Thursday, September 17, 2020

National Dashboard: 50 Days Out – Little Movement

With less than 50 days to November 3 and only a few weeks until ballots arrive in Colorado (October 9), the National Dashboard of Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s positions have not moved significantly since mid-April. Biden still leads in the head-to-head and Trump still maintains his mid to low 40s approval rating as he has for most of his term.

As of September 15, post the two conventions and more than a week after Labor Day, polls continue to range around the same averages in spite of a variety of astounding news with The Atlantic article accusing the President of denigrating the war dead, the Bob Woodward book accompanied by tapes of interviews with Trump, and more protests and violence in American cities. Also, both candidates are now going into battleground states – the President with his raucous rallies and Biden with masks, small groups and Zoom.

The President’s current disapproval at 54 percent and a negative 9 points is slightly better than two weeks ago, but the head-to-head spread remains a similar 7 points, down from 8 to 10 during the summer, but still substantial.

Trump is betting, as the virus recedes in the news and some level of normalcy gains traction, that his law and order theme and the economy will work with swing voters and late deciders for the final advantage. The numbers remain close enough to make the theory plausible, but early voting is starting and the numbers have been stubborn.

From Left to Right, Social Issues to Taxes, Colorado Voters Face Eleven Ballot Issues

In a Colorado Politics report. Marianne Goodland (9-8-20) describes the impact, sponsors and opponents of the 11 ballot issues Colorado voters will sort through this election.

I predict massive turnout because of the presidential race. I did not believe the ballot issues would influence it, but will have to deal with it.

As University of Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said recently, there’s something on the ballot for everybody this year.

The 11 measures approved for the Nov. 3 ballot touch on social, fiscal and electoral issues and represent diverse political views, Ciruli told Colorado Politics.

As a result, it's a wash for either side to think a particular ballot question would drive turnout in their candidates' favor. Voter turnout in Colorado is likely to be record-setting, regardless, Ciruli said.

The major protagonists include: environmental groups interested in introducing grey wolves and the farm and ranch community in opposition; long-time opponents engaged in an abortion limit; conservative tax groups are active for tax reduction and the placement of fees under TABOR; and liberal interests are backing paid leave with business interests in opposition. More than $10 million has already been raised, mostly from out-of-state funders. 

As Vaccine Becomes Politicized, a Majority Won’t Take It

 Preparation, introduction and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine have become politicized, and now two-thirds of the public say they won’t take it. Another blow to President Trump, who saw it as a game changer for his come from behind Election Day strategy.

With Trump’s frequent insistencies that the vaccine would be ready before the end of the year and the recent order from the CDC that local distribution sites be ready before Election Day, the vaccine is now part of the political landscape and its utility to containing the virus is compromised.

A new poll shows that only a fifth of the public (21%) would get vaccinated as soon as possible. The majority (58%) would wait to see what happens. Two-thirds (65%) say “if there is a vaccine this year” their “first thought would be” it was “rushed through.” The YouGov panel poll was conducted September 2-4, 2020 for CBS News.

In another indicator of the politicization of the vaccine: in March, 86 percent of voters trusted information from the CDC. Today, only 54 percent.

In fact, there is an across-the-board decline in the credibility of authorities and sources of information about the virus, but the CDC took the brunt of the loss.

The More Trump Campaigns, the More Democrats Benefit

Joe Biden’s supporters are more likely to say their support is based on dislike of Donald Trump than support for Biden. A majority of Democrats (56%) say dislike of Trump is the main reason for their support of Biden. Only 19% of Trump supporters say their main motivation is dislike of Biden.

Observers have suggested that this is one of the origins of the enthusiasm gap between Biden and Trump (20% difference between “strong support” for Trump – 66% over Biden – 46%). But, it also reflects the contradiction in Trump’s basic strategy. The more he campaigns, especially on his instinct and with his aggressive rhetoric, the more he strengthens Biden’s base and alienates independent voters.

For example, the thrust of the Trump convention and post-convention strategy is law and order. And indeed, Americans oppose the violence they see and read about on the news and newsfeeds. But, when asked if what the candidates are saying about protests is making the “situation better, worse or doesn’t have much of an affect,” 55 percent say Trump makes it worse, including 26 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of Democrats, and importantly, 53 percent of independents. Only 13 percent of the public believes he’s helping.

In a follow-up question, Trump lost out to Biden by nearly two-to-one on questions of uniting vs. dividing America (64% Biden vs. 33% Trump), doing a better job of handling race discrimination (64% Biden vs. 34% Trump), or doing a better job handling protests (59% Biden vs. 39% Trump).

Gardner Hits the Final Run Still Off the Pace

The August 30 poll from Morning Consult, the second in the last six weeks, brought bad news for Cory Gardner. He was 9 percentage points behind his Democratic challenger, John Hickenlooper, just as the race led into the final 60 days. An even more recent poll from AARP offered better news, but still showed Gardner down 5 points (51% to 46%) (9-5-20).

Gardner’s campaign and financial allies have been pouring money into advertising, much of it negative, in the hope of realigning the race. It has had a mixed result. In the Morning Consult’s July poll (7-12-26), the race had tightened to 6 points from a presumed 10 or more points in several previous polls before and after the June 30 primary. But then, they reported it as 9 points just before Labor Day.

As I commented recently, Gardner needs to show the race is closing or the party may begin to shift support to Republican incumbents in closer races, such as Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Steve Daines in Montana and Joni Ernst in Iowa.

