The Democratic National Convention is just around the corner and desperation is in the air.
With a belligerently-out-of-touch 2020 presidential nominee in Joe Biden and a cutthroat prosecutorial mind almost antithetical to the modern progressive movement in newly named running mate Kamala Harris, the Democratic Party certainly has its hands full when it comes to exciting idealistic young leftists to vote the ticket this November.
And willing to try just about anything in its efforts to bring increased viewership to the convention and better court a younger demographic, it would seem the party has decided to tap into a played out social motivator: the power of celebrity.
In a Friday news release, the Democratic Party proudly announced it had secured a handful of household names in the American music industry to perform sets across the four-day Milwaukee-based convention, which will feature primarily virtual addresses and a distinct lack of in-person audience as a result of COVID-19.
Among those set to perform are recently viral Grammy winners Billie Eilish and John Legend, as well as Leon Bridges, The Chicks, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Porter, Maggie Rogers, Prince Royce and Stephen Stills.
Their appearances, 2020 Democratic National Convention program executive Stephanie Cutter said, will make the four-day event “look and feel very different than past conventions.”
“It will truly be a convention across America, and these incredible artists will help us tell the story of where we are as a country today under Donald Trump’s failed leadership, and the promise of what we can and should be with Joe Biden as president,” Cutter said. “These artists are committed to engaging with, registering and mobilizing voters to get us over the finish line in November.”
This culture-dependent strategy, of course, has already been exhausted by the Democrats and come up short.
In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enlisted the help of such artists as Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and her husband, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen in order to energize younger voters down the stretch, according to The Atlantic.
Despite filling out a handful of sizable rallies, the aforementioned celebrities were entirely unable to push Clinton over the finish line, as she fell to a politically untested Donald Trump in a historic 304-227 Electoral College blowout.
The reality was one that Trump would not soon allow Clinton to forget, touting it at campaign rallies for years to come.
“She’d bring in Beyoncé, and then Jay-Z would get up and he’d use language that was so bad if I used that language I’d be run out of the country,” Trump said during an August 2018 campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, according to the Asbury Park Press.
“And then she brought in Bruce Springsteen and they would draw crowds that were smaller than my crowd.”
“I didn’t need Beyoncé and Jay-Z. I didn’t need little Bruce Springsteen,” Trump reiterated roughly one year later at a rally in Minneapolis, according to Variety, alleging Clinton’s already small crowds would show up for the musical performances and depart or mentally check out the moment their favorite celebrity left the stage.
TRUMP on Hillary: “She would bring in Beyonce & Jay-z would get up & use language that is so bad. They would say ‘Trump’s language is tough.’ You have heard Jay-Z. She would bring in Springsteen. They were drawing crowds smaller than mine. I said, ‘why are we going to lose?’” pic.twitter.com/MMGDYct9I2
We may disagree on politics, but I would have been front and center at one of Clinton’s lousy “I’m With Her” rallies in 2016 if it meant a free concert from my favorite musical artists.
Of course, Clinton’s generosity in providing me that concert certainly would never have secured my vote for the former secretary of state.
And that is exactly the problem.
The Democrats in charge of planning these pageants may not recognize it, but no free concert is going to move this generation’s lazy youth to the polls if they aren’t already politically tuned in.
This is all the more true in the era of COVID-19, when excited teenyboppers and immature young adults can receive that free concert from the Democrats with the mere click of a button — no proof of electoral interest of voter registration necessary.
Mark my words, the folks pulled into watching the DNC this coming week for the musical guests are not going to be voting.
The folks watching the event out of ideological agreement, on the other hand, were already voting before these guests were announced.
Heck, they may now be watching in spite of the pedantic pop performances.
Those still interested in watching the DNC for the progressive insanity and political theater that will undoubtedly come interspersed between those socially charged pop music performances, however, will find the event televised online and across the spectrum of establishment media news networks this Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time.
But I wouldn’t suggest it.
The average viewing audience could make far better use of those eight collective hours enjoying one of the many popular television or streaming service miniseries released in recent months — or just bang their heads against the wall.
Atlanta lawyer Amol Naik was surprised by his emotional reaction to Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate.
It’s not that Harris will be the first Black woman to be a major party’s vice presidential nominee; it’s that she will be the first Indian American.
“I have just been moved by it in a way that I didn’t expect,” said Naik, whose parents immigrated from India to North Carolina. “It’s just really a remarkable thing that this could happen. It gives you a lot of faith in the country.”
The California senator’s ascent to the top tier of American politics drew an outpouring of pride among Indian Americans, a growing force in Democratic politics. They could reward Biden and Harris with crucial votes in the handful of states that will decide the election, along with a surge of campaign donations.
“You’re going to see a lot of that being uncorked in the next few months,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a UC Riverside public policy professor.
Joe Biden introduces Kamala Harris as his running mate in Wilmington, Del.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
The candidates arrived wearing masks.
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, right, applaud Joe Biden and his wife, Jill.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Taking the stage.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Harris and her husband greet Jill Biden.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Harris and husband Douglas Emhoff.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Joe Biden speaks during the campaign event.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Kamala Harris speaks.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
The candidates on TV monitors in the media briefing room at the White House.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
Joe Biden listens as his running mate speaks during the campaign event.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Harris listens as Biden speaks.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Joe Biden supporters outside the event in Wilmington, Del.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Historic breakthroughs have been a constant in Harris’ 17 years in politics. She was the first Black woman to hold every office she has won — San Francisco district attorney, state attorney general and U.S. senator from California. With the United States in the midst of a historic reckoning with systemic racism after George Floyd died when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, her status as the first Black woman tapped as a major vice presidential nominee has generated enormous media attention.
Less remarked upon has been Harris’ distinction as the first Indian American to reach all of those positions. But Naik was one of many who saw Biden’s choice of Harris as a watershed cultural moment for the nation’s 4.5 million Indian Americans.
“It wasn’t that long ago when Indian Americans were not at all part of the American mainstream,” said Naik, who has worked in Georgia Democratic politics. “That’s now happened. We have Sanjay Gupta on CNN. We have [comedian] Aziz Ansari — people everyone knows. That was not the case in the 1990s when I was growing up.”
Television director Kabir Akhtar wrote Tuesday on Twitter that it was “incredible to see an Indian American on the ticket. a whole generation of us felt like outsiders in our country growing up. so happy for all the young women and POC in our country who can see someone who looks like them on the presidential ticket.”
Harris is the daughter of two immigrants, a key aspect of her biography as she and Biden work to unseat President Trump. A core part of Trump’s political identity is his anti-immigrant agenda.
Harris rarely speaks publicly about her father, Donald Harris, a Jamaican-born economistwho taught at Stanford University.
But she often talks about her late mother, breast cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan, who moved from India to California in the late 1950s to study at UC Berkeley.
In an interview in June on a Los Angeles Times podcast, Asian Enough, Harris said her mother was “conscious of race” when raising her and her sister, Maya, in deeply segregated Berkeley in the 1960s and ‘70s.
“She knew that in America, her daughters would be treated, for better or worse, as Black women and Black children, and she raised us with a sense of pride about who we were,” Harris said. But it was “never to the exclusion of always being very proud and very active in terms of our Indian culture as well.”
“We grew up in the Black community and learned that you could cook okra with mustard seeds — or with dried shrimp and spicy sausages,” Harris said with a laugh.
During her campaign for president in the Democratic primaries, Harris released a video with Indian American actress Mindy Kaling showing the two cooking masala dosa, a savory crepe from south India.
The Harris sisters visited their grandparents in Chennai, in southeastern India, a number of times when they were growing up. The media in India covered Biden’s selection of Harris widely on Wednesday. In a Times of India story headlined “One of Our Own,” her uncle Gopalan Balachandran was quoted saying, “She likes India, she likes Indian music, but she likes jazz.”
A Hindustan Times editorial on Wednesday said Harris “represents the political pinnacle of the Indian-American community’s meteoric rise in the United States.”
Also getting coverage in India was Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson losing his cool when a guest, Democratic lawyer Richard F. Goodstein, asked him to show Harris respect by pronouncing her first name correctly. Her name, which means “lotus” in Sanskrit, is pronounced “Comma-la,” as Harris has explained.
“So I’m disrespecting her by mispronouncing her name unintentionally,” Carlson snapped. “So it begins. You’re not allowed to criticize ka-MAH-la Harris, or KAM-ah-la Harris, or whatever.”
