "60 Minutes" Interview
      •  And So It Begins?
      •  (Don't) Speak to the Hand
      •  My Blue...Iowa?
      •  COVID Diaries: It's the Stupid Economy
      •  Today's Presidential Polls
      •  Today's Senate Polls

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Veni, Vidi, Bitchy

After 13 Democratic candidates' debates, two presidential nominees' debates, and one vice-presidential nominees' debate, we are mercifully done for this election cycle. When all is said and done, we suspect that the judgment of history will be that none of these 16 meet-ups did much to change the trajectory of the campaign. Certainly, last night's event did not.

We've organized our items on the other two general election debates by looking at each of the three individuals on stage. And you know what they say about if it ain't broke:

  • Donald Trump: The good news is that Trump was much more restrained and—dare we say—presidential than he was during the first debate. Maybe the mute button served to rein him in. Or maybe the credit goes to moderator Kristen Welker. Or it could be that one or more Trump insiders got to him, and persuaded him that he could not have a repeat of his performance from three weeks ago.

    If you asked us to guess which of these it is, we would say it's mostly #3. And the reason we would say that is that "restrained Trump" only lasted about 45 minutes or so. In the second half of the debate, his discipline began to break down, and he grew more and more aggressive about speaking when it was not his turn, and about speaking over Joe Biden and/or Welker. If the debate had lasted two hours, rather than 90 minutes, he was on course to complete the transformation from Dr. Jekyll back into Mr. Hyde.

    So, for three-quarters of an hour at least, Trump's style was a clear contrast to what we saw three weeks ago. As to substance, on the other hand, the song remains the same. Here's how long it took for him to hit the "marks" that everyone knew full well were coming:

    • First Lie: 3 seconds
    • First Oblique Reference to Biden Family Corruption: 7 minutes
    • First Finger-pointing at China: 9 minutes
    • First Finger-pointing at Obama Administration: 13 minutes
    • First Attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): 17 minutes
    • First Assertion that the Democrats Are Wild-Eyed Socialists: 19 minutes
    • First Attack on Undocumented Immigrants: 27 minutes
    • First Direct Reference to Biden Family Corruption: 29 minutes
    • First Whining about Being Treated Unfairly: 34 minutes
    • First Reference to Fracking (during the health care segment!): 55 minutes
    • First Attack on Scary, Democratic-run Cities: 58 minutes

    Keeping in mind that Biden got about 45% of the speaking time, and Welker about 10%, this means that Trump worked his way through the checklist at a very brisk pace.

    As this makes clear, Trump continued to evince no interest in reaching out to voters beyond his base. He tried to make the debate, first and foremost, about Biden family corruption. And that is surely what he will do for the remainder of the campaign season. This makes zero sense as an "expand your percentage of the vote" strategy. Think about the folks this line of attack is theoretically aimed at:

    1. They are concerned about corruption/the swamp
    2. However, they have rejected the strong—nay, overwhelming—evidence of corruption on the part of Trump
    3. But they accept the shaky, and obviously manufactured, evidence of corruption on the part of Biden

    We just cannot believe there exists some sizable number of undecided voters who check all three items on the list, which leads us to the conclusion that this is just throwing more fuel on the raging fires in the hearts of the base, and performing the politics of grievance that is the foundation of Trump's whole political career.

    Similarly, the answers given by Trump and those given by Biden existed in two different realities, each one based on their own set of facts. With any other pair of presidential candidates, you might need to read the fact checkers to figure out who is telling the truth (and if you want to do that, here are fact checks from The New York Times, CNN, The AP, CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News). With Trump, however, his lies and exaggerations are so over-the-top that nobody could plausibly buy them, unless they are a cultist.

    We will limit ourselves to two examples. The first came about half an hour in, when the question of fundraising came up, and it was pointed out that the Biden campaign has collected far more in donations from Wall Street than the Trump campaign has. In the hands of the right politician—say, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)—this could have been a powerful line of attack. "What exactly is Wall Street buying with that money, Mr. Vice President?" they might ask. But Trump just had to turn it into a humblebrag, claiming that he could easily have five times the Wall Street money that Biden has gotten, but that his campaign turned it down out of principle. Further, said Trump, his campaign is so awash in cash that they don't need the money anyhow. Does any of this pass even the most cursory smell test?

