First, I’m always hesitant to recommend people. Because inevitably they’ll say something dumb and people will blame for it. But I’m really enjoying Aaron Blake’s campaign commentary and number-crunching – consistently shrewd and considered. His column today focuses me on a basic point: it’s very hard to see how President Trump can win reelection in a high turnout head to head race. He’s just stuck way too far down below 50% public support. This is my general thinking of course because, as I’ve been arguing, Trump is in much worse shape than people seem to imagine, at least until quite recently. But it’s worth zooming in on those qualifiers: high turnout and head to head race.
TPM has always cared about keeping our readers up to speed on what we know, when we know it. For our series #WednesdaysWith, our writers, editors, and production staffers will take turns taking over our Instagram account for a day, giving you a window into what it’s like to walk in their shoes.
Happy Thursday, June 20. Today we’re waiting for decisions from the Supreme Court, some of which may address hot-button topics like the census or gerrymandering. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re following.
A lot of perceptions about the 2020 race have shifted over the last couple weeks, whether the underlying reality has changed is another matter. To me though the biggest story isn’t Biden v Trump or Biden v Bernie or Biden v Warren. All the traction and energy and significance at the moment is the battle between Sanders and Warren, which among its other oddities is only implicitly being joined, at least from the Warren side.
Sanders’ campaign and especially his supporters have taken to attacking Warren over her ties to the Democratic establishment, alleged failures to adequately address health care policy issues and more. The key thing here is that Sanders’ campaign recognizes, accurately, that their real fight is with Warren. Hopefully for Democrats the great majority of every candidates’ supporters will eventually consolidate behind the nominee. But especially reduced to his more ideological supporters (around 15% support as opposed to near 25% support earlier in the spring) Sanders isn’t going to lose those people to Biden. The two are just running totally different kinds of campaigns ideologically, strategically and tonally. But he could lose a large chunk of them to Warren, who is running a distinct but still similar kind of campaign. There’s good evidence he already is. He will also need to reclaim a significant amount of support from Warren’s supporters to get back to something approximating a two person battle between him and Biden.
I wanted to share this moment from last night’s campaign launch speech. In terms of projection, fury and borderline eliminationist rhetoric it captured the entire performance …
welp "Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." pic.twitter.com/zIc4qMZ8Wf
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 19, 2019
The New York Times has a rather lengthy and Timesian piece out this morning on the on-going mystery of Jerry Falwell Jr, his wife and family and this “pool boy” who they befriended and then put into the divey youth hostel business in South Florida. For those who’ve read the earlier reporting by Politico, Buzzfeed and Reuters, there’s no big new bombshell or piece of evidence in the new piece. (If anyone’s read it and thinks otherwise, let me know.) What there is is bits and pieces of more confirmation and nuggets of detail throughout. It’s a classic Timesian piece, the kind fellow journalists often grind their teeth over. The Times comes in late, largely with other people’s reporting and makes the whole thing official with splash of Times holy water. And yet, as usual, they’ve used their name and resources to unearth enough new details and additional confirmations to put the whole edifice on a rather firmer footing.
We still have a close to inexplicable chain of events in which Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife befriended young Giancarlo Granda, a pool attendant they met at a luxe, high life hotel in Miami Beach. As the Times puts it: “The Falwells, according to the person close to them, were impressed with Mr. Granda’s ambition. Soon he was hiking and water skiing with them in Virginia. Within months, they were offering to help him get started in business in Florida.”
Happy Wednesday, June 19. Former White House communications director Hope Hicks is due before the House Judiciary Committee today to testify behind closed doors about various events detailed in the Mueller report. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re following.
A new Quinnipiac poll has Joe Biden far out ahead of every other Democratic presidential candidate (41%), with Bernie Sanders (14%) and Elizabeth Warren (12%) in close to a tie. Notably, Biden and Sanders are in close to a tie among Democrats 18-49 (Biden 26%, Sanders 28%) while Democrats 50 and over are all but unanimous (Biden 52%, Sanders 5%).
Biden is beating Trump handily in a state match-up 50%-41%. And the rest are in the standard pattern. Sanders 48% v Trump 42%. Warren 47% v Trump 43%. Harris and Buttigieg both have a 1 point margin over Trump.
We’ve all been watching this Trumpian series of lies, denials and special pleadings tied to the leak of internal Trump campaign polls from March. The numbers showed Trump being defeated decisively for reelection and Trump himself has repeatedly denied exist. Campaign manager Brad Parscale eventually conceded the polls did exist. But he insisted that they’re months out of date and are too early in the campaign cycle to count in any case.
To a significant degree, he’s right. We’re almost a year and a half before the election. But the whole spectacle illustrates a reality I mentioned a couple weeks ago: the political nation is in a collective state of denial about the depths of the President’s unpopularity and his uphill challenge seeking reelection. The denial isn’t based on nothing. The 2016 outcome was a shocking as well as a calamitous result, one based on significant albeit sometimes overstated polling misses in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Still, it’s warped our collective understanding of just what’s happening in the 2020 cycle.