Daily Archives: October 9, 2020

Two GOP senators test positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing Barrett confirmation vote – CNN

Posted: October 9, 2020 at 9:03 pm

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina announced they'd tested positive -- just days after attending a White House event where President Donald Trump nominated Barrett. Multiple attendees of that event, including Trump, have tested positive in the week since the ceremony, which featured many people not wearing masks and not observing social distancing protocols.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday renewed demands for Republicans to delay Barrett's confirmation hearings. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told CNN on Friday night he plans to move ahead with confirmation hearings on October 12 and a committee vote later in the month.

Graham said he needs the two senators to be back by October 15, when the committee will begin its debate of the nomination after the hearings are done.

The South Carolina Republican said he expects the members who have tested positive to be back in time for a committee vote on October 22. The concern is if Democrats boycott the commitee vote, the GOP may not have a quorum for that vote if both senators are absent. The committee rules require a majority of members on the panel to be present for a quorum.

But even if they don't have a quorum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can always advance the nomination to the floor under the rules.

The greater concern for Republicans is the Senate floor vote, for which lawmakers do need to be present to vote and for which the GOP has no margin for error. If Tillis and Lee were to be gone for an extended period, it would threaten the chances of confirming Barrett, given Republicans' 53-47 majority.

Already, two other Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have signaled they are unlikely to vote for Barrett because they think the high court selection should be made by whoever wins the White House on November 3.

If only Lee were out, Barrett could still get confirmed with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. But if one more Republican were unavailable to vote, they wouldn't have the votes to confirm Barrett. So now that Tillis is also entering isolation, the GOP's math gets trickier since it's unknown how long the senators will be out.

Republicans have told CNN the current plan is to vote on the nomination the last week of October.

Lee tweeted on Friday that he took the test Thursday, and would "remain isolated" for 10 days. He said he has "assured" Senate Republican leaders that he will "be back to work" to join the Judiciary panel to advance Barrett's nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

"Over the last few months, I've been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive," Tillis said.

"Thankfully, I have no symptoms and I feel well. As we all know, COVID-19 is a very contagious and deadly virus, especially because many carriers are asymptomatic. I encourage all North Carolinians to follow the recommendations of medical experts, including wearing a mask, washing hands, and practicing social distancing."

"I'm wishing @SenThomTillis a quick recovery following his positive COVID-19 test, and am thinking of him and his family," Cunningham said. "Because I was with Senator Tillis recently on the debate stage, I will also get tested."

Tillis staffers who were in contact with him this week will quarantine and get tests in the coming days, and his Charlotte campaign headquarters is closed until further notice.

Barrett tested negative for coronavirus on Friday, according to White House spokesperson Judd Deere, and CNN reported earlier Friday that she was diagnosed with coronavirus late this summer but has recovered, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Trump disclosed that he contracted the virus hours before Lee's announcement.

Lee said he experienced symptoms "consistent with longtime allergies" on Thursday morning and took the test "out of an abundance of caution." He said he also took the test "just a few days ago" when he visited the White House for the announcement of Barrett's nomination.

"Like so many other Utahns, I will now spend part of 2020 working from home," said Lee in his statement.

CORRECTION: The graphic in this story has been updated to correctly identify Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins.

CNN's Jim Acosta and Pam Brown contributed to this report.

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Republicans Are Suddenly Afraid of Democracy – The Atlantic

Posted: at 9:03 pm

These incidents, coming faster than anyone can absorb, are all expressions of raw, undemocratic powerof might making right. They signify that Trump and his enablers will trample on any rules, and finally majority rule. Senator Lee made a constitutional case on Twitter for what President Trump will try to do by chin-jutting fiat. What Lee calls rank democracy, Trump calls a rigged election. Later, Lee explained that hes concerned about the protection of minority rights from a coercive majority. That sounds like a hedge against an election blowout.

Lees contortions recall the antidemocratic arguments of Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, whose theory of nullification by concurrent majorities claimed constitutional grounds for the slave states to defy federal authority. History rendered a negative verdict on Calhouns theories and the evil system he defended to his last breath. Like the antebellum South, todays Republican Party is composed of a demographically and economically weakening population. It appeals ever harder to an ever-shrinking base of older, white, male, rural, less-educated Americans. And, like the antebellum South, the Republican Party holds on to power by exploiting the Constitutions unrepresentative featuresthe Senate, the Electoral College, and unelected justices with lifetime appointments. These institutions have concentrated outsize power in a minority party that doesnt hesitate to break the rules for maximum advantage. Its skill in drawing inside straights and turning weak hands into political domination has been impressive. But next months election seems poised to begin the return of majority rule.

If so, then Republicans who trashed checks and balances for four years in order to consolidate conservative power will suddenly rediscover them. Not to constrain presidential abuses, but to thwart the popular willfirst by trying to send the election to legislatures and courts and then, failing that, by blocking every move of a Democratic president and Congress. Well hear a lot of talk about the rights of minorities, the importance of separation of powers, and how America isnt really a democracy. Last night Senator Ben Sasse released a statement warning that Biden intends to effectively kill two of our three branches of government by abolishing the Senate and packing the Supreme Court. Sasse was referring to the prospect of newly empowered Democrats ending the legislative filibuster and adding justices to the court.