    Our second example came about an hour in. When the discussion turned to race in America, the President reiterated one of his very favorite talking points, namely that he's done more for Black Americans than any president except—maybe—Abraham Lincoln, and that he is most certainly not a racist. To underscore the latter part of that, Trump twice looked right at Welker and declared himself to be "the least racist person in the room." Anyone who is familiar with Trump's record—the Central Park Five, slurring Mexican immigrants as rapists, African sh**hole countries, warnings of teeming hordes of brown people descending on the suburbs—knows that this is nonsense. But even if a viewer knew none of that, could they plausibly believe that he's really less racist than the Black woman he was looking directly at? Anyhow, the bottom line is that Trump was almost certainly more dishonest last night than he was at the first debate, even if those lies were delivered in a more velvety fashion.

    Yet another problem with Trump's presentation—and it's been a problem the whole campaign, though it was particularly noticeable last night—is that he's never committed to a consistent theory of who and what Biden is. Half of the time, the President portrays his opponent as a doddering old fool who did absolutely nothing during his 47 years in politics. And the other half of the time, he frames Biden as a Moriarty-like kingpin who bears personal and sole responsibility for the 1994 crime bill, the Obama administration's immigration policy, H1N1, and a whole litany of other things, while at the same time pulling vast numbers of corrupt strings in countries like Russia, China, and Ukraine. Either Biden is Michael Corleone or he's Fredo Corleone, but he can't be both. Undoubtedly, the base has no issue with the inconsistency, but it's going to be hard to sell too many other voters when you're peddling two such contradictory framings of who your opponent is.

    So, the absurdity of the most corrupt president in U.S. history trying to run an anti-corruption campaign, the size and scope of the whoppers he told, and the wild inconsistencies about Biden all speak to a candidate who is not making a serious play for undecided voters. Perhaps the most powerful evidence, however, is the extent to which Trump relied on inside baseball. And we don't just mean that in the sense of "things that only political junkies can understand." We mean "things that only political junkies who are regular consumers of right-wing media can understand."

    What we mean by that is that Trump's verbiage last night was absolutely chock full of code words and dog whistles that cannot be parsed unless you are in the Fox/Breitbart/Rush Limbaugh orbit. For example, it would appear that "The Squad" is now known as "AOC plus three." Who knew? Similarly, the President made repeated references to Biden getting $3.5 million from the wife of the mayor of Moscow. That's from Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-WI) failed October surprise. His committee's report claimed, without providing evidence, that Elena Baturina, the widow of Moscow's former mayor, wired that sum to an investment firm founded by Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden has denied all of this and, in any case, there's no indication that Joe Biden had any connection to any of it.

    To give one more example, in an answer about COVID-19, Trump declared: "Take a look at what's happening with your friend in Michigan where her husband's the only one allowed to do anything." Do you know what that's about, without having it explained? We are guessing the answer is "no" (unless you live in Michigan, perhaps). It turns out he's referring to an incident where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D-MI) husband, Marc Mallory, did a little name-dropping when he was trying to get a more favorable appointment for installation of a boat dock at the family's vacation home. Mallory claims it was tongue-in-cheek but, in any case, it's not exactly the sort of story that makes the front page of The New York Times. In case you are interested, Slate has a rundown of all the right-wing code that Trump deployed during the debate.

  • Joe Biden: You will probably be relieved to learn that we have less to say about Biden than we do about Trump. In terms of style, the Democratic nominee also improved relative to the first debate. He was a little smoother and, once again, he grew stronger as the night went on. Most of his very best answers came in the second half of the debate, providing yet another reminder that reports of his mental demise have been greatly exaggerated.

    For example, when asked by Welker why he—as the head of the Democratic Party—has not thrown his weight behind a COVID-19 relief bill, he pointed out that he's been an enthusiastic supporter of the HEROES Act since the House passed it three months ago, and that if anyone has forgotten that, it is because Senate Republicans have allowed the country to twist in the wind for so long. To take another example, Biden responded to Trump's claim that he's a flaming leftist by declaring: "He's a very confused guy. He thinks he's running against somebody else. He's running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them."

