10 July 2024

My reasons for confidence about the election

My Independence Day post was largely a repudiation of the lurch into pessimism and panic which has been evident in some quarters over the last couple of weeks.  This stance is not rooted solely in my natural antipathy for pessimists and cynics.  I have solid reasons, based on evidence and facts, for optimism about the near-term future.

To begin with, in case you're among those who still believe that Biden is actually suffering from cognitive impairment and may be ineffective in his campaign for re-election, or will not be up to the demands of a second term, here is the unedited video of his speech at the NATO summit yesterday.  See for yourself:

I have some experience with public speaking, and I spent years in close contact with a person who was developing age-related dementia, from the beginning of the process to the end.  It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that a person with any significant degree of dementia or other cognitive impairment could deliver a speech as clearly, forcefully, and effectively as this, even with a teleprompter.  The man is up to the job.  He may have occasional bad days, as everyone does, but we need to stop pretending there is any valid question about his mental fitness.

(I stress that this is an unedited video. For months, right-wing sites have been circulating clips of Biden which are carefully edited to make him look incoherent or befuddled.  We all know what dishonest editing can do along those lines.)

As I pointed out here (scroll to end), the media have a strong vested interest in trying to keep this non-issue alive.  However, Biden has made it clear that he is not going to step aside, and has demonstrated that there is no reason to ask him to.  The Democratic party and its supporters need to quit fussing around about something that isn't going to happen and get back to working on winning the election.


Despite the post-debate kerfluffle and other red herrings which the media will from time to time waggle in our faces, this election is going to be mainly about abortion rights.  There is abundant hard evidence that that issue has completely reshaped the electoral landscape.  Since the Dobbs ruling, we've seen a whole succession of referenda in which abortion rights were affirmed by very large margins in high-turnout elections even in red states like Kansas and Ohio.  There have also been several special elections in which the Democrat, win or lose, did at least twenty points better than Democrats typically do in whatever district the election was being held in.  A good example, less than a month ago, was the OH-6 special election -- the Republican won, but by only nine points, in a district where Republicans normally win by around thirty.

Trump is evidently aware that this is a problem, and is trying to push the Republican party away from its most hard-line pro-forced-birth positions -- for example, dropping the call for a national abortion ban in favor of leaving the issue to the states.  Some other Republicans running for office are also backing away from their former extremist stances.  When we get close to the election and campaigning begins in earnest, it will be the Democratic party's job to debunk all of these obfuscations, to remind the voters of what Republicans have actually done in the states where they hold power -- actions, not words, are the best predictor of post-election behavior.  Then, too, leaving the issue to the states is the current post-Dobbs status quo, which has enabled all the sadistic laws and the many cases of women and girls going through horrific medical crises without proper treatment which we've seen over the last two years.  If the Democrats handle things at all competently, their overarching message will be:  voting Republicans out of office is the only sure way to protect this fundamental right.

It is also possible that the Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity, the recent revelations about Trump's past ties to Jeffrey Epstein, and the increasing public interest in Project 2025 will drive even more voters away from the Republicans.  The mass media have shamefully neglected these issues, but the Democratic party will have plenty of money to get its message out about them when the time comes.  Still, it remains to be seen how much they will actually sway voters.  The abortion-rights issue, by contrast, has a solid track record of producing results.  The election and referendum outcomes described above are indisputable facts -- hard data, not supposition.

If that twenty-plus-point shift toward Democrats were to be replicated across the whole country in November, it would probably produce the biggest landslide in living memory, on every level from president to dogcatcher.  Biden would carry even some deep-red states and would take office supported by huge majorities in the House and Senate, with similar results in every swing state.  I'm not going to go out on a limb and predict that that is actually going to happen.  But it beggars belief to think that an issue which has produced such large swings in almost every state or local election where it's been relevant won't have some major effect on the national vote.


So, if the abortion issue is going to have such an impact, why are most polls -- including high-quality, competently-conducted ones -- showing a close race for president and for the Congressional majorities?

As readers know, I do not agree with the view that polls in general are worthless -- if that were the case, the media and politicians would not keep on spending millions of dollars on them.  In most cases the best ones do turn out to be pretty accurate, or if they don't, there's often an obvious explanation (for example, the "red wave" detected by polls in 2022 was probably real at the time -- it wasn't reflected in election results because Dobbs squelched it).  However, this year, there are a couple of special factors to consider.

First, remember that most voters don't pay much attention to politics until around early September.  Hard as it may be for the activist types to believe, most people find politics a boring and repulsive subject, and don't seek out information about it until the election is actually close and they know they will soon need to make a decision.  For that reason, I don't much trust polls months in advance to predict the outcome, especially in a year like this when there are unusual factors at work.  And this survey a month ago showed that 62% of Americans are "worn out" by the massive overkill coverage about the election, sick of hearing about it -- so they may well be actively avoiding political news for now.  A lot of people have no clue about Project 2025 or what exactly the threat to abortion rights is.  But they will, when the time comes.

Second, in most of the post-Dobbs referenda and elections I mentioned above, the startling results were not predicted by polls.  This suggests that there's some aspect of the reproductive-freedom issue's impact that polls are not capturing.  It might be that the issue is bringing out voters who don't usually vote, thus rendering the pollsters' turnout models useless.  Or it might be that many people who normally vote Republican (especially women) are telling pollsters they intend to do so again, but then changing their minds at the last minute in the voting booth as the horror of draconian forced-birth laws really sinks in.  Or it might be something entirely different.  But the pattern is there.  It's at least reasonable to anticipate that whatever the reason is for it, that reason will also be operative in November.

I hope I've shown here that facts and logic support an optimistic view of the election.  That doesn't mean hard work will not be necessary.  But I see no valid grounds for defeatism.


Blogger run75441 said...


I am with you. We have not had a president in the last few decades who has delivered an economy for all which helped all during a national catastrophe. That catastrophe being Covid.

Once done, we throw him out when there is still more to be done of which I am certain he can deliver.

Yeah, he can win if the naysayers get with it.

Great commentary Infidel.


10 July, 2024 09:40  
Blogger Ami said...

Thank you for this.
I haven't become discouraged yet, because I remember all the dire predictions from 2020 and what actually happened.

But you're always a voice of reason. Clarity, no screaming rhetoric, straightforward communication. I do appreciate the time you take to think about the issues and present them in a format that I can share with almost anyone.

10 July, 2024 10:45  
Blogger Palolololo said...

That's the same feeling I have. Fairly high turnout and abortion will be key.

10 July, 2024 13:07  
Blogger NickM said...

I dunno. The states are rejecting abortion bans. Trump has shifted away from a Federal ban onto the states to decide. Does this not make this much less of an issue for the Presidential election?

I think that is a cunning plan from Trump. I think it may work better than you expect Infidel.

He can side with the fundies and with state-rights which will please a lot on the right. It is very cunning. He's basically kicked a tricky issue out of field by standing for state v. federal rights which is a major right-wing thing.

I could have expressed myself better here but I'm a bit pissed having just watched England beat Holland to get to the final with a goal in the final seconds. I've had a few beers.

10 July, 2024 14:32  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Run75441: Thanks. Biden's record as president is certainly good enough to justify re-election. The only way for Republicans and the media to turn it into a fight is by using extraneous contrived issues like age.

Ami: Thank you. I hope I've succeeded in clarifying the main issues for people. Time will tell if I'm right.

Palolololo: It will be interesting to see how high the turnout is. In some of the abortion referenda it's been remarkably high.

10 July, 2024 16:03  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: Much of what you said, I already addressed in the post. The states run by Republicans are still pushing more and more insane abortion restrictions, notably Texas, which is by far the biggest red state. The post explained why making it a state issue is not really much more moderate or less electorally damaging.

I read a lot of right-wing sites, remember. The religious hard-liners are not happy about Trump moderating his stance on abortion. There's a lot of anti-Trump rhetoric all of a sudden. This is going to create divisions and conflicts within the religious right which will be much more significant than any positive effect it has for him. As I said in the post, making it a state issue is the status quo which is already motivating these massive anti-Republican landslides even in red states.

Trump is not remotely "cunning" and his blundering maneuvers have not remotely "kicked the issue out of the field".

I've read a fair number of posts by British bloggers and commentators about this election, which have merely confirmed for me that British people fundamentally don't and can't understand American politics. Your comment reinforces that impression. Almost everything you said is 180 degrees removed from reality.

10 July, 2024 16:03  
Blogger NickM said...

"Can't" is a bit steep. I did say I was a bit Brahms but OK. We shall see on Nov. 6th. But my money is on Trump. Note, "Cunning" is not the same "Strategically sophisticated" and I think Trump and/or his minders are cunning. So are "things" in the gutters.

11 July, 2024 09:20  
Blogger nick said...

I agree, Joe Biden seems completely compos mentis in that NATO speech. No sign of any fumbling or faltering.

11 July, 2024 13:46  
Blogger nick said...

Unfortunately two more major gaffes in his final news conference....

11 July, 2024 23:56  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: I'm not going to get drawn into bickering about word definitions. There's no way of knowing yet who will win the presidency this year, but trying to change candidates at this point, with all the chaos that would involve, would make it far more likely that Trump would win. That's why the Republicans are so energetic at pushing the "Biden is senile" meme.

12 July, 2024 02:40  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nick: That's quite clear about the NATO speech -- which is why the media are ignoring it. I haven't heard about any "major" gaffes at the news conference. He mixed up people's names a couple of times -- everybody does that. He was still obviously perfectly coherent and normal. The media are really clutching at straws to keep their fake narrative alive (and those who fell for it are equally struggling to justify doing so).

12 July, 2024 02:41  

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