Friday, October 23, 2020
The charts above are from a recent survey done by the Pew Research Center. The survey was done between September 30th and October 5th of a national sample of 10,543 registered voters, with a 1.5 point margin of error.
The charts show that about 78% of adults are straight-ticket voters. That means they will vote for the same party for president, Senate, and House candidates.
Most people expect the House to remain in Democratic hands (and they may even have a larger margin that they currently have). The question is -- who will control the Senate. This poll would suggest that if the Democratic presidential candidate wins, it is likely that the Democrats will also take control of the Senate -- especially if the winning margin for president is a large one.
The chart above reflects the results of a recent Gallup Poll -- done between September 30th and October 15th of a national sample of 1,035 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.
It shows that 56% of Americans say Trump does not deserve to be re-elected, while only 43% believes he does -- a negative gap of 13 points.
The Labor Department released its statistics on the number of workers filing for unemployment on Thursday for the week ending on October 17th. It showed another 787,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits.
Here is the official Labor Department announcement:
In the week ending October 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 787,000, a decrease of 55,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 56,000 from 898,000 to 842,000. The 4-week moving average was 811,250, a decrease of 21,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 33,500 from 866,250 to 832,750.
Barack Obama hit the campaign trail for Joe Biden this week. On Wednesday, he delivered a great speech in Philadelphia. The whole speech is well worth reading or watching, but here is some of it:
I never thought Donald Trump would embrace my vision or continue my policies but I did hope for the sake of the country that he might show some interest in taking the job seriously, but it hasn't happened. He hasn't shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends or treating the presidency like a reality show that he can use to get attention. And by the way, even then his TV ratings are down. So you know that upsets him.
But the thing is, this is not a reality show, this is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously. At least 220,000 Americans have died. More than 100,000 small businesses have closed. Millions of jobs are gone. Our proud reputation around the world is in tatters. Presidents up for reelection usually ask if the country is better off than it was four years ago. I'll tell you one thing, four years ago you'd be tailgating here at the Lincoln instead of watching a speech from your cars. The only people truly better off than they were four years ago are the billionaires who got his tax cuts. Right now as we speak, Trump won't even extend relief to the millions of families who are having trouble paying the rent or putting food on the table because of this pandemic. But he's been doing all right by himself. . . .
I want to be honest here. This pandemic would have been challenging for any president but this idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up. It's just not true. I'll give you a very specific example. Korea identified it's first case at the same time that the United States did. At the same time, their per capita death toll is just 1.3% of what ours is. In Canada, it's just 39% of what ours is. Other countries are still struggling with the pandemic but they're not doing as bad as we are because they've got a government that's actually been paying attention.
And that means lives lost. And that means an economy that doesn't work. And just yesterday, when asked if he'd do anything differently, Trump said, "Not much." Really? Not much? Nothing you can think of that could have helped some people keep their loved ones alive? So, Joe's not going to screw up testing. He's not going to call scientists idiots. He's not going to host a super spreader event at the White House. Joe will get this pandemic under control with a plan to make testing free and widely available, to get a vaccine to every American cost free and to make sure our frontline heroes never ask other countries for their equipment they need.
His plan will guarantee paid sick leave for workers and parents affected by the pandemic and make sure that the small businesses that hold our communities together and employ millions of Americans can reopen safely. Donald Trump likes to claim he built this economy but America created 1.5 million more jobs in the last three years of the Obama-Biden administration than in the first three years of the Trump-Pence administration. How you figure that? And that was before he could blame the pandemic. Now, he did inherit the longest streak of job growth in American history but just like everything else he inherited, he messed it up. The economic damage he inflicted by botching the pandemic response means he will be the first president since Herbert Hoover to actually lose jobs. Joe's got a plan to create 10 million good clean energy jobs as part of a historic $2 trillion investment to fight climate change, to secure environmental justice. And he'll pay for it by rolling back that tax cut for billionaires. And Joe sees this moment not just as a chance to get back to where we were but to finally make long overdue changes so that our economy actually makes life a little easier for everybody, the waitress trying to raise her kid on her own, the student trying to figure out how to pay for next semester's classes, the shift worker who's always on the edge of getting laid off, the cancer survivor who's worried about her preexisting conditions, protections being taken away. . . .
