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That must be nice for Joe. For most Democrats, however, a fresh batch of concerning polls and the primary elections are flashing red warning signs. So I asked my Post Opinions colleagues Eugene Robinson and Dana Milbank: Should Biden be worried about the primaries?

💬 💬 💬

Alexi McCammond: Okay, so, not to be a bummer, but I really want to know what you guys think about the state of the 2024 race. We’re basically in the general election already, and things are looking bleak for President Biden. I don’t see any other way to read what’s going on.

Eugene Robinson: I think the polls are saying that Donald Trump can win. Not necessarily that he will, but he can. That has to sink in with people.

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Dana Milbank: It is terribly nerve-racking! I have been under my bed for a week. Possibly longer. I can’t keep track of time down here.

Alexi: 😭 I really don’t know how Trump is leading by five points in the latest New York Times-Siena College poll, especially after all the increased attention to his legal troubles, his dictator-like rhetoric and his increasingly conservative plan for a second term.

Eugene: Never bet everything on one poll. The scarier thing is that the polling is so static and consistent.

Alexi: So why does it seem like Biden campaign/his supporters simply aren’t worried?

Dana: I also think everyone should be terrified, because, as Gene said, Trump could win. This must be a wake-up call to all those not yet wide-awake. On the other hand, there is no cause to panic — only to work harder to defeat Trump. I have the benefit of being married to a pollster, so I see how flawed these polls actually are. The “internals,” as they call them, are all screwed up. The New York Times poll, for example, shows Biden not winning women. There is no universe where that happens, even if Biden were to lose the presidency.

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A private pollster would weight the results to make the internals more closely reflect that actual electorate. Media polls don’t do that because they’d be accused of cooking the books. So they go with unweighted data, and it’s very screwy.

Alexi: That’s a fair point, Dana. Obviously, we have eight months until the election, but the Democratic coalition seems fractured further with each primary.

Eugene: Well, Nikki Haley has gotten a lot of votes. I don’t think the Dems are less unified than the GOP. The point is that it’s close. And the courts aren’t going to bail the Democrats out. They have to do that themselves.

Dana: Exactly. These polls should be motivating Democrats, not depressing them. The stakes are just too high. I think voters are equally dissatisfied with their likely nominees in both parties. But the general election essentially begins after this week. It’s no longer a question of Biden vs. some ideal Democratic nominee, but Biden vs. the apocalypse.

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Alexi: *existential dread now loading*

Eugene: Also vs. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein. That could be important.

Dana: The constant nattering about Biden’s age and his perceived flaws is inane. Unless God or nature intervenes, he’s the nominee. Democrats ought to quit the fratricide and recognize that the alternative is much worse.

Alexi: Democrats have to do a lot between now and November to get folks moving. They are starting to send Cabinet officials and others around the country to spread the word about what the administration has accomplished.

Eugene: You know they’ve been sending them out there some already, but without enough fanfare.

Dana: I really don’t think the election is going to hinge on the secretary of commerce visiting Detroit. It’s going to hinge on Trump scaring people to death.

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Alexi: Which is what the Biden folks are betting on. Okay, so it’s nerve-racking, but y’all aren’t panicking yet?

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Eugene: A little panic is a good thing. If people were waiting for some deus ex machina, it ain’t happening. Panic, and then get to work.

Dana: I think a certain amount of terror is justified, and motivating. But panic is paralyzing, and there’s no cause for that. You would definitely want Biden’s hand rather than Trump’s hand at this point.

Alexi: Welcome to the general election, I guess. Time to buckle up!

Eugene: I guess so. If Biden repeats last year’s State of the Union performance, that would be a good kickoff.

Dana: And if he drools on the lectern, I will indeed start to panic.

🙅🏽‍♀️ 🙅🏽‍♀️ 🙅🏽‍♀️

The next word

As the media shifts toward the general election, there’s a renewed sense of responsibility to report on the stakes of the race and to accurately interpret the polls.

Advertisement

This piece from Matthew Yglesias, author of the Slow Boring Substack newsletter, offers an insightful guide on why horse race coverage actually does matter. “I want to keep covering these horse race questions in the most rigorous way possible,” he wrote, “because in the event that Biden loses, I don’t want the interpretation to be that he was just too old or too pro-Israel when I think the real story is that elevating climate to the center of the agenda had some real political downsides and a lot of people just more or less agree with Trump about immigration.”

Even critical scrutiny of Trump in 2016 “was a bit oddly uninformative,” Yglesias explained. “A lot of Trump coverage — including coverage that is very harsh and negative — treats him as a kind of metaphor rather than as a person.” That’s one of Biden’s biggest challenges this time around: Reminding Americans of the real threats that come with Trump returning to the White House.

Consider also the latest column from The Post’s George F. Will about Super Tuesday to see what proper horse race coverage looks like: “Republicans (and others eligible to participate) in the 46 states not yet heard from might experience a mind-opening excitement if on Super Tuesday (March 5) [Nikki] Haley continues to provoke Trump’s annoying insistence that their opinions are nullities, given his inevitability. If so, his handlers will be hard put to contain his off-putting petulance that constantly threatens his tenuous hold on his composure.”

