Trump will definitely get credit if deaths exceed 100,000, but not the good kind

We warned America, and Democrats delivered an impeachment to underscore the seriousness of the matter: Donald Trump wasn’t fit to be president. Republicans didn’t care, because tax cuts and judges, and now here we are. 

Today, we’ll hit two Sept. 11ths’ worth of deaths, easily blowing by the 6,000 mark just two days after hitting a single 9/11. We’ve just about to reach a quarter-million cases, which is a whopping one-quarter of the total confirmed cases worldwide. By any measure, this is an abject disaster. Yet in a breathtaking display of goalpost moving, Trump said a couple of days ago, “[if] we have between 100 and 200,000 [deaths], we altogether have done a very good job.”

Yeah, nice try. 

Trump is in a politically perilous position, for sure. His inability to respond to the crisis—from dismantling the institutions designed to identify (CDC outpost in China) and respond to such a crisis (the pandemic preparedness task force and FEMA), to incompetent staff, to an utter inability to be forthright and truthful to the American people, to simply misplaced priorities (stock market > grandma)—our nation never stood a chance. 

Indeed, the only thing mitigating a death toll in the millions is the quick action of governors and local governments around the country. And even on that front, there was too much delay, particularly in Republican states, precisely because Trump was pretending things were okay to protect his donors’ stock portfolios. 

But let’s consider Trump’s new thesis: that as long as national deaths number below a quarter million, he will “have done a very good job.” Does he think that people will applaud him? 

Yesterday, 1,049 people died of the disease, and we’re nowhere near the peak. So every single day, we’ll be seeing 1,000, then 2,000, then a 9/11 (3,000 deaths), until who knows when. Every single day will see the kind of carnage we haven’t seen since World War II. 

Every day, people will have to face the death of someone they know, someone they love, someone they respect or admire. Artists, movie stars, athletes, politicians, religious leaders, musicians, business leaders, and so many grandmas. Their stories will be broadcast across all media, all of them a dagger in our hearts. 

And shock and sorrow will then give way to anger. It’s a stage of grief, after all. 

Conservatives will work overtime to deflect: It’s the fault of the Chinese! People die all the time (flu, car crashes, heart disease, insert random other cause of death), this is nothing special! It’s the fault of open sanctuary cities like New York!  No one could’ve predicted! And yet, the American people have already decided that they can’t and don’t trust trump. 

NEW POLL >> The credibility gap between Dr. Fauci and Trump on coronavirus is a stunning 65 POINTS. Cuomo is 25 points better than Trump. A majority of Americans distrust Trump to tell the truth about the virus. via @NavigatorSurvey pic.twitter.com/fMMQNQtGfL

— Ian Sams (@IanSams) April 2, 2020

Those numbers will only get worse. And those excuses might work in Fox News land, but that’s not where Trump needs to hold his numbers. Arkansas isn’t going to be competitive at any level this year. 

There are seven states that will decide the presidential election: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All seven are on a razor’s edge. A shift of even a few points can take these states from “coin flip” to “lean Biden.” And already, we’re seeing the largest Democratic lead in Trump’s reelection numbers all year:

If you have seven states that are essentially 50-50 ties, then a one-point shift makes it 51-49. Two points, its 52-48. See? 

This is why Trump is freaking out. He can’t afford to bleed even marginal support, because every vote will matter. That’s why he’s trying to shift the goalposts. 

But there is no way in hell that people look at thousands dying every single day and give Trump any kind of credit. NONE. The toll on our nation is too great. The impact we’re suffering is so much worse than what other countries have experienced that it’s impossible to blame the fates. This may be an act of god, but the aftermath isn't. How we prepared isn’t. How we responded isn't. How we move forward isn’t. 

And we haven’t even discussed the economic devastation. 

NEW with @AlexNBCNews: Week of April 13 is earliest Americans will see direct deposit relief payments from the government; paper checks could take as long as 20 weeks -- nearly 5 months -- for some Americans

— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) April 2, 2020

Five months? The amounts being mailed out are already not enough. Just watch the Trump administration bungle this, too. Remember that 6.65 million workers filed unemployment claims last week, breaking the previous record by10 times. And with congressional Republicans ruling out further stimulus at this time (they’ll be forced to relent, eventually), the economic pain is only going to get worse. 

Presidents don’t get reelected when they bungle the economy. How are they supposed to do so when they also preside over a mass-death event ?

So no, Trump isn’t getting credit if we see hundreds of thousands of deaths. And if we ultimately do see those kinds of numbers play out, his reelection prospects will be around zero percent, and we’ll be talking about how much damage his entire party will face all the way down the ballot. 

How Donald Trump could use his coronavirus disaster to win reelection this November

In today’s absurd news, there’s this: 

#BREAKING Global News Exclusive: Trump looking to put troops near Canadian border amid coronavirus fears - National | https://t.co/RD1lLNARNe https://t.co/oNU25op63U @globalnews #cdnpoli #coronavirus #COVID19

— Mercedes Stephenson (@MercedesGlobal) March 26, 2020

Everything about that is stupid. Canadians have better health care and are giving better cash payments to individuals to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a massive border and there’s no way anyone can seal it, much less some poor sap in combat boots. Symbolically, it’s the world’s largest demilitarized border. Why mess with that? There's nothing useful or practical about it! Well, there’s one benefit to Donald Trump: He can pretend that he’s “doing something.”

