Chris Wilson Joins Shannon Bream on Fox News at Night – Aired 10/27/20

Legacy Fund investment in N.D. has bipartisan support – Published 10/20/2020

Legacy Fund investment in N.D. has bipartisan support
By Keith Norman
The Jamestown Sun, Published October 20, 2020

Chris Wilson, partner and CEO of WPA Intelligence, a polling and research firm, said he found several things unique about a recent poll his company did in North Dakota regarding how Legacy Fund money should be invested.

“We don’t usually see any issue where Democrats and Republicans agree,” he said. “Here, there is clearly a bipartisan feeling on how the Legacy Fund should be invested.”

For example, 79% of likely voters in North Dakota supported investing more of the $7 billion Legacy Fund in North Dakota. Looking at Republicans and Democrats separately, the percent favoring more in-state investing was within the 4.4% margin of error.

The survey was funded by the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. which plans to cost-share the expense with other economic development agencies in the state.

Other findings included 72% of North Dakotans thought investing Legacy Fund money in North Dakota could include riskier investments that those found outside the state, 15% were in favor of investing the entire Legacy Fund in North Dakota, and 40% thought there should be no investments of Legacy Fund money outside the United States.

The Legacy Fund was created by a constitutional amendment passed by North Dakota voters in 2010. The fund accumulates money from taxes on oil and gas production. The amendment does not specify how the funds are to be invested.

Shawn Wenko, economic development director in Williston and president of Economic Development Association of North Dakota, said investments from the Legacy Fund could help bring primary sector businesses to the state.

“From an economic development standpoint, we look at this period where there is a downturn in the global economy,” he said. “It is a good opportunity to explore the opportunities of the Legacy Fund to draw business here.”

Jon Godfread, North Dakota insurance commissioner and a member of the State Investment Board, initially proposed the idea of investing 10% of the $7 billion in the Legacy Fund in North Dakota.

Godfread was not available for comment Tuesday but has called for an Investment Advisory Committee to review in-state projects before possible investment of Legacy Fund dollars.

“The proposed advisory committee will welcome investments in North Dakota that can provide a market rate of return, assist in the diversification of our state’s economy and get a multiplier effect with monies circulating in our communities,” Godfread said, in a written summary of his plan to require 10% of the Legacy Fund be invested in North Dakota.

The North Dakota State Investment Board meets Friday and could continue the discussion of possible changes of policy regarding the Legacy Fund portfolio.

The poll was conducted Oct. 13-15 by WPA Intelligence and contacted 500 people who said they were likely to vote in the upcoming election. The pool of people responding was split equally between people in the Fargo and Valley City demographic area and the Bismarck, Mandan and Dickinson demographic area. There was also an equal split between people who used cellphones as their principal communications tool and those who had a landline phone.

Wilson said the poll’s sample size was fairly large for the state of North Dakota and resulted in a relatively low margin of error of 4.4%.

The survey could also lay the groundwork for a statewide ballot initiative in 2022 when the voters could add the words “within the state” to clarify the current constitutional language, Wilson said. That simple change would require the State Investment Board to invest 100% of the Legacy Fund within North Dakota.

This article was originally published here.

The Nevada Poll™: Just two-thirds of Nevadans would get COVID vaccine – Published 10/14/2020

The Nevada Poll™: Just two-thirds of Nevadans would get COVID vaccine
By Mary Hynes
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Published October 14, 2020

A new poll shows only two-thirds of Nevadans want to get a vaccine for COVID-19 if and when one becomes available to the general public, a statistic one national vaccine authority described as “frightening.”

The Nevada Poll™, conducted for the Review-Journal and AARP Nevada by WPA Intelligence, found 63 percent said they would get the vaccine, either right away or eventually.

But 38 percent said they either would never or may never get it, according to the poll of 512 likely voters in Nevada. Conducted Oct. 7-11, it has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

“The numbers are frightening because so many people are betting on a vaccine to help work their way out of this pandemic, and it’s clear that many Nevadans are nervous,” said Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, who wrote a 2017 book on vaccine ethics and policy. “The number who say they’re not going to do it is much higher than the usual numbers you see from the usual vaccine resisters.”

He continued, “I think that’s very disappointing because if we had an approved vaccine, we would need the vast majority of people to take it in order to get the maximum benefit, which is herd immunity.”

With herd immunity, enough of a community has protection against a particular disease to keep it from easily spreading to newborns and those others who can’t or won’t be vaccinated as well as those for whom a vaccine is less effective.

Caplan thought that members of the public may have concerns over the safety of a vaccine stemming from pauses in vaccine trials and new strategies for vaccine development. The latter include Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s program to deliver doses by early next year, if not sooner.

“What appears to be of concern is Operation Warp Speed — which at the time sounded like a great name — has given a lot of people fears that corners will be cut and vaccines that are available may not be proven safe,” said Walter A. Orenstein, a professor of medicine at Emory University and the former director of the U.S. Immunization Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One thing Nevadans agree on

Pollster Chris Wilson said the polling didn’t show major partisan differences over willingness to get a the vaccine, despite the politicization.

“The one thing that Nevadans agree on is that they’re not going to rush out and get a shot,” Wilson said.

Just 16 percent of those polled said they would get the vaccine immediately, including 18 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Democrats. Yet 23 percent of those identifying as liberal said they would immediately get the vaccine, compared with 21 percent of conservatives.

Men are more likely than women to want the vaccine. Seventy-one percent of men said they would get the vaccine, in contrast to 55 percent of women.

