A Hugely Unpredictable Tuesday

I had a whole long post written about this. I can summarize it as follows. Buttigieg dropping out, along with a slew of other developments over the last week, sets us up for a hugely unpredictable set of results on Tuesday. Buttigieg only had about 10% support nationally. Some polls showed his voters spreading surprisingly evenly to the other candidates as their second choice — belying any simple calculus that his voters automatically migrate to Biden. Commentators are having debates about different candidates’ “lanes” such.

But those analyses miss this greater uncertainty.

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Lighten Up, Folks

From TPM Reader RB

I just have to say that in regard to your first two comments today Mar. 1 on a possible Bernie-Biden race, both your readers NL and JE are far too pessimistic, looking only for the worst possible outcomes.
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Readers Look at a Sanders-Biden Contest, Pt #2

From reluctant Sanders supporter JE

I agree with your point about needing to get some clarify before the convention but I think we miss one important thing if the race narrows to Biden/Sanders quickly.

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Readers Look at a Sanders-Biden Contest, Pt #1

From TPM Reader NL

I am conflicted about this matchup. Let me get this off my chest first. I do not like Sanders. It has zero to do with policy, age, or electability. It is entirely about his unwillingness to be a team player and my fear that he will be a governing disaster because he will make the perfect the enemy of the good. This manifests in a lot of ways — unwillingness to join the party, unwillingness to call out his more toxic backers (assuming they are not FSB bots), unwillingness to make the case to his core supporters that change requires 50.1% percentage of the vote and get there requires, well, Democrats. What is the problem with making the case the Democratic party needs new blood and that the best way to change the party is by joining it?
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A Note on Tonight’s Result

Most about this night speaks for itself. I suspect the margin of this win will get Biden into contention in enough Super Tuesday states to gravitate this relatively quickly into a two person race. I doubt Michael Bloomberg will stay in the race long if thinks his impact is only to pull potential support from Biden, or if he sees no path for himself to the nomination. Steyer is dropping out tonight. I suspect others will follow next week.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Makes A Pandemic Political
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

And why wouldn’t he?

As stock markets plummet — the Dow Jones has plunged the most since the 2008 recession in recent days — and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticize President Trump’s handling of the spread of the coronavirus, the President is looking for someone to blame for his negative press. Up until this week, Trump had barely mentioned the spreading pandemic and when he did, his tone — as it often is in situations that require delicacy — was deaf.

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Debates, Old School

From TPM Reader CH

I missed the last two presidential debates because I was part of the League of Women Voters team holding candidate forum in a nearby municipality. At the end of each, audience members came up to observe that these forums were much better than the mudfights that the network opining heads presided over. They preferred the League format and the League rules to the clickbait, max controversy approach of the network stars.

So, what does the League of Women Voters do that’s so popular? Here are a few of the guidelines:

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Where Things Stand: Giuliani’s Suffering A Social Drought
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

There are always repercussions when you weld yourself to President Trump’s wagon.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani may not regret becoming the President’s unhinged cable news cheerleader or embarking on a shadow campaign to pressure a foreign government to pursue Trump’s political agenda, which ultimately got his boss impeached. But there’s one consequence of Trump fealty that may have the former New York City mayor down in the dumps: the demise of his social life.

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CAPITOL HILL, WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2013/06/01: Supreme Court Building, eastern facade. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Where Things Stand: Republicans Are Sweating Over Swelling Bern
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not one to speak candidly. But while addressing reporters last night, he was uncharacteristically frank: His party would be “foolish” to not take Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) popularity seriously.

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on May 6, 2018 in New York City.
A Reader Exchange

A few days ago I got into a rather intense spat with a longtime reader who became incensed with me after reading this tweet exchange.

Here’s the tweet, which is a reply to a tweet by Bernie Sanders.

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Digging Into The Sanders’ Numbers

Here’s a good article that gets at the real issues with predicting how strong a general election candidate Bernie Sanders would be. It’s different because it gets down into the specifics with real data. Indeed, what is particularly strong about it is that much of what it says people on both sides of the intra-Democratic debate agree on. (We’ll get to that in a moment.)

