Today’s edition of Writer’s Lounge includes:
- an updated analysis of Trump’s precarious situation in swing states and even Red states he won in 2016.
- a new contribution from poet and prose author, Robert E. Blackwell.
- a new film review from Tiffany Elliott
- and an update on the status of COVID-19, nationally and regionally.
Trump’s Polling Collapse
Trump appears to have worn down the nerves and the patience of the broad electorate in America. While a new Reuters / Ipsos poll released today, shows Biden in front of Trump nationally, by 13 points – adding itself to the growing number of double digit leads demonstrated in other polls, Trump’s sinking fortunes are evidencing themselves with every new survey that comes out – most strikingly in “battleground” or swing states.
As you will remember, the election in 2016, hinged on outcomes in three Midwestern rust belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The margin of victory was slender.
In Pennsylvania, Trump carried the state with just 44,292 votes out of 6.1 million cast statewide – a .0071 gap between him and Hillary Clinton. Wisconsin gave Trump a similarly slim nod, with 22,748 votes over Clinton – a differential of .0076 percentage points.
Michigan, in comparison, was the squeakiest of the three, with just 10,074 votes separating Trump from Ms. Clinton out of nearly 4.8 million votes cast – a microscopic .0020 percentage differential.
It is against the backdrop of the 2016 results in this state, Michigan, that seasoned election observers are identifying a dramatically different pattern leading up to Tuesday November 3rd.
A new statewide poll, just released, shows presumed Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, in a double digit lead over Trump in Michigan. The Detroit Free Press reports:
Two weeks ago, EPIC-MRA of Lansing, a polling firm that does work for the Free Press, released a survey showing former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, leading Trump 53%-41% in Michigan, a 12-point edge.
But a second poll, started on May 31, a day after the first poll began, and concluded a day later than the first poll, on June 4, showed Biden leading Trump 55%-39% in Michigan, a 16-point margin. As it did for the first poll, EPIC-MRA surveyed 600 randomly selected likely voters for the second one, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
EPIC-MRA discovered two factors that they identified as accounting for Trump having dropped an additional 4 points in the second overlapping poll – Trump having ordered peaceful protesters ejected from Lafayette Square with rubber bullets, tear gas represented as “pepper spray” (despite White House denials) and smoke canisters and his trek across the street to historic St. John’s Church for a staged photo op holding a bible.
Images of severely injured protesters such as this young woman, didn’t do Trump any public relations favors.
On one point, there is no debate. Trump must run the table in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. He has to have 3 out of 3 – not one out of three, not two out of three.
And Trump is staring down the barrel of a massive reversal of fortune, not only in Michigan, but in PA and WI as well. The CNBC / Change Research poll issued today, finds Biden ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania by 49% to 46% and in Wisconsin, Biden leads Trump 48% to 44%.
In this same poll, CNBC’s pollsters confirmed that likely voters view Trump’s handling of the unrest following the George Floyd murder, very dimly. A majority of respondents, 52%, said Trump’s response to the police killing of George Floyd and protests for criminal justice reform was harmful. Only 23% said it was helpful.
Trump’s problems don’t end in Blue collar America. Multiple alarms are ringing at Trump re-election HQ above the shifting of political tectonic plates in former Trump strongholds.
In Georgia, a state Trump won handily (52% to 44%), over one million more Democrats (and counting), showed up to vote in last week’s primary than did GOP voters – a significant indicator of a broad enthusiasm gap in favor of Democrats. Democrats are also staging a very effective voter registration campaign, which so far has yielded 100,000 plus new eligible voters.
In the past year and a half, over 350,000 new voter registrations have been added to the rolls and 47 percent of the prospective new voters are minorities. Given the anger over the recent shooting of 27 year old, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, many of those new voters will be highly motivated.
Florida is an emerging trouble spot for the Trump campaign as well.
A GOP polling firm, Cygnal, finds Biden ahead by 47 percent to Trump’s 43 percent. Seniors in Florida are showing signs of falling out of love with Trump. Biden, in national surveys, has flipped Trump’s positive numbers with the 65+ crowd, by 14.3 percent, with Trump now statistically dead even with Biden, according to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis.
Similar effects are being identified in the 55 and older category as well. Trump is behind with seniors by 10 points in the most recent Quinnipiac survey of Florida and Biden is ahead in general polling in the state.
Polling shows Biden a point to a point and a half ahead in another reliable GOP stronghold – Texas. If that pattern continues, the DNC (Democratic National Committee) may strongly consider making the financial commitment to leverage Biden’s surprising surge there.
by Richard Cameron
The COVID-19 Bounce
We predicted over a month ago (May 12) that there would be an extension of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in America:
Events in the following weeks have substantiated our prognostication. New cases of COVID-19 are significantly on the rise in 21 states, most dramatically within the past week and a half. The Washington Post reports that:
Alabama recorded the biggest increase, a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, with 645 new cases daily. Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent, while South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent.
