Welcome to our weekly 2020 campaign status review.
The week in figures
Good news for President Trump, the Cook Political Report made two changes to the election predictions, moving Florida from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss Up” and moving Nevada from “Likely Democrat” to “Lean Democrat”. Trump advisors see Florida in particular as a must. The changes reflect Biden̵
Biden’s campaign continues to dominate the airwaves, spending money $ 32 million on television last week, while the Trump campaign only spent about $ 10 million. Spending is nearly as high on Facebook as the Biden campaign spent 3.7 million dollars in the last week while the Trump team has spent $ 3.2 million on the platform.
A Monmouth University poll released this week showed Biden had a seven points ahead on Trump among the likely voters nationwide. Of all the registered voters, only 37 percent they said they were confident they would vote for Trump, against 43 percent who were sure they would vote for Biden.
But an NBC News / Marist College survey from Florida offered some rare positive news for the president on the electoral front: he and Biden were tied to 48 percent each among the likely voters in the state, with Trump supported by 50 percent Latin voters (albeit a particularly difficult demographic group to accurately survey).
For the president, the week began with him defending himself from an Atlantic report and ended with him defending himself from a report by veteran journalist Bob Woodward.
Both plots – one about his alleged disrespect for the military, the other, about intentionally downplaying the deadly nature of the coronavirus – have threatened to undermine his position with the voters he counts on for support, particularly members of the military. and the elderly. Trump himself was history once again, less than 55 days before the election – a time when veteran political strategists said that the person on whom the race is a referendum is often the person who is losing.
Mr. Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president, tried to take advantage of the negative news during an apparition in Michigan, where he blamed the president’s handling of the pandemic for the ongoing recession. In contrast, Mr. Trump, also in Michigan, has been trying to push a message about a great American comeback, complete with the revival of old-school Trump rallies he now regularly holds in airport hangars in battlefield states.
Nothing sticks to this president, but within weeks of election day, each round of negative news matters a little more. Here’s how this happened.
For Mr. Woodward’s first book on the Trump presidency, Mr. Trump did not participate in the project and (are you sitting?) There was no plan from the White House Communications Department in 2018 to try and shape the narrative. This left senior officials free to work, in an effort to preserve their reputation, and others who talked to Mr. Woodward simply out of fear that they would be the only ones not to.
For Woodward’s second book, Trump seems to have over-corrected, this time by participating in 18 freewheeling sessions with the author. “I gave him some time,” Mr. Trump told Sean Hannity, the host of Fox News, earlier this week. “But, as usual, with the books he writes, maybe it didn’t work out very well.” Why did he do it?
Mr. Trump thinks he can charm anyone. His desire to speak at length with Mr. Woodward underscores what has always been the reality of Mr. Trump’s relationship with the media, despite the cries of “fake news”. Mr. Trump loves talking to journalists – especially famous ones – and is driven, in large part, by his desire to gain positive coverage from the establishment.
But it may have been the enchanted one from the state of Mr. Woodward (although he has not read his books).
And he doesn’t seem to care. Unlike other authors who have written unflattering reports of the Trump White House, Mr. Woodward has not yet received the presale brunt of the book that usually comes after the president denounces an author and his work on Twitter. Mr. Trump seems resigned to being portrayed, perhaps because most of the malicious content appears to come straight from the president’s mouth. Instead of denouncing Mr. Woodward, Mr. Trump is defending himself.
How Biden’s campaign responds to Trump’s scandals
In recent weeks, Biden has faced a familiar challenge to Hillary Clinton: how to arm the Trump scandals. New revelations about the president’s conduct dominated the headlines and cable news, including his derogatory comments on members of the armed forces reported in The Atlantic, as well as the book by Mr. Woodward and another by Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer and confidant of Trump.
But making those stories last is difficult, and for the voters to make it even harder. Here’s how Mr. Biden is feeling:
Submit surrogates, not the candidate: Following the publication of The Atlantic article and highlights from Mr. Woodward’s book, Mr. Biden’s campaign held a media conference call with high-profile surrogates, including Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Sherrod Brown Ohio. In doing so, the campaign sought to extend a news cycle about information harmful to its opponent. Biden’s advisers also continue a path they have pursued since Biden became the candidate: While his primary campaign was centered on Mr. Trump and eligibility, his overall electoral strategy has often let others attack the president.
Focus on the virus: When Mr. Biden targets Mr. Trump, it has usually been on issues he feels most comfortable with. He sought to turn this election into a referendum on how Trump handled the pandemic and used new information as a weapon that bolsters his claim that the administration shirked its responsibilities. But the campaign has stayed away from the more gossip-driven elements that animate Trump’s opponents on social media. Books such as the one written by Mr. Trump’s niece Mary Trump and Mr. Cohen’s account of his time with the president have rarely found their way into Mr. Biden’s campaign messages.
Presidential Tackle: Unlike Ms. Clinton, who was dealing with the possibility of Trump becoming president, Biden is dealing with reality. And while the scandals have continued in his administration, Democrats believe voters who were willing to take the risk of Mr. Trump changing office are now ready for a course correction. This is another element of how Biden’s campaign tries to use Trump’s words against him, arguing that Biden would bring calm and stability to the White House, rather than the flood of law-breaking headlines.
Both campaigns agree: the Midwest is the best
With both nominees in Michigan this week, and top surrogates including Donald Trump Jr. and Jill Biden in Minnesota, the trip was a sign of how much attention both campaigns are paying to the Midwest. Intense interest in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania has dwarfed other regions. There are many ways to get 270 electoral votes, but here’s why Trump and Biden think this campaign will be won in the country’s industrial center.
White working class: Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden are both figures who have focused their appeal on having a specific connection with white working-class voters, a demographic group that was not thrilled with Ms. Clinton’s candidacy. Mr. Biden’s consultants believe it’s a population their candidate is most likely to be successful with, and states with industrial backgrounds like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are a good way to test that appeal.
Black voters: There are more Latino voters in the general election, but Democrats and Republicans have probably spent more time focusing on black voters in this election than any other minority group. Mr. Biden has leaned on his personal connection with former President Barack Obama, and Republicans have portrayed Democrats as irresponsible administrators of black urban communities. More than other battlefield states like Florida or the West, industrial states have cities with black turnouts that could determine statewide totals. These include places like Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.
Mr. Biden’s campaign is not expanding the map: Early in the race, some Democratic agents called for Biden’s campaign to expand the traditional battlefield map and invest in states like Texas and Georgia that have had demographic shifts that are beneficial to Democrats. However, if the candidate’s travel schedule is any indication, the campaign is focusing efforts on traditional battlefields for now. Biden’s campaign just announced another trip to the Midwest, Minnesota, next week. It shows a willingness to defend the states that Ms. Clinton won in 2016 for expanding the map to new states that have long proved foolish gold for the party.
What you may have missed