Saturday, October 31, 2020
This electoral college map is from The Cook Political Report.
It has Joe Biden with 290 electoral college vote and Donald Trump with 125. It has 123 electoral votes in the toss-up states.
Thanks to the incompetence of the Trump administration's overseeing of the distribution of those funds, billions of dollars went to thieves who made fraudulent requests -- and because of that, many small businesses were unable to get any money.
Here's how Bloomberg.com describes what happened:
For a few months this year, a U.S. government aid program meant for struggling small-business owners was handing out $10,000 to just about anyone who asked. All it took was a five-minute online application. You just had to say you owned a business with at least 10 employees, and the grant usually arrived within a few days.
People caught on fast. In some neighborhoods in Chicago and Miami, it seemed like everyone made a bogus application to the Small Business Administration’s Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Professional thieves from Russia to Nigeria cashed in. Low-level employees at the agency watched helplessly as misspent money flew out the door.
Even after the $20 billion in funding for grants dried up in July, the fraud continued, as scammers looted a separate $192 billion pot of money set aside for loans. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said an SBA customer-service representative who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her job. “I don’t think they had any processes in place. They just sent the money out.”
This account of the disaster-aid program is based on interviews with frontline SBA workers and outside fraud investigators, and on a review of thousands of social-media postings. The unprecedented scale and urgency of the pandemic response made some missteps inevitable, and lawmakers explicitly ordered the agency to prioritize speed over thrift. But decisions by agency leaders contributed to the chaos.
The SBA’s much-vaunted new computer system, built by an outside contractor for $750 million, proved blind to certain types of fraud and sometimes awarded grants even when it spotted disqualifying features. The agency pressured loan officers with little training to churn through applications quickly, while making it difficult for them to detect or report suspicious ones. When officials eventually tightened fraud controls, the result was often delays and rejections for legitimate applicants.
The amount stolen from the program, if it’s ever tallied, will almost certainly be measured in the billions of dollars. But that’s only part of the cost. Many legitimate applicants were denied grants because scammers got the money first. And identity thieves pocketing loan proceeds left an unknown number of Americans saddled with bogus debts.
Friday, October 30, 2020
The Labor Department has released its statistics for unemployment claims for the week ending 10/24/20. It shows that another 751,000 workers filed an unemployment claim. It's the lowest number of filers since March 21st, but still about three times the number that were filing weekly before the Trump recession.
Here is the official Labor Department statement:
In the week ending October 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 751,000, a decrease of 40,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 4,000 from 787,000 to 791,000. The 4-week moving average was 787,750, a decrease of 24,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,000 from 811,250 to 812,250.
The chart above shows the total votes in Texas for each of the last five presidential elections. The voting record was set in 2016, when 8,969,226 Texans voted.
In the first 16 days of 18 days of early voting, 8,449,858 people have voted (7,543,806 in person and 906,772 by mail). That's only about 520,000 votes short of the record -- and there are two more days of early voting, and mail-in ballots continue to arrive.
By the time Election Day votes are added, Texas will have smashed the old record for voting in a presidential election
The numbers are from the office of the Texas Secretary of State.
The charts above are from Vox.com. They show the results of a new University of Texas at Dallas Poll -- done between October 13th and 26th of a national sample of 2,500 respondents, with a margin of error of 2 points.
Democrats still believe in that kind of democracy. Unfortunately, today's Republican Party does not. They believe in only one thing -- holding onto power by whatever means are necessary (even illegal and unethical means). For them, freedom means the freedom to agree with them and anyone who doesn't is an enemy of the state.
Consider this part of an article in The Guardian:
The Republican party has become dramatically more illiberal in the past two decades and now more closely resembles ruling parties in autocratic societies than its former centre-right equivalents in Europe, according to a new international study.
In a significant shift since 2000, the GOP has taken to demonising and encouraging violence against its opponents, adopting attitudes and tactics comparable to ruling nationalist parties in Hungary, India, Poland and Turkey.
The shift has both led to and been driven by the rise of Donald Trump.
By contrast the Democratic party has changed little in its attachment to democratic norms, and in that regard has remained similar to centre-right and centre-left parties in western Europe. Their principal difference is the approach to the economy.
The new study, the largest ever of its kind, was carried out by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, using newly developed methods to measure and quantify the health of the world’s democracies at a time when authoritarianism is on the rise.
Anna Lührmann, V-Dem’s deputy director, said the Republican transformation had been “certainly the most dramatic shift in an established democracy”.
V-Dem’s “illiberalism index” gauges the extent of commitment to democratic norms a party exhibits before an election. The institute calls it “the first comparative measure of the ‘litmus test’ for the loyalty to democracy”.
The study, published on Monday, shows the party has followed a similar trajectory to Fidesz, which under Viktor Orbán has evolved from a liberal youth movement into an authoritarian party that has made Hungary the first non-democracy in the European Union.
India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been transformed in similar ways under Narendra Modi, as has the Justice and Development party (AKP) in Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Law and Justice party in Poland. Trump and his administration have sought to cultivate close ties to the leadership of those countries.