A dozen states hit their record-high seven-day-average of new cases: Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, Alaska, Oklahoma, Arizona, Nevada, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas. Five states reached new single-day case highs Saturday: Alabama (888), Alaska (29), Florida (2,581), Oklahoma (225) and South Carolina (785).
Despite the clear fact pattern here, Trump continues to project denial. One measure of that is his insistence in shoehorning 19,000 plus people into BOK (Bank of Oklahoma) Arena this coming Saturday, at maximum capacity, masks optional and no social distancing – all while health officials in Tulsa are pleading with Trump’s campaign to postpone the rally, due to the city experiencing a drastic increase in the past week of new cases.
Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa City/County Health Department, informed reporters that 96 Tulsa County residents have tested positive for the virus over the past day, a new record, adding that there are currently 585 active cases in Tulsa County.
Dart said, “Let me be clear, anyone planning to attend a large scale gathering will face an increased risk of contracting COVID-19,” adding, “If we could push it back until when it’s safe, that’s what I’d like to see happen.”
In broad terms, what the national numbers point to, is an extension of the first wave of the pandemic that has claimed the lives of (as of Wednesday, June 17), 119, 743 Americans. Trump has conditioned the thinking of a sizable minority of citizens, to reject a resumption of stay at home orders.
I see no viable path to further lockdowns. We need to employ targeted public health interventions. But states aren’t even doing case isolation well, much less contact tracing. Little follow-up for positive cases. People need support to stay home. https://t.co/SpKSsyI8uO
— Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH (@JenniferNuzzo) June 15, 2020
Dr. Farshad Marvasti, University of Arizona College of Medicine director of public health and prevention, told CNBC’s “Power Lunch”:
It’s not a question of whether we should have reopened when we did or not. It’s how we did in terms of the behavior of individuals. Most folks have been out and about in closed spaces, including nightclubs, bars, malls, restaurants, without any mask-wearing, and I think that’s a big contributor to what’s going on.
Objectively, it is impossible for Donald Trump to make the case that his leadership has led to anything resembling success, particularly when one considers that the United States has 4.25 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the infections and deaths worldwide.
According to a newly revised model from IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington), deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. will reach somewhere between 171,000 to 270,000, with a likely estimate of about 201,129 by October 1 – a month before the election.
Institute Director Dr. Christopher Murray last Thursday stated, “We hope to see our model proven wrong by the swift actions governments and individuals take to reduce transmission.” But hope is not a plan and as we have witnessed, Republican state officials have no interest in either instituting firm rules on social distancing or the requirement of protective facial coverings in public.
Dr. Murray added the warning, “If the U.S. is unable to check the growth in September, we could be facing worsening trends in October, November, and the following months if the pandemic, as we expect, follows pneumonia seasonality.”
by Richard Cameron
Movie Review – Strictly Ballroom
Rated PG – for language and some suggestive sequences.
Now available for streaming.
It’s as story that flies under the radar. An early 1990’s Australian production, set almost exclusively in the world of competitive ballroom dancing, where obtaining the top prize is everything.
Beginning its life as a stage play of the same name, director Baz Luhrmann drew on his own childhood experience with competitive ballroom dancing to tell tells the story of Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio), a maverick dancer with high expectations.
But Scott’s desire to dance his own way in open competition leaves him without a partner for the big, Pan Pacific Grand Prix championship.
It’s in the middle of this conundrum that Scott encounters Fran, played by Tara Morice, a beginning dancer with big dreams of her own. It’s through this unlikely partnership that changes not only their own lives, but the world of dancing.
Relationship is the main theme of the story, and it’s the relationship not just between Fran and Scott, but the dynamic between their respective families that make this story shine.
Scott is not only a champion dancer himself, but comes from a line of dancers through his parents, Doug and Shirley (Barry Otto & Pat Thomson), who were partners in dance, and in life. Most of Scott’s conflicts center around Shirley, who is the stereotypical “stage mom” to her grown son.
Shirley’s reaction to Scott going his own way is summed up perfectly in during a tense, late sequence, when Scott is sharing that he is “bored” with the steps he’s been taught since childhood. Shirley replies, “I don’t believe I’m hearing this! I have been with your father for twenty-five years. Do you think I get bored? Of course, I do!”
Another key relationship is the one Scott develops with Fran’s family, whom we learn, are Mexican immigrants, who run a store on the “other” side of the tracks.
It’s here that Scott is shown not just another world, but a new, more exciting form of dancing that was unknown to him. One free of the restraints and politics he’s known since childhood. One that plays a key in the film’s climax.
The anchor of the story is the life proverb for Fran and her family, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”
At one point, each character must stand up to the culture of fear created by Australian Dance Federation president, Barry Fife (Bill Hunter), who is Doug and Shirley’s long-time dance rival.
It’s the unique combination of experience, music, dynamic characters with great chemistry, and incredible dance sequences – including the grand finale – that make “Strictly Ballroom” well worth the watch.
by Tiffany Elliott