Since we’ve had more than a few open post moments recently, I thought to go ahead and offer a weak, half-digested better-than-nothing review of the possible arc of federal office-holding over the term of the next president: who is that apt to be and through whom will he be forced to wade? Truth be told, I’m not really researching this much and am offering more questions than answers; I look forward to reading clearer thoughts from others in these areas. Note: most of this is sourced on wiki; links to sources are embedded.
We’re constantly crying through the comedy of this presidential campaign. The election is a long way off and we don’t have excellent barometers, but, as things sit, I must say that Mr Trump is in serious jeopardy. There’s little reason to believe that, in Electoral College terms, that anything has changed in his favor since the last time he flawlessly ran the midwestern gauntlet to 304: “We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.”
How many people even care enough to vote? A quick check finds these folks mustered 60M supporters:
Barack Obama 70M
Hillary Clinton 66M
Donald Trump 63M
George W Bush 62M
Mitt Romney 61M
John McCain 60M
John Kerry 60M
Mr Biden is no Obama, but one might suspect that he is no more objectionable than Herself and therefore has a 66M base; the question, mail-fraud speculations aside, is whether he can get even more to the polls.
Meanwhile, do we think that the Fact of Trump™ has been even more exciting and attractive as the prospect of Trump? Everyone is entrenched: Trump’s approval rate is stunningly flat; it started bad but has gone nowhere regardless of missteps, triumphs, claims, rebuttals, or the virus. Trump plods along at 42% approval with 53% disapproval; we don’t know how many of these folk are likely voters, but it doesn’t matter: the numbers refuse to move. Trump’s core is resolute . . . as are his detractors . . . unless you believe that the last three months’ figures (a drop to 40% from 45) are meaningful reflections of something or just noise as he continues to bob around in his normal altitude.
The virus also limps along static in this wise: it affects almost no one medically but everyone practically; but the death trend is noticeably down. Meanwhile, the question is which voters will blame whom for the problems; will Trump be seen as a savior undermined by governors, or will he be scapegoated as the man with the power who achieved little? Last year the inside team asserted 2020 was Trump’s to lose, but that was before the virus. Since then, we were told that higher temperatures and humidity, as well as direct exposure to sunlight, quickly kills the coronavirus, leading to hopes that the threat of the contagion could drastically recede during the summer months. That may well be, but, it seems like we can expect little progress: we’re probably half way through this year’s cases and deaths as attributed. So, even if the 2020 virus reaction results in fewer net deaths, a statistical possibility that can’t be confirmed or rejected before the election, it’s unlikely that either camp will be able to assess the damage, assert responsibility, or lead our escape in time for it to change the score.
My guess is that school is still undervalued politically. Trump has started to scurry because, after all, education is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, but school is the fact that will shape fall’s narratives. His advisors are correct: whether the kids go back to school will be the main normalizing milestone to move the needle on national emotions before the election. If kids are still at home and parents are coping with no great news in sight, that sort of sitzkrieg will be devastating to the collective mood. That said, the virus jury is out: it will be a pure gut call by voters as to whom to blame, but school probably paints in well over half the picture since virus deaths and dismemberments are mostly rumors of war so far.
Speaking of jurists, Ginsburg’s goose is cooked. Ginsburg has had several bouts with cancer in the past, including colorectal, pancreatic and lung cancer (but) she’d like to remain on the bench until she’s 90 years old. Even if she can tough that out, she’s 90 in 2023, smack in the middle of the coming presidential term; at latest, a 2024 retirement pretty much assures that this fall’s election picks both a president and her replacement.
As we think about which justice might check out and who might pick her replacement, the confirmation’s gallery is nearly settled. Team Red has a firm shot at 49, so it’s hard to imagine their losing the Supreme veto should Biden ascend. . . for now.
Future iron-glove cage match: the 2022 Senate seats up for election include, as I write, 12 Democrats and 22 Republicans. Did RBG know more than we knew about holding out ‘til she’s 90? The three-banker in the side pocket would be Biden wins (60%?), Ginsburg lives until 2023 (20%?), the 2023 Senate goes blue (75%?), and a left-of-center justice is nominated and consented to (ergo 9%).
That’s all I’ve got for now; autumn awaits!