The collective problem the entire Republican senate field faces is that the presidential campaign is stalled and 6 to 7 points behind nationally. Both of the latest Colorado polls have Donald Trump 10 points behind Joe Biden.

All the commentators on the poll mention that a Republican must win the unaffiliated voters to survive a statewide race in Colorado, and in the Morning Consult poll, Gardner is 23 points behind Hickenlooper by self-declared independent voters. He was 13 points behind in the earlier poll. The AARP poll reported voters 50 years old and older were 2 points in favor of Gardner (49% to 47%), a good, but not unexpected figure. However, it’s not good enough to make up for the difference among under 50 years old voters (52% Hickenlooper, 44% Gardner).

Read blogs:

Election Central: Conversation on Election 2020

 Is there a Silent Majority? Will the polls tighten? Where’s the Colorado senate race now?

Watch the Crossley Center video, “Election Central,” which reviews the candidate polls and the major election questions, including Election Night, as the campaigns go into their final runs.

August Economic Report Shows Slow Recovery. Bipartisan Public Support for More Stimulus Payments.

 The Senate defeated an economic stimulus proposal just as the American people reported it as their top priority and as the August economic report showed the pace of the recovery has slowed. In its top political issues for voting, Pew reported on August 13 that the economy was the most important issue for voters it tested, attracting 79 percent.

Although the overall unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent from 10.2 percent in July, the biggest news was an increase in reported layoffs and furloughs becoming permanent. Announcements of planned corporate layoffs has mounted with United Airlines – 16,000, American Airlines – 19,000, MGM – 18,000, Coca-Cola – 4,000, Marriott Hotels – 100,000 and Boeing – 6,000. The Federal Reserve confirmed the need for more stimuli, from Chairman Jerome Powell, to numerous board members, such as Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, who said: “Partisan politics threatens to endanger additional fiscal relief…a very significant downside risk to the economy today.”

Gallup reports a bipartisan majority support more stimulus. Seventy percent of U.S. adults support more federal stimulus payments, including 82 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

Both parties need to find a compromise. The public was also generous on the size of the payment, with majorities of both parties supporting payments of at least $600 per week.

Courts and Judges are Important to Both Parties

 President Trump in his long interview with Bob Woodward revealed the names of people on his shortlist of possible Supreme Court nominees. It included conservative Republican Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Josh Hawley (Missouri).

In a recent poll on the most important issues in the election, Supreme Court appointees were third on a list of 12 items asked of voters in early August 2020, with 68 percent of voters making it a “very important” issue. It ranked ahead of the coronavirus and violent crime, but behind the economy and health care. Both Democrats (61%) and Republicans (66%) believe it is very important, each from their own perspectives. 

Early Polls – Still Biden Advantage

 Donald Trump needed a bounce from his convention. In fact, he needed a leap. He was losing on average 7.4 points before the event and is losing this week by 7.2 points according to the RealClearPolitics average posted yesterday, Wednesday, September 2.

Today’s results aren’t much better in the battleground states. A new Fox News poll conducted in Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin through September 1 shows Trump losing to Biden by an average of 7 points. All three Republican senate candidates are also on the defensive.

Political Polls: Can we trust them?

I just did a political podcast for the University of Denver online radio on the accuracy of polls:

  • What happened to the polls in 2016?
  • Are they better today?
  • Biden’s ahead, but Trump has strengths
  • Is there a Silent Majority being missed in the polls?

Listen to the podcast here

Are National Republicans Giving Up on Gardner?

 In the online paper, the Colorado Times Recorder, reporter Sean Price puts together a story on speculation that since Donald Trump’s campaign hasn’t targeted Colorado, the national Republicans funding sources may be walking away from incumbent Senator Cory Gardner.
Sen. Cory Gardner | Getty Images

I doubted it, although I agreed it doesn’t appear Trump’s chances in Colorado, as of now, are very good.

Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado pollster and political analyst, does not believe Republican donors are going to back away from Gardner. He argues that Gardner is too close to leadership to forsake, but Ciruli can’t ignore the difficulties that Garner will face in his campaign.

“If you look at Arizona, the presidential race is close,” Ciruli said. “Same with Montana. The president may well carry North Carolina. It will be close in Maine. Nobody thinks Colorado is going to be close at the moment. There’s no way the Trump campaign is going to spend big in Colorado because you can’t find a poll that has Trump within ten points. And that is Cory’s problem.”

If Trump was investing in Colorado, it might help, but Gardner’s challenge is to be ahead of Trump by sufficient votes to defeat John Hickenlooper – today, polls have that number at least six points. Trump may lose by twice that amount. Finally, I argued that in late September/early October, the D.C. Republican funders of campaigns will make a decision as to where to put their final money.

Not until mid-September or early October will national Republican groups, like the NRSC, decide whether to desert Gardner, according to both Welchert and Ciruli “It’s important to note that McConnell’s PAC is pulling away,” Ciruli said. “That’s an important factor. But there is still quite a lot of other dark money in this race. Maybe on October 1, if Gardner is down 6-8 points, you’ll start to see them give up on him, but not yet.”

Could Hickenlooper Lose?

 As of mid-August, polls and political prognosticators suggest that Democratic Senate candidate, John Hickenlooper, will have to work very hard to lose to incumbent Senator Cory Gardner. But, if anxious Democratic activists are any indication, it could happen. Hickenlooper’s campaign is judged as weak and his strategy overly dependent on Donald Trump.

