USA

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Pandemic continues to rage, Trump's poll numbers continue to slide

The nightly "Clap Because We Care" in NYC.

AP: 

Trump tests whether incumbent leader can tap outsider anger

Aiming to energize his base less than six months before he stands for reelection, the president has drawn a cultural link between the disaffected who voted for him four years ago and those who want to quickly restart the nation’s economy. Amplified by conservative media commentators, Trump has leaned into the pandemic’s partisan divide and urged states to reopen regardless of whether they meet the benchmarks set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thing is, the virus doesn’t care and doesn’t think it’s a messaging issue.

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US News:

But the PPP poll showed that there is stronger support for Whitmer's approach. On a head-to-head question of whom voters trust more to protect Michiganders from the virus, Whitmer beats Trump, 55% to 37%.

Politico:

Behind Trump’s demand to reopen churches: Slipping poll numbers and alarm inside his campaign

Trump was counting on widening support from white religious voters this fall. The pandemic is sending his numbers the other way.

The polls paint a bleak picture for Trump, who has counted on broadening his religious support by at least a few percentage points to compensate for weakened appeal with women and suburban populations. One GOP official said the dip in the president’s evangelical support also appeared in internal party polling, but disputed the notion that it had caused panic. Another person close to the campaign described an April survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, which showed a double-digit decline in Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals (-11), white Catholics (-12) and white mainline protestants (-18) from the previous month, as “pretty concerning.”

To safeguard his relationship with religious conservatives, Trump on Friday demanded that America‘s governors permit houses of worship to immediately reopen, and threatened to “override“ state leaders who decline to obey his directive. The announcement — which came days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention omitted religious institutions in new guidance about industry reopenings — featured clear appeals to white evangelicals, many of whom have long supported Trump's socially conservative agenda.

The above is for those who insist polling doesn’t matter this far out. Of course it does. It’s driving the campaigns. And it signals what people are thinking.

Imperial College, London:

There is variation in the initial reproduction number, which is likely due to a range of factors; we find a strong association between the initial reproduction number with both population density (measured at the state level) and the chronological date when 10 cumulative deaths occurred (a crude estimate of the date of locally sustained transmission). Our estimates suggest that the epidemic is not under control in much of the US: as of 17 May 2020, the reproduction number is above the critical threshold (1.0) in 24 [95% CI: 20-30] states. Higher reproduction numbers are geographically clustered in the South and Midwest, where epidemics are still developing, while we estimate lower reproduction numbers in states that have already suffered high COVID-19 mortality (such as the Northeast). These estimates suggest that caution must be taken in loosening current restrictions if effective additional measures are not put in place.

We predict that increased mobility following relaxation of social distancing will lead to resurgence of transmission, keeping all else constant. We predict that deaths over the next two-month period could exceed current cumulative deaths by greater than two-fold, if the relationship between mobility and transmission remains unchanged. Our results suggest that factors modulating transmission such as rapid testing, contact tracing and behavioural precautions are crucial to offset the rise of transmission associated with loosening of social distancing.

Overall, we show that while all US states have substantially reduced their reproduction numbers, we find no evidence that any state is approaching herd immunity or that its epidemic is close to over.

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Paul Waldman/WaPo:

Trump can’t even convince his own party that mail voting is fraudulent

Whenever some ridiculous idea gets lodged in President Trump’s brain, we’ve tended to assume that in short order he’ll persuade all Republicans to follow his lead, and even if other Americans don’t agree, the effect will be to alter the political landscape inexorably.

But what if that’s not actually how it works? Trump’s new obsession with voting by mail provides an excellent case study in his failing ability to remake reality, when he can’t even persuade his own party to share his beliefs.

Nathaniel Lash and Stuart A. Thompson:

Will Hot Weather Kill the Coronavirus Where You Live?