    This is not to say that Biden had a perfect night. Even at his best, he's no Obama or Reagan. Sometimes, when he is struggling for words, he lapses into verbal clichés, like declaring "c'mon!" Some of his answers were a little vague or factually shaky. And he said a few things that the Trump campaign will be able to use against him in the remaining days of the campaign. Most notably, Biden said that he eventually sees the country pivoting away from its dependence on oil. That's actually a sound policy, long term, both in terms of the environment and geopolitics. However, Trump's eyes lit up, and he quickly turned that into this: "He is going to destroy the oil industry! Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma?"

    Biden's biggest mistake, however, may have been the opportunity that he allowed to pass. For the second debate in a row, he was handed a gift-wrapped poison-tipped dagger to deploy against the President. Three weeks ago, it was the tax returns, a story that broke the day before the debate. Yesterday, it was the "60 Minutes" interview (see below), in which Trump was a bit too frank about his plans for Obamacare (and, by extension, preexisting conditions). In both cases, the Democratic nominee turned his poison dagger into a butter knife, and barely raised the issue. Maybe he just didn't see a good opportunity, or maybe he's not comfortable going on the attack like that, or maybe he was just playing it safe. Only he and his insiders really know, though we will point out that Biden did bring up Trump's Chinese bank account, so he's clearly not above a little mudslinging.

  • Kristen Welker: Welker is getting rave reviews for her moderation, and they are well deserved. She maintained order (undoubtedly assisted by the mic closures and Trump's decision to behave better), she asked substantive questions that weren't too wordy, and she made sure that both candidates got opportunities to make their case.

    If there is a criticism to be raised, it's that Trump rarely, if ever, answered her questions. For example, when asked what he would do about COVID-19 if elected to a second term, he spent all his time listing his past pandemic "accomplishments" and attacking Biden, Barack Obama, Anthony Fauci, and the Democrats in general. The American people are no clearer on the President's future COVID plans today than they were 24 hours ago. Welker often tried to ask follow-ups, or to otherwise get Trump to answer her questions, but there's only so much she can do if he's determined to bloviate. At least he generally stayed in the correct ballpark, as opposed to, say, using a question on police reform to expound on the stupidity of the Green New Deal. Welker is regarded as a rising star, and will undoubtedly be given the opportunity to moderate future debates, given her performance last night.

  • The Bottom Line: We remain skeptical that, barring a total meltdown by Joe Biden, last night's debate could plausibly have changed the direction of the race. And it certainly didn't. If we may deploy some baseball metaphors, Trump needed a home run, and he got a single (or maybe a hit-by-pitch). He also needed Biden to pull a Bill Buckner, but instead the Democrat hit a solid double. The insta-polls confirm that the former VP got the better of the current P; YouGov had it 54% to 35% for Biden, CNN/SSRS had it 53% to 39%, and DataProgress had it 52% to 41%. Those are better numbers than the President got after the first debate, but it's still +19, +14, and +11 for Biden.

So, the last of the known unknowns is now known, and it was no game changer. That means that Donald Trump could really use an unknown unknown right about now, like the one he got four years ago. (Z)

New Study: 130,000 Americans Dead Unnecessarily

We noted above that it took Donald Trump a grand total of 3 seconds to tell his first lie at last night's debate. We did not explain what the lie was, but we shall now remedy that. What he said—and this is yet another of his oft-repeated talking points—was that early projections for the COVID-19 pandemic had 2.2 million Americans dead, and thanks to his administration's strong action, "only" 230,000 are dead. Consequently, he should be credited for saving nearly 2 million American lives.

This is yet another of those lies that doesn't pass even a preliminary smell test. First of all, that 2.2 million was the most dire estimate of all the estimates that were floating around back in March and April. Second, it was made when much about COVID-19 was unknown. Third, it was a "worst-case scenario" estimate that tried to predict what would happen if: (1) COVID-19 was as contagious and deadly as it could plausibly be, and (2) Americans did absolutely nothing to combat the disease. In other words, the number-crunchers were trying to guesstimate a worst-worst-worst case ceiling, and not trying to predict what might actually happen.

