Tuesday, October 20, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Less Than Two Weeks

Only a dramatic and clearly understandable surprise event
or revelation could now change even a few minds about the
imminent presidential election. What could make a difference
would be something that could affect turnout. In other words,
the souffle is baked, but it is still in the oven. A shock can cause
a souffle to collapse when it is still hot.

Democrats, the establishment media, and assorted “never
Trumpers” have piled on so much invective on the president
that any new accusation about the president is likely to fall
flat. Republicans who hope that the improper business
allegations about Joe Biden and his family will have impact
are likely to be disappointed because the matter so far is too
complicated for widespread public understanding --- and the
establishment media is largely ignoring the issue.

Time has simply run out.

Donald Trump is back on the campaign rally mode, trying to
motivate his supporters to vote. Joe Biden is back in his
Delaware basement --- sitting on his presumed lead. Both
strategies are revivals of most of their respective approaches  
to this presidential campaign.

The question remains about which of these strategies is the
right one for 2020.

The answer is contained controversially in the public polls.
These polls have shown Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden all
summer and autumn --- some of them by double digits.
Recent polls have narrowed the difference, a few of them
have the Biden lead small enough to suggest Mr.Trump has
a chance to win the election  in the electoral college.

It is a relatively safe assumption that the Democratic
nominee will win the popular vote in 2020. But to win the
election, Joe Biden must win some of the large southern
and midwestern states Donald Trump won in 2016,
including Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Michigan and Wisconsin. The president, on the other hand,
seeks to win a few states won by the Democrats in 2016,
including Minnesota, Nevada and Virginia. A few other
states might be in play, but the two campaigns are
concentrating on the ones named.

The accuracy of the polls, of course, won’t be known until
after the votes are counted. Those who doubt them contend
primarily that they are significantly undermeasuring the
Trump voters by failing to get them to respond, and/or
wrongly “weighting” the raw data they do get. Citing as
evidence, these poll critics point to “on the ground”
circumstances, e.g., rally attendance, lawn signs, boat
parades, etc. --- circumstances which in many cases also
appeared in 2016, but were ignored by most pundits.

On the other hand, the polls could be correct. Misleading
as they were in state voting in 2016, most of them got the
non-binding national popular vote more or less right.
If they are right, it would likely be a very good night
for the Democrats.

Although spokespersons and partisans for each side are
predicting victory, conventional thinking now is that Joe
Biden is going to win. That same kind of thinking had
John Kerry winning in 2004, Mitt Romney winning in 2012,
and Hillary Clinton winning in 2016. But in 2008, the
conventional expectation was that Barack Obama would
win, and he did.

It has been an idiosyncratic year, with an idiosyncratic
campaign, and, needless to say, an idiosyncratic
incumbent.

Anything can still happen.

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Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Court-Packing?

As a response to President Trump nominating  Judge Amy
Barrett to a vacancy on the U.S. supreme court and the
Republican-controlled U.S. senate determined to quickly
confirm her --- all so close to the presidential election ---
some Democratic activists and candidates are advocating
adding more members to the nation’s highest court to
overcome what would be a clear conservative  majority on
the 9-member court.

But first, Democrats must win s majority in the U.S. senate
in November. As of now, they only have 47 seats out of 100.
The would also have to win the presidential election and
keep control of the U.S. house. Many current polls suggest
this is possible --- but I suggest that promising to “pack”
the supreme court gives the Democrats’ Republican
opponents a new and helpful issue at the end of the
election campaign.

The size of the supreme court, in principle, is not a
partisan issue. It  is not specified in the U.S. Constitution,
but with a few small variations in the 19th century, it has
remained at 9 members. Notoriously, at the height of his
power, when his party had large majorities in both houses
in Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt failed to pack
the court with additional liberal justices to counter the
conservative court majority he inherited.  The fact is that
most Americans, Democrats and Republicans, oppose
“packing” the court.

It could be done, but it could just as easily be undone by  a
future president and Congress. Such volatility would clearly
undermine and destabilize the court into politicized chaos.
No wonder most Americans are against it.

Joe Biden refuses to say if he supports packing the court or
not if he were elected president, complaining it is a
“media-created” issue. (Republicans might point out the
irony of his complaint, arguing that “media-created” issues
in 2020 have inevitably helped Democrats!) In political reality,
however, it is  a real issue.

Republican candidates for the U.S. senate, incumbents and
challengers, will ask their opponents whether they would
support packing the supreme court or not. The Democrats’
answers could make a difference in some key elections.

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Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Senate Races Near The Finish Line

Several competitive U.S. senate contests will be decided  in
less than a month, and control of this key national
legislative body hangs in the balance.

