Deep Dives

Pew Research Center, Public’s Mood Turns Grim; Trump Trails Biden on Most Personal Traits, Major Issues

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Thomas B. Edsall, Trump Wants a Backlash. Can He Whip One Into Shape? Inevitably, the electorate’s response to the George Floyd protests has begun to run along familiar ideological fault lines.

A fair and balanced thumbsucker on the subject described in the headline. Overall, Pollyanna was happy with the analysis.

USA Today, Exclusive USA TODAY poll: Biden widens his lead, but Trump keeps the edge on enthusiasm:

Biden leads Trump by 12 percentage points, 53%-41%, the nationwide survey shows. In a three-way ballot test, including a third-party line, Biden leads the Republican incumbent 46%-37%.

happy

Pollyanna Looks at the Coronavirus “Trust” Data

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The above is from new polling sponsored by the New York Times. A couple of takeaways.

Many Republicans Appear to be Suffering from Cognitive Dissonance. Bigly.

One may assume, I think, that the 25 percent of Republicans unwilling to confess “trust” in generic “medical scientists” make up a large portion of the 66 percent of Republicans who claim to “trust” Donald Trump on the coronavirus. Subtracting 25 from 66, we get 41 percent of Republicans who claim “trust” in BOTH Trump and generic “medical scientists.” That means that 41 percent of Republicans, i.e., 17 percent of the U.S. population, are seriously, seriously confused in their thinking.

There are many things one might say about this information. Pollyanna told me she concludes that Trump’s support has a ways yet to drop, as we continue to experience the ravages of the virus.

Others Remain Hard Core Cultists

Apart from the many Republicans suffering from painful cognitive dissonance, we learn that 25 percent of Republicans don’t have trust in generic “medical scientists,” 29 percent don’t trust the Centers for Disease Control, and 49 percent don’t trust Dr. Fauci. These percentages represent, respectively, 10 percent of the U.S. population, 12 percent of the U.S. population, and 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Further strong evidence on the portion of our population that is not confused, but is, rather, batshit crazy.

The Asymptote of Trump Support

The 20 percent cultists and the 17 percent who are very confused add up to 37 percent. That could turn out to be the asymptote of Trump support.

As I said, Pollyanna thinks it could go lower than that. But then, she is Pollyanna.

Meanwhile, Some Straws in the Wind

Mike Pence is bailing on previously scheduled virus-defying political trips.

And we have it on allegedly good authority that Trump knows he’s headed down the crapper.

Happy Pollyanna

 

Pollyanna Calls

Pollyanna

It’s always a pleasure to hear from Pollyanna. Tonight’s call was especially welcome. First, she pointed out that rightwing rang The Washington Examiner is shitting bricks: Democratic victory points to trouble for Trump in crucial Wisconsin.

And she was especially big on this from the National Journal: Why Trump’s slump is likely to last all year: The president is losing ground in polls, faces a worsening economy, and is watching Democrats unify behind Joe Biden ahead of schedule:

There’s an understandable tendency for pundits to hedge their analysis of the 2020 presidential race, given how Trump’s 2016 victory upended so much conventional wisdom at the time. But the reality is that, absent a speedy V-shaped economic turnaround by the fall, Trump is now a decided underdog for a second term.

The latest wave of national polling underscores the challenges that the president faces. All the surveys show Trump losing ground from a brief uptick at the beginning of the crisis, with his popularity dipping most noticeably among independents.

The latest Morning Consult tracking poll, conducted between April 10-12, shows Trump’s overall approval rating slumping to 43 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. His approval on the coronavirus crisis slipped to 45 percent, down 8 points since it peaked in mid-March. He’s now underwater with independents, a reversal from last month.

The new Navigator Research tracking survey, a Democratic polling initiative, found similar findings: Support for Trump’s handling of the crisis hit its lowest level since the disease began spreading in the U.S., with 46 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving. Deeper inside the poll lies another cause for alarm for Team Trump: Right now, a majority of Americans still approve of his handling of the economy, including a plurality of independents. But that number probably has nowhere to go but down: If the economic downturn worsens, Americans are likely to take out their dissatisfaction on the president.

And the Republican consulting firm Firehouse Strategies, whose surveys have generally been favorable to the president, had more sober news. Its poll from April 4-10 found Trump trailing Biden by 10 points (53 to 43 percent) among registered voters. All of this month’s national polls testing Trump against Biden have found the president stuck between 39 and 44 percent of the vote.

Trump’s latest performance in battleground states isn’t any better. In traditionally Republican Arizona, a must-win state for Trump, he trails Biden 52 to 43 percent in a new OH/Predictive Insights poll. He’s down by 6 points to Biden in Florida, in an April University of North Florida survey, despite his generally sunny track record in the state. Biden led Trump in a trifecta of Michigan polls conducted in March. According to the RealClearPolitics statewide polling averages, Biden is ahead in every swing state.

