Ilargi: Why Trump Will Win

Yves here. As Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway said: “The good thing about someone else’s prejudices is that they either confirm your own, or they make you cross – either of which is a blessing in these bland times.” Here Ilargi reveals a bias…but not, as some might suggest, of being pro-Trump, but of seeing this Presidential election as being personality-driven. I doubt that is correct, which is one of the many factors that makes this contest too difficult to call despite Trump lagging in polls.

Historically, marketers did not like “psychographic” market segmentations because they would cross demographic and geographic lines, which made it difficult to target prospects cost-effectively. With the Internet creating social media outlets that cater to people with particular views, like lovin’ gunz or believing in Russiagate, suddenly that sort of segmentation is not only viable but may actually be attractive.

As readers know well, Sanders was running on policy, not personality. As one friend said, Sanders has all the charm of your cranky Jewish uncle telling you to take your feet off the coffee table. Under prodding, he did make some small efforts in his 2020 campaign to seem less scold-y by smiling more and telling a bit of his life story. And as readers also know, Sanders had strong support among young voters.

The Democratic party leadership beat Sanders not by having better policies or a more appealing a candidate, but by using what amounts to machine politics: rallying different voter blocs that are loyal to the party either by design or default.

The extension of the machine policy mindset is the Democratic party strategm of invoking tribalism. This is particularly effective because their core, the professional-managerial class, is so convinced of its right to rule via merit that it is almost incapable of seeing itself as a class (see Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal for a brilliant description of its ethnography). But its shadow side, in Jungian terms, of the PMC is its stereotype of the white working class. In their minds, this uneducated, undisciplined lot is getting what it deserves, and having them have influence is an affront to the proper ordering of society. Hillary’s “deplorables” remark was no accident. Time recapped what she said:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

She said the other half of Trump’s supporters “feel that the government has let them down” and are “desperate for change.”

“Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well,” she said.

What is the subtext of Hillary’s remark? That Trump’s voters are lower income and less educated. The less educated part is correct, the lower income is not. From the Washington Post:

Moreover, according to what is arguably the next-best measure of class, household income, Trump supporters didn’t look overwhelmingly “working class” during the primaries. To the contrary, many polls showed that Trump supporters were mostly affluent Republicans. For example, a March 2016 NBC survey that we analyzed showed that only a third of Trump supporters had household incomes at or below the national median of about $50,000. Another third made $50,000 to $100,000, and another third made $100,000 or more and that was true even when we limited the analysis to only non-Hispanic whites. If being working class means being in the bottom half of the income distribution, the vast majority of Trump supporters during the primaries were not working class.

But what about education? Many pundits noticed early on that Trump’s supporters were mostly people without college degrees. There were two problems with this line of reasoning, however. First, not having a college degree isn’t a guarantee that someone belongs in the working class (think Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg). And, second, although more than 70 percent of Trump supporters didn’t have college degrees, when we looked at the NBC polling data, we noticed something the pundits left out: during the primaries, about 70 percent of all Republicans didn’t have college degrees, close to the national average (71 percent according to the 2013 Census). Far from being a magnet for the less educated, Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.

What about the general election? A few weeks ago, the American National Election Study — the longest-running election survey in the United States — released its 2016 survey data. And it showed that in November 2016, the Trump coalition looked a lot like it did during the primaries…many of the voters without college educations who supported Trump were relatively affluent.

It isn’t hard to imagine that higher income/less educated voters would resent the preening of the credentialed elites and would find Trump’s total lack of respect for what they hold dear to be attractive. But the gods look to have handed Biden a gift with the timing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. It’s galvanizing Democratic Party donations and will probably persuade some voters who weren’t terribly keen about Biden to go to the effort of voting for him.

By Ilargi, the editor of The Automatic Earth. Originally published at The Automatic Earth

I was going to make this the shortest essay I’ve ever written. “Trump Will Win Because of Energy. Period.” But wouldn’t you know, things start popping up on exactly the topic it was going to be about… The difference in energy between Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be obvious to everyone, including Biden supporters, though they will try to ignore it, as well as the role energy plays in a campaign, as it does in life in general -not just human life either-.

People recognize energy, they feel it. it’s a primal thing, directly linked to survival. It doesn’t get recognized at a rational level, but somewhere much deeper. And it’s not even so much that Trump’s energy levels are above average, for a 74-year old (though they appear to be), but that Biden’s are so far below average – or perhaps exactly what you would expect for a 77-year old, which is why so few of them are running for president of the United States, a job that I think we would all agree requires a lot of energy.