Republicans quickly sought to undercut Harris’ support among Indian Americans. Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco lawyer who is national co-chair of Women for Trump, told Fox News that Harris was a “shape-shifter” who “doesn’t have any true center or any true roots.”
“This is going to be a little brutal, but the reputation she has among the Indian American community is she’s Indian American at an Indian-American-thrown fundraiser, and that’s it,” said Dhillon, a Republican National Committee member for California. “She forgets her heritage in every other way.”
If there’s “money in the room,” Dhillon said later by phone, “all of a sudden it’s ‘namaste.’”
Trump has made a play for Indian American votes, placing social-media ads touting his friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and holding a Houston rally last year with the controversial leader that attracted tens of thousands.
But Indian Americans, who are among the nation’s most highly educated and affluent ethnic groups, lean strongly Democratic, UC Riverside’s Ramakrishnan said. Surveys have found they tend to favor universal healthcare, gun control and higher taxes on the wealthy, he said, and they are turned off by Trump’s nativist rhetoric.
“It’s the social exclusion that keeps them in the Democratic Party,” he said. “They’re very sensitive to racial discrimination.”
If the presidential election is close, Indian Americans could also be pivotal in states that will tip the election to Biden or Trump. There are roughly 87,000 eligible to vote in Florida, 61,000 in Pennsylvania, 57,000 in Georgia, 45,000 in Michigan and 36,000 in North Carolina.
Deepa Sharma, a Bay Area lawyer who did grass-roots organizing of South Asians for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is doing the same now for Biden, said she was “overwhelmed and overjoyed” that he picked Harris.
“Now that Kamala Harris is on the ticket,” she said, “I can’t tell you how much that enthusiasm could be magnified.”
Joe Biden’s official rollout on Wednesday of his vice presidential pick, Kamala Harris, could hardly have gone more smoothly: The presumptive Democratic nominee showed unusual energy as the pair debuted their ticket in his hometown in Delaware. The US senator from California delivered a moving speech that also hammered Trump’s botched handling of the pandemic — and her accomplished performance instantly made clear that Trump will struggle to make stick his racially suggestive claims she is “mad” and mean.
But the Harris-Biden appearance also exemplified the haunting emptiness of the most joyless election campaign in generations. When pro sports play before empty stadiums these days, TV channels pipe in crowd noise to viewers at home. But fake fans don’t wash in politics, so Biden and Harris walked into the deafening silence of a school gym, before a group of socially distanced reporters.
It bore no resemblance to the moment that a beaming Biden, slapping palms, bounded onstage in Springfield, Illinois, to be introduced as Barack Obama’s running mate 12 years ago. Signs in the huge crowd crammed together in the sunshine defined what now seems a quaint and distant age, when “hope and change” seemed in reach.
In many ways, Wednesday’s event was a preview of the stripped-down and online party conventions to come. And in these quiet, socially distanced weeks, Biden and Harris’ message of steady, serious leadership may have an edge over that of Trump, who feeds off the angry energy of fired-up crowds at packed rallies.
In the White House Briefing Room on Wednesday, the President seemed tired, weighed down by the office, and he trotted out a familiar stream of misinformation on the virus. To borrow his own scathing critique of 2016 Republican primary rival Jeb Bush, Trump looked “low energy.” Given his perilous position in the polls, he can’t let his hangdog act continue for long.
‘If you’re like me, you can’t wash your beautiful hair properly’
The US Department of Energy on Wednesday released a proposal to roll back water efficiency standards for showerheads — just days after Trump had complained about troubles washing his “beautiful hair properly.” The President, who frequently frets over water flow in bathrooms, revisited his pet peeve last Thursday at a Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Clyde, Ohio. “You go into a new home, you turn on the faucet; no water comes out,” Trump complained. “You turn on the shower — if you’re like me, you can’t wash your beautiful hair properly. You waste 20 minutes longer. ‘Please come out.’ The water — it drips, right?”
‘No place in Congress for these conspiracies’
The anarchic fringe is going mainstream.
QAnon, the baseless conspiracy cult fast gaining ground in Republican politics, is almost certain to land a new advocate in Congress, after Marjorie Taylor Greene won a primary for a safe GOP seat in Georgia.
Devotees of the conspiracy theory believe that dozens of politicians and celebrities are in league with governments around the world in a child sex-abuse ring and that a “deep state” is trying to down President Donald Trump. They follow an anonymous figure known as “Q” who claims to hold a high-level security clearance inside the US government, who drips out supposed wisdom in internet posts.
Q has a lousy track record — they claimed, for instance, that Hillary Clinton and a bunch of top Democrats were to be rounded up in mass arrests. And the FBI has identified QAnon adherents as a domestic terrorism threat. Nevertheless, the conspiracy theory is a rising force in conservative politics. “Q is a patriot,” Greene said in a nearly 30-minute-long video in 2017.
Trump hasn’t openly backed the movement but Q signs bearing cryptic messages have appeared at his rallies and he’s retweeted QAnon propaganda. The President, always ready to fan falsehoods that delight his base, warmly welcomed Greene’s victory in a tweet calling her “a real WINNER” on Wednesday morning. He’s not bothered that the soon-to-be rookie representative also has a long record of extreme and hateful rhetoric, including anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim slurs.
The rise of QAnon reflects the wild influences that have a home in the Republican Party in the age of Trump — the conspiracy theorist in chief — and the way many GOP lawmakers, wary of the party base, try to look the other way. One Republican representative who did speak out was Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who tweeted that QAnon is a fabrication. “Could be Russian propaganda or a basement dweller. Regardless, no place in Congress for these conspiracies.”
His thoughts earned a rebuke from Matt Wolking, director of rapid response for Trump’s 2020 campaign. “When will @RepKinzinger condemn the Steele Dossier fabrications and conspiracy theories pushed by Democrats? That actually WAS Russian propaganda,” Wolking tweeted.
Sen. Kamala Harris’ new role as Joe Biden’s running mate is historic not only for Black Americans, but also for many voters of South Asian descent, who see themselves reflected in the story of Harris and her mother — who emigrated from India in 1958 — at a time when their political clout is growing.
As Neil Makhija writes for CNN: “Indian Americans are one of the great mobility stories of the 20th century. Those who came to the country in the years after restrictions were eased, worked hard, sought education, and succeeded professionally. But they and their families still faced bigotry and exclusion. A Biden-Harris ticket would send a message that no door is closed to Indian Americans in public life, at a time when we’re beginning to flex our political muscle. Asian Americans, more broadly, are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic voting bloc in the country.
“Around 1.3 million Indian Americans are expected to vote in this year’s election, with nearly 200,000 in battleground states like Pennsylvania and 125,000 in Michigan, according to the research firm CRW Strategy. Indian Americans register and vote at high rates, even though we remain underrepresented in elected office. In 2016, 77% of Indian Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, according to stats by the same research firm.
“But Democrat support in 2020 is not assured — Trump has built an alliance with the populist and Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the pair have appeared together at packed rallies in both Houston, Texas and Ahmedabad, India.”
‘The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me’
Trump aims to grab suburban women by the vote, and he’s going about it with ham hands: In recent weeks, the President repeatedly cast himself as the defender of America’s wealthy, wide-lawned enclaves against poor people who might want to live nearby — a concern with clear racist undertones. “The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me,” Trump claimed Wednesday on Twitter, using an outmoded term for stay-at-home moms. “They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey (sic) Booker in charge!”
It was well past 3 a.m. Eastern time on Nov. 8, 2000, when NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw looked into a camera on his network’s election night set and delivered what is likely the most humbling remark to come from a television journalist.
“We don’t have egg on our face,” Brokaw said. “We have omelet all over our suits.”
The words came after the embarrassing debacle of the networks having to retract the call for the winner in the presidential election between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Bush was declared the victor that night after he was awarded Florida and its 25 electoral votes, giving him a slight edge over Gore, who would win the popular vote. But the networks soon had to pull back their call, as the vote margin between the candidates in the state narrowed as more ballots were counted.
What ensued in the next 35 days was unprecedented in American history as TV news dispensed around-the-clock reports on recounts, voting irregularities, protests and legal challenges. They preceded a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ultimately voted 5-4 in favor of stopping a statewide Florida recount and delivered the election to Bush.