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It’s not just about who wins; it’s about what their victories mean.

🖥️ 🖥️ 🖥️

r/Politics

A self-identified Midwestern Republican user on the subreddit r/ChangeMyView wanted some help debunking his theory that “a Trump 2024 presidency would irreversibly alter United States politics & partisanship as we know it.”

Although many of the comments weren’t successful in doing that, one user offered a hypothetical that others seemed to appreciate: “The only path that would prevent this is … for the GOP or Republicans at large to hold him accountable. Many have burned out trying to keep a modicum of integrity as evidenced by his improbably high staff turnover, Liz Cheney, etc. It would probably require the political will of a deep bench of Never Trumpers, a wave of the repentant who finally see the writing on the wall, and a commitment from Fox [to] endorse the narrative.”

🧠 🧠 🧠

Brain dump

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President Biden maintains “a conviction that borders on serenity,” writes Evan Osnos in a New Yorker profile.

That must be nice for Joe. For most Democrats, however, a fresh batch of concerning polls and the primary elections are flashing red warning signs. So I asked my Post Opinions colleagues Eugene Robinson and Dana Milbank: Should Biden be worried about the primaries?

Alexi McCammond: Okay, so, not to be a bummer, but I really want to know what you guys think about the state of the 2024 race. We’re basically in the general election already, and things are looking bleak for President Biden. I don’t see any other way to read what’s going on.

Eugene Robinson: I think the polls are saying that Donald Trump can win. Not necessarily that he will, but he can. That has to sink in with people.

Dana Milbank: It is terribly nerve-racking! I have been under my bed for a week. Possibly longer. I can’t keep track of time down here.

Alexi: 😭 I really don’t know how Trump is leading by five points in the latest New York Times-Siena College poll, especially after all the increased attention to his legal troubles, his dictator-like rhetoric and his increasingly conservative plan for a second term.

Eugene: Never bet everything on one poll. The scarier thing is that the polling is so static and consistent.

Alexi: So why does it seem like Biden campaign/his supporters simply aren’t worried?

Dana: I also think everyone should be terrified, because, as Gene said, Trump could win. This must be a wake-up call to all those not yet wide-awake. On the other hand, there is no cause to panic — only to work harder to defeat Trump. I have the benefit of being married to a pollster, so I see how flawed these polls actually are. The “internals,” as they call them, are all screwed up. The New York Times poll, for example, shows Biden not winning women. There is no universe where that happens, even if Biden were to lose the presidency.

A private pollster would weight the results to make the internals more closely reflect that actual electorate. Media polls don’t do that because they’d be accused of cooking the books. So they go with unweighted data, and it’s very screwy.

Alexi: That’s a fair point, Dana. Obviously, we have eight months until the election, but the Democratic coalition seems fractured further with each primary.

Eugene: Well, Nikki Haley has gotten a lot of votes. I don’t think the Dems are less unified than the GOP. The point is that it’s close. And the courts aren’t going to bail the Democrats out. They have to do that themselves.

Dana: Exactly. These polls should be motivating Democrats, not depressing them. The stakes are just too high. I think voters are equally dissatisfied with their likely nominees in both parties. But the general election essentially begins after this week. It’s no longer a question of Biden vs. some ideal Democratic nominee, but Biden vs. the apocalypse.

Alexi: *existential dread now loading*

Eugene: Also vs. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein. That could be important.

Dana: The constant nattering about Biden’s age and his perceived flaws is inane. Unless God or nature intervenes, he’s the nominee. Democrats ought to quit the fratricide and recognize that the alternative is much worse.

Alexi: Democrats have to do a lot between now and November to get folks moving. They are starting to send Cabinet officials and others around the country to spread the word about what the administration has accomplished.

Eugene: You know they’ve been sending them out there some already, but without enough fanfare.

Dana: I really don’t think the election is going to hinge on the secretary of commerce visiting Detroit. It’s going to hinge on Trump scaring people to death.

Alexi: Which is what the Biden folks are betting on. Okay, so it’s nerve-racking, but y’all aren’t panicking yet?

Eugene: A little panic is a good thing. If people were waiting for some deus ex machina, it ain’t happening. Panic, and then get to work.

Dana: I think a certain amount of terror is justified, and motivating. But panic is paralyzing, and there’s no cause for that. You would definitely want Biden’s hand rather than Trump’s hand at this point.

Alexi: Welcome to the general election, I guess. Time to buckle up!

Eugene: I guess so. If Biden repeats last year’s State of the Union performance, that would be a good kickoff.

Dana: And if he drools on the lectern, I will indeed start to panic.

As the media shifts toward the general election, there’s a renewed sense of responsibility to report on the stakes of the race and to accurately interpret the polls.