Remember, everything Trump does is predicated on his reelection. That’s why he tried so hard to limit testing in the early days. Instead of working to stem the spread of the disease, he decided that rising numbers were a threat to his political standing and he reacted accordingly. You can see it in this new ad by the Joe Biden campaign: 

holy shit this @JoeBiden ad is good. pic.twitter.com/CAgIrt2Zua

— Florida Chris (@chrislongview) March 26, 2020

The past month has been about minimizing the impact of the pandemic, promising that the numbers will fall, promising snake oil cures, dismissing it as “just like the flu,” and as of late, demanding that people get back to work because “the cure can’t be worse than the disease.” 

“The cure,” of course, being people losing their jobs, while “the disease” is people losing their lives. 

But there’s a method to the madness. Whether it’s closing the border, or comparing COVID-19 to the flu, or demanding people get back to work, it all has an underlying electoral purpose. Remember that solutions to the pandemic are liberal ones: government support of individuals, government intervention in the economy, better health care, better social safety net, communal action, etc. This isn’t 9/11, when conservatives could bloat the Pentagon budget even further, ride a new wave of racism, and curtail civil liberties. So how do Trump and the Republicans work this to their favor? 

Here’s what they’ll do (and they’re already doing it):

1. TRUMP IS DECISIVE

Oh my god, Trump can’t stop being the best leader the world has ever seen! Did you see? He closed the border to China. Biden didn’t want Trump to close the border to China, but he did so anyway, because that’s the bold kind of leadership that saved thousands of lives.  

Trump also closed the borders with Mexico and Canada and deployed our troops, because fuck yeah America is the greatest and so are our troops, and Trump is taking action while liberals want open borders. 

What about testing kits, shuttering the pandemic preparedness task force, and months of promising that things were “beautiful” and “perfect” and everything would be fine just around the corner? Those are nasty questions and Trump is too busy being decisive anyway to answer them. Next!

2. LIBERALS BROKE THE ECONOMY

The flu will kill 60-80,000 people this year, and we didn’t shut down the economy because of it. Only a few hundred/thousand/tens of thousands have died because of this virus, and we had to destroy the economy as a result? This was just a liberal plot to defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box. They were angry because the impeachment hoax failed, and they decided to punish the whole country as a result. 

Why do you think it’s Democratic governors that are closing their states? Republicans tried to keep America working, and Democrats took your jobs away to punish Donald Trump for being the best president in history. It’s their fault the economy is bad. Only Republicans can fix it. 

3. RACISM

The Chinese created this virus and infected America with it. No one could’ve predicted that our enemies would be so ruthless and calculating and effective in conducting a biological attack on our country. It’s their fault. We need Republicans to stand tough against the Chinese for their cowardly attack on our soil. 

4. REGIONALISM

If liberals and their sanctuary cities weren’t so “welcoming” to all manners of riff-raff, the disease wouldn’t have spread throughout America. Where did the “Chinese virus” take hold? Seattle. San Francisco. New York. It figures that those liberals would infect the rest of Real America with their virus. Trump is trying to protect the Heartland from the evils of urban liberals.

So yeah, that’s their campaign. It’s already started. The pieces are already in place. And when you see a conservative or Trump say something seemingly insane, note how it fits one of those categories above. For example:

�Approximately 7500 people die every day in the United States. That�s approximately 645,000 people so far this year. Coronavirus has killed about 1,000 Americans this year. Just a little perspective.� @RealCandaceO

— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) March 26, 2020

See?

Will it play with their base? Undoubtedly. They’re too stupid for words. 

Will it play with Democrats? Clearly not. 

Will it play with Independents? Well, “independent” is not an ideology, and spans everything from Alex Jones crazies to Bernie socialists to the politically apathetic. We do know that government (read: Trump) approval ratings for managing the crisis are ebbing down among independents. 

So maybe it won’t work, in the aggregate, amongst that group. 

The one wild card is the death rate. If coronavirus deaths remain below or equal to flu deaths, then the argument that the Democrats blew up the economy for no reason will have added salience to the stupidity. So for that reason alone, you’d think that Trump would be working overtime to bend the curve. Yet he’s doing quite the opposite, in fact. It boggles the mind. 

Stem the death toll, and Trump has a ready-made excuse for the shitty economy: The Democrats overreacted. Instead, his actions are pushing us closer to the nightmare scenario. For example, look at what happens if Florida doesn’t take action within the next couple of weeks:

CovidActNow.org

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is among the fiercest Trump allies, and will not do anything to contradict or undermine the impeached president’s words and actions. So we’re talking somewhere in between “no action” and “social distancing.” No matter what happens in New York and California (fiercely working to stop the spread of the disease), Florida alone may be Trump’s undoing. Even if those numbers are overly dire, one-third of the “social distancing” death toll is a horrifying 100,000. With numbers like that, Trump and the GOP won’t be able to compare COVID-19 to the flu anymore. 

Furthermore, the more the disease ravages red states and rural America, the harder it’ll be to dismiss it as a creation of New York City and San Francisco. Oh, they’ll try anyway! But local politicians will bear the brunt of explaining why they didn’t take the necessary precautions, especially if small-state death tolls end up exceeding those of New York and California—which is quite plausible. 