The images from those chaotic days of Florida election officials examining punch-card ballots — looking for “hanging chads” or “dimpled chads” — are likely to be evoked when the votes are counted in November, as the nation conducts a presidential election amid the public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
By the time election night arrives, TV viewers already will have seen how social distancing to deter the spread of the coronavirus permeates every element of the 2020 presidential campaign, starting Monday with the Democratic National Convention, followed by the Republicans’ event. Both conventions will be a shell of previous gatherings with speakers appearing virtually, while TV anchors will be at their home bases in Washington or New York.
Neither presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden nor President Trump, who accepts the Republican nomination on Aug. 27, are expected to deliver their speeches in front of cheering crowds of supporters.
While it will be a challenge to turn the conventions into compelling television — broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC and cable news channels CNN, Fox News and MSNBC will carry live coverage in prime time — it pales before the monumental task of getting the vote count right on Nov. 3. The expected unprecedented amount of mail-in voting — a process Trump has already called rigged and corrupt without offering proof — guarantees a tabulation process that will be painstakingly slow and could go on for days or weeks. If the election is close, legal challenges are likely to abound.
Network TV news executives know what is at stake because nearly 20 years ago they got it very wrong.
Exit polls taken of voters on Nov. 7, 2000, indicated a victory for Gore. When ballots were tabulated that night by the Voter News Service — the consortium formed by the networks and the Associated Press to collect the results — Gore was awarded Florida shortly after polls in the state closed, only to have it pulled back from his column later in the night.
Tim Russert, moderator for NBC’s “Meet the Press,” had been using a black marker and erasable whiteboard in the days leading up to the election to depict the various combination of states that would bring one of the candidates to the 270 electoral votes needed to win. With Florida back in play, Gore and Bush were tied at 242, which prompted Russert to write three words that became a mantra political pundits still cite today: “Florida, Florida, Florida.”
After midnight in the east, a surge of votes came in from Volusia County in Florida. It gave Bush a large enough lead that Fox News called the state and the election for the Republican nominee. The other networks, whose analysts were working off the same data, followed several minutes later. Only the AP held back to do its own vote count.
After seeing the results announced on television, Gore called Bush to concede the election. But by 3:17 a.m. Eastern, the Florida secretary of state’s website showed Bush’s lead shrinking to 565 votes. Gore called again to rescind his concession, a stunning moment in presidential politics.
The networks had to retract the announcement of a victory for Bush and declare the race too close to call. But for the Gore campaign, the damage had been done.
“It wasn’t ambiguous,” said Michael Feldman, managing director of the Glover Park Group, who served as an advisor to Gore’s 2000 campaign. “All the networks said George W. Bush will be the 43rd president of the United States, with flags waving and graphics — that was what the country saw. No matter what the actual vote was in Florida or anywhere else, Gore was always going to be the spoiler trying to unwind something that had happened even though, as we found out later, it hadn’t happened.”
The initial erroneous election call led to conspiracy theories. The Fox News analyst who called the race first, John Ellis, was a first cousin of Bush. While Ellis was a respected political expert previously employed by NBC News, his presence at a network decision desk, where statisticians and political scientists crunch poll numbers, votes and historical data to project winners, appeared to be a conflict of interest.
“What was someone related to Bush doing in any position of responsibility to call an election?” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
But the main source of the problem was erroneous voting results that came in from Florida’s Volusia County. When the bad data was figured into the state’s total late that night, the network news operations, confident after having a 52-year record of calling presidential races accurately, did not question it.
Bragging rights also were at play. Network news divisions took pride in projecting a winner first.
“There was a lot of competitive pressure to not get beat and not be five minutes behind somebody else,” said Al Ortiz, who worked on CBS News’ election coverage in 2000 and is now vice president of standards and practices for the division. “In the years that followed — and today — there is a lot more patience. If you’ve got a county that goes completely differently from its history or in the models we have, it sets off a round of questioning now that it didn’t automatically back in 2000.”
Even Gore presumed the networks were right, which led to his initial concession call. “Had he known at the time what was actually going on, he probably wouldn’t have made that call,” Feldman said. To this day, Feldman believes the call hampered Gore and helped Bush in the court of public opinion during the weeks that followed.
“Anybody who’s run a recount in any race from president to dog catcher will tell you if you have a lead at the outset and you’ve been declared the winner,” Feldman said, “that is a huge advantage in the process.”
The networks — whose news presidents were called before Congress, where they delivered mea culpas over the breakdown of the 2000 election calls — have taken a more cautious approach ever since.
In 2004, the closest presidential race since 2000, the networks did not declare a winner until the day after election night, when campaign officials for Democratic nominee John Kerry determined there were not enough uncounted provisional votes in Ohio to overtake incumbent Bush’s narrow lead in the state. (Exit polls had pointed to a Kerry victory, further evidence they had become less reliable.)
When Ohio was close again in the 2012 presidential election, Megyn Kelly, then a Fox News anchor, marched down to the network’s decision desk to have analysts explain why the state — and the election — were being called for Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney. (The network’s Republican analyst, Karl Rove, had disputed the results.) The moment showed how audiences had become used to seeing their partisan viewpoints reflected in the cable news channels they watched andneeded some convincing when the proceedings were not going their way.
Early exit polls in 2016 led networks to believe Hillary Clinton was on her way to beating Trump. The misfire led Fox News and the AP to team up with the University of Chicago to develop a new voter survey that increases the number of people questioned and puts a greater emphasis on early voting. Since then, Fox News has been calling races earlier than its competitors during special elections, the 2018 midterms and the 2020 primaries, with no mistakes so far.
ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN use the firm Edison Research to collect voting data for their election night calls.
While the networks are more careful about reporting the results, an election night that extends into days or weeks involving Trump, who has already assailed the process, means viewers could still be in for a rocky ride.
“I am concerned about that because we are much more polarized than we were in 2000,” Sabato said. “It doesn’t take much to inflame people anymore, and the TV coverage is going to be reflecting social media, which is going to be reflecting the TV coverage, so they’re going to be feeding into one another in this horrible polarized loop.”
President Trump on Thursday conceded a key point congressional Democrats have been making during sputtering negotiations over a new coronavirus economic relief package: The U.S. Postal Service, a frequent target and foil for the president, needs a major infusion of cash to make mass mail-in balloting “work” in time for a presidential election held during a pandemic.
Mr. Trump, in an interview on the Fox Business Network, cited proposals by House Democrats to allocate $25 billion to the service and another $3 billion specifically to help it handle mail-in voting and said, “If you don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”
Mr. Trump — who has claimed without proof that widespread voting by mail would enable voter fraud and corrupt the 2020 election — would not say if he intended to drop his demand that the virus package exclude new Postal Service funding, a key hurdle to a deal.
But there did appear to be some movement toward breaking the impasse. Soon after Mr. Trump’s comments, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told reporters that senior Trump advisers had indicated a willingness to support new funding, though the conditions had yet to be worked out.
Democrats have been pushing hard to prop up a Postal Service hit by cutbacks and staffing slowdowns since Mr. Trump appointed a major campaign donor, Louis DeJoy, as postmaster general.
That position puts him at odds with Republican strategists, lawmakers and his own staff in states like Florida and North Carolina, who believe mail-in voting is needed to boost turnout in their own ranks. There is little evidence that widespread mail balloting advantages either party.
Democrats have called Mr. Trump’s reluctance to fund the Postal Service a cynical attempt at disenfranchisement.
“The president of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Later, during a news conference with Mr. Biden, CNN’s Arlette Saenz asked, “President Trump today said that he opposes funding for the Postal Service, tying it to mail-in voting. What do you think about that?”
Mr. Biden responded, “Pure Trump. He doesn’t want an election.”
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday let stand a Rhode Island judge’s order that makes it easier for voters in the state to vote by mail during the pandemic, dealing a defeat to Republican efforts to block the order.
The judge in Rhode Island had suspended a requirement that voters using mailed ballots fill them out in the presence of two witnesses or a notary.
In asking the Supreme Court to intervene, the Republican National Committee and Rhode Island’s Republican Party argued that the witness requirement imposed only a slight burden and was similar to one in Alabama that had survived a Supreme Court challenge.
But the Supreme Court, in explaining its refusal to stay the Rhode Island ruling, noted that unlike in Alabama, “no state official has expressed opposition” in Rhode Island to suspending the witness requirement. The Rhode Island judge had noted that Rhode Island’s last election was conducted without the witness requirement and wrote that instituting a change now could confuse voters.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch dissented from the order.