Both of those possibilities deserve to be debated, before the election as well as after. Biden and his vice-presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, should remind voters that Republicans, not Democrats, have turned the Senate into a body that produces no legislation but simply functions as a conveyor belt to cram every level of the judiciary with partisan conservative judges, filling seats that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forced President Obama to leave empty. The goal of this strategy is to seize control of the third, unelected branch of government and use it to prevent the elected branches, if they ever return to majority rule, from governing. What were hearing now from these latter-day Calhouns is fear of representative democracy.

Having chained their party to Trump, Republicans will follow him in his frantic effort to delegitimize the coming election. But I dont think it will work. The vote remains too powerful an idea in the minds of Americans. They are already standing in long lines to cast the ballots that Trump claims are fraudulent. The word democracy might not be found in the Constitution, but Senator Lee is right to be frightened by it.

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Longtime Republican strategists behind the Lincoln Project mounting rogue offensive against Donald Trump – 60 Minutes – CBS News

Posted: at 9:03 pm

A group of longtime Republican political operatives trying to unseat the president say they are willing to forgo a future in Republican politics to oust a leader they believe has driven the party of Lincoln into the ground. Lesley Stahl reports on the anti-Trump Super PAC the "Lincoln Project," whose lifelong Republican founders include former John McCain strategists Steve Schmidt and John Weaver, on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS.

Schmidt and seven co-founders launched the Lincoln Project last December in hopes of reaching out to other Republicans they believed were also unhappy with President Trump. "What we thought we could do is talk to those voters in the language and the iconography that they understand, connect with them, and persuade them, many of them, to vote for the Democratic nominee for the first time in their lives," says Schmidt.

Other co-founders of the Lincoln Project include Republican media consultant and author Rick Wilson; George W. Bush campaign veteran Reed Galen; and George Conway, Trump critic and husband of former White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway. "None of us will ever work in Republican politics again," Schmidt tells Stahl. "We joke that-- like some of the explorers who came to the new world, they were incentivized by the captain when he burned the ships" Asked whether his actions have cost him friends, he replies, "For sure. Of course."

The Lincoln Project made a name for itself with its numerous attack ads, released almost every day on social media. The ads go for the jugular. They have accused the president of being a draft dodger, disrespecting veterans, and failing in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics charge the negative attack ads are right out of the playbook used by President Trump. That's the plan, says Wilson, who is in charge of the advertising. "There's always a reflexive sort of, do-gooder instinct to say, 'Oh, I hate negative ads.' People do hate negative ads, but negative ads work," he says.

Wilson and the Lincoln Project hope their messaging will persuade life-long Republicans like themselves to do the unthinkable. They have raised more than $60 million so far and believe if just four percent of Republicans can be convinced to vote for Biden, they can oust President Trump. "So those independent-leaning men, those college-educated Republicans, the suburban Republican women. We understand where those voters are, we understand who they are and how they think," says Wilson. "It's a game of small numbers. I mean, Donald Trump won this election by 77,000 votes in three states."

Stahl spoke to the Lincoln Project in their first group television interview. They express sadness and anger over the turn their former party has taken. When Lesley asks Weaver how painful it is to repudiate his decades of work for the Republican Party, he replies, "There are moments of melancholy about it. No doubt."

But Wilson tells Stahl the Lincoln Project is bigger than partisan politics. "In all politics, you can look back on things with honor or regret or what have you. I'll think I'll look back on this, I think all of us will look back on this, as something we did in the cause of the country."

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Longtime Republican strategists behind the Lincoln Project mounting rogue offensive against Donald Trump - 60 Minutes - CBS News

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Democrats and Republicans Arent Watching the Same Pandemic – TIME

Posted: at 9:03 pm

This weeks vice presidential debate was a face off not only between Vice President President Mike Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris, but a head-to-head matchup of two ways of understanding the United States COVID-19 pandemic. As Pence framed it, the Donald Trump Administration had been dealt a bad hand, but has risen to the challenge in a way Harris and her running mate, former Vice President Joe Biden, could not have. Meanwhile, Harris declared the Trump Administrations response as the greatest failure of any presidential administration, pointing to the 210,000-plus deaths and more than 7.5 million infections in the U.S. so far as evidence.

These divergent narratives underscore just how far apart Americans overall have become in their interpretation of the pandemicand the idea that people are increasingly rejecting reality for their own preferred set of facts. As an Oct. 8 poll of 9,220 Americans conducted by the Pew Research Center between Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 by reveals, Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided on how well the U.S. has done in fighting COVID-19. Theyre also split on whether the outbreak was as big of a deal as it has been made out to be. Moreover, theyre paying less attention to the crisis overall, even as it shows signs of worsening once again.

While a majority of Americans overall (61%) agreed that the U.S. hasnt controlled the outbreak as well as it could have, that belief breaks down starkly along party lines: 88% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Americans agreed, compared to just 30% of Republicans or those who lean Republican. Republicans and Republican-leaning Americans were also far more likely (66%) than all U.S. adults (39%) to say that the coronavirus outbreak has been blown out of proportion, as President Trump has repeatedly suggested.

That Republicans may not be taking the coronavirus outbreak as seriously as Democrats could help explain a past poll by Gallup, which found that Republicans are less likely to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions guidance and wear a face mask to slow the spread of the virus. That survey, conducted in June and July, found that 94% of Democrats always or very often wore a face mask, compared to only 46% of Republicans.

