This is the first of a 3-part slack-chat series, writting in real time back in late October, covering the final 10 days of reckoning about the Day of Reckoning that wound up being the three days of reckoning and (so far) about eight months of denying. – Terry and John
T: It’s bedwetting day today in the polling market.
J: Yeah, everyone is losing their minds about a Trump comeback.
T: I guess it’s to be expected, given the media’s desperate need for this to be a close race.
J: Is there any fire here, just smoke?
T: It’s not even smoke. The Comey memo was smoke, a lot of smoke. An election-changing amount of smoke. But this is just a few reporters playing with matches.
If the Comey Memo was a 10 and “only Fox News is reporting it” is a 1, this is basically a 1.1. It isn’t quite fake news, but it’s so news-deficient that it might as well be fake news:
- Whenever Trump isn’t actively jumping on the nation’s stomach, reporters will say he’s a changed man.
Tens of thousands of bored reporters need to fill a 24-hour news cycle. Trump not actively fucking up, in political terms, is like a hurricane being reclassified as a tropical storm. And that’s news, man.
It’s not, honestly. But to a reporter with a deadline and nothing else to write about, it’ll do. Like a cheap hooker on Valentine’s Day, it’ll do. But Trump ain’t changing. He’s been this guy his whole life.
- The media narrative was going to embellish Trump’s chances, no matter what the polls said.
Frankly, Biden could be up 30 points and the narrative would still be “Trump is making up ground.” No reporter wants to report about a foregone conclusion.
The horse-racey, “He’s closing in!” narrative is such a boilerplate theme that it’s reassuring to see it. What I mean is, it would be more alarming if there wasn’t a horse-race narrative. The bleating of a thousand laptops, telling us “Trump is coming” is reassuring, like the sound of a bell around a cow’s neck reminding us that we own a cow. Or we got drunk and passed out in a pasture.
The occasional crap-poll outlier notwithstanding, though, Biden has been up 4-7 points in Pennsylvania for several weeks. Basically, since Trump got the ‘Rona.
- 2016. Trump’s poll-defying victory in the 2016 election scares the hell out of everybody.
Trump didn’t beat the polls by a million, though. He beat the national average by less than a point. Biden is up by about eight points at the moment; Hillary was up three at the time of the 2016 vote, down from seven before the Comey memo.
That’s probably the biggest worry now, something like the Comey Memo popping up. Trump thought the Hunter Biden laptop scandal was going to be the Comey Memo of 2020, but nobody cares about Hunter Biden.
J: So no bedwetting yet?
T: No, I’m not bedwetting based on today’s news. But there is plenty of time for something to change, and Trump’s band of merry tack-tossers and boiling oil-slingers won’t go home early. I still have the plastic sheets on the bed.
T: I did a check on a couple of potential polling errors using Nate Silver’s interactive electoral map; a 3-5 percent polling error in Biden’s favor gives him 413 electoral votes, about the same as pre-Comey Clinton given the same error. An error in the other direction gives Biden 279 electoral votes.
Why is Biden still ahead after the polling error in Trump’s favor, you ask?
Well, Clinton’s polling lead going into the election was 3 points (Biden’s current lead is 8-9 points) and she lost all the close races. Biden is substantially further ahead of Hillary’s pace at the moment, plus it’s not reasonable to assume he’ll lose all the close votes.
But that’s what most people seem to be doing. Trump’s base is far more optimistic than they really should be, and Biden’s base is far more nervous.
J: Ghosts of 2016?
T: I think so. The fact that Trump overcame a 2.1 percent loss in the popular vote by winning all the close races gives him a veneer of invincibility that he probably doesn’t deserve.
J: Not really.
T: Still, given recent history in the South and (cough) what happens to close races in Florida and North Carolina, it seems to me like Pennsylvania could be the ballgame.
J: It looks that way, although Biden has other paths to 270 if he loses Pennsylvania.
Trump probably doesn’t.
J: Susan Collins in Maine is less Trumpy than most republican senators.
T: “Less Trumpy” is a hard term to parse; I’d guess that most republicans are honest, pragmatic, soul-selling Ringwraiths, GOP Nazgul. As they should be; that’s what they are paid to be. The Trumpy ones, though … They aren’t smart enough to be Nazgul. A lot of them might as well be Orcs.
J: The problem for Collins (for a lot of Republican politicians) is that Trump has so thoroughly co-opted the GOP base that they have to go along with whatever he’s slinging at any given time or risk Trump’s wrath at the next primary election.
T: Not to point out the obvious, but it appears that the one ring has quite good adhesive qualities.
J: Indeed, it’s binding them real good.
T: Is there a giant vagina on the Trump Tower now?
T: You know, like in the movie, the giant fiery vagina on Sauron’s tower.
J: That’s an eye, you dumbass.
T: If Biden wins Arizona but loses Pennsylvania, there is a decent chance that the race winds up in a tie. Imagine the carnage.
But even better, it could mean Biden gets over the top by winning Omaha. You know — the place where Trump just abandoned a crowd in freezing weather, forcing them to walk home from the airport.
J: Oh, the irony.
Or what if he loses Iowa because of this?
Crops destroyed by a storm? Who cares about that? Where’s my Nobel Peace Prize nomination?
If I was the Biden campaign, I would have that playing in a loop on every TV station in Des Moines.
T: Roger Ailes is dead and Steve Bannon is off somewhere playing with his liver spots; there ain’t nobody left to tackle Trump and sit on him to keep him out of trouble.
J: Biden is letting Trump talk, following Napoleon’s maxim: never interrupt your enemy while he is fucking up.
(this has nothing to do with the election)
T: Comedian Taylor Tomlinson: “I grew up in a religious home so I used to worry that I’d be bad at sex. But it’s easy to be great at it. Just approach it with the enthusiasm of a child. And put everything in your mouth.”