Special Sunday Newsletter: Brace Yourself
Biden Leads. But It Could Get Ugly.
A bunch of things you need to know today:
*A final batch of polls shows Joe Biden in position to win both the popular vote and the Electoral College.
*Incidents in North Carolina and Texas, and lawsuits aimed at throwing out hundreds of thousands of ballots are warning signs that there is a whole lot of ugly ahead.
*Lots of great weekend content in the Bulwark, including a cameo appearance by former senator Gary Hart.
Welcome to the Countdown Journal: There are 2 days to go until Election Day, and then 78 days until the Inauguration.
Demonstrators protest with an inflated Baby-Trump balloon at Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 2, 2019.(Photo by NIELS CHRISTIAN VILMANN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
Let’s start with the polls.
There was a massive freak-out Saturday night when a poll showed Trump with a comfortable lead in Iowa, but here’s a reminder that it is just one poll… and most of the rest suggest that Trump is on the cusp of a massive defeat Tuesday.
The big news today is the NYT-Siena poll showing Biden leading Trump in Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and, by a wide margin, in Wisconsin. (The poll shows Biden leading Arizona by 6 points; Wisconsin by 11 points, and Pennsylvania and Arizona by 6 points.)
Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a clear advantage over President Trump across four of the most important presidential swing states, a new poll shows, bolstered by the support of voters who did not participate in the 2016 election and who now appear to be turning out in large numbers to cast their ballots, mainly for the Democrat.
There’s still a question mark over Florida. The new Wapo/ABC poll shows Trump up by 2 in the Sunshine state. But the same poll also gives Biden a 7-point lead in Pennsylvania, which increasingly looks like the “tipping point.”
A quick reminder: Trump absolutely cannot win if he loses Florida, but Biden can still win without it. If the former vice president carries Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona, he will win, regardless of the outcome in Florida.
On Saturday, CNN’s final polls also found Biden with comfortable leads in Michigan and Wisconsin, and a more narrow edge in Arizona and North Carolina.
The final Emerson College poll also finds that Biden is leading in Michigan (by 7 points) and even in Ohio (by 1 point).
Nationally, the WSJ/NBC final poll gives Biden a double digit lead; 52 to 42. Here’s an illustration of just how stable Biden’s lead has been:
Trump is losing minorities, women, young voters, whites with college degrees, independents, and senior citizens by large margins. This poll also shows that he’s losing in the battleground states.
Biden’s biggest advantages over Trump are with Black voters (87 percent to 5 percent), young voters ages 18-34 (60 percent to 32 percent), seniors (58 percent to 35 percent), women (57 percent to 37 percent), whites with college degrees (56 percent to 41 percent) and independents (51 percent to 36 percent).
Trump, meanwhile, holds the edge among white voters (51 percent to 45 percent) and whites without degrees (58 percent to 37 percent).
And the incumbent president leads among men by just 1 point (48 percent to 47 percent).
In 12 combined battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Biden is ahead of Trump by 6 points, 51 percent to 45 percent.
The FiveThirtyEight Model gives Biden a 90 percent chance of winning the election.
You are invited!
Our former colleague David Byler has a smart piece pointing out that “Biden is also the first candidate to follow the electoral formula laid out in ‘The Emerging Democratic Majority,’ a 2002 book that promised Democrats a route to enduring dominance of American politics.”
Still, Democrats burned out on the Trump years shouldn’t get too excited: If Biden is the first “emerging Democratic majority” candidate, he’s also likely to be the last.
Biden may be leading, but it could get ugly. Make sure you watch these stories:
On this last story, the FBI is investigating, and it seems pretty easy to identify the perpetrators since the license plates are captured on video.The FBI is looking into a Friday incident in which a group of Trump supporters surrounded and followed a Biden campaign bus as it drove up I-35 in Hays County. Wendy Davis was on the Biden bus at the time, according to multiple sources.
The incident seems to have been encouraged by this guy —>
And applauded by the this guy —>
We are also getting a preview of Trump’s post-election strategy:
In other words, counting = “stealing.”
WASHINGTON — A group of Stanford University economists who created a statistical model estimate that there have been at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths as a result of 18 campaign rallies President Trump held from June to September.
There are 2 days to go.
1. Voter Suppression and Civic Vice
To put obstacles between eligible voters and the voting booth is not responsible. It is not brave. It is not honest. It is not public-spirited. It is civic vice.
The multitude of us who love this republic and have been honored to serve it will continue to try to “keep it.” History will judge the current administration on may counts. But how it acted to keep this republic and encourage civic virtue, including voting, will be foremost among those counts.
2. The Trouble with the ‘It’s Not Real Fascism’ Argument
Yet some writers insist in arguing that there is no cause for real alarm. From Ross Douthat in the New York Times, to the Atlantic’s Shadi Hamid, to Walter Shapiro writing for the New Republic, the message is pretty simple. Tut-tut, there-there, trust us: Trump is too incompetent to overturn the election or put democracy in peril, the institutions have held up, and much of the hysteria of recent years has been overblown. If the president had really wanted to, he could have used the pandemic to seize power. “There will be,” Douthat writes, “no Trump coup.”
This is a soothing message for an exhausted national psyche, and I certainly hope that they are right about what’s in store for us in the days ahead. But their confident insistence that the worst has passed suggests that even these very thoughtful people have failed to internalize the dangers inherent to Trumpism. It also amounts to an implicit denial of the work that has gone into attempting to defeat Trump.
It can always get weirder.
The GOP is more interested in suppressions than persuasion.
1. The Fruits of Trump’s Arrogant Pride and Twisted Love of Fame
With other avenues of greater fame becoming closed off to him, to undermine and perhaps destroy the confidence of Americans in the worth or even the possibility of self-government would be the last, most incredible thing Trump could do. To proclaim that the election is already rigged against him and thus he needn’t respect a fraudulent result; to declare that whole categories of voting, whether early or by mail or absentee, are subject to massive manipulation and have already made the election fixed; to declare that the media are his enemies and the enemies of the people (and have his attorney general mouth the same slander) and that their reporting should be disbelieved; to continually divide the American people and then hint at civil war; to encourage his armed militias and his “Second Amendment people” to stand by and be prepared—these and so many more offenses to democratic government suggest that we may not be in for an easy or rational transfer of power but perhaps the most massive attack on American self-government that we will have experienced since the Civil War.
While it’s possible that the next few months will be merely bumpy but manageable, it seems far more likely that it will take everything in the arsenal of democratic government—political maneuvers, legal battles, protests, demonstrations, public anger, and steadfastness—before we see the end of this.
And all because of an arrogant would-be tyrant and an overweening pride and a twisted love of fame.