We're not going to have a president that goes out of his way to insult anybody who doesn't support him or threaten them with jail. That's not normal presidential behavior.
That's not normal presidential behavior. We wouldn't tolerate it from a high school principal. We wouldn't tolerate it from a coach. We wouldn't tolerate it from a co-worker. We wouldn't tolerate it in our family, except for maybe crazy uncle somewhere. I mean, why would we expect and accept this from the President of the United States? And why are folks making excuses for that? "Oh, well, that's just him." No. There are consequences to these actions. They embolden other people to be cruel and divisive and racist, and it frays the fabric of our society, and it affects how our children see things. And it affects the ways that our families get along. It affects how the world looks at America. That behavior matters. Character matters. And by the way, while he's doing all that, it distracts all of us from the truly destructive actions that his appointees are doing all across the government, actions that affect your lives. The Environmental Protection Agency that's supposed to protect our air and our water is right now run by an energy lobbyist that gives polluters free reign to dump unlimited poison into our air and water. The Labor Department that's supposed to protect workers and their rights, right now it's run by a corporate lobbyist who's declared war on workers, guts protections to keep essential folks safe during a pandemic, makes it easier for big corporations to shortchange them on their wages. The Interior Department, that's supposed to protect our public lands and wild spaces, our wildlife and our wilderness. And right now that's run by an oil lobbyist who's determined to sell them to the highest bidder.
You've got the Education Department that's supposed to give every kid a chance, and that's run by a billionaire who guts rules designed to protect students from getting ripped off by for profit colleges and stiffs arm students looking for loan relief in the middle of an economic collapse. I mean, the person who runs Medicaid right now is doing their best to kick people off of Medicaid instead of sign them up for Medicaid. Come on. When Joe and Kamala are in charge, they're not going to surround themselves with hacks and lobbyists, but they're going to appoint qualified public servants who actually care about looking out for you, for your job, for your family, for your health, for your security, for your planet, and that more than anything is what separates them from their opponents. They actually care about every American, including the ones that don't agree with them.
And they're going to fight for you every day. They care about you and they care about this democracy. They believe in a democracy. . . .
A president by himself can't solve every challenge in a global economy. But if we've got Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House at a House and Senate that are focused on working people, it can make a difference and get millions of people the help they need. A president by himself can't eliminate all racial bias in our criminal justice system. But if we've got district attorneys and state's attorneys and sheriffs and police chiefs focused on equality and justice, it can make things better. . . .
And the fact that we don't get 100% of what we want right away is not a good reason not to vote. It means we've got to vote and then get some change and then vote some more and then get some more change, and then keep on voting until we get it right. . . .
I'm asking you to remember what this country can be. What it's like when we treat each other with respect and dignity, what it's like when our elected officials actually behave responsibly. I'm asking you to believe in Joe's ability, in Kamala's ability to lead this country out of these dark times, and help us build it back better, because we can't abandon those who are hurting right now. We can't abandon the children who aren't getting the education they need right now.
We can't abandon those protesters who inspired us. We've got to channel their activism into action, we can't just imagine a better future. We've got to fight for it. We've got to out hustle the other side, we got to outwork the other side, we've got to vote like never before and leave no doubt. . . .
What Lincoln called the better angels of our nature, those are still in us. We see them operating every single day. We see them in neighborhoods, we see them in churches and synagogues and mosques and temples. We see them in people helping out a neighbor. We see them them inside our own families. We see that what is best in us is still there, but we've got to give it voice, and we've got to do it now.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Through the first 8 days of early voting in Texas, 4,626,042 Texans have voted early and another 698,990 mail-in ballots have been received. That makes 5,325,032 votes that have been cast in this election -- about 31.41% of the state's registered voters. There are 10 more days of early voting.
The charts above reflect the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between October 18th and 20th of a national sample of 1,500 registered voters, with a 2.9 point margin of error.
It shows that registered voters have a 6 point higher opinion of Joe Biden than Donald Trump (51% to 45%). When it comes to their views of the political parties, the difference is even bigger. Voters have a 10 point higher opinion of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party (49% to 39%).
The definition of QAnon is from The New York Times. The chart is from the recent Yahoo News / YouGov Poll -- done between October 16th and 18th of a national sample of 1,583 registered voters, with a 4 point margin of error.
