Fortnight Horribilis

9 mins read

 Photo by Anika Mikkelson via Unsplash

I took a comprehensive look at the polls two weeks ago and walked away feeling pretty good about the Democrats’ chances to take back the White House and the Senate in November. I told myself to check back in two weeks to see if Trump could get any traction. In fact, the last two weeks have been a highlight reel of why Trump is, by far and away, America’s worst President ever. 

As predicted by Dr. Fauci, we just saw the pandemic spike to 71,000 new cases on Friday with shortages of PPE, and testing and ICU beds again becoming critical. If the current spike continues, we soon will be having more new coronavirus cases each day in the U.S. than China reported for the entire pandemic. 

Trump, who had to cancel last weekend’s rally in Portsmouth, NH, due to lack of attendees, is still planning to hold a rally-style GOP nominating convention in Jacksonville, FL, next month. In Florida, a state critical to Trump’s reelection hopes, 15,300 cases of coronavirus were diagnosed on July 12 — by far the most ever for any state in one day. 

The EU, Canada and Mexico blocked their borders to Americans. So instead of Trump’s dream of America walling out foreigners, the world has put America in quarantine. Trump, wishing away the pandemic, has threatened to cut off federal aid for schools that don’t open next month. Those suburban moms who voted for Trump in 2016 may not feel the same way this year if Trump is forcing them to put their children in harm’s way. 

When he wasn’t magically thinking and happy talking about the pandemic, Trump was assaulting Lady Justice by sending Michael Cohen back to prison because he wouldn’t agree to a comprehensive muzzle order. Trump also commuted the sentence of seven-time felon Roger Stone. Following up on Trump’s firing of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Berman, A.G. Barr has booted upstairs Eastern District U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue and replaced him with a former aide. Senator Mitt Romney broke with his party and termed Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence “historic corruption.” 

The Supreme Court, in a pair of 7-2 decisions, slapped down Trump’s assertion that the president is above the law. This opens the door for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to carry out his investigation of Trump’s pre-election hush money payments to high-end hookers. The Supreme Court also left open the door for Congress to see Trump’s tax returns, but only after further lower court review that likely will postpone access to the returns until after the election. 

Trump also lost his suit to ban the publication of his niece’s tell-all that paints Trump as a volatile brat who grifted his brother’s survivors out of much of Fred Trump’s estate. This comes on the heels of Trump losing his suit to ban Bolton’s tell-all of Trump’s galactic ignorance (Great Britain has nukes?) and dereliction of duty in the White House. 

We learned that Russia has been paying bounties for American lives. Trump said no one told him. That doesn’t explain why he still hasn’t said or done anything about it. This is on top of Trump’s 4th of July speech where he equated BLM protesters with Nazis. Naturally, both of Trump’s holiday extravaganzas lacked proper social distancing and likely will be followed by virus spikes like those we are seeing in the aftermath of his Tulsa rally. 

Trading in his racist dog whistle for a bullhorn, Trump retweeted videos of someone shouting “White Power” and a white couple waving firearms at peaceful BLM marchers. Trump also threatened to veto a defense spending bill that changes the names of military bases named after Confederate officers. 

Trump and his consigliere Barr have been braying about how dangerous voting by mail is. Their efforts have backfired as Democrats and Independents have signed up in droves and Republicans have spurned voting by mail. In Michigan, a group of Trump supporters gathered to burn the vote by mail applications they had received. 

To top off the latest fortnight horribilis, Trump has been bragging that he “aced” a dementia screening test without ever pausing to wonder why it was prescribed to him in the first place. 

All the while, The Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump are eviscerating Trump with a fusillade of devastating ads proving, yet again, that no one goes for the throat better than a Republican. Except this time the throat being cut is the Republican. 

Trump has yet to find any traction in his attacks on Biden and all national polls show Biden holding a lead. The last time Trump led in any national poll was five months ago1. Biden has locked up 223 electoral votes from states where he has a stable double-digit lead in the polls. By the same standard, Trump only can count on 101 sure electoral votes. If Florida, where Trump hasn’t led in a poll since early March, goes blue, Biden’s total goes up to 252 — just 18 short of a win. 

Biden also holds persistent but narrow leads in MI, PA, WI and even NC. If Biden can win PA or any two of the others, Trump is toast. If Biden wins all of these states, he exceeds Trump’s margin of victory in 2016. 

Biden is ahead or within the margin of error in NH (+4.3), NV (+4), AZ (+3.5), OH (tie), IA (-1.5), AR (-2.0), TX (-2.5), AK (-3) and GA (-3). If Biden runs the table and keeps all the others, he wins 421-117 in what would be the widest electoral college margin since Bush the Greater defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988. 

If Biden can maintain the traditional Democratic strongholds without spending significant treasure, he has the opportunity to really spend in traditionally red AZ, NC, IA and GA where he is either up or in striking distance. All four of these states feature very competitive US Senate races where the Democratic candidates are well- resourced and leading in the polls. The combined effect of the Biden and Senate campaigns, particularly in Georgia where there are two competitive Senate races, could force the GOP to defend its own turf rather than go on offense. If the five Senate races in those four states go blue, the Senate turns blue even if Democrat Doug Jones loses in Alabama, which he likely will. If Ernst (IA), McSally (AZ), Tillis (NC), Gardner (CO), Collins (ME) and Cornyn (TX) also lose, the Dems will have a strong, if not quite cloture-proof, majority in the Senate. 

1 Poll references here all are from Real Clear Politics RCP Average as of July 11-13, 2020. 

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Scott is a recovering banker. He spent forty years working in mortgage finance for FNMA, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Prudential Securities and his own company Rockhall Funding Corp. He and his wife Ellen are now happily retired and living in St. Petersburg where they spend a lot of time working through Indivisible Fl-13 and their amazing church, UMC Allendale

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