Swing State Pres

Saturday, July 4, 2020

BTRTN: Is Trump Going, Going, Gone?

Tom with the BTRTN June 2020 Month in Review.

Should Donald Trump lose his bid for re-election come November, the historians will point to this month, June of 2020, as the inflection point.  It was a month when Trump’s failures were laid bare, when relevant polling data moved materially downward, and when Trump veered from near irrelevance to near disappearance.  The verdict on his management of COVID-19, the largest crisis of his presidency, is now clear, his economic recovery strategy -- the "re-opening" -- now giving way to "re-shutdowns" across the country.  Trump also found an issue that made him part company with a significant portion of the Republican Party, when he chose a hard line response to nightly national protests for police reform and racial justice.  Beyond these two seismic issues, Trump also stumbled, or was embarrassed, or flat out beaten on any number of issues in a breathtaking losing streak towards the end of the month.
June 2020 Calendar Holidays - Printable Calendar Templates 
This is not to say that Trump has no chance in November.  Far from it.  There are four full months until November 3, a million news cycles to get through, a large enough window of opportunity for Trump to regain his footing and build the support required to repeat his miraculous 2016 win.  Stranger things have happened, many of them, in fact, in this administration.

Racial injustice.  The month began with the protests gaining momentum, night after night in hundreds of cities and towns, first in the U.S. and then around the world.  The protesters were seeking police reform and an end to the chronic, senseless and casual murders of black men at the hands of white police officers.  The Black Lives Matter movement quickly won the support of a clear majority of Americans (67%, according to Pew), including a healthy share of Republicans (40%), and it seemed that our country had found that rare moment when common political ground could be found in response to a grass roots groundswell.  The GOP Senate and the Democratic House each drafted police reform bills, and Trump issued an Executive Order containing several reforms, albeit exceedingly modest ones.

But such comity soon fell apart.  Trump himself began conflating peaceful protesters with the occasional looter, finally committing himself to a strict “law and order” message with barely disguised racial undertones (“once the looting starts, the shooting starts”).  Such divisiveness was out of step with many in his own party.

Proving once again that the role of national healer and unifier is not for him, Trump instead railed against the protesters and threatened to use the military against them.  At one point, feeling threatened by Washington, D.C. protesters, he scurried to a White House bunker for safety.  Seething with rage when this flight was leaked, Trump retaliated with a call to arms, using a variety of troops and law enforcement to forcibly clear protesters aside (with tear gas) for a bizarre photo op at nearby (and iconic) St. John’s Chapel.  After the short walk there, Trump grimly held up a Bible, posed for the photos along with his top aides, including military commanders.  He made no statement and quickly departed.

At this writing, the congressional legislation is stalled, while local initiatives to enact reforms are meeting with mixed success, as America wrestled with the true meaning and intent of “defunding police” (more to reinvest funds rather than dismantle law enforcement).  Along the way, another black man was shot in the back by white police officers in Atlanta. 

But the monuments are coming down, over 50 Confederate ones at this point, including Robert E. Lee in Richmond.  And Confederate flags are falling, including any Confederate flags at NASCAR events, and the long vilified Mississippi state flag that embeds a Confederate flag.

The protests climaxed on Juneteenth, a national celebration of the end of slavery – and the focus began to return to a roaring comeback of COVID-19.

COVID-19.  It was roughly at the end of April when zealous red state Governors, led by Brian Kemp of Georgia and Rick DeSantis of Florida, and egged on by Trump, announced aggressive re-opening plans.  The plans contained neither effective social distancing guidelines nor sufficient testing and contact tracing infrastructure -- the key elements outlined by the CDC to control the spread of the virus.  A re-opening frenzy ensued, all in the name of economic recovery, virtually everywhere except the Northeast (and a handful of other blue states), where a far more cautious group of Democratic governors, scarred by the early ravages of the virus, set more stringent standards for re-opening. 

By early May, victory dances abounded in Georgia and Florida and in the White House, as new case levels continued their decline, coupled with a timely and surprisingly positive jobs report in early May.  The May figure, 14.7%, was horrendous by post-Depression standards, but well short of the widely expected 20-25% range. 