The oldest Nevadans, who have higher rates of complications and deaths from COVID-19, want the vaccine the most of any age group. Of those 65 and older, 74 percent want the vaccine. But the second most likely group to get the vaccine was the youngest group polled, with 64 percent of those 18 to 34 saying they would get it.

The age group least likely to get the vaccine was those age 35 to 44, of whom 56 percent said they would get the vaccine.

Racial divergence

Wilson said he did not see major differences based on education level but did see striking racial differences.

Twenty-three percent of Asians said they would get the vaccine right away, compared with 18 percent of whites, 13 percent of Hispanics and just 2 percent of Blacks.

Twenty-three percent of Blacks said they would never get the vaccine, the largest number of any racial group, despite suffering disproportionately from the disease. Overall, 18 percent of respondents said they would never get the vaccine.

One expert said the result made sense.

“One thing I think that sometimes we underestimate, particularly in minority communities and in my community, the African American community, is that there’s a true historical context around a fear and a distrust of the medical system that is real,” said Dr. Margot Savoy, an associate professor at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, speaking with journalists in August.

“We talk about the history as though it happened millions of years ago when, for some of us, that happened to our grandparents, who we knew and loved and they were in our lives,” said Savoy, who gives her patients a “very strong, favorable recommendation for vaccines.”

From the early 1930s until the early 1970s, the U.S. government conducted a study of the effects of untreated syphilis in Black men in Macon County, Alabama, and failed to provide the men with penicillin when the drug became available.

Work to do

Work needs to be done to overcome the concerns of “some subgroups in the population who are especially worried that they’re going to be turned into guinea pigs or the medical establishment is not looking out to protect them,” Caplan said.

Building trust across communities will be critical, both Caplan and Orenstein said. This is likely especially true in Nevada, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

Clark County’s public health authority said it has partnerships and a plan.

“The Health District has ongoing partnerships to provide information to the public about the safety of vaccines and the importance of getting immunized to protect their individual health and those around them,” Jennifer Sizemore, a spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Health District, said in an email. “These efforts are being extended to our planning for the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Caplan believes that the number of people who say they would never get a vaccine could decline in the face of an effective vaccine.

“My belief is if you got the vaccine out there and it seemed safe and people seemed OK and getting protection, I think that number would fall,” Caplan said. “In reality if things go well, then I think many people might change their minds.”

This article was originally published here.

Poll: Voter support for Sisolak’s coronavirus response tumbles – Published 10/14/2020

Poll: Voter support for Sisolak’s coronavirus response tumbles
By Bill Dentzer
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Published October 14, 2020

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19 and manage its economic impacts appears to have sharply eroded public support for Gov. Steve Sisolak’s handling of the crisis, but he remains the person Nevadans trust most to manage the pandemic, according to a new poll.

The Nevada Poll™, conducted by WPA Intelligence for the Review-Journal and AARP Nevada, found 48 percent of respondents now disapprove of Sisolak’s handling of the pandemic and restrictions he ordered on businesses and public gatherings, while 46 percent approve. In May, the same question found 64 percent of respondents approving of Sisolak’s actions, while just 28 percent disapproved.

Even so, respondents put the greatest faith in the governor to make the best decisions about the coronavirus compared to President Donald Trump, the federal government, local officials, or individuals and businesses, though numbers for all groups were low. Just more than one-third, 35 percent, said they trusted Sisolak the most; 16 percent named either local governments or individuals and businesses; 15 percent named the president; and 7 percent said the federal government generally. Eleven percent said they did not know or refused to answer.

Overall, 47 percent of respondents gave the Democratic governor a thumbs-up, with 31 percent saying they strongly approve of the job he is doing; 40 percent disapproved, with 30 percent disapproving strongly. Thirteen percent said they did not know or did not answer.

Results within the margin

The poll of 512 likely Nevada voters was conducted Oct. 7-11. Results regarding both the governor’s overall approval and support for his pandemic-related actions are within the poll’s margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, meaning respondents are potentially split evenly.

Overall, the findings mostly reflect the sharp partisan divisions between Democrats and Republicans, said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster and CEO of WPA Intelligence.

“If you’re a Democrat, you think the governor is doing a good job overall. If you’re a Republican, you think he’s doing a bad job overall,” Wilson said. “Those people who are most concerned about the economy and most concerned about unemployment, getting back to work, though, they’re the ones who believe he’s doing a bad job. Those who are most concerned about the coronavirus, they think he’s doing a good job.”

The governor’s office did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the poll’s results.

Demographic breakdown

On overall approval, women and those 65 or older gave the governor his highest scores, with 49 percent of women approving, compared with 44 percent of men, and 52 percent of the over-65 group, compared with a low of 43 percent for those ages 35-44. The next-highest approval came from those ages 18-34, with 47 percent supporting the governor.

By level of education, Sisolak’s support was 50 percent or above for those at the college graduate and postgraduate level but 46 percent or lower for those with only some college or less. By income, those earning $50,000 or less gave Sisolak the highest marks — 51 percent — while those earning over $100,000 gave him the lowest, at 44 percent.

Those same splits were closely mirrored in the response to the governor’s specific handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the extremes, 57 percent of those 65 or older approved of the job the governor has done, 49 percent strongly approving, while 60 percent of the $100,000-and-over earners disapproved, 48 percent of them strongly.

“You’re probably looking at a lot of your small-business owners in those numbers,” Wilson said of the higher disapproval among bigger earners. “It tends to be the small-business owners, the small employers that are overwhelmingly negative toward him.”