President Trump, who has ignored or mischaracterized scientific data throughout the coronavirus pandemic, opened a White House press briefing on Thursday with a political attack on Joseph R. Biden Jr., calling his views “anti-scientific” and warning that the presumptive Democratic nominee’s ideas on the coronavirus would trigger an economic depression.
Responding to Mr. Biden’s earlier call for governors to institute mask-wearing mandate to control the spread of the virus, Mr. Trump suggested that the proposal threatened to overstep individual freedoms of Americans, and said Mr. Biden was more interested in keeping Americans “locked in their basements for months on end” over listening to medical experts.
“If the president has the unilateral power to order every single citizen to cover their face in nearly all instances, what other powers does he have?” Mr. Trump said. Later, speaking directly to Mr. Biden, he added, “To Joe I would say: Stop playing politics with the virus. Too serious.”
Mr. Trump, of course, has used his repeated press briefings on the coronavirus to attack his political opponents and warn of dire economic and health outcomes if a Democrat is elected, and Thursday was no exception. He then defended his administration’s own policy toward encouraging mask-wearing as patriotic, without totally supporting the wearing of masks.
“Maybe they’re great and maybe they’re just good. Maybe they’re not so good,” Mr. Trump said. “But, frankly, what do you have to lose?”
Jared Kushner said Thursday during a press briefing that his recent meeting with Kanye West was “a general discussion” about policy and gave little further detail.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Mr. Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, met last weekend with Mr. West, the rapper who will be on the ballot in some states as a presidential candidate in the 2020 election. Mr. West is being aided by allies and supporters of the president, in what many see as an effort to siphon votes from Joseph R. Biden Jr.
During a press briefing to discuss the Middle East, Mr. Kushner was asked about the meeting.
“Kanye’s been a friend of mine for, I’ve known him for about 10 years,” he said. “We talk every now and then about different things. We both happened to be in Colorado. So we got together and we had a great discussion about a lot of things. He has some great ideas for what he’d like to see happen in the country, and that’s why he has the candidacy that he’s been doing. But again, there’s a lot of issues the president’s championed that he admires, and it was just great to have a friendly discussion.”
He was later asked if the two men had discussed the 2020 campaign.
“We had a general discussion, more about policy,” he said.
Democrats are challenging signatures gathered on Mr. West’s behalf in states like Wisconsin, where lawyers supporting his candidacy are arguing that his name should be added to the ballot even though his nomination signatures were submitted 14 seconds after a 5 p.m. deadline.
President Trump and his allies have spent the months since Joseph R. Biden Jr. emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee cycling through a variety of messages in hopes of denting the reputation of the former vice president.
They have called him soft on China and questioned his mental agility. They have tried to cast him as too tough on crime (at least in appeals to Black voters) and at the same time as anti-police. More recently, the Trump campaign has framed Mr. Biden, who ran throughout the Democratic primary as a moderate, as a captive of the “radical left.”
And on Thursday morning, the president, who twice mispronounced the word “fatality” during an appearance on Wednesday, questioned his opponent’s mental acuity.
“Joe doesn’t even know he is alive,” Mr. Trump said during a high-volume one-on-one with Maria Bartiromo of the Fox Business Network, a sympathetic interview that ended with each praising the other.
None of these slights have particularly stuck as Mr. Biden has maintained a steady lead in the polls.
The early stages of trying to define Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential pick, have been similarly scattered, while simultaneously infused with charged language specific to her role as the first woman of color to be part of a major party’s presidential ticket.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump continued to ridicule Ms. Harris, trying out another one of his derogatory nicknames on the California senator — a practice that some Republican officials worry will backfire among suburban women who will see such an attack as sexist.
“Now you have sort of a mad woman, I call her, because she was so angry and such hatred with Justice Kavanaugh,” he told Ms. Bartiromo. “I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it. She was the angriest of the group and they were all angry. They’re all radical left angry people.”
The Biden campaign, for its part, has focused on Mr. Trump’s handling of the simultaneous crises that have erupted in 2020: the coronavirus pandemic, the resulting economic downturn and the national protests after the killing of George Floyd in police custody.
On Wednesday, Ms. Harris simply stepped in as a new messenger. “There’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation,” she said of the pandemic. “It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start.”
Those attacks may be potent: Fifty-seven percent of Americans say Mr. Trump is doing a bad job dealing with the virus, and 52 percent say the United States’ response is worse than other countries’, according to a Monmouth University poll released Thursday.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. called on governors to require mask wearing in their states on Thursday, saying that he believed that all Americans should wear face coverings to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” Mr. Biden said.
The remarks came after Mr. Biden and Kamala Harris met with public health officials in Delaware for a briefing on the virus — yet another signal of their intention to make the pandemic a major part of their effort to unseat President Trump.
So far, more than 30 states have enacted mask requirements, following public health guidance that covering mouths and noses could reduce the spread of the virus. The mandates have been met with resistance from some, including a number of Republican leaders who see the rules as infringements on personal liberty.
Mr. Biden countered by saying that wearing a mask was a necessary civic duty.
“It’s not about your rights,” he said. “It’s about your responsibilities as an American.”
Ms. Harris, who on Wednesday criticized Mr. Trump’s management of the pandemic, supported Mr. Biden’s comments.
“That’s what real leadership looks like,” she said.
The two did not answer questions from reporters.
As Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris continued their focus on the pandemic, Vice President Mike Pence criticized the Democratic ticket during a series of appearances in Iowa.
At a town hall discussion on law enforcement put on by Heritage Action for America, a conservative group, Mr. Pence sought to paint Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris as anti-police and to stoke fears over public safety.
“The truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Mr. Pence said.
Mr. Biden has supported redirecting some funding from the police to mental-health services or other reforms sought by activists. Ms. Harris, before she was Mr. Biden’s running mate, spoke about “reimagining” the role of law enforcement in America.
When Joseph R. Biden Jr. dialed up Kamala Harris on a videoconference call on Tuesday and asked her The Question — “You ready to go to work?” (to which she replied, “Oh my God, I am so ready”) — his choice as vice president was a well-kept secret but hardly a surprise.
Now that a Biden-Harris ticket is the Democratic reality, here aresometakeaways from their debut as a ticket:
Harris’s early plaudits spanned the ideological spectrum. During her own primary bid, Ms. Harris oscillated between explicit appeals to the left (her pre-candidacy embrace of “Medicare for all”) and moves toward the middle (she promised a middle-class tax cut as her top priority). Plopped into the heat of the general election, her lack of ideological definition may prove an advantage. Her choice won plaudits from both the billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (who notably praised her on health care).
The Harris pick is spurring a wave of cash. By the end of Ms. Harris’s first full day on the campaign trail on Wednesday, the Biden campaign war chest had swelled, according to the campaign, by well over $34 million — and that is probably just the start. One official with the campaign said it had sold $1.2 million worth of yard signs since her announcement.
Harris will “prosecute the case” against Trump. Playing the attack dog is fairly standard fare for vice-presidential picks, and Ms. Harris is well suited to the role. A former prosecutor, she made some of her biggest splashes in her three-plus years in the Senate grilling Trump administration appointees. And she quickly adopted the language of a district attorney on the stump. “The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open-and-shut,” she declared. “Just look where they’ve gotten us.”
Attorney General William P. Barr has been a defiant defender of President Trump — to a fault, his critics say. But on Thursday, Mr. Trump floated the idea that Mr. Barrmight not be doing enough.
In an interview on the Fox Business Network, Mr. Trump suggested that Mr. Barr and the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, needed to take more forceful roles in steering the supposedly impartial investigation into whether the Obama administration targeted Mr. Trump during the 2016 election toward the result the president wants.
“Bill Barr has a chance to be the greatest of all time, but if he wants to be politically correct, he’ll be just another guy, because he knows all the answers,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Barr, who assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to investigate the matter in May.
This is amply trampled ground: Mr. Trump drove out Jeff Sessions, his first attorney general, largely for being insufficiently zealous in investigating the F.B.I.’s probe of possible collusion between his campaign and Russia.
During his interview with Maria Bartiromo, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Barr “knows what they have, and it goes right to Obama, it goes right to Biden,” referring to his unproven charge that Democrats conspired with James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, in a coordinated effort to “spy” on him four years ago.
