By Robert A. Vella

Today, we’ll focus on two topical news stories:  1) how the dynamics of U.S. presidential elections, and perhaps even elections in general, have shifted from the importance of candidates’ popularity (measured as a favorability rating in opinion polls) to their unpopularity among voters;  and 2) a very sobering statistical projection of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

Up until the 2016 election, the prospects of presidential candidates was typically assessed by their popularity (i.e. favorability) among the electorate.  Although this measure didn’t always predict the eventual winner, it did so more often than not and did otherwise reveal how Americans felt about each candidate.  But, that dynamic changed dramatically in 2016.  Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were highly unpopular (see:  Poll: Clinton, Trump most unfavorable candidates ever).  Their favorability ratings were so poor that the news media and political pundits began to characterize the polling results as an unfavorability rating.  As Trump seeks reelection in 2020, that characterization still applies, but there is a huge difference in the political dynamic this year.  Four years ago, there was no incumbent president running for reelection and neither Clinton nor Trump were facing a national referendum on their record.  Now, that dynamic is squarely confronting Trump amidst his egregious failure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, his incendiary reaction to the massive racial injustice protests, and widespread condemnation over his thoroughly corrupt behavior, his gross incompetence, and his obvious unfitness for office.  Conversely, his opponent Joe Biden enjoys the enviable position of not needing to be very popular, he only needs to avoid being unpopular.

So far, roughly 5-7% of the U.S. population (about 16-23 million people) is estimated to have been exposed to COVID-19.  Almost 2.25 million have tested positive (.68% of the population), and nearly 121,000 have died (a fatality rate of 5.38%).  However, unless a viable vaccine and/or more effective drug treatments become widely available (which still remains uncertain), the contagion will continue spreading through the populace until herd immunity is reached at an exposure level of about 50-70% of the population (165 to 231 million people).  If that level of exposure is indeed reached, the number of positive cases will surpass 16.5 million and the number of deaths could rise to or even exceed 888,000.  For comparison, the total number of American deaths in World War II was approximately 420,000.

The following graphs show the worrisome disparity in new infections between the U.S. and Italy (which is representative of western Europe except for the U.K. and Sweden).  In other words, the first wave peak has come and gone in Europe but has plateaued (and beginning to rise again) in the U.S.:

Here’s the news:

From:  Months before election, Trump finds himself at odds with most Americans’ views

Trump takes the less-popular side of issues that Americans right now say matter, such as the coronavirus pandemic and police reform, according to an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos polling data since March.

It also shows him steadily bleeding support among a broad swath of voters, even ones that have been most loyal to him such as rural Americans and white evangelicals.

Biden now has a 13-point lead over Trump, the biggest recorded by the Reuters/Ipsos poll since Democrats began their state nominating contests earlier this year, powered by substantial gains among suburban residents, independents and high-income earners.

Even traditionally Republican-leaning groups – men, white suburban women and those older than 55 – have recently flipped for Biden, the polling analysis shows. Trump led elderly voters until May.

From FiveThirtyEightOur New Polling Averages Show Biden Leads Trump By 9 Points Nationally

Today we launched our general election polling averages, nationally and for all states with a sufficient number of polls. Recent polls show former Vice President Joe Biden with a solid lead over President Trump nationally, and in most swing states. Biden currently leads Trump 50.5 percent to 41.3 percent in national polls, according to our average — a 9.2-point lead.1

Biden also leads Trump in swing states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona — although his lead in many swing states are not as wide as his margin in national polls, suggesting that the Electoral College could once again favor Trump in the event of a close election.


Overall — assuming that states that haven’t been polled go the same way as they did in 2016 — Biden leads in states worth 368 electoral votes, while Trump leads in states totalling 170 electoral votes.2

From:  Top State Department official resigns in protest of Trump’s response to racial tensions in the country

A senior State Department official who has served in the Trump administration since its first day is resigning over President Trump’s recent handling of racial tensions across the country — saying that the president’s actions “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.”

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, submitted her resignation Thursday. Taylor’s five-paragraph resignation letter, obtained by The Washington Post, serves as an indictment of Trump’s stewardship at a time of national unrest from one of the administration’s highest-ranking African Americans and an aide who was viewed as loyal and effective in serving his presidency.

“Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character. The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions,” Taylor wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.”

From:  Top Pentagon official Wheelbarger resigns, urges colleagues to be guided by U.S. Constitution

WASHINGTON, June 18 (Reuters) – Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the Pentagon’s most prominent and respected policy officials, is resigning after three years in the job after President Donald Trump dropped plans to nominate her for an intelligence post, sources tell Reuters.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wheelbarger, who is highly regarded by national security experts in Trump’s Republican Party and among Democrats, had been named by the White House on Feb. 13 to a senior intelligence position at the Department of Defense.

But in a surprise move last week, the White House instead announced plans to nominate Bradley Hansell, a former special assistant to Trump, to the position of deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

From:  White Christians in the US have a race problem, a new book argues

Growing up in the South, Robert P. Jones attended Southern Baptist churches, Sunday schools, even a Southern Baptist college.

