A Washington Post/ABC News poll published on May 7th unleashed a fresh wave of panic among Democrats in general and readers of this newsletter in particular. I had hoped to ignore the Post/ABC poll (see my April 23rd newsletter titled, Ignore the polls!), but I received dozens of emails from distraught readers over the last forty-eight hours, so I will once again urge readers not to be seduced and misled by polls.
Before getting to the substance, let’s be clear: I am not saying we should ignore or dismiss polling trends (or bad news). I am not saying that issues identified in the polls do not reflect real concerns of American voters. I am not saying that we should assume victory. I am not saying that Donald Trump is not an existential threat to democracy.
I am saying that the old rules no longer apply. I am saying that the “presidential horse race” model of elections is dead—except in newsrooms and among pundits whose main goal is to increase their followers on social media. The notion that voters who walk into a voting booth in 2024 will make a choice only between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is silly to the point of perversity.
As I wrote in “Ignore the Polls,”
No voter is going to walk into a voting booth in 2024 believing the choice is “Biden” versus “Trump.” It is democracy versus autocracy, liberty versus tyranny, safety versus violence, tolerance versus fascism, and secularism versus theocracy.
When Biden announces his bid for re-election this week, expect the media to respond with a swarm of easy-to-write, shallow analyses that point out obvious facts while glossing over yawning chasms of significance. Any journalist who treats the Biden/Trump rematch as a traditional presidential election should turn in their press badge and seek other work.
On nearly every major issue that affects the lives of Americans, Democrats—and Joe Biden—are on the right side of the issues and history: reproductive liberty; gun safety; healthcare; Social Security; the climate crisis; student debt; educational freedom; voting rights; and support for women, minorities, LGBTQ people, Jews, and Muslims.
Republicans are not only on the wrong side of those issues, but their opposition is hateful, racist, misogynistic, and violent—becoming more so with each passing day. Every slaughter at a school or shopping mall met with GOP lies and reflexive support for assault rifles and “open carry” desecrates the graves and blasphemes the memories of the victims.
Americans are sick to death of the GOP’s embrace of the cult of guns over the lives of their constituents. The anger of Americans will only increase with each inevitable mass killing that will punctuate our lives every week over the next eighteen months. Did the Post/ABC poll capture that anger? Is it even possible to capture anger that will increase weekly with each new mass shooting? Clearly not.
Did the Post/ABC poll capture the fact that Trump will host an antisemitic group this coming week at the Trump Hotel in Miami? See Media Matters, Hitler-promoting antisemites will speak at Trump’s Miami hotel alongside Eric Trump, Lara Trump, and other Trump personalities. Did the Post/ABC poll ask about Trump's promotion of antisemitic, Hitler-loving white supremacists? Nope! Will that issue be on the ballot in 2024 when voters choose between Joe Biden and Donald Trump? Yep!
Ah! You say that the Post/ABC poll tells us, “It’s the economy, stupid!” As the Post/ABC poll reveals, Republicans have succeeded in misleading Americans into believing that Trump managed the economy better than Joe Biden has. (To be clear, the economy is doing just fine. See MSNBC, As jobs market remains hot, Republicans pretend not to notice.) But if you believe hyperventilating anchors on major media outlets, the electorate’s mistaken belief about the relative handling of the economy by Biden and Trump dooms Biden in 2024.
Okay. I will play the Post/ABC game of “Election Jeopardy.”
“Alex, I pick ‘The 2022 Midterms’ for $500.”
And the answer is: “This issue was supposed to fuel the red wave in the 2022 midterms.”
Response: “What is, ‘It’s the economy, stupid?’”
You get the point. Remember that time—only six months ago—when Joe Biden’s negative ratings on handling the economy were supposed to lead to a GOP takeover in the Senate and a forty-seat Republican margin in the House? Neither happened—despite the polls about Biden’s supposed “terrible” performance on the economy.
The old paradigm is dead because the opposition candidate is a twice impeached, indicted, accused rapist who has publicly said he will attempt a second coup. If the old paradigm was still in effect, Trump would not be in the race. As I said, any journalist who treats the Biden/Trump rematch as a traditional presidential election should turn in their press badge and seek other work.
Ah! But you say that Republicans have convinced the American public that Biden is forgetful and mentally unfit. Hmm. . . . Humor me: Of the two leading presidential candidates, which one is on videotape confusing his rape victim for his second wife? And which of the two outmaneuvered the entire GOP congressional caucus in an impromptu debating tactic on live television?
