Friday, August 7, 2020

Trump is a Problem for Gardner, But Also a Great Benefactor

Donald Trump is losing Colorado today in the presidential race and may drag Cory Gardner down with him. But, it is also a great boon having a friend in the White House worried about Gardner’s re-election.

Much of Gardner’s campaign message will tout what he accomplished for Colorado, including passing the Great American Outdoors Act, moving BLM, securing the Space Force, etc. Gardner is also very adept at working with the Senate leadership. Very impressive record for a freshman, but is it enough?

President Donald Trump signs the H.R. 1957, “The Great American
Outdoors Act,” at the White House, Aug. 4, 2020 | Alex Brandon/AP

Trump Searches for Silent Majority With New Ads – Unfortunately, It’s Not 1972

The Trump campaign released a couple of new advertisements in target states that have early voting. It’s part of the shift in strategy by the new campaign manager, Bill Stepien. The messaging is basically aimed at the base Trump Republican voters. The message is that Joe Biden is captive of far-left Bernie Sanders, AOC wing of the party. It shouts out: taxes, immigrants and crime.

The Silent Majority strategy is an attempt to replay the Richard Nixon 1972 campaign of running against “acid, amnesty and abortion.” The difference between the Nixon and Trump campaigns is that Nixon managed to quiet most voter concern over the COVID-19 issue of that era – the Vietnam War. Through Vietnamization, Peace with Honor and massive troop reduction from 536,000 in LBJ’s last year to 24,000 in 1972, he could then focus his campaign on social issues and label Democrats “captured by the far-left wing of the party.”

It’s the Pandemic, Stupid
Unfortunately for Stepien, Trump’s still losing by 60 percent to 30 percent the main issue on people’s minds – COVID-19. The Trump campaign is just reinforcing its narrow base, which may get it to 42 percent, but will have a struggle to even get the 46 percent of 2016, much less Hillary Clinton’s 48 percent.

Biden is Not McGovern
The second problem with Stepien, et al’s approach is that George McGovern and the 1972 Democratic Party was clearly controlled by the party’s insurgent wing. McGovern defeated establishment figures, like Ed Muskie and Hubert Humphrey, and the chaotic convention didn’t welcome big city mayors, like Richard Daley, Democratic governors or major labor unions. Biden defeated the liberal wing on Super Tuesday and they surrendered shortly thereafter. The basic Republican message is not a good fit. It’s not 1972.

Watch “Silent Majority” ad here

See Washington Times article:
Trump team’s blitz on Biden shifts to early battlegrounds

The South and West are Rushing Forward in COVID-19 Fatalities

From well back in the queue, California is now in third-place among the states in COVID-19 fatalities, jumping ahead of Massachusetts in the last week. New York and New Jersey are still the frontrunners in number of deaths, but also in managing the virus. Texas is on a tear, and in the last week, overtook Florida in reported deaths. Texas and Florida are now sixth and seventh, respectively, as the states in the Northeast and Midwest have lowered their rates of new infections and deaths.

This is clearly a difficult disease to manage and it’s putting tremendous strain on the health care system, the economy and social relationships in general. But, political leadership from Washington, down to counties and mayors, are reeling from the tension between the virus and the economy. Although there are majorities for safe, careful reopening and return to schools, there is also a strong and vocal minority resisting masks and social distancing and for a rapid return to pre-pandemic conditions.

Democrats Need Four Seats to Win the Senate – Three are in the West

Democrats need a net of four new seats to win control of the Senate and remove Mitch McConnell as majority leader – a top party goal. They assume they are going to lose the Alabama Senate seat won in 2018 in a very strange special election. They are targeting vulnerable incumbents in Maine and North Carolina. But, three possible wins exist in the Mountain West in Arizona, Colorado and Montana.

