Trump or Biden: Whom will voters punish at the polls?

Six months until Election Day.  Despite COVID-19 seemingly pressing the brakes on time, calendar pages are falling away fast.  A lingering political question that defies seasonal turnover: Will Donald Trump defy his detractors once again and win re-election?

As our primaveral pandemic warms into a corona summer, President Trump stands uneasily astride a wobbling economy.  The coming jobs report is expected to show the highest unemployment rate on record.  For a president whose campaign pitch was economic competence, including full employment not two months ago, this should be a death sentence.

Yet the Vegas bettors are making book on Trump's second term.  The average spread is eight points in the incumbent's favor.  Are Sin City rollers too bedazzled with Trump's signature glitz and gilding to see Joe Biden's hole card?

No spring chicken to electioneering, Biden isn't hurting his chances keeping huddled indoors, broadcasting scripted platitudes with friendly interlocutors.  One perspicacious observer notes that the tactile-friendly former veep is at "his best when he's neither speaking nor appearing in public."  Not exactly a vote of confidence.  Biden, once a doyen of retail politicking, has lost his touch, so to speak.  The less the aging V.P. utters in the public eye, the fewer gaffes he'll make, like miscounting his grandchildren.

The lie-low strategy may be working.  Polls show Biden ahead in the battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Florida, that Trump is counting on as a levee against a blue tide.  Then again, public opinion gauges showed the same thing in 2016.   This early out, and at such an unprecedented conjuncture, head-to-head matchup polls should be taken with a pinch of sterilized salt.

Presidential approval ratings, despite the same psephological limits, tend toward a more accurate picture, given their short time horizons.  How someone feels about a public official now reflects his opinion more accurately then how he might hypothetically feel in half a year.  Lucky for Trump, his general approval rating hit an all-time high in a new Gallup survey.

But voters are fickle, impressionistic consumers of information and mixed bags of impulses who act on contradictory beliefs, rarely detecting the dissonance.   Approbating Trump's handling of a worldwide contagion works for May–November will be a different show, with a possible coup de théâtre.

With so many potentials between now and thence, including how the coronavirus will evolve as we begin poking out of our homes again, guessing who will hit the magic number of 270 electoral votes is largely a mug's game.

Even so, the great political exegete Curt Mills thinks all signs point to a one-term Trump.  I'll provide the antithesis: where the president might have an unseen edge is in his opposition's hypocritical, cynical, even aggravating behavior of late.  The loudest revilers of the administration are tripping over their past fulminations, confuting critical remarks made as little as a week prior. 

Take the hyperventilating response to a handful of Republican-led states relaxing lockdown orders.  When Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, announced a lifting of the prohibition on churches and gyms, the media painted him as an avaricious masochist, inflicting self-harm on himself and his people for some coin.  "Georgia's Experiment in Human Sacrifice" was a real report in The Atlantic.  Meanwhile, Colorado's Democratic governor is easing restrictions with none of the headline histrionics.

The sniffy-nosed downward glare of contempt cast at red states from the East Coast's media scolds is annoying enough.  But well off urbanites are behaving as if social distancing orders don't extend across the Hudson River or Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  New Yorkers are flocking to parks, crushing together as if watching Willy Nelson's swan-song performance at Coachella.  Last weekend in Washington, D.C., crowds squeezed onto the National Mall to watch a Blue Angels flyover dedicated to health care workers too busy to lie listlessly along the Reflecting Pool, enjoying choreographed contrails.

D.C. denizens were told not to travel to see the air show.  They promptly ignored the advice.  Will provincials still confined in their distal locales resent the casual dismissiveness of the law from inhabitants of the country's governing organ?

Then there's Joe Biden's brushing off of Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation.  Biden understandably maintains his innocence.  But during his tenure in the Obama administration, he pushed heavily for stripping college males accused of the selfsame lechery of the due process he now invokes for his own defense.

The press, as the Biden campaign's unofficial P.R. arm, is falling on its own self-propped sword in spurning Reade.  The New York Times ran a confused, excuse-heavy editorial with the headline "I Believe Tara Reade. I'm Voting for Joe Biden Anyway."  The no-longer-offended Gray Lady also published a shameless letter to the editor, by a former Times correspondent, no less, declaring, "I don't want justice, whatever that may be.  I want a win, the removal of Donald Trump from office, and Mr. Biden is our best chance."

The Democrats' strategy to transpose Donald Trump by forsaking all of their righteous rhetoric over the past three years is risky.  Voters' memories are notoriously stunted.  Some things make an impression, though, among the billions of synapses caroming around inside the cranium.  Hypocrisy is one, if only because espying motes in others' eyes is easier than seeing the beam in yours.

In the rush to believe all women, the left's militant #MeToo enforcement may result in a former frequenter of Hugh Hefner's domestic fleshpot returning to the White House — as might the jump to sensationalize the fatal effects of the coronavirus. 

