Opinion | Covid-19 Is Twisting 2020 Beyond All Recognition – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“Not only will the coronavirus crisis define Donald Trump’s legacy, it will determine whether or not he is a one-term president.

David Winston, a Republican pollster, summed up the situation in an email:

The country is not looking at what is occurring through a political lens. They are focused on the threat to their health and the country’s health and how that threat is being addressed.

Because of that, Winston continued, voters will judge the Trump administration by “the effectiveness of actions taken to address that threat, and get the country moving forward again,” making the question on Election Day “who does the country believe should be given the responsibility to govern.”

Crises can provoke extreme responses. The 2008-9 recession produced both Barack Obama and the Tea Party. On a grander scale, the Great Depression produced both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler.

No one is suggesting that the country is at such a point now, but, then again, no one suggested in January of 2015 that the country was on the verge of electing Donald Trump president.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story

The current pandemic shows signs of reshaping the American political and social order for years to come.

March 10-15 NBC News/Commonwealth Fund poll asked 1,006 adults “How much do you trust the President Trump to provide information about the coronavirus epidemic?” A majority, 53 percent, said they either had no trust at all (40 percent) or little trust (13 percent). 30 percent said they either completely trust (16 percent) or mostly trust (14 percent) the president.

In another danger signal for Trump, the poll asked “how confident are you that the vaccine will be available to the American public at little or no cost” if a Democrat wins or if Trump is re-elected. Nearly two thirds said they were confident a low-cost vaccine would be available with a Democrat in the White House; half said they were confident with Trump in office for another four years.

Trump’s job approval ratings have risen in recent weeks, but Gary Langer, who conducts polling for ABC News, warned that the results of an ABC/Washington Post survey released on March 27 show that there are substantial risks to the president:

Trump’s overall approval rating drops among people who are more worried about catching the coronavirus, report severe local economic impacts, say their lives have been especially disrupted or know someone who’s caught the virus. He also has lower approval in states with higher per capita infection rates.

While some of those findings reflect the higher levels of infection with coronavirus in blue states, Langer wrote, “the results suggest that as the crisis deepens, the risks to views of his performance likely rise.”

On March 26, Pew Research released results of a survey that showed significant demographic and partisan differences in responses to the question “Has someone in your household lost a job or taken a pay cut as a result of Covid-19?”

The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate – By NATE COHN and KEVIN QUEALY – The New York Times

 “Estimates are based on the Hidden Tribes project. “Democrats on social media” means respondents identified as Democratic-leaning voters who said they had posted political content on social media in the last year; “Democrats off social media” means Democratic-leaning voters who said they had not. Democrats who count as “progressive activists” are those who were identified as such in the Hidden Tribes survey, based on their answers to dozens of survey questions.

Perhaps the most telling poll of the Democratic primary season hasn’t been about the Democratic primary at all — but about the fallout from a 35-year-old racist photo on a yearbook page. Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia was pummeled on social media after the revelation, and virtually every Democratic presidential candidate demanded his resignation.

Yet the majority of ordinary Democrats in Virginia said Mr. Northam should remain in office, according to a Washington Post/Schar School poll a week later. And black Democrats were likelier than white ones to say Mr. Northam should remain.

Today’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its “woke” left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.

The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online, according to data from the Hidden Tribes Project. This latter group has the numbers to decide the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of a relatively moderate establishment favorite, as it has often done in the past.”

Opinion | By David Leonhardt – By David Leonhardt – New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Mark Makela/Reuters

“How did the political left squander the opportunity that was the 2020 primary campaign?

The Trump presidency has created tremendous energy among progressives. More than half of Democratic voters now identify as liberal. Most favor “Medicare for all.” A growing number are unhappy with American capitalism.

This year’s campaign offered the prospect of transformational change, with a Democratic nominee who was more liberal than any in more than a half-century. Instead, the nominee now seems likely to be a moderate white grandfather who first ran for president more than 30 years ago and whose campaign promises a return to normalcy.

