Not Our Problem

I debated for a bit how to explain why I was publishing this note from TPM Reader JB. I happily publish notes I agree with and others I don’t. In this case though, I disagree with quite a few individual assertions but found myself overall saying yes. That’s pretty much it. That’s a not terribly clear reaction. But I found it worth sharing with you.

There is a story told about Franklin Roosevelt, who spent most of the Wilson administration as an active Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  Decades later as President, he was hours into a meeting on military spending with his Army Chief of Staff, George Marshall, before Pearl Harbor, when the services’ needs were great and money was scarce.  Wearily, Gen. Marshall acknowledged the history, but asked Roosevelt, “Mr. President, could you at least stop referring to the Navy as ‘we’ and the Army as ‘they’?”

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A Quick Survey of Numbers, Vibes and the Inner Lives of Campaigns

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A Quick Survey of Numbers, Vibes and the Inner Lives of Campaigns

In yesterday’s podcast Kate and I discussed that NYT-Siena poll (way overplayed and exaggerated but still not great for Biden) and the debate story which was literally continuing to break and change while we recorded the pod. The two stories intersect in some interesting ways.

The Times said: “The early-debate gambit from Mr. Biden amounted to a public acknowledgment that he is trailing in his re-election bid, and a bet that an accelerated debate timeline will force voters to tune back into politics and confront the possibility of Mr. Trump returning to power.”

A public acknowledgement!

In recent days I’ve been in a running conversation with several Times staffers about Times coverage, some private, some on social media, trying to both keep it real and keep it calm. When I saw this line it struck me as part of that subtext of so much Times coverage, at least going back months and in many ways much longer, of “Joe, stop playing games and admit you’re behind. Admit you’re behind, Joe!”


Listen To This: For Whom The Bell Polls

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Kate and Josh analyze the presidential polling landscape plus some breaking news about the debates.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.


A New, Big Crack in Netanyahu’s Governing Coalition

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I wanted to update you on an important development in Israel and the Israel-Hamas war. There have been a few of these blow-ups in the far-right Netanyahu coalition. But they’ve all gotten hashed out and patched up eventually because, as we’ve discussed, the government’s very unpopularity is, paradoxically, its greatest adhesive in holding on to power. Since October, coalition members have known they’d lose power in a new election. So no one has really been willing to trigger new elections — the recent polls have shown some limited recovery of Netanyahu’s fortunes.

In any case, here’s the latest thing.


Is Biden in ‘Denial’ about the Polls?

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Is Biden in ‘Denial’ about the Polls?

Axios has a new piece out today with the headline: Biden’s Polling Denial. It’s not spin, the article says. The President and his top advisors actually don’t believe his bad poll numbers. “That bedrock belief has informed Biden’s largely steady-as-she-goes campaign,” says Axios. The article notes yesterday’s NYT-Siena poll of swing states and another recent Bloomberg set of swing state polls as examples of bad polling numbers the White House refuses to believe, before then shifting gears to note that other polls actually show him doing significantly better.

The factual questions here aren’t terribly complicated and they’re not really the reason I note this article or write this post. Most polls currently show Biden just behind Trump in a tight race. Others show him either tied or just ahead. And there is a theory of the election that those polls, with a greater emphasis on high propensity voters and the concentrating effect of the final months of the campaign, will put Biden on top in November. I’ve tried to air these different arguments here in the Editors’ Blog. You can believe one or the other.

I note the article because of what it says about the group psychology of each party and the related and intertwined factor of how the political press treats those parties.


NYT-Siena Obsessing Addendum

Let me expand a bit on today’s Backchannel about that Times-Siena poll and polling issues more generally. I mentioned keeping an eye out for the delta between Likely Voter screens and Registered Voter ones. As we’ve noted a few times, this has become a consistent pattern in this presidential race: Joe Biden does substantially better in likely voter polls. And this isn’t an arbitrary difference. It’s not like saying Trump does better in the NYT-Siena poll than he does in the ABC-Ipsos one, so I prefer the latter. A Likely Voter screen is the pollster’s attempt to poll the actual voting electorate as opposed to the population of registered voters. So that distinction is very key. And if they diverge you really want to be doing better with Likely Voters, as Biden is.


The Dismal (Polling) Science

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If you’re continuing to rise and fall with the latest polls, you know that the NYT/Siena poll came out today with pretty unwelcome news for the Biden campaign. Biden is close to tied or just behind in the key midwestern states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, but he is far back in the sunbelt states of Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. Possible preview: if Biden won the first three and lost the second three he would win the Electoral College with 270 electoral votes to Trump’s 268. These are bad numbers. There’s no arguing that. The NYT/Siena poll hasn’t been friendly to Biden, but it’s also a quality poll. I would recommend focusing on the averages which suggest a slightly, though not dramatically, different picture. Also, pay close attention to Likely Voter screens as opposed to Registered Voter screens.

I won’t lie to you. I don’t like the look of this poll. But the overall picture continues to be one in which the polls have continued to tighten, albeit not as quickly as I’d like, since around the beginning of March.

But I want to flag a different point: Congress.


Back to the UCLA Overnight Attack

Remember a week ago I was trying to find out more information or really just any information about who the assailants were when a group of “pro-Israel” rioters raided the pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA on April 30th. I’ve mentioned a few times hearing pervasive rumors (“common knowledge,” the origin of which is unclear) which I wasn’t publishing because I couldn’t verify them. But on Friday The Guardian published a story confirming that a far-right Armenian-American man named Narek Palyan had been photographed both at one of the daytime counterprotests and then on the evening of April 30th, but still hours before the overnight assault.


Tragedy and Folly

It gets lost in the myriad headlines at the moment about Rafah, weapons cut offs, Biden, horrific civilian loss of life, etc. But there’s a short piece in the Times of Israel this afternoon that captures a dimension of what’s happening right now in Israel that is mostly off the radar in the U.S. The piece is about a reported blow up between Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi. Specifically, it has the latter telling Netanyahu that because he refuses to make diplomatic arrangements for the post-war government of Gaza, the IDF is having to go back to fight again in areas it already took over. In some cases they’re having to go back and fight for the same ground a third time!

(Here’s another article in Haaretz on how the IDF is now going back into northern Gaza, which they conquered back in the fall. Privately the IDF says Hamas has reestablished control there because there’s no day-after plan, which is a diplomatic to-do item. If you blow it up and leave why wouldn’t they just go back?)

Netanyahu refuses to do that because there’s really no way to plan for the future without blowing up his governing coalition. But without some plan, the Israeli army is reduced to doing something like pushing water up a hill with its hands. The article is replete with examples of heads of the army or intelligence services trying to get someone to give them a strategy, or actually more than a strategy, just a goal. And it has Netanyahu getting mad because they’re going to the defense minister, himself a former high-level IDF general. It’s not even a question of disagreeing on strategy really — that’s for the political leadership to decide. It’s refusing to come up with any strategy at all.



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