Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: America is just not shopping for what the GOP is promoting

Back when I co-founded Flu Wiki as a crowd sourcing tool, the social media world was young, and blogging was a thing.

Now we have covid tracking project via The Atlantic, worldometers, 91-divoc, Johns Hopkins all doing their thing, not dependent on CDC or a slow (and now suspect) Federal tracking

A lot of official folks hated the idea (some embraced it) but the concept was sound. Many states now recognize the need to at least inform their residents (and others) about the state of affairs. They feel pressure when they don’t.

The thing we did not succeed in is building a political constituency for public health. Always always last in the budget. Maybe that will be different now (I’m skeptical).

But at least the need is clear. Public health can’t be so dependent on the fax machine in 2020.

Natalie E Dean/WaPo:

Trump loves the ‘low’ daily death rate for covid. It won’t last.

Fatalities are always a ‘lagging indicator. And diagnosed infections are skyrocketing.

The discrepancy between the trends for cases and deaths first appeared in June, at a time when cases had plateaued, and it generated a lot of discussion about why the two were diverging — some of it hopeful. Could the novel coronavirus be mutating to become less lethal? (Experts see no evidence of this.) Is everyone benefiting from time outdoors, including a bigger dose of vitamin D? (Again, no clear evidence.) Certainly, treatments for hospitalized patients have improved, but these advances remain incremental. (Dexamethasone, a steroid treatment, reduced mortality from 41 percent to 29 percent in patients on ventilators, one study found.) A more boring, yet likely, explanation is that during our long plateau, increased testing uncovered milder infections — enabling raw numbers of new cases to appear steady even as the true outbreak slowed, thanks to stay-at-home orders.


In short, the period that might have warranted a degree of optimism has vanished. Deaths have leaped in the past two weeks to an average of 700 daily — and there is no reason to think the rise will stop. The accelerating outbreak is only now showing up in the death numbers because deaths are a “lagging indicator”: It takes awhile from the time patients are infected, to when they are symptomatic and seek testing, to when they are admitted to a hospital. And once in the hospital, patients can experience protracted stays. The result is that deaths reflect viral transmission that occurred two to eight weeks earlier. (Hospital admissions are another lagging indicator, though they provide an earlier signal than deaths.)


Joe Biden endorses Sara Gideon against Susan Collins.

Seems dog bites man—Dem endorses Dem—but the Obama-Biden WH mostly stayed out of Collins’ 2014 race. This suggests Biden would rather oust the most centrist Senate Republican than hope she doesn’t obstruct his agenda.

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) July 17, 2020

Harry Enten/CNN:

There are signs Trump’s base is leaving him on the coronavirus

But perhaps what is most surprising, there are real signs that Trump’s base is leaving him on the issue of the coronavirus.

Trump’s coronavirus approval rating with Republicans is dropping below 80% in the average poll. You see that well in the ABC News/Ipsos poll (78%) and the Quinnipiac poll (79%). Trump’s overall approval rating, as measured by Gallup, regularly has hit 90% since the beginning of 2018 and has never been lower than 85%.


Trump’s military occupation theater is both a horrific political stunt and also just plain bad politics; it’s clear in the numbers that the Lafayette Park tear gas incident was a big negative break point in Trump’s re-election polling.

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 18, 2020

Eric Levitz/New York with today’s must read interview:

David Shor’s Unified Theory of American Politics

The right strategies for politics aren’t actually unclear. But a lot of people on the Clinton campaign tricked themselves into the idea that they didn’t have to placate the social views of racist white people. …

The fight I saw on Twitter after the 2016 election was one group of people saying the Obama-to-Trump voters are racist and irredeemable, and that’s why we need to focus on the suburbs. And then you had leftists saying, “Actually these working-class white people were betrayed by decades of neoliberalism and we just need to embrace socialism and win them back, we can’t trust people in the suburbs.” And I think the real synthesis of these views is that Obama-to-Trump voters are motivated by racism. But they’re really electorally important, and so we have to figure out some way to get them to vote for us….

And, you know, the real inflection point in our polling was the Lafayette Park incident, when Trump used tear gas on innocent people. That’s when support for Biden shot up and it’s been pretty steady since then.


I used to work inside HHS & I’d like to comment as to why it might make sense for HHS to prevent CDC from getting & showing hospital data.

There is no possible good reason.

— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt) July 16, 2020

Elaine Godfrey/Atlantic:

Why the Iowa Senate Race Is Suddenly Competitive

Theresa Greenfield’s strategy to defeat Joni Ernst could show Democrats how to swing rural America away from the GOP.

In emphasizing these core Democratic tenets, Greenfield is trying to convince Iowans—especially rural, older white ones—that her party has had their back all along. They may be starting to believe her. Just a few months ago, Ernst, the popular incumbent of “Make ’em squeal” fame, seemed like a lock for reelection. But all of a sudden, the sleepy Iowa Senate race has become one to watch: A poll taken in early June showed Greenfield three points ahead of the Republican senator, albeit within the margin of error.