Mr. Trump suggested that Mr. Wray, whom he appointed to replace Mr. Comey, had been reluctant to hand over evidence to Mr. Barr because he was “very, very protective” of the F.B.I. bureaucracy.
“I wish he was more forthcoming — he certainly hasn’t been,” Mr. Trump said.
“There are documents they want to get,” he added, referring to investigators, “and that we have said we want to get. We’re going to find out if he’s going to give those documents.”
Mr. Trump concluded by saying, “Let’s see how Wray turns out. He’s going to either turn out one way or the other.”
Sarah Palin might not vote for Kamala Harris in November, but she has no qualms supporting her in August, at least on a personal level.
The former governor of Alaska, who was selected in 2008 to add dash and diversity to a Republican ticket headlined by a graying male senator, offered words of encouragement (and commiseration) for Ms. Harris as she endures a barrage of early attacks.
“I hope that they will treat her fairly,” said Ms. Palin, John McCain’s former running mate, during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, speaking of a news media she viewed as uniformly hostile.
“But at the same time, no kid gloves,” she added.
In an Instagram post a day earlier, Ms. Palin, who went on to a career in reality television, offered Ms. Harris friendly but pointed advice culled from her less-than-idyllic experiences 12 years ago: Don’t forget the women who came before you (Ms. Palin, presumably, included); “trust no one new”; fight to keep “your own team”; and, above all, “don’t get muzzled” by the presidential candidate’s advisers.
“Congrats,” Ms. Palin wrote — before invoking the memory of a charismatic former congresswoman from Queens who became the first-ever woman on a major-party ticket in 1984.
“Climb upon Geraldine Ferraro’s and my shoulders, and from the most amazing view in your life consider lessons we learned,” she added. “Have fun!”
In offering her support for the candidate, if not her candidacy, Ms. Palin is also following the example set by Hillary Clinton, who refused to speak negatively about Ms. Palin when asked about her in 2008.
Halliestine Zimmerman, a 71-year-old retired accountant in Mauldin, S.C., has cast a ballot in every election since she came of voting age, having watched her mother work to get more African-Americans to vote in the 1950s.
“We are just benefiting from that — from our mothers,” she said on Wednesday, the morning after Kamala Harris was chosen as the first woman of color to run on a national presidential ticket. “It is amazing what I have seen in my lifetime.”
For Ms. Zimmerman, there was joy in the moment, in being able to point to Ms. Harris as a role model, one whom her grandchildren could see themselves in.
“There was a time when nobody thought this was possible,” she said. “It was time for the Democrats to recognize who brought them to victory and who brings them to victory every time — it is Black women.”
“Finally,” she added, “they are letting us know they hear us.”
That sense of jubilant vindication is just what a group of activists and strategists imagined hearing when they began a campaign that they hoped would make it impossible for Mr. Biden to choose anyone but a Black woman as his running mate.
But the same activists who organized the push are steeling themselves for the kinds ofattacks likely to be aimed at a Black woman on the presidential ticket.
“It is going to be a long road to the White House,” said Moya Bailey, a professor at Northeastern University who coined the term misogynoir, referring to the way Black women experience both sexism and racism. “I do think that the way our country has shown its disregard for Black women will definitely come up in the weeks and months ahead.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate affirmed what many progressives had feared: that any potential Biden administration would govern the same way the former vice president had spent most of his career — firmly rooted in Democratic establishment politics.
But rather than revolt, many progressive activists and elected officials stifled their criticisms and proclaimed their support, reiterating that removing Mr. Trump from office was their priority. Even those prone to denouncing Mr. Biden and other moderates largely tried to make peace.
Larry Cohen, the chairman of the Bernie Sanders-aligned group Our Revolution, described Ms. Harris as “extremely competent.”
The declarations of enthusiasm underscore how delicately progressives are approaching this moment, as they try to balance demands for change with the understanding that Democrats across the spectrum must unite behind Mr. Biden to defeat Mr. Trump. They are also negotiating another political reality: that Ms. Harris could be the party’s face of the future, and that crossing her now will have political consequences that did not exist at the week’s outset.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union and a Sanders ally, said she was focusing on how Ms. Harris, as California attorney general, had helped secure a nationwide settlement with big banks.
“When I think about this moment that we’re in, and I think about the fact that she was one of the A.G.s to take on the banks during the financial crisis and to stand up for working people — I’m hanging on to that right now,” she said. “I can get excited about that.”
YouTube will not allow the posting of hacked material meant to interfere with the 2020 election or this year’s census, the company said Thursday.
Leslie Miller, a vice president of government affairs at YouTube, said the service would remove hacked information that “may interfere with democratic processes.” She offered the example of videos “that contain hacked information about a political candidate shared with the intent to interfere in an election” as something the platform would take down.
In 2016, hackers released emails from an account used by John D. Podesta, then the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The emails spread online, helping to fuel conspiracy theories, and were widely covered by traditional media outlets. The hackers were linked to Russia, where American intelligence authorities say government officials executed a plan to interfere with the election.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, is not the only tech company to adopt a policy meant to stem the spread of hacked material. Twitter does not allow users to post hacked material or link to it in tweets. Facebook’s community standards forbid the posting, except in “limited cases of newsworthiness,” of“content claimed or confirmed to come from a hacked source, regardless of whether the affected person is a public figure or a private individual.”
All three tech companies are preparing for the possibility their services could be used for election interference in the coming months. On Wednesday, Facebook, Google and other companies said they were forming a group to promote collaboration with the government on securing the election.
Despite the platforms’ efforts at enforcement, they have often struggled to stem the tide of disinformation. Last week Facebook removed a video posted by Trump campaign in which the president claimed children were immune to the coronavirus, but only after it had been viewed nearly half a million times. And hackers seeking to influence the election could post information elsewhere, such as on their own websites.
“It’s a huge loss, and I don’t think people realize that yet,” he said.
With a pillar of autumn Saturdays missing, Mr. Kuchta and others in this football-mad northeastern corner of the state lookied for someone to blame.
“Trump just blew it,” Mr. Kuchta said. “He just didn’t handle it. He could have shut things down for five or six weeks and figured out what he was doing, but he never had a plan.”
That points to a potential problem for Mr. Trump, whose re-election efforts may well hinge on an earlier-than-expected return to normalcy across America.
In battleground states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where college football serves as an autumn religion, the Big Ten’s decision to postpone its season may be a political stain that the president is unable to blame on Democrats or the media.
“As great as politics is — it’s a sport that so many people enjoy watching — it’s not as important as college football in Ohio, in Georgia, in Alabama,” said Paul Finebaum, who hosts a syndicated college football radio show for ESPN. “Without it, people will be lost and people will be angry.”
Mr. Finebaum predicted that the loss of the season would damage Mr. Trump even among his most faithful supporters.
“We don’t have a day that doesn’t pass where someone doesn’t call up and blame the president,” he said. “Even from the South, I’ve heard more anger directed at the president than I thought.”
Mr. Trump often eschews written briefing materials and ignores even basic policy matters, according to former administration officials. But he has often focused on minutiae pertaining to matters of personal importance, peeves emanating from his days as a developer and landlord. Low water pressure, often an issue in Manhattan high-rises, is one of them.
“So shower heads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Mr. Trump said at a an event touting his business-friendly policies in July. “You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.”
A federal law enacted in 1992 mandates that new shower heads not be allowed to spritz more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. The Obama administration, target of so many Trump-era anti-regulatory assaults, dictated that the 2.5-gallon cap be applied to the aggregated outpouring of all nozzles in modern-day multihead shower fixtures.
Mr. Trump’s Energy Department proposed a new rule on Wednesday that would allow each nozzle to pump out 2.5 gallons, with no restrictions on the total.
The lobby for a Black woman on the ticket worked in public and in private, with backdoor conversations with Biden’s core team of advisers as well as a consistent media campaign in favor of a Black woman for vice president. Few were willing to pick a favorite among the Black women Biden considered for the job, saying the most important criterion for Biden’s vice presidential pick was the strength of his relationship with the woman who would join him on the ticket.
Rumors that Harris’ June 2019 debate jab at Biden might hurt her chances were overblown, Moore said. When some Biden allies launched a campaign to counter Harris, citing her ambitions to become president, the Black operatives pushing for her or another Black woman used the media to answer back. Several Biden allies, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, pushed back on the criticism, saying there is a double standard for women, and particularly women of color, with big goals.