The new Pew survey found that Republicans are not a monolith, however. Republicans and Republican-leaning Americans who named only Fox News or talk radio as their major source for political news were more likely to say the U.S. has done what it could to control the virus spread (90%), compared to others who watched those stations in addition to other mainstream sources (62%).

Broadly speaking, Republicans and the Republican-leaning were also less likely (26%) than Democrats and the Democrat-leaning (44%) to say that theyre paying very close attention to coronavirus news in the recent poll. Americans overall have been paying less attention to COVID-19 news lately51% were keeping a very close eye on things back in March, while only 35% were doing the same by September. That may speak to the phenomenon of pandemic fatigue, suggesting people are tiring not only of the outbreak-related headlines, but also of measures like wearing masks, social distancing and so ona potentially dangerous sign as we head into what increasingly looks to be another wave of COVID-19 in the fall and winter.

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Illinois Republican congressman announces he tested positive for coronavirus – CNN

Posted: at 9:03 pm

In a statement, Bost said he experienced "a mild cough and a rapid loss of both taste and smell" and quickly got tested.

Congressional staffers he has been in close contact with are quarantining while they await their own test results, he said. He also indicated that some of his constituents may have been exposed, saying he is beginning to reach out to individuals he has met with recently.

"I am postponing my public event schedule but will continue conducting virtual meetings as I isolate at home. We are taking this situation seriously and will continue to serve the people of Southern Illinois while doing our best to ensure their health and safety," he said. "I will provide additional updates in the days ahead and am anxious to get back to work as soon as I make a full recovery."

House Democratic leaders have taken some precautions to prevent the spread of the virus during the pandemic, including establishing a form of remote voting, separating members into smaller groups for votes, and requiring lawmakers to wear masks on the floor and during committee meetings. But some members argue it isn't enough, calling for a more robust testing regimen on Capitol Hill to identify cases. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly pushed back on that concept, saying existing resources already meet the needs at the Capitol.

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Republicans’ Attention to COVID-19 News Had Declined Before Trump Tested Positive – Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project

Posted: at 9:03 pm

About two-thirds of Republicans say the U.S. has controlled the outbreak as much as it could have; 88% of Democrats disagree

How we did this

Pew Research Centers American News Pathways project conducted this study to understand how Americans are engaging with and perceiving news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For this analysis, we surveyed 9,220 U.S. adults between Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2020. Everyone who completed the survey is a member of Pew Research Centers American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATPs methodology.

See here to read more about the questions used for this report and the reports methodology.

Visit our interactive data tool to access the questions included in this report, as well as content about the coronavirus outbreak and the 2020 presidential election.

Six months into a pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the United States and profoundly impacted daily life and before President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus about six-in-ten Americans say the country has not controlled the coronavirus outbreak as much as it could have. At the same time, about four-in-ten also believe that the outbreak has been made into a bigger deal than it really is.

On these two issues, there is deep disagreement between Democrats and Republicans. And within the GOP, opinions vary considerably based on where people get their political and election news, according to a survey of 9,220 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2020 (prior to the first presidential debate and Trumps subsequent positive test for the virus) as part of Pew Research Centers American News Pathways project.

For example, Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP are much more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say the U.S. coronavirus outbreak has been controlled as much it could have and that it has been overblown. And among Republicans, those who cited Fox News and/or talk radio as their only major sources among eight sources asked about are far more likely than others to take these positions.

Meanwhile, Americans attention to coronavirus news has declined, from a high of 57% following that news very closely in late March to 35% who say the same in September. And the degree of attention that Americans are paying to news about the coronavirus also reveals partisan differences, with substantially fewer Republicans now following that coverage closely than Democrats.

While those partisan differences were small in previous months, that gap has since grown significantly. As of early September, 44% of Democrats are following news of the outbreak very closely, compared with 26% of Republicans.

Overall, 61% of adults say the U.S. has not controlled the COVID-19 outbreak as much as it could have, compared with 37% who say it has. Inside those numbers is a stark partisan divide: About two-thirds of Republicans and independents who lean Republican (68%) say the U.S. has done about as much as it could in controlling the outbreak. That view is held by only about one-in-ten Democrats, including independents who lean Democratic (11%).

But even as most Americans say the outbreak has not been controlled to the extent it could have been, a plurality (39%) believes the pandemic has been made into a bigger deal than it really is. That compares with 26% of Americans who say it has gotten less attention than it should, and 33% who say it has received about the right amount of attention.

Those numbers have not changed much since June. But in April, when the outbreak was still in its early weeks in the U.S., a plurality (42%) said that it had been approached about right, while roughly equal shares thought it had been exaggerated (29%) or underplayed (27%).

On this question, too, there is a major difference by party affiliation, with Republicans much more likely than Democrats 66% vs. 15% to say the outbreak has been overblown. Conversely, 43% of Democrats say the pandemic has been made into a smaller deal than it really is, compared with only 9% of Republicans. Another 41% of Democrats say it has been approached about right, compared with 23% of Republicans. These same patterns existed when Americans were surveyed on the subject earlier this year.

Among Republicans, there also are major differences based on media diet.

