Commentary: Conversation with Insiders, Part 2 | KBIA

Commentary: Conversation with Insiders, Part 2

Sep 1, 2020

Last time my two political insiders and I looked at local and state races.  Now we’ll look at the national scene. 

We agree that there are more uncertainties and variables than ever before.  I would add that there is also less conventional wisdom to use as a crutch.  I’ll mention only two examples: The 240-Electoral Vote Lock that Democrats are supposed to have – and did until 2016 – just thirty short of the necessary  majority -- is one new uncertainty. 

The reliability of polls is the other.  My Republican confidant tells me that one shows that 80 percent of Republican respondents are “reluctant to tell the truth” about their choice of candidate, a statistic that could explain why Trump often under-polls. 

I would add that it’s increasingly difficult for a pollster to get a respondent to complete a survey, especially on cell phones.  On average, of fifty cell phone calls attempted, only one both takes the call and completes a polling interview. 

I asked my insiders what Trump and Biden need to do to win.  The Republican says Biden needs to say as little as possible, just get through it, and stay lucky.  The Democrat says Biden must continue to emphasize the contrasts with Trump and have a clear plan that focuses on the economy.

The Republican says Trump needs some luck, for the economy to improve, for there to be a vaccine before Election Day, to keep hammering on Democratic failures in American urban areas, to remind voters that he has accomplished his 2016 agenda and to present his plan for his second term.  The Democrat says Trump won’t be able to talk his way out of the virus.

I asked the Democrat if he worried about the debates.  He says he’s not worried: Both will stumble.  The Republican thinks Biden is, uh, slow.

About Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris, the Republican said she has a very liberal voting record in the Senate and she is vulnerable on the issues.  He said the Democrats have become “a socialist party” and she represents it very well.  The Democrat calls her an “excellent” and “safe” choice.  She brings energy to the ticket and her relationships in Congress will help move policy items through the process. 

Democrats are still suffering from PTSD from four years ago.  They will get relief from the symptoms only if they watch Biden take the oath of office on January 20, followed immediately by Trump jetting off to Mar-a-Lago as a private citizen.  The symptoms will be further reduced if they can take control of the Senate.  But PTSD never goes away completely, and the Democratic Party is forever changed by Donald Trump.  But then, so is the Republican Party.

In the last commentary I brought Carl Edwards up again.  Hey, if a former Auburn University head football coach can get elected to the Senate in Alabama, then Carl Edwards can get elected to the Senate in Missouri.

Last time my two political insiders and I looked at local and state races.  Now we’ll look at the national scene. 

We agree that there are more uncertainties and variables than ever before.  I would add that there is also less conventional wisdom to use as a crutch.  I’ll mention only two examples: The 240-Electoral Vote Lock that Democrats are supposed to have – and did until 2016 – just thirty short of the necessary  majority -- is one new uncertainty. 

The reliability of polls is the other.  My Republican confidant tells me that one shows that 80 percent of Republican respondents are “reluctant to tell the truth” about their choice of candidate, a statistic that could explain why Trump often under-polls. 

I would add that it’s increasingly difficult for a pollster to get a respondent to complete a survey, especially on cell phones.  On average, of fifty cell phone calls attempted, only one both takes the call and completes a polling interview. 

I asked my insiders what Trump and Biden need to do to win.  The Republican says Biden needs to say as little as possible, just get through it, and stay lucky.  The Democrat says Biden must continue to emphasize the contrasts with Trump and have a clear plan that focuses on the economy.

The Republican says Trump needs some luck, for the economy to improve, for there to be a vaccine before Election Day, to keep hammering on Democratic failures in American urban areas, to remind voters that he has accomplished his 2016 agenda and to present his plan for his second term.  The Democrat says Trump won’t be able to talk his way out of the virus.

I asked the Democrat if he worried about the debates.  He says he’s not worried: Both will stumble.  The Republican thinks Biden is, uh, slow.

About Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris, the Republican said she has a very liberal voting record in the Senate and she is vulnerable on the issues.  He said the Democrats have become “a socialist party” and she represents it very well.  The Democrat calls her an “excellent” and “safe” choice.  She brings energy to the ticket and her relationships in Congress will help move policy items through the process. 

Democrats are still suffering from PTSD from four years ago.  They will get relief from the symptoms only if they watch Biden take the oath of office on January 20, followed immediately by Trump jetting off to Mar-a-Lago as a private citizen.  The symptoms will be further reduced if they can take control of the Senate.  But PTSD never goes away completely, and the Democratic Party is forever changed by Donald Trump.  But then, so is the Republican Party.

In the last commentary I brought Carl Edwards up again.  Hey, if a former Auburn University head football coach can get elected to the Senate in Alabama, then Carl Edwards can get elected to the Senate in Missouri.

Last time my two political insiders and I looked at local and state races.  Now we’ll look at the national scene. 

We agree that there are more uncertainties and variables than ever before.  I would add that there is also less conventional wisdom to use as a crutch.  I’ll mention only two examples: The 240-Electoral Vote Lock that Democrats are supposed to have – and did until 2016 – just thirty short of the necessary  majority -- is one new uncertainty. 

The reliability of polls is the other.  My Republican confidant tells me that one shows that 80 percent of Republican respondents are “reluctant to tell the truth” about their choice of candidate, a statistic that could explain why Trump often under-polls. 

I would add that it’s increasingly difficult for a pollster to get a respondent to complete a survey, especially on cell phones.  On average, of fifty cell phone calls attempted, only one both takes the call and completes a polling interview. 

I asked my insiders what Trump and Biden need to do to win.  The Republican says Biden needs to say as little as possible, just get through it, and stay lucky.  The Democrat says Biden must continue to emphasize the contrasts with Trump and have a clear plan that focuses on the economy.

The Republican says Trump needs some luck, for the economy to improve, for there to be a vaccine before Election Day, to keep hammering on Democratic failures in American urban areas, to remind voters that he has accomplished his 2016 agenda and to present his plan for his second term.  The Democrat says Trump won’t be able to talk his way out of the virus.

I asked the Democrat if he worried about the debates.  He says he’s not worried: Both will stumble.  The Republican thinks Biden is, uh, slow.

About Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris, the Republican said she has a very liberal voting record in the Senate and she is vulnerable on the issues.  He said the Democrats have become “a socialist party” and she represents it very well.  The Democrat calls her an “excellent” and “safe” choice.  She brings energy to the ticket and her relationships in Congress will help move policy items through the process. 

Democrats are still suffering from PTSD from four years ago.  They will get relief from the symptoms only if they watch Biden take the oath of office on January 20, followed immediately by Trump jetting off to Mar-a-Lago as a private citizen.  The symptoms will be further reduced if they can take control of the Senate.  But PTSD never goes away completely, and the Democratic Party is forever changed by Donald Trump.  But then, so is the Republican Party.

In the last commentary I brought Carl Edwards up again.  Hey, if a former Auburn University head football coach can get elected to the Senate in Alabama, then Carl Edwards can get elected to the Senate in Missouri.

Dr. Terry Smith is a Political Science Professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics.