Althouse | category: 2020 elections



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"What the Trump Documents Might Tell the Jan. 6 Committee/Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling, the House panel has received material that it hopes could flesh out how the attack on the Capitol came about."

This is an article in the NYT, which I'm reading because what I hope is that the material will show that Trump wasn't involved in planning or promoting breaking into the Capitol or committing any illegal acts. And isn't that what everyone should hope? 

So I'm reading this article and setting to the side everything that is about Trump's belief that he really did win the election, his search for a legal path to victory, and his desire for a big, exciting rally showing strong support for this cause. 

So, what does the NYT list? I've copied and pasted the whole text into my compose window, and I will now cut out everything I just said I was setting to the side:




Okay. Now that I've done that... feel free to check my work. Maybe you'll say that the talk of seizing voting machines indicated a willingness to pursue a path that wasn't clearly legal, but it was only considered and then not done. Wasn't it part of brainstorming about what could be done if an election actually were being stolen? 

Let's consider the question hypothetically: What if an American presidential election were stolen? What could be done? What if it looked about like the 2020 election, but it really was a fraud? 

One answer might be: In the event of such a calamity, it would be best to go forward and treat the ostensible winner as the winner in order to maintain confidence in the system and to avoid the trauma of revealing and delving into the chaos beneath the surface. The true winner of the election should see the profound national interest in moving forward with a new President in office and fully in power — free of any cloud of uncertainty. The true winner should do nothing more than to offer strong support to his erstwhile opponent and to celebrate the beauty of democracy.

"Bring on the audits. Really. As a Republican election lawyer who has participated in more than 30 post-election recounts, contests and audits..."

"... I am extremely confident: They won’t find anything. The massive fraud that former president Donald Trump claims tarnished the 2020 election has been and will remain illusory — because it didn’t exist. But audits, I believe, can be the friend of sanity, helping everyone in the political process, especially the Republicans who understand that convincing their voters that elections are hopelessly rigged is no way to win elections.... If the audits that Trump himself has demanded keep coming up empty, maybe, just maybe, some true believers in Trump’s falsehood will recognize he’s been feeding them snake oil.... Something has to change, and the key to that change is to convince some portion of the 30 percent that Trump has failed to deliver on his bombast. Trump is hoisting himself on his petard. Let him."

I've read some of the comments over there, and the most common notion seems to be that it's no use producing evidence because Republicans won't believe it or will just interpret it to mean what they want it to mean.

"Public opinion polls in the 2020 presidential election suffered from errors of 'unusual magnitude,' the highest in 40 years for surveys estimating the national popular vote..."

"... and in at least 20 years for state-level polls, according to a study conducted by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). The AAPOR task force examined 2,858 polls, including 529 national presidential race polls and 1,572 state-level presidential polls. They found that the surveys overstated the margin between President Biden and former president Donald Trump by 3.9 points in the national popular vote and 4.3 percentage points in state polls. Polls understated the support for Trump in nearly every state and by an average of 3.3 percentage points overall. Polls in Senate and gubernatorial races suffered from the same problem.... 'Identifying conclusively why polls overstated the Democratic-Republican margin relative to the certified vote appears to be impossible with the available data,' the report states."

From "2020 presidential polls suffered worst performance in decades, report says" by Dan Balz at WaPo.

I didn't watch Biden's speech last night.

I see — reading the NYT this morning — that he made "costly proposals" that "amount to a risky gamble that a country polarized along ideological and cultural lines is ready for a more activist government." Was that something America voted for last autumn? Obviously, not. It doesn't seem fair to spring this on us now.

Invoking the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mr. Biden unveiled a $1.8 trillion social spending plan to accompany previous proposals to build roads and bridges, expand other social programs and combat climate change, representing a fundamental reorientation of the role of government not seen since the days of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and Roosevelt’s New Deal.

He should have had to run on that plan. Why did he beat Bernie? If this was to be the plan, we deserved a chance to vote for Bernie — or not. But the moderate, Biden, was pushed to the fore, pushed out in front of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who forthrightly represented this kind of government. Maybe one of them would have beaten Trump, but the Democratic Party edged them aside and gave us the seemingly innocuous Biden. It was an offer to get us back into balance, back to normal. It was a con. 

Oh, but perhaps, everyone knew it was a con, so America really did vote for this.

“We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and we can deliver for our people,” Mr. Biden said in his first nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress.

Prove democracy still works by only doing what you told us you'd do, back when we voted.  

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the more moderate Republicans that Mr. Biden needs if he has any hope of forging bipartisan support, used another metaphor. “Maybe if he were younger, I’d say his dad needs to take away the credit card,” Mr. Romney told reporters.

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"A group of top Democratic Party pollsters are set to release a public statement Tuesday acknowledging 'major errors' in their 2020 polling — errors that left party officials stunned..."

"... by election results that failed to come close to expectations in November.... 'Twenty-twenty was an "Oh, s---" moment for all of us,' said one pollster involved in the effort, who was granted anonymity to discuss the process candidly. 'And I think that we all kinda quickly came to the point that we need to set our egos aside. We need to get this right.'...  [S]ky-high turnout for Trump among irregular voters only explains a small slice of the problem, the pollsters concluded. Even if the polls conducted last year were properly adjusted for future turnout, they still would have been biased toward Democrats. The memo floats at least three possible causes: late movement toward Trump and Republican candidates... the Covid pandemic causing people who stayed home to answer the phone at a greater rate... and the decline of social trust and faith in institutions."

Politico reports. 

FROM THE EMAIL: lawlizard writes:

They nailed it when they noted “decline of social trust and faith in institutions.” I took a phone poll in 2002. I was a conservative living in a liberal city. The pollster actively tried to get me to say what he wanted to hear. I assume pollsters continue to do the same. My husband told a pollster in 2020 he was going to vote for Joe Biden, and then laughed about it for 3 days. The purpose of a poll should be to find out what I do think, and inform the politician what he should do based on its popularity, not to tell me what I ought to think. Polling instead says we want to spend a lot of money on social programs, you are telling us you do not want to pay more in taxes for these programs, but you do like spending on “infrastructure.” If we call social programs “infrastructure,” can we spend the money the way we want? You want voter id and secure elections, if we tell you that this is “racist,” does it change your mind. Polling like many other institutions has been corrupted. It’s not about listening, it’s about manipulating. They have lost sight of their institutional role and so it can no longer be effective. If you are going to manipulate me, then I’m going to manipulate you first.

Me, I just don't answer the phone if Siri doesn't announce who's calling. You'll have to leave voice mail to get through by phone, and I don't think pollsters ever do that. So I am never polled. I didn't vote, but I stood in waiting, prepared to vote, if motivated — a raging "undecided" in a swing state.

AND: Ray So CA emails:

I see your post on Democratic polling trust as a continuation of the other post on the election fraud, and even the one about nobody showing up at the White Lives Matters Rally. It all comes down to trust. Perhaps a tag "Trust" or "Trust in institutions." I see a theme there.

Look what happened to those that attended the Trump capital rally. And how they have been demonized. And had the entire weight of the FBI and DOJ thrown against them. And how no major Republican Figure has stood with them. Talk about broken Trust. The lack of trust in the News Media is another example.

>the decline of social trust and faith in institutions.

For the polling issue, I see as a bigger issue the fear of being doxed, losing a job, or not getting one. I guess that could be rewritten as lack of faith and trust in the polling industry. Who knows who is really calling you for a poll? And what database they are populating.

40% of Hiring Managers said supporting Trump would negatively impact their hiring decision. 

If you make a political contribution in CA over $100, it's a public record. And you can be doxed. That happened after the Gay Marriage Ballot initiative. Brendan Eich got fired for that.

And now a bill is in process in California, that would make those who signed a recall petition, available. My fear of this, and my family, of being doxed was why I did not sign the recall petition against Governor Newsom. My daughter was worried she could lose her job if her company found out she signed the petition.

AND: A reader named Steve emails:

When GW Bush won a disputed election in 2001, the media, led by the NYT and WaPost, immediately dispatched hoards of journalists to count every vote. I always assumed that they were looking to discredit the Bush election. Has anything like that happened after the 2020 election? I must have missed it. The fact that the media has turned a blind eye to what could be a huge story tells me all I need to know.

And what did polling of Democrats look like in 2001? Most of the Democrats I know are still convinced that GW Bush stole that election.

PLUS: Eugene writes: 

To Ray's point -- who knows who is calling you for a poll? -- something similar happened in Chicago in the early '70s. I don't remember the particulars, but one of the Daley Machine's candidates was accused of corruption. An independent Democrat challenged him in the primary. The polls all showed the Machine candidate winning handily. Political reporter Mike Royko went to the local bars and learned that people hated the guy, but nobody was willing to say so to a "pollster," who could just be a city flunky in disguise. Royko predicted the challenger would win, and was met with great derision -- until it happened. "The Royko Effect" became a thing in Chicago politics for years. 

To Steve's point -- that the newspapers are not interested in investigating the 2020 election the same way they did the 200 vote -- I agree with his point. But in fairness, the 2000 election turned on a few thousand ballots in one state, and even then the investigation didn't begin until the summer, as I recall. 2020 involves tens of thousands of ballots in six states. Even if the media were interested in the truth -- and they're not -- it would be a much greater logistical challenge.

"Across the United States, many areas with large populations of Latinos and residents of Asian descent, including ones with the highest numbers of immigrants, had... a surge in turnout and a shift to the right, often a sizable one."

"The pattern was evident in big cities like Chicago and New York, in California and Florida, and along the Texas border with Mexico, according to a New York Times analysis of voting in 28,000 precincts in more than 20 cities..... [T]he red shifts, along with a wave of blue shifts in Republican and white areas, have scrambled the conventional wisdom of American politics and could presage a new electoral calculus for the parties.... And over all, Mr. Trump, whose policies and remarks were widely expected to alienate immigrants and voters of color, won the lion’s share of the additional turnout....  ... Mr. Trump lost ground in white and Republican areas in and around cities — ultimately leading to his election loss — he gained new votes in immigrant neighborhoods.... 'The Latino conservatives feel a lot of momentum,' said Geraldo L. Cadava, a professor at Northwestern University and author of a book on Latino Republicans. They had argued that Mr. Trump could win Latino voters, not with the Bushesque strategy of moderation on immigration, but with a Reaganesque message of personal responsibility and hard work, he said.... Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, said he worried before the election that Democrats’ focus on racial justice issues came at the expense of outreach about easing the lives of hard-pressed workers. 'In general, it suggests that Democrats’ theory of the case — that their electoral problems were all about race rather than class — was incorrect.'"

"'Defund the police' is the second stupidest campaign slogan any Democrat has uttered in the twenty first century."

"It is second in stupidity only to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 comment that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a 'basket of deplorables.'" 

Said University of California-Irvine polysci prof Bernard Grofman, quoted in "'The Far Left Is the Republicans’ Finest Asset’/An intense battle between moderates and progressives has already spilled into public view" by Thomas Edsall (NYT). 

Edsall also quotes from a report by 4 progressive groups — New Deal Strategies, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and Data for Progress — "What went wrong for Congressional Democrats in 2020":
The latest choice for Democrats to locate our fear and blame is the slogan from many Black and young activists who marched the streets this summer: “Defund The Police.” Conservative Democrats may change the terms and people we blame and fear year-by-year, but Democrats must take on the Republican Party’s divide-and-conquer racism head-on and not demobilize our own base.... This election, the Black youth leading the Black Lives Matter movement have turned their power in the streets into votes.... When Democratic leaders make unforced errors like showing off two subzero freezers full of ice cream on national television or cozy up with Wall Street executives and corporate lobbyists while Trump tells voters we are the party of the swamp, it is not surprising that we lose.

Edsall links to this especially good Trump ad, which magnificently exploited Pelosi's posing with her refrigerators: 

Anyway, which side does Edsall take? (Do you care?) I'll just quote his last line:
Liberal advocacy groups have become more in-your-face, more intense, partly in reaction to the intransigence of the Trump regime, a development that is in turn irrevocably linked to the intensity of the conflicts across the country and within the Democratic Party itself.

Trump only gets credit when it seems like blame. Oh, he's intransigent! But what Edsall is admitting is that Trump suckered the Democratic Party into fighting itself. How did he do that? It was quite a bit more sophisticated than just being "intransigent" and thus causing other people to become "more intense." 

"One more lame defense you hear from Republicans: Democrats did this to Mr. Trump. But that’s false, too."

"Democrats did indeed focus on Russia’s assistance to Mr. Trump’s election campaign. But they did not claim that he wasn’t president. Hillary Clinton immediately conceded. President Barack Obama invited Mr. Trump to the White House and attended the inauguration." 

The "lame defense" is put into words — "Democrats did this to Mr. Trump" — that seem easy to refute. The word "this" carries a silly amount of weight. What is "this"? What are these Republicans actually saying the Democrats did to Trump and how does it compare to what Trump and his supporters are doing to Biden now? Which is worse?!

Democrats didn't just "focus on Russia’s assistance." I won't take the time to write out all that Democrats did over the entire Trump presidency. And "Hillary Clinton immediately conceded" because the outcome was obvious on the first day. How would she have behaved if it had been as close and open-ended as the 2020 election? 

"Why did the Democrats win the Presidential vote but do so poorly in everything further down on the ballot -- Senate, House, and state-level races?"

"There are a lot of theories: a) Republicans liked Republicanism, and conservatism, even Trumpism, but they didn't like Trump! b) Swing voters liked Biden but were turned off by left wing Democratic themes — "defund the police,” Medicare for All, cutting edge progressivism on gender dysphoria in 8-year olds, etc. c) Voters in general wanted Congress to be a check on a Democratic executive. All plausible. But what if the explanation is something simpler and less profound -- mechanical even? The essential idea was proposed by veteran campaign reporter Walter Shapiro. It’s based on the idea of 'roll off,' the tendency of some voters to vote for candidates at the top of the ticket while leaving the nether regions of the ballot blank.... If this is true, what more explanation do you need? Dems simply made a strategic mistake: They pushed early, mail-in and absentee voting, which may have won them the presidential election but which also brought them a bunch of voters who, in their rush to rid America of Trump, left the other parts of the ballot untouched...."

"'Defund the police' is the second stupidest campaign slogan any Democrat has uttered in the twenty first century.""One more lame defense you hear from Republicans: Democrats did this to Mr. Trump. But that’s false, too."

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