Now, some number-crunchers at Columbia have decided to take a look at this question from a different angle, and to ascertain what might have happened if the White House had handled the pandemic better. Needless to say, they are working with better data than was available back in Spring. And their conclusion is damning: 130,000 COVID-19 dead would be alive today if Trump's leadership had been more effective. And actually, that's the least bad estimate in the study, based on what might have happened if the U.S. had responded to the pandemic in the same manner that Canada did. If the U.S. had followed Germany's lead, it might have saved 179,000 lives. And if the U.S. had followed in the footsteps of South Korea, it might have saved 210,000 lives.

It's pretty late in the election cycle for new messaging to spread widely among the members of the voting public. And, of course, most of the nearly 50 million people who have already voted are not going to be affected by the revelation. However, this does lay bare how off-base Trump's "I saved 2 million lives" claim really is, and we can imagine the number 130,000 popping up in a few Democratic commercials and speeches in the next week or so, so as to put a finer point on the administration's COVID-19 record. (Z)

Trump Releases "60 Minutes" Interview

When Lesley Stahl and the "60 Minutes" crew arrived at the White House for their interview with Donald Trump earlier this week, the administration asked for permission—which was granted—to film the interview for archival purposes. That will teach Stahl & Co. to trust Team Trump. Once the interview went south, Trump threatened to release the interview early. After all, what's keeping your word as compared to the opportunity to hurt a perceived enemy and to undermine their all-important ratings? And on Thursday, the President made good on his threat.

The basic dynamic of the interview, as it turns out, was something like this. Stahl warned that some tough questions were coming, and Trump said he didn't want that. She proceeded nonetheless, he responded with canned talking points, and she pushed back. Finally, she got to a question about Gretchen Whitmer, and the President's apparent wink-wink approval of the men who plotted to kidnap her. He said, "You brought up a lot of subjects that were inappropriately brought up. They were inappropriately brought up, right from the beginning," and brought the interview to an end.

Naturally, "60 Minutes" will still air the interview. The President is going to look childish and petulant to many viewers, and it will be rather tough for him to claim he was a victim of unfair editing. Meanwhile, beyond his temper tantrum, he committed very firmly to an anti-Obamacare position, saying of the pending Supreme Court case: "I hope they end it." That is dangerously close to announcing that he has no intention of protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, despite the fact that more than 70% of the populace supports that portion of the ACA. As with the 130,000 needless dead (see above), this remark may just show up in a Democratic commercial/speech or two in the next few days. In fact, Trump's releasing the interview early will surely backfire since it gives the Democrats a few crucial extra days to work his remarks into their ads. (Z)

And So It Begins?

As anyone who follows politics knows, the U.S. has many adversaries who are very interested in this year's election. And they are not the type to sit on the sidelines and watch politely. No, one or more of them is likely to get involved, by hook or by crook. In the last week, three different instances of attempted foreign interference have already been revealed.

Going from oldest to newest, the first story is about Iran, which managed to get its hands on some voter registration information. And they used that information to send fake e-mails to Democrats, ostensibly from the Proud Boys, threatening to "come after you" if the recipient votes against Donald Trump. Exactly what Iran was hoping to accomplish is unclear, but it's certainly a ham-fisted and hacky scam, unlikely to have any substantive impact.

Meanwhile, the Russkies have also laid their hands on some voter registration information. Their motives are even less clear than those of the Iranians, though it is known that Team Putin also pulled this stunt in 2016. It is also unclear if any secure election systems were compromised; it's possible that the Russians and the Iranians both got their information from publicly available sources.

And finally, it was revealed yesterday that election infrastructure in Hall County, Georgia, was hit with a ransomware attack. It's a small county (pop. 204,441) in a state known for having outdated voting equipment, so maybe this is no big deal. On the other hand, maybe it's a test run for something much larger and more nefarious. Little more is known, at least not publicly, including exactly who was behind the attack. That part of Georgia is deep red, for what it is worth, and is represented in Congress by...Doug Collins, who is currently running for Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-GA) seat. Collins is hated by the Republican Party and by the Democratic Party, which means if he does happen to be the target, the perpetrator could be...nearly anyone.