Polls suggest he’s at least 6 points ahead of Gardner and President Trump’s down at least ten to Joe Biden. Political science suggests the linkage between voters’ preferences for president and senate is very strong in the age of polarization.

But, the feedback from many media observers, political consultants and just activist Democrats desperate to win the senate is that Hickenlooper’s campaign is disorganized and losing ground. He appears to be trying to avoid engagement with Gardner and it’s creating an issue. He is also not interacting with local media, which wants calls answered. According to numerous activists, the campaign is depending purely on online and media advertising, but many are criticizing the ads as poorly produced and boring, which reflects the opposite of many of his previous campaigns. Hickenlooper appears remote and still without a short, clear message as to why he is running. Maybe it won’t matter – his handlers seem to think so. But, the negative feedback is loud.

Democratic senate candidate John Hickenlooper | AP photo

Friday, September 11, 2020

Ciruli: Podcast – Are the Polls Accurate?

Poll Skeptic
“I’ll bet $100 that the polls on 1 October will be off by MORE than the margin of error from the results of the presidential election in early November. I’m interested to see if indeed polling has improved in the past 4 years from the dumpster fire it was in 2016.”

I pointed out that polls on October 1 will describe the election on that day within the margin of error, not the result on November 3. Polls in 2016 weren’t a “dumpster fire.” Tune into my DU podcast to get the full discussion.

Political Polls: Can we trust them?

Since Donald Trump's upset victory in the 2016 election, skepticism of political polls has grown steadily. After all, the numbers showed Hillary Clinton in the lead from start to finish. Pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli talks to us about what happened four years ago, the likelihood of the president eking out a similar victory on Nov. 3, and what it all says about the state of the country and democracy worldwide. Listen here 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The U.S. and China in the 2020 Election – A New Cold War?

China is a topic in the U.S. presidential election. President Trump and the administration regularly speak of it in disparaging terms. Public sentiment and many members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment have turned against it decisively. Does the next U.S. administration inherit a new Cold War with all of its costs and dangers?

Professors Suisheng (Sam) Zhao and Floyd Ciruli will lead a conversation on China as a presidential election issue and the alternatives for China policy in the next administration.

Join the talk on September 30 at 3:00 pm MT

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Election Central: Pre-Labor Day Update

The Democratic Convention is done and the Republicans are underway. Join us September 1st when the conventions are over to preview the race before the campaigns start in full force. The Friends of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research have organized a session to have a conversation as to where the campaigns stand.

We will have two highly watched races in Colorado – one for U.S. Senate, and after the upset primary, the 3rd Congressional District. But, of course, most importantly and powerfully influential on local races will be the contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The following topics will be discussed on September 1st at 11:00 am MT:
  1. Where’s the election today? Who’s ahead, who’s behind? U.S. Presidential, Colorado Senate, Third Congressional?
  2. Are the polls accurate? What about the Silent Majority (secret Trump vote)?
  3. Will the race tighten? What are the underdog’s strategies to win and will they work?
  4. Who’s going to vote? How many? Problems?
  5. What will election night look like? When will we call the race?

Former VP Joe Biden (L) and his wife Jill Biden (2nd left) and Sen.
Kamala Harris (2nd from right) and her husband Doug Emhoff (R) wave
to supporters after Biden spoke during the fourth day of the Democratic
Convention, Aug. 20, 2020 | Andrew Harnik/AP

Friday, August 21, 2020

Election Central: Pre-Labor Day Update

With one convention completed and the second about to begin, the election is poised to start in full force. Before the onslaught, the Friends of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research have been invited to a session to present a status report and have a conversation as to where the campaigns stand.

We will have two highly watched races in Colorado – one for U.S. Senate, and after the upset primary, the 3rd Congressional District. But, of course, most importantly and powerfully influential on local races will be the contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The following outlines topics we will discuss on September 1st at 11:00 am MT:
  1. Where’s the election today? Who’s ahead, who’s behind? U.S. Presidential, Colorado Senate, Third Congressional?
  2. Are the polls accurate? What about the Silent Majority (secret Trump vote)?
  3. Will the race tighten? What are the underdog’s strategies to win and will they work?
  4. Who’s going to vote? How many? Problems?
  5. What will election night look like? When will we call the race?


Crystal Ball
Electoral College Rating
July 14, 2020

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Battlegrounds: Millions are Being Spent in Battleground Advertising. Are the Numbers Starting to Move?

In the last month, there has been little movement in the battleground numbers, even with millions in advertising expenditures from the Trump campaign. The state polling numbers in 2020 are more reliable with multiple polls conducted by national media outlets.

The President improved his position by a point in Arizona and Michigan, two points in Florida, and his biggest gain of four in North Carolina, going to three points for Biden to one for Trump. He lost a point in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. I’ve added Ohio to the watch list. Trump won it by 8 points in 2016 and is now behind by 2 points.

Out of the seven states on the battleground list, three are within the margin of error (typically ±3 points). This remains a close race that will likely be fought through Election Day, and this year, like 2000, possibly after Election Day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

National Dashboard: Democrats in Strong Position as Convention Begins

Examining the National Dashboard from the last post on July 28 shows little change in the presidential race. As the Democratic National Convention begins, the Democratic presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, is 8 points ahead of Donald Trump. The convention appeared to get initial good reviews. The polls have been frozen in a narrow range and it will be surprising to see much of a bounce. And, of course, the Republican Convention begins next week and may receive its own bounce.