For example, the models that drive the CovidActNow.org projections estimate that California’s death toll, with its shelter-in-place already in action, will be around 11,000. Meanwhile, Missouri, which hasn’t taken any action at all, could see up to 122,000, Oklahoma could see 79,000 deaths, and Tennessee 136,000. As horrific as things look in New York right now, measures in place may limit the damage to 38,000. (California looks as good as it does because it was the first to start shutting down, particularly the five pioneering Bay Area counties that beat anyone else by almost a week.) 

In any case, if we see that kind of death toll play out around the country, Trump’s goose is cooked, and so is his entire party. Otherwise, whether by luck (a vaccine or better treatment emerges), or by action (militarizing the Canadian border stops the spread of COVID-19 in Arkansas!), Republicans will use that mix of liberal-blamin’, big-city-hatin’, racism creatin’, and grandiose Trump myth-makin’, to explain away the economic collapse, and pin the blame squarely on the Democrats. 

Republicans are trying to get people killed (and are being stunningly effective)

The situation in Italy is spiraling out of control, with infections and deaths spiking by the hour. 

BREAKING: Another HUGE increase in #CoronaVirus infections in Italy �� 3 590 infected and 368 dead today alone. - 24 747 infected. - 1 809 dead. - 7.3% death rate. This is a human tragedy �

— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) March 15, 2020

The United States is on track to emulate Italy, both in the reach and severity of the human and economic toll. One party is doing its best to save lives. Unfortunately, it’s not the party in control of the White House, Senate, or wide swaths of the media. And those Republican efforts to confuse, obfuscate, and obstruct a real response are dismayingly effective. Let us count the ways. 

Impeached President Donald Trump

From disbanding the White House pandemic preparedness task force to refusing to let the U.S. use the World Health Organization COVID-19 test, to his daily lies, it’s obvious that the rot starts at the very top. What did people think was going to happen when they put a bigoted, serial sexual harasser reality TV star in charge of the country? Those who vote on racial animus and misogyny are getting a daily reminder of what that costs our country. And ironically, or perhaps not so much so, they are the ones who will bear the brunt of the coming pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Trump continues to model poor behavior; he shows on a daily basis that he is the single biggest impediment to the kind of national behavioral changes we need to see to arrest this disease with the least amount of damage possible.

Trump has decided the entire coronavirus mess is a dastardly plot to deny him a second term. He is incapable of considering the human toll of the disease, or the economic ramifications to everyday Americans. He’s concerned only about how it affects his reelection. And again, his acolytes take their cues from the top, such as the Trish Regan abomination that adorns the top of this post. 

Regan did end up losing her prime time show over that segment, showing that at least someone at Fox corporate realizes that killing off their core demographic (their median age is 65). But she’s not the only pushing the theory that this is all one big political ploy to damage Trump. Trump’s very own outgoing chief of staff has been making that case for weeks. “The press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president,” Mulvaney told attendees at the conservative CPAC conference, at the same time the disease was spreading among its attendees. “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to [the coronavirus] today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That’s what this is all about.” 

And of course, let’s not forget Trump: 

�They�re trying to scare everybody, from meetings, cancel the meetings, close the schools � you know, destroy the country. And that�s ok, as long as we can win the election,� POTUS told guests at Mar-a-Lago last weekend. https://t.co/UxZb0GumFU

— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) March 15, 2020

He literally says it’s okay if the country is destroyed as long as he wins reelection. He doesn't give a shit about the economic or human toll of the pandemic and will act only to safeguard his electoral effort. And that’s why we don’t have testing. He thinks a higher number of confirmed cases makes him look bad. 

President Trump "did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks [because] more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president" https://t.co/aa2QHQVbPk

— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) March 12, 2020

We all knew this. Even Republicans knew this when they acquitted him during the impeachment trial. Yet they didn’t care. So they own this: Every death, every job lost. It’s all on them. 

The Trump executive branch

Donald Trump had white nationalist Stephen Miller and idiot-boy Jared Kushner whip up a random-ass “I’m doing stuff” speech just hours before airing, with little regard to any consequences their spur-of-the-moment “proposals” would create. Among them, a complete ban on all travel and commerce between the United States and Europe that single-handedly almost completely crashed the US economy. Embarrassingly, the administration had to walk that back—no, it didn't apply to the cargo. And no, it didn’t apply to Americans. (So … what’s the point? Americans have super awesome immunity powers?) Yet in the panic that situation created, Americans rushed back home and … created these kinds of scenes at US customs points of entry:

#BREAKING: Passengers stuck in long lines for immigration at @DFWAirport tell us there are no offers of hand sanitizer, gloves, or masks from U.S. Customs / Immigration. Travelers say they�ve had no screenings of temp yet and no one following #coronavirus protocols. pic.twitter.com/9viCnWdncz

— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) March 15, 2020

By supposedly acting to prevent the disease from entering the United States (even though, um, it’s already here), those morons in the executive branch didn’t think “maybe we should bolster staffing at customs checkpoints. Maybe we should create a plan to space out people, so we wouldn’t create the Petri dish we’re supposedly trying to prevent.” 