In a Democratic Party that is moving ever leftward—latching on to big ideas like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and defunding police—Greenfield’s focus on Social Security can seem a little retro. But if she unseats Ernst in November, her campaign may offer a lesson for the broader Democratic Party about how it can regain ground from Republicans in rural America, and transcend its reputation as the party of city dwellers.


Trump continues to have worse ratings among younger Americans than older Americans, with a notable break around age 50. Among those ages 18-29, only 35% view the president favorably, and in the 30-49 age group, only 31% view Trump favorably.

— PRRI (@PRRIpoll) July 17, 2020

James Hamblin/Atlantic:

A New Understanding of Herd Immunity

The portion of the population that needs to get sick is not fixed. We can change it.

Chaos theory applies neatly to the spread of the coronavirus, in that seemingly tiny decisions or differences in reaction speed can have inordinate consequences. Effects can seem random when, in fact, they trace to discrete decisions made long prior. For example, the United States has surpassed 125,000 deaths from COVID-19. Having suppressed the virus early, South Korea has had only 289. Vietnam’s toll sits at zero. Even when differences from place to place appear random, or too dramatic to pin entirely on a failed national response, they are not….

Now, based on the U.S. response since February, Lipsitch believes that we’re still likely to see the virus spread to the point of becoming endemic. That would mean it is with us indefinitely, and the current pandemic would end when we reach levels of “herd immunity,” traditionally defined as the threshold at which enough people in a group have immune protection so the virus can no longer cause huge spikes in disease.

The concept of herd immunity comes from vaccination policy, in which it’s used to calculate the number of people who need to be vaccinated in order to ensure the safety of the population. But a coronavirus vaccine is still far off, and last month, Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that, because of a “general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling,” the U.S. is “unlikely” to achieve herd immunity even after a vaccine is available.


Lots of people are feeling unproductive. But if you successfully infect zero people with the virus, seriously you’ve been extremely productive.

— James Hamblin (@jameshamblin) July 17, 2020

John Weaver and Bill Kristol/

Operation Grant seeks to stop President Trump’s re-election in Ohio

The politics of this decision are simple. For President Trump, there is a narrowing electoral map that gives him few paths to re-election. None of those paths exist without Ohio. And so Operation Grant aims to use the great American general’s home turf to put the nail in the coffin of today’s Neo-Confederate president.

Donald Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2016, causing some to leave it off the electoral map of contested states. But during the spring and summer of America’s discontent, with an incompetent and scared commander-in-chief unwilling and unable to unite a fractured country and handle a genuine national crisis, it has become clear that writing off the Buckeye State was premature.

As it stands today, the president’s status in Ohio is shaky and the ranks of patriots there are swelling.


This is seldom true, and is known as the Golden Mean Fallacy. In reality, the positions of either side in a political debate has no bearing on what’s true. Some examples include masks vs no masks, early childhood education, or slavery in 1865.

— Mike Young (@mikeyoung44) July 17, 2020


-Powell becomes the new Fed Chair and over the past 2 years has radically reshaped the Fed’s reaction function.
-AOC’s win raises the visibility of MMT and Green New Deal-type big fiscal thinking
-CARES Act actually hit the mark (for now)
-Biden keeps moving left on fiscal

— Conor Sen (@conorsen) July 17, 2020

Michael Tesler/FiveThirtyEight:

Why Trump — Not Biden — Might Have An Enthusiasm Problem

Second, because Trump voters don’t dislike Biden as much as Biden voters dislike Trump, Biden actually has an advantage in net enthusiasm (calculated as the difference between a candidate’s “very favorable” and “very unfavorable” rating). The gap on this metric has widened between the two in the past month, too.

What’s especially notable here is that Biden’s net enthusiasm rating is near zero, which is similar to most major-party presidential candidates’ ratings from 1980 to 2012. Trump’s current score of around -20, on the other hand, has only one historical comparison other than his own campaign four years ago: Hillary Clinton in 2016….

Additionally, social science research suggests that antipathy toward the other side is driven in large part by racial and cultural differences between the parties — differences that Clinton and former President Barack Obama exemplify in ways that a 77-year-old white moderate male Democrat doesn’t.

As The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer astutely put it, “The notion of a Biden presidency simply does not provoke the visceral rage that Clinton and Obama did — not in Trump, and not in his supporters.” So long as Biden’s campaign does not evoke such negativity, Trump will likely be the one on the short end of the 2020 enthusiasm gap.


What’s great about the Wallace/Trump dynamic is that while Wallace obviously thinks Trump’s a buffoon, Trump seems to recognize that Wallace feels this way. And it gets under his skin as a result, as clearly displayed here.

— Brandon (@Brand_Allen) July 17, 2020

Chapter Eternal:


Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did:

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 18, 2020


One of the oldest videos on my phone was Pelosi walking across the capital grounds after the passage of Obamacare. She insisted that John Lewis be there beside her. RIP Mr. Lewis. What a life.

— Sam Stein (@samstein) July 18, 2020

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day a week a month or a year it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”  ~ John Lewis

Honor him by restoring the Voting Rights Act.

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