The poll shows that half of Donald Trump's voters believe the QAnon conspiracy theory is true, and 33% are not sure if it's true or not. Only 17% know that it is not true.
This is why the Republican Party is in trouble. Too many of it's members are not connected to reality.
The capitalists controlling our food system would like for you to believe that giving farmworkers (the lowest paid workers in this country) a significant raise in pay, would make the cost of food prohibitive. That is just not true. Even if customers bore the entire cost of that raise for farmworkers, the rise in the cost of food would be minimal.
Here's part of what the Economic Policy Institute says about the cost of raising farmworker pay:
According to studies published by the University of California, Davis, farm labor costs are about a third of farm revenue for fresh fruits and vegetables, meaning that farmworker wages and benefits for fresh fruits and vegetables cost the average household $57 per year (0.33 x $173 = $57). (However, in reality, farm labor costs are less than $57 per year per household because over half of the fresh fruits and one-third of fresh vegetables purchased in the United States are imported.)
If average farmworker earnings were doubled (rose by 100%) through increased spending on fresh fruits and vegetables, a typical household would see costs rise by $61.50 per year (10% of $615). That extra $61.50 per year would increase the wages of seasonal farmworkers to $28,000 for 1,000 hours of work, taking them above the poverty line for a family of four.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
The chart above reflects the results of the new Yahoo News / YouGov Poll -- done between October 16th and 18th of a national sample of 1,583 registered voters, with a 4 point margin of error.
The charts above are from a new Morning Consult Poll. The survey was done between October 16th and 18th of a national sample of 14,994 likely voters, and has a margin of error of only 1 point.
The top chart shows Biden with a 9 point lead (52% to 43%). Note that since June the race has been very stable.
The second chart shows the demographic breakdown of voters.
The third chart shows the favorability ratings for Biden and Trump.
USA Today has never endorsed a presidential candidate in the past, but they are doing so this year. They are endorsing Joe Biden. Here is just a small part of what they had to say.
Four years ago, the Editorial Board — an ideologically and demographically diverse group of journalists that is separate from the news staff and operates by consensus — broke with tradition and took sides in the presidential race for the first time since USA TODAY was founded in 1982. We urged readers not to vote for Donald Trump, calling the Republican nominee unfit for office because he lacked the “temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.” We stopped short, however, of an outright endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. This year, the Editorial Board unanimously supports the election of Joe Biden, who offers a shaken nation a harbor of calm and competence. . . .
It's no secret that the Editorial Board disagrees with Trump not just on his approach to the coronavirus but also on fundamental issues, from health careand climate change to immigration and trade. Policy differences, however, are not the reason behind our first-ever presidential endorsement. Diverse views, even ones we think are wrongheaded, are a staple of American politics and something to celebrate.
If this were a choice between two capable major party nominees who happened to have opposing ideas, we wouldn’t choose sides. Different voters have different concerns. But this is not a normal election, and these are not normal times. This year, character, competence and credibility are on the ballot. Given Trump’s refusal to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, so, too, is the future of America's democracy.
For nearly four decades, the Editorial Board has stood for certain core values: truth, accountability, civility in public discourse, opposition to racism, common-ground solutions to the nation’s problems, and steadfast support for First Amendment rights. These aren’t partisan issues, or at least they shouldn’t be.
Donald Trump has trampled each of these principles, making more than 20,000 false or misleading statements, ducking responsibility for his actions, spewing streams of invective at his critics, trafficking in racial fearmongering, governing more as the leader of the red states than of the United States, and relentlessly attacking the free press.
Everything about Biden’s nearly half-century political career suggests he would do a far better job of respecting these values. “We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country, the spirit of being able to work with one another,” the Democratic nominee said in a recent speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Biden is a worthy antidote to Trump’s unbounded narcissism and chronic chaos. Having surmounted heartbreaking personal loss — his first wife and year-old daughter died in a car crash, and his son Beau died of brain cancer — Biden exudes decency and empathy. Ask yourself: Can you imagine Joe Biden denigrating servicemembers as losers? Cozying up to autocrats abroad? Shaking down a foreign leader for dirt on a political opponent? . . .
