For someone who has spent a lifetime working diligently on what has been among the most engaging and impactful words ever written or spoken by anyone in modern times, I have a low threshold of expectation that those words necessarily have to be true in order to be acted upon. Call it hype, spin, hyperbole or, perhaps most apropos, bullsh-t, but people are impacted by it every single day. And please don’t try and tell me you’re the exception that never has been impacted by it even a little bit. Perhaps your sin of omission is minor, such as making an impulse purchase for a holiday gift or a limited edition flavor of coffee or a doughnut you didn’t absolutely need.
Or perhaps your openness to believe words without meaning are a bit more consequential, such as choosing to embrace the kind of rhetroric being spewed in North Las Vegas, as the Left Angeles TIMES’ Sarah Wire reported at length on last month.
Again, I would offer it’s worthy for you to read the entire piece. It’s detailed and daunting, potetntially disturbing and even dystopian But if your appetite isn’t quite that open, let me at least highlight a couple of examples of what Wire cited as especially eye-opening:
Between rows of portable toilets, a line of strangers waited to be baptized in an aluminum horse trough. One by one, they emerged from water heated all day by the Nevada sun, united in purpose as new soldiers for Donald Trump.
Nearby, Christian rock blared from a large tent where pastors standing before the main stage prayed and laid hands on attendees of the ReAwaken America Tour, a far-right religious roadshow now in its third year.
Helmed by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — a supporter of the former president and a key figure in efforts to overturn the 2020 election — and Clay Clark, an Oklahoma entrepreneur and podcaster, the whirlwind event melds the MAGA movement, election denial, QAnon conspiracy theories and doomsday prophecy.
The two-day church revival held in August just outside Las Vegas featured nearly 70 speakers who preached that vaccines are poisonous and will bring about the end of the world, that a cabal of global leaders is engaged in child sex trafficking and that the 2020 election was stolen.
“We know the one in charge up above, and I can tell you that I believe that he has his hand now on Donald Trump, that no weapon formed against him shall prosper,” Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, told the crowd. “God is a part of this race. I’m telling you guys this. I feel it deep down inside.
It’s potentially easy to dismiss these ranblings and endorsements as mindless pablum. The fact that one of its keynote speakers chooses to procreate with someone who looks like this is low enough hanging fruit for any late night comedian to immediately pick up on; for all I know, they may have already.
But on the other hand, this is a crowd that willingly spent two days sweltering in tents where they were greeted by imagery that depicts this family in a manner typically reserved for MCU poster art.
And they’re just the ones that showed up. Reportedly, tens of thousands more participated virtually. All armed with a call to action and a specific template on how to attack what they consider to be 30 crucial counties in six swing states that their hired researchers have identified have both the size and ability to be moved enough to assure a Trump victory in 2024. They were given literal marching orders, as well as a political playbook.
That might help you begin to try to understand why, unlike many others, I for one am giving more credence to this past week’s nwews about a recent poll which CNBC’s, and
The assumption has been that 2024, ultimately, will be a referendum on Donald Trump if he wins the GOP presidential nomination.
And that could very well remain true a year from now — given all the criminal indictments, the multiple trials, that mugshot and even Trump taking the stand today in New York.
Yet battleground-state polls released from the New York Times and Siena College on Sunday raise a different possibility.
What if 2024 is more a referendum on President Joe Biden?
In the polls, Trump leads Biden in Arizona (49% to 44%), Georgia (49% to 43%), Michigan (48% to 43%), Nevada (52% to 41%) and Pennsylvania (48% to 44%), while Biden is narrowly ahead in Wisconsin (47% to 45%).
And in a CNN poll also released this week, Biden’s margins over Trump in crucial demographic splits have narrowed considerably from the levels he had in 2020:
Biden’s support in the poll is significantly weaker now among several groups that he previously won by wide margins and were critical to his election in 2020. Among voters younger than 35, 48% support Trump, 47% Biden. Political independents break 45% Trump to 41% Biden. Black voters favor Biden, 73% vs. Trump’s 23%, while Latino voters split 50% Biden to 46% Trump. And among voters of color generally, women divide 63% Biden to 31% Trump, while men split about evenly, 49% Trump to 46% Biden. (T)he differences between then and now are stark. Biden won voters younger than 35 by 21 points nationally, independents by 13 points, Black voters by 75 points and Latino voters by 33 points. Among voters of color, he won both women and men by wide margins: women by 53 points, men by 34.
I’m anything but evangelical about the kind of beliefs ascribed to by Christian nationalists. But I am evangelical about research. The New York Times and CNN are anything but politically motivated companies and have both been in the business of conducting credible polls of size and consequence in elections for decades. And yet, the reaction to them has been downright ostrich-like, as FORBES’ Sara Dorn reported yesterday:
President Joe Biden dismissed a bleak New York Times/Siena College poll released this week that showed him trailing former President Donald Trump in five of six battleground states in a hypothetical matchup next year, insisting to reporters that 80% of recent polls actually show him beating or tied with Trump — a suggestion evidence doesn’t seem to back up. Biden told Fox News reporter Peter Doocy on Thursday “you don’t read the polls” when asked why he thought the results released Sunday show him losing to Trump in five of six battleground states.
It’s unclear which polls Biden is referring to — RealClearPolitics’ tracker of 10 recent, reputable national polls, including the CNN survey and others by YouGov, CBS, Quinnipiac University, Emerson College and more, show the numbers are in direct contrast with Biden’s assessment: he’s either losing or tied with Trump in eight of the 10.