As I’ve argued, I don’t think you can say Sanders is unelectable or some kind of sure loser when a year’s worth of public polls show him beating President Trump. Current polls show Sanders and Biden both beating Trump by comparable margins. Until recently, they showed Biden doing somewhat better. But compared to all the other candidates they ran relatively similar margins against the incumbent President.

This article gets into the fact that even though the toplines are similar, they’re made up of significantly different coalitions.

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Technocracy, Propriety and Obama

We’ve been overwhelmed by great emails engaging this debate about Obama and the rise of Trumpism, which of course is also a debate about the nature of the Democratic party at its heart. I am trying to make my way through them and choose if not necessarily the best (it’s hard to pick!) then the ones that pivot the conversation in an interesting or helpful direction.

TPM Reader JO makes a separate but good point …

My tuppence worth on this debate.

In assessing the role of the Obama administration in the rise of Trumpism, I certainly would agree that it cannot be attributed to policy failures as such. But neither was it an Act of God that Democrats were helpless to do anything about.

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Loyalty, Disloyalty And Language

Following up on the last post, let me share an email from TPM Reader MR: Read More

Where Things Stand: Trump Hypes Blind Loyalty Overseas
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

While overseas in India, President Trump not only confirmed reports of his disloyalty purge, he claimed it was good for the country.

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It’s Not About Defending Obama
Barack Obama attends a powhiri at Government House on March 22, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. It is the former US president's first visit to New Zealand, where he will be giving a a series of talks. Obama will also meet New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and former PM John Key during his visit.

There’s one point I want to reiterate or clarify about the posts from earlier today. We’ve gotten a lot of great emails agreeing and disagreeing with my basic points – I’ll be publishing several of them this evening. But some of those who on balance agree with me have asides like, ‘but here’s a case where I think we can criticize Obama.’

Let me be clear: this really isn’t about defending Obama.

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Readers Respond on the Road To Trumpism, Pt. 1

TPM Reader JB on the road to Trumpism …

Interesting exchange of views among you and your readers on this subject. A couple of thoughts, for what they’re worth.

It’s probably useful for us to distinguish between things Obama did as President and events that took place while he was in office. The Great Recession was chief among the latter; it had a massive economic and political impact we are still trying to process over a decade later.

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More on Obamaism and the Rise of Trump

Soon after I published the post below about Obama and Trumpism, I got a note from my friend Josh Green, asking me to reread this 2018 piece and let him know what I thought. Here’s the link. I recommend it. As Josh describes it, it’s basically “the opposite of your headline stating Obama didn’t lead to Trump.”

This is a welcome interchange. Because it allows me to elaborate on, and hopefully refine, my thinking.

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Where Things Stand: Trump’s Shrinking Inner Circle
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

Since his Senate acquittal, President Trump has become increasingly paranoid about just how deep the “deep state” goes.

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Readers Respond to the Sanders’ Surge, Pt. 2

TPM Reader CR takes a simple approach ..

I see this election in fairly straightforward terms:

Trump has basically had his average approval rating written in stone at about 43%, and his disapproval rating in the 52-54% range. Since, by virtually every survey, this looks to be a huge turnout election and not a “base” election, those percentages should be more accurate than if it was a base election.

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Readers Respond to the Sanders’ Surge, Pt. 1

TPM Reader MR says it’s not all about the presidential horse race …

I’d like to expand on an important disagreement I have with a portion of your recent Editor’s Blog post “Don’t go overboard with this”. It’s a disagreement that I have with you that spans several of your posts, and I think it’s summed up nicely here.

You wrote, “Given the enormous stakes, you don’t just want someone who has a shot. You want to be sure it’s the candidate with the best shot, to the extent you can ascertain that.“ I disagree with this statement vehemently. I suppose this is the liberal version of the old “Buckley Standard”. It’s something that I felt was cynical when he laid it out, and I find defeatist and shortsighted in this context.

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