As will happen again in 2022, approximately, twice as many
Republican incumbent seats are up for election, and the
current 53-47 GOP lead and control is at stake.

The conservative party in doing well  in two contests for seats
now held by liberal party incumbents. In Alabama, GOP
challenger Tommy Tuberville is expected to defeat
Democratic Senator Doug Jones; and in Michigan, the race is
a toss-up. between Republican challenger John James and
Democratic incumbent Gary Peters. In Minnesota, GOP
challenger Jason Lewis is a long shot against Democrat (DFL)
Tina Smith who now holds the seat. Mr. Lewis needs this
battleground state to be won by President Trump in order to
have a realistic chance for an upset win.

Many more GOP incumbents face serious challenges in 2020.

Usually rated the most vulnerable is  Republican Senator
Martha McSally of Arizona. Only a few weeks ago, she seemed
headed to certain defeat by former astronaut Mark Kelly, but
the sudden supreme court vacancy and a business controversy
involving Kelly  has now made this race closer, although Kelly
still leads.

Also considered in trouble, is GOP Senator Cory Gardner of
Colorado. But his challenger, former Governor  John
Hickenlooper, has surprisingly turned out to be a poor
campaigner, and now needs a very big Joe Biden win in the
state to defeat the likeable Gardner.

Also considered very vulnerable this year, GOP Senator
Susan Collins is being challenged by Democrat Sara
Gideon and a great deal deal of out-of-state money. The
most moderate Republican in the senate, she quickly
announced she would not vote to confirm President
Trump’s conservative supreme court nominee.. A popular
political icon in Maine, she will be difficult to beat, but the
race is now a toss-up.

North Carolina GOP Senator Thom Tillis appeared only
weeks ago to be in real trouble for hid re-election, but
revelations of a personal scandal involving his challenger
Cal Cunningham seems to have seriously compromised
his prospects for an upset win against the incumbent.

Although Mr. Trump carried Iowa by 9 points in 2016, many
polls are saying it’s closer to a tie this cycle, and that GOP
incumbent Senator Joni Ernst has a serious contest with
her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.

Democrats had hopes to unseat Republican incumbents in
Kentucky (Mitch McConnell), Alaska (Dan Sullivan), Texas
(John Cornyn), Montana (Stephen Daines), South Carolina
(Lindsay Graham), Georgia (David Perdue) and Kansas
(Roger Marshall), but so far the GOP senators appear to be
leading --- although their leads, in some cases, could fade in
their campaigns’ closing days.

Likewise, Republicans thought they  might pick up seats in
New Hampshire  (Jeanne Shaheen), New Mexico (Carlos
Lujan) and the already mentioned Minnesota (Tina Smith),
but these Democratic incumbents seem to now have clear
leads.

One race that could well end up in a  critical post election
2021 run-off --- and not be decided on election day --- is the
special election for U.S. senate in Georgia, a seat now held
by GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler who was appointed. The
2020 ballot has five candidates of both parties, and if none
of them receives 50% in November, a later run-off between
the top two vote-getters would take place. Conceivably, such
a run-off could decide control of the senate.

Finally, I point out a frequent occurrence in U.S. senate
election cycles, that is, the development of a close race  in
the closing days of a contest thought to be “safe” for a
Democratic or Republican incumbent. In a year of so many
other surprises, it might happen in 2020.

Several weeks ago, polling indicated a general trend to the
Democratic senate candidates. More recently, polling has
generally indicated improving conditions for Republicans.
But with an extraordinarily volatile presidential  race,
and genuinely undecided voters now making their choices,
anything could still happen in the battle for senate control.

[Just before election day, there will be a final survey  of these
races on this website.]


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Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


 

Monday, October 5, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Less Than A Month To Go

With less than a month to go, the 2020 national elections remain
wracked by surprising turns of events, contradictory polls,
residues of the pandemic, and an uncertain economy.

A new economic stimulus program is being held up because
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants it to include cities and
states that had chronic deficits prior to the pandemic, and the
Trump administration wants it only to include
pandemic-related economic issues.

A new U.S.supreme court nominee is facing confirmation
following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the
resulting vacancy only weeks before the election.

President Trump achieved major advances in his efforts in the
Middle East, but volatile issues remain with China, Russia and
North Korea.

The global pandemic continues with second waves in parts of
Europe. The president himself is recovering from an infection
diagnosed only a month before election day.

Confidence in polls seem to be at an all-time low.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has now begun to
campaign more actively in-person.

Numerous competitive U.S. house and senate races are too
close to call.

Anything could yet happen.

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Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.