We haven't the faintest idea of what this all presages, if anything. However, we will point out two things. The first is that while there have been constant threats of foreign interference in this year's elections (and in 2018, and in 2016), all of the interference we have actually seen has been obvious and low-tech (like fake e-mails and propaganda on Facebook). Maybe the bad guys are having trouble pulling off something more sophisticated. It's true that GRU (Russian), and the MSS (China), and the Reconnaissance General Bureau (North Korea), and the VAJA (Iran) are good-to-great at what they do, but it's also true that the U.S. does not have one election system, it has over 3,000 counties, each of which runs its own election system. Hitting some sizable number of them all at once would be a task reminiscent of planning D-Day.

The second thing we will point out is that it's quite difficult to hack mail-in ballots, of which there are now close to 35 million. It could be that the shift to a low-tech solution like paper ballots is all that is needed to combat the high-tech hijinks of the Vladimir Putins of the world. (Z)

(Don't) Speak to the Hand

This is strange and mysterious. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held his weekly press conference earlier this week, and all that anyone could talk about was...his hands. Here's a picture, so you can see why:

McConnell's hands are 
all red and purple, and have several band-aids on them

If you click on the link, you can also see there was some slight discoloration on his face, while those who were present say his neck was similarly affected. The Senator refused to entertain questions, other that to say there are "no concerns."

McConnell has something of a history of health problems, including suffering from polio as a child, so perhaps this is related to one of his chronic conditions. Alternatively, there are certain medications that have "discolored skin" as a side effect, and one of those is...hydroxychloroquine. If the Majority Leader did this to himself by going down that rabbit hole, it would be quite the story. Or maybe he's in training for a WBC Middleweight title shot. If so, he should take note that boxer Vaughn Hooks has already laid claim to the nickname "Turtle." (Z)

My Blue...Iowa?

We don't often cover polling for the House because it's sporadic, and also because there are 435 house districts, which is a lot. However, we think this is worthy of notice. Monmouth, which is one of the very best pollsters, took a look at all four of Iowa's house races. And boy, do they have good news for the Democrats. Here are the numbers (an asterisk indicates an incumbent):

CD Population Cook PVI Democrat Percentage Republican Percentage Net
IA-01 763,903 D+1 Abby Finkenauer* 54% Ashley Hinson 44% Finkenauer +10
IA-02 766,120 D+1 Rita Hart 51% Mariannette Miller-Meeks 42% Hart +9
IA-03 770,819 R+1 Cindy Axne* 53% David Young 42% Axne +11
IA-04 761,467 R+11 J.D. Scholten 43% Randy Feenstra 48% Feenstra +5

As you can see, the four Democrats are running ahead of the normal partisan lean of their districts by 9, 8, 12, and 6 points. That's quite a lot.

This cycle, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have been in a dead heat in Iowa, with Biden up an average of less than 1 point. The state's Senate race has been nearly as tight, with Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield up about 2 points on Sen. Joni Ernst (R). And it's very possible that things really are that close. On the other hand, if the four congressional districts are red, very blue, very blue, and very blue, and voters are loath to split their tickets, it could be that Trump and Ernst are both in more trouble in the Hawkeye State than anyone knows. (Z)

COVID Diaries: It's the Stupid Economy

I was thinking that we would continue to modify our behavior as things got worse with COVID-19. Now it seems that we are more than willing to throw caution to the wind and just let it all go.

The top 10 states for new cases:

State New Cases/Day Notes
Texas 4,700 Up 30% in the last 2 weeks, still growing strong. Second wave.
Illinois 3,600 Looks to be on an aggressive exponential growth for the last 2 weeks. On to the third wave.
Florida 2,900 Up 25% in the last 2 weeks. Steady growth. Start of second wave.
California 2,800 Flat (end of first wave).
Tennessee 2,000 Doubled in the last 2 weeks and no end in sight. Second wave.
North Carolina 2,000 Doubled in the last month. Steady growth. Second wave.
Indiana 1,800 Doubled in the last 2 weeks. Serious start to a third wave.
Ohio 1,800 Doubled in the last month. Well into a big third wave.
Minnesota 1,500 Tripled in the last month. Starting a big third wave prior to really stopping the second.

What makes this all so disturbing is that each of these states (except for California) had peaked and then experienced a reduction in cases.