Trump’s approval rating remains at 42 percent in spite of repeated polls showing he has lost the COVID-19 management and the race relations issues by more than 20 percent. He does win approval on the economy, but it hasn’t helped yet. His highest approval this year was after impeachment and before the virus. It’s not clear how he gets back to that number.

Most professional pollsters and campaign consultants believe the race will tighten, especially after Labor Day. In fact, the race has closed by one point if July 1st is used as the baseline.

Third Congressional Now a Competitive Race

A top Democratic polling firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQR) just released a Third Congressional District poll that showed the race is tied (43% Mitsch Bush to 42% Boebert). It was a bit of a surprise. The district was judged to lean Republican because of recent wins by the incumbent Congressman Scott Tipton and Donald Trump’s 12- point win in 2016. The recent history would likely still give Republicans an edge in the district. But, the fact President Trump is also tied with his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden (43% each), this becomes a race.

Neither candidate is well-known, except for extreme images argued by partisans. Diane Mitsch Bush is labeled a “socialist” due to having support for Medicare for All and Democratic positions from her 2018 run. Lauren Boebert is a gun-toting, strong Trump supporter who’s made reference to QAnon. If the presidential race is close in the Third Congressional District, an “extremist” label is unhelpful. If Boebert avoids it, she’ll have the advantage because of her public relations skills and Trump-like positions. But, in a Democratic dominated House, having a pragmatic Democrat may be the preferred choice. Expect major campaigning with millions spent.

Read blog
Tipton is Gone. Can the Republicans Hold the Seat?

Economic Recovery Stalls as Deaths rise: Twin Towers – Part Nine

Since the last Twin Towers report on July 13, California, which had been fifth in COVID-19 fatalities, moved to third, and Texas leapt over a host of states to become fourth, with Florida following it at sixth, and likely to move up the next 30 days as total deaths have kept a steady pace of increases. Fatalities were up 22,000 from mid-June to July and 26,000 since mid-July to August 12 to a total of 168,000.

Although treatments are improving and fatality rates declining, the sudden flare-up after re-opening has spread anxiety about controlling the virus and undermining the confidence of individuals, business and government decision-makers on gauging the safe path to pre-COVID-19 activities. Reconvening schools and athletics and restarting the hospitality and recreational industries have been especially affected.

The unemployment rate in July compared to June went down to 10.2 percent from 11.1 percent in June. That remains a record high, near the top rate in the Great Recession of 2008-09 (10.0% Oct. 2009). Although 1.8 million jobs were added, that was lower than the 4.8 million in June and very few were in goods producing manufacturing.

The recovery was slowed in Florida, Texas and Arizona due to their spikes in COVID-19. The nationwide recovery is now being affected by the growing view that major labor market growth will depend on businesses having confidence that consumer demand will be steady and employees will feel safe. The spikes have reduced confidence, required some rollbacks, and extended the time required for the recovery. The most commonly heard comments are about the lack of national leadership, including the recent failure to extend unemployment payments and federal funding for schools, and state and local governments.

See blogs:
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part One
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Two
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Three
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Four
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Five
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Six
Recession Starts, COVID-19 Continues: Twin Towers – Part Seven
Surge in Infections and Deaths Threatens Jobs: Twin Towers – Part Eight

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.

Can Trump Hold the Line?

The Crossley blog regularly reports the political numbers. The table below has been updated monthly starting in April.

President Trump is aware his biggest problem is that his massive national polling deficit has spread to battlegrounds states where the vote is closer, but still significantly in Joe Biden’s favor. Republicans are in serious danger of losing the Senate in states where Trump is behind Biden, such as Arizona, North Carolina and Maine. Even until recently, seats thought safe are in play, such as Montana and Iowa.

RealClearPolitics currently rates the Senate with leaning and secure states as: 46 Democrats, 47 GOP and 7 toss-ups. When they distribute the toss-up seats by the available polls, the result is 52 Democrats and 48 Republicans, a source of concern for Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority.

As President Trump’s national and especially battleground state polling position has declined, a critical question becomes: Can he hold Republicans in line? He knows that respect or friendship for him among Republican colleagues is thin, but even among the most loyal, political survival is foremost and senators, governors and representatives are going to start looking for some separation.

The President hopes his numbers improve to reassure nervous colleagues. He has attempted some adjustments in his behavior related to the pandemic, changed campaign managers and dramatically stepped up campaign advertising, but there’s no relief in sight yet.

Trump Losing the Economy

Up until the last month, Donald Trump maintained a slight advantage in public approval in handling the economy. But, it has slipped away, and RealClearPolitics now, in its aggregate poll, has Trump’s approval as 48 percent to 48 percent disapproval.

His problem is complicated by the negative rating in handling the virus, which RealClearPolitics places at 39 percent approval to 59 percent disapproval, or a negative 20 points. As recently expressed in the Wall Street Journal, there are “doubts about a growing economy and recovery due to the uneven public health response.” The Federal Reserve, for example, sees a deeper downturn and more difficult recovery unless there is more effective action.

What Trump has never understood, and it has cost him much public support, is the relationship between the economy and public health. His distrust of government and skepticism of science have been major handicaps in his ability to deal with a recession induced by a pandemic.

Landslide: For Trump or Against Trump?

Although it is hard to believe now, earlier in the year supporters of Donald Trump thought he would win easily and possibly by a blowout. Even after the pandemic started, many kept the faith, believing handling COVID-19 well was an opportunity.