But the reckoning came in June, when it became abundantly clear that COVID-19 is not going to magically disappear, not going to die out in the warm weather, not going to defy the warnings of our best scientific minds.  As June wore on, new COVID-19 cases started rising rapidly in the South, then the West, and the Midwest.  By month’s end, new cases nationally zoomed past 40,000 per day, a record level not even seen in March or April.  Only the cautious Northeast continued to show sharp declines, their hard lessons learned well.

Total Cases
Northeast
South
Midwest
West
Total
March
113,093
28,289
23,164
20,917
185,967
April
489,026
153,658
148,911
84,638
875,037
May
234,124
184,575
186,477
107,840
713,006
June
82,116
397,985
111,562
224,540
814,263






Mar/Apr Growth
332%
443%
543%
305%
371%
Apr/May Growth
-52%
20%
25%
27%
-19%
May/Jun Growth
-65%
116%
-40%
108%
14%

It did not have to be this way.  One of the more striking comparisons to make is with the largest European countries:  UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.  Their combined population is about 330 million, about the same size as the United States.  Each of those countries was hit early and hit hard by the virus.  But, unlike the US, each enacted aggressive, nationally-driven containment strategies.  And the results are clear. 

Total Cases
United States
Europe Big Five
March
185,967
349,673
April
875,037
595,741
May
713,006
182,973
June
814,263
80,701



Mar/Apr Growth
371%
70%
Apr/May Growth
-19%
-69%
May/Jun Growth
14%
-56%

With the same size population, Europe’s largest countries have had only half the total cases thus far, and have tamed the virus so much that in June they have one-tenth the number of new cases the US had.  In the last week in June, the Europe “Big Five” had only 17,000 new cases, one-seventeenth of the US total for the week, at 286,000.

Almost every state outside the Northeast is surging – 45 states were up week over week, every state except New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Rhode Island.  Twenty of them showed growth of 40% or more.  Anthony Fauci said that he would not be surprised if new cases soon rose to 100,000 per day. 

And for anyone who believes the GOP/Trump/Pence line that these increased are due to increased testing, think again.  ABC News found that there were increases in the daily rate of “positivity” (positive tests as a percentage of total tests) in 35 statesincreases in hospitalizations in 26 statesand increases in daily deaths in 13 states.

So the inevitable re-shutdown is now underway.  At least 22 states have announced some form of pulling back on their re-opening plans, with closures of beaches, bars and indoor dining, and even laws placing limitations on visitors from surging states.  There is little doubt that, in time, the economic indicators will reflect this new shutdown.  While unemployment dropped to 11.7% this month that may very well turn out to be the best figure here until Election Day.  Trump, paralyzed by the resurgence, took no steps to reverse the trends, and instead insisted the virus was under control and economic recovery was working.

In fact, all you need to know about where Trump stands on the virus is that last night he held a rally at Mount Rushmore, with 7,000 supporters in attendance.  There was no social distancing at all, and masks were “optional” – and rare.  Virtually all senior public health officials are advising avoiding events of this nature.   Trump barely mentioned the virus at all in his volatile, divisive address.

The Losing Streak.  Apart from the disastrous rise of the coronavirus (and the threat to economic recovery) and the misfire on racial justice, Trump endured an incredible string of bad news toward the end of the month, to wit:

·        June 20:  The botched ouster of Geoffrey Berman,  the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, orchestrated by Attorney General William Barr.  Barr’s clumsiness resulted in Trump having to distance himself from Barr’s actions, and failed so spectacularly that Barr was forced to name a close ally of Berman to replace him – thus ensuring the continued prosecution of the very cases that so disturbed the White House, investigations of Trump himself and his cronies.

·        June 20:  The disastrous Tulsa event, much ballyhooed as Trump’s return to his favorite setting, campaign rallies in front of adoring mobs.  But the mobs never showed in Tulsa, unless they were disguised as empty blue seats.  Only 6,000 showed up in the arena; there was no one outside for a quickly scrubbed set of outdoor events; and Trump was completely embarrassed.

·        June 15, 18, 29:  The Supreme Court made three rulings, in quick succession, that horrified conservatives and repudiated the Trump Justice Department, one invalidating an abortion TRAP law in Louisiana, one preserving DACA, and one protecting LBGTQ rights in the workplace.  In each case Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal members of the court to form a majority (and Robert Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion on the LBGTQ case).