  • In Arizona, Mark Kelly is 7 points ahead of incumbent Republican Martha McSally. President Trump is losing to Joe Biden by 4 points. Trump truly needs the state and is visiting it incessantly. He carried it by 3 points in 2016. 
  • Trump is far behind in Colorado. The state received an Ivanka Trump visit, but is not targeted. He’s behind by 13 points. The senate race is closer, but Democrat John Hickenlooper is still 6 points up over Cory Gardner. Trump lost the state by 5 points in 2016. 
  • Montana is new to the list of Democratic senate targets. It is a longer-shot since Trump is ahead by 6 points and won it by 20 points. However, Democrat Governor Steve Bullock is now ahead of incumbent Steve Daines (44% R to 46% D).

If elected, the three new senators would make their state delegations all Democrat, joining with New Mexico (a very likely Democratic win replacing retiring Democrat Tom Udall) and Nevada.

In Last Half of July, Mexico Reaches Third and India Jumps to Top Five in Fatalities

Europe is receding in new virus infections and fatalities, even as it opens up, but the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and India are surging. With Mexico just jumping around the UK to third in deaths, the Western Hemisphere now dominates the COVID-19 crisis. In the last three weeks, the U.S. added 22,000 deaths, about 1,000 a day, a major increase from the plateau reached in June.

Weak health care systems and irresolute leadership appear to be contributing to Brazil, Mexico and India joining the U.S. as the top COVID-19 countries, with France, Italy and Spain falling back in the queue.

After four months, it’s finally dawned on Donald Trump that his presidency was likely to be another fatality of the virus. It’s not clear that the Jair Bolsonaro, Andrés Manuel López Obrador or Narendra Modi – all populist-style leaders – will have the same political problem as Trump, but managing the virus is the overwhelming crisis and political imperative for these times.

See The Buzz:
World Fatalities Pass 560,000: Brazil Now in Second, Mexico Jumps to Fourth and the U.S. Surges Again
World Fatalities Pass 400,000; Brazil Moves to 3rd
Open for Business and Living With the Risk

Gardner Needed That

It was a good week for Cory Gardner. First, a poll was reported that had him closing the gap with John Hickenlooper. And then, Donald Trump touched the third nail of American politics – cancelling an election – which Gardner was able to quickly condemn. The seriousness of Trump’s transgression was reflected in the speed it was rejected by even the cautious Mitch McConnell and usually supportive Wall Street Editorial Board.

Read Crossley blog:
Can Trump Hold the Line?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) and Sen. Corey Gardner
walk to the Senate Chamber, July 27, 2017 | Cliff Owen/AP

Will the Presidential Race Tighten?

The President and his campaign are attempting to adjust to the reality of nearly two months of polls – both national and battleground – that show him losing well beyond Hillary Clinton’s polls at the same time in 2016 and upwards of twice the margin of error.

President Trump has been a few points behind Joe Biden since early in the year, but it was after Memorial Day that the spread expanded, settling at 8 points on June 17. It rose to 10 and is currently at 8. Trump remains highly unpopular, with a 43 percent approval and a negative 55 percent (12% deficit). His party is down 9 points in the generic ballot test and only 23 percent of the public believe the country is moving in the right direction.

But, will the polls tighten? Yes, for several reasons:

  • After Labor Day, all pollsters shift to likely voters because attention to politics ramps up and registered voters are more likely to know if they will vote. This should help Republicans since historically likely voters have tended to be older, higher social economic status.
  • Trump, in an effort to close the gap, is ramping up his social media and traditional campaign advertising with an emphasis on cultural issues, and is targeting his voters, including identified undecided and weakly committed. Also, he is aiming to persuade people who only occasionally or seldom vote.

Could Trump Win?

No, not with these numbers, but many things could happen in the last 95 days. Biden has kept a low-profile, but soon will decide a vice president, direct a virtual convention and debate. All of the activities have possibilities of mistakes.

Finally, there’s the completely unexpected: the Comey, WikiLeaks, Access Hollywood type of event that caused a major turbulence in 2016.

So hang on. The polls may be correct today, but they can and are likely to change, especially in a year where a pandemic and George Floyd-type of events dominate and so many historic political and presidential norms have been broken.