When you take out of the equation which person you like or not, when you disregard their policy proposals, and you only look at energy levels, the difference is vast. And people will catch on to this. The first debate is in 9 days, September 29, and how do you prepare Biden for that? Trump last night suggested his handlers do it by applying ‘big, fat shots in the ass’, but even that wouldn’t do it.

Trump doesn’t need to hammer this point home too hard, it will be obvious no matter what. It may even be better for him to show compassion for Biden. One of the main instructions from his team will undoubtedly be to NOT go after Joe Biden so hard it will make him stutter. Because that would make Trump look like a bully, and give Biden points on compassion from the audience.

But I doubt Trump will be able to help himself. And perhaps, at least from his point of view, he should just be and remain who he is. Because that worked four years ago. Will these be the best-watched debates in history? Quite possibly. Meanwhile, as Trump yesterday worked all day -if we are to believe the reports- and then campaigned all night in Fayetteville NC, Biden was MIA.

That by now is a pattern. As is the mysterious lack of door-to-door campaigning by the Biden team. It may not be impossible to win that way, but it certainly would be a first. And it makes the team look like they have a similar energy level to Biden himself (In another mystery, we see people talk about finding it hard to get yard signs for the Biden campaign).

That leaves you with the impression that the Biden team really has just one message: Orange Man Bad. Not: vote *for* me, but vote *against* the other guy. the racist/rapist who killed 200,000 Americans and offends “our” troops”. That in turn appears to signal that what energy there is, is negative energy. Doesn’t look like a winning formula.

But if the media, including social media, keep on pumping out that same message 24/7, who knows how many people will buy into it? After all, Twitter and Facebook et al are even more important influencers today than they were in 2016. Then again, the Trump people seemed to be much stronger on social media back then, and why would they have squandered that advantage? But then again, again, they weren’t constantly censored and banned then.

Trump last night in Fayetteville:

‘Big, Fat Shots In The Ass’: Trump Again Suggests Biden Is On Energizing Drugs

Donald Trump has mercilessly taunted Joe Biden, telling supporters that his Democratic nemesis must be taking performance-enhancing substances and should undergo a drug test. Trump reiterated previous casual accusations that Biden is too senile to be a good fit for the US president’s office while talking to a crowd of supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Using his nickname for his Democratic opponent, Trump said that “Sleepy Joe” is appearing conspicuously efficient during debates and public events.

“Don’t underestimate [him], he’s been doing this for 47 years. And I got a debate coming up with this guy,” Trump said as he grinned, before suggesting that performance-enhancing substances were behind Biden’s efficiency. “You never know, they gave him a big, fat shot in the ass and he comes out,” Trump claimed as his audience laughed. “And for two hours he’s better than ever before. The problem is, what happens after that,” the Republican president added. Adding insult to the injury, Trump said offering a drug test to Biden is an option.

Remarkably, this is not the first time the 74-year-old president has accused his 77-year-old rival of being on drugs. Over a week ago, he fanned the claim while speaking to Fox. “I think there’s probably, possibly, drugs involved,” Trump told host Jeanine Pirro. “I don’t know how you can go from being so bad where you can’t even get out a sentence…” he speculated without finishing the sentence.

Trump and Biden are expected to face each other during debates in Cleveland on September 29, in Miami on October 15, and in Nashville on October 22. Their vice-presidential nominees Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will have a one-on-one in Salt Lake City on October 7.


In that same vein, there was also this from Irishman Graham Dockery on August 27:

Trump Has Called On Biden To Take A Drug Test. Why Don’t Both Old Guys Take This Idea Seriously?

Trump is 74 years old and Biden 77. If elected, Biden would be the oldest president in history, and would assume office at the same age Ronald Reagan left the White House – himself exhibiting the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If Trump wins, he’ll beat Reagan’s record by one year. Ten percent of white Americans over the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s and related dementias. After 65, the risk of dementia doubles every five years. Even if Biden was speaking coherently, he would have a one-third chance of developing dementia by the end of his first term. Likewise, while Trump may appear sharp, he’s twice as likely to be losing his marbles now than he was in 2016.

Modern drugs can mask the symptoms of cognitive decline fairly well. Donepezil, Galantamine, Memantine and Rivastigmine are all used to boost memory, attention and the ability to perform simple tasks – like using a phone. Aside from these prescription medications, a candidate looking for a quick pre-debate fix could swallow some Adderall, a legal amphetamine that boosts cognition, short term memory and attention span, not to mention whatever experimental cocktails these two might have access to.