Biden is an experienced hand with working-class roots who understands the American dream. He knows the levers of power and how to wield them. He has a history of working across the aisle on such issues as health care, racial justice and the environment. He has the knowledge and the personality to begin repairing America’s tattered reputation around the world. . . .
This extraordinary moment in the history of our nation requires an extraordinary response. With his plans, his personnel picks, his experience and his humanity, Joe Biden can help lead the United States out of this morass and into the future. Your vote can help make that happen.
Covid-19 spread in rural America at a record-breaking pace again last week, adding 160 counties to the red-zone list and bringing the total number of rural Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus to more than 1 million.
Nearly 70% of the nation’s 1,976 rural (nonmetropolitan) counties are now in the red zone, a term used by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to designate localities where the spread of the virus is out of control. Red-zone counties have a rate of at least 100 new infections per 100,000 in population.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
The chart above reflects the results of the Public Religion Research Institute Poll. Their latest poll was done between October 9th and 12th of a national sample of 1,070 respondents, with a 4 point margin of error. It shows Biden with a 14 point lead.
They also looked at how turnout would affect the election. According to PRRI, if the turnout is the same as it was in 2016 (about 55%), then Biden would win by 11 points (55% to 44%). But if the turnout is large (say 68%), then Biden would win by 15 points (57% to 42%). If early voting is an indicator, then the turnout is going to be very large.
That leaves Trump with only one tool to use, and it's one he loves to use -- LIES.
PolitiFact looked at the charges against Biden that Trump loves to use. They found all of them to be false.
Here are the lies (and the truth) from PolitiFact:
Biden "will destroy your protections for pre-existing conditions"
Biden does not want to end these protections. Biden says he supports and wants to defend the Affordable Care Act, the health care law signed by President Barack Obama that established strict protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It’s Trump who wants to overturn the law, and while he has issued a largely toothless executive order affirming support for those protections, Trump has not offered a replacement that would keep them intact.
"The Biden plan would destroy Social Security"
Biden’s plans related to health care and seniors do not call for the elimination of Social Security benefits. Biden says the Social Security program is one of the nation’s "great public policy successes" and says he would try to make the program solvent and prevent cuts in benefits to American retirees.
Biden will "decimate Medicare"
Biden does not want to cut or eliminate Medicare. Biden wants to allow Americans to buy into a public option for government-backed health insurance, but plans to also keep Medicare. He says he wants to lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60 and to protect the Medicare trust fund.
"They want to … confiscate your guns"
Biden is not calling for the confiscation of all guns or for a repeal of the Second Amendment. To combat gun violence, Biden wants to ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and to regulate possession of existing assault weapons. Under a buyback program, Biden says he will give people who now have assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act. "It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited," Biden’s campaign website says.
"They now want to abolish our police departments"
Biden has repeatedly said he does not want to defund the police or abolish police departments. Biden says police departments should be given resources "to implement meaningful reforms" and that federal dollars should be contingent on completion of those reforms. His campaign platform includes hiring more officers, focused on community policing.
"They want to abolish our prisons"
Biden does not want to abolish prisons. A task force made up of representatives from Biden’s team and allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., met to hammer out Biden’s general-election platform. The resulting document recommended changing some aspects of jails and prisons, saying too many of them subject people to inhumane treatment. Democrats support ending the use of private prisons. But that’s not the same as getting rid of all jails and prisons.
"Abolish immigration detention. No more detention"
The Biden-Sanders task force recommended ending for-profit detention centers, but not an abolition of all immigration detention centers. The task force said the government should prioritize the use of Department of Homeland Security facilities, and that detention should be "a last resort, not the default."
Biden "is even talking about taking the wall down"
Biden has not said he would take down barriers built at the border. What he has said is that he wouldn’t build more of them. Biden says he would "direct federal resources to smart border enforcement efforts," such as cameras, sensors, large-scale X-ray machines, and fixed towers at and between ports of entry.
Biden will "abolish fracking"
Biden would block the federal government from issuing new permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands, but wants to allow existing fracking operations to continue. Fracking, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, is an oil and gas extraction technique that has helped boost domestic production over the past decade, but has also raised concerns about environmental and health impacts. About 10% of all fracking happens on federal lands.
