It’s easy to get lost in the big muddy river of polling data and headlines. But before we get further into the day I wanted to discuss a new group of polls that came out yesterday. This was the first batch of quality polls entirely after the GOP convention. The upshot of really all of them is that “law and order” is not only not helping Trump cut into Biden’s lead. Trump appears to be losing that debate on its own terms. When pollsters ask voters which candidate they trust more to handle civil unrest, protests or crime, they’re picking Biden.
This post may take a few deep breaths because it’s hard to have any sympathy for Kyle Rittenhouse. But it’s not about sympathy. TPM Reader BG raises some important legal points – a couple of which had occurred to me as well – about his legal representation. I’ll note as a separate or related matter that Rittenhouse is being represented by a couple of wingnut hucksters, one of whom, Lin Wood, is the celeb right wing lawyer who’s been filing nuisance lawsuits against myriad news organizations on behalf of Nicholas Sandman. From BG …
Rittenhouse is 17, which means he can be a child in need of assistance (CINA) in most states.
He will also be charged as an adult, almost certainly.
From TPM Reader JB, a physician and professor at a major academic medical center …
I think we now know what the October surprise will be for the election: It will be the rolling out of a COVID19 vaccine. The CDC has already said that states should prepare for distribution in October/November and the head of the FDA, Stephen Hahn, has said he may Fast Track approval for a vaccine.
This is the President’s campaign press secretary again defending accused double-murderer Kyle Rittenhouse and saying his behavior is a logical consequence BLM and criticism of the police.
President's Press Secretary again defending accused double-murderer Kyle Rittenhouse, says it's the logical consequence of Black Lives Matter movement. "If you don't allow police to do their job then the American people have to defend themselves some way." pic.twitter.com/onxmeMtaOG
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 2, 2020
This is all pretty much in the open now. Trump has the US intelligence agencies running interference for and assisting Russian interference and disinformation campaigns against the Democrats.
TPM Reader SD has a reply to my post about the psychology and ideational worlds of Republican and Democratic partisans …
I think your post on the jitters of Democrats understates the really dramatic role consistent winning of elections can bring to the psyche of your average Democratic voter. It has been 52 years since 1968, and in those 52 years, the Republicans were really in the ascendancy for more than half of the period and then in the last 20 years the two sides have had an uneasy, unsteady equilibrium with each side gaining temporary advantages (and with Republicans doing a better job than Democrats at preserving or entrenching their otherwise temporary gains). Almost no Democrat under the age of about 70 (someone who would have been 10 years old in 1960) remembers a time where the Democrats had super majorities in the Senate and House while also holding the Presidency. Democrats who were 40 years old in 1960 would have essentially conceived of themselves as being a member of the dominant political party, accustomed to running the country and seeing the government reflect their values, because it is all they would have known in their lifetimes. Even a Republican holding the Presidency as Eisenhower did from 1953-1961 did not revisit the changes wrought by the New Deal. Instead, he could probably be more properly seen as a person of the other party holding the office in an era of the other party’s dominance. I think of Bill Clinton’s Presidency in similar terms.
The President continues his policy promoting a maximal climate of violence and instability in the hopes that fear, uncertainty and demoralization will give him another term in power. He continues his tacit embrace of Kyle Rittenhouse, the self-styled 17 year old ‘militia’ member who gunned down two protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week. This morning NBC reports that Rittenhouse’s lawyer will argue that his client was part of a “well-regulated” militia and that at least the weapons charges against him are unconstitutional. That argument seems unlikely to succeed. But it is another sign of how the brazen murders of two civilians are being embraced as a new cause celebre on the right.
One of the President’s supporters, who was actually filmed cheering him at a Trump rally, brought an AR-15 to a BLM protest and murdered two protestors and seriously injured a third. The President won’t condemn his actions.
Asked whether President condemns supporter and Trump rally attendee Kyle Rittenhouse who murdered two protestors, Press Secretary says Trump's "not going to weigh in on that." pic.twitter.com/ZeoaYP5oHB
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 31, 2020
We are now waiting to see the upshot or impact, if any, of the two successive national party conventions. The general consensus was that the Democrats did very well. Then last week – at least as I was hearing it – many seemed to think that the Republican convention was more effective than Democrats anticipated. Suddenly the tide seemed to shift. I felt some of this myself. I have no idea which of these is true. But I can offer one observation that I’m pretty certain is accurate. It’s born of years of experience watching elections.
Regardless of the objective realities, Democrats will consistently anticipate loss or worry about loss while Republicans will consistently be confident of victory. This is a good rule of thumb regardless of the objective realities of the moment, to the degree they can be known. This is not an absolute of course: overwhelming odds will buoy Democrats and hopeless situations will nudge Republicans to despair. But in general this is almost an iron law of political psychology in the United States.
This may be obscured by the genuine shock and horror Democrats experienced on election night four years ago. Democrats were pretty confident and all their worst fears were realized. But a closer look shows the general pattern was actually in effect through much of the 2016 cycle. Indeed we saw a particular example of it during the 2018 midterm election. The fall of 2018 was chock full of theories and predictions about how two years of ‘resistance’ activism were coming up short. It was the ‘caravan’. It was Trump’s 12 dimensional chess. It was low turnout among young voters. So pervasive were Democrats’ latent fears of coming up short that they actually persisted well into election night and even the first couple days after the election – until late returns, results of close call races and just the actual numbers made clear Democrats had won a decisive victory.