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In a normal year, this would be go time for the political press. We’d cross the country, living on suitcases and hotel minibars, and lagging candidates as they hop through rallies in swing states.
But at least we still have polls! The New York Times is running a slew of them through Election Day, with the first batch coming from likely voters in four major battlefield states: Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
Not only do the results show Joe Biden a permanent lead, but they also give a glimpse of how voters are processing some of the chaos of this unpredictable year – from the deadly coronavirus pandemic to the racial justice protests.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways:
President Trump holds his economic benefit, but Mr Biden wins on the virus response.
Even in a recession, Mr Trump kept his lead on economic issues. In our poll, half of voters in Wisconsin and Minnesota said the president would do a better job for the economy, compared with 45 percent who said the same about Mr. Biden. Part of that assessment is likely based on Mr Trump’s conservative voters’ enduring image as a successful businessman and deal maker.
While Mr Biden has failed to outperform the president on economic issues, voters in these two critical states see him as a more stable hand to lead the country through the pandemic. Fifty-two percent said Mr Biden would handle the coronavirus crisis better, while only 41 percent said so about Mr Trump.
A majority of voters in all four states also agree with Mr Biden’s position on the virus, saying the federal government’s priority should be to limit its spread, even if it harms the economy.
Voters are not buying Mr. Trump’s “law and order” demands, but they believe that some of his false attacks on Mr. Biden were for police work.
For weeks, Trump has been warning that the Democrats would unleash a national wave of anarchy, chaos, and looting. While the poll shows signs of growing voter concern about violence, Mr Trump’s message doesn’t seem to connect.
When asked whether the country’s biggest problem is “rioting in American cities” or “racism in the criminal justice system,” half of voters said racism and 43 percent said riots. In Minnesota and Wisconsin – where George Floyd was killed and Jacob Blake was shot – 53 percent believe Mr Trump promoted violence in America. And more voters said they trusted Mr Biden to handle protests and racial relations better than the president.
But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Biden and his team should drive a winning lap. Overall, voters were divided over which candidate they trusted more to deal with law and order and violent crime.
And some of Mr. Trump’s attacks on Mr. Biden, while not true, seem to be working. Forty-four percent of respondents in the two Midwestern states said Mr. Biden is in favor of defusing the police – a position Mr. Biden has repeatedly stated he does not hold. And 55 percent said Mr Biden, despite his outright condemnation of lawlessness, had not done enough to condemn violent civil unrest.
Mr. Trump’s predictions of chaos in the suburbs don’t work in the suburbs.
Mr Trump has made no secret of his desire to get suburban voters to support him and has tried to fuel racial fears of affordable housing to warn that Mr Biden would destroy the “suburban lifestyle dream.” .
Suburbanites don’t buy it: In all four states, Mr Biden is way ahead of Mr Trump among voters who live in the suburbs. The majority of suburban voters in Wisconsin and Minnesota say they are not concerned about the prospect of residential construction, subsidized housing developments, or the influx of residents with state vouchers in their neighborhood – anything Mr Trump has campaigned for a hiring .
Mr Trump’s ability to attract suburban voters could determine the choice. The Republicans have lost the suburbs only three times since 1980: in 1992, 1996 and 2008. In all three years, the Democrats won the presidency.
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Jerry Brown has some thoughts for President Trump
Jerry Brown kept checking his weather app. The former California governor, who long warned of the impending global warming disaster, was at his ranch north of Sacramento and found that the air quality was not particularly good due to the nearby forest fires. Or rather, he could tell from what he could how bad it was Not see.
“I’ve never seen such a dark view of the mountains 1000 meters away,” Mr. Brown told me on the phone from Williams, California on Sunday. “It is very dark. I see the oak trees. It is very difficult to see the mountains. So this is bad. Everyone looks at their weather app here. “
What he did. “I’m going to my weather app,” said Mr. Brown. “I’m going to Williams. I see unhealthy air. “With a little more research, he was amazed to find that the air he lived in was worse than Los Angeles, once the symbol of smog. (The air in Los Angeles is as bad as it has been for decades, but because it is Fires farther away, not as bad as most states.)
Mr Brown spoke of President Trump’s visit to California the night before. Mr Trump blamed poor forest management for the forest fires on Monday. But Mr Brown said the flames are a stark reminder of the long-term costs of Mr Trump’s aggressive anti-pollution campaign.
“Trump is acting in a way that is deeply damaging America and the people of the world due to his climate denial and his relentless campaign to undermine even the most sensible climate protection measures,” Brown said in our interview. “It also contributes to air pollution and the deterioration in people’s health.”
Would Mr. Brown have said this face-to-face with Mr. Trump if he had been governor instead of Gavin Newsom and had greeted him on Monday’s visit?
Maybe not. “If you tell him this