As I start this post, the Deprogramming101 countdown clock is at 16 days, 15 hours, 7 minutes and 47 seconds until election day. But who’s counting. EVERYONE! And, if you are obsessed with what is at stake on the ballot November 3rd, your head explodes with every new headline and poll, each worthy of a deeper examination. However, this morning I thought I would share some random thoughts, some sane, some less so.
The Ginsberg Effect
Democrats hoped Ruth Bader Ginsberg had enough life left in her to survive until January 3, 2021, the date on which they expected a majority of Democratic senators to be seated in the “world’s most deliberative body,” a moniker which hardly seems still appropriate. But Ginsberg is not the only person who was in the race against time.
This week I learned a revered member of our community and a Biden supporter had passed away after a long illness. I am embarrassed to admit my first reaction, “Did she get a chance to vote before she left us?” Then I learned she died five weeks ago, before mail-in ballots were distributed. I am sure Marco Rubio, the People of Praise and Father Edward Meeks will chalk this up to divine intervention. And they wonder why 26 percent of Americans do not believe in God.
Biden’s Cuban-American Problem
The Trump campaign believes Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County will once again deliver Florida’s 29 electoral votes for the Republican candidate as they did in 2016. To make that happen, they have targeted this voting bloc with television and social media advertising reminding this faction they left Cuba to get away from socialism. So, why would they vote for Joe Biden, who, with help from Bernie Sanders and AOC, will make America just like Cuba. Unfortunately, the tactic seems to be working, especially among older Cuban-American voters.
Yet, that is not Joe Biden’s problem. The more salient issue is the inability of his campaign or the DNC to reframe the issue. This is not rocket science. These people did not leave Cuba because of socialism. If Cubans were wealthy and lived freely in an open society they would still be there. They left because Fidel Castro was corrupt, jailed his political opponents and put ideology above the welfare of the people. Where are the Biden ads which remind Cuban-American voters:
Since the Mariel Boatlift, which brought many of you or your ancestors to America, you have enjoyed the rewards of living in a democracy. During the intervening 40 years, the United States has been governed by Democrats and Republicans, but they all had one thing in common. They believed in the rule of law, the right for opponents of the government to have a voice and the nation’s leaders should be chosen by ALL the people.
For the first time since many of you arrived on American soil, that legacy is in danger. Donald Trump wants you to believe he can only lose if the election is rigged. He wants Attorney General Bill Barr to jail his political opponents. He does not distinguish between the government and his personal business interests. He prefers catering to Russia more than supporting the spread of democracy globally. Sound familiar? Isn’t that the real reason you came to America, to get away from autocrats?
Sometimes You’re Right
Hall of Fame Pitcher Dizzy Dean once said, “It’s not bragging if you can do it.” So, I am going to give myself a pat on the back. In Wednesday’s post “Heed the POLITICAL Scientists,” one of the OLD rules of politics which I believe still apply to the NEW politics of the Trump era was, “Manufactured October Surprises Seldom Work.” I bet Rudy Giulliani and the New York Post wish they had been a subscriber to Deprogramming101.
Less than 24 hours later the Post published an article titled, “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad.” Within hours of its dissemination, Twitter announced the conspiracy theory had so many holes in it they blocked on-line links to the article. And now the FBI is investigating whether Giulliani had been targeted by Russian intelligence to be the bagman in LaptopGate.
As I watched this farce unfold, I was reminded of something former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) wrote in an article “How to Impeach Oneself” for The Hill.
Third, the president would bring in people to do damage control and have those supposed experts actually deliver more damage. This, of course, has been the outcome of the recent addition of Rudy Giuliani to the president’s personal legal team.
And Sometimes You’re Wrong
Some of you long-time readers might remember a February 15, 2017 post titled, “The Old Switcheroo,” in which I castigated NBC for courting the Trump resistance after “aiding and abetting the normalization of Donald Trump” during the 2016 election. Evidence included Trump’s hosting “Saturday Night Live,” an appearance on the NBC/Golf Channel’s show “Feherty,” and Jimmy Fallon’s milquetoast interview in which he played with whatever that is on top of Trump’s head.
So, when NBC offered the crybaby-in-chief an hour of air-time opposite Joe Biden’s town hall on ABC, my first reaction was, “Here we go again.” In protest, I cancelled my subscription to Peacock, NBC’s new premium streaming service. Catering to Trump was so unpopular among MSNBC on-air talent, they made a point of reminding viewers NBC News and MSNBC were separate legal entities under different management.
One voice in the wilderness was Joe Scarborough. And the day after Trump’s latest on-air implosion, it was evident why Morning Joe was right. He reminded us how quickly Trump’s approval ratings dropped during his White House “COVID briefings.” In other words, the more people see Trump, the more likely they are to ask themselves, “Do I really want four more years of this?” Even the overnight viewer ratings bear this out. More people wanted to see what Biden had to say than watch Trump.
Sometimes I’m wrong, and that is not a bad thing.
The POLLar Express
If you are nervous about the outcome of this election, your blood pressure probably rises and falls based on the daily polling results. Understanding where the race stands on any given day is further muddied by the numerous polling firms, the time frame in which the sample is queried and the differing methodologies.
One of my mentors in voting behavior, Richard Scammon, who designed the first exit poll, NBC’s Voter Profile Analysis, always reminded us, “Single polls tell you where voters are. What you want to know is where they are heading.” Unfortunately, most polls select a different voter sample each time they take the electorate’s temperature. There is one major exception. The USC Dornsife “Daybreak Poll” which repeatedly asks the same sample of approximately 5,500 likely voters their preference over two weeks, a 14th of the sample each day. Their daily update is the average for that 14 day window.
Here’s what this kind of longitudinal tracking tells us.
- On September 29, 2020, the day before the presidential debate, Biden already held a sizable lead 51.75-42.25 percent.
- On October 1, 2020, the day after the debate, the lead increased to 52.48-42.14 percent. Keep in mind, this is based on having re-checked only1/14 of the total sample.
- As all of the sample were re-queried by the 14th day following the debate, the lead stretched to 53.72-41.58 percent. However, a portion of the sample had now been affected by news of Trump’s contracting the coronavirus and hospitalization.
- Since Trump’s return to the White House and campaign trail, the margin has hardly moved. For October 16, 2020, the spread was 53.52-41.73 percent.
What does all this mean? There has been some, but very little erosion, in Trump support, maybe .75 percent. But late deciders, as predicted, are becoming more comfortable with Biden, increasing his support by almost two percent.
Of course, 16 days, 13 hours, 10 minutes and 1 second are an eternity in politics.
For what it’s worth.