·        June 23:  John Bolton’s long awaited memoir on his time in the White House was finally published, containing many stories of Trump incompetence and dysfunction, straight from the lips of a conservative icon.  Perhaps most disturbing was Trump’s pleading with China’s Premier Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help Trump’s re-election prospects in the heartland.

·        June 26:  Back in 1980, Roger Mudd asked Ted Kennedy, at the start of his quest to challenge incumbent Jimmy Carter for the nomination, why he was running for president.  Kennedy’s muddled reply was so damning that he never truly recovered, and failed to dislodge Carter.  But Kennedy’s effort looks positively Shakespearean in comparison to Trump’s answer to a similar question posed by Sean Hannity of FOX.  Here is the exchange in full. 
                                        
              
·        June 26:  The New York Times broke a huge story that Russia had offered the Taliban bounty payments to kill Americans.  Trump dismissed it as #FakeNews, but subsequent reports indicated that the bounty payments had been included in presidential intelligence briefing reports, and were confirmed by bank transactions.  House investigations are widely expected into this incredible story, yet another instance of Trump turning a blind eye to anything related to Vladimir Putin.

·        June 28:  Trump decides it would be a great idea to re-tweet a video clip of white supremacists shouting “White Power” at anti-Trump protesters.  He also thanks them (“great people”) for their support.  He is promptly denounced by virtually everyone and is forced to delete the tweet.  A spokesperson suggests Trump might not have had the sound on to hear the fateful words. 

GOP Flight.  There are many ways to measure the sagging support for Trump within the Republican Party.  There was the public chorus of anti-Trump statements made by a slew of senior Republicans and military leaders, including Mitt Romney (who walked in a protest with a Black Lives Matter button), Lisa Murkowski, General Mark Esper (who expressed regret for his participation in the St. John’s photo op, and also broke with Trump on the advisability of using the military to crack down of protesters), Jim Mattis and others.  And literally hundreds of former George W. Bush administration officials announced that they plan to back Biden rather than Trump in November.

There is the three-point drop in Trump’s approval rating in June versus May, from 44% to 41%,  The  sharp decline in the level of satisfaction with the direction of the country, from 40% in March down to 25% in June.  Throw in the ever declining approval of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, now down to 41%.

Even the GOP’s two most senior officials after Trump – Vice-President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – broke with Trump on the most basic of issues:  wearing a mask.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the simplest thing Americans can do to protect themselves and others is to wear a mask when they cannot social distance.  Even GOP governors are exhorting mask usage, even passing legislation requiring them in certain situations.  There is no simpler way for Trump to demonstrate just a modicum of leadership than to don a mask for the photographers.  And he while he has grudgingly said he is supportive of mask usage, he has yet to don one publicly.

Going, Going, Gone.  The total abrogation of leadership has been impossible to ignore.  Trump’s role as the center of the political universe is fading as he disappears, his irrelevance as pronounced as those empty blue seats in Tulsa, his message as unfocused as that rambling answer to Sean Hannity.  His refusal to acknowledge the resurgent virus, continued insistence that it is being “handled well” and “will disappear” are no longer being bought hook, line and sinker anymore by the GOP.

The final punchline of Trump’s downward trajectory would be his defeat in November.  And the picture – as of now – is grim, for him.  According to our BTRTN models, Joe Biden would have an 82% chance of winning the presidency if the election were held today.  Biden is well ahead in most swing state polling, and he now has pulled even with Trump among voters who are 65+.   This segment is a traditional bulwark of GOP support;  Trump won them by +7 points in 2016 versus Hillary Clinton.  They are also the group most at risk with COVID-19. 

Things could change, of course – those million news cycles – but as of now, Trump seems to be going, going gone.


MONTHLY MADNESS

There are two contenders for this month’s most insane moment.  Obviously the Hannity response is a contender, but we propose these two others.

Trump, with a nod to both the encouraging jobs report and to the national dialogue on racial injustice, declared on June 8:  Hopefully, George {Floyd} is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ It’s a great day for him.”  Somehow, it seems unlikely that it was indeed a great day for George, who had been dead for 12 days at the time Trump offered that assessment.