Conservatism

It is in precisely older, rural counties that hospitals are being closed in record numbers. “The hospital closure crisis is most pronounced in states that have declined Medicaid expansion, the policy in the Affordable Care Act that offers coverage for individuals whose income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line,” reported Mother Jones. “Of the 106 rural hospitals that have shut down since 2010, 77 were located in states that hadn’t expanded Medicaid, the study found.” In their zeal to stick it to Obamacare, those older rural areas are losing exactly the one thing that saves the lives of the elderly and those with compromised immune systems once infected—hospital beds. 

This novel coronavirus is treatable as long as severely impacted patients can be hooked up to respirators. But given available hospital beds, that becomes impossible once a critical mass of patients is infected, they outstrip the supply of hospital beds, and they are then left to die, gasping for air. That’s why the Italian death toll has climbed so high, with doctors having to perform battlefield-style triage—is this patient too old? Too (otherwise) sick? Do they have small children at home? Even patients who survive initial triage may be unplugged if someone with a greater survival chance shows up. It is beyond nightmarish. 

And you know what? The United States has fewer hospital beds, per thousand people, than even Italy

    South Korea: 12.3

    China: 4.3

    Italy: 3.2

    United States: 2.8

South Korea has handled the virus better than anyone else, and guess what, having hospital beds is part of the answer. Meanwhile, thanks to conservative hostility to the Affordable Care Act and its fealty to a for-profit health care system, our number of beds has fallen between 2010 and 2017, despite the population having grown by 16 million in that time frame. 

Republican elected officials

The Democratic House passed a coronavirus response bill on Friday. Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on vacation over the weekend, adjourning the Senate as a result. He doesn’t plan on checking on that House bill until Tuesday, lunch, at the earliest, even though Trump has signaled that he will sign it. 

They just don’t give a shit. 

Here’s Oklahoma’s Republican governor Kevin Stitt, Friday night, in a now-deleted tweet: 

Of course, it stands to follow that if Trump doesn’t think this is a big deal, then those who blindly follow him will shrug off any attempts to contain the virus, or “flatten the curve.” Flattening the curve is slowing the rate of transmission so that people don’t get sick all at once. The more you can spread it out, the less stress on those limited hospital beds. 

Trump’s favorite bootlicker, Rep. Devin Nunes, went on Fox to tell viewers to go out on the town. “One of the things you can do, if you're healthy you and your family, it's a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant,” he said, dooming who knows how many people to death. “Likely you can get in easily. There's, you know, let's not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going. [...] Go to your local pub.”

In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Republicans are refusing to postpone an election even though the state’s Democratic governor has ordered a statewide lockdown. 

Conservative media

It’s no surprise that most of the irresponsible dismissing of COVID-19 featured above is happening on Fox News. The network has prostrated itself before Trump, effectively becoming like a state-run propaganda arm. They won’t do anything to get on the wrong side of Trump. It’s a feature, not a bug. 

On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr claims people are "overreacting" to coronavirus, the national response is "their next attempt to get Trump," and the virus itself is a North Korean bioweapon. pic.twitter.com/2JPuNBW7C3

— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) March 13, 2020

Or how about this? 

But it obviously goes far beyond Fox News. Just two days ago, Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show, “We’re shutting down our country because of the … cold virus.” The Christian Right and their media machinery are praying away the coronavirus. They’ve been so effective at dismissing the threat that even pastors who take this seriously are dismayed, “One pastor said half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there’s no actual virus,” one pastor told The Washington Post. Alex Jones is selling fake coronavirus cures. Idiot #MAGA types on Twitter are having their own, er, fun.

How do #MAGA & #KAG folks have fun during a pandemic? Apparently some like licking airplane toilet seats in a SAD attempt to show the #coronavirus is a hoax. Perhaps to also prove they'll make good tRump supporters!#COVID19 Found at @AwardsDarwinpic.twitter.com/y9jAqRrpbx

— McSpockyâÂ�¢ ðÂ�Â�½ðÂ�Â�Â�ðÂ�Â�Â� #VoteBlue2020 (@mcspocky) March 15, 2020

If you’re sitting here wondering what the hell is wrong with these people, you’re not alone. Trapped in their conservative anti-science media bubble, they’re whipping themselves up into a fervor of denialism and frothy conspiracy theories. 

The results

The results are devastating. Republicans simply don’t believe that they should take COVID-19 seriously.

The coronavirus partisan divide is real. Twice as many Democrats (60%) are changing plans or taking precautions than Republicans (31%). 88% of Republicans are satisfied with the government's response. Among Democrats? 11%. Survey report @Civiqs 3/8-11: https://t.co/sGoSTbhEsI

— Drew Linzer (@DrewLinzer) March 14, 2020

And it’s even worse among Fox News viewers, only 9% of which are “extremely concerned” about the virus. These are the same people who live in mortal fear of an “illegal” coming and murdering them. The big difference? They will definitely end up knowing about someone who died of the novel coronavirus, while those mythical hordes of undocumented murderers only exist in the imagination of the network’s most bigoted hosts. (48% of MSNBC viewers are “extremely concerned,” which is still low. It should be 100%. But that network isn’t sowing misinformation.)

