Trump is doing everything possible to make safe red-state Senate seats competitive

Senate Democrats are looking like winners in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina. Their leads are so large at this point that it’s hard to see, absent scandal, how they won’t win. Democrats are also looking good in the next tier of races, tied or leading in Iowa, both Georgia seats, and Montana. Kansas and Texas are in the third tier, which is lean or likely Republican, but within the realm of possibility. 

And then there are the fourth-tier races—those that are “likely or safe Republican.” While some early polling looks encouraging, it would be really tough for Democrats to pick up absent a massive Democratic wave. And here, I’m mostly talking about challenges in Kentucky and South Carolina, and our incumbent senator in Alabama. And yet, Trump’s national polling collapse threatens Republican holds on these seats even if they remain safely red in the presidential race. 

Alabama has been considered a lost cause almost from the moment that Democratic incumbent Doug Jones won the seat in a 2017 special election 50-48.3—a margin of just 22,000 votes—against a child predator, someone who even admitted approaching teenage girls while he was in his 30s. It has seemed inconceivable that Democrats would ever hold that seat during a presidential year in a state that gave Trump a 61-34 victory in 2016. 

And certainly Civiqs’ daily tracker of Trump’s job approvals in Alabama shows his job approval rating hovering in the 60-40 range for the last three years. But look what suddenly happened: 

That’s a fall from +20 net approvals during impeachment to single digits +9 today, or a net 11-point drop. That outpaces the drops we’ve seen nationally (around a net 5-point drop). 

The drop is even bigger in Kentucky, the third most pro-Trump state after Wyoming and West Virginia. 

That’s a drop from his high-water mark of around +25 net approvals (60-35) to +13 today (54-41), or a net 12-point drop.

The last of these three tough fourth-tier Senate states is South Carolina:

The drop here is actually in line with national results: a 5-point drop from +8 net approvals to +3 (50-47). 

Now, Trump will win all three of these states. And he’ll win them all easily. That’s not the point here. 

The point is that for Democrats to have any chance, they’ll need ticket splitters or voters who don’t fill the ballot past the presidential contest. The stronger the pro-Trump vote is, the tougher that task becomes.

In 2008, incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is the current Republican leader in the Senate, won his election race 53-47. That same year, on the same ballot, John McCain defeated Barack Obama 57-41. McConnell ran 10 points behind the top of the ticket. 

So yeah, if Trump wins Kentucky along the same lines as his 63-33 victory in 2016, then the Democrats won’t defeat McConnell, period. But as we’ve seen in recent polling, Trump’s share of the Biden versus Trump vote is closely correlated to his personal ratings. If Trump’s popularity continues to falter in the state (and the pandemic and job losses aren’t going anywhere any time soon), that presidential race could tighten, and that hill Democrats must climb gets easier and easier. Same goes for Alabama, South Carolina, and pretty much every single other state. 

Can Democrats win these three states? If the election were today, they wouldn’t. But given Trump’s inability to show anything akin to leadership in these critical times, the more he falls, the better our chances. 

You want to chip in and help? It wouldn’t be a bad idea, so here you go!

Trump’s polling collapse puts Ohio back on the map

Once upon a time, Ohio was the ultimate swing state. President Barack Obama won it as recently as 2012! But then, non-college whites turned sharply in favor of bunker-hiding Donald Trump, and Ohio was both (82% non-Hispanic white, and ranked 35th in college graduates). Trump won it easily by over 8 points.

So Ohio wasn’t included in the early tally of 2020 battleground states. Early polling wasn’t encouraging for Democrats, and there were seven other states that would clearly decide the November contest: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

But, you can now officially add Ohio to that list.

As I wrote in my last story, we’re seeing clear correlation between Trump’s personal ratings, and his head-to-head matchups. In other words, whatever his favorability rating is, that’s what he’s pretty much getting against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Here are the four last Civiqs state polls:

STATE TRUMP FAVORABLES TRUMP vs. BIDEN GEORGIAKANSASNORTH CAROLINASOUTH CAROLINA
47-51 47-48
51-47 52-40
45-53 46-49
51-47 52-42

Also, in the last story, I wrote about Trump’s overall collapse in his personal approval ratings. Well, Ohio has had a more exaggerated collapse compared to the country at large. 

During impeachment, Trump had a +4 favorability rating in Ohio, or 51-47. That’s important because it meant he was likely over 50% in head-to-heads against Biden. We were right to keep the state off the battleground map. 

However, those approvals have dropped a net total of 12 points, to an anemic 45-53. So what other states have approval ratings in that -8 range? 