And then there was the West Point commencement.  Trump insisted that 1,100 cadets return to the iconic campus for the event, risking COVID-19 exposure – indeed, fifteen of them tested positive upon their return to campus.  They fidgeted in the sun, listened to Trump, socially distanced from one another, and offered very little applause for the routine ranting of their Commander in Chief.


TRUMP APPROVAL RATING

Trump’s approval rating has been steady throughout most of his presidency.  In fact, June marked the 30th consecutive month that his approval rating was in the 40-45% range, a low level that does not bode well for re-election.  But this month it did fall materially, from 44% to 41%, the lowest point since February, 2019.  Every single point will matter this November; the only way Trump can win is to pull off another lost-the-popular-vote-but-squeaked-out-the-Electoral-College miracle.

TRUMP APPROVAL RATING

2017
2018
2019
2020

1H
2H
1H
2H
1H
2H
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Approve
44
39
42
43
42
43
43
44
45
45
44
41
Disapprove
50
56
54
53
54
54
54
54
53
53
53
57
Net
-6
-17
-12
-10
-12
-11
-10
-11
-8
-8
-9
-15


TRUMP’S HANDLING OF THE CORONAVIRUS CRIS

The ratings of Trump's handling of the coronavirus continue to fall each month.

TRUMP HANDLING OF CORONAVIRUS
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Approve
48
46
43
41
Disapprove
47
51
54
56
Net
1
-5
-11
-15


TRUMP VERSUS BIDEN HEAD-TO-HEAD

Joe Biden continues to hold a commanding lead over Trump in national head-to-head polls, now up to +8 points (note that Biden must be ahead by +3 to be considered “even” given the GOP’s institutional advantage in the Electoral College). 

TRUMP VS BIDEN HEAD-TO-HEAD
NATIONAL

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Biden
50
50
50
48
48
49
Trump
45
46
43
42
43
41
Diff
5
4
7
6
5
8


Biden is also doing extremely well in head-to-head polls in the 14 swing states, with leads in five of the six states that Trump flipped in 2020 to take the presidency. 

TRUMP VERSUS BIDEN SWING STATE POLLING
State
Electoral Votes
2016 Margin
Current Polling as of 6/28
BTRTN Rating 6/28
Maine
2
Clinton + 3
Biden + 10
D Lean
Nevada
6
Clinton + 2
Biden + 4
D Lean
Minnesota
10
Clinton + 2
Biden + 10
D Lean
New Hampshire
4
Clinton + 0.3
Biden + 7
D Lean
Michigan
16
Trump + 0.2
Biden + 10
D Lean
Pennsylvania
20
Trump + 1
Biden + 6
D Lean
Wisconsin
10
Trump + 1
Biden + 8
D Lean
Florida
29
Trump + 1
Biden + 7
D TU
Arizona
11
Trump + 4
Biden + 3
D TU
North Carolina
15
Trump + 4
Biden + 4
D TU
Georgia
16
Trump + 5
Biden + 1
R TU
Iowa
6
Trump + 9
Trump + 1
R TU
Ohio
18
Trump + 9
Trump + 1
R TU
Texas
38
Trump + 11
Trump + 1
R Lean


According to our latest in-depth “snapshot” of the presidential race on July 1, Biden would have an 82% chance of winning the election if it were held today.  Here is that “snapshot” if you missed it.


GENERIC BALLOT

The Democrats continued to hold a healthy lead in the generic ballot, which is a very strong predictor of November performance.  If the Democrats continue to hold an 9-point lead come Election Day, they stand to pick up 15-20 more seats to add to their overwhelming majority in the House.

GENERIC BALLOT

2019
2020
Jn
Jl
A
S
O
N
D
J
F
M
A
M
J
Dem
45
46
47
47
47
47
48
45
47
49
46
48
49
GOP
39
38
38
39
39
39
41
41
40
40
39
40
40
Margin
7
8
9
8
7
7
8
5
6
9
8
8
9



TRUMPOMETER

The Trumpometer rebounded modestly from May to June, from -112 to -93 with the improvement in the unemployment rate.  The -93 Trumpometer reading means that, on average, our five economic measures are -93% lower than they were at the time of Trump’s Inauguration, per the chart below (and with more explanation of methodology below). 

There was a rise in consumer confidence that was largely offset by the rise in the price of gas.  There was little change in the Dow, and no change in the Q1 GDP. 