I’m not suggesting that either candidate is a chattering speed-freak. Trump’s opponents have beaten that drum before, accusing the president of railing Adderall every time he sniffs in a speech. Biden, on the other hand, looks like a man who could use an infusion from Doctor Feelgood. But it would be nice to know for sure. Most Americans would likely balk at the idea of sending a medicated husk to negotiate with allies and outwit adversaries. Let the two men competing for this position lay their cards on the table, and let the American public use this information to inform their decision.

After all, this is the leader of the free world we’re talking about, the man who, with a flick of his finger, could doom the planet to nuclear holocaust. It’s probably best if this leader remembers where he left the tapioca pudding.

Note that by now Trump’s advantage on energy says little about how the 2020 election will eventually be decided. It’s no longer possible for the US to NOT to sink into a deep quagmire because of mail-in ballots and the many days it may take to count them, the hundreds of lawyers that will be involved in various stages of that process -including many lawsuits-, and the Supreme Court, which will be a major election issue before November 3, and a possible/probable deciding factor sometime after that date.

Add to this that having the most votes, or even the highest numbers in the Electoral College system, no longer guarantees you a victory -because: lawyers and because: states may try to tamper with that system- and you end up with the most godawful mess ever. You would think everyone in Washington has an interest in not letting the city devolve into a circus tent where the clowns end up fighting the lions and tigers, but apparently they all have “more important” things to consider.

And all the time I’m thinking, guys, take care of your country, at least someone take care of it, you’re going to have to live in it together next year and the year after that etc.


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  1. Tomonthebeach

    I am surprised that it was not suggested that the two, run a half marathon. After all, they do call this a “race” do they not?

    Of course, there is something to be said in favor of a more sedate energy level. Trump has an obvious and chronic problem with impulse control which almost daily becomes a news topic. Biden only has a low tolerance for being challenged and at times lashes out with ad hominems in town halls, but nothing like the screed Trump tweets at even his staff on a daily basis. Also, FDR did rather well as POTUS from a wheelchair while suffering from a chronic disease. So Biden would hardly be a first slow president.

    1. philnc

      If they let Hawkins into the debate, he could challenge both to a push up contest: and be the only one able to leave the stage under his own power. I doubt the result would be any different if Walker were to do the same in the VP debate. A lifetime of manual labor prepares someone for stressful work in ways that a career in a comfy desk chair doesn’t. Of course the real challenge the major party candidates would have debating Howie is intellectual: he’d simply run circles around them on the history, the issues and solutions. And they know it, hence the urgency with which both parties have worked not just to black out competing third party campaigns through the lapdog corporate media, but also their serious efforts to knock them off the ballot. Every season a lot of people carp about intending to write-in an alternative candidate. This year we’ll see if that’s mostly been bluster as it has in the past. Not much hope in that right now, but we’ll soon see.

      1. shinola

        “…the real challenge the major party candidates would have debating Howie is intellectual: he’d simply run circles around them on the history, the issues and solutions.”

        History, issues, solutions? One would like to think so, but this is The Good Ol’ USA and these topics seem to be increasingly irrelevant in presidential politicking.

  2. Charles 2

    Trump could exploit the RBG succession by going on a “barbell” strategy, I.e. at the same time :
    – nominate a strong conservative judge to feed his religious constituency
    – pardoning Assange & Snowden to ride the “Constitutional free speech” wave
    The two events telescoping on the media will make it difficult to counter, and it will position Trump as the perceived guardian of the constitutional order.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, I was thinking that the RBG succession could be a big Trump gain, not a Biden one. My Republican relatives loath Trump, they think he is crude and stupid, but they can’t support a Democrat because they are deeply sociall conservative and issues like abortion is important to them. A conservative judge nominee would be a strong reminder to people like them where their priorities are. And religious conservatives tend to have the resources and organisation to get lots of votes out, especially among the elderly.

      1. d

        i find odd that a CINO (Christian in name only) is the who the conservative evangelicals will vote for. never mind they have no sign of being even remotely interested in Christianity (except how they can use it politically, like that picture op).

  3. Kasia

    Trump’s overriding strategic objective is to bury any discussion of Covid-19 and to turn the spotlight on culture war issues such as BLM/Antifa burning and looting. This Supreme Court pick discussion obviously helps bury Covid as an issue.