People familiar with the vetting process said Biden’s team took their recommendation very seriously — a dynamic that hasn’t always come through in other vice presidential vettings, which by their nature can be closed off and insular processes.
“They have really spent an invaluable amount of time listening to people, soliciting advice,” said Brazile, who managed Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.
The last time she lobbied for a Black woman vice presidential nominee, during Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign, Brazile said her request fell on deaf ears.
“A Black woman was never even considered,” Brazile continued, citing Barbara Jordan, Patricia Harris and Shirley Chisholm as Black women in politics who “could have easily fit the description of what Walter Mondale was looking for.”
Harris’ selection, she said, is a sign that both Biden and his team finally listened. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), who served as one of Biden’s core advisers in the vice presidential selection process, was cited as an influential figure in his ultimate decision.
Hours after Biden announced Harris as his pick, Moore reflected on the push to nominate the California senator as the latest step in a winding, often painful path for women in national Democratic politics. That path traced from Geraldine Ferraro joining Mondale’s 1984 ticket through Clinton’s 2016 run to Tuesday’s elevation of Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants and a graduate of Howard University, a historically Black university.
“We all did what we felt like we needed to do at this particular time in history. We all believed that Kamala Harris was the right person for this job,” Moore said. “She had more qualifications than a lot of people on the list. She was battle-tested. She brings the experience that [Biden] needs to serve as his No. 2.”
Harris polled no higher than third among African Americans during her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, running into wariness about her record as a prosecutor and support for Biden that was more enduring than many assumed in the year before he won the primary.
Still, Black legislators saw her as a favorite to join a Biden ticket as early as May 2019, as both were actively petitioning Congressional Black Caucus members for support of their presidential campaigns. And Harris’ recent work in the Senate dovetails with months of protests and activism in response to police violence and a public health crisis that has exacerbated racial inequities. Since the onset of Covid-19, Harris has sponsored legislation addressing an impending eviction crisis as well as the dearth of racial and ethnic data on coronavirus cases.
Glynda Carr, founder and CEO of the Higher Heights PAC, which supports Black women running for office, said Harris’ selection affirms “that we have a bench of Black women who are qualified that come to our American democracy with a lived experience and are ready to lead on Day One.”
“Every single one of the women who were on the long list or the short list, that’s a prideful moment,” Carr continued, calling it the end of a journey that started with Shirley Chisholm running for president almost a half-century earlier. “I think this is a day for a sense of pride for Black women across this country. And tomorrow will be the day that people get to work.”
The site’s final forecast in 2016 gave Hillary a 71.4 percent chance of winning versus a 28.6 percent chance for Trump, which turned out to be good enough for 300+ electoral votes. Nate Silver often stresses that he gave Trump a better than one in four chance of victory four years ago because so many other forecasters put Clinton’s odds ludicrously high, in some cases at 99 percent despite how the polls tightened in swing states over the final two weeks. Those hubristic estimates gave data sites a bad name. Don’t blame me, Silver counters, reminding readers in his write-up of today’s new 2020 model that his model never counted Trump out.
Despite the similarity in the numbers, Trump’s 29 percent chance then is qualitatively different from his 29 percent chance now. Like I say, in November 2016 the polls narrowed at the end as undecideds began breaking for Trump, possibly encouraged by James Comey’s eleventh-hour revelation that he had reopened the Emailgate probe. FiveThirtyEight noticed the shift towards Trump in the numbers at the time and recalibrated accordingly. The 29 percent shot he enjoys right now isn’t really driven by the polls: Although the race has tightened a bit in the past few weeks, Biden still enjoys a national lead in the six- to seven-point range, which has the makings of a comfortable win. If the election were held today, I suspect Trump would have a less than one in 10 chance at victory.
But the election’s not being held today, is it? And in a year like 2020, when anything seems possible, we should allow for the chance that the country will endure another major shock or two, or 12, before November 3 that might reorient the race in Trump’s favor. Uncertainty in an uncertain age, especially over COVID, is one key component of his chances, says Silver. There’s also the fact that Americans are still able to pay their bills — for the moment — thanks to federal assistance, although now that that’s momentarily dried up, it’s another source of uncertainty. Trump’s also an incumbent, of course, which improves a candidate’s chances, and he polls better in swing states than he does nationally, which, per FiveThirtyEight, gives him about a 10 percent chance of once again losing the popular vote while winning the electoral college. (It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which Trump wins the popular vote, which makes me wonder how to square that with his 29 percent overall chance of winning.) “It’s way too soon to count Trump out,” Silver concludes, which is certainly true.
But it’s also too soon to count out a scenario in which Biden blows the roof off:
It’s important to remember that the uncertainty in our forecast runs in both directions. There’s the chance that Trump could come back — but there’s also the chance that things could get really out of hand for him. Our model thinks there’s a 19 percent chance that Biden will win Alaska, for example, and a 13 percent chance that he will win South Carolina. The model also gives Biden a 30 percent chance of a double-digit win in the popular vote, which would be the first time that happened since 1984…
Biden is in a reasonably strong position: Having a 70-ish percent chance of beating an incumbent in early August before any conventions or debates is far better than the position that most challengers find themselves in. And his chances will improve in our model if he maintains his current lead. But for the time being, the data does not justify substantially more confidence than that.
If you look at the model itself, you’ll find that there are very few scenarios in which Trump does much better than 300 electoral votes. If he wins a second term, odds are it’ll be by the skin of his teeth. Biden is different: There are various scenarios in which he cracks 400 electoral votes.
Interestingly, if you compare FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 model to the new one you’ll find that Hillary’s odds of winning over the course of the campaign surged higher than Biden’s ever have. She reached 89 percent after the Democratic convention, declined, then came all the way back to 88 percent in mid-October. Biden has never topped 79 percent despite his gaudy polling leads in June and July. The difference is that Hillary also had moments when her odds crashed, twice dipping below 55 percent and declining by more than 20 points over the second half of October. Biden, by contrast, has been rock-steady since June 1, never dipping below 69 percent. That’s a paradox of this election thus far: As insane as the uncertainty of day-to-day life has been, that uncertainty isn’t showing up in the election. “In fact,” says Silver, describing his model, “the uncertainty index points toward the overall uncertainty going into November being about average relative to past presidential campaigns.”
Imagine that. A pandemic, an economic collapse, anti-racism riots and protracted violence, and FiveThirtyEight estimates that this race is about as stable as any other presidential contest. That’s a testament to the extent to which voters’ opinions so far are a pure referendum on Trump, I think. And opinions about the president tend to be baked in, not something that people are still sussing out three and a half years into his term.
But maybe that’s about to change as the campaign grows more active and Biden becomes more visible? New numbers from the Democratic firm Change Research, via RCP:
Apart from Florida (which is a very notable exception), all of those numbers suggest a tighter race in key states than most pollsters saw a month ago. If I were Sleepy Joe, I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable about a four-point lead in any battleground given how pollsters overlooked the strength of Trump’s working-class support last time. It wouldn’t surprise me if Biden finally slips below that 69 percent floor he’s had in FiveThirtyEight’s model over the next week.
Exit question: Will he get a bounce from choosing Harris?
But for Biden, who played a central role in Barack Obama’s history-making journey to the presidency in 2008 and now presents himself to voters as a transitional figure, choosing Harris was also a way to shape the future of the Democratic Party.
By selecting a Black woman — whose background as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants embodies the new American story — he recast the Democratic power structure for years to come.
With the pick, Biden acknowledged the disappointment that some Democratic women still feel nearly four years after Hillary Clinton lost her bid to be the first female president. That sting had persisted in a historic year when a record number of women ran for president as major contenders yet did not advance into the final round, despite all the energy of the women’s marches and the resurgence of feminism in reaction to Trump.
Now Democratic women and women of color, who are the driving force of the party, will see themselves represented on the national stage.
Though vice presidential picks historically have not made a major impact on the outcome of presidential elections, the Biden campaign hopes that Harris will help shore up his support among suburban women who were drawn to her White House bid, older African American women who are the core of the Democratic Party, as well as younger Black voters, many of whom did not show up at the polls in 2016 for Clinton.