APPROVALS NET APPROVAL Iowa Florida Ohio Georgia North Carolina Wisconsin Pennsylvania MICHIGAN Arizona
45-52 -7
45-52 -7
45-53 -8
44-53 -9
43-54 -11
43-54 -11
42-54 -12
42-56 -14
40-57 -17

We know Florida is tied because not only the polling says so, but, you know, it’s Florida. (Actually, the polling gives Biden a small lead in Florida, but it’s Florida. So it’s tied.) 

Trump’s ratings in Ohio are a hint worse. Trump’s Ohio ratings are still better than they are in Georgia and North Carolina, two states we know that he is narrowly losing. But they’re all in the same range, with Trump getting roughly 45-46% of the Trump versus Biden vote. He’s slipped away from that 50% mark. The state is in play. And it makes that Fox News poll last week showing Biden leading in Ohio 45-43 make plenty of sense. 

Now Ohio won’t be deciding this election. If Biden wins the state, it’s because he already won the other seven battlegrounds. There is no scenario imaginable in which Ohio casts any deciding Electoral College votes. (Iowa and Texas are in a similar situation, as well as Minnesota and Nevada for Trump. If he wins those last two states, he’s already won the election.) 

What it means is that a panicking Trump campaign is already spending money trying to shore up the state. 

Over the past few weeks, the president’s operation has spent about $1.7 million on advertising in just three states he carried in 2016 — Ohio, Iowa and Arizona — that it had hoped would not be competitive at all this year. Much of that sum went to a concentrated two-week barrage in Ohio [...]

As I wrote last week, this spending is proof that Trump’s campaign is either being driven by Trump’s whims—he likely hates the idea that he’s losing Ohio, or his campaign manager Brad Parscale is utterly incompetent. Again, if they lose Ohio, they already lost the election, so why waste money there when Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have all fallen seemingly out of reach?

(To spare you the math, picking up just those four states—Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin is a 289-249 Biden victory. Including North Carolina, which also has a Trump double-digit approval deficit, makes it 304-234 Biden.)

But whatever the motivation to piss away millions in Ohio, it again proves that the state is in serious play. And that is, quite simply, remarkable. There’s nothing about the state that suggests it should be competitive. It seemed headed into Missouri territory—a once competitive state relegated by demographics to solid red status. And yet, here we are. 

Ohio, welcome back to swing-state status!

Democrats will win the Senate (only question is by how much)

No one should count their chickens before they hatch. This is not what I’m doing. What I’m saying is that if we keep doing what we’re doing, and that guy cowering in the bunker in the White House keeps doing what he’s doing, and Senate Republicans keep carrying water for the guy in the bunker … then yeah, Democrats will pick up the Senate. And I’m not going out on a limb in saying so. 

The big picture: Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. Trump is going to lose. Therefore, Democrats need to pick up a net three seats to get to 50 seats, with the vice presidential tiebreaker putting the chamber in Democratic hands. 

We are probably going to lose the Senate seat in Alabama. That was a temporary gift won in a special election against a child molester. And we still barely won. In a normal year, against a normal Republican, with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket? If Democratic Sen. Doug Jones wins reelection, we’ve got a 60-seat majority landslide. So we assume he loses. 

The Daily Kos Elections crew just moved Arizona into “lean Democratic,” but that is probably still too kind.  

McSally (R) Kelly (D) Fox News (5/30-6/2) Highground (5/18-5/22) OH Predictive Insights (5/9-11)
37 50
41 51
38 51

Appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally already lost in 2018, and the whole state of Arizona seems to be moving strongly against Republicans. In that Fox News poll, Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden is leading 46-42. 

In Colorado, no one is pretending that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has any chance. Even he realizes it—he spent his impeachment time aggressively defending Trump in a state in which Trump will lose by double digits. And so will Gardner. Two polls in early March had former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper leading by 17 and 18 points. No one has wasted time polling there ever since. 

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins saw her “moderate” veneer shorn off after voting both to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial, and voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. A poll last month had Democratic candidate Sarah Gideon with a 51-42 lead. The race has been underpolled, but Collins ranks amongst the most unpopular senators in the country in a state that will solidly go blue this fall. She can’t count on ticket splitters anymore. 

And in North Carolina, incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis is looking weak, weak, weak:

Tillis (R) Cunningham (D) PPP (6/2-3) Meeting Street Insights (5/9-13) Civiqs (5/2-4) Meredith College (4/27-28)
41 43
44 46
41 50
34 44

Any incumbent below 45% is generally considered to be toast. People are looking for an alternative. 