    One interesting aspect of the current rash of Blue City burning/looting is that there is an increasing black/Latino split. I’ve seen on black twitter Latinos claiming that since they come from hellhole countries with high crime that they last thing they want are BLM/Antifa running wild on the city streets. At the same time there is an increasing “woke” campaign to get Latinos to examine their own “privilege” and “anti-black” biases. In Portland working class Latinos are being confronted by Antifa and compelled to raise a black power fist and chant “Black Lives Matter”.

    Many on the Left have lost their minds over the Supreme Court nomination. Anyone either party selects will dutifully serve corporations while launching some culture was chaff as distraction from rampant Neo-liberalism. So the court is not all that important.

    If Trump can herd the GOP into a confirmation before the election this will demoralize the Dems and at the same time energize his base — who are none too happy with Trump transition from a political outsider to the ultimate establishment lackey. There will be increasingly hysterical calls from the Dems and increasingly violent riots in the streets. All the better for Trump if he selects a Latina for the Supreme Court. This will help swing Latinos his way and may even lead to Antifa entering and rioting in heavily Latino areas. Trump needs to seriously stoke the Identity Politics flames in order to crush the Democrats Coalition of the Fringes and gain himself a second term.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are these Antifas of the “White poseur” persuasion? Are they “checking their White Privilege” as they do what they can to instigate riots? Are they checking eachother for undercover Stormtrumpers and secret police themselves working to instigate any riots which the Antifas are not working hard enough to instigate?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      so…wrasslin” instead of canned debate?
      make it wrasslin’ in pudding and i might actually watch.
      as it stands, i will prolly abstain…and go forth in the Falcon to—literally—watch grass grow in the front pasture.
      (Tlaloc finally got around to paying me some of the rain i’ve paid for this last month, with the pain from tropical systems and an early cold front—so the fall grass, dormant from summer heat and drought, is springing up under the carpet of brown and gray)

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I’m in favor of dropping the pretense that US politics isn’t professional wrestling without the aestheticism. Trump is the only one who seems to get this, which is probably why he’s president.

        1. KLG

          This is a main point in Hate by Matt Taibbi. Trump views his business and his politics as a version of WWE. He was even in the ring once. Trump is the perfect Heel, but can also be a Face on occasion. It’s all Kayfabe all the time with Trump, and at that level it is entertainment. Democrats are just clueless, playing the wrong game. Biden Republicans? Please.

    2. a different chris

      6’2 with the lifts, maybe.

      Biden looks like a frail old man. Trump looks physically simply ridiculous, like that rich uncle that everybody expects to keel over any day. But they never do.

      God help us.

      1. Alex

        Biden is clearly wasting away, not just mentally. Trump needs substantial muscle strength to haul that bulk around.

        If they got to grappling in the ground, Biden would have pieces torn from him.

      2. Mike Elwin

        There’s no point in calling on god. He’s sitting this one out, just as he sits out most other huge conflicts. He’s pretty much useless. So are human beings, for that matter. I mean, if you were a super being from another planet, would you have any use for humans?

  4. The Rev Kev

    This is really a godsend to Trump when you think about it. People are going to be so busy being wrapped around the axle of this Supreme Court choice that it will push everything else out of the news cycle. As an example, suppose the virus started to make big news and Trump’s bad response to it. Trump could send out a tweet saying that he is trying to decide between a black female judge or a Latino female judge and it will be on for young and old. Will democrats put themselves in the position of attacking women, blacks and Latinos in their criticism? Republicans will probably not care so long as she was conservative.

    1. None from Nowheresville

      Anyone got any prediction on total number of voters this year? Will we have 2008 level turnouts?

      Orange Man Bad is only a partial strategy. You pick up the people you were already gong to pick up. (Shaming and finger-wagging are horrible strategies IMO.) Same with Sleepy Joe. Believe the Science and Trust the Government are the same basic spiels playing to believers on either side.

      Supreme Court pick: I think this one is more important to Reps than to Dems. I have friends involved in mega churches who have had people lecturing at service and in personal sessions at their homes about activist judges for at LEAST a decade. So the vote for judges groundwork and the network are already present & strong on the religious side. Never hear that on the Dem side except from a certain sub-segment of the PMC. Usually someone involved with the legal field.

      As far as The Virus / Trust the Science. Which science are we trusting exactly because even in the middle of Covid a good speaker could make the case on either side. I think that Trump is a much better speaker / persuader than he is given credit for. He certainly holds attention which is more than half the battle. I always wanted to turn my back to Bush and Obama I just wanted to turn off.