More than 20 years Biden’s junior, Harris is also a vibrant and energetic pick who may help Biden address the concern among some voters about his age. By picking a former rival — who punched him hard as she tried to carve her own path to the White House — Biden drew a direct contrast with Trump, who has shown little capacity for forgiveness and has sought to punish anyone he believes has crossed him.
Biden and Harris will appear together as running mates for the first time on Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware, to deliver remarks on their vision for restoring “the soul of the nation” and helping working families. They plan to hold a virtual grassroots fundraiser Wednesday evening.
A VP pick who defies easy definition
The varied attacks unleashed on Harris from Trump and his allies Tuesday showed the difficulty of defining the former prosecutor, who was raised in Oakland and Berkeley, California, and went on to serve as district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California.
Trump rolled out a scattered, kitchen-sink-style list of criticisms of the senator from California during his news conference, attempting to brand Harris as a “big tax raiser,” a “slasher of funds to the military,” an advocate for “socialized medicine” and one of “the most liberal” members of the US Senate.
But the President seemed most fixated on drawing attention to Harris’ past attacks on both Biden and then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The President repeatedly called her “nasty” in the sexist parlance that he so often uses to describe women he views as his opponents.
Playing into the hands of Biden’s advisers — who want to draw attention to the fact that Biden chose Harris despite her sharp critique, during a June 2019 debate in Miami, of his opposition to busing and his work with segregationist senators — Trump said he was surprised that Biden had chosen someone who had been “very, very, nasty” to the former vice president.
“One of the reasons that it surprised me is — she was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden,” Trump said at the White House on Tuesday, employing the racially offensive name that he uses to describe Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another former Biden rival.
“She said things during the debates, during the Democratic primary debates, that were horrible about sleepy Joe, and I wouldn’t think that he would have picked her.”
Trump also said he wouldn’t forget Harris’ interrogation of Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault decades ago during the vetting process for his nomination (accusations Kavanaugh denied). From her perch on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris was one of his toughest interrogators, in video clips that went viral just like so many other sessions where she questioned Trump nominees in her courtroom style.
“That was a horrible event,” Trump said Tuesday of Harris’ intense questioning of Kavanaugh. “I thought it was terrible for her; I thought it was terrible for a nation. I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody at the US Senate.”
Though Trump initially said in 2019 that Harris looked like one of the strongest Democratic contenders when she announced her presidential run, he claimed Tuesday evening that she had been his “number one draft pick” during the veepstakes. He mocked her for doing “very poorly in the primaries,” adding — “and that’s like a poll.”
But the Trump campaign’s challenge in categorizing Harris, given her varied biography and career, was evident in the first statement released about the pick from Trump’s adviser Katrina Pierson.
In the contradictory statement, Pierson said Harris would try to “bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party,” but also said Harris had “embraced the left’s radical manifesto” and “is proof that Joe Biden is an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left.”
For Biden, a choice with a personal tie to his son
Biden had seriously vetted nearly a dozen contenders — all women — before making his selection, which unfolded with the utmost secrecy after a week in which he had spoken with the contenders either in person or in face-to-face meetings. A Biden official said the former vice president had called Harris 90 minutes before the announcement to offer her the job, according to CNN’s Jeff Zeleny.
Given the nation’s focus on race relations and the criminal justice issues that Harris has made the focus of her life’s work — from both inside and outside the system as prosecutor and lawmaker — she was a natural fit for this moment in the view of many Democrats.
She was one of the leading sponsors in the US Senate of the recent legislation to curb police misconduct, and an outspoken advocate for revisions that would provide greater accountability for police. In his tweet announcing his choice Tuesday afternoon, Biden argued that Harris has long been a “fearless fighter for the little guy.”
But in Harris, Biden also saw a kindred spirit of his son Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware who died in 2015 at the age of 46 after a battle with brain cancer. Beau Biden became friends with Harris when they were serving as attorneys general at the same time.
“Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau,” Biden wrote in one of two tweets announcing the pick. “I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”
That personal connection clearly helped Biden work through any lingering hard feelings about Harris’ attempts to derail his candidacy during the 2019 Miami debate. On Tuesday, Harris once again vowed to be a loyal partner to Biden as the presidential race rolls into the crucial final months.
“@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals,” Harris tweeted. “I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, is set to accept the party’s nomination and deliver his acceptance speech next Thursday during the Democratic National Convention held in a virtual setting. The vice presidential nominee will do the same a night earlier.
The event was originally going to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but due to the pandemic and safety concerns, Biden and keynote speakers will not be traveling to the city and speeches will be streamed from multiple locations on video. Biden will accept the nomination from Delaware.
The convention will feature just two hours of prime time programming on each of the four nights. The decision to limit the programming, which will be streamed online and aired by TV networks, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET each night is one of the starkest signs yet of how unconventional this year’s gathering will be in the age of the coronavirus compared to previous conventions, typically filled with various events and speakers for many hours each day.
The convention’s speaking line-up will include former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, former president Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Democratic National Convention has announced “Uniting America” as the theme for its four-night convention that will seek to argue why Democrats believe Biden is the candidate to lead the US out of a global crisis, contrasting his leadership style with that of President Trump.
Each night has a different sub-theme that ultimately points to that central message: “We the People,” “Leadership Matters,” “A More Perfect Union” and “America’s Promise.”
A scaled-back event: Democrats announced in June that they would scale back this summer’s convention considerably and advised state delegates not to travel to Milwaukee. Officials had already pushed back the convention by a month as the country grappled with spiking coronavirus cases and deaths.
In July, organizers informed state parties and convention delegates that they would allow for nearly two weeks of virtual voting ahead of the convention.
The Democratic National Convention Committee also said that members of Congress should not plan to travel to this summer’s party convention, following its previous guidance that all members of state delegations should plan to participate this year remotely.
When Donald Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, and announced that he was a candidate for president of the United States, the authors of this book were not only skeptical but dismissive. We were both heavily involved in a super PAC supporting Ben Carson for president. Dr. Carson was running ahead of every other candidate, and we certainly did not see Donald Trump as a threat to him. We could not have been more wrong. Trump quickly shot to the top of the polls and stayed there until he won the Republican nomination for president at the Cleveland convention of the GOP.
Even after Trump was the Republican nominee for president we were not enthralled. We were both certain that he was not a conservative and that with his past record of being a Democrat, if elected, he would be at best a moderate Republican in the mold of Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush—a president without a governing philosophy who would be on the left on one topic, be on the right on another topic, and mostly muddle in the middle. Nevertheless, we voted for Trump and worked for Trump because we knew he would be better than Hillary Clinton. We knew that if Hillary packed the Supreme Court with liberal jurists, the U.S. Constitution would quickly become meaningless and the rights of all Americans, especially God-fearing Americans, would be circumscribed. In short, we worked for and voted for Donald Trump because we saw him as the lesser of two evils.
We were wrong about Donald Trump again. Once elected, he not only picked members of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, from a list put together by the Federalist Society, he also put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of this transition team, which was packed with folks from the Heritage Foundation. Also, his foreign policy turned out to be more in line with conservative icon Robert Taft than with the military adventurism of George W. Bush.
Unlike any other Republican president before him, Trump insisted that our allies in Europe start paying more of the cost of maintaining their defense through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As his administration took charge, he cut taxes, he slashed regulations, he ended the Obamacare personal mandate and put that albatross of a program on life support, and he has done more than any president since Eisenhower to secure our southern border.
Although some Never Trumpers on the right didn’t support the president and still don’t, the overwhelming majority of conservatives are now fully behind his economic, domestic, and foreign policies. In fact, today the number of conservatives who do not support Donald Trump is so small as to be politically insignificant. Their argument that Donald Trump is not a philosophical conservative may be true, but according to Tommy Binion, who is responsible for the advocacy of policies set forth by Heritage Foundation, “At the end of 2017, we reviewed all 334 recommendations presented in our ‘Mandate for Leadership’ series and found that the Trump administration had embraced fully 64 percent of them. That’s nearly two out of three—and that’s very good indeed.” Exactly how good is Trump’s performance according to the Heritage Foundation? Kay Coles James, Heritage’s president, said in a speech that in eight years Ronald Reagan was able to fulfill less than 50 percent of the goals set forth in the Mandate for Leadership book prepared for the Reagan administration. Of course, Reagan often faced a hostile Congress, whereas Donald Trump had a somewhat supportive Republican Congress during the first two years of his administration.