Bad numbers for trust

On the trust question, Wilson said he interpreted the 35 percent support for Sisolak more as a negative, noting that it was 11 points below the governor’s rating on his handling of the virus thus far.

He also drew attention to the findings among those who identify as independents: 56 percent disapprove of Sisolak’s handling of the virus, with 38 percent approving, and 22 percent trust him going forward, compared with 19 percent who trust local officials, 18 percent who trust individuals and businesses, 17 percent who trust the president, and 11 who trust the federal government in general.

“Bottom line is, people in Nevada don’t know who to trust right now,” Wilson said. “If there is one person that they’re listening to, it’s certainly the governor, but their responses on that are so overly partisan … (and) independents are all over the map.”

This article was originally published here.

The Nevada Poll™: Trump, Biden virtually tied – Published 10/13/2020

The Nevada Poll™: Trump, Biden virtually tied
By Rory Appleton
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Published October 13, 2020

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are neck and neck in Nevada, with third-party candidates picking up small slices of the vote, according to new figures released Tuesday in The Nevada Poll™.

The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence on behalf of the Review-Journal and AARP Nevada, surveyed 512 likely Nevada voters from Oct. 7-11, with 44 percent saying they would choose Biden and 42 percent backing Trump. Biden’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

One percent of voters surveyed selected Independent American candidate Don Blankenship, and 3 percent chose Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen.

Six percent were undecided or refused to answer, and 4 percent said they would check “None of These Candidates,” an option on Nevada ballots.

“Right now, I think it’s very clear the Nevada race for president is wide open,” said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster and WPA Intelligence CEO.

This article was originally published here.

Democratic voters surge past Republicans in early voting, but GOP pollster says there’s no reason to panic yet – Published 10/06/2020

Democratic voters surge past Republicans in early voting, but GOP pollster says there’s no reason to panic yet
By Paul Sacca
The Blaze, Published October 9, 2020

Millions of Americans are eager to cast their ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election. A new report states that over 8 million Americans have voted early in the presidential election in 31 states compared to approximately 75,000 people who voted one month early before the 2016 election.

Thus far, Democratic voters reportedly have a commanding lead over Republicans in early election estimates, but one pollster says there’s no reason for conservatives to panic just yet.

The United States Elections Project, which compiles early voting data, found that Democratic voters hold a wide margin when it comes to voting early. Over 1.7 million voters registered as Democrats have cast their ballot already, versus only 750,509 voters registered as Republicans as of Oct. 9. There were more than 600,000 with no party affiliation who voted early.

States that provide party affiliation data include California, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

Chris Wilson, a GOP pollster who has worked for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, says there’s no reason to panic that Democrats have voted early at a much higher rate than Republicans.

“There isn’t a reason for Republicans to panic just because Democrats are ‘winning’ the mail vote,” Wilson told USA Today. “Every vote counts just once whether it is cast today or cast on Election Day.”

Wilson said Democrats participating in mail-voting more than Republicans was forecast long ago. However, Wilson did give a warning to Republicans.

“That being said, the concerning thing for Republicans has to be that once a Democratic vote is cast, it can’t be taken back,” Wilson said. “So our window to message and convert any of these voters away from voting for Democrats is shorter than the number of days left in the campaign.”

Florida has had the most early voters with nearly 1.4 million, where over 700,000 registered Democrats voted versus nearly 400,000 Republicans, and there were more than 250,000 voters with no party affiliation. Virginia has over 886,000 early voters, followed by the battleground states of Michigan with more than 844,000, and Wisconsin with over 646,000.

Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, who manages the United States Elections Project, said the early turnout is unprecedented.

“We’ve never seen this many people voting so far ahead of an election,” McDonald told Reuters. “People cast their ballots when they make up their minds, and we know that many people made up their minds long ago and already have a judgment about Trump.”

The total number of voters who voted early, absentee or by mail-in more than doubled from 24.9 million in 2004 to 57.2 million in 2016, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Experts expect that number to increase exponentially because of the coronavirus pandemic, and because numerous states have made mail-in voting more accessible.

There are 25 days until the general election.

This article was originally published here.

Trump Campaign Hobbled by Virus as Biden Starts to Pull Away – Published 10/05/2020

Trump Campaign Hobbled by Virus as Biden Starts to Pull Away
By Mario Parker
Bloomberg, Published October 5, 2020

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has seen its candidate, campaign manager and party chairwoman all laid low by Covid-19. He is short on cash, Democrat Joe Biden is pulling away in the polls and his best hope to climb back — the raucous rallies that fueled his 2016 win — is on hold indefinitely as the last month of the race ticks away.

Trump is still dominating the news cycle, but for all the wrong reasons — in the hospital, fighting the virus he sought to effectively erase from the story of his presidency as he appealed to voters for a second term.

Instead, coronavirus dominates the conversation around Trump. His own diagnosis sent him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, and the virus continues to spread inside the White House, seemingly due to the same indifference to basic precautions that Trump himself has demonstrated for months.

Whether he can participate in the final two presidential debates this month is an open question — though voters hammered Trump’s performance in the first debate, when he interrupted Biden so much the former vice president finally told him, in vain, to shut up.

The litany of political disasters “certainly causes great worry in the closing weeks of a campaign in which the president is behind in polls and fundraising,” said Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist who heads the pro-Trump Great America political action committee.