Even Wisconsin, one of Trump’s strongest battlegrounds on the map, isn’t looking like a safe bet for Republicans. This week, Jill Karofsky, the liberal candidate for the state Supreme Court, handily defeated conservative justice Dan Kelly by a 10-point margin in a contest that served as a proxy for competing partisan passions. Trump endorsed Kelly, while Republicans opposed delaying the election this month in hopes of capitalizing on lower turnout during the pandemic. Those tactics backfired in a big way.

Pollyanna’s Still Reading Politico

Pollyanna glad

She called this evening to say, first, that we will not see her and the grandkids for a while. She also wanted to draw my attention to Politico, The Pandemic is the End of Trumpism. This, she allowed, is a salutary example of how to play her Glad Game—finding something to be glad about in any situation, no matter how terrible.

I thanked her for staying away from Happy Acres, and observed that she’s right about the Glad Game, provided, of course, that Politico is right about the forthcoming end of Trumpism. Maybe not quite a lead pipe cinch.

Finally, Pollyanna wanted to point out that Senator Ron Johnson is also trying to play the Glad Game, but does not know how to play it well.

This may have something to do with the fact that Senator Ron Johnson is a nitwit. See Jonathan Chait, GOP Senator Upbeat Coronavirus May Kill ‘No More Than 3.4 Percent of Our Population.’

The population of the United States exceeds 328 million. The Glad Game only works if the thing you find gladdening is in fact something to be happy about. The death of “only” 11 million Americans is not something to be happy about.

 

Pollyanna Reads Politico

Pollyanna glad

Pollyanna, who is apparently a dedicated reader of politico.com, called this afternoon to direct my attention to Trump finds his MAGA movement fracturing over coronavirus: The president’s red-capped followers were united against a socialist candidate. And they had economic winds at their backs to propel Trump toward reelection. Now everything is suddenly scrambled.

For a long time now, I have been looking for the thing that would finally drive a wedge between the terminally stupid part of the MAGA coalition and the intelligent but cynically manipulative part of the MAGA coalition. Apparently, we have found it, and it is abject fear of death on the part of the non-terminally stupid part of the coalition.

Politico writes,

Just two weeks after President Donald Trump rallied conservatives to focus on the threat of socialism, his followers are splitting over the coronavirus pandemic.

On one side are those like Bill Mitchell, who dismiss it as nothing worse than the flu, and the drive to eradicate it as “climate change 2.0” — as in, a media-lefty mass hysteria. On the other side are pro-Trump fixtures like Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller, who have been sounding alarms on the coronavirus since January, and are calling for harsher lockdowns and social distancing.

While the MAGA movement is divided over how seriously to take the coronavirus threat or how to tackle it, the message among his supporters is increasingly unanimous: If Trump fails to control the virus, prevent its spread and prove his leadership, much less save the economy, he will lose the election and cripple his movement.

Trump’s supporters elected him because they considered him a “wartime leader” who could fight against the swamp and the elites, so they expect the same against a truly invisible threat, said War Room host and former Breitbart editor Raheem Kassam. “If, for a second, people think that he doesn’t have that strength, or he doesn’t have that fortitude, then it will become a problem,” he said.

The mounting health and economic risks from the coronavirus outbreak present a monumental political challenge for a group vowing to make America great again. With just less than eight months before a presidential election, Trump’s followers face the prospect that their core message — about deconstructing the “deep state” of government workers and transforming the nation’s power structure to serve everyday Americans — could collapse in a crisis environment.

“I would think that the very pro-Trump people maybe would like to downplay this, but actually, I don’t even think that,” said Chris Buskirk, the editor-in-chief of the nationalist magazine American Greatness. “Because on this particular issue, the nationalist-MAGA crowd are all over the place. It’s totally individual.”

The divide was in stark contrast on Fox News last week, as the crisis snowballed into the public eye. One host, Tucker Carlson, delivered grave warnings about the coronavirus. He accused officials — who his conservative audience “probably voted for” — of minimizing “what is clearly a very serious problem.” Another host, Sean Hannity, called it “fear-mongering by the deep state.”

Now That the Louvre is Closed

I have some very erudite friends, who have drawn my attention to the fact that, with the Louvre closed, the public may no longer view Bonaparte Visiting the Plague Victims at Jaffa.

Bonaparte

They have wondered who will do a similar painting of Trump. John McNaughton, maybe?

Trump Flag

But I can inform you that the definitive painting of Trump’s reaction to the virus has already been done.

Trtump Blinded

I’m also happy to inform you that I heard from Pollyanna this morning. She wanted to play the latest installment of her Glad Game.

glad game

Her task, of course, was to find something about the coronavirus to be happy about. The answer is obvious.

Trump is a paranoid germophobe, and will soon be retreating to his bedroom, where he will insist on having contact only with servants dressed in space suits.