      The election seems to come down to: Orange Man Bad and Build Back Better (seriously WTF) v. Burn it all Down and Make America Great Again

      Plus fear. Which side can generate the most fear.

      Biden Ads: 1. Thank god I had insurance & everyone should have insurance. 2. I give my solemn promise to protect Social Security & Medicare from Trump. 3. Trust the Science 4. I voted for Trump in 2016, not gonna do it this time.(PAC ad)

      Trump ads: 1. Biden is China’s man. That’s where the jobs went. 2. Law & order Family Business destroyed in Kenosha. On police scanner, the police told to stand down.

      I’m sure there are more but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I’ve been trying to figure out how this plays out over the weekend and I think agree with both of you. There’s a lot of RBG worship on the left, but the right is much better at playing the long game. Biden will get a fundraising bump off this, as he has, but I’m not sure it picks up any voters he wasn’t already getting. But the important thing is, it’s eating up the news cycle. As you’re pointing out Rev, it’s averting attention from COVID, which is exactly what Trump needs at the moment. And it gives him the opportunity to do the “right” thing in the eyes of those who might be on the fence about him.

        Conversely, it feels like the Dems will take another opportunity to prove how clueless and ineffectual they are. That Pelosi and others are mentioning running another impeachment seems suicidal and just highlights the complete lack of ideas on the Dem side.

        1. a different chris

          >Orange Man Bad is only a partial strategy. You pick up the people you were already gong to pick up.
          >Biden will get a fundraising bump off this, as he has, but I’m not sure it picks up any voters he wasn’t already getting.

          But this applies to Trump, too unless you seriously think the Religious Right wasn’t going to fall in line after much hemming and hawing by their leadership.

          1) They are authoritarians, which everybody misunderstands to think we are talking about alphas but the vast majority of any said group are of course betas or the whole thing wouldn’t work.
          2) The leadership is smart, unlike the Black Misleadership Class, they will threaten to withhold their votes until they get the promises they want. And they do get them, every time. At the 11th hour they will say “ok vote for Trump”.

          Nothing has changed. The entire Supreme Court could buy it and wouldn’t make a diff. This stuff isn’t important except to the Elites – not saying it shouldn’t be, but it isn’t.

        2. John k

          Problem is, popular ideas like m4a and 15/hr are all totally off limits. All they’re left with are the same as they’ve been running since 2016. So it’s really unfair to point out over and over all they’ve goy is orange man bad, it’s all the donors allow them to say.
          IMO Rbg death is a godsend (or satan send) for trump bc taking minds off Covid, reminding all the wavering reps why they need trump, similarly with religious indies… they will move heaven and earth to keep him elected.
          Probably best to confirm her before election, would take hope for a post election miracle out of dem voters. Based on the past, there’s plenty of time if Mitch chooses to make time.
          He needs Hispanics and must win Florida, most important swing of all. I predicted the Cuban descent Floridian Latina Barbara Lagoa on this site the day after Rbg died (John takes a modest bow), IMO I still predict her and an easy, bipartisan confirmation.

      2. Acacia

        Trump ads: don’t forget 1. Obama with his buddies, trying to explain his pick of Biden “whut?”, and 2. the Trump train blasting through a small town. About the third time I watched #2 for a laugh, I noticed an Easter egg: some graffiti on a wall in the town, with a picture of the skyward screaming snowflake liberal under “Nooooo” in big letters.

  5. DanP66

    Still pretty sure Trump is gonna win.

    Been seeing a lot more energy for him in the last few weeks in my area, a well off exurb of DC.

    Seeing a lot more people willing to step up and say they support him and more and more signs popping up where there used to be only Biden and BLM signs.

    I think the RBG seat motivated them as much as the riots have.

    1. voteforno6

      I have my doubts. Trump supporters are very loud, and very obnoxious in their support. I’ve been hearing stories of people who live in conservative areas who are afraid of putting up Biden signs, because they don’t want their property to be vandalized by Trump supporters.

      I don’t think that yard signs is a very good measure of how much support a candidate has – just look at the Democratic primaries.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Those primaries were rigged so that makes it even harder to determine true support. And then there’s the fact that voting machines don’t work either.

        The winner will be whoever is better able to rig the vote, and that is generally the Republicans, although the Democrats have been trying to keep up in recent years.