The Republican party has remained relatively committed to pluralism, but it has gone a long way towards abandoning other democratic norms, becoming much more prone to disrespecting opponents and encouraging violence.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
The chart above reflects the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between October 25th and 27th of a national sample of 1,500 registered voters, with a 3.1 point margin of error.
The chart has Biden with an 11 point lead over Trump among both registered and likely voters. Among those who have already voted, Biden has a whopping 32 point lead!
It's not just the Trump campaign that is having money problems. Republican senate candidates are also trailing their Democratic opponents in cash raised and available to spend. Note the chart above. In most cases the difference is significant.
Does he expect to lose, and not want to waste his own money on a losing effort?
Here's how NBCnews.com describes Trump's problem:
“Trump’s campaign has $10.1 million booked on television and radio ads between Wednesday and Election Day, compared to Biden’s $50 million.”
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
In the first 14 of 18 days of early voting in Texas, 6,925,900 people have voted in person and 877,690 mail-in ballots have been received. That makes 7,803,590 votes that have already been cast in this election.
That's only about 1.1 million votes short of the total 2016 election votes (which was a record for a presidential election in Texas). With 4 more days of early voting, mail-in ballots continuing to arrive, and Election Day voters yet to be counted, it undoubtably will be a record voter turnout in the state for this election.
The charts above reflect the results of three new national polls. All have Biden with majority support and a significantly large lead.
The Yahoo News / YouGov Poll was done between October 23rd and 25th of a national sample of 1,500 registered voters, with a 3 point margin of error.
The CNBC / All America Poll was done between October 21st and 24th of a national sample of 800 registered voters, with a 3.5 point margin of error.
The Public Opinion Strategies Poll was done between October 5th and 8th of a national sample of 1,000 registered voters (no moe given).
Change is hard, but it is never impossible. Unlike some countries around the world, when politicians in America fail to rise to the occasion, we have a way to replace them: elections. On Nov. 3, Americans will have a chance to exert their power, refresh the body politic and move our country in a dramatically different direction.
Given the gravity of the issues facing our country, the Senate must confront the deep-seated problems of racial injustice and redeem our nation's promise of equality, fairness and opportunity for all people — immediately.
The direction of our country will thus be shaped by the leaders we select.
I am committed to ensuring the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the Senate. This legislation, developed by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, would ban chokeholds, "no knock" warrants and racial profiling while creating new tools at the state and federal levels to reform police departments engaged in systemic misconduct. It would also make it easier for Americans to hold individual officers accountable when those officers violate people's constitutional rights.
The challenges of racial injustice, though, extend far beyond law enforcement. More than half a century after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, Republicans are still finding ways to make it harder for Americans of color to vote. In the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, Republican lawmakers have instituted draconian voter-identification laws, eliminated polling locations in the most diverse neighborhoods, purged voter rolls and drawn congressional districts with the explicit purpose of limiting the influence of African American and Hispanic voters.
We must put a stop to all forms of voter suppression by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Finally, we must open the doors of economic opportunity to communities that have suffered from discrimination and underinvestment for decades. Democrats this year unveiled the Economic Justice Act, a $350 billion investment in child care, mental and primary care and new job opportunities for Black communities and other communities of color. I will work to get legislation passed that would invest — substantially — in communities that have been ignored for far too long.
Faced with a national reckoning over issues of civil rights, voting rights and racial justice, Senate Republicans squandered a historic opportunity to move our country closer to its highest ideals. It can feel disheartening that progress, so long delayed, has been delayed once more.
But you have the power to change that.
In a much different era, bus boycotts, lunch counter sit-ins and a march from Selma to Montgomery shook the conscience of the nation and propelled President Lyndon Johnson and a bipartisan majority in Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act — proving that when we give "the best that all of us have to give," progress is possible.
As our country confronts this once-in-a-generation pandemic and our voices are again shaking the conscience of the nation, we must take up the generations-long struggle for racial justice and equality. I and my colleagues are prepared to do it with bold and far-reaching legislation.
So don't lose hope in the fight for racial justice. Vote.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
The chart above (from Axios.com) shows one more thing working against Trump's re-election. Trump needs to carry all the states he did last time to be re-elected. The loss of one of the swing states he barely carried last time would mean defeat in the electoral college.
But the public believes he mishandled the Coronavirus pandemic, and they no longer believe what he is telling them about it. On top of that, there is a new surge of cases of the virus -- and much of it is in states he badly needs. States like Wisconsin (where the number of cases has climbed by 122% in the last four weeks), Pennsylvania (cases up by 117%), and Michigan (up by 162%).
Trump has been telling voters that we have "turned the corner" on the virus, but this surge just shows he is lying.
But those opponents weren't wrong. It has just taken a bit longer than expected.
I recommend you read the entire editorial, but here is just a tiny part of what the editorial board of The New York Times has to say about Trump killing the Republican Party:
Of all the things President Trump has destroyed, the Republican Party is among the most dismaying.