Losing Alabama but winning Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina gets us to a 50-50 Senate. At this stage of the cycle, given current trends, this is the most likely outcome. 

TIER TWO RACES

These are races in which Republicans currently have the edge, but are in play. 

Georgia has two Senate seats in play: a regular election and a special one. The only recent polling is courtesy of Civiqs, which found both Senate seats effectively tied. The reason the GOP has the edge is that Georgia has a Jim Crow-era law that requires candidates to win with 50% of the vote. If none get it in November, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election in January. 

Historically, the GOP has done much better in those runoff elections. I suspect this time will be different, but gut feelings don’t trump history. This is a true tossup for both seats. 

Montana pits an incumbent Republicans against the current popular Democratic governor. Montana is notoriously difficult to poll, but the only one to try recently—a sketchy-looking Montana State University effort—had Democrat Steve Bullock ahead 46-39. Trump will win the state, so we’re relying on ticket splitters to carry the day. Luckily, 1) Montana has a long history of split tickets—it currently has a Democratic governor and Democratic U.S. Senator despite being solidly red at the presidential level, and 2) Trump’s approvals in Montana have been in a steady decline over the last 12 months, from a net +12, to +4 today. And the worse Trump does in the state, even if he wins it, the fewer crossover votes Bullock needs to win. 

Depending on how these two states shake out, the Democrats can end up anywhere from the barest 50-50 majority to a better-looking 53-47 one. 

TIER THREE RACES

Incumbent Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst had appeared relatively safe earlier this year. Lily-white Iowa looked like another 10-point Trump win, and Ernst seemed to be doing whatever it was that was necessary to cruise to reelection. But the coronavirus has hit Iowa hard, and the trade wars with China have hammered its farmers. And now, any hope of a positive resolution has evaporated as Trump has decided to blame China for his own failures. In fact, Trump’s approvals are underwater in Iowa 47-50, according to Civiqs’ daily tracker. 

Polling has been scant, but just yesterday Public Policy Polling released a poll showing the Democratic challenger up 45-43. Civiqs has a poll in the field right now and we’ll have results next Tuesday or Wednesday. This one may be soon graduating to the second tier. 

Kansas. Kansas! Yes, Kansas. I explain Kansas here. Botton line: It’s tough, but given Kansas’ high education levels and an ongoing civil war between the state Republican Party’s moderate and crazy wings, we have a shot. 

Texas also gets included in this tier. Incumbent Republican John Cornyn isn't as hated as Ted Cruz, who was almost defeated in 2018. And there is no public polling to give us a sense of the state of this race. But the state is trending blue, and a Public Policy Polling poll released today showed the state a 48-48 tie in the presidential election. Honestly, not sure I buy it, not without additional confirmation. But the demographic trends are certainly in our favor. Have they moved enough to put this Senate seat in contention? I’m hopeful but skeptical.  

TIER FOUR RACES

These are races in which we have great candidates who are raising buttloads of cash, but they are in tough Republican states. 

In Kentucky, odious Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unpopular, but 1) he delivers more bacon than anyone else in the Senate—Kentucky is the ultimate mooch state, and 2) Kentucky gives Trump some of his highest approval ratings in the country (a rough count says seventh highest). 

Those are some pretty strong headwinds to fight no matter how good your candidate is and how much money she has. 

And in the same vein, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham is protected by the partisanship of his state—the only one on both coasts that gives Trump a positive approval rating. Civiqs has the race tied 42-42, but undecideds are heavily Republican and the state suffers from extreme racial polarization. Southern whites, in general, just don’t vote Democratic. 

The Senate will be at least 50-50. Our job is to drag as many of these races across the finish line as we can. Can we make it 55-45? Or even more than that? 

Donate to our slate of Senate races. And if you live in any of these states, fight hard! 

Trump keeps screwing everything up and it’s killing him in the battleground states

This is the current national state of play with Donald Trump as he faces his worst job ratings in two years: 

It’s a legit roadmap of the 2020 presidential election.

Here's the current electoral map picture: 

It’s a little confusing, since the color blue in the first map “approves of Trump,” while in the second map it means the exact opposite. But it’s still not too hard to sort out: Blue states really don’t like Trump. Red states like Trump. There are the edge-case states—states that are evenly divided on the question, but aren’t current battlegrounds (Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah). And then there are the seven battlegrounds—all states that voted for Trump in 2016, and all states in which his numbers are currently net-negative. 

