Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Freaking Polls Part II – What Charlie Said

If you didn’t check out Charles P. Pierce’s bonus track yesterday, here it is.

A week after Halloween and the scary monsters are still abroad in the land.

Scary polls!

Scary plans!

Boogedy, boogedy!

It was a great weekend for intellectual doomscrolling, to say nothing of galloping paranoia. First, The New York Times comes out with a poll that shows the president is trailing Fulton County (Ga.) Inmate No. PO1135809 in all the major battleground states.

The results show Mr. Biden losing to Mr. Trump, his likeliest Republican rival, by margins of four to 10 percentage points among registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden is ahead only in Wisconsin, by two percentage points, the poll found. Discontent pulsates throughout the Times/Siena poll, with a majority of voters saying Mr. Biden’s policies have personally hurt them. The survey also reveals the extent to which the multiracial and multigenerational coalition that elected Mr. Biden is fraying. Demographic groups that backed Mr. Biden by landslide margins in 2020 are now far more closely contested, as two-thirds of the electorate sees the country moving in the wrong direction.

Here is where I think things get a little hinky with this poll. (As it turns out, veteran poll whisperer Larry Sabato had the same reaction.)

Voters under 30 favor Mr. Biden by only a single percentage point, his lead among Hispanic voters is down to single digits and his advantage in urban areas is half of Mr. Trump’s edge in rural regions. And while women still favored Mr. Biden, men preferred Mr. Trump by twice as large a margin, reversing the gender advantage that had fueled so many Democratic gains in recent years. Black voters — long a bulwark for Democrats and for Mr. Biden — are now registering 22 percent support in these states for Mr. Trump, a level unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times.

Quite simply, I don’t believe a single one of those numbers. The key figure is the last one, although I think that sentence about the male-female split is very mushy, Dobbs being still alive and well as an issue, and with a theocratic fetus-fondler running the House of Representatives, it is likely to stay that way. I do not believe that the former president* will get 22 percent of the Black vote. I’d sooner believe he’d get 22 percent of the votes from pixies, elves, and the Tuatha de Denaan.

This election is closer than it ought to be, God knows; the Republican frontrunner was due in a New York courtroom Monday morning to answer charges that his entire financial empire was based on fraud and on books cooked like candied yams. Because few of the other Republican candidates are willing to point this out with any regularity, and because the ones that are — Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson — are polling at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, the fact that he’s been indicted up and down the eastern seaboard has figured less prominently in the campaign than the current president’s age.

(It also has figured less prominently than the fact that the Republican frontrunner has been having public “episodes” a couple of times a week.)

Then there’s this nightmare fuel from the Washington Post:

In private, Trump has told advisers and friends in recent months that he wants the Justice Department to investigate onetime officials and allies who have become critical of his time in office, including his former chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and former attorney general William P. Barr, as well as his ex-attorney Ty Cobb and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, according to people who have talked to him, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Trump has also talked of prosecuting officials at the FBI and Justice Department, a person familiar with the matter said.

They’re also putting the band back together again. Remember Jeffrey Clark? The attorney-general manque up to his eyeballs in the white-shoe side of the insurrection?

Jeffrey Clark, a fellow at Vought’s think tank, is leading the work on the Insurrection Act under Project 2025. The Post has reported that Clark is one of six unnamed co-conspirators whose actions are described in Trump’s indictment in the federal election interference case. Clark was also charged in Fulton County, Georgia, with violating the state anti-racketeering law and attempting to create a false statement, as part of the district attorney’s case accusing Trump and co-conspirators of interfering in the 2020 election. Clark has pleaded not guilty. As a Justice Department official after the 2020 election, Clark pressured superiors to investigate nonexistent election crimes and to encourage state officials to submit phony certificates to the electoral college, according to the indictment. In one conversation described in the federal indictment, a deputy White House counsel warned Clark that Trump’s refusing to leave office would lead to “riots in every major city.” Clark responded, according to the indictment, “That’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”

Scary talk, that. But, actually, that’s all it is. There’s never been an election more clouded by the unknown than this one is. There are all kinds of vague shadows dancing in the mist. You can’t jump at every one of them.

In other words, chill the fuck out.