This piece from Matthew Yglesias, author of the Slow Boring Substack newsletter, offers an insightful guide on why horse race coverage actually does matter. “I want to keep covering these horse race questions in the most rigorous way possible,” he wrote, “because in the event that Biden loses, I don’t want the interpretation to be that he was just too old or too pro-Israel when I think the real story is that elevating climate to the center of the agenda had some real political downsides and a lot of people just more or less agree with Trump about immigration.”

Even critical scrutiny of Trump in 2016 “was a bit oddly uninformative,” Yglesias explained. “A lot of Trump coverage — including coverage that is very harsh and negative — treats him as a kind of metaphor rather than as a person.” That’s one of Biden’s biggest challenges this time around: Reminding Americans of the real threats that come with Trump returning to the White House.

Consider also the latest column from The Post’s George F. Will about Super Tuesday to see what proper horse race coverage looks like: “Republicans (and others eligible to participate) in the 46 states not yet heard from might experience a mind-opening excitement if on Super Tuesday (March 5) [Nikki] Haley continues to provoke Trump’s annoying insistence that their opinions are nullities, given his inevitability. If so, his handlers will be hard put to contain his off-putting petulance that constantly threatens his tenuous hold on his composure.”

It’s not just about who wins; it’s about what their victories mean.

A self-identified Midwestern Republican user on the subreddit r/ChangeMyView wanted some help debunking his theory that “a Trump 2024 presidency would irreversibly alter United States politics & partisanship as we know it.”

Although many of the comments weren’t successful in doing that, one user offered a hypothetical that others seemed to appreciate: “The only path that would prevent this is … for the GOP or Republicans at large to hold him accountable. Many have burned out trying to keep a modicum of integrity as evidenced by his improbably high staff turnover, Liz Cheney, etc. It would probably require the political will of a deep bench of Never Trumpers, a wave of the repentant who finally see the writing on the wall, and a commitment from Fox [to] endorse the narrative.”

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Sign up for the Prompt 2024 newsletter for opinions on the biggest questions in politicsArrowRight

That must be nice for Joe. For most Democrats, however, a fresh batch of concerning polls and the primary elections are flashing red warning signs. So I asked my Post Opinions colleagues Eugene Robinson and Dana Milbank: Should Biden be worried about the primaries?

💬 💬 💬

Alexi McCammond: Okay, so, not to be a bummer, but I really want to know what you guys think about the state of the 2024 race. We’re basically in the general election already, and things are looking bleak for President Biden. I don’t see any other way to read what’s going on.

Eugene Robinson: I think the polls are saying that Donald Trump can win. Not necessarily that he will, but he can. That has to sink in with people.

Advertisement

Dana Milbank: It is terribly nerve-racking! I have been under my bed for a week. Possibly longer. I can’t keep track of time down here.

Alexi: 😭 I really don’t know how Trump is leading by five points in the latest New York Times-Siena College poll, especially after all the increased attention to his legal troubles, his dictator-like rhetoric and his increasingly conservative plan for a second term.

Eugene: Never bet everything on one poll. The scarier thing is that the polling is so static and consistent.

Alexi: So why does it seem like Biden campaign/his supporters simply aren’t worried?

Dana: I also think everyone should be terrified, because, as Gene said, Trump could win. This must be a wake-up call to all those not yet wide-awake. On the other hand, there is no cause to panic — only to work harder to defeat Trump. I have the benefit of being married to a pollster, so I see how flawed these polls actually are. The “internals,” as they call them, are all screwed up. The New York Times poll, for example, shows Biden not winning women. There is no universe where that happens, even if Biden were to lose the presidency.

Advertisement

A private pollster would weight the results to make the internals more closely reflect that actual electorate. Media polls don’t do that because they’d be accused of cooking the books. So they go with unweighted data, and it’s very screwy.

Alexi: That’s a fair point, Dana. Obviously, we have eight months until the election, but the Democratic coalition seems fractured further with each primary.

Eugene: Well, Nikki Haley has gotten a lot of votes. I don’t think the Dems are less unified than the GOP. The point is that it’s close. And the courts aren’t going to bail the Democrats out. They have to do that themselves.

Dana: Exactly. These polls should be motivating Democrats, not depressing them. The stakes are just too high. I think voters are equally dissatisfied with their likely nominees in both parties. But the general election essentially begins after this week. It’s no longer a question of Biden vs. some ideal Democratic nominee, but Biden vs. the apocalypse.

Advertisement

Alexi: *existential dread now loading*

Eugene: Also vs. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein. That could be important.

Dana: The constant nattering about Biden’s age and his perceived flaws is inane. Unless God or nature intervenes, he’s the nominee. Democrats ought to quit the fratricide and recognize that the alternative is much worse.

Alexi: Democrats have to do a lot between now and November to get folks moving. They are starting to send Cabinet officials and others around the country to spread the word about what the administration has accomplished.

Eugene: You know they’ve been sending them out there some........

© Washington Post


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