American politics keeps its ironies, even amid a pandemic.

Six months until Election Day.  Despite COVID-19 seemingly pressing the brakes on time, calendar pages are falling away fast.  A lingering political question that defies seasonal turnover: Will Donald Trump defy his detractors once again and win re-election?

As our primaveral pandemic warms into a corona summer, President Trump stands uneasily astride a wobbling economy.  The coming jobs report is expected to show the highest unemployment rate on record.  For a president whose campaign pitch was economic competence, including full employment not two months ago, this should be a death sentence.

Yet the Vegas bettors are making book on Trump's second term.  The average spread is eight points in the incumbent's favor.  Are Sin City rollers too bedazzled with Trump's signature glitz and gilding to see Joe Biden's hole card?

No spring chicken to electioneering, Biden isn't hurting his chances keeping huddled indoors, broadcasting scripted platitudes with friendly interlocutors.  One perspicacious observer notes that the tactile-friendly former veep is at "his best when he's neither speaking nor appearing in public."  Not exactly a vote of confidence.  Biden, once a doyen of retail politicking, has lost his touch, so to speak.  The less the aging V.P. utters in the public eye, the fewer gaffes he'll make, like miscounting his grandchildren.

The lie-low strategy may be working.  Polls show Biden ahead in the battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Florida, that Trump is counting on as a levee against a blue tide.  Then again, public opinion gauges showed the same thing in 2016.   This early out, and at such an unprecedented conjuncture, head-to-head matchup polls should be taken with a pinch of sterilized salt.

Presidential approval ratings, despite the same psephological limits, tend toward a more accurate picture, given their short time horizons.  How someone feels about a public official now reflects his opinion more accurately then how he might hypothetically feel in half a year.  Lucky for Trump, his general approval rating hit an all-time high in a new Gallup survey.

But voters are fickle, impressionistic consumers of information and mixed bags of impulses who act on contradictory beliefs, rarely detecting the dissonance.   Approbating Trump's handling of a worldwide contagion works for May–November will be a different show, with a possible coup de théâtre.

With so many potentials between now and thence, including how the coronavirus will evolve as we begin poking out of our homes again, guessing who will hit the magic number of 270 electoral votes is largely a mug's game.

Even so, the great political exegete Curt Mills thinks all signs point to a one-term Trump.  I'll provide the antithesis: where the president might have an unseen edge is in his opposition's hypocritical, cynical, even aggravating behavior of late.  The loudest revilers of the administration are tripping over their past fulminations, confuting critical remarks made as little as a week prior. 

Take the hyperventilating response to a handful of Republican-led states relaxing lockdown orders.  When Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, announced a lifting of the prohibition on churches and gyms, the media painted him as an avaricious masochist, inflicting self-harm on himself and his people for some coin.  "Georgia's Experiment in Human Sacrifice" was a real report in The Atlantic.  Meanwhile, Colorado's Democratic governor is easing restrictions with none of the headline histrionics.

The sniffy-nosed downward glare of contempt cast at red states from the East Coast's media scolds is annoying enough.  But well off urbanites are behaving as if social distancing orders don't extend across the Hudson River or Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  New Yorkers are flocking to parks, crushing together as if watching Willy Nelson's swan-song performance at Coachella.  Last weekend in Washington, D.C., crowds squeezed onto the National Mall to watch a Blue Angels flyover dedicated to health care workers too busy to lie listlessly along the Reflecting Pool, enjoying choreographed contrails.

D.C. denizens were told not to travel to see the air show.  They promptly ignored the advice.  Will provincials still confined in their distal locales resent the casual dismissiveness of the law from inhabitants of the country's governing organ?

Then there's Joe Biden's brushing off of Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation.  Biden understandably maintains his innocence.  But during his tenure in the Obama administration, he pushed heavily for stripping college males accused of the selfsame lechery of the due process he now invokes for his own defense.

The press, as the Biden campaign's unofficial P.R. arm, is falling on its own self-propped sword in spurning Reade.  The New York Times ran a confused, excuse-heavy editorial with the headline "I Believe Tara Reade. I'm Voting for Joe Biden Anyway."  The no-longer-offended Gray Lady also published a shameless letter to the editor, by a former Times correspondent, no less, declaring, "I don't want justice, whatever that may be.  I want a win, the removal of Donald Trump from office, and Mr. Biden is our best chance."

The Democrats' strategy to transpose Donald Trump by forsaking all of their righteous rhetoric over the past three years is risky.  Voters' memories are notoriously stunted.  Some things make an impression, though, among the billions of synapses caroming around inside the cranium.  Hypocrisy is one, if only because espying motes in others' eyes is easier than seeing the beam in yours.

In the rush to believe all women, the left's militant #MeToo enforcement may result in a former frequenter of Hugh Hefner's domestic fleshpot returning to the White House — as might the jump to sensationalize the fatal effects of the coronavirus. 

American politics keeps its ironies, even amid a pandemic.