Of the campaign leaders sidelined by the virus, he said: “These are the decision makers, and normally the workload only intensifies on these individuals in the closing days.”

Among those infected are people most responsible for securing Trump’s re-election: his campaign manager, Bill Stepien; the Republican Party chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel; his trusted aide Hope Hicks; his wife, Melania; his debate coach, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and several senators who will help see his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed before Nov. 3.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Monday that she, too, had tested positive but had displayed no symptoms. In her statement, she insists she didn’t know about aide Hope Hicks’s positive diagnosis for coronavirus before she held spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room last Thursday.

“It certainly doesn’t help,” said Chris Wilson, a Republican strategist who worked on Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign. “Assuming they all just have mild to moderate symptoms, it still slows things down and makes the campaign less nimble and responsive to news events. And this is 2020, so there will be events.”

‘Operation MAGA’

Trump sought to re-energize his re-election effort, announcing “Operation MAGA,” an effort to flood the campaign trail with top surrogates like Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s family and others.

Some of those surrogates joined the Washington Sunday shows, offering a sunny view of Trump’s health condition as doctors raised the possibility Trump could leave the hospital on Monday. With the approval of his medical team, according to the White House, Trump conducted a brief motorcade outside Walter Reed hospital to wave to gathered supporters on Sunday.

“None of us is Donald Trump, but we can still deliver Trump’s message,” Steve Cortes, a campaign senior adviser for strategy, said on Fox Business Monday. He pledged to “flood the zone with content,” including digital rallies and in-person events with surrogates as well as videotaped messages from the president until he can resume travel.

Meanwhile, some big donors Trump desperately needs are expressing anger and frustration that he could have prevented all of this by taking the virus more seriously since it emerged as a global threat in January. One donor who has given Trump at least $100,000, Dan Eberhart, said the president’s appearance at a fundraiser on Thursday, after he learned that Hicks had contracted Covid-19, was “reckless.”

All of this comes on the heels of a debate performance so widely panned, a poll released Sunday — taken between Tuesday’s debate and Friday’s news of the president’s infection — found that Biden’s national lead had leaped to 14 points, from 8 before the debate. Biden also has set two records for monthly fundraising in August and September, giving him enough money to dominate Trump on the airwaves.

Biden’s campaign has tried to walk a respectful line, wishing his political rival and the first lady nothing but prayers and warm wishes and saying they would take down negative ads. But Biden didn’t abandon the campaign trail, traveling to Michigan on the same day Trump announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Election Turnabout

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. At the beginning of the year, riding high on the strength of the economy and a new trade pact with China, Trump’s re-election seemed likelier than not.

Now, Trump is out of topics he can use immediately to distract from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 210,000 people in the U.S. and collapsed the strong economy he planned to ride to a second term.

Pence will take on a higher profile and more intense campaign schedule to help fill the void while Trump is hospitalized, as will the president’s two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the campaign announced.

Pence will substitute for Trump at a rally in Peoria, Arizona on Oct. 8, a day after he is scheduled to debate Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The campaign relies heavily on Trump’s singular ability to energize voters and generate news. The longer he’s off the trail, the more difficult it will be for him to make up ground, Wilson said. That’s even more important given that millions of Americans are already voting early, and by mail.

Campaign officials say they believe investments in what’s called the “ground game” — local offices and networks of paid staff and volunteers who drum up enthusiasm and help get out the vote for Trump — will pay off on Election Day. The campaign has 285 field offices, double the number in 2016, and 2,000 paid staff, also about twice as many as in Trump’s first run.

“Trump needs to make some news and shake up the race further,” Wilson said. “The debates were his best chance to do that and the earned media and excitement his rallies generate were the second best chance. If he’s off the road for a week, or worse, two or more, that really kind of locks things in place where they are.”

And that place is behind.

Biden has been holding steady for months with a 6-7 percentage point lead over Trump nationally, on average. He also has held steady, if smaller leads in many states that are key to either candidates’ victory — Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania among them.

That may change, and not in Trump’s favor. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released Sunday morning, taken between Tuesday’s debate and Friday’s diagnosis, showed voters sharply turned off by Trump’s performance. He incessantly interrupted and cross-talked Biden, belittled him for wearing a mask and attacked his family. Biden holds a 53% to 39% lead, his largest lead in that poll in the entire campaign.

The concern for Trump is that the poll is a harbinger of a full break among persuadable voters toward Biden.

The debate was “a shock to the system,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who directed the poll with Democrat Jeff Horwitt. “The public can be taking a moment to say, ‘What did I just see, and how do I feel about it?’”

Biden now holds a two-to-one advantage with female voters, and Trump’s margin of support among men over 50 dropped from 13 points over Biden to just 1 point, according to the poll.

‘Just a Blip’

But nothing is ever certain with Trump, a politician who has consistently managed to defy expectations. In October 2016, the release of “Access Hollywood” tapes revealing Trump saying crude things about women gave Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a 14-point lead in one poll.

Biden is better positioned in key states including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan than she was at this point her campaign. He also — so far — hasn’t been badgered by Russian hacks of his campaign emails or an FBI investigation.

Some Trump donors and fundraisers contacted by Bloomberg News said they’re continuing to do what they can to support the president’s re-election. “If anything, I think it’s inspiring folks to do more to pitch in,” said Brian Ballard, a lobbyist and member of the RNC’s Finance Committee.

Gaylord T. Hughey Jr., a Texas-based energy lawyer who raises money for Trump Victory, said Trump’s absence from the campaign trail would strengthen his base and supporters, who were already highly motivated to vote.