I used to joke that Republicans would come out in favor of cancer if President Barack Obama ever declared his opposition to it publicly. At least, it was supposed to be a joke. Now we find out that a global pandemic killing tens of thousands has become a partisan issue. Not because it is a partisan issue. There is nothing Republican or Democratic or liberal or conservative about a deadly disease. But because Trump’s botched handling of the pandemic makes him “look bad,” and there is no greater sin in the world than making Trump look bad. 

It might be funny or the material for easy partisan points, except people are dying, and a lot more will die before scientists find a vaccine. And while we could be making efforts to mitigate the carnage, both in human and economic terms, we have an entire half of the country’s divide refusing to accept our new reality and demanding we pretend all is well, nothing to see here, please carry on, preferably at your local pub or cruise ship. 

It’s staggeringly irresponsible. The final culmination of an ideology so divorced from reality, that it will literally kill, disproportionately, the older and rural people that form its base. And—this is legitimately ironic—it is liberals trying to save their lives. 

Not defending Hunter Biden, but Republicans are lying about him (of course)

Now that Joe Biden is headed toward the Democratic nomination for president, Republicans are reviving their efforts to smear him via his son, Hunter, and Hunter’s service on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Nothing untoward has ever been proved against Hunter, not even alleged (beyond generic) “corruption,” and the search for something untoward is all an effort to create this cycle’s version of “but her emails.” 

Key to the Republican argument is the notion that the younger Biden had no qualifications for the job. “When speaking with ABC News about his qualifications to be on Burisma's board, Hunter Biden didn't point to any of the usual qualifications of a board member," Donald Trump lawyer Pam Bondi said at his impeachment trial. "Hunter Biden had no experience in natural gas, no experience in the energy sector, no experience with Ukrainian regulatory affairs. As far as we know, he doesn't speak Ukrainian."

Trump being Trump, he’s whittled all that down to the claim that Hunter Biden was appointed to the board because he “didn’t have a job.” 

Since we’re going to be hearing about this nonstop for the next eight months (ugh), here’s the reality.

Hunter Biden is a graduate of Yale Law School, by far the best and most prestigious law school in the country (sorry, Harvard). Notes Trump fact-checker extraordinaire Daniel Dale, at the time that “Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma in 2014, he was a lawyer at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's foreign service program, chairman of the board of World Food Program USA, and chief executive officer and chairman of Rosemont Seneca Advisors, an investment advisory firm. He also served on other boards.”

Boies Schiller Flexner was founded by David Boies, the same Boies who defeated Microsoft in an antitrust case, who represented Al Gore in the 2000 election recount, and who successfully challenged California’s ban on gay marriage. (Also, the firm represents Harvey Weinstein, and Boies himself represented fraudulent firm Theranos, so … I’m not saying it’s all happy unicorns—I’m just reinforcing that it’s not some backwater ambulance-chasing firm. These are powerful heavy hitters.)

His teaching gig in Georgetown’s foreign service program, which is focused on international development, shows that Hunter did have expertise and an active interest in international relations and development. That makes sense, because World Food Program USA is focused on ending global hunger (and is currently raising money for relief efforts among Syrian refugees).

Rosemont Seneca was co-founded by Christopher Heinz, son of Teresa Heinz (of ketchup fame) and stepson of John Kerry. There’s little information about the firm online, but it looks like a garden-variety hedge fund. No one has alleged anything shady about it yet. But what it does show is that Biden had connections to the world of high finance that would be of interest to any conglomerate looking to raise capital and expand into new markets. 

And by all indications, Hunter was an active member of the board of Rosemont Seneca, investigating possible expansion opportunities and connecting the company to legal and financial resources in the United States. 

Was he on the board, likely, because of his last name? Probably. Was it a stupid idea to join such a board while his father was vice president? Of course. But no less stupid than pretty much everything the Trump children have done since their father entered the White House. Still, ugh. It sure would’ve been nice to head into the general election with a candidate unencumbered by such baggage. 

We now get to spend the rest of the year playing the “both sides are corrupt” game, muddying the waters on an issue (corruption) we should own easily. But pretending that Hunter had zero qualifications for the job, or worse, had no job? It’s utter horseshit, and we should be very clear to call it out as such. 

Republicans are going to believe whatever they want to believe. That’s the power of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. If Trump says it’s okay to go to work even when infected with COVID-19? Okay then! Mission accomplished. All is well.

But we should fight and make sure the traditional media doesn’t repeat those claims as fact. Because, like pretty much everything else that comes out of Trump’s mouth, it’s utter horseshit. 

Daily Kos straw poll: Elizabeth Warren wins a plurality, Sanders and Bloomberg round out top three

In the first post-Yang Gang straw poll, we’re finally back to having a clear picture of the Daily Kos community’s presidential preferences. And as of now, Elizabeth Warren is still top dog around these parts. 

    Elizabeth Warren 33

    Bernie Sanders 25

    Mike Bloomberg 13

    Amy Klobuchar 9

    Joe Biden 8

    Pete Buttigieg 7

    Tom Steyer 1

Despite a mediawide effort to erase Warren, she retains the plurality lead among Daily Kos readers (and outsiders urged on in various online forums). The two progressives in the race have 58% of the total, which is in line with results we were seeing last year. The difference? In October, the numbers were Warren 41, Sanders 15. Sanders has been consolidating the left offline, and he’s done that to some extent here online. 

