Announcing a vaccine in October will not be surprising – surviving Trump after November will be

Peter Nicholas throws cold water on the gaslight that is building up, anticipating stunts galore before November’s election day. Jobless numbers, 151,000 dead, and basic incompetence could still be tolerable for a “majority”, considering the faults in the US election system. Too many stupid things can still happen. GOTV.

“If Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose supporters, he could also raise the dead on Fifth Avenue and not gain any supporters,” Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School poll, told me.

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1. The economy could come back just enough.

Reckless though it was to reopen businesses while the virus raged, states that lifted stay-at-home restrictions gave the economy an unmistakable jolt. A record-setting total of 7.5 million jobs were added in May and June. The numbers might well cool off in the coming months, but Trump can spin what might turn out to be fleeting gains as a full-fledged recovery.

2. Polling could be wrong (again).

Four years ago, the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton came down to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Trump narrowly won all three. This time around, Biden is leading in each of the same three states by anywhere from 6 to 8 points, the RealClearPolitics average of polls shows.

3. Trump can campaign all day long.

If they choose, presidents can exploit the office for reelection purposes with brutal efficiency. They can push policies that matter most to prized constituencies, and fly to swing states for campaign stops masquerading as official visits. Trump can no longer hold rallies whenever and wherever he wants, but even during a pandemic, he can capitalize on his surroundings in ways that a challenger can’t.

4. Biden’s got his own problems.

Biden has suffered personal loss, which has made him a comforting figure to grieving Americans who have lost jobs and loved ones in the pandemic. Yet he still symbolizes a brand of establishment centrism that leaves some younger voters and some in the party’s activist wing uninspired.

5. Biden voters might not get to vote.

If the state elections held in recent months are any sort of dry run, November could be a disaster. The number of polling places was slashed in the face of COVID-19, forcing voters to wait hours in line. More than 80 voting locations were shut down or consolidated in the Atlanta metro area last month, while places in Milwaukee were cut from 180 to 5.

6. What if there’s an October surprise?

Ever the showman, Trump could try to shake up the race with a late announcement of dramatic progress in fighting COVID-19. News of a “breakthrough” would get ample attention, and whether he’s right or wrong might not get sorted out until long after the votes are counted. By that time, it wouldn’t matter; Trump could lock in a chunk of voters grateful for any news of an antidote.

www.theatlantic.com/…

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— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) July 29, 2020

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— Chris Warshaw (@cwarshaw) July 28, 2020

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— David Shimer (@davidashimer) July 19, 2020

2) On Election Day 2016, as I further reveal in “Rigged,” the White House and the Department of Homeland Security were running secret crisis teams, bracing for a Russian cyberattack against the nation's electoral systems.
3) Jeh Johnson, then the DHS Secretary, said his crisis team was ready to offer “quick cyber assistance” to states, were a “cyber intrusion [to] manifest itself on Election Day such that people who show up to vote can’t vote, or there is a problem in the reporting of the votes.”
4) The same went for the White House. “We did, in fact, have an entire crisis team set up in the White House,” said Michael Daniel, then Obama’s cybersecurity coordinator. “There were teams at all of the respective agencies,” he told me, monitoring for a Russian cyberattack.
5) When asked about these crisis teams, Susan Rice said, “We were monitoring very carefully, not just on Election Day, but in the run-up to the election, whether there was any evidence of Russia mechanically distorting the vote… That was obvious to do and necessary to do.”
6) On Election Day, the White House still considered it “very possible,” said Amy Pope, the deputy homeland security advisor, that there would be “actual interference with the voting record and voting systems.”
“Everybody was prepared for the worst-case scenario,” she said.
7) For Jeh Johnson, the DHS secretary, the nightmare scenario involved “data being manipulated [by Russia] in a handful of key precincts in Miami-Dade, in Dayton, Ohio, in a key precinct in Michigan, a key precinct in Wisconsin, a key precinct in Pennsylvania.”
8) “What did seem very plausible,” added Avril Haines, Rice's deputy, “was that [Russia] could affect the votes of a small percentage of the population by… changing the addresses of registrants to make it more challenging for them to vote,” to “undermine faith in the election.”
9) This worst-case scenario did not arrive. “We saw no evidence of interference in voter tallying, not to say that there wasn’t, we just didn’t see any evidence,” Jim Clapper told me. Susan Rice likewise saw no indication that Russia had “altered votes or electoral databases.”
10) But Russia’s operation had by no means failed. By Election Day, hacked emails had already dominated the news cycle for months, and Russian propaganda had reached tens of millions of Americans on social media.

**END THREAD**

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— Teri Kanefield (@Teri_Kanefield) July 29, 2020

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— Really American 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) July 29, 2020

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— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) July 29, 2020

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