“This is just a blip,” he said.

This article was originally published here.

New polls feed GOP fears of Biden rout over Trump – Published 10/02/2020

New polls feed GOP fears of Biden rout over Trump
By Jonathan Easley
The Hill, Published October 2, 2020

New polls suggest Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a shot at blowing out President Trump in the Electoral College, which would have disastrous repercussions for a Republican Party desperately working to protect its Senate majority.

The surveys were released before Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, extraordinary news with uncertain implications for the race.

The news could pull Trump from the campaign trail at a critical point in the race, but it also raises questions about the health of the president and the stability of his administration.

Before that news, Trump was already having a terrible week at the polls.

A new Quinnipiac University survey of South Carolina, which Trump carried by 14 points in 2016, finds him clinging to a 1-point lead. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is getting swamped on the airwaves by Democrat Jaime Harrison and Senate Republicans have been forced to redirect millions of dollars into that race.

In Alaska, where the president triumphed by 15 points in the last election, Trump and Biden are in a statistical dead heat, according to new data from Harstad Strategic Research. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) is trying to hold on against Democrat Al Gross in a state that hasn’t gone for the Democratic presidential nominee in 56 years.

Those polls come as Biden on Wednesday took a small lead in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls in Iowa, where Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is fighting for her political life against Democrat Theresa Greenfield. Trump carried the state by 9 points in 2016.

The polls show the presidential race is a toss-up in Georgia, a historically red state with two competitive Senate races this cycle.

A new post-debate survey from CNBC released on Thursday put Biden’s national lead at 13 points over Trump, a landslide margin. Republicans — many of whom were appalled by the president’s debate showing on Tuesday — are growing worried that Trump will lose in a rout and take the GOP’s Senate majority with him.

“It’s concerning,” said John Pudner, a veteran Republican campaign operative who now runs the nonpartisan group Take Back Our Republic. “I think Trump’s polling and his miscues at the debate are especially a cause for concern in those tight races in Georgia, South Carolina and Iowa … it’s making his reelection tougher, and it’s making those Senate races tougher to win.”

The difference between a Biden blowout and a narrow Trump victory could be very small.

Even with the cascade of bad recent polling for Trump, the president still has a 20 percent chance of winning the election, according to the FiveThirtyEight model.

That’s not far off from the 28 percent chance FiveThirtyEight gave Trump in 2016, when he went on to win most of the battleground states and pulled off narrow victories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The president won the Electoral College 304 to 227 against Hillary Clinton.

If Trump can defend the bulk of the 2016 map, and keep Biden to only winning back two of three former “blue wall” states, he’ll win reelection.

“As the parties continue to re-align, with some Southern suburbs becoming more swing but the old ‘blue wall’ Democratic states moving right … the competitive territory is going to be broader than it was in 2016,” said GOP pollster Chris Wilson. “But that doesn’t mean a blowout is necessarily more likely, it just means there are fewer states that aren’t competitive from the start.”

Still, the polling is much worse for Trump in 2020 than it ever was for him in 2016, when the widespread polling miss could mostly be ascribed to a failure of imagination on behalf of the analysts who interpret polling data for a living. Now he faces worse polls, and he is likely to be pulled from the campaign trail.

Biden leads Trump by 7.2 points nationally in the RealClearPolitics average. His lead has been mostly steady going back to last year. At this point in 2016, Trump only trailed Clinton by 2.7 points. He ended up losing the national vote by about 2 points.

The Democratic nominee’s lead is outside the margin of error in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He has led in almost every poll of Arizona this cycle. Florida and North Carolina, two states the president won narrowly in 2016, are toss-ups.

Biden is also running close with Trump in traditionally red states, such as Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Alaska, and in states the president won easily in 2016, such as Ohio and Iowa.

In 2016, independents, suburban voters and voters who disliked both candidates broke late for Trump. Some Democrats stayed home or voted third party.

Polls in 2020 show Biden leading big among independents, suburban voters and people who dislike both candidates. It does not appear third parties will be a significant portion of the vote in 2020.

According to the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, 279 Electoral College votes are already leaning toward Biden, more than the 270 he needs to win. There are 179 electoral votes leaning toward Trump.

That leaves 80 electoral votes up for grabs in Arizona, Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina and Florida. It would not be surprising to see Biden won some or all of those states. A couple of states where the polls are close, such as South Carolina and Alaska, are still categorized as leaning toward Trump in that model.

South Carolina could be a test case to determine whether Trump experiences a full collapse. The state has not gone for the Democratic nominee in more than 40 years.

Katon Dawson, the former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, said he’s seen private polling showing Trump ahead by 9 points, with Graham fighting for his political life in a statistical tie.

Dawson said he doesn’t believe Trump will lose in South Carolina. But he said it’s concerning that the president appears to have shed 7 points since 2016 in a ruby-red state. Republicans are worried Trump’s weakness, coupled with the enormous money and energy flowing toward Harrison, might cost them Graham’s Senate seat.

“Trump’s newness has worn off now and the disappointment I’m hearing from Republicans is that he could have moved the needle in these Senate races if he’d just taken apart Biden at the debate in a normal way,” Dawson said.

Chip Felkel, a veteran GOP operative in South Carolina, said he was “surprised” by the Quinnipiac University poll showing Trump with only a 1-point lead over Biden.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d see a presidential race at 1 point here,” Felkel said. “But maybe my home state will surprise and there’s a level of frustration with all of the chaos. The schtick is old and if it’s old in South Carolina, that doesn’t bode well.”