There are presidents in traumatic times who won by 20 points in popular vote and 200 or more electoral votes. Since Roosevelt, the biggest winners trying for reelection were Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 after the Kennedy assassination, Richard Nixon in 1972 in the tensions between the anti-war movement and Silent majority, and Ronald Reagan in 1984 as America emerged from a recession into “Morning in America.”

Looking back, these presidents’ opponents mostly appear hapless and off-key and choice is often an important element of the voters’ decision, but the economic and political context of these elections was even more decisive. In the three landslide elections listed below, only one challenger was above 50 electoral votes and they averaged less than 40 percent of the popular vote (see table below).

However, what President Trump’s team might consider is that he could get the challenger’s popular vote and dramatically fewer electoral votes than Hillary Clinton received in 2016 (227 electoral votes).

Public Skeptical Schools Should Reopen

Two new polls show the public much more skeptical about reopening schools than President Trump.

Only 8 percent of Americans say schools should open as usual for in-person instruction, the position of the incredibly obtuse Orange County School Board. Far more (77%) believe they should either not reopen (31%) or only with major adjustments (46%). Opinion reflects the 80 percent of the public who are very concerned that reopening schools will cause a major surge in the virus. Even 63 percent of Republicans register the same level of concern (AP/NORC poll).

When given a choice in a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll between reopening schools now to get people back to work and children in classrooms or wait until the virus contagion is low as possible, safety over back to work carried the day 63 percent to 32 percent.

Trump’s position, which is framed on the needs of the economy with little or no emphasis on safety, is shared by only about a fifth of the public, although about half of Republicans. A third of the public doesn’t want to reopen and presently prefers remote learning, but the majority position supports reopening with safety conditions, like masks and social distancing, along with remote learning options where needed or preferred by parents.

DU Pioneer Legacy Society Hosts Conversation on 2020 Election

On July 29, DU’s Advancement staff sponsored an annual event for its premier contributors. This year, they brought together Professor Seth Masket with me and Anne Trujillo as moderator in a political conversation about the 2020 election. A few questions addressed:

  • Will there be a big November turnout?
  • Can the polls be trusted?
  • Who’s likely to win the Colorado U.S. Senate race?
  • How has Donald Trump changed American politics? 

To hear the conversation, click on the link below and move the bar on the video to about 29:10 minutes in to start watching the conversation.

Ballot Issues Pile Up. Some Cultural, Some Big Money Changes.

Among the seven ballot propositions already approved, three are major advances in the cultural wars (wolves, abortion and citizenship), one is a straight- up partisan advantage effort (popular vote), and two raise more tax revenue (cigarette tax and Gallagher Amendment).

Three of the four waiting approval change the tax structure. Two are reductions and one (medical leave) is an increase. Casinos will most likely be left to self-regulate with one.

Ballot Issues With a Comment

Citizen Initiatives Approved
  • Repeal national popular vote law. A lot of grass root support for repeal, but Democratic tide? Partisan Advantage
  • More gray wolves. Urban vs. rural. Polls say popular, but is it a bad year to hassle ranchers? Cultural War
  • Late term abortion prohibition. Get-out-the-vote item for pro and con activists. Polls say popular. Cultural War
  • Only U.S. citizens can vote. Cultural War

State Legislature Referred
  • Repeal Gallagher Amendment. Major tax shift for businesses and smaller local government districts. Increase Tax Revenue
  • Raise cigarette and vaping products taxes. More Sin Taxes
  • Rules on charitable gaming.

Pending Review of Signatures
  • Lower state income tax of 4.63% to 4.55%. Major Tax Reduction
  • Vote on “fees” that raise big revenue. Major Tax Limitation
  • State-run medical leave. Major Business Tax Increase
  • Casino cities (and their industries) able to set betting limits. Gaming in three cities becomes wide open.

Senate Race Tightens

Cory Gardner needed a poll to show that, despite Donald Trump’s chaotic reelection campaign, he still has a chance in Colorado. It would have been disastrous to go into Labor Day down double-digits to John Hickenlooper. Final money from the national Republican Party, big PACs and dark money sources will get very competitive given the risk to the control of the Senate.

The poll was conducted by Morning Consult with 616 likely Colorado voters from July 17-26, 2020. They also polled in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina. Although the poll provides a lift for the Gardner campaign, it still highlights the challenge of running in tandem with Donald Trump.

The President is 13 points behind Joe Biden in Colorado. He is approximately 6 points lower than his national RealClearPolitics position as of August 3, 2020 (42% Trump to 49% Biden). It suggests that, even if he closes the race nationally, he will still be significantly behind in Colorado. Biden is at 52 percent, or 4 points ahead of Hillary Clinton in 2016 in Colorado (48%), and Trump is 4 points behind his result (43%).

In this poll, Gardner is 3 points (42%) above Trump (39%) and 6 points behind Hickenlooper (48%). Gardner and Hickenlooper were neck-and-neck in their respective senate and governor victories in 2014 (48% and 49%, respectively).

Both Hickenlooper and Gardner have their base voters’ support (87% Democrat and Republican support for each). Hickenlooper’s principle advantage at this point is among self-declared independent voters who claim to support him 48 percent to 35 percent for Gardner, a 13-point advantage. The ranks of independent-type voters have always been large in Colorado, but in a recent surge, they have gained many new residents and younger voters who have been mostly voting Democratic in partisan races since 2018.