        1. voteforno6

          That depends on what you mean by “rigged.” Maybe, but not nearly as much as 2016, I think. Obama definitely put his thumb on the scales, but that still required Democrats to fall in line, and they did, for the most part. Until leftists change that dynamic, they’re only going to have localized success in Democratic Party politics.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            …that still required Democrats to fall in line, and they did, for the most part.

            Maybe, maybe not. I certainly didn’t count the votes myself and so can’t verify personally and I do also remember what happened at the Iowa caucus earlier this year where it became perfectly clear that those who were tasked with counting the votes weren’t all that good at it, deliberately so or otherwise.

            Until we have paper ballots hand counted in public, I will continue to assume inaccuracies and/or fraud. I have participated in a hand recount of machine-counted ballots and know for a fact that machines don’t count all the votes, and these are the supposedly good ones with actual paper trials.

            1. t

              There must be more NC readers reader who saw real live earnest voters who were unable to vote or forced to use a provisional ballot, or who simply could not find more time to go to yet another polling location is search of one that was open?

  6. Eric Patton

    The Democratic party leadership beat Sanders

    Sanders beat Sanders, as soon as he gave Hillary e-mail cover. But you will never be able to see this.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I remember that debate. It was the first Democratic Debate of the 2015-16 race. Happened in October 2015, and I was watching the debate with a group of Bernie supporters here in Tucson.

          When Bernie made his “damn emails” remark to Hillary, the live debate audience burst into applause. And it was raucous.

          The reaction in that living room in central Tucson? Stunned silence. We couldn’t believe that Bernie just said what he did.

          1. Samuel Conner

            I don’t recall precisely what Sanders said, aside from people being “tired of hearing about the damn emails”. But I wish he had nuanced that by making clear that this could be a bigger liability for HRC in the general election than it was in the primary. As, I think, it was.

            His private opinions about the emails (assuming that they were as charitable as they seemed to be) were beside the point. HRC was vulnerable to attack on multiple fronts, and that reality was a valid point to make in the primary, even if one didn’t think that the attacks were valid or fair.

            HRC was less electable than Sanders, IMO, and I wish that Sanders had been willing to more vocally acknowledge HRC’s prospective general election weaknesses. I think that he could have done that without abandoning his gentlemanly demeanor.

      1. John k

        It’s tough to win a dirty game like politics without a kill instinct, a take no prisoner attitude.
        I watch a lot of tennis, sometimes feel sorry for the person losing big. The top players never give up, fight for every point, and when they’re on top never let the other off the mat.
        Bernie is a gentleman, I would love to have a beer with him. I love the guy. But he really didn’t have any killer instinct at all.

  7. voteforno6

    Yet another opinion piece explaining why Trump will win, without mentioning COVID19. That is the overriding issue of this election. Even the death of Ginsburg can’t overcome that. Even if it could, at best it will be a wash for the Republicans. Think Republicans are fired up about that? This is the nightmare scenario for a huge chunk of the Democratic base. There is plenty of negative energy on that side, and that raw anger and hatred they have towards Trump is significant.

    As for the energy on Trump’s side, I wonder if that’s the Howard Dean effect. Sure, the people who show up to those rallies are fired up, but they may very well be the same people that showed up before. I’m not sure if Trump is seeing enough gains elsewhere, to overcome gains that the Democrats have made.

    I think too many people still think of 2020 as 2016, just as they thought of 2016 as being like 2012. A lot has happened since then. Trump is no longer the outsider running against the corrupt system. He is the system, and there has been a world-shattering crisis that has engulfed everything. Trump may very well “win” this election, but I just don’t see how he’ll be able to get more votes than anyone else.

    1. Samuel Conner

      IIRC (and it was a lifetime ago), NC in 2016 was skeptical of the mainstream certainty that HRC would trounce DJT. Again, IIRC, there was concern expressed about HRC’s neocon foreign policy preferences and the implications of those for conflict in ME and with Russia. It feels similar this time around.

      I don’t recall specific predictions. Then as now, I got my view of the news from NC links and commentary, and my “take” was that DJT could beat HRC. I wasn’t shocked when he did (I may have been less surprised than DJT himself appears to have been on election night), though life felt weird for a few weeks afterward.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Cheers. Yeah I have no doubt that the commentariat was ‘sceptical’ of Hillary (to put it mildly!), but:

        IIRC (and it was a lifetime ago), NC in 2016 was skeptical of the mainstream certainty that HRC would trounce DJT.

