Notes for 10-26-20

The Keystone Cops of Politics

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The Hunter Biden laptop could be fake. Or it could be real. We may never know.

If you’re looking for one article to cover the multiple angles of the Hunter Biden story, read this one.

Trump Had One Last Story to Sell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn’t Buy It.

This is an amazing article for many reasons. First, it is written by Ben Smith, the media critic for the Times. He usually hits home runs each Sunday, but this was spectacular.

First, Smith is formerly of Buzzfeed infamy. He published the unverified Steele Dossier. As he explains in the story, the elites were reading it at the time and making decisions based on the information, and he felt the public had a right to read it too.

Secondly, Bannon got cucked by Breitbart, his former publication. Two teams of Trumpworld were shopping the story of Hunter’s laptop. When the Wall Street Journal wouldn’t rush the story (for accuracy), Rudy and Bannon went to the Post. When that took too long, Bobulinski went rogue in the pages of Breitbart. On top of that, the President bragged that the WSJ was going to publish a hit piece, and it pissed off the WSJ newsroom, so they stopped rushing it.

From a PR perspective, they did everything wrong in leaking a story to the press. 1. Don’t insult the press or assume they work for you. 2. Coordination is key for maximum impact. When loose tongues start wagging and put out one piece of the story instead of a controlled, well-framed package, the credibility of the story can be damaged. If they had been patient and kept their trap shut, this story would have had a lot more impact.

The self-owns of Team Trump continue to mount.

Biden is up by two in Texas

Jorgensen is polling at two percent, which is fairly consistent with other polls.

The interesting figure in this poll is that 63% of people intend to vote early. This may show that the massive early voting lines around the country are cannibalizing the day-of vote. This happened in 2016 and led to false confidence in the Clinton campaign. The early vote showed surges for Democrats and they wrongly assumed even more voters would turn up on Election Day. They didn't.

Here in Indianapolis, voters waited nearly 7 hours to vote early on Saturday. There are six early voting stations in a county of one million people. Contrast that with over 100 polling stations on Election Day. Why vote early? Seems like common core math strikes again...

Oracle founder donated $250,000 to Graham PAC in final days of TikTok deal - The Verge

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison donated $250,000 to a super PAC supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) reelection campaign as his company closed in on a coveted position as TikTok’s US technology partner. FEC documents show that Ellison made the $250,000 donation to the Security is Strength PAC on September 14th. The Security is Strength PAC has bought ads exclusively in support of Graham’s political ambitions, including his 2015 presidential campaign and his current reelection bid for the US Senate.

It’s an unusually large donation for Ellison, who also donated $5,200 to Graham’s Majority Fund in January. The timing of the larger donation is also remarkable, coming mere hours after Oracle officially announced that it had been chosen as TikTok’s technology partner for its US operations, beating out Microsoft in a high-profile bidding process to save the popular video app.

Unlike 2016, Trump’s Being Graded as President, Not Candidate

Even so, Trump's overall job approval in that New York Times/Siena poll sat at just 43 percent, with 51 percent disapproving. Among independents, Trump garnered only 43 percent approve to 50 percent disapprove.

Another data point that should conceivably give Trump a boost and has led to a lot of head-scratching among the political commentary industry is the significant percentage of Americans who — despite living through a pandemic and an economic crisis — think things are better for them today than four years ago. In a mid-October NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 50 percent of Americans said that things were going better for themselves and their families compared to four years ago. In a recent Gallup poll, a whopping 61 percent of Americans said that they are better off than they were three years ago.

Even so, just 44 percent of voters in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and 43 percent in Gallup polling give Trump positive marks as president.

Why am I focusing so much on Trump's job approval rating? A president's job approval rating is one of the most consistent (and accurate) predictors of electoral performance. Voters who think the president is doing a good job usually vote to re-elect this president. Voters who think that the president is doing a lousy job are almost certain to vote against that person.

In fact, if we look back to 1980, the final Gallup job approval ratings for an incumbent president seeking re-election were within 1-4 points of that president's final vote margin. For example, in 2004, the final Gallup poll showed George W. Bush with a 48 percent job approval rating. Bush won re-election that year with just over 50 percent (50.7 percent). President Obama's final October Gallup poll showed him at 50 percent job approval. He won with 51 percent.

Today, Trump is sitting at a 43 percent approval rating. Even if he picked up 1-3 points on Election Day (as Bush and Obama did), that would get him to just 44-46 percent of the national vote. But, in a race where the third party vote will be half of what it was last time (somewhere between 2-3 points), even if Trump were to hit 46 percent of the national vote as he did in 2016, he would trail Biden by 6 points in the national vote (52-46). He lost the popular vote in 2016 by just two points, 46 to 48 percent.

All three polls show Biden ahead by anywhere from five points (Fox) to 10 points (CNN) lead. The CNN poll and the Quinnipiac surveys also show Trump's job approval in line with his current share of the vote. For example, Trump's 43 percent of the Quinnipiac survey's vote is pretty much in line with the percentage of voters who approve of the job he's doing as president and who have a favorable opinion of him. The Fox poll finds that Trump's job approval rating (at 48 percent) is three points higher than the 45 percent of the vote he's taking against Biden.

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