Approve DisapproVe net Arizona Florida Georgia Michigan North Carolina Pennsylvania Wisconsin
42 56 -14
46 51 -5
45 51 -6
42 55 -13
45 53 -8
44 52 -8
45 53 -8

Arizona continues to surprise. Who would’ve thought it looks better for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden than Pennsylvania does? And worse for Trump, his numbers are trending even lower. For example, let’s look at Arizona: 

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Trump has gone from -10 net favorables in Arizona, to -14. Arizona has around 4 million registered voter. Going from -10 to -14 net favorability means that around 160,000 Arizona voters changed their mind about Trump. 

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema won the state by just 56,000 votes in 2018. Democrats picked up the secretary of state office by 20,000 votes. These shifts in public opinion may seem small, but in a tight battleground state, every point matters. And it should be noted, the shift in job approvals in Arizona started during the impeachment hearings. They really did set the stage. 

Let’s look at Florida: 

Florida is Florida, balanced on a razor’s edge, but once again, impeachment took a bite out of Trump, and the pandemic is further widening the split. Looking at Michigan, however, and impeachment didn’t leave any mark, but the pandemic is: 

Click around and see for yourself, but the virus is having an impact in every one of these battleground states. (In every state, actually, but only the battlegrounds are close enough for it to matter.) This is the reason much of the battleground polling lately has been so gaudy-good for Joe Biden and Democratic down-ballot candidates (like the recent Civiqs surveys out of North Carolina and Georgia. Even South Carolina looked better than 2016 numbers).

Will it stay that way? We can’t assume that, of course. It helps us that Trump isn’t trying to actually win new voters. The a-hole is running ads mocking Biden for wearing a mask, when 72% of Americans support wearing masks. He's playing to his peanut gallery. He’s certainly not trying to minimize the continued death toll, having given up entirely on the matter. He’d rather pretend everything is fine so states open up as quickly and as fully as possible. And while some renewed economic activity is inevitable as restrictions loosen up, that still won’t save tens of millions of jobs before November. 

So will Trump be able to recapture that support he’s recently lost? It’s possible! The charts obviously do show their up-and-down fluctuations over the last four years. A skilled, capable, compassionate, and focused leader could certainly manage to parlay this crisis into broad popular support. President George W. Bush hit 90% approvals after 9/11, despite having ignored a report that literally warned that al-Qaida was about to strike the nation. The public wants to rally around their leader in a crisis. 

Trump isn’t skilled or compassionate or capable. He’s a barely functioning adult. And this crisis has made it harder and harder for people to cling to the notion that Trump is actually a good president. 

It’s hard for people to admit that their sincerely held beliefs were wrong. And politics is now akin to religion—part of one’s self-identity. Leaving the Republican Party is like leaving a cult. Not everyone can manage it. And yet, it’s happening. It happened in 2018, with suburban white women testing the waters, and the water was fine! Newly re-minted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t the boogeyman! She ended up being nothing like that asshole in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. 

And now it’s time to leave the Cult of MAGA, and it’s happening, little by little, inch by inch. It’s been enough to spot Biden a clear lead in the Electoral College, it has been enough to deprive Trump of an expanded map, it has been enough to create two new battleground states in previously red (and solidly red!) Arizona and Georgia. 

Can Trump reverse that trend? Sure, it’s within the realm of possibility, but no, he won’t. He can’t. He probably doesn’t even want to. 

Despite all right-wing efforts to demonize Nancy Pelosi, it’s Mitch McConnell who America hates

Conservatives have spent more than a decade demonizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has mostly gotten a pass. Part of that is our lack of a truly partisan liberal media network. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and all their endless offspring can hammer Pelosi relentlessly, but on the left? Daily Kos, a few Facebook memes, and some MSNBC shows are all we have. 

Yet despite all that, would you believe that Nancy Pelosi is far more popular than Mitch McConnell? 

It’s true! Civiqs has public tracking polls for both leaders (Pelosi and McConnell). Here’s how their numbers compare: 

Pelosi (D) McConnell (R) ALL Male Female Democrat Republican Independent
40-53 27-58
33-61 32-54
46-46 22-62
80-11 2-91
3-95 61-16
30-60 22-61

Pelosi is a net 18 points more popular than McConnell. That disparity is driven in huge part by a massive gender gap—40 points among women

Pelosi is +69 among Democrats, and McConnell is only +45 among Republicans, showing that Democrats are far more united around their leader than the opposition is. Frankly, that is shocking, given how McConnell is singularly responsible for the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Yet he consistently plays the role of villain for conservative wackos. Meanwhile, Pelosi has a 7-point advantage among independents, who mostly hate both of them. 