But it was only in seminary, in his mid-20s, that Jones says he learned the full truth about Southern Baptists’ white supremacist roots. The denomination was founded to defend slavery and did not formally rebuke its past until 1995, when Southern Baptists voted to apologize for their history of racism.

Jones was a social scientist before he realized how stubbornly racist ideas can persist in white churches.

“White Christian churches have not just been complacent; they have not only been complicit,” he writes in his book, “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity,” publishing next month.

“Rather, as the dominant cultural power in America, they have been responsible for constructing and sustaining a project to protect white supremacy and resist black equality,” he writes. “This project has framed the entire American story.”

In the book Jones, CEO and founder of Public Religion Research Institute, blends church history, memoir and contemporary public opinion surveys. Together, they make a clear and compelling case for why white American Christians need to reckon with their past.

From:  Anthony Fauci warns of ‘anti-science bias’ being a problem in US

The White House coronavirus task force has been out of public view as President Donald Trump has shown an urgency to move past the pandemic, downplay recent surges in Covid cases in some states, and get Americans back to work.

But the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has been warning Americans about the risk of further spread of the virus.


Fauci said “anti-science bias” in the country can be problematic.

“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said.


“It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is. It’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines,” Fauci added. “That’s really a problem.”

Trump has frequently disregarded expert advice — and often the guidance of his own administration — during the pandemic.

From:  Air Force inspector general probes use of military aircraft to monitor protests

The Air Force inspector general is investigating the use of military aircraft to monitor protests across the United States this month in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“Following discussions with the secretary of defense about shared concerns, the secretary of the Air Force is conducting an investigation into the use of Air National Guard RC-26 aircraft to support civil authorities during recent protest activity in U.S. cities,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the chief Air Force spokesman, told ABC News in a statement. “The investigation is being led by the Air Force inspector general. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.”


Twitter labels Trump video tweet as manipulated media, continuing its crackdown on misinformation

In Tulsa, Trump visit stirs memory of racial massacre

Tulsa mayor declares civil emergency ahead of Trump rally, sets curfew

Rallies, marches planned to commemorate Juneteenth

Pelosi orders removal of Confederate portraits from Capitol

The SEC said they would consider pulling championship events if Mississippi doesn’t change its flag

Republican rift opens up over qualified immunity for police

Spikes in US coronavirus cases bring states and cities back to the table to discuss protection measures

California governor requires residents to wear face masks in most indoor, outdoor settings

10 thoughts on “Candidate unpopularity and U.S. presidential elections, plus a sobering projection of pandemic deaths

  1. I’ve added the book by Robert P Jones to my To Read List. Real change is very difficult when beliefs are ingrained over generations. Also disturbing is the “anti-science bias” now taking control in our country, numbered among the world’s top technologically advanced nations.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, it’s classic cultism. When people become that fanatical, they’ll kill or even die for the cause. Remember Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple and Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Robert, here in Texas and my home County of Dallas the COVID-19 news is repeatedly sad, depressing, and disturbing. 😔 I was telling Tildeb earlier today about my experience out last night, about 11pm, saying…

    Just last night I had to stop by a nearby 7-Eleven convenient store. I put on my COVID-19 mask—now required by county judge order—and my rubber gloves because our infections and hospitalizations are spiking back up… AGAIN! Duh, told you so before Memorial Day weekend!!! 🤬 I was one of about 17 customers inside waiting in line to ring out, TRYING to keep 6-feet away from people. Not one single other person in there had a mask on, much less gloves, and one little man stepped right in front of me (less than 3-4 feet away) to look at lanyards on a display. I moved away from him. Nobody in there gave an EFFIN HELL about the renewed order or the fact that COVID-19 will never go away as long as we have irresponsible, utterly moronic people like I witnessed in that 7-Eleven store! I can’t tell you Tildeb how upset I was. 😠

    When I finished getting rung-up by the cashier behind the glass, I said very loudly “Has no one ever heard of Coronoavirus!? Geezzz!” and walked on out the door. I was pissed off!

    It seems today that every time I must go out—and we are BACK under a Code Red status of “Stay Home Stay Safe!” for Dallas County—I am constantly fighting against people who literally INVADE my 6-foot zone of social distancing and very few people around me are wearing masks or gloves. It is so very disturbing and angering Robert, I can’t see straight!!! 🤪

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you loud and clear. If, after the election, Texans continue this insanity, I’d recommend considering relocation to another state. Your physical and emotional health might be at risk if you stay.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am doing exactly that Robert. I have an 8-yr dear female friend (from China) who now lives in Overland Park, Kansas right now. She wants me to move up there, live together, as our close friendship is developing into something deeper, special, and right now there are very few reasons NOT to do it! 😁🤔 Lol

        However, my 80-yr old Mom is not too thrilled about me considering it. 😬

        Liked by 1 person

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