Are those facts enough to dispel doubts about Biden’s age and mental fitness? No. But Democrats should stop acting like Trump represents the pinnacle of mental acuity and start attacking Trump on that score as vigorously as Republicans are attacking Joe Biden. That will reduce the “age and mental fitness” issue to a draw and allow voters to focus on Trump's racism, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia, and world-class ignorance.
Like 2020, the 2024 election is much larger than the candidates whose names appear on the ballot. But polling is stuck in a paradigm that no longer exists. They ignore the fact that Americans are engaged in a struggle for the soul and future of America. Voters who show up in 2024 will understand that fact. True, the rank-and-file of both parties have hardened their positions. But persuadable Independents understand what is at stake. That is good for Democrats—very good.
Yogi Berra and Niels Bohr are both credited (wrongly) with saying, “It is tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” I should heed those words, but I feel tonight that Democrats need to “get a hold of themselves” and “get out of their own heads.” Stop self-doubting and worrying about disasters that have yet to occur. We are in for the fight of our lives in 2024, but any objective observer who considers all the facts and circumstances should arrive at this conclusion:
Joe Biden is going to kick Trump's *** in 2024.
Could my prediction be wrong? Sure! But it is the most likely outcome given the facts we know and the likely developments before November 2024.
So, tell a friend. Stop worrying and start helping Biden—and all Democrats—achieve a resounding victory in 2024.
More on the debt ceiling.
President Biden will meet with congressional leaders at the White House at 4:00 PM on Tuesday to discuss the need to increase the national debt ceiling. Let’s hope that Republicans understand that Biden will not budge. To that end, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a significant statement on Monday that should worry Republicans. As leading experts like Professor Laurence Tribe continue to promote the Fourteenth Amendment as a potential solution, Secretary Yellen has been publicly skeptical of that theory until Monday, when she changed her position. See Talking Points Memo, Yellen Shows Her Hand.
As noted in TPM, Secretary Yellen said the following on MSNBC on Monday afternoon:
I would say if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, the president will have to make some decisions about what to do with the resources that we do have [and] there are a variety of different options. But there are no good options. Every option is a bad option, and I really don’t want to get into discussing them and ranking them . . . .
As noted by Josh Marshall of TPM, Yellen has changed her public position from ignoring the debt ceiling as “not being an option” to ignoring the debt ceiling as one of “a variety of options.” Granted, Yellen says that “every option is a bad option,” which is a true statement. The president should not be forced to ignore the debt ceiling. But the Treasury Secretary apparently now believes that ignoring the debt ceiling is “on the table” as an option.
The timing of Yellen’s statement was clearly intended to send Kevin McCarthy a message before the Tuesday meeting. McCarthy likely secretly hopes that Biden will act unilaterally, which will solve McCarthy’s inability to manage his caucus to a solution.
More on Trump's legal woes.
The judge will instruct the jury in the E. Jean Carroll rape/defamation trial on Tuesday. Closing arguments on Monday were dominated by Trump's decision not to appear at trial. E. Jean Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said the following in closing:
This is not a “He said, she said.” It’s what Donald Trump says versus what all eleven of these witnesses said in that chair over there. In order for you to find for him, you need to conclude that Donald Trump, the nonstop liar, is the only person in this courtroom who has been telling the truth.
We should expect a verdict this week.
In the Manhattan criminal prosecution for payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels, Judge Juan Merchan issued an order that prohibits Trump from disclosing on social media evidence provided by the prosecution. Trump is also limited to examining such evidence when his attorneys are present in the room to monitor Trump. See NBC News, Trump barred from posting evidence in hush money case to social media.
Trump will violate the order and will be held in contempt. But before that happens, he will seek to remove the case to federal court. Stay tuned!
Get involved with Markers For Democracy!
Markers for Democracy is a terrific group of grassroots activists that coalesced in the aftermath of Trump's 2016 victory. If you are looking for a place to join in common cause with other like-minded people defending democracy, Markers For Democracy is a welcoming, positive place to be. The Markers For Democracy newsletter link is here: The MFD Newsletter.