When another reporter asked Biden if he believes he’s trailing in battleground states, he said “no I don’t.”\ Biden’s response to the New York Times poll was consistent with that of his campaign’s. In a memo to news outlets on Tuesday, Biden-Harris communications director Michael Tyler downplayed the results, referencing a Gallup poll a year out from the 2012 presidential election that showed former President Barack Obama down eight points, even though he went on to win reelection.
Look, I happen to agree that a poll taken a year out from an election is not necessarily a de facto indicator of what future results could be. As the CNN poll results correctly cautioned, those who actually turn out to vote are not the same as registered voters, and with a full year to go before the election, there is time for voters’ views to shift(.)
But to throw out numbers from a dozen years ago as being potentially representative of future results is essentially what Las Vegas casinos and sports prognosticators throw out as tip sheets for college football rivalry games. As if the people, the variables and even the world of 2011 is exactly the same as it is today. In 2011, Donald Trump was a reality TV show host whose most egregious sin was trying to convince people who knew better that the national NBC ratings were the same as those of the most successful overnight market–St. Louis–which happened to be the one he’d order Melania to write down for him while he flew around the country on his private jet.
What is indisputable is that the trend line today is clearly in a downward direction, in some key categories alarmingly so. A -33% decline in his still-considerable advantage among Blacks. A –40% drop in his margin among Black women, even with the omnipresence of Kamala, Ketanji and Karine (yes, their initials are ironic, no?). An -88% drop in his margin among Latinos. An outright reversals to a Trump lead among younger voters, which includes some who didn’t vote in 2020 at all.
And yet, even the NYT itself was apparently so challenged by the White House reaction to its findings that felt it needed to follow up earlier this week with a Maggie Astor piece that backed up their work with yet another network/vendor collaboration:
An ABC News/Ipsos poll also released on Sunday did not include a direct matchup but showed that 76 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, which is generally a bad sign for the incumbent. It also found — along with the Times/Siena survey — that the economy and inflation were the most important issues for voters, and that voters trusted Republicans more on those issues.
I’ve been an Ipsos client for decades. I’ll personally endorse their credibility. It’s probably not one of the eight that Biden and company seem to think are out there that would validate their confidence. But it’s definitely one they at least need to acknowledge.
And for those that have been quick to point to the many victories that the Democratic party scored in key state elections in Virginia and Kentucky, as well as referendums on abortion and marijuana arguably red-leaning states like Ohio–which countless e-mails from the Democratic party asserted in the past few days as they begged for my donatioms–as beibg proof positive the sky isn’t falling, bear this thought in mind:
None of those ballots contained the name of Joseph Robinette Biden.
I’ve written about a particular podcaster I listen to named Lance Wallnau, who participated in and regularly features as guests many of the folks that spoke in North Las Vegas. To listen to his self-effacing description of his roots as an Ashkenazi Jew, morphing into a poor imitation of Jackie Mason when he describes his strong pro-Israel feelings, his ridiculous endorsements of Mike Lindell’s pathetic slippers and coffee, his foolhardy recommendations for his followers to turn their IRAs into precious metal investments because, as the Bible reminds,”the silver is mine and the gold is mine” and his relentless pushing of four-week supplies of carb and calorie-laden dry foods for families to enjoy just in case of a deep freeze or nuclear holocaust, all the while making glaringly incorrect references to even Biblical chapters he cites in his preaching can give some comfort to those who fear that Christian nationalism is being led by anyone who is actually intellectual.
Then again, the man who he continues to assert is a modern-day Cyrus who he prophecized wou;d be our leader is indeed leading those polls. And this week Wallnau is over the moon with glee, literally shrieking his joy at the prospect even he wasn’t willing to assume was a given. “TRUMP!!!!!!!” , he maniacally and triumphantly shouts.
But amidst his almost cartoonish rants, he presents the strategists who indeed have laid out those 30 swing state counties as their playbook with almost surgical precision. Much as those who used the Camrbidge Analytica did in 2016 when Hillary Clinton went into the bell lap of that race with the kind of confidence and dismissiveness that we saw from Biden this week.
That’s frankly why I listen to him at all. Because even in that sort of cesspool are pearls of wisdom and very valid strategic points. Plans of attack I despair that Democrats can’t even try and embrace as worth attacking with anything other than shutting down anyone who might bring them up.
Wallnau may be a more extreme and vocal endorser of Trump than many of those who at the moment are tilting toward him, indictments, trials, confrontive tweets, civil court judge fines and yes, lies, aside.
But I’m not seeng or hearing anything close to that kind of fervor by anyone tilting toward Joseph Robinette Biden.
Election denialism is ugly, toxic and arguably lethal. Election poll denialism isn’t all that proactive, either.
So what should or could those looking to save democracy do? Maybe start by actually fighting fire with fire, making sure your facts are indeed more valid than those of the side you chastise. A little Dark Brandon goes a long way. In The Dark Brandon, not so much.
Yep, I know. That’s just my crazy idea. If you’ve got a better one, I’m open to it.
Better yet, how about commissioning a poll or some research to identify them?
I’m more than willing to help you find a credible vendor and present the results in a proactive way. Assuming you’re willing to listen at all.
It just might be time to do so. Because what the way y’all are going about it now sure ain’t workin’.
Until next time…