The big surprise, or better said, disappointment, is that Bloomberg would get 13% around these parts—which just happens to be the rate he’s currently getting in the outside world. Turns out, sometimes we’re not just that different from the broader party. 

Voters have little interest in taking away Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic House majority

At the federal level, Democrats face three distinct challenges: 1) win the White House, 2) take control of the U.S. Senate, and 3) retain control of the U.S. House. Of the three, that last one appears to be the easiest task. 

Civiqs Results

That’s about eight months of data, and you can see how stable the numbers are. The closest Republicans have made it is a six-point deficit, and the largest Democratic lead has been eight points. You can’t see it (it’s behind a paywall), but among white voters, it’s 53-41 Republican, because of, you know, “economic anxiety.” But that’s significantly offset by black voters (90-6) and Latinos (72-23). Note that Democrats have shown improvement among white voters—prior to impeachment, it was 53-39. 

Incredibly, it’s 61-33 Republican among white men. Among white women? 47-46, Democratic. Chew on that. That’s a 29-point gender gap! 

Also, white women weren’t pleased with Donald Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment trial: 

It’s a slight shift, but notice pro-Democratic bumps both when Trump was impeached in the House and then again when the Senate acquitted. In an otherwise static trend line, such subtle movements matter, particularly in our 50-50 country. 

Note that in 2018, the national House popular vote was 53-45, or … 8 points. As long as Democrats maintain the same margin, as they do in our current Civiqs tracker, we should hold on to the House relatively easily. Republicans are likely seeing the same numbers in their own internal polling, which is why so many of them are once again jumping ship. Actions speak louder than words, and in this case, they confirm the numbers. 

Retaining control of the House is of paramount importance as a bulwark against a potential second Trump term, given the difficulties of the Senate map (in short, winnable, but tough), and the uncertainness of the presidential contest (it’s not a gimme). And with victories in the courts, on ballot initiatives, and in successful efforts to pick up state legislatures (a battle that continues unabated this year), we will be in a much better place during the post-census redistricting battle. This is a majority we can build on. And so far, the public is in little mood to reverse course. 

Iowa happened: The first post-voting Cattle Call of the season, and Bernie catapults into the lead

Iowa happened, and what a clusterfuck it was. We already knew that new caucus rules would make a mess out of any post-caucus clarity, and final results didn’t disappoint. CONFIRMED: The Iowa caucuses suck and this should mark the end of their unearned first-in-the-nation status. Also CONFIRMED: There was no winner. Just hand the prize to Pete Buttigieg, or maybe Bernie Sanders. 

But seriously, who cares? Iowa allocates less than 1% of national delegates, so whether Buttigieg got 11 or 12 or 13 delegates, and whether Sanders got 10 or 12, the tally needed for victory is 1,990. Iowa was about one thing and one thing only: media narrative. And despite that mess, Buttigieg got the bump he needed, now catapulting into second place in myriad polling in Bernie-friendly New Hampshire. 

Still, in this fragmented field, no one showed dominance, with Buttigieg and Sanders around one-quarter of the vote, Elizabeth Warren at about one-fifth, and Joe Biden really just impatiently waiting for South Carolina to vote. Remember, Sanders got around half the Iowa vote in 2016, so he lost support in the four years of nonstop campaigning since. And given turnout was just as poor as it was in 2016, no one is reshaping the electorate. Sanders isn’t spurring a new wave of youth turnout. We don’t have a Barack Obama in the race. 

Anyway, let’s dive in to the rankings. 

1. Bernie Sanders ⬆️ (Last week: 2)

At a New Hampshire town hall, Anderson Cooper asked Sanders if he saw himself as the front-runner, and his answer was a hard “NO!” But too bad: That moment has arrived—not because of his own strength—he’s barely cracked 20% in the national polling aggregate, but because of continued weakness and fragmentation of the field. Of course Bernie doesn’t want to be tagged as the front-runner. That means being the target of the kind of incoming fire that he’s never had to face. For now, he's kinda lucked out—Elizabeth Warren shows no interest in taking him directly on. And in Friday’s debate, most of the fireworks were directed at Pete Buttigieg, as a surprising fight for the “moderate” lane has shaped up. 

But the honeymoon won’t last, and how he responds to it will inform much of the rest of the race. Warren and Kamala Harris and even Joe Biden wilted under their respective assaults. Buttigieg has his turn in the firing lane. It’s not easy being the target of the combined rest of the field. 

Still, it might not matter. It’s not as if Bernie has any “soft support” in his coalition. He’s easily the most polarizing candidate, and people either love him or hate him. His supporters’ actions have further alienated potential second-choice voters. You don’t sit and call Warren a snake and then expect her supporters to come to you as a plan B. No other candidate has this problem. No one else’s supporters are as consistently nasty and toxic as his. And Bernie supporters can get mad at me and hurl insults for saying so, but truly national candidates work to broaden the tent and bring new supporters into their coalition. That’s why I don’t see Sanders winning in the end: He still can’t push beyond his core base. (And to be clear, no one else can, this isn’t picking on just Sanders). But what’s most damning is that he’s not even trying to broaden his coalition. 