My data gathering while hiking (similar in scientific rigor to lawn-sign counting) indicates that masking is becoming more polarized. I am now seeing hikers who actively flaunt non-masking. I even get sneered at and mocked for wearing a mask (I call them "mask-holes").

There is no end in sight. Once a vaccine is available, we have to figure out how to make 300 million doses and distribute them. We also need to convince people that it is safe to take. All of this takes time.

So what does another full year (or more) of COVID-19 mean? The pandemic has taken a big bite of the entire world's economy. The World Bank is projecting a 5.2% contraction in global GDP for 2020. Kiplinger sees a 4.9% contraction for the United States.

The economy of the U.S. has not tanked largely because of massive stimulus packages. But the government spending may be little more than blowing air into a hot air balloon with a giant hole in the side. As soon as the air stops, the balloon will deflate. Most analysts project some recovery in 2021, but we will still be below where we were prior to the pandemic's start.

Let's look at the status of a few big industries:

  • Restaurants: They appear to be in a dire situation, and have lost a lot of money, employees, and customers. Even among restaurants that are allowed to reopen, 34% do not have enough customers to justify reopening and 27% do not have enough employees to staff the restaurant.

  • Air Travel: Air travel is down 40% with no recovery in sight. The question is, will the industry rebound at some point? Experts predict that business travel will probably be down for the foreseeable future, leisure travel can only return when travelers feel safe, and that even if COVID-19 gets eliminated, there will still be fear about when the next COVID-19-like illness may strike.

  • Sports and Entertainment: The NFL opener was only down 13% from last year (I would have expected more). It is possible that professional sports may recover and work in a TV-and-a-handful-of-socially-distanced-spectators format. Movies and concerts from the symphony to Lady Gaga have been shut down for months and many will not be back for a year or more. Entertainments whose performers or audience skew older (like, say, the symphony) may take an additional year on top of that.

  • Personal Care: Barbershops, nail salons, beauty salons (a $57 billion industry) were all causalities of the pandemic. There are certainly many people who went back as soon as it was possible, but many others remain cautious. I have discovered that my 14-year old can cut my hair (and I his) just as well as a barber in far less time, and many others have undoubtedly learned the same. Between caution and do-it-yourselfers, the industry will take a long term hit.

  • Energy: Demand is down 40% for traditional sources, up sharply for renewable sources. There is a lot of worry that we are headed for a major recession, so energy purchases are very cautious, on the whole. Recovery here will track with the recovery of the overall economy, and in particular the recovery of the travel industry.

  • Retail: U.S. clothing sales are down 50% for the year, largely because people working from home need less clothing, and less "nice" clothing. Brick and mortar stores, in general, are taking a beating while online shopping is getting a big boost. Amazon hired 175,000 people earlier this year, and now is trying to hire another 100,000.

The question across the board remains: "Once COVID-19 is gone, will life return to normal?" The answer is: "not for a very long time, if ever." Working from home has been shown to be both efficient and productive for many employers and employees. Telehealth has transformed the health-care industry and is here to stay. The way we live our lives is going to be quite different for at least another year, and some of those changes will become habits that will change the way we live.

Hot off the Presses

We will probably be hearing a lot about this.

It is well known that most people who get COVID-19 get mildly to moderately sick, but a small percentage get very sick. A study just came out in the print version of The New England Journal of Medicine in which the authors analyzed a piece of the genome of 1980 COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory failure from Italy and Spain. In addition to validating that some blood types (type A) make you more susceptible than others (type O), they did some very nice work investigating some precise genetic markers (for those of you who took genetics in college, 2 different SNPs, one on in 3P: third chromosome long arm and one on 9q - 9th chromosome, short arm). It turns out that people who get very sick are more likely to have these specific genetic markers.

It is now 100% clear that genetics plays a part in how you will respond to COVID, although having the specific genetic markers does not necessarily mean a death sentence nor does lacking them mean a "Get out of Jail Free" card. Instead, the researchers demonstrated that the presence of these markers increases (by 32% or 77%, depending on the marker) your chance of getting very sick after testing positive for COVID-19. As the likelihood of severe illness is only about 5%, knowing you have one or the other markers might serve to make you more cautious and your doctors might be more aggressive in your treatment once you are diagnosed.