Biden will "destroy your suburbs"
Biden is not seeking to abolish the suburbs, force rezoning or end single-family zoning. The Trump claim is an extreme interpretation of Biden’s proposal to reinstate an Obama administration requirement related to addressing discrimination in housing.
Democrats "want to shut your churches down, permanently"
Democrats are not calling for churches to be closed. Many states — including those governed by Republicans — have required people to wear face coverings in public, banned large gatherings and ordered nonessential businesses to close to control the spread of the coronavirus. Some states exempt churches from their restrictions.
Biden and Democrats want to "drive God from the public square"
Biden, a Catholic who routinely invokes his faith, has not proposed this. His campaign website says he would "empower religious organizations to provide safe places of worship and community for their members, while also reaffirming our national commitment to freedom, tolerance, and inclusivity." To address anti-Semitism and violent attacks in places of worship, Biden’s plan includes increasing security grants to religious communities, setting up a faith-based law enforcement program, and strengthening the prosecution of hate crimes.
Biden will "ban school choice, charter schools"
Biden’s education policies include support for charter schools and public school choice. For many Republican leaders, school choice is synonymous with providing vouchers to help families pay for tuition at private schools. Biden opposes using public dollars to pay for private school tuition. The Biden-Sanders task force recommended opposing for-profit and low-performing charter schools, and giving local school districts a powerful say over the use of federal funds to open new charter schools or expand existing ones.
Trump has falsely claimed that Biden would "mandate" net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 and that such a mandate "basically means no windows, no nothing." The task force recommended setting a goal that all new buildings achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But the recommendation said nothing about a mandate — or windows. Also, the presence of windows in a building does not mean it can’t achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
"Cows are out"
Biden doesn’t want to get rid of cows, whose, ahem, gas emissions contribute to climate change. Trump has said that Biden would try to jam through the Green New Deal and that under the proposal, "cows are out." That's not true. For one thing, Biden has said he does not support the Green New Deal. His climate plan shares some of the broader goals of the Green New Deal, like net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but leaves out other agenda items. For another thing, there’s no mention of cows in the proposal — only a note in a supporting document that it would be hard to ban "farting cows."
Monday, October 19, 2020
Five out of 18 days of early voting has been completed in Texas. So far, 3,323,360 people have voted in person and 558,019 mail-in ballots have been received. That's a total of 3,881,379 votes that have already been cast in this election -- about 22.89% of the state's registered voters.
The numbers are from the office of the Texas Secretary of State.
The chart above is from the website of RealClearPolitics. It shows the most recent polls on the presidential race. The average of those polls has Biden with an 8 point lead over Trump.
They are wrong. Refusing to wear a mask doesn't mean you are free. It means you are disregarding the rights of your fellow citizens -- the right to be safe and secure.
Michael Tomasky has written an excellent op-ed for The New York Times on this subject. Here is a small part of what he wrote:
One of the key authors of the Western concept of freedom is John Stuart Mill. In “On Liberty,” he wrote that liberty (or freedom) means “doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow, without impediment from our fellow creatures, as long as what we do does not harm them even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse or wrong.”
Note the clause “as long as what we do does not harm them.” He tossed that in there almost as a given — indeed, it a given. This is a standard definition of freedom, more colloquially expressed in the adage “Your freedom to do as you please with your fist ends where my jaw begins.”
Now, conservatives revere Mill. But today, in the age of the pandemic, Mill and other conservative heroes like John Locke would be aghast at the way the American right wing bandies about the word “freedom.”
Freedom emphatically does not include the freedom to get someone else sick. It does not include the freedom to refuse to wear a mask in the grocery store, sneeze on someone in the produce section and give him the virus. That’s not freedom for the person who is sneezed upon. For that person, the first person’s “freedom” means chains — potential illness and even perhaps a death sentence. No society can function on that definition of freedom.
Joe Biden does a pretty good job of talking about this. At a recent town hall in Miami, he said: “I view wearing this mask not so much protecting me, but as a patriotic responsibility. All the tough guys say, ‘Oh, I’m not wearing a mask, I’m not afraid.’ Well, be afraid for your husband, your wife, your son, your daughter, your neighbor, your co-worker. That’s who you’re protecting having this mask on, and it should be viewed as a patriotic duty, to protect those around you.”. . .
Freedom means the freedom to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up. Even John Stuart Mill would have agreed.