The Hickenlooper and Gardner contest compared to the other four states’ polls is near the middle. Democrats are strongest in Arizona, with popular former astronaut Mark Kelly beating incumbent Republican Martha McSally by 16 points. Biden is up 7 points. Republicans do best in Georgia where Trump is only down one point and Republican incumbent David Perdue is up 3 points. In North Carolina, the presidential race is tied at 47 percent each, but Democrat Cal Cunningham is defeating incumbent Thom Tillis by 9 points. Michigan, which Trump barely carried in 2016 to push him over the top in electoral votes, is now a bust. He’s down 10 points to Biden and the Democratic candidate incumbent Senator Gary Peters is up 14.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Lousy Timing

Thursday was a new low point for Donald Trump’s campaign. The President had to bow to reality – a new strategy – and cancel his long-sought massive re-nomination rally, most recently relocated in what was more politically friendly Florida.

The admission of defeat was accompanied by a spate of new polls that showed key battleground states were slipping away from Trump, including his home state Florida. In Michigan, Trump is down 9, Minnesota down 13 and Pennsylvania down 11 points. In the Fox polls, Trump is running behind his 2016 numbers and his current job approval numbers.

The Florida poll from Quinnipiac is especially ominous given the President just had to bail out of his convention due to the surge in the COVID-19 virus and the state is a must-win for Trump’s reelection. He is behind Joe Biden 13 points. Most Floridians also believe Governor DeSantis opened the state too quickly (61%) and that the virus is now out of control (76%).

Quinnipiac just published a Texas poll that showed the presidential race within one point.

Cook, Sabato and Gonzales/Rothenberg Have Biden Near or Above 270 Electoral Votes

Kellyanne Conway |photo: CNN
Last week, the country’s three main election predictors looked at state-level polling data and other intelligence and shifted their Electoral Vote projections to a range between 268 to 319 for Joe Biden (See: Biden Advantage in Electoral Vote; Handful of States Will Decide). Donald Trump and his campaign can attempt various denial strategies, but Republican officeholders, professional operatives and donors know it’s true. So does Trump, which is why Kellyanne Conway and her advice has reemerged and is dominating the messaging.

Cook just adjusted his ratings from earlier in the year reflecting the now six-week collapse in Trump’s polling. He remains the most cautious on his projection of Democratic Electoral Votes (268).

Masks and coronavirus briefings with Trump reading prepared remarks for the suburban women and wavering independents, troops to Democratic cities for the base from a crises presidency that knows few boundaries, expect the unprecedented between now and November.

Biden Advantage in Electoral Vote; Handful of States Will Decide

Referenced in every commentary, reinforced by 2016, is that the national popular vote is not the deciding factor in the presidential race, rather the election will be decided in a handful of battleground states. But as Joe Biden’s recent acceleration in the national polls shows, an 8- to 10-point advantage nationally tends to translate to winning percentages in most swing states. In fact, it tends to add states to the list.

And, indeed, leading prognosticator Professor Larry Sabato’s latest Crystal Ball map shows more states in the toss-up category and more states now leaning toward Joe Biden. Sabato’s November map, now updated, showed three toss-up states with 42 electoral votes. He now lists four with 66 toss-up votes. But the bigger difference is the states leaning toward the respective candidates. In November, the two parties were nearly tied in electoral votes, and today, Democrats are assigned 268 vs. Republicans 204 (270 to win) (see table below).

The campaigns mainly agree with the listing, with heavy advertising in the toss-up states and the Trump campaign expanding into newly vulnerable states he won in 2016, such as Iowa, Georgia and Ohio (see the two maps below).

2020 Electoral College Ratings
July 14, 2020

2020 Electoral College Ratings
Nov. 7, 2019

The shifts from earlier this year to the new July map reflect a month of polling that reports Joe Biden ahead by 8 to 10 points over Donald Trump, with most swing states having Biden leading by 3 to 6 points. The shifts include Pennsylvania and Michigan moving out of “toss-up” to “lean Democratic” and Florida, North Carolina and Nebraska’s 2nd District moving from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.”

Two of the other most frequently cited prognosticators have just updated their Electoral College projections and they give Biden even bigger leads. The Cook Political Report of July 14 describes 72 toss-up states and 279 electoral votes for Biden and only 187 for Trump. Their toss-up list is Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Maine’s 2nd congressional seat. They list possible additional Trump losses if the campaign doesn’t right itself in Iowa, Ohio and Texas. Cook cites Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional seat as states that lean Biden, but could shift.

Nathan Gonzales and Stuart Rothenberg produced a July 17 report (Inside Elections) projecting Biden ahead of Trump 319 to 187, respectively. Well over the 270 needed for election. They have named four states – Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin and Nebraska’s 2nd District – from “toss-up” to “tilt Democratic.” They moved Georgia and Maine’s 2nd District from “lean” and “tilt Republican,” respectively, to “toss-up.”

National Dashboard: The Trump Slump

New polls are not good news for President Trump. The latest polling headlines tell the story of a presidential campaign in a freefall:

And panic has started to set in after more than 30 days of lagging behind Joe Biden by twice the polling margin of error and nearly three times Hillary Clinton’s lead at this time four years ago. (See Crossley blog: Trump Behind Nine Points for Entire Month)

Republican donors are shifting funds to the senate, recognizing that may be the only wins possible. Republican governors are breaking ranks from Trump and the White House on messaging and strategy concerning the seriousness of the virus, speed of opening up, use of masks and the value of testing. Last week, the President and White House shook up the campaign with a new campaign manager. And Sunday, a supposedly friendly Fox News interview saw a defensive and testy candidate arguing that there is no problem with the virus or polls.