These markers are yet another piece of the puzzle that help us to understand how this disease works. It does provide insight that genetics is part of the reason that even some young healthy people are affected.

In the U.S., only 5-8% of the population has the "bad" marker. People with the marker have a risk factor that is similar in magnitude to the already well-known risk factors (for example: older than 65, diabetic, obese, etc.). You can't currently get tested for these markers by sending in a sample to 23 and Me, but if COVID-19 becomes more of a long term problem, I would not be surprised to see these markers included in basic genetic screening.

Researchers will continue to chip away at the problem, but don't expect any silver bullets.

Dr. Paul Dorsey, Ph.D., works in medical software, providing software to support medical practices and hospitals nationwide.

Today's Presidential Polls

We just discovered some old Civiqs polls to add. Adding all these numbers to our database causes the two Upper Midwest states that Hillary Clinton lost (Michigan and Wisconsin) to move from the "Strongly Dem" column to the "Likely Dem" column. That's a bit more tightening of the race, if it's correct. That said, Biden still has more than 270 safe EVs. (Z)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Arizona 47% 48% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
California 58% 32% Oct 09 Oct 18 Public Policy Inst. of Calif.
Colorado 55% 39% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Florida 52% 45% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Georgia 48% 48% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Iowa 47% 47% Oct 15 Oct 21 RMG Research
Kansas 41% 48% Oct 18 Oct 20 Siena Coll.
Michigan 50% 43% Oct 21 Oct 22 PPP
Michigan 52% 44% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Minnesota 48% 42% Oct 16 Oct 20 SurveyUSA
Minnesota 51% 42% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Montana 43% 51% Oct 15 Oct 20 Strategies 360
North Carolina 48% 49% Oct 20 Oct 21 Pulse Opinion Research
North Carolina 50% 47% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Ohio 47% 49% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Pennsylvania 46% 48% Feb 27 Mar 03 Civiqs
Pennsylvania 46% 48% Mar 14 Mar 18 Civiqs
Pennsylvania 47% 47% Apr 04 Apr 08 Civiqs
Pennsylvania 49% 46% Jun 06 Jun 11 Civiqs
Pennsylvania 49% 46% May 30 Jun 02 Civiqs
Pennsylvania 51% 46% Oct 21 Oct 22 PPP
Pennsylvania 52% 43% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Pennsylvania 52% 46% Oct 17 Oct 21 Civiqs
South Carolina 45% 51% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Texas 48% 47% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Virginia 52% 41% Oct 13 Oct 19 George Mason U.
Wisconsin 50% 44% Oct 14 Oct 20 RMG Research
Wisconsin 54% 42% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult

Click on a state name for a graph of its polling history.

Today's Senate Polls

We are willing to believe that Georgia, Montana, and South Carolina are going to come down to the wire. We are less willing to believe that Arizona or Kansas is going to do so. Meanwhile, we see why Ben Sasse is free to say whatever he wants about Donald Trump. It's not common to have 47% of the vote, and yet to be up by nearly 30. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly 48% Martha McSally* 44% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Colorado John Hickenlooper 50% Cory Gardner* 42% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Georgia Jon Ossoff 44% David Perdue* 46% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Kansas Barbara Bollier 42% Roger Marshall 46% Oct 18 Oct 20 Siena Coll.
Kentucky Amy McGrath 40% Mitch McConnell* 50% Oct 19 Oct 20 Cygnal
Michigan Gary Peters* 48% John James 42% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Michigan Gary Peters* 52% John James 43% Oct 21 Oct 22 PPP
Montana Steve Bullock 47% Steve Daines* 48% Oct 15 Oct 20 Strategies 360
North Carolina Cal Cunningham 48% Thom Tillis* 42% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Nebraska Chris Janicek 18% Ben Sasse* 47% Oct 19 Oct 21 Cygnal
South Carolina Jaime Harrison 47% Lindsey Graham* 45% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Texas Mary "MJ" Hegar 41% John Cornyn* 46% Oct 11 Oct 20 Morning Consult
Virginia Mark Warner* 57% Daniel Gade 39% Oct 13 Oct 19 George Mason U.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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