The survey asked respondents whether each of eight news providers was a major source of political and election news for them. Researchers then grouped these responses based on the political composition of the outlets audiences. For example, Republicans were analyzed based on the degree to which they get political news from the outlets with conservative-leaning audiences (specifically, Fox News and talk radio), and Democrats were categorized based on the degree to which they get news from the outlets with liberal-leaning audiences CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post. (The eighth source, national network TV such as ABC, NBC or CBS, has an audience that does not lean strongly in either direction; see Appendix and the box below for more details about how respondents were grouped by their major news sources.)

Partisans major news sources

The categories in this analysis come from research on the major sources Republicans and Democrats use for political and election news.

Respondents indicated whether they use eight prominent news sources as a major source, a minor source or not a source for political and election news. The sources are Fox News cable channel, CNN, MSNBC, national network TV (ABC, CBS or NBC asked together), NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and talk radio (examples of Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh were given).

Respondents major news sources are grouped according to the political composition of their audiences defined here as the respondents who say it is a major source for political and election news. A source is considered to have a left-leaning audience if the portion of those who say it is a major source who are liberal Democrats (including leaners) is at least two-thirds greater than the portion who identify as conservative Republicans (including leaners); if the reverse is true, the source is classified as having a right-leaning audience, and if neither is true, the source is classified as having a more mixed audience.

Using this method, two of the eight news sources analyzed have audiences who lean to the right politically (Fox News and talk radio); five have audiences who lean left (CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post); and one group has a mixed audience (national network TV, such as ABC, CBS and NBC). (Previous research has found that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents generally use fewer news sources than Democrats and Democratic leaners.)

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (Dem/Lean Dem) and Republicans and Republican leaners (Rep/Lean Rep) are each divided into four groups based on which news sources they turned to as major sources for political and election news. The classifications within each party also include a group for those who do not use any of the eight sources asked about. The portion of partisans in each group is shown in the table. See Appendix for more details.

Fully 90% of those Republicans who only indicated Fox News and/or talk radio two platforms with conservative-leaning audiences as major sources of political news say the country has controlled the outbreak as much as it could. But among Republicans who rely on neither Fox News nor talk radio but rely on at least one of the other major news providers mentioned in the survey, about half as many (46%) say the U.S. controlled the outbreak as well as it could.

There are far smaller differences among Democrats with different media diets; large majorities in all cases say that the U.S. could have done more to control the outbreak. But unlike other groups, Democrats whose major sources are only those with liberal-leaning audiences MSNBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post are almost unanimous in saying that the U.S. has not controlled the outbreak as much as it could have (97%).

There are similar patterns on the question about whether the pandemic has been overblown. As of early September, among Republicans with only Fox News and/or talk radio as major news sources, 78% say the coronavirus has been made a bigger deal than it really is. That falls to 54% among Republicans who use a mix of major sources, and 47% for those who name some major sources, but not Fox News or talk radio.

These patterns do not necessarily prove that Republicans are taking their cues directly from their news sources. Other factors beyond media diet may impact peoples assessments of how the U.S. has reacted to the outbreak. And the relationship can go in either direction: People can either pick their media sources to fit their existing political views, or have their views shaped by those sources (or both at the same time). Still, the data shows a clear connection between news diet within the GOP and views on the pandemic.

These within-party differences hold true even when accounting for ideology. For example, conservative Republicans who only rely on Fox News or talk radio are more likely than conservative Republicans who also rely on other major sources to say that the U.S. has controlled the outbreak as much as it could have.

Republicans also are less likely than Democrats to be highly engaged with news coverage of the pandemic. As of early September, about a quarter of Republicans (26%) say they are following news about the outbreak very closely, down substantially from the early days of the pandemic in the U.S., when more than half (56%) were highly engaged in late March. At that time, there were minimal differences between the parties on this measure; now, Democrats are 18 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say they are following news about the outbreak very closely (44% vs. 26%). Among all U.S. adults, the percentage following coronavirus news dropped from 57% in late March to 35% in September.

Overall, interest in news about the outbreak has waned slightly, but remains high. In the September survey, 82% of U.S. adults say they are following coronavirus news either very closely (35%) or fairly closely (46%). That is down modestly from late March, when 92% were following very closely (57%) or fairly closely (35%).

When it comes to COVID-19 coverage, some Americans seem to be trying to avoid the news: About three-in-ten (31%) say they try to tune out news about the coronavirus outbreak, with Republicans (43%) about twice as likely as Democrats (20%) to do this. But on the whole, most Americans (68%) say they are trying to stay tuned into news about the pandemic.

Partisan gaps in attention are also evident when Americans are asked about several specific topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the eight topics asked about in early September, Democrats are paying more attention than Republicans to seven of them often by significant margins. The only topic on which there is no partisan gap concerns the outbreaks economic impact.

For example, Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans (38% vs. 18%) to say they are following the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths very closely. On the topic of the quality and availability of testing, 27% of Democrats are following very closely, compared with 14% of Republicans. And when it comes to general public health guidelines about the virus, a majority of Democrats (57%) say they are following very closely; just about a third of Republicans (32%) say the same.

Aside from partisan differences, there are also differences within each party based on media diets.