True, Bernie Sanders could make a comeback, but it would need to be a big one. Among people who voted on Super Tuesday itself — rather than voting early, before Joe Biden won South Carolina — Biden trounced Sanders. The race would have to change fundamentally for Sanders to win.

If he doesn’t, the obvious questions for progressives is what went wrong and how they can do better in the future. I think there are some clear answers — empirical answers that anybody, regardless of ideology, should be able to see. I’d encourage the next generation of progressive leaders to think about these issues with an open mind.

The biggest lesson is simply this: The American left doesn’t care enough about winning.

It’s an old problem, one that has long undermined left-wing movements in this country. They have often prioritized purity over victory. They wouldn’t necessarily put it these terms, but they have chosen to lose on their terms rather than win with compromise.”

Editorial | The Primaries Are Just Dumb – The New York Times

The Primaries Are Just Dumb

There’s a better way to do democracy.

By 

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; photographs by Erin Schaff/The New York Times and Getty Images

“How fitting that Twitter — a social media platform apparently built for bickering — co-sponsored a political debate on Tuesday night that often descended into an unintelligible screaming match among too many candidates whose differences belie a vast common ground.

Any one of the candidates in the Democratic race would be among the most progressive leaders ever elected to the White House, so common sense suggests that a few contenders bow out, to clarify the choice and ensure that a consensus nominee can emerge. That would be welcome. But disarray has a way of keeping even the slimmest of hopes alive.

As the country learned in 2016 with Republicans, the primaries and caucuses are a mess, giving the illusion of a choice in a situation where in fact voters have just the opposite — no clear choice. This year, Bernie Sanders won close to a majority in Nevada, but in the two earlier contests, in Iowa and New Hampshire, no candidate won more than 26 percent of the vote. This fragmentation helps those candidates with passionate followings, like Mr. Sanders, as it helped Donald Trump in 2016, but it produces nothing like a consensus candidate. Mr. Sanders has won only 2.3 percent of the 1,991 delegates needed to secure the nomination, yet he’s widely considered the front-runner.

Single-winner elections do a poor job of winnowing a large field of candidates down to one who reflects majority agreement, and encourage the type of nastiness we’re seeing now, because it’s all-or-nothing for each candidate. And the winner of this process can be the choice of as little as 25 or 30 percent of the electorate, which is another way of saying that he or she was not the choice of up to three-quarters of voters.

This is no way to pick the person who will challenge a president — one who was himself nominated first by a minority within his party, then elected by a minority nationwide.

There is a straightforward and elegant solution: ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting. Already in use all over the world and in cities and towns across the United States, it’s a popular and proven way of electing leaders who are — what a radical notion! — actually supported by most voters. It is effective in any multicandidate race, but it’s ideal for making sense of a large and fractured pool of candidates.”

Opinion | Does Anyone Have a Clue About How to Fight Back Against Trump’s Racism? – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Can Democrats diminish the bigotry that Donald Trump has unleashed in this country?

Stung by the success of Trump’s anti-immigrant, racist campaign themes in 2016, left-of-center advocacy groups — think tanks, unions, progressive academics and Democratic consultants — are developing tools this year to counter the continuing Republican assault on liberal values, based on the optimistic assumption that the reservoir of white animosity is not so deep that Trump is assured re-election.

These efforts on the left challenge the long history of Republican success in exploiting race and a host of ancillary issues — crime, welfare, social disorder, family breakdown, homelessness — a history that includes Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Donald Trump in 2016.

That history points to the relentless power of racial resentment in American politics. Despite polling that shows greater acceptance of racial equality, this issue is as potent a source of political strength for Trump today as it was for Nixon a half century ago.

There are myriad studies, as have noted (along with many others) that show the continuing effectiveness of race and immigration as wedge issues. These studies continue to appear at an alarming rate.”

