By Robert A. Vella
In my lifetime, 16 presidential elections have occurred. I have no memory of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1956 reelection, and I have only vague memories of John F. Kennedy’s victory in 1960. But, I do recall the other fourteen quite vividly. One of the things I remember is how the opinion polling fluctuated over the last few months of the campaign even in blowout elections. For example, Lyndon B. Johnson’s lead over Barry Goldwater in 1964 varied by 17 points from June to October even though he ended up winning by the largest popular vote margin since the largely uncontested 1820 election. Similarly, Richard Nixon’s lead over George McGovern in 1972 shifted by 8 points from May to November; and, Ronald Reagan’s lead over Walter Mondale in 1984 eventually reached 11 points after polling showed a statistical tie in January (see: Historical polling for United States presidential elections).
But, the 2020 polling hasn’t varied much at all. Look at this graph:
What is the reason for this historical anomaly? What makes the 2020 election so much different than even the 2016 contest four years ago between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
The answer is clear from an objective viewpoint. There has never been a U.S. president as divisive and radical as Trump. Even the standard-bearer of consensus opinion for the worst president in American history, Andrew Johnson, doesn’t come close to matching the widespread condemnation of Trump. He has a loyal following of cultish supporters representing roughly ⅓ of the electorate, and he has about another 7% which will vote for the GOP candidate no matter how much they disapprove of him, but that’s only 40-41% of voters. The above graph strongly suggests that the number of persuadable swing voters is approximately 3-5%. For Trump to win reelection, he will need to win nearly all of these undecided voters and offset defections from within his own party (see: Exclusive: Biden garners more Republican endorsements, this time from ex-governors) as well as new voter registration deficits in key states (see: New Voter Registration Numbers Suggest Momentum for Democrats) with successful voter suppression efforts (aided by Russia’s Vladimir Putin). In other words, Trump needs to pull an inside-straight like he did in 2016. Although he has the power of the federal government behind him this time, his highly unpopular record as president has also generated a tremendous amount of anti-Trump sentiment that far surpasses what he faced four years ago.
Divisiveness is a two-edged sword. It forces people to choose sides, but it only succeeds if the divider’s side is larger.
Here’s the news:
From: Joe Biden: polls reveal lead remains the steadiest on record
Biden’s up 52% to 42% over President Donald Trump among likely voters nationally, and he has a 50% to 44% edge over Trump in the key battleground state of Wisconsin as well.
Biden’s 10 point and 6 point advantages are the exact same they were when CBS News/YouGov polled the contests before the party conventions.
The polls are reflective of a race that barely budges even after two conventions, protests and unrest in some cities over police brutality and as the nation navigates the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, the stability of this race is record breaking when looking at polling dating back to 1940.
Biden has maintained leads not just nationally, but in the swing states that matter. He has been consistently ahead in states totaling 270 electoral votes, including the states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
From: More and more top Republicans are warning that Trump’s groundless claims about mail-in voting could tank the party in November
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Party’s top House lawmaker, has told Axios that President Donald Trump’s war on mail-in voting could backfire.
“We could lose based on that,” McCarthy told the outlet, saying he had personally addressed the issue with Trump.
McCarthy believes that Trump’s attacks could deter older voters — a key part of the GOP’s support who might also be worried about voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic — from voting by mail.
He is one of multiple top Republicans to break with the president over the issue, with several GOP senators having also backed mail-in voting.
From: Trump’s USPS Chief DeJoy Under Pressure Over Employee Straw Donor Claims
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was under pressure on Monday following a report that he and his company allegedly pressured employees to make political donations to Republican candidates.
Former employees of DeJoy’s company, New Breed Logistics in North Carolina, said they were reimbursed using bonuses after making the donations, according to a report by The Washington Post. This practice is illegal under campaign finance laws.
“Louis DeJoy’s rise as GOP fundraiser was powered by contributions from co. workers who were later reimbursed, former employees say,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
“It is against the law to directly or indirectly reimburse someone for a political contribution.
Related story: Probe launched after bags of mail dumped in 2 spots in L.A. area [deemed suspicious after DeJoy’s sabotage of USPS]
Trump threatens to investigate and pull federal funding from schools that teach NYT’s 1619 project on the consequences of slavery
Trump reportedly took home $750,000 worth of art from the home of the US ambassador to France in 2018 after canceling a World War I cemetery visit
Los Angeles County records its highest temperature on record [121F]
Disneyland workers say positive COVID-19 cases are ‘kept under wraps’
Exhausted Indian doctors battle surging COVID-19 cases
Scientists fear the UK has ‘lost control’ of the coronavirus amid an ‘exponential’ growth in infections
‘We are in the second wave’: Europe on edge as cases spike
Key opposition figure in Belarus disappears after weekend of mass protests
Hundreds of Belarus protesters say they were beaten by police, demand justice
Exclusive: EU to blacklist 31 Belarus senior officials over election, diplomats say
Alexey Navalny: Russian opposition leader is out of coma, hospital says
[German Chancellor Angela] Merkel doesn’t rule out sanctions on [nearly completed] Russian gas pipeline, spokesman says
EU alarm as UK seeks to ‘clarify’ [i.e. renege] Brexit divorce deal
Interesting analysis of historical trends of presidential election polls. I agree that “Divisiveness is a two-edged sword.” But I disagree that “it only succeeds if the divider’s side is larger.” Election fraud is quite common in authoritarian governments. Some kidnap, poison, or kill the leaders of the opposition. It happened in Guyana on June 13, 1980. It’s happening right now in Belarus and Russia. Our Divider-in-Chief is already setting up his faithful followers to use violence to contest the election results if they are not in his favor.
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You missed my point, Ros. Elections are meaningless under authoritarian regimes. We Americans have one last chance to save our democracy. The Trump dictatorship hasn’t been realized yet.
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“The Trump dictatorship hasn’t been realized yet.” — and hopefully American voters will make sure it doesn’t happen. For the sake of everyone in the world.
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There are those of us who are fighting like hell to make sure that doesn’t happen, Carmen. Sadly, we also must overcome some within our ranks who are less resolute, less appreciative of democracy, and perhaps even harbor antipathies towards America. It makes our task much more difficult, but we will persevere. I’m confident, but cautious too.
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