In this report, Republicans are divided into a few groups: those whose major news sources consist only of outlets with right-leaning audiences (Fox News and talk radio); those who use a mix of sources with right-leaning audiences and other major sources; and those who rely on at least one of the eight sources, but not Fox News or talk radio. For Democrats, the groups include those who use only the major sources with left-leaning audiences (i.e., MSNBC, CNN, NPR, New York Times and Washington Post); those who use a mix of these and other major sources; and those who name only sources without left-leaning audiences as a major source for political news. In both parties, there is a final group that says none of the eight sources for political and election news are major sources; this group is far less engaged overall. (See Appendix for more details about this methodology.)

In each party, those who use a mix of major sources ones with ideologically similar audiences and ones without are most likely to say that they are following coronavirus news very closely. Among Republicans, 45% of those who use a mix of major sources are following pandemic news very closely as of early September, compared with 33% who only rely on sources with a right-leaning audience and 27% of those whose major sources dont include any with a right-leaning audience. Among Democrats, 59% of those who rely on a mix of sources are following very closely, compared with 49% who turn only to sources with a left-leaning audience and 40% in the group whose major sources dont include any with a left-leaning audience.

The same pattern holds across most of the eight specific topics related to coronavirus news. For example, the percentage of Republicans who turn to a mix of sources who are following news about COVID-19 cases and deaths very closely (37%) is substantially larger than the portion among those who rely on only sources with right-leaning audiences (21%) or only sources without a right-leaning audience (19%). And about half of Democrats who use a mix of sources (55%) are following the confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths very closely, vs. 41% of Democrats who rely on only major sources with left-leaning audiences and 31% who rely on only major sources without left-leaning audiences.

On the subject of the outbreaks impact on schools, 49% of Republicans with a mix of major sources are following very closely, compared with 37% who rely on only major sources that have a right-leaning audience and 33% of those who rely on only major sources without right-leaning audiences. Among Democrats, 62% with a mixed media diet are following that topic closely, compared with 48% using only major sources with a left-leaning audience and 47% who only turn to major sources without a left-leaning audience.

Americans overall are about evenly split over whether it has become harder or easier to distinguish truth from falsehoods about the coronavirus outbreak since the early days of the pandemic. While 38% of U.S. adults say that as of early September they are finding it harder to identify what is true and what is false, an almost identical share (36%) say they are finding it easier. The remainder (26%) say it hasnt changed much in either direction.

Again, there are differences between the two major parties on this question.

Nearly half of Republicans (49%) say it is harder to determine what is true compared with the first weeks of the outbreak. That is substantially more than the 29% of Republicans who say it is easier and the 22% who say there has been no change.

But Democrats are more likely to say it has become easier (42%) rather than harder (30%) to discern the truth about the outbreak. Another 28% say there has been no change.

One specific area of disagreement is how susceptible young people (under the age of 18) are to becoming infected with the virus, a debate that often surfaces in discussions over whether and when to reopen schools for in-classroom learning.

There is no strong evidence that younger people are less likely than adults to be infected with the virus, though there are differences by age in likelihood of death and severity of symptoms.

Overall, half of U.S. adults say that people under 18 are about as susceptible as their elders to becoming infected with the coronavirus, while 29% say that minors are far less susceptible. Just 9% say that young people are far more susceptible, while 11% say they are not sure.

A majority of Democrats (61%) say that those under 18 are about as susceptible as adults, with 17% saying they are far less susceptible and 11% saying they are far more susceptible. In contrast, a plurality of Republicans (44%) say young people are far less susceptible than adults, modestly more than the 38% who say they are about as susceptible.

There are only small differences in responses to this question among Democrats who use different major sources for political news. But among Republicans who use only Fox News and/or talk radio as their major sources, a majority (60%) say that minors under 18 are far less susceptible, compared with far fewer among Republicans who use a mixed media diet (32%) or only major sources without conservative-leaning audiences (30%).

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A Chemist Running on I Believe in Science Wants to Take Down a Trump-Loving Republican on Long Island – Gizmodo

Posted: at 9:03 pm

Democratic House candidate Nancy Goroff in the lab.Photo: Goroff for Congress

That I believe in science and I believe in using facts and evidence to solve problems are rallying cries for a political campaign says a lot about 2020. Yet thats the pitch of Nancy Goroff, a chemist at Stony Brook University who is the Democratic nominee taking on Rep. Lee Zeldin in a Long Island district.

That appeal to science-based decision-making speaks to the hellscape of modern America that Republicans have created. The Trump administration is the culmination of those efforts, having spent nearly four years sidelining science to disastrous consequences. That includes the acute crisis of a pandemic that has left the U.S. with the highest death toll in the world and one of the highest per capita death rates of any developing country. Hell, the president came down with it after holding a superspreader event. Then theres the long-simmering deregulatory campaign to fry the climate, exemplified in this weeks vice presidential debate when Mike Pence blithely lying that the Trump administration will continue to listen to the science despite all evidence to the contrary.

From denying the threat of climate change to politicizing basic public health measures, the GOP is establishing itself as not only the party untethered to facts but a danger to the health and safety of Americans, Shaughnessy Naughton, the president of 314 Action, a PAC backing Goroff and other scientists running for office, said in an emailed statement.

While the presidential race will be the biggest referendum on the role of science in policy, the down-ballot races will each be a microcosm of that fight. And the race between Goroff and Zeldin to represent New Yorks First Congressional District shines a particularly bright light on the stark differences between the parties. Goroff has been active at the science and policy nexus, serving on the advisory board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog for science abuses in policymaking thats been particularly busy in the Trump era. Zeldin has helped create the environment for those abuses.