Cassandra Frum Speaks

Cassandra1

I liked this observation from Cassandra Frum:

Trump is driving a poorly packed egg cart over stony roads. He holds too many secrets, too ill-concealed, shared with too many people and companies with too little loyalty to him. Michael Cohen’s prison sentence stands as a reminder of the ultimate consequences of loyalty to Trump. Gordon Sondland jumped off before that point, and so, sooner or later, will Mulvaney. Everybody turns on Trump in the end, if only because they can no longer endure the abuse.

Pollyanna liked it, too.

Pollyanna happy

What if Someone Just Ignores a Subpoena?

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Last night Dr. Aardvark and I were sitting in connubial contentment watching the PBS Evening News when she asked, “What happens if someone just ignores a subpoena?” I am afraid that my top-of-the-head answer was not entirely complete or accurate.

These two posts provide lots of helpful insights into the question:

Philip Bump, How the Trump-Congress subpoena fight is likely to play out

Martin Longman, Congress Needs to Lock Up Non-Complying Witnesses

Pollyanna Speaks Again

The flavor of the day is gloom and doom over Trump’s ability just to stonewall and “run out the clock.” But I have talked this situation this over with my daughter, Polyanna Aardvark, and she has some helpful thoughts.

First, by signaling that he will oppose any and all subpoenas, Trump has weakened his ability to advance any plausible argument he may have that any particular subpoena suffers from some legal defect.

Second, stonewalling doesn’t make you look “strong.” It makes you look guilty.

The strategy will appeal to those who don’t care whether or not Trump has done this or that execrable act. And there are many such people. But, to those who were unsure, but might be inclined to give Trump the benefit of the doubt as to his wrongdoing—and there are lots of those folks, too—obstruction will not accrue to his advantage.

Third, Pollyanna’s sense is that the situation will be very strongly influenced by what Don McGahn decides to do, or not to do.

McGahn, the former White House Counsel, current six- or seven-figure Jones Day partner, and Mr. Pack-the-courts-with-rightwingers par excellence, sang like a canary to the Special Counsel. Any arguable executive privilege has long since been waived with respect to the topics about which he would testify to Congress. Any arguable attorney-client privilege, ditto.

Jones Day partners, upon receipt of a proper subpoena, do not tell the entity that issued the proper subpoena to go take a flying fuck. For one thing, if they did take that course of action, then the D.C. Bar Association would not take kindly to it.

Trump has already “punished” Jones Day by taking business away from it. He doesn’t really have a hold on McGahn or on Jones Day.

Pollyanna thinks it’s likely that McGahn will testify in public, reprising the role of John Dean—and of Martin Sheen playing John Deen in the movie.

She also thinks that Brett Kavanaugh, who owes his seat on the Court to McGahn, will sit up and take notice.

Finally, she thinks that, in the aftermath of the McGhan testimony, things are likely to really go pear shaped for the Trumpster.

I told Pollyanna that we are getting a little ahead of ourselves, but she might well be right.

In the immortal words of President Eisenhower, “The future lies ahead.”

Pollyanna Looks at the Numbers

glad game

I took a look once again at the 2018 House Popular Vote Tracker, and compared what it shows as of this morning with fivethirtyeight.com’s daily tracker of Trump’s popularity.

Let’s begin with the latter, which shows averages of recent polls for “all adults,” “likely and registered voters,” and the two combined. Among “all adults,” Trump is under water by 10.7 points (the difference between the 52.7 percent who “disapprove” and the 42.0 percent who “approve.”

When we look at “polls of likely or registered voters,” the gap narrows down to 7.2 percent. (51.6 percent “disapprove” while 44.2 percent “approve.”)

Hold those thoughts, please, as we look at the data on the folks who actually showed up to vote in 2018 House races. (Even now, there are votes yet to be counted, but I’ll disregard that for now.)

The data show, as of this morning, that 53.1 percent voted for the Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in their district, 45.1 percent voted for the Republican candidate, and 1.7 percent voted for an independent or third party candidate.

I conclude that the 45.1 percent 2018 Republican voters was made up pretty much entirely of Trump supporters. There is still a small group of people who vote Republican even though they “disapprove” of Trump, but at this point they are less than one percent of all voters.

Unless Trump receives a personality implant, he has reached his high water mark.

Now look at the Democrats’ share of actual 2018 voters: 53.1 percent. That’s significantly more than the 51.6 percent of “likely or registered voters” who told a pollster they “disapproved” of Trump.

Where did that extra 1.5 percent come from? Part of the explanation, one would suppose, is that Democratic voters had a greater propensity to vote this year than the likely voter models predicted. And I have to believe some of them were Republican women who, with their husbands listening in, told the pollster they “approved” of Trump, but then went to the polls and voted for the Democrat.

I’d also note that our 53.1 percent of actual Democratic voters even exceeds the 52.7 percent of “all adults” who “disapprove” of Trump.

So, don’t take it from Pollyanna. Take it from Politico: Warning signs mount for Trump reelection bid.

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Over the last two days I seem to have acquired some readers in the Netherlands. Goedemiddag, y’all.