But Republicans in states Trump won easily in 2016 are largely skeptical that Biden is in position to win them back.

Craig Robinson, a conservative political analyst in Iowa, said it’s no surprise the race has tightened after Trump’s shocking 9-point victory in the Hawkeye State in 2016.

Robinson said it’s possible the president is being underestimated once again. He believes the Supreme Court fight will turn out Republicans that otherwise might have thought about staying home out of disgust over the president’s behavior.

“A lot of times in presidential elections people need an excuse to support the nominee,” he said. “Even if you’re disturbed by Trump’s behavior, even if you question his leadership abilities in the middle of the pandemic, the Supreme Court brings things into focus. It’s the ultimate excuse to say you might not like everything about Trump but you’ll vote for him because the Supreme Court is really important.”

This article was originally published here.

Trump’s Attacks On Hunter Biden Have Gone Nowhere, But He Can’t Let Them Go – Published 09/29/2020

Trump’s Attacks On Hunter Biden Have Gone Nowhere, But He Can’t Let Them Go
By Nidhi Prakash & Henry J. Gomez
BuzzFeed News, Published September 29, 2020

President Donald Trump has long tried to press a reelection strategy that turns “Where’s Hunter?” — an attack on Joe Biden via his son — into the “lock her up” of 2020. It just hasn’t really worked.

Trump and his followers used to spend considerable energy taunting Hunter Biden at campaign rallies and on Twitter, eager to make an issue out of his work overseas and raise suspicions that his father, the former vice president, somehow used his influence to help enrich his son.

Then for months, the strategy faded as Trump searched for an attack that would stick to Biden, who has remained persistently ahead of the president in national polls and many battleground state polls. But with the first debate Tuesday night, and a new report from Senate Republicans that relies on baseless old allegations and debunked theories, Trump appears eager to bring Hunter back for one last try.

“The biggest thing going on the internet is exactly this,” Trump insisted of Hunter from the White House on Sunday, minutes after the New York Times published deep reporting about the president’s taxes. At his Saturday campaign rally in Pennsylvania and in response to other questions since, he’s been clear that he intends for Biden’s son to be part of their Tuesday debate.

Some Trump allies, though, aren’t sure revamping attacks on the younger Biden is a winning strategy.

Republican strategists who spoke with BuzzFeed News don’t see much of an advantage for the Trump campaign in raising Hunter and his work in Ukraine. It could be a deflection point, as it was on Sunday. Or it could be a move designed to trip up Biden, who can quickly get angry and defensive when his family is attacked. But the strategists also believe there are reasons the attacks had, until recently, gone away. They were not very effective in defining Biden or weakening his standing with voters. The Hunter issue has been lapped in importance by the pandemic, a rickety economy, and anti-racism protests often used by Republicans to stoke fear about the Black Lives Matter movement among white suburban voters.

“If he’s going to make Biden play defense, I’d rather he make Biden play defense on the $4 trillion tax increase, on refusing to stand with law enforcement, on his position on the Supreme Court,” said Matt Mackowiak, founder of the Republican political consulting group Potomac Strategy and chair of the Travis County GOP in Texas. “All those issues, I think, are more likely to yield real benefit for him than the shady stuff around Hunter.”

Mackowiak said that while he thinks the allegations against Hunter have a legitimate basis, the real value of bringing them up again isn’t a question of what he did or didn’t do — it would be to point to the idea that Joe Biden is a political insider.

“Joe Biden’s in a difficult spot on all this because it’s one of his children, right. So it’s sensitive to begin with. Hunter’s obviously had a difficult time. He doesn’t want to probably add to that in any way. He obviously lost his oldest son, so it’s even more sensitive and difficult,” said Mackowiak. “In terms of the value, though, I think it goes to this argument that Biden is an insider. To this whole, you know, Scranton Joe, middle-class Joe, working-class Joe — that really doesn’t square with what we’ve seen over the last 10 years.”

Others said they don’t see compelling evidence of any misconduct on the former vice president’s part, and since there isn’t a clear connection between Biden and his son’s work, they think rekindling the issue now might not be the most helpful course for the Trump campaign.

“We all already knew that,” said Chris Wilson, a pollster who helped guide Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, referring to the information in the report released last week by Sens. Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley. “But it doesn’t seem that anyone has the perfect smoking gun of [Joe] Biden altering policy to benefit Hunter, so it’s a mixed bag.”

Wilson said polling on the Hunter issue in February, during the Democratic primaries, showed that voters were split on the matter, largely along party lines. A Politico/Morning Consult poll that month found that while most voters surveyed believed Hunter’s work for a Ukrainian gas company was inappropriate, a plurality of respondents said it wouldn’t make a difference in their vote. Nevertheless, Wilson said, it’s “definitely an issue that Republicans should push on and give Biden and his team the opportunity to make a mistake, but without the clear link between Biden’s actions and Hunter’s, it’s more likely to be a marginal issue than a game changer.”

Trump has risked and invested a lot for a marginal issue. His eagerness to coax Ukrainian officials into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden triggered his impeachment earlier this year. Rather than defining Biden, Trump world spent considerable time at first introducing voters to his son and leveling accusations that the media quickly determined to be false or misleading.

Even so, the Trump campaign and Republicans were so relentless on the issue in the lead-up to the Democratic primaries that even Democratic voters at Biden events were concerned about how the former vice president would handle the issue if Trump continually brought it up during the general election. Some voters drew comparisons to how Trump damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign through a hyped-up and repeated focus on her use of a private email server. Those attacks had a role in voters’ beliefs in 2016 that Clinton was corrupt or untrustworthy.