For many people living with the crushing consequences of Covid-19, the summer offers a tantalizing possibility: If the coronavirus behaves like the seasonal flu, warm weather could substantially weaken the virus and allow normal life to resume. President Trump predicted exactly this outcome in February, claiming the virus would “miraculously” go away by April as temperatures rose.

A new working paper tries to put that speculation to rest by tracking how weather and other environmental conditions, such as pollution, affect the virus’s spread around the world.

The forecast from researchers is grim: Warm weather alone will not control the virus in America or abroad. Here are the results for the United States, showing weather on its own cannot meaningfully reduce infections to the rate of 1 new case per every infected person, the point by which the number of infections falls continuously.

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Eric Levitz/New York:

Why Our Economy May Be Headed for a Decade of Depression

In September 2006, Nouriel Roubini told the International Monetary Fund what it didn’t want to hear. Standing before an audience of economists at the organization’s headquarters, the New York University professor warned that the U.S. housing market would soon collapse — and, quite possibly, bring the global financial system down with it. Real-estate values had been propped up by unsustainably shady lending practices, Roubini explained. Once those prices came back to earth, millions of underwater homeowners would default on their mortgages, trillions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities would unravel, and hedge funds, investment banks, and lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could sink into insolvency.

At the time, the global economy had just recorded its fastest half-decade of growth in 30 years. And Nouriel Roubini was just some obscure academic. Thus, in the IMF’s cozy confines, his remarks roused less alarm over America’s housing bubble than concern for the professor’s psychological well-being.

Of course, the ensuing two years turned Roubini’s prophecy into history, and the little-known scholar of emerging markets into a Wall Street celebrity.

A decade later, “Dr. Doom” is a bear once again. While many investors bet on a “V-shaped recovery,” Roubini is staking his reputation on an L-shaped depression. The economist (and host of a biweekly economic news broadcast) does expect things to get better before they get worse: He foresees a slow, lackluster (i.e., “U-shaped”) economic rebound in the pandemic’s immediate aftermath. But he insists that this recovery will quickly collapse beneath the weight of the global economy’s accumulated debts. Specifically, Roubini argues that the massive private debts accrued during both the 2008 crash and COVID-19 crisis will durably depress consumption and weaken the short-lived recovery. Meanwhile, the aging of populations across the West will further undermine growth while increasing the fiscal burdens of states already saddled with hazardous debt loads. Although deficit spending is necessary in the present crisis, and will appear benign at the onset of recovery, it is laying the kindling for an inflationary conflagration by mid-decade. As the deepening geopolitical rift between the United States and China triggers a wave of deglobalization, negative supply shocks akin those of the 1970s are going to raise the cost of real resources, even as hyperexploited workers suffer perpetual wage and benefit declines. Prices will rise, but growth will peter out, since ordinary people will be forced to pare back their consumption more and more. Stagflation will beget depression. And through it all, humanity will be beset by unnatural disasters, from extreme weather events wrought by man-made climate change to pandemics induced by our disruption of natural ecosystems.

Too early? Not *that* early.

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Carl P. Leubsdorf/Dallas Morning News:

No one provokes Donald Trump like Barack Obama

Is it wise for Trump to elevate his fight with a popular former president?

In a sense, it’s typical Trump, changing the subject when under fire. It’s also created the odd situation of a campaign debate between the president and his predecessor, rather than his likely Democratic rival.

That poses problems for both sides. Obama’s prominence makes presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden look disengaged from the debate. But Trump is showing his unpleasant side that even some backers disdain.

Besides, of the three, Obama is the most popular, raising a question if it’s politically wise for Trump to elevate his role in this election.

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Wear your masks. Over your nose, even.

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Lots of undecideds, and it’s not the margins—it’s the trend.

As far as Biden’s call-in adventures yesterday:

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Something to talk about, not something that affects the election. No one needs validation for supporting someone other than Biden in the Old Normal. If you feel validated, great. But the observations above about the voters not caring are all true.

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A reminder of who they are:

The election is in 24 weeks. Let’s go.

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