Pelosi (D) McConnell (R) 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+
38-49 17-66
40-52 23-61
40-55 31-54
43-54 35-52

McConnell has comically bad numbers among young voters, at -49 among 18-34 year olds. Pelosi looks wildly popular in comparison, at -9 net favorabilities. In fact, Pelosi is more popular in every age group, including seniors. 

And you know what’s crazy? McConnell is close to his all-time high favorabilities! 

His numbers go up during partisan movements as Republicans rally in support (during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh and during impeachment, most notably). He’s now fading as voters sour on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that there’s no urgency to do anything (a dynamic that’s particularly startling among independents). 

Meanwhile, Pelosi has benefitted most from two major successes—taking control of the House in 2018 (when Republicans put her in pretty much every ad they ran that cycle), and impeachment: 

Pelosi even got a little bump after she tore up impeached president Donald Trump’s speech at this year’s State of the Union address. 

Republican efforts to paint Pelosi as the nation’s worst villain have failed. See this 2018 ad by the National Republican Campaign Committee in a Houston-area congressional district: 

The ad ominously claimed, “[Democratic nominee Lizzie Fletcher] wants to fit in with Nancy Pelosi and her liberal agenda. That’s not Texas. Neither is Lizzie Fletcher.” 

Fletcher ousted 18-year incumbent John Culberson by five points. So either 1.) Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda is Texas, or 2.) no one gave much of a shit about Nancy Pelosi. And that story was repeated all over the country as Democrats gained 41 seats in their massive wave victory. 

As much as we despair over the state of our nation (Trump’s approval ratings should be 12% or lower), there are bright spots. The fact that the entire might of the conservative right-wing media machine has been unable to drag Pelosi down is one of them. The fact that McConnell is as unpopular as he is, despite a lack of liberal mass media, is another. 

Sometimes, people do pay attention, and make the right choices. And thinking McConnell is a piece of shit is, undoubtedly, the right choice. 

Soldiers and veterans are dropping dead of COVID-19, and Trump doesn’t care

Impeached president Donald Trump is a f’n idiot. He tries so hard to sound inspirational and hopeful and tough, and instead he sounds like a moron. Like here, when he ends up sounding totally psyched and excited that the United States lead the world in coronavirus deaths:

"The whole world is excited watching us," Trump tells reporters. "Because we're leading the world."

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) May 5, 2020

He wants to sound optimistic, but he’s too stupid to pull it off. No, the world isn’t excited to see the devastation happening in the United States (except maybe Russia), and presumably, neither is Trump. But who knows? The same happens when he tries to frame the pandemic as a battle between a wily mastermind of a virus, and America’s can-do spirit. 

Here is Trump again, yesterday:

Trump says the virus is "a tough enemy, a smart enemy. But nobody's like us and nobody's tough like us. And I said it before and I'll say it again: the people of our country are warriors."

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) May 5, 2020

The virus isn’t smart. It’s a freakin’ virus. It’s as dumb as a Trump, following base instincts without regards to long-term strategy. And we certainly aren’t going to defeat the virus by being “tough.” The virus doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the grit of the American people. It just does its own thing, on its own timetable, unconcerned by “tough” words from Trump or anyone else.

Literally, the only way to currently thwart this virus is to hide from it. That’s how powerful it is. And the only way to thwart this thing, long-term, is through science. So yeah, smart people doing smart things. Again, no “tough” words from Trump will matter a whit.

If Trump wants to treat this as a war, however, why not treat people as actual uniformed soldiers? Give front-line and essential employees veterans benefits, hazard pay, and medals. Give them free socialized medical care like members of the armed forces. Pay out $1 million in death benefits to every one of those workers felled in the line of duty. It’s a war, right? Treat the people like actual warriors. 

Speaking of, did you know that real-life warriors, those who are currently wearing a uniform, or did so once upon a time, are also dying en masse? According to the latest tally, 27 Department of Defense service members, employees, and dependents have died from the disease, as well as 771 veterans inside the VA medical system. Obviously, that doesn’t count veterans who died outside of that system, but even now, we’re at nearly 800 dead (and counting). 

But Trump doesn’t care. The only time he thinks about our service members and veterans is when they serve his ego, as backdrops for his campaign or photo ops. Otherwise, perhaps he’d keep them in mind and try to minimize the carnage. 

But he doesn’t care about anyone. The end. And this toxic brew of psychotic indifference and rank incompetence means that we’re in for hundreds of thousands more deaths before we’re mercifully done with his presidency next January. 

The Republican Party will owe this country for the death and destruction it wrought, for refusing to take out Trump when it had the chance (not just impeachment, but via 25th Amendment), and that’s a debt it will never be able to repay. 

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.