At times, it seemed Biden was struggling to quiet the noise drummed up by the Trump campaign, despite the allegations having little substance. He would parry questions about Hunter by vowing that his children would not have White House jobs — an attempt to deflect attention to the senior roles that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, have in the administration.

At a primary debate last October, Biden danced around a question about the propriety of Hunter’s work overseas while he was vice president, saying he and his son had done nothing wrong. On a few occasions in the following months, Biden lost his temper when questioned about his son by voters and reporters. But instead of damaging Biden, his aggressive defense of his family seemed to generally play well with Democratic voters in the early primary and caucus states.

Once Biden became the clear Democratic nominee, the Hunter-themed attacks began to recede as the Trump campaign began working to characterize the former vice president — again without substantiating evidence — as mentally unfit for office and razzing him for riding out the early days of the coronavirus crisis in his Delaware basement. Trump’s own tweets and comments attacking Hunter, which came almost daily late last year and into the start of 2020, had almost entirely disappeared until this weekend. There were exceptions: a campaign ad in June, the occasional mention at a rally. By the time of the Democratic National Convention last month, the notion of Hunter being a true liability was so remote that he appeared in a video introducing his father. At the Republican convention the following week, Hunter was mostly an afterthought, the focus of only one speech, from former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.

In response to questions from BuzzFeed News about why the campaign scaled back on the attack line in recent months and why it’s raising the issue again in recent days, Trump campaign deputy national press secretary Courtney Parella repeated several of the discredited claims but did not say why the president is aggressively resurrecting the allegations now.

“The corruption of the Biden family knows no bounds, and it calls into question whether Joe Biden or foreign interests would be leading our nation if he were elected,” she said.

Last week, after the Republicans attempted to revive the story through the Johnson–Grassley report, Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the suggestion that the Democratic nominee had done anything corrupt to help his son in Ukraine was a “hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory.”

Bates referred to conservative political commentator John Solomon, who originated the claims about Biden and corruption early last year, in columns published in the Hill. The outlet reviewed his work this February and concluded that many of his claims were inaccurate and that his allegations against Biden had no factual basis.

“Yet, to pursue it, Donald Trump committed unprecedented abuses of national security policy — triggering his own impeachment; Rudy Giuliani embraced Russian agents and had his closest collaborators indicted; and Ron Johnson diverted a crucial Senate committee away from the failing pandemic response in order to become the first sitting Senator to subsidize a foreign influence operation with American taxpayer dollars,” Bates continued.

He added, “In their sickening attempts to fabricate wrongdoing on the part of Joe Biden for delivering a key anti-corruption victory that Republicans — including Sen. Johnson — supported, they came to redefine political corruption in the United States themselves.”

The media’s coverage of the Senate report emphasized the lack of new or damning information. Trump’s campaign issued an overstated press release that also chided journalists for not calling more attention to the findings.

“American journalists have a responsibility to relentlessly question Joe Biden about all of this, in detail, and to call out his attempts to cover up this potentially criminal activity,” Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, said in a press release that was part victory lap, part media critique, following the Senate’s report. “Regardless of whether Biden is forced to face the music, this is further evidence that if Joe Biden wins, China and many other foreign interests with a financial stake in the Biden family win too.”

Jim Renacci, a former congressional representative from Ohio who aligned with Trump during an unsuccessful Senate bid in 2018, said in a telephone interview with BuzzFeed News that Hunter’s lucrative overseas work while his father was vice president is the type of issue that can outrage a voter who is struggling financially.

“If Hunter Biden was not the son of the vice president, he probably would not have gotten these appointments and positions,” Renacci said. “The question is: Did he do anything illegal?”

After reading a summary of the Johnson–Grassley report last week, Renacci wasn’t convinced. “I don’t think it reflects that he did anything illegal.”

Mackowiak, the Republican consultant, echoed one of the points raised by Murtaugh: Without the issue being picked up more widely by the press again, he said, it’s not likely to do the kind of damage that Hillary Clinton’s emails did to her campaign.

“I mean, right now, I think Republicans are going to talk about this probably in the conservative and right-wing media, but it’s hard to see how it kind of breaks out beyond that bubble,” he said.

He added that late last year and early this year, the Trump campaign’s messaging around Hunter was “relevant and useful in a way that it’s not now” because impeachment was the biggest story of the time.

“Look, do I think this is a really valuable attack area of attack? Probably not,” Mackowiak said. “That doesn’t mean it’s not legitimate. I think it’s absolutely legitimate. But, you know, I think they’ve got better opportunities.”

This article was originally published here.

Tightening polls in key swing states raise pressure on Biden – Published 09/25/2020

Tightening polls in key swing states raise pressure on Biden
By Jonathan Easley
The Hill, Published September 25, 2020

New polls show former Vice President Joe Biden running strong in states President Trump must win to secure a second term, but the race is close in Florida and tightening in Arizona, raising pressure on the Democratic nominee ahead of the first presidential debate.

Biden has several pathways to victory, with new surveys showing him neck and neck with Trump in traditionally red states, such as Texas and Georgia, and in states Trump won comfortably in 2016, like Iowa and Ohio.

The Democratic nominee continues to run up the score over Trump in national polls. Biden’s lead in the former “blue wall” states has been consistent and comfortable for months now.