I decided that this is a moment in history where I need to really step forward and put my full effort into this, Goroff said on a video call. It wasnt enough just to support candidates I cared about and support issues I cared about. I just needed to work full time on it.

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While Goroff hasnt endorsed the Green New Deal, her platform aligns pretty good with, well, science. If she wins, it points to what could be real areas of debate in a House Democratic caucus that includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a growing number of progressives. But honestly, itd be a welcome change compared to what Zeldin and the Republican party have put forward.

Goroff left her position at Stony Brook, where her lab is focused on organic chemistry, to compete in the Democratic primary. She won that tightly contested contest, which included real estate investor who took on Zeldin in 2018 and lost. Now, Goroff will face the congressman who has held the seat since 2014.

The district flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016, and Zeldin carried it by 16.4% that year, a margin larger than Trumps victory in the county. In 2018, the gap narrowed considerably, with Zeldin winning by 4.1% in what was a blue wave that saw the House flip to Democrats. Now, Goroff is fighting to flip whats considered a lean Republican seat by the Cook Political Report, giving Democrats an even larger majority in the House. Shes garnered the endorsement of former President Barack Obama, which could help her cause.

Zeldin has opened that door for her simple pitch to trust the science to be effective. He jumped on the hydroxychloroquine-as-coronavirus-cure bandwagon in July, weeks after the FDA pulled its emergency use authorization and the World Health Organization ended its trial usage because it hadnt proven to be effective. And despite being a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan groups of representatives thats done about bupkis to advance climate legislation, he has a lifetime score of 13% from the League of Conservation Voters. Among his greatest hits are voting against a carbon tax, the barest minimum of climate solutions, and for an amendment to block the government from considering the impacts of climate change in agency rulemaking.

Its not just the contrast with Zeldin that could make Goroffs message of science-based leadership appealing on Long Island. The district is also home to Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook, two major scientific institutions, and is ground zero for climate change with miles of coastline still bearing the scars of Hurricane Sandy. The district needs real climate solutions to deal with rising seas, and the research institutions there could very well play a role in delivering at least some of them. Groups supporting science-based decision-making have lined up with Goroff, including 314 Action, a PAC that works to get scientists elected. The group has put more than $2 million into running TV and digital ads supporting Goroff and has made climate change a central part of its pitch for why Congress needs her.

I really see my role as a scientist in Congress, that what I would want to be is a resource for every member of Congress to make sure that Democrats and Republicans have access to the best information available, she said.

In comparison to Zeldin, Goroff has called for the U.S. to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, a target more aggressive than that of former Vice President Joe Biden. She also said shes supportive of market mechanisms to lower carbon emissions, such as cap-and-trade programs that allow companies to sell and buy a shrinking number of pollution permits as a way to reduce emissions.

I do think we need to put in some kinds of incentives to let the markets do their magic when people have financial incentives to move quickly, she said, noting vehicles as one area where incentivizing the development of electric vehicles over gas guzzlers could be a good place to start.

Yet market-based approaches to climate change have increasingly fallen out of favor with the progressive wing of the Democratic party. The Green New Deal, for example, makes no mention of it, and presidential climate plans largely set aside any calls for a carbon market of some sort. That Goroff supports it shows a potential area where the Democratic caucus could tussle over climate policy in a new Congress. But honestly, if Democrats take the White House, Senate, and the House, having a substantive debate over the role of markets in the adoption of electric vehicles would be a breath of fresh air after the decades of Republican pollution.

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A Chemist Running on I Believe in Science Wants to Take Down a Trump-Loving Republican on Long Island - Gizmodo

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Democrats surge past Republicans in early voting | TheHill – The Hill

Posted: at 9:03 pm

A surge in absentee ballots cast in states across the country is handing Democrats an early advantage heading into Election Day amid signs that the partys vote-by-mail focus is turning out regular and new voters alike.

More than 6 million Americans have already voted in 27 states for Novembers general election, according to data released by states that have begun accepting ballots.

Registered Democrats have returned 1.4 million ballots, more than twice the 653,000 ballots registered Republicans have returned so far, according to Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida who analyzes early voting.

About two-thirds of voters who have already voted 3.7 million Americans are either unaffiliated with either party or live in states that do not register voters by party. Demographic modeling by one prominent Democratic firm, TargetSmart, estimates that almost 3 million of all votes cast have come from Democratic voters, compared to about 2.1 million from Republicans.

Regardless of party affiliation, more people are voting by mail this year than in years past. The coronavirus pandemic and both Democratic and Republican efforts to get their most hardened supporters to vote by mail has led to an explosion in the early vote.

At this point in the 2016 presidential contest, only around 750,000 people had voted, about 13 percent of the number of voters who have cast a ballot this year. In Wisconsin, South Dakota and Virginia, early votes account for more than one-fifth of the total number of votes cast in the entire 2016 election, McDonalds data show.

So far this year, women, college-educated white voters, African Americans and Hispanic voters account for larger shares of the electorate than they did in 2016, a hopeful sign for Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Experts predict record election turnout as more than 6.6 million ballots cast in early voting tally Trump-appointed global media chief sued over allegations of pro-Trump agenda MORE, who leads substantially among those groups.

