Trump's Depraved Indifference
Countdown Journal: 21 Days To Go
President Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves after speaking during a campaign event at the Orlando Sanford International Airport on October 12, 2020 in Sanford, Florida. Trump was holding his first campaign rally since his coronavirus diagnosis as he continues to campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
"I feel so powerful, I'll walk into that audience. I'll walk in there, I'll kiss everyone in that audience," Trump said. "I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and the -- everybody. I'll just give everybody a big, fat kiss."
In the law, depraved indifference “is evinced by conduct that is wanton, deficient in a moral sense of concern, and devoid of regard for the life or lives of others.”
That seems an apt description of the Trump campaign’s last, desperate push in the final three weeks of the campaign. Via CNN:
Donald Trump on Monday launched a three-week quest to save his presidency, behaving as though the pandemic that has killed 215,000 Americans was already a memory in front of a packed-in crowd -- even amid chilling new warnings about the resurgent virus.
In his first rally since his own bout with Covid-19, Trump painted a deeply dishonest picture of the nation's battle with the disease, mocked former Vice President Joe Biden over social distancing and vowed victory on November 3 as he began a frantic push to Election Day, marked by multiple rallies a day that could act as superspreader events.
The scenes speak for themselves.
Many rallygoers on Monday evening did not wear masks, including some of those chosen to stand behind the president’s podium and within the camera shot. And even as Mr. Trump claimed he was immune to the virus, White House officials traveling with him acknowledged the risk to those around him.
Trump’s reckless indifference has set the tone for TrumpWorld.
Trump, jumping from subject to subject like his father, spoke to about 200 supporters in a basement party room at the bowling alley. There was no social distancing although some of the attendees wore masks.
Meanwhile, the break between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Trump continues to widen.
Make sure you watch this:
Welcome to the Countdown Journal. There are 21 days to go until Election Day, and then 78 days until the Inauguration.
This time is different.
Understandably, a lot of folks are still haunted by Trump’s comeback and stunning victory in 2016. That could still happen again, of course. No one thinks he has a chance to win the popular vote, but he could once again eke out an Electoral College victory, or create so much chaos that the Supreme Court hands him a second term.
But, despite our collective PTSD, it’s time to recognize that this is not likely because 2020 is not 2016.
Here are 12 ways this time is different.
Back in 2016, a lot of voters wanted to “burn it all down.” This time, they want a return to normalcy.
There’s no complacency this time around. In 2016, millions of voters thought that because a Trump victory was unthinkable, it was therefore impossible. This time, they know there’s no room for playing around with third parties, ideological purity, or indifference.
The 2020 Trump is Fat Elvis (Hat tip @jheil). In 2016, Trump was edgy, novel, even occasionally entertaining. This time around, he’s just grotesque. "I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and the -- everybody. I'll just give everybody a big, fat kiss." It’s almost as if he wants a replay of the Access Hollywood video. But this time it would be in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.
Trump has lost his lizard instinct. The Orange God King has never been a great strategic thinker, but he has had a reptilian cunning that has enabled him to read and shape the flickering mood of the news cycles. Now he’s just flailing, fighting old battles, airing old grievances. No one gives a shit about Hillary’s emails anymore.
In 2016, late deciding voters broke heavily for Trump in the final days of the campaign. This year, undecided voters are breaking for Biden.
Trump’s base may be strong, but he’s not holding all of his coalition together. Via the NYT: “Four years ago, Mr. Trump’s strength among white voters without a college degree helped him breach the so-called blue wall of traditionally Democratic Northern battleground states, including Michigan and Wisconsin. The new surveys show him well short of matching 2016 levels of support among white voters, leaving the president with a daunting deficit with just three weeks until the election.”
In 2016, Trump won seniors. This year, he’s losing them. They vote.
People actually like Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton had historically ghastly approval ratings, but in a CNN poll, Biden’s net favorability was +16 points among likely voters.
No challenger has ever polled as strongly as Biden. Via CNN: “In the 21 previous presidential elections since 1936, there have only been five challengers who led at this time. Of those five, only one (Bill Clinton in 1992) was ahead by more than 5 points. None of those five were earning more than 48% of the vote in the polls. In other words, Biden is the first challenger to be above 50% at this late juncture in the campaign.”
Biden’s lead is much more stable than Clinton’s.In 2016, 's final polling average was Clinton 45.7%, Trump 41.8%. Today, it's Biden 52.2%, Trump 41.9%. But beyond deficit, even more damning for Trump is the 5.9% undecided/3rd party share - less than half of 12.5% share four years ago. Far fewer late deciders.
Nate Silver @NateSilver538Biden's lead in our national polling average is up to 10.3 points. There's no sign that things are getting better for Trump; the ABC/Post poll showing him -12 postdates his leaving the hospital. The USC tracker has also been getting worse for Trump. https://t.co/inxev8aU1X
In the closing days of the 2016 campaign, Trump was able to show a bit of restraint. As the Times notes, “he paired a dizzying schedule of rallies with a trimming back of incendiary tweets.” This time: ALL CAPS RANTS.
There are 21 days to go.
1. These Seven Counties Are Trump’s Key to Reelection. They’re Going Badly for Him
In March of 2019 I asked a simple question: President Donald Trump won the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined 77,000 votes. What counties in those states would have changed that if they had not swung his way?
The standard was simple. Find the counties that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and flipped to Trump in 2016. Get the differences in those county votes between those two elections, and find a few that add up to the amount Trump won the state by. Trump won by 10,704 votes in Michigan, 44,292 in Pennsylvania and 22,748 in Wisconsin.
We pared it down to just seven counties total—three in Pennsylvania, one in Michigan, and three in Wisconsin.
Think about it this way: There are 3,142 counties in the United States. President Trump could lose reelection if 3,135 counties voted as they did in 2016, but 7 counties do not.
2. The Trouble With Trump’s Gag Orders
But again, as Donald Trump knows from decades of bullying employees and contractors in the private sector, the threat of legal action—even if frivolous—is often enough to motivate people to keep quiet, even if that means forgoing their First Amendment rights. As of 2016, Trump had been involved in a whopping 3,500 lawsuits. After nearly four years in the White House, it’s even more abundantly clear that Trump and his cronies will stoop to inconceivable lows in order to vindicate him. With 215,000 Americans dead from a virus that did not claim Donald Trump’s life, the medical staffers at Walter Reed have much larger personal and professional priorities than jousting with Trump in the courts over the terms of a piece of paper.
1. How Conservatives Really Feel About Amy Coney Barrett
Among conservatives in Washington, Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination is almost universally viewed as a win. In their eyes, she’s everything conservatives could want out of a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg: a respected legal scholar, a protégée of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and a longtime student of judicial precedent who, they hope, might one day write the decision overturning Roe v. Wade. And yet, for all of the good these conservatives believe Barrett will do for America, at least some of them acknowledge that they paid a price for her nomination: Her name will always be tied to Trump’s, and to the erosion of democratic norms he has accelerated. For now, the Republican Party has largely accepted this trade-off. Although Sasse has some history of making skeptical comments about Trump, sentiments like his are rarely expressed on the record by Senate Republicans. But when Trump is gone, whether in four months or four years, conservatives will be left to wrestle with deep disagreements about how the movement got here, and what comes next. For those who loathe the fruit of the Trump era, Barrett makes some of the damage worth it. “The cake is already baked,” one senior Hill staffer told me. “At least you get a judge out of it.”