        Is pretty much what I would’ve expected as far as predictions go

      2. Eudora Welty

        Yes, Lambert showed Trump’s path to 270. Maybe it wasn’t “called” by NC, but what actually happened was described beforehand. It was very impressive.

    2. LilD

      Not exactly but consensus was that he had a chance. The paths to victory were laid our. I think Wisconsin was the only state that was truly shocking

      I took a lot of trump bets at 10-1 at work and laid off a lot of it at 5-2 on IEM and elsewhere. Made all my counterparties donate to ACLU and the Green party

      Nate Silver had Trump at about 30% which seemed right to me

    3. Pat

      I can only speak for myself.

      I took a couple of fool’s bets that no woman, no black nor any hispanic would vote for Trump. Never collected. (Didn’t collect on the ACA would eliminate medical bankruptcy bets cheerleaders made either. Figured the stupidity was penalty enough. )

      I knew it would be very close. But I expected Clinton to pull it out in a squeaker. I had missed her blowing off the rust belt. If I had known I would have gone the other way.

      The election was always going to hinge on turn out. Clinton lost because Democratic leaning voters stayed home in states she needed.

      So my take currently…
      This is not a replay of 2016, but some factors remain the same. This election also hinges on turnout. This one is also going to be close. Biden is going to win the popular vote. But while it might be an electoral college blowout for Biden the vote differences in many of the states that Lambert is watching are going to be very close. Which is why he could also lose the vote that counts and Trump is reelected.

      There is one other factor that 2016 and 2020 have in common. The people who count the votes can totally mess with those counts. And this time the biggest factor may not be how the machines are programmed, but how mail in ballots get accepted. And that one I am not even beginning to guess about.

  8. JuneZ

    More college-educated whites supported Trump than Clinton. That most Trump supporters were not college-educated reflects the population: the majority don’t have a degree.

    “Overall, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a 4-point margin when it came to votes from whites, both men and women, with a college education. Their choice for president came as a shock to many.

    Republican candidates haven’t lost the white college-educated vote in six decades. But given the magnitude of Trump’s lunacy, one would have expected this particular electorate to come to its senses. It even seemed a possibility at one point during the campaign. But as with the 2008 election when these voters didn’t cast ballots for Obama, they chose to be on the wrong side of history this time as well.

  9. flora

    Thanks for this post. 2020 is like watching a rerun of a horror movie I’ve already seen: hard to get all scared and freaked out and worked up watching it the second time. I appreciate the cinematography and the scripting and the visual effects, but worried or scared? No. If the Dems wanted their base to win they would not have nominated Joe “I tried to cut SS 4 times”, Joe “I made student debt uncancellable in bankruptcy”, Joe “I wrote the 1994 tough-on-crime bill” Biden.
    (It’s hilarious the guy is still plagerizing, this time from his own primary campaign stuff for the general election. hello?… /ha)

    Beautiful weather here finally so time to go outside and enjoy the real world. :)

  10. Adam Eran

    To quote this very website:

    “Why Trump is Likely to Win Again” [Thomas Greene, Noteworthy]. “Trump will not be defeated by educating voters, by exposing his many foibles and inadequacies. Highlighting what’s wrong with him is futile; his supporters didn’t elect him because they mistook him for a competent administrator or a decent man. They’re angry, not stupid. Trump is an agent of disruption — indeed, of revenge. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has positioned him as a tragic force-multiplier on a scale that few could have predicted, and the result is verging on catastrophic. Still, that might not be enough to prevent his re-election. Workers now sense that economic justice — a condition in which labor and capital recognize and value each other — is permanently out of reach; the class war is over and it was an absolute rout: insatiable parasites control everything now, and even drain us gratuitously, as if exacting reparations for the money and effort they spent taming us. The economy itself, and the institutions protecting it, must be attacked, and actually crippled, to get the attention of the smug patricians in charge. Two decades of appealing to justice, proportion, and common decency have yielded nothing. I’d rather not see four more years of Donald, but I understand the impulse to use him as a cat’s paw.” ¨• Anger is, of course, completely transgressive inside the Beltway, and in the PMC generally (except as when directed at social inferiors, like servers). But another view is possible–

    …best analysis I’ve seen yet about Trump’s strength as a disruptor

  11. fajensen

    Donald Trump has form.

    He is saying, without actually saying it, that the Biden cloakroom looks like a “Tom of Finland” set piece.

    He is hoping for someone stupid enough to call him out on it.