Noncollege educated white voters, who make up the core of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Trump chastises Whitmer for calling him 'complicit' in extremism associated with kidnapping scheme Trump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosis MOREs base, are also voting early in unprecedented numbers. So far, an estimated 2.8 million of those voters have cast ballots, nearly seven times the number who had voted at this point four years ago.

But those voters make up a smaller share of the overall electorate today, 49 percent, than in 2016, when they accounted for 58 percent. The college-educated white vote has grown to nearly 35 percent of the electorate, up from 30.3 percent four years ago, while the share of Black voters in the electorate has nearly doubled, to 9.2 percent.

Its not that white noncollege voters arent voting. Theyre voting in way higher rates, said Tom Bonier, who heads TargetSmart. Theyre coming out, but their surge cant keep up with the surge of these traditional Democratic constituencies.

Targeting experts on both sides cautioned that early vote tallies are not rock-solid indicators of the results on Election Day. Four years ago, Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump between rock and hard place on debates Pence-Harris debate draws more than 50M viewers, up 26 percent from 2016 Not treason, not a crime but definitely a gross abuse of power MORE held leads over Trump among those who decided to vote early.

But Democrats have early leads today that are more substantial than those they carried in 2016.

In Florida, registered Democrats had out-voted registered Republicans by a slim 37 percent to 35 percent margin by this point in 2016. Today, almost 53 percent of votes cast in Florida have come from registered Democrats, while Republicans account for just 28 percent.

In North Carolina, registered Democrats have cast 52 percent of all ballots so far, up from 36 percent four years ago. Registered Republicans account for just 17 percent of the ballots, down from 37 percent in 2016.

And in Pennsylvania, a state at the heart of Trumps reelection strategy, registered Democrats have cast more than three-quarters of all ballots. Republicans made up just 15 percent of ballots returned to date.

The fact that you have such a massive Democratic head start, that to me makes it much more difficult for the Trump campaign to play catchup, said John Couvillon, a Louisiana pollster keeping tabs on early vote statistics.

Both parties use voter files cross-matched with absentee ballot reports to hone their target lists. Once someone casts their ballot, the two sides do not need to spend any more time or money trying to persuade or mobilize that voter. That allows a campaign to spend its time and money more efficiently.

If theyre banking all their voters now, they can extend their energy now to chasing down those who are marginal voters, Couvillon said. They have more time to chase people who could be their voters.

In 2016, Clintons lead among the earliest voters came from those who were already likely to cast their ballots. Trumps surge, especially in states like Florida, came from new voters or those who voted only infrequently. Republicans see Democrats banking the same votes this year.

The Democrats are so far, by and large, turning out people to vote absentee that would have likely either voted on Election Day or voted early in person, said Mark Stephenson, who runs Red Oak Strategic, an analytics firm that works with Republican and corporate clients.

Today, those new and infrequent voters favor Democrats. More than twice as many voters who have never cast a ballot are registered Democrats as registered Republicans. TargetSmarts figures estimate that the Democratic share of those first-time voters is slimmer, when unaffiliated voters are factored in; Bonier estimates Democratic voters make up about 44 percent of the first-time electorate, while first-time Republicans account for 35 percent.

Those figures mean Democrats could begin Election Day with a clear advantage in the number of votes cast from their registered voters.

But because of election rules in some states, that also means Trump could appear to begin with a lead when polls close. Many states prohibit election administrators from opening absentee ballots before the polls close, meaning votes cast on Election Day will be counted and reported first.

The early voting numbers validate months of polling that has found Americans are more excited and enthusiastic about this years election than those in years past even among voters who have never gone or rarely go to the polls.

Were looking at multipliers of five, six, seven times more infrequent voters, Bonier said. Weve been reading the tea leaves for months now. Now the votes are actually coming in.

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Florida Democrat, Republican parties both against Amendment 3 that would create open primaries – Wink News

Posted: at 9:03 pm


Florida limits who can and cant vote in primary elections. That left 3.8 million registered voters without a say in the August primary, but Amendment 3 could change that.

If Amendment 3 passes during the 2020 general election in Florida, candidates from the same party could run against each other in future general elections.

Amendment 3, as written, would apply to the governor, cabinet and state legislature races only. It would not apply to U.S Senate, U.S. House of Representatives or the president.

Terry Rizzo is Floridas Democratic Party chair, and State Sen. Joe Grutors is his republican counterpart. These two dont agree on much, but this is an issue they see eye-to-eye.

Thank you, Chairman Rizzo, for joining me on this fight against this amendment, Grutors said.

Both Rizzo and Grutors despise Amendment 3.

We believe that Amendment 3 ballot initiative is bad for our democracy, Rizzo said.

Floridas Tiger Bay Club a non-partisan political club hosted a seminar to discuss Amendment 3.

Which would establish a top-two Florida primary system, said.

Florida is one of nine states with a closed primary system. Registered Republicans can only vote for Republican candidates, and the same goes for registered Democrats. That leaves roughly 3.8 million voters with no party affiliation who dont vote in Florida primaries. Amendment 3 would put all candidates on one ballot regardless of party.

What really has the parties fired up is that the top two vote getters would advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation, potentially pitting same-party candidates against each other.