The “Trumpometer” was designed to provide an objective answer to the legendary economically-driven question at the heart of the 1980 Reagan campaign:  “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  The Trumpometer now stands at -93, which of course means things are far worse than that, even worse than the -53 recorded at the end of George W. Bush’s time in office, in the midst of the Great Recession.


Clinton
Bush
Obama
Trump
TRUMPOMETER
End Clinton  1/20/2001
End Bush 1/20/2009
End Obama 1/20/2017 (Base = 0)
Trump 5/31/2020
Trump 6/30/2020
% Chg. Vs. Inaug. (+ = Better)
Trumpometer
25
-53
0
-112
-93
-93%







  Unemployment Rate
4.2
7.8
4.7
14.7
11.1
-136%
  Consumer Confidence
129
38
114
87
98
-14%
  Price of Gas
1.27
1.84
2.44
2.05
2.26
-7%
  Dow Jones
10,588
8,281
19,732
25,383
25,813
31%
  GDP
4.5
-6.2
2.1
-5.0
-5.0
-338%


If you would like to be on the Born To Run The Numbers email list notifying you of each new post, please write us at borntorunthenumbers@gmail.com.

Notes on methodology:

BTRTN calculates our monthly approval ratings using an average of the four pollsters who conduct daily or weekly approval rating polls: Gallup Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist. This provides consistent and accurate trending information and does not muddy the waters by including infrequent pollsters.  The outcome tends to mirror the RCP average but, we believe, our method gives more precise trending.

For the generic ballot (which is not polled in this post-election time period), we take an average of the only two pollsters who conduct weekly generic ballot polls, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist, again for trending consistency.

The Trumpometer aggregates a set of economic indicators and compares the resulting index to that same set of aggregated indicators at the time of the Trump Inaugural on January 20, 2017, on an average percentage change basis... The basic idea is to demonstrate whether the country is better off economically now versus when Trump took office.  The indicators are the unemployment rate, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, the Consumer Confidence Index, the price of gasoline, and the GDP. 






5 comments:

  1. So, according to you, Biden has an 82% chance of winning...basically, barely more than the 80% chance you say you would have privately given Hillary Clinton on Election Morning in 2016. Why am I less-than-reassured?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When did I ever say the purpose of this article was to provide you or anyone with "reassurance"? It's just a snapshot, not a prediction. Feel free to ignore it! But read the warning labels -- and don't ignore them.

      Delete
  2. This blog does not take into account the incredible speech that Trump gave at Mount Rushmore. A Renaissance speech to unite the nation. A speech that outlines the process to to stop progressives, IVY league institutions and woke CEOs from destroying freedom of speech. A speech that finally frees the American public to debate things in the marketplace of ideas. The backslash is starting. People will remember the speech at Mount Rushmore as the turning point when the nation swept away the far left's socialism/communism in favor of true American values.

    God bless America!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The speech happened in July. We'll get to it then. The speech was a vile, divisive piece of garbage that will be quickly consigned to the manure pile of history. It was funny to see the four presidents looking down and rolling their eyes. If it is remembered at all, it will be for the absurd, insane rejection of science and rational thought in combating the raging virus by sitting people jammed together without masks. Idiocy. But go dream your little dream in your alternate reality, you and Trump will be gone soon.

      Delete
    2. Your column also said the Mount Rushmore speech was given to 7,000. Given the event was ticketed for 7,500 from the 125,000+ requests, I was interested in how many would show.

      Plans were to fill the "Zone 1" Amphitheater area, which seats about 2,500, and add some chairs to push numbers up. The "Zone 2" tickets required people to take a bus from Rapid City, bring their own chairs, walk up to the seating area, and view the program on big screens.

      I found it fascinating that there were NO media reports I could find about the off-site parking, bus ride, seating, or overall experience of those in Zone 2. Searching a little bit on Twitter and Facebook, I found one picture of the bus trip.

      ABC and Forbes reported 3,700 in attendance, apparently from a press pool report. I couldn't find that original pool report to see how it was calculated or who made the estimate.

      There was no post-event boasting by the White House or the Governor of South Dakota about the fabulous crowd that I've seen.

      Given the scampaign's competence thus far, I find 3,700 claimed in a couple of sources to be more likely than 7,500 planned or the 7,000 you mention.

      Delete

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