There’s no doubt that today’s Republican Party is Donald Trump’s Republican Party, and to a greater or lesser extent he is the leader of today’s conservative movement. To put it another way, “there’s no longer any doubt that the conservative movement has been redefined by President Trump, leaving him with a fiercely loyal base of support as he prepares for a 2020 re-election campaign.” On many fronts, Donald Trump has followed historical conservative positions, reducing the power of government by eliminating more than 30,000 pages of regulations, creating a booming economy by reducing taxes, dramatically rebuilding our military power, pursuing a foreign policy of peace through strength, exiting the dreadful Paris accords (the climate change agreement), getting America out of the ill-conceived Iran deal orchestrated by President Obama, and enabling the United States to achieve energy independence by encouraging energy production and the building of pipelines.
But on other fronts, Trump has undertaken policies heretofore not espoused by traditional conservatives and establishment Republicans, such as asserting strong pressure on NATO nations to pay their fair share for their own defense; working hard to protect Americans by building a wall on our southern border; advocating for immigration reform based on merit; using tariffs to negotiate better trade deals with China, Mexico, and other nations; and advocating for infrastructure rebuilding. Slowly but surely, conservatives are moving toward these new policies, understanding that our European allies are not paying their fair share to defend themselves, that we need a secure southern border, and that America does require an influx of legal immigrants who bring something to our nation. However, too many members of the Republican establishment continue to resist Trump’s commonsense policies. Globalist Republicans fight against border security because they rely on money from the Chamber of Commerce and its members who want the cheap labor that is available when our borders are open. This old guard Republican establishment is a member in good standing of the Washington, D.C., swamp that Donald Trump is trying to drain. Ironically, the truth is that when it comes to free trade, it is clear that Donald Trump is actually doing more to achieve free and fair trade by using tariffs to create a level trading field than traditional conservatives and establishment Republicans have ever done.
There is one more thing that has the Republican establishment up in arms, and that is the effort by Trump to end the military adventurism of previous presidents, including Republican presidents. Failed nation-building schemes have cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars and have not brought the world any closer to peace. Donald Trump is a realist and knows that the United States cannot be the policeman to the world or spread democracy across the globe. And although Republican politicians succumb to political correctness, Donald Trump has taken this abridgement of free speech head on. Whereas previous Republican and Democrat presidents pledged to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Trump actually did it to the chagrin of many, if not most, members of the Washington, D.C., swamp.
Do you think black Americans will help re-elect President Trump in November?
100% (19 Votes)
0% (0 Votes)
Inheriting a military quagmire in the Middle East, Trump ignored the big brass at the Pentagon and talked directly to the field generals and the sergeants fighting on the ground in Iraq. As a result, the gloves were taken off our fighting men and women, making it possible for the United States to destroy ISIS in a matter of months instead of years. His years of experience building a multi-billion-dollar corporation have taught him to bypass those at the top and speak directly with the men and women on the ground who really know what is going on. No wonder he is known as the “blue collar billionaire.”
Whereas other presidents have taken action only after years of deliberation and political calculation, Donald Trump has a bias for action. That has made it possible to rebuild our military by pumping an additional $160 billion into the Pentagon budget. His economic policies have resulted in 5.3 million new jobs, 491,000 of which are manufacturing jobs, jobs that former president Barack Obama said “aren’t coming back.” In fact, according to a Barron’s Market Watch headline, “Manufacturing jobs [are] growing at fastest rate in 23 years.” That’s “more than six times the 73,000 manufacturing jobs added in Obama’s last two years.”
Whereas previous Republican presidents have virtually ignored the real needs of black Americans or parroted the failed policies of the Democrats, who offer a handout instead of a hand up, Donald Trump has become a champion of black Americans. He has brought black unemployment to the lowest point in recorded history, and his policies have made it possible for black-owned businesses to increase by 400 percent in just one year. In the Oval Office and across the nation, President Trump has gone on the ground to see what needs to be done to help black Americans in poverty climb America’s amazing economic ladder of success. He is determined to restore the strong bond that Republicans had with black Americans before the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Donald Trump believes that black economic success is crucial if America is to achieve racial harmony that benefits both races. And as a by-product of black economic success and the actions he has taken, Trump is convinced that black voters will rally to him in 2020. He is not satisfied with winning just a few votes from these fellow Americans; President Trump wants to win a majority of the black vote. That’s unlikely to happen in 2020, but already, through Trump’s direct, candid approach, black Americans are taking a serious second look at him and his policies. Even as the Democrats falsely accuse him of being a racist, Trump has begun the long overdue effort to reestablish trust with the black American community. As a result of his economic policies, nearly 6 million Americans have been able to get off food stamp dependency.
To put it bluntly, most Republican presidents since but not including Richard Nixon have simply ignored the black community. It’s not that their policies weren’t helpful to the black community, it’s just that they were told by inside-the-Beltway political consultants in Washington, D.C., that their best course of action was to stay quiet and ignore black Americans, especially in an election year. They were told that appealing to black voters would only increase the black turnout and thus aid the Democrats more than the Republicans.
But Donald Trump didn’t come from Washington, D.C. He didn’t want to become a Washington, D.C., insider; he wanted to change the way things are done inside the Beltway. In his entire business career, he has been a disrupter, someone who shakes things up and gets things done. He appealed to Democratic blue-collar workers because he wanted to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, and he has. He appealed to evangelical Christians because he promised to defend Christianity and Christians, and he has. And because he appealed directly to black Americans, they supported him more strongly in key swing states than they supported any Republican candidate in the last 50 years. Trump received strong support from small business owners because he understood their challenges and promised to address them. He did. Trump received strong military and veteran support because he promised to rebuild America’s military and clear up the mess in VA hospitals. He did both. And because Trump promised to restore prosperity, he received stronger support from Hispanic Americans than did Mitt Romney four years earlier, receiving 29 percent of the Hispanic vote, and recent polls indicate that if the election were held now, he would receive 49 percent of the Hispanic vote. He is especially popular with Hispanics who fled socialist dictatorships in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Donald Trump may not be a philosophical conservative, but clearly he has wonderful conservative instincts along with a populist perspective that is not dissimilar to that of the late Jack Kemp. We are not, of course, suggesting that Trump has the same temperament as Kemp, but Trump’s strong desire to be the president of every American regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, or any other trait has made him popular with all races and ethnic groups. He rejects the foolish idea that diversity is the strength of America and understands that assimilation and unity are the strength of America.
There’s no doubt that Donald Trump has achieved great success as president in his first term, rebuilding the economy, taking concrete steps to lift the poor out of poverty, restoring respect for America around the globe, appointing judges dedicated to the Constitution, and standing up to attacks on Christianity. But who is Donald Trump the man? Yes, he is a serial exaggerator, as Brit Hume put it. He is bold and strong and at times painfully candid, even abrasive. But what are his values? What does he believe in?
The best explanation of the values of Donald Trump is found in the book by David Brody and Scott Lamb, The Faith of Donald J. Trump. Brody and Lamb extensively researched the Trump family, tracing its history back into Germany, the home of the Trumps, and back to the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, where Donald’s mother came from. They also examine the faith of Donald Trump, his values, and his work ethic. One takeaway from their book is that Trump is a 1950s man, or as Victor Davis Hanson put it, “Trump seemed a Rip Van Winkle. He was waking up from a 1950s slumber into an unrecognizable culture.” What does it mean to be a 1950s man? Simply put, it means that Donald Trump is an old-fashioned patriot who loves America, loves all Americans, and reveres the Founders of America. He cares about people, and when it comes to race, he is as color-blind as a human can be. Donald Trump believes in and respects the police and the military. He may not be a conservative, but he is a proud American through and through. He works hard, and he treats people with respect. Those who work for him and work with him clearly like him. In business he greatly values talent and doesn’t care if the person is male or female, black, white, Asian, or Hispanic. While running the Trump organization, he even received praise from Jesse Jackson for being a leader in race relations and opportunity for black Americans. There are hardworking, talented men and women, black and white, throughout the Trump organization and at all levels of leadership. He also is strongly influenced by the evangelical Christians with whom he meets regularly in the White House.
Donald Trump comes to his views via patriotism and common sense. That’s why he is today the de facto leader of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. That is good because he knows how to win and bad because whatever baggage the conservative movement carries is automatically associated with him. Therein lies a problem because those in the conservative movement do carry baggage when it comes to their history with black Americans, specifically their inaction during the days of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
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