Looking at the National Dashboard, it’s obvious that 100 days from the election, Trump is in serious trouble. His approval rating at 42 percent is in a territory of presidents who historically lost, he’s 9 points behind Joe Biden in the head-to-head. Only 24 percent of the country believes it’s going in the right direction (69% wrong track), and when offered a party choice for Congress, people support the Democrats by 9 points.

Trump was hoping to ride on a strong economy and a few selected victories, such as trade agreements, his border wall and new judges, into a tight win in spite of a low approval rating and high unfavorability. He was also looking forward to campaign rallies and a challenger unable to handle the barrage of attacks that were waiting for him.

Since early March, nothing has gone as planned and the challenges have not been managed well. His terrible poll ratings are related to the public’s view that he has not handled the pandemic or the crisis caused by the George Floyd killing and the growing perception that America’s race relations need a serious reset. And, of course, the economy is in a recession with depression levels of unemployment and no presidential sense of how to manage, or even awareness of, the obvious tensions between reopening and public health.

As of today, Trump will lose the election as decisively in popular, if not electoral, votes as President Jimmy Carter in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, 41.0 percent to 50.7 percent, respectively. Because of today’s polarization, the electoral vote would likely be closer, but not close enough to credibly claim he was cheated. There is, of course, 100 days to go and things change.

Four Scenarios: Democratic Sweep Moving Up

In November 2019, I prepared four scenarios for the November 2020 election with the “Status Quo,” that is, president reelected with the Senate remaining Republican and the House Democratic as most likely of the four (Four Scenarios: Republicans’ Best Endgame and Democrats’ Possible Sweep).  The economy was booming, only six states were in play and Democrats in an ugly nomination fight.

But eight months later, the political environment shifted 180 degrees and a “Democratic Sweep,” a longshot last November, is now the most likely scenario – Trump loses and takes the Republican Senate down with him. “Gridlock,” which was second most likely in late 2019, has receded because Joe Biden is running so strongly in swing states, many of which have senate races, which dramatically increases the possibility Democrats will pick up the senate with the presidency. In general, presidents who run especially strong can pull the senate in with them, and Biden is competitive or ahead in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine, Georgia and Iowa. Democrats need four states and will have to nearly run the states with wins in North Carolina and Maine.

The “Democratic Sweep” scenario has surged as a possibility due to polls showing Biden up 9 points 100 days before the election (see table below). Mostly importantly, he is ahead in most of the primary battleground states – Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Trump’s approval is a near record low at 42 percent and the generic ballot test has Democrats up 9 points (it was 7 points in the 2018 when the Democrats retook the House).

See blog:
Trump Behind Nine Points for Entire Month

2024 Presidential Race Starts – Baltimore?

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a news conference
in Annapolis, MD, July 15, 2020 | Brian Witte/AP
In a Baltimore Sun article, Jeff Barker described Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s publication of a new book showing him as a tough-minded law and order politician, although better known around the country as a Republican moderate. The book titled, “Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, a Global Pandemic, and the Toxic Politics that Divide America,” is not likely to be a bestseller.

Local observers believe the term-limited governor is positioning early for a national race focused on appealing to the Republican base. Hogan, basically a pragmatist, built a strong reputation as a moderate on racial issues and addressed the pandemic early with closing schools and businesses. He also criticized Trump at various points, including considering running in a primary against him in 2020.

I offered that although he is not known in Colorado and the western states, if Trump loses, the Republican Party will be immediately looking for new direction and leadership. A host of exploratory committees are going to be started by aspiring candidates. The challenge for Hogan-type candidates is to hold some elements of the base, while reinvigorating the more pragmatic wing of the party.

My quote was:

“He is not well-known. He is not known,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado-based independent pollster.

But Ciruli said there could be an opening for a new generation of Republican contenders after this November’s election.

“The minute this is over with, pretty much everybody will start an exploratory committee,” Ciruli said. “There will be a lot of centrists and moderates who are appreciative of some of the [Trump] policies but recognize he is a very flawed personality.”

Monday, July 27, 2020

Surge in Infections and Deaths Threatens Jobs: Twin Towers – Part Eight

In the last month, California has moved up in the queue of states from tenth place to fifth in terms of deaths from the virus and is likely to move to fourth in another week. In fact, while New York has stabilized its infection and death rates, Sun Belt states, like Florida, Texas and Arizona, are surging. Deaths in the U.S. increased 22,000 to 140,000 since the last time I reported (June 16). And although the death rate has slowed due to better treatments and younger, healthier patients, the impact on the reopening of retail has been dramatic with numerous states either slowing further openings or reducing current customer access to bars and indoor dining. Sports and schools are also pausing or seriously pondering their efforts to get back into the arenas and classrooms.

Unemployment claims continue to climb even though total unemployment and the rate are going down causing economists to believe the recovery started, but is endangered by new layoffs and bankruptcies caused by the continued pandemic, the exhaustion of federal relief funds and the worldwide recession. Since the pandemic started in March, 48 million Americans have filed for unemployment, 6 million a week at first. Although it’s now down, it stubbornly remains above one million new claims (July 3 – 1.4 million, July 10 – 1.2 million more). Unemployment claims pre-pandemic were 200,000 a week. Continuing claims has declined slightly to more than 18 million. The unemployment rate in June dropped to 11.1 percent, down from 13 percent in May (16% in April), In June, 4.8 million workers returned to their jobs, bringing the total unemployed down to 17.8 million from 22.6 million.