Opinion: What has happened to Hamden? – By Ann M. Altman – New Haven Register

“In 1974, heavily pregnant, I moved to Whitneyville from New Haven. Hamden seemed a natural place for Yale faculty to raise a family, with excellent schools and public services and, in the 1980s and 1990s, it didn’t disappoint.

The elementary school, middle school and high school provided a wonderful education to both my children. My son, having completed the high school curriculum, was able to take courses at Yale University during his senior year, with the bill picked up by the Board of Education. My daughter benefited from the extraordinary theater program, helping to teach classes for special education students and winning ensemble prizes at the state drama competition. As she said on one such occasion, “When I saw that all the judges were crying, I knew we’d won.”

Now, decades later, what has happened to Hamden? It is still outstanding, first in its class in Connecticut but, unfortunately, not because of its schools and public services but because it has the highest per capita debt of all the 169 towns in the state.

According to the municipal finance indicators published recently by the state’s Office of Policy and Management, every man, woman and child in Hamden is in debt to the tune of $18,368.

To give you an idea what that means, consider that the per capita debt in Bridgeport is $13,776 and in Hartford it is $11,700. Even New Haven, the second on the list, only has a per capita debt of $15,595.

How do the financial markets view Hamden’s remarkable record of first- (or worst-) in-state? Moody’s has lowered Hamden’s bond rating to Baa3, one grade above “junk,” adjudging the town among the bottom three in Connecticut.

To meet the town’s financial obligations, taxes on homeowners have been raised exorbitantly, with the mil rate now approaching 50. In addition, homeowners have to pay separately for treatment of their wastewater, a service that was included in taxes paid in the 1980s and 90s.

Source: Opinion: What has happened to Hamden? – New Haven Register

Opinion | How Trump Is Running to Snatch Victory From the Jaws of Defeat, Again – The New York Times

By Vinod Bakthavachalam and 

Mr. Bakthavachalam is a data scientist. Mr. Hundt is the chief executive and co-founder of Making Every Vote Count.

Credit…Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

“Donald Trump commands a remarkable level of support from virtually every elected official in his party and almost all voters likely to vote for his party. In this respect, he stands alone among presidents in modern history. The question arises: Why shouldn’t he try to hold that base, drive his approval rating high above 50 percent and win a big national victory in November 2020?

The answer is that in this century the Electoral College system strongly encourages candidates of both parties, and particularly any Republican candidate, to ignore the national popular vote. That’s especially true for President Trump: The system rewards him for focusing on a handful of states, located mostly in the Great Lakes region, with policies, promises and programs that may not resonate or even be consistent with the interests of all Americans.

To uncover statistical proof of this incentive, our nonprofit Making Every Vote Count built a model of the upcoming election based on the history of voting in previous elections in the modern era. Our conclusion is that even if the general population prefers the Democratic nominee by much more than was the case in 2016, Mr. Trump has almost a one-third chance of winning the Electoral College while ignoring the national vote but only about a one-fifth chance of winning the national popular vote as a route to winning the Electoral College.

With those odds, any rational strategist would tell Mr. Trump to campaign for victory in the swing states that hold the electors necessary to get to magic 270 number, even if the message, the visits and the focus might turn off voters in the rest of the country. This sort of campaign and this type of presidency might not be best for the economy or society as a whole. But it is the way to win.”

Mitt Romney Is a ‘Judas’ to Many Republicans. But Not in Utah. – By Jeremy W. Peters – The New York Times

Some conservatives want to recall him and others want to censure him. In the state he represents, though, many view speaking out against President Trump as an act to admire, not an apostasy.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“SALT LAKE CITY — Phil Lyman wanted to do something swift and stern.

Within hours of Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to remove President Trump from office on Wednesday, Mr. Lyman, a freshman state representative from southern Utah who keeps an autographed “Make America Great Again” hat in a plexiglass case in his office, was at work drafting a resolution to censure the senator.