  12. phichibe

    “(In another mystery, we see people talk about finding it hard to get yard signs for the Biden campaign).”

    I was contacted via text message from the state Dem party asking if I’d vote Dem in November. Affirmative I replied. A few days later I texted and said I’d be happy to put a Biden yard sign up. Got a text back with a link to where I can purchase one (w/ $9.95 shipping on top of that). I refrained from a sarcastic reply because the person at the other end was just a well-intentioned volunteer, I’m sure, but my incredulity remains. Biden raised $360,000,000 in July, IIRC. And they want to charge me for a yard sign advertising their candidate? This violates a policy I adopted decades ago and still maintain: I won’t pay for any t-shirt with a corporate logo, and indeed in most cases won’t wear such unless I’m paid an advertising fee. The Dems appear clueless as usual. Michael Moore’s fears appear to be coming true yet again. Somebody get the smelling salts over to MSNBC.


  13. Dave in MT

    All of this busting on Joe Biden. Look at what ideological purity got us in 2016. The Bernie Bros couldn’t be bothered to vote (along with others in the Democratic coalition) and now we will have a 6-3 right wing Supreme court for a generation or more…The Republicans win because they stick together. Segments of the Democratic coalition will pout that they didn’t get their choice so they’ll sit at home allowing Trump to win. Do you really think any progressive legislation will be possible now regardless of whether we win the Senate and Presidency? As soon as legislation is challenged in court by the right wing, the Supreme court will throw it out. (Bernie wasn’t even a Democrat, he’s an Independent). What’s that about the perfect being the enemy of the good?

      1. troublemecca

        I love one-liners. I spat out my drink. To Obama’s credit, he is the reason we have static due dates on all our bills… you’re welcome.

  14. truly

    For me the indicator to watch is voter participation in rural areas. As an urbanite who spends lots of time in rural areas (gardening/farming/recreational) I am amazed at how there will be a point in my drive where the Biden signs disappear (urban to suburban), then things seem neutral (suburban), then when I hit “the edge”- that zone where gun shops dominate the almost abandoned strip malls- when I hit “the edge” every sign says “Trump”. From the edge to true rural zones the Trump enthusiasm and energy is profound. Huge signs everywhere. House after house after house. Front yards with temporary canopies set up to hand out Trump paraphanelia. Pickups looking all Taliban with flags flying from sturdy poles mounted in the bed of the truck. IMHO, for Trump to win all he has to do is drive incredibly high rural voting levels. My rural friends are all in.
    It is with great sadness that I acknowledge that Dems have completely abandoned any effort to represent rural America.
    And as a clarification, when I refer to rural I am not including tourist zones where urbanites move to to set up art galleries and organic gardens.
    My two cents worth.

  15. Scott1

    Biden Harris is the Democrat’s ticket because they are not Bernie Sanders whose policies are the policies cribbed by Trump and Clinton Unit 2 in 2016.
    Clinton Unit 2 was late to the appropriation of Sander’s policies.
    The hope of the electorate is that Biden whose record includes plagiarism either from someone in the UK or Nixon is that he will plagiarize the policies of Sanders. May Biden be the great plagiarist!
    P.S. We do in fact need to be on alert. The Communist Chinese are mimicking the Japanese of 1940. They have launched rockets and encircled Taiwan with 15 bombers. Trade wars are economic warfare. When economic warfare is not peacefully resolved there comes the type war
    leaves body parts on battlefields. The Japanese might want to jump right in and say something helpful. War with the US did not go well for them.

  16. Creflow Dollars

    I do landscaping in very affluent areas and this article does a great job of articulating what I have been seeing and have known to be true for quite some time. I see nearly as many Trump signs as I do Biden signs and I’m cutting houses that are well over half a million dollars. The media has pushed this narrative of his supporters being stupid but the reality is there are a lot of people who realize how much money they’ve made with Trump as president and are not trying to cut that gravy train off

  17. arte

    In 1980, the approximate age of some of the leaders in Eastern Europe:
    Brezhnev 74
    Honecker 68
    Jablonski 71
    Kekkonen 80
    Ceusescu 62
    Tito 87
    Husak 67
    Kadar 68

    Generally speaking, and compared to the current US leadership – and especially the presidential candidates – most of them were a bunch of youngsters. Will future historians refer to the 2020s as America’s sclerotic decade of decay?

    There is even a similar kind of surveillance society, you could say meant to secure keeping the old ones in power.

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