Media's 'Dems in Disarray' crashes as Blue Wave election comes into view
Trump trails in Michigan by 16 points
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So much for Dems in Disarray.
The Beltway's media beloved narrative about how Democrats are in a constant state of confusion and forever outsmarted by Republicans is taking a major hit this election cycle. Saddled with more than 30 million lost jobs from a pandemic his administration completely mishandled, a stunning coronavirus death count that shows no signs of abating, and nationwide unrest over social injustice led by Black Lives Matter, Trump’s re-election run is getting battered from all sides as Democrats now stand poised to make big gains in November.
For the media, those realities mean there needs to be a shift in the campaign coverage. Are news outlets willing to walk away from their preferred (and lazy) Dems in Disarray storyline, and tell the truth about the crumbling GOP and the looming Blue Wave election? This is about challenging the press to be aggressively accurate in terms of describing the current political landscape and not sugarcoat the reality Trump and Republicans face, as women voters and seniors sprint away from the incumbent, and Democrats set statewide records for voter turnout.
The press has employed the Dems in Disarray narrative without pause for most of Trump's presidency. Recently, the press used it to suggest impeachment could hurt Democrats politically. (It did not.) The pandemic could hurt Democrats. (It did not.) Street protests over the murder of George Floyd could hurt Democrats. (They did not.)
Truth is, it's not in the media's best interest to advertise a possible landslide in 2020. Nearly every presidential race since 1996 has been closely contested, and the Beltway press wants to keep it that way in order to create a nail-biting drama and maintain consumer interest. (Just last month, CNN was insisting "Trump has a real shot of winning," even though Biden has led in virtually every poll taken this year.) That need for a close race might be why for months the campaign coverage seemed oddly focused on Biden's supposed woes, especially from the New York Times: Biden doesn't have enough money! Biden doesn't have enough YouTube followers! Biden doesn't have enough young voters!
How tenuous is Trump's position today? He's holding a campaign rally this week in Oklahoma, a state he won by 37 points four years ago. He's running even with Biden in Arkansas, a state he won by 27 points. He's currently trailing in Michigan by 16 points, a state he narrowly won four years ago. Overall, an incredible 80 percent of Americans think the country is now careening out of control.
Nationally, Joe Biden has opened up an eight-point lead, according to RealClearPolitics.com, a website that posts election analysis. That's double where the Biden lead was in March, when the Covid-19 crisis struck America and Trump began fumbling his way through the national health crisis. (The press wrongly assumed the pandemic would hurt Biden's campaign.) For context, four years ago this month, Hillary Clinton at one stage enjoyed just a one-point lead over Trump.
Today, "The recent trend line, though, is so broadly bad for Trump that even accounting for what many observers saw as glaring errors in polling in 2016 that failed to predict Trump's victory, he is in trouble, the Detroit Free Press recently noted.
Meanwhile, the Democrats' chances of retaking control of the Senate climb each day. Races that were deemed competitive six months ago, like contests in Colorado and Arizona, appear to be Democrats’ for the taking as Republican senators there seeking re-election collapse in the polls.
Yet somehow, the campaign press is still interviewing GOP officials for news stories about Trump's possible "landslide" re-election win. "Interviews with more than 50 state, district and county Republican Party chairs depict a version of the electoral landscape that is no worse for Trump than six months ago — and possibly even slightly better. According to this view, the coronavirus is on its way out and the economy is coming back. Polls are unreliable, Joe Biden is too frail to last, and the media still doesn’t get it," Politico reported this week.
Note that 2018 produced a Blue Wave landslide for Democrats as they posted their fourth best performance in a general House election since Harry Truman was president. During that 2018 cycle though, many in the Beltway press remained skeptical Democrats could pull off a landslide win with Trump in the White House. "Shifts in the national mood raise the possibility that an anticipated electoral wave could flatten into a ripple," the Washington Post reported, months before Democrats grabbed 40 seats in the House.
Democratic activists no doubt worry that voters will become complacent about November as the good-news-for-Democrats polling data roll in, and don't want supporters to dwell too much on Biden's lead. I understand that, considering so many Democrats assumed Clinton would win in 2016, based on the polling results.
My point though, is about the press and how campaign coverage should reflect the realities of the day and not relay on a baked-in storyline — especially not a storyline that cast Democrats as perpetually confused and disorganized.
Wasn't it nice to bask in a rare, good-news news cycle on Monday when the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgender people are protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex?
Who deserves the most credit? President Barack Obama, writes veteran SiriusXM host Michelangelo Singorile:
It was actually Obama’s EEOC that first ruled that gay and transgender people are protected under Title VII (in 2014 and 2015), due the great work of Chai Feldblum, an openly lesbian former Georgetown University law professor whom Obama appointed (the first openly gay person on the EEOC). Roberts and Gorsuch would eventually take up a legal interpretation that was incubated in Obama’s administration — and only because of his very forward EEOC — something that will surely drive extremist religious conservatives nuts when they figure it out.
By the way, Signorile has launched his own newsletter. Like his radio show, it offers up smart insights into progressive politics and the LGBT movement. You can sign up for free, here.
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK:
The War and Treaty, "Are You Ready to Love Me?"
The husband-and-wife team of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter, who are The War and Treaty, offer up pure R&B vocal joy here. Drenched in gospel call-and-response, "Are You Ready to Love Me?" showcases their dynamic, contagious style.
'Cause I been lookin' for your kinda love all my life
I can be a good woman to you, day and night
Are you ready to love me, baby?
I'm ready to love you, baby
Are you ready to love me, baby?
Yeah yeah, yeah
Sometimes it seems that the press crosses the line from reporting the news to scripting it.
A few loose points:
In the Before Times, Dems, and to a lesser degree, progressives were doing about as well as possible in the 2018 election and since.
As for complacency, the recent election in Georgia, not to mention other recent elections like Wisconsin, say complacency isn't an issue.
And funny, media-wise: Obviously the mainstream will move on to some other eyeball attracting hot button issues but I really think enough voters have gotten a clue; see that 80% disapproval number. An unhinged, moronic POTUS who's literally killing Americans and handling the economic damage from the pandemic in the worst possible way and who is not supporting racists and tacitly inciting police riots has delivered the message for more than enough voters that he is not to be returned to office, continuing media coverage of the pandemic and BLM or not. Trump's in office because a relatively tiny number of swing voters in key states chose to take a chance on him as hope for change. Well, now he's not a question mark; his unfitness and ineptitude is well documented. So the idea of eking out another Electoral College victory, I mean, all things are possible, but that one isn't exactly something I'd bet on. And I think a safe bet is that Donnie will do worse with the popular vote than he did in 2016.
And telling is that Trump seems solely focused on shoring up the base and is making no real efforts to attract actual independent voters (that is, voters not registered with a party but vote in an alignment with one party or another). As I say ad nauseam, the worst candidate in the race for Trump is Trump. He's a human third rail. And, again judging from the 2018 election and since, the Party of Trump looks like it's heading for a problem. May even be 1964 redux.