“I mean, I respect a guy that will stand up for his opinion, but it’s not without some repercussions,” Mr. Lyman said. “His action warrants an additional action on the part of the State Legislature.”

But just as swiftly came the pushback to Mr. Lyman from Utah’s Republican leadership.

“Censuring Senator Romney for voting his conscience is a tricky place to be,” the speaker of the state House, Brad Wilson, said in an interview.

The governor, Gary Herbert, told The Salt Lake Tribune, “I think that would be just a mistake to go down that road.” “

Senate Acquits Trump, Ending Historic Trial – The New York Times

“Three Senate Democrats from conservative-leaning states who had been targeted by the White House as possible defectors voted to convict Mr. Trump, depriving the president of the chance to claim a bipartisan exoneration despite the political risk.

Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama all announced their decisions in the final hours before the vote ending the Senate impeachment trial, ensuring that all 47 Democrats would stick together in supporting the removal of Mr. Trump from office.

“After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” Mr. Jones, who is facing re-election in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2016 by nearly 28 percentage points, said in a statement.

Mr. Manchin, whose state went for Mr. Trump with 70 percent three years ago, had urged a nonbinding, bipartisan censure, only to be ignored, and told reporters that he struggled deeply over his decision. “It’s a tough one guys,” he said before announcing his decision. “It’s a tough one.”

Ms. Sinema, a freshman who was one of the few Democrats to enthusiastically jump to her feet to applaud Mr. Trump at points during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, said that in the end she could not condone Mr. Trump’s use of his office to leverage domestic political assistance from a foreign power.

“While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious,” she said in a statement, “it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain.” ”
— Emily Cochrane and Michael D. Shear

In Trump Country, the Resistance Meets the Steel Curtain – By Campbell Robertson – The New York Times

 

 

“WASHINGTON, Pa. — In the winter of 2018, Cindy Callaghan knocked on doors. Lots and lots of doors. A new soldier in the sprawling ranks of the anti-Trump resistance, she spent her weekends in the small towns of southwestern Pennsylvania, telling strangers about Conor Lamb, the Democrat who was running for Congress in a district that President Trump carried by nearly 20 percentage points.

When Mr. Lamb won his special election in a narrow but stunning upset, it seemed that there was an opportunity, if enough people put in enough work, to change minds and thus change the country’s politics. “I felt like there was,” Ms. Callaghan said.

Now, as she watches the Republicans’ swift rebuff of impeachment charges, the meltdown of the Iowa caucuses and the infighting among the supporters of various Democratic presidential candidates, she feels that less and less. “It doesn’t matter — find any kind of totally corrupt thing that Trump did and it doesn’t matter,” she said. “Republicans are just unified. They’re a damn steel curtain.”

“I’m taking a break until this summer,” she said.”

David Lindsay: I was not going to post this piece, as not interesting enough, until I came across the following comment after it:

ALB commented 4 hours ago

ALB
Maryland

Scientists have done many psychological studies showing that it is extremely difficult to a person’s minds once it is made up. Our brains are hard-wired this way; once we have fabricated a “coherent” structure in our heads about something, it becomes our reality. (Good books on this subject are “Influence” by Robert Chaldini, and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahnemann.)

Apparently the very best way to ensure that a person doesn’t change his/her mind is to get that person to state a position in public, and then sign a document in public setting forth that position. Grover Norquists’s “No New Taxes” pledge, which works precisely this way, has guaranteed for years and years to keep Republican signers from ever agreeing to increase taxes.

So, what does this all mean for the Democrats? It means Democrats shouldn’t bother knocking on doors to try to talk people into switching sides. Instead, they need to spend their time getting Democratic voters registered, making sure they know where their polling places are, and getting them to the polls. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 18 million people, and represent 40% of the registered voter population, versus 28% for Republicans.

So despite the obstacles the Republicans have put in place to create a non-level playing field, Democrats CAN win back the Senate and the White House by turning out the Democratic vote.”