So what’s ahead? Sanders should do well in New Hampshire. He won it decisively in 2016. He’ll hit a brick wall called “black voters” in South Carolina, but he should do fine in the Nevada caucuses and head into Super Tuesday with a bit of momentum. His problem isn’t competing in a fragmented field. His problem will be the inevitable rise of the anti-Bernie candidate once the field becomes further consolidated. It’s inevitable. If that candidate happens to be Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg, then life will truly suck. I’m suddenly hoping its Amy Klobuchar, just so that Plan B isn’t as soul-sucking depressing. 

I do wish the left could consolidate around Warren, a far less-polarizing candidate. But that’s a pipe dream now.  

2. Biden ⬇️ (Last week: 1) 

Biden wasn’t expected to do well in Iowa: His job was just to minimize the damage. And while he wasn’t entirely successful with that, it’s enough to limp through to New Hampshire, one step closer to South Carolina, where he can power up (in video game parlance). 

Biden’s entire game at this point is older black voters. As long as he holds them, he can scoop up big chunks of delegates in the South. Did his poor performance in Iowa damage that support? We don’t see it in the public data, but private data suggests that he definitely took on water. (What “private” data? My polling firm Civiqs. And look how we outperformed almost the entire polling industry in Iowa.), and Buttigieg and Bloomberg are the beneficiaries. Still, his firewall of Black support remains mostly intact, and as long as that holds, he should be en route for a win in South Carolina. 

Biden’s big problem right now isn’t electoral, it’s financial. “In one troublesome sign for the financially strapped campaign, it canceled nearly $150,000 in television ads in South Carolina, which votes Feb. 29, and moved the spending to Nevada, whose Feb. 22 contest follows New Hampshire’s. The move seemed to acknowledge that Biden’s campaign cannot sustain a continued run of bad news.” Kamala Harris didn’t drop out because of poll numbers, she dropped out because she ran out of money. Bloomberg greedily eyeing Biden’s ideological lane, Buttigieg has already made inroads into it, and Amy Klobuchar is desperately trying to muscle her way in. That’s a lot of threats from a lane that was supposed to be his alone. 

We’ve long talked about the Left being split two-way between Sanders and Warren. Few if any saw the center line stacking up four-way. What this means is less pressure to consolidate the Left flank, and a greater chance for a contested convention this summer. 

Uh oh. 

3. Elizabeth Warren ⬇️ (last week: 3)

Once upon a time, the media gave three candidates a pass out of Iowa, but that only was until a woman was the third, so she’s been all but ignored this past week. She overperformed the polling (the Iowa aggregate had her around 15%) to get to around 20% of the vote. While it was nice to outperform those expectations, it’s hard to forget that at one time she was actually leading in those Iowa polls. She still hasn’t fully recovered from her Medicare for All plan rollout, a debacle that might have ended up costing her the nomination. 

But she’s not out of this, not by a long shot. Obviously, she won’t win anything hovering at around 15% in the national polling, but it’s not as if anyone else is consolidating support. A first-place showing in New Hampshire would dramatically reshape the race, but a second place would be a boost. Third place, despite representing next-door Massachusetts, would be a disappointment, and that’s but that’s what the polls currently suggest. Fourth place would be brutal. 

Warren, like every candidate not named Joe, is having a hard time attracting black voters. South Carolina will be rough. But Nevada could very well end up a battle between her and Bernie. A victory somewhere this month would provide a strong boost heading into delegate-rich March, but as of now, no place seems obviously ready to give her that victory. 

Like every other candidate, her problem is, where does she grow support? The Bernie Left is locked in. They’re not going anywhere. More moderate to centrist Dems are spooked by Medicare for All, and now see her as too liberal. She’s wooed black voters heavily with little success, but might that accelerate if Biden falters? And is Buttigieg really going to survive into Super Tuesday, particularly given the renewed attacks he’s facing? 

At this point, Warren’s best chance for victory is, ironically, to become the anti-Bernie candidate. Biden needs to be gone and Pete needs to stall. Klobuchar needs to stay in the back of the pack. Wall Street Dems can rally around Bloomberg, but there's not enough of them to matter electorally. A coalition of part of the Left plus the party mainstream would give Warren the nomination. Probable? Heck no. It’s almost an impossible scenario, actually. But nothing in this crazy race is “probable.” No one can win, but someone has to, eventually.  

4. Pete Buttigieg ⬆️ (Last week: unranked)

Small-liberal-college-town mayor Pete Buttigieg co-“won” Iowa with Sanders (helped by impeachment keeping his Senate rivals in Washington), and that has given him new life as a potential Biden replacement, at least for the moment. He claimed a surge in big-dollar donations after Iowa (at the same time that Biden saw his fundraising hit a wall), so it seems like the Wall Street crowd, already in love with Buttigieg, could be going all-in on him.

Now Sanders is getting young people of color, and Warren is doing okay with younger educated women of color—nowhere near Biden’s dominance with black voters, but you know, it adds up to 10-15% support each among black voters. Shitty, to be sure, but it’s something. Buttigieg? He’s at zero. Any genuine rise in Buttigieg’s overall support would be a clear signal to black America that white liberals really don’t give a shit about justice issues. (Which is probably already true, but still ...) You want the gory backstory on how he fired his city’s Black police chief for exposing racist beat cops on his force? It’s here (and the story goes far beyond the police chief). It’s enough to generate enough distrust and hostility with perhaps the most important voting group in our party to last a generation. 