A great way to see Markers For Democracy in action is to register for one of the events below:
On Tuesday, May 9 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Markers for Democracy will host a training with The Civics Center. Register here: Postcarding & Training with Civics Center · Markers For Democracy (mobilize.us)
Join an evening event with U.S. Representative Grace Meng to support local NY candidates running in 2023 in Nassau County (where Markers for Democracy hopes to flip NY-03 back to blue in 2024). Register here: Jon Kaiman and Christine Liu for North Hempstead · Markers For Democracy (mobilize.us)
Join an event to launch Blue Tennessee with David Pepper, Jess Piper, Kate Craig, and Jessica Craven Launching Blue Tennessee! · Markers For Democracy (mobilize.us)
It was probably foolish of me to defy the combined wisdom of Yogi Berra and Niels Bohr by predicting the future. As my punishment, I fully expect to receive dozens (hundreds?) of emails from readers who will explain in excruciating detail why they believe Democrats are doomed to fail in 2024. No need to do so!
I understand the challenges Democrats face. But consistently predicting disaster is both a defense mechanism and a sleight of hand. When you are wrong you experience momentary relief, and you are bound to be right occasionally when the law of averages brings disaster. Although assuming that “all is lost” may be a healthy way for some to mediate anxiety about the future, it is generally unhelpful for others who are willing to fight despite challenging odds.
I do not intend to diminish the reasonableness of fearing for the future of our nation or the reality of those concerns. My focus is on how we lift up and sustain Americans during difficult times. Dwelling unnecessarily on the possibilities for failure is not a winning strategy.
We should not fool ourselves or pretend that the fight will be easy. Neither should we assume defeat nor ascribe superpowers to Republicans they do not possess. They are vulnerable, desperate, and out of touch with most Americans. Democrats are focused on improving the lives of all Americans. For that reason, I firmly believe that we have every reason to be hopeful but no reason to be complacent!
Talk to you tomorrow!
IGNORE THE DAMN POLL!
From the PoliticusUSA Substack Newsletter:
We could take apart the ABC News/Washington Post poll over several newsletters, but for brevity and clarity, let’s go over some of the main issues.
I have participated in the ABC News/Washington Post Poll in the past, and one of the things that you need to understand first is that this is a random poll.
The polling company hired a call center and randomly called 1,006 Americans.
According to the poll’s methodology:
A dual frame landline and cell phone telephone sample was generated using Random Digit Dialing procedures by Survey Sampling International (SSI). Interviewers called landline and cellphone numbers, first requesting to speak with the youngest adult male or female at home. The final sample included 254 interviews completed on landlines and 752 interviews completed via cellphone, including 583 interviews with adults in cellphone-only households.
Here is how the poll is conducted.
A call center calls 1,000ish random Americans. The call center employee, who isn’t a pollster, but someone who may have been doing random calling for Xfinity or some other company or product an hour earlier, reads the questions. The respondent self-identifies as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent.
Since this isn’t a registered voter poll, the person asking the questions has no idea if the respondent is telling the truth.
Democrats can pretend to be Republicans, Republicans can pretend to be Democrats, and both can pretend to be Independents.
Do you see the problem?
There is no way to know if the data is valid.
There is no way to know if the person is a Democrat or a Republican or even telling the person asking the questions the truth.
Because of how they are conducted, polls like the ABC News/Washington Post Poll are especially susceptible to getting a faulty sample of respondents.
The Poll Results Suggest Something Is Not Right
The ABC News/Washington Post Poll is full of weird results. Most respondents think Trump should be charged with crimes, but they also support Trump over Biden 49%-42%, so these respondents want to put Trump in jail and elect him as president.
It doesn’t make sense.
Even though Biden and Trump are only a few years apart in age, respondents are worried about Biden’s fitness for office, but not Trump.
Given what has been documented about Trump’s historic levels of unpopularity and the fact that his presence caused Republicans to underperform in the midterm election, I suspect that the data sample is flawed through no fault of the polling company. Polls based on random samples like the ABC News/Washington Post Poll are notoriously volatile and inconsistent.
The Media Treats All Polls As Equal, And That Is A Problem
The media knows little about polling and doesn’t care to get educated. The press only wants a topline number that they can make a headline out of. It is disappointing that ABC News/Washington Post decided to run with a poll with many red flags.
The corporate media uses polls to validate their coverage and create their own news, which is why media companies should not be polling. An inherent conflict of interest leads companies to publish results that will generate the most headlines, which is what ABC News/Washington Post appears to have done.
Oh, Robert! What an IMPORTANT post!! Full disclosure: my sweet husband of 52 years passed peacefully surrounded by me and our two boys, so I am very very sensitive. Your post not only lifted me up, but I'm really really ready to fight the most important fight of our lives. Fired up and ready to go!! Thank you, again, and God bless!! xx's