There are glimmers of hope for Republicans that Trump could prevail in enough of the core battleground states to win the Electoral College.

Biden’s once formidable lead in Florida has vanished and the state appears to be a toss-up once again. The polls are all over the place in Arizona, although several recent surveys show the candidates within 1 or 2 points of each other. North Carolina has long been headed for a photo finish.

If Trump holds on to those three states, and if he doesn’t fumble away Texas, Georgia, Iowa or Ohio, Biden would have to run the table in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, giving the Democratic nominee little room for error as the candidates prepare to go head-to-head in the first general election debate.

“We’ve seen a few surveys that reflect a tightening race, but the scale of the tightening is unclear,” said David Winston, a veteran GOP pollster. “For the Trump campaign, it is encouraging to see some positive movement heading into the debate. Having said that, they’ll need more than what they’ve seen so far.”

The polling has been erratic in Arizona, which has only gone for the Democratic nominee once in the past 60 years.

Biden has led in all but a handful of the surveys released this year and FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver gives the Democratic nominee a 65 percent chance of carrying the state.

But Biden’s lead in Arizona has shrunk from 5.7 points in the RealClearPolitics average on Sept. 10 to 3.2 points now.

Recent polls from Reuters-Ipsos, Monmouth University and CBS News have put the race between 1 point and 3 points, with Biden holding the slight advantage.

Recent surveys from The New York Times and CNBC show Biden leading comfortably, in the 6- to 9-point range.

An ABC News-Washington Post survey of likely voters released this week is turning heads, finding Trump ahead in Arizona by 1 point. That survey found Trump with a 15-point lead on the economy, and Biden holding only a 4-point advantage on who would better handle the coronavirus.

Election analysts are waiting for more data, wary of that poll being an outlier.

“I see nothing to indicate that Biden’s modest but stable lead has disappeared,” said Mike O’Neil, a veteran Arizona pollster. “Should a second quality poll materialize that shows otherwise, I would reconsider this judgment.”

The data is clearer in Florida, where Biden’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average has shrunk from 8.4 points in late July to 1.3 points now.

Trump has only led in two major surveys of the Sunshine State since April, but several recent polls have found Trump and Biden tied in the state.

The latest ABC News-Washington Post poll finds Trump leading Biden by 4 points among likely voters. Biden is dragged down in the poll because of his lower-than-expected support among Hispanics, a persistent concern for the Biden campaign.

The poll found Trump with an 11-point advantage on the economy in Florida, while Biden leads by 5 points on the pandemic.

“The situation is definitely better for Trump than it was in July, but he still has a tough road,” said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster. “Trump has strengthened his position with seniors as COVID has faded a bit as a top concern, and that, coupled with some inroads with Hispanic men, has pulled both Florida and Arizona much closer. … On the other hand, we’re still talking about North Carolina, Georgia and even Texas as potential battlegrounds.”

Biden’s red state strength is alarming for Republicans. The president cannot afford to lose any of the states he won easily in 2016, which include Iowa, Ohio, Texas and Georgia.

A New York Times-Siena College poll released Thursday found Biden leading by 3 points in Iowa, which Trump carried by 9 points in 2016. A Des Moines Register poll, largely viewed as the gold standard in Iowa, found the race is tied, although a new Monmouth University survey found Trump ahead by 6 points in the Hawkeye State.

Georgia increasingly looks like a pure toss-up. Two of the three surveys of Georgia released this month found the race is tied.

A new Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday found Biden with a 1-point lead in Ohio, which Trump carried by 8 points in 2016. The poll found Trump leading by 5 points in Texas, though other polls have found a tighter race in the Lone Star State.

The new polls show a stark gender divide, with women propelling Biden into contention in states Trump must win. The Des Moines Register poll found Trump leading by 21 points among men and Biden leading by 20 points among women.

Nationally, and in the former “blue wall” states, the race has been remarkably static, with Biden leading clearly and consistently throughout the cycle.

Surveys released this week from Marquette University and Quinnipiac University found Biden with a 10-point national lead. He leads by 7 points nationally in the RealClearPolitics average. The president has not been within 7 points of Biden since May.

“The stability plays in Biden’s favor,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll.

Analysts say Trump could lose the national vote by 3 or 4 points and still squeeze out an Electoral College victory. But they say it would be a near-unimaginable statistical anomaly for Trump to win the White House after losing the popular vote by 7 points or more. Clinton beat Trump by about 2 points nationally in 2016.

The president also faces a difficult path to repeating his stunning 2016 victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Biden has led in every major poll of Pennsylvania going back to June and currently leads by an average of 4.1 points. A Franklin & Marshall survey of Pennsylvania released Thursday found Biden ahead by 6 points among likely voters, although a University of Wisconsin-Madison survey found his lead shrank from 9 points to 5 points over the past month.

Biden leads by 5.2 points in the RealClearPolitics average of Michigan. Only the Trafalgar Group, which accounts for so-called shy Trump voters, has found Trump with a lead in the Wolverine State this cycle.

Wisconsin has emerged as Biden’s strongest polling state in the Midwest, to the surprise of many Democrats. Biden leads by 6.6 points in the RCP average, with a CNBC-Change Research survey this week finding him ahead by 9 points.

“For this to be a real toss-up type of election, Trump probably needs the national picture to move another 3 to 4 points toward him and for North Carolina, Georgia and Texas polling to be more like Trump ahead by 4 points, with Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania getting into the 2 to 3 point range,” said Wilson.

This article was originally published here.