It’s not just a primary problem. We don’t win November without strong black turnout in Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Jacksonville. If we don’t have a nominee that can talk the language of black America and can motivate those voters to turn out, we’re toast. 

Now I know Buttigieg supporters will say I’m just taking shots at their guy, but here’s the thing: This issue matters in the primary. It matters to black voters, who will chose hundreds of delegates to the conventions, and it matters to some white allies eager to show solidarity. It’s akin to Bernie’s refusal to expand his coalition, except Sanders refuses by choice. Buttigieg can’t because of his past history.

More immediately, however, polls have Buttigieg moving up to second place in New Hampshire. Can he hold it despite the attacks during the New Hampshire debate and a serious barrage of negative attention like this?

Former Mayor Pete doesn�t think very highly of the Obama-Biden record. Let�s compare. pic.twitter.com/132TB7MHaq

— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) February 8, 2020

Simply brutal. And effective. Buttigieg’s “experience” truly is a joke, and the arrogance inherent in him thinking he deserves a promotion to the White House from a small liberal college town mayorship is breathtaking. He’s never received more than 11,000 votes in an election, and in his small-town reelection bid, that number went down to 8,500. 

Now he needs to weather those attacks and notch that top New Hampshire finish, because South Carolina and Nevada don’t look to be hospitable territory. 

The wildcards at this point are Amy Klobuchar, who seemed to be well received after Friday’s New Hampshire debate, and Michael Bloomberg, who seems to be trying to buy himself a pass to the nomination at a brokered convention. But just think of all those voters in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia that we could’ve registered with the half-a-billion spent so far by Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. It’s sickening seeing all that money spent on the altar of egoism.

Eleven takeaways from last night’s Iowa debacle

What a night, huh? Here are the big takeaways:

1) Ever since there was a Daily Kos in 2002, I’ve railed against the Iowa caucus system. It is unfair (who made Iowa king?), unrepresentative (91% white and mostly rural), and undemocratic. With turnout expected to be around the same as 2016’s, and well off the 2008 mark, it means that only about 6% of Iowa voters turned out. And yet it’s this small group of people that’s supposed to shape the field for us? Enough is enough. The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus is a disgrace, and finally everyone else sees it. 

2) There is no conspiracy theory that explains away the incompetence of Iowa’s Democratic Party. That’s what happens when an unelected elite thinks it deserves an unearned gift—complacency and unresponsiveness.

3) That said, Joe Biden benefits the most, given what seems to be, by all indications, a dismal night. In our world of media micro-cycles, we’ll be moving on to chattering about whether Donald Trump will mention impeachment in tonight’s State of the Union address, the New Hampshire debate, and New Hampshire’s looming primary (another unrepresentative state with an unearned pole position in the primary). 

4) The biggest loser, conversely, is the person who appears to have won the night—Bernie Sanders. He loses his prime-time victory speech. Ironically, it was his campaign’s insistence that Iowa count actual votes that led to last night’s disaster, but don’t blame him—he was right. While Hillary Clinton won the delegate counts in the 2016 caucuses, chances are very good that Sanders would’ve won a count of the popular vote. And why are we recreating everything that is wrong with the Electoral College at the state level? The obvious answer was to ditch the stupid delegate counts and just declare the popular vote winner the winner, right? But the Sanders camp didn’t push that. 

5) The biggest asshole of the night was small-liberal-college-town Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who gave a victory speech utterly divorced from the reality on the ground. His pretend “I won and shocked the nation” speech was everything we hate about politics—a Trumpian attempt to create reality by merely declaring it so. 

6) It’s hard to see how Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar continue forward from here. Sure, there’s no reason to quit before New Hampshire, but they’ve got no juice left. They bet all on Iowa, and Iowa said, “We suck,” and that was that. 

7) Republicans are taking a victory lap, with a “If they can’t run a caucus, how can they run a country?” tour. Let them have it. We’d do the same if they were in these shoes. Luckily for everyone, the Iowa Democratic Party isn’t on the presidential ballot. I think we could agree to vote for the other candidates instead. And you can always ask them about the raging success of their “repeal and replace” strategy. 

8) The cable networks pretty much all cut away from Elizabeth Warren’s speech, for reasons that make zero sense. Now, Klobuchar was smart enough to go onstage when the cable network pundits were all staring at each other with nothing to say or do. But really, with all that dead air to fill, just play the candidate speeches. All of them. I mean, CNN cut away from Warren to put on RICK FUCKING SANTORUM. Unacceptable. 

9) Given last night’s mess, it’s extrafortuitous that our new national pre-primary primary (aka “2019”) whittled down the field before Iowa could get its grubby hands on it. As a result, candidates spent less time in Iowa than they had in prior cycles.

x

Now I’m looking forward to seeing that number go down to single digits in future cycles. 

10) Another note on turnout: 

x

11) For all the talk about Sanders reshaping the electorate, it’s just not happening. If he eventually gets 25%, which seems about right, he will have lost half his support from 2016, without managing to increase the number of caucus-goers. Fact is, only Barack Obama has managed to “reshape the electorate” in recent history, and we have no one of his caliber on the line. Michelle Obama would’ve done it. Hard to see anyone else. And that’s tragic, because Obama made everything so much easier.