Its not about the parties. Its about the people, said Glenn Burgans Jr., who is in favor of Amendment 3. Its about giving a voice to 3.5 million people who are blocked out of the process from the election that theyre paying tax dollars for.

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How the Republican party threatens the US republic – The Guardian

Posted: at 9:03 pm

Whereas Nero famously fiddled while Rome burned, US President Donald Trump has famously hit the links at his money-losing golf courses while California burns and as more than 200,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 for which he himself has now tested positive. Like Nero, Trump will undoubtedly be remembered as an exceptionally cruel, inhumane, and possibly mad political figure.

Until recently, most people around the world had been exposed to this American tragedy in small doses, through short clips of Trump spouting lies and nonsense on the evening news or social media. But in late September, tens of millions of people endured a 90-minute spectacle, billed as a presidential debate, in which Trump demonstrated unequivocally that he is not presidential and why so many people question his mental health.

To be sure, over the past four years, the world has watched this pathological liar set new records logging some 20,000 falsehoods or misleading statements as of mid-July, by the Washington Posts count. What kind of debate can there be when one of the two candidates has no credibility, and is not even there to debate?

When asked about the recent New York Times expos showing that he had paid just $750 in US federal income tax in 2016 and 2017 and nothing for many years before that Trump hesitated and then claimed without evidence that he had paid millions. He was clearly offering whatever answer he thought would move things along to a more comfortable topic, and there is no good reason why anyone should believe him.

Even more disturbing was his refusal to denounce white supremacists and violent extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, whom he instructed to stand back and stand by. Combined with his refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power and persistent efforts to delegitimise the voting process, Trumps behaviour in the run-up to the election has increasingly posed a direct threat to American democracy.

When I was a child growing up in Gary, Indiana, we learned about the virtues of the US constitution from the independent judiciary and the separation of powers to the importance of properly functioning checks and balances. Our forefathers appeared to have created a set of great institutions (though they were also guilty of hypocrisy in declaring that all people are created equal so long as they are not women or people of colour). When I served as chief economist at the World Bank in the late 1990s, we would travel the world lecturing others about good governance and good institutions, and the US was often held up as the exemplar of these concepts.

Not anymore. Trump and his fellow Republicans have cast a shadow on the American project, reminding us just how fragile some might say flawed our institutions and constitutional order are. We are a country of laws, but it is the political norms that make the system work. Norms are flexible, but they are also fragile. George Washington, Americas first president, decided that he would serve only two terms, and that created a norm that would not be broken until the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. After that, a constitutional amendment codified the two-term limit.

Over the past four years, Trump and his fellow Republicans have taken norm-shattering to a new level, disgracing themselves and undermining the institutions they are supposed to defend. As a candidate in 2016, Trump refused to release his tax returns. And while in office, he has fired inspectors general for doing their jobs, repeatedly ignored conflicts of interest and profited from his office, undermined independent scientists and critical agencies, attempted outright voter suppression, and extorted foreign governments in an effort to defame his political opponents.

For good reason, we Americans are now wondering if our democracy can survive. One of the greatest worries of the founders, after all, was that a demagogue might emerge and destroy the system from within. That is partly why they settled on a structure of indirect representative democracy, with the electoral college and a system of what were supposed to be robust checks and balances. But after 233 years, that institutional structure is no longer robust enough. The GOP, particularly its representatives in the Senate, has failed utterly in its responsibility to check a dangerous and erratic executive as he openly wages war on the US constitutional order and electoral process.

There is a daunting task ahead. In addition to addressing an out-of-control pandemic, rising inequality, and the climate crisis, there is also an urgent need to rescue American democracy. With Republicans having long since neglected their oaths of office, democratic norms will have to be replaced with laws. But this will not be easy. When they are observed, norms are often preferable to laws, because they can be more easily adapted to future circumstances. Especially in Americas litigious society, there will always be those willing to circumvent laws by honouring their letter while violating their spirit.

But when one side no longer plays by the rules, stronger guardrails must be introduced. The good news is that we already have a roadmap. The For the People Act of 2019, which was adopted by the US House of Representatives early last year, set out an agenda to expand voting rights, limit partisan gerrymandering, strengthen ethics rules, and limit the influence of private donor money in politics. The bad news is that Republicans know they are increasingly in the minority on most of the critical issues in todays politics. Americans want stronger gun control, a higher minimum wage, sensible environmental and financial regulations, affordable health insurance, expanded funding for preschool education, improved access to college, and greater limitations on money in politics.

The clearly expressed will of the majority puts the GOP in an impossible position: The party cannot simultaneously pursue its unpopular agenda and also endorse honest, transparent, democratic governance. That is why it is now openly waging war on American democracy, doubling down on efforts to disenfranchise voters, politicise the judiciary and the federal bureaucracy, and lock in minority rule permanently through tactics such as gerrymandering.

Since the GOP has already made its deal with the devil, there is no reason to expect its members to support any effort to renew and protect American democracy. The only option left for Americans is to deliver an overwhelming victory for Democrats at all levels in next months election. Americas democracy hangs in the balance. If it falls, democracys enemies around the world will win.

Joseph E Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in economics, university professor at Columbia University and chief economist at the Roosevelt Institute.

Project Syndicate

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How the Republican party threatens the US republic - The Guardian

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