The recovery is now seen as not a letter “V” or a “swoosh,” but more of a chainsaw of up and down motions with days and weeks of recovery, followed by periods of layoffs and slowdowns. The ongoing problem is the failure to contain the eruptions of the virus or manage the outbreaks well once they happen. Medical facilities in many places are still in distress. But, that is only part of the problem. The consumer that drives so much of the economy is still extremely cautious about going back to full previous activity. In addition, there are patterns of purchases and lifestyles that may be changed for the foreseeable future, especially related to leisure activities.

See blogs:
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part One
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Two
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Three
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Four
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Five
The Twin Towers of Pain: Part Six
Recession Starts, COVID-19 Continues: Twin Towers – Part Seven

Denver Post on Governors and Mayors

In a couple of well done Denver Post reports on the new status of governors with a focus on Jared Polis by Alex Burness and Denver’s embattled mayoral system by Conrad Swanson, the interactions and tensions of managing the pandemic, recession and race relations in Colorado are described.

A few points of discussion:

  • Polis had been able to strike a mostly successful balance so far between containing the virus and opening up the economy. But, as several state and cities show, it’s not over and there are more challenges ahead. Most governors around the country benefit today due to the health of residents being a state responsibility; i.e., like fires and floods, a need for unified expertise and leadership, and a profound vacuum in Washington. Polls confirm that governors are more trusted than President Trump. Sixty-six percent approve governors handling the virus, but only 43 percent approve of Trump (Quinnipiac, May 2020).
  • Colorado and Polis have benefited from an abbreviated legislative session, which demonstrated that the exercise of pragmatism and restraint; i.e., a shortened timeline due to the virus, a limited purpose (pass the budget, handle a few emergency issues and avoid most big ticket items), can get an amazing amount done. Colorado set the national standard for speed and bipartisan support for a package of criminal justice changes, and it took $3 billion, or ten percent, out of the state budget without a bloodbath. An amazing success in a very difficult year.
  • Denver is dealing with an extraordinary transition from just having a very heated mayoral and city council races mostly around growth and development, which kept the pro-business liberal mayor, but brought a group of anti-establishment, anti-development and social justice advocates into the city council and influence in general.
  • Denver’s effort to reduce the authority of the mayor is against the trend in municipal governance in many places that have shifted to a stronger executive and often look to Denver’s model. Aurora, Colorado Springs and Pueblo have all strengthened their executives. Colorado Springs and Pueblo just voted to create mayoral systems.
  • Denver has been a well-run city and national exemplar for decades. It would be a mistake to lose the city’s balanced system to gridlock, council factionalism and undue interest group influence. Should Denver turn over power to a group that can’t maintain order in their own chambers?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Trump Behind Nine Points for Entire Month

President Trump has settled into a 9-point election deficit as summer approaches its mid-point less than 110 days before the election (see chart below). Trump is also still behind in battleground states, mostly beyond the margin of error. Since I last posted on the election one month ago, North Carolina switched from Trump to Biden by 3 points. The generic ballot shifted 2 points Democrat to a new recent high of 11. Trump fell behind not due to campaign errors since it has barely started, but rather due to the crises conditions with the pandemic, recession and race relations intersecting with the missteps and misstatements by Trump and his governing team.

Only a third of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus response, down 8 percentage points since mid-June, corresponding to the collapse of his election position (ABC, June 2020). He just donned a mask for cameras, while 86 percent of Americans say they wore one in the last week. Even 66 percent of Republicans wore a mask in spite of his resistance and politicization of the issue.

Trump’s law and order and “save the monuments” focus without reference to social justice or police reform has been measured and reported as inadequate by the public in a host of national polls. But, his biggest political problem is that the relentless and near obsessive focus on the economy instead of national health has denied him his only asset as November approaches – a strong recovery, which he would claim credit for. Instead, we may have a weak and sputtering economy, which he is being blamed for.

Trump’s and the campaign’s first reaction to the month-long deficit to Biden was to criticize the polls, including those from allies and even campaign vendors. Polling critics frequently reference the 2016 polls and various perceived flaws, such as missing Trump’s passionate army of supporters. Many analysts have pointed out that the 2016 national polls, which were measuring the popular vote, got it right (on average only 1 point off; i.e., Clinton by 4 points, she won by 2.1 points and 3 million votes). And, although the state polls missed the winner in three states, most state polls and the 2018 polls were accurate. But, even allowing all the criticism, the pure volume of state polls today (different than 2016) are confirming and re-confirming the point spread mostly for Biden. Republicans’ claim of skepticism of the polls is belied by their advertisement dollar investment in formerly safe states that now look in play: Iowa, Georgia and Ohio.

But, Biden is remaining cautious in spite of the good news. He continues to focus his campaign resources, especially advertising dollars, into very critical swing states – Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida – and not further afield, for example, Texas, Georgia or Iowa, which some supporters encourage.

See blogs:
President Drops Five Points in a Month; Average Now Ten Points Out
Summer Campaign Season: Trump Still Behind in Battleground States
Trump Has Terrible Week
Democrats Unifying as Close Race Begins