Biden Gets A Chance To Make His Case

[ Posted Tuesday, October 6th, 2020 – 16:35 UTC ]

Last night, Joe Biden gave the debate performance we all wished we had seen last week. Now, that statement isn't strictly accurate, since the event Biden appeared at last night was a townhall meeting with undecided voters and not an actual presidential debate. Also, the reason we didn't see this performance last week was because the incessant noise and bluster from Donald Trump made it all but impossible to hear what Biden was actually saying. Nevertheless, last night's performance was indeed what most voters should have watched instead of last Tuesday's debate.

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Electoral Math -- Biden Gets Post-Debate Bump

[ Posted Monday, October 5th, 2020 – 17:27 UTC ]

Any given week of the presidency of Donald Trump can feel like an eternity. Last week was no different. We started with the revelation that Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes for two years running, then we all saw the worst presidential debate in American history, then at the end of the week Trump announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 and entered the hospital. All in one week. This is why we are now moving to a weekly schedule for these "Electoral Math" columns. We'll post a new numbers-crunching column every week until the Monday before Election Day (which is now only four weeks from tomorrow).

The last time we took a look at the state of the state polls, none of the above had happened. This time around, some polling which took place after the disastrous debate is starting to be announced, however no polling to date has taken Trump's coronavirus diagnosis into account (that'll happen with next week's numbers).

Let's get right to it, starting (as always) with the chart of the overall Electoral Vote (EV) totals. Our data is provided by the great folks at, who tirelessly chart and map the all the state polling data on a daily basis.

This chart is read from the bottom (in blue) for Joe Biden, and from the top (in red) for Donald Trump. Whichever area crosses the 50-percent mark in the middle signifies who would win if the election were held today and all the polling was perfectly accurate.

Electoral Math By Percent

[Click on any of theses graphs to see larger-scale versions.]

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Friday Talking Points -- October Schadenfreudefest

[ Posted Friday, October 2nd, 2020 – 15:59 UTC ]

It's October... surprise!

The thing about October surprises is that they're always, well, surprising. No one expects them, and no one can predict their coming. That's the nature of any true surprise.

Late last night, the political world began reeling from what could be the biggest October surprise in a generation (at the very least), as the White House announced that President Donald Trump and his wife First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.

This was greeted in some quarters as not so much an October surprise as (to coin a term) an October schadenfreudefest. If there is any one individual who richly deserves to contract the coronavirus, after all, it is Donald Trump. Trump has pooh-poohed the virus from the very first, insisting that it will magically go away ("by April, when the weather warms up"), that it isn't that big a deal ("it's like the flu"), that testing is unnecessary, that it affects "almost no one," that most people get a mild case and recover, that many don't even know they've got it, that children "get the sniffles" (no big deal), that we've already defeated it ("we've turned the corner"), that it's all in the past, that getting the economy going again and getting kids back to school is more important than any imagined risk, and -- worst of all -- that wearing masks and social distancing and all that stuff is for sissies and definitely not for real macho men like him. Or to put it another way, the karma wasn't instant, but it caught up to Trump in the end.

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Schumer Successfully Trolls Republicans

[ Posted Thursday, October 1st, 2020 – 16:42 UTC ]

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer managed a rather extraordinary feat this week -- he forced a Senate floor vote on a bill designed to become campaign ad fodder for Democratic challengers to vulnerable Republicans. This is notable, because normally the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell controls what gets floor votes, not the minority party. And it was even more notable because five Republicans voted for it out of sheer terror of it being used in an ad against them. Three others didn't take the bait, and can now expect such ads to begin airing soon.

The bill would have (if passed and signed into law by President Trump, which would never actually happen, it must be pointed out) banned the federal government from arguing in court to kill the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in court. This is important for three big reasons: (1) the Trump administration has already joined the lawsuit trying to overturn Obamacare in its entirety, (2) the case will be heard before the Supreme Court almost immediately after the election, and (3) Senate Republicans are rushing to get another Supreme Court justice confirmed before the election.

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What's Next

[ Posted Wednesday, September 30th, 2020 – 16:25 UTC ]

You know why I want Joe Biden to win this election? Because I long to once again be bored with politics. I pine for those weeks when nothing at all happens -- where I have to think hard to even come up with a subject to write about. This used to happen with regularity, no matter which party was currently in control. But with Donald Trump as our president, it is impossible.

This more than anything else was the takeaway I got from last night's debate. America doesn't so much need a return to normalcy as it does a return to sanity. A return to a time when the president can be counted on not to be a world-class embarrassment. A return to facts meaning something once again. A return to an America where every decent person openly condemns white nationalist groups, without a second thought. Is this really asking too much?

But I'm going to shove all my own feelings about the debate's aftermath aside, because the entire punditocracy is already doing an admirable job surveying the smoking wreckage, for once. Few commentators are resorting to the easy crutch of "both-sides-ism" today, to put it another way. Joe Biden may have made minor misstatements last night, but Donald Trump spewed a pyroclastic flow of lies across the landscape, so the two really aren't comparable in any rational way. This morning, even Fox News was admitting that Donald Trump had had a bad night, and that it would behoove him to dial it back a bit in the next debates (if they even happen, which at this point is not an iron-clad certainty).

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Being Hit On The Head Lessons

[ Posted Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 – 22:03 UTC ]

Well, that was downright stunning. And definitely not in a good way ("You look simply stunning tonight!"). More in the literal sense of getting brutally smacked upside your head by a blunt object. In fact, when I sat down to think up a title for this article, the only thing that popped into my mind was the line from the classic Monty Python "Argument" sketch: "It's 'being hit on the head' lessons, in here." Because that's exactly what watching the entire 100 minutes was like, at least to me.

After sitting through all of the first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, I am even more convinced (as I wrote a while back) that there may wind up being only one such debate this year. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Donald Trump refuses to do a second or third debate, because the reviews are going to be absolutely terrible for him to read. I watched the debate on ABC, and when it was finished George Stephanopoulos immediately summed it up as: "the worst presidential debate I have seen in my entire life." I could not agree more.

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Electoral Math -- A Pre-Debate Snapshot

[ Posted Monday, September 28th, 2020 – 18:02 UTC ]

As we get closer to the election, these columns will increase in frequency as well. We haven't decided when to move to a weekly format (every Monday), but it's coming soon, just to let everyone know.

It has been two weeks since the last time we looked at the polls, and not a whole lot has changed. The race tightened a bit in a few states, but overall Biden still has the clear advantage.

Let's begin (as always) by taking a look a the chart of Electoral Votes (EV). Also as always, our polling data comes from the superb site, which we strongly recommend to people who love numbers and charts. Our first chart shows what percentage each candidate would get if the election were held today and all the polling was perfectly accurate. Joe Biden starts at the bottom in blue, Donald Trump starts at the top in red, and whichever color crosses the 50 percent line will be the winner.

Electoral Math By Percent

[Click on any of theses graphs to see larger-scale versions.]

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Friday Talking Points -- Plotting A Coup In Plain Sight

[ Posted Friday, September 25th, 2020 – 16:55 UTC ]

American democracy is on fire. Or on its deathbed, at the very least. Choose any dire metaphor you wish, but the red flags and warning signals are everywhere you look. The president of the United States of America made news this week when he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, should he lose the upcoming election. Later, watching the reaction on the news, President Donald Trump reportedly laughed about all the fuss he had caused:

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Reform Moves To Center Stage For Democrats (Part 2)

[ Posted Thursday, September 24th, 2020 – 17:11 UTC ]

Yesterday, I took a look at several Democratic reform efforts directed at both the legislative and executive branches. In the second part of examining how potent the issue of reforming government has become, we're going to focus on the Supreme Court, which is now at the center of the political world due to the untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Reform Moves To Center Stage For Democrats (Part 1)

[ Posted Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 – 17:32 UTC ]

Democrats were always going to run their 2020 campaign on a platform of "Reform!" They have made no secret of this fact. The very first bill Nancy Pelosi took up in the House of Representatives after regaining control of the chamber -- "H.R. 1" -- was a sweeping reform bill that is almost breathtaking in its scope of ethics and other governmental reforms. So from the very start, Democrats have signalled that this is going to be a key part of their agenda moving forward. Today, they followed up on this by introducing another sweeping reform bill, one that specifically addresses executive branch reforms which are now necessary after President Donald Trump's widespread abuses of power.

This is a winning issue for Democrats, so it is good to see them getting out in front of the issue in such a major way. Major parts of the federal government are now so broken that they are crying out for repair. Reforming all sorts of things about the way Washington works (or doesn't) is absolutely critical if Democrats want to move the country forward in any way next year. Even if Joe Biden wins the presidency and Democrats take back control of the Senate and retain control of the House, things could still grind to a halt with the rules that are in place now. So changing the rules to fix obviously broken things is a pretty easy sell to the voters.

How easy? Well, after H.R. 1 was introduced, polling showed that 82 percent of all voters said the would support reforms to tackle corruption in Washington. That's a pretty strong number, in these divided times.

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