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Notes for 9-29-20
Pre-Debate Predictions and What I Am Reading
They have been for months. Riots, COVID-19 closings and openings, RBG's death, conventions, VP picks, and all of the other daily horrors the people of America have stared down on a daily basis have not moved the needle. In fact, his favorable/unfavorable polling has barely moved since he was elected.
Yes, yes, I know we aren't supposed to trust polling after 2016, but at IO, we never toss out a metric that might help us see a clearer picture of what is happening in the world today. Voters have clearly made up their minds on the President. They want to fire him.
But do they trust Joe Biden? The meme campaign waged against Biden's frailty has probably sewn a lot of doubt in the mind of the person that doesn't care about politics as deeply as we do. The lowered expectations from the memes around Biden's mental state were flamed by the campaign which spent tens of millions of dollars on pushing this narrative.
It could be one of the dumbest self-owns in electoral history. If Biden walks out tonight and he manages to drool into the cup instead of just on his shoes, the few swing voters left in the country may fill out their absentee ballots before the spin room heats up. He merely has to look competent to pick up much needed last-minute votes.
Historically, Presidents do terribly in the first debate. They've spent three years with staffers kissing their ass and it is the first time they've faced a serious challenge. Their opponent usually had several primary debates. Trump is not preparing for the debate. This is the biggest opportunity he has in keeping the Presidency and he's not worried. He should be. Trump's hubris combined with his lowering of expectations could lead to a fatal blow for the President.
This is a very half-baked idea that I've had the last week.
The moment when I began taking coronavirus seriously was Michael Osterholm’s estimate that a minimum of 700,000 some deaths would occur within a short time frame on Joe Rogan. We passed a million deaths last night.
Despite the notion that experts had this all wrong, a lot of predictions that scared people in March came true. So why doesn’t it feel as bad as we expected it to feel?
If you’ve suffered from the disease or had a loved one pass, it’s different, obviously. But most of us aren't experiencing the disease the way we expected in the spring. I hope someone in the future studies the psychological and sociological intricacies of all this.
From Jonathan V. Last:
"Question: When is the last time the sitting president of the United States accused his opponent of using performance-enhancing drugs and demanded that he take a drug test following a debate?
Obviously, the answer is: Never. Because prior to this moment our country has never had a president who was both psychologically and cognitively unbalanced.
But Trump’s bizarre drug-test demand isn’t just a symptom. It’s an indicator of how desperate he is.
Here are the baseline facts as we sit a little more than one month away from Election Day:
Biden currently leads Trump by > +7 percent in the national polling average.
Trump has never been closer than -3 at any point in the race, and even that margin was brief—just two days in April.
Trump’s net approve/disapprove is currently -9. He has been net-negative on this measure since February 3, 2017.
Taken together, Trump’s net negative approval rating and trailing of Biden are historic. In the advent of modern polling, no sitting president has ever been this unpopular and this far behind, this consistently, ever.
Trump’s pathway to victory—already very narrow—has continued to shrink.
Consider the shifting theories of victory Team Trump has put forward over the last four years:
First, they insisted that they would remake the Republican party and broaden its appeal creating a new, Reagan-like realignment and political majority.
At some point following the midterm elections, they abandoned even the pretense of trying to win a majority of the vote in 2020, and placed their faith in the hope of winning an Electoral College majority while holding Biden’s popular vote victory to +3 points.
Over the summer the idea of holding Biden to only +3 gave way to the hope that they might get to 270 Electoral Votes even if Biden finished +5.
Within the last month, the idea of winning in the Electoral College on election night has, itself, disappeared. The campaign now hopes to be able to use litigation and the courts to manufacture an Electoral College victory after the fact.
This progression of victory scenarios is not what you see from winning campaign."
I have to wonder what the limit is on the benefits of the doubt given to Trump. How many days in a row do Trump supporters have to make excuses for a man so clearly not worth their benefit of the doubt? I ask myself when a new story is released thanks to leaks of those that were close to the man. The most ardent never Trumpers in the first three years were Democrats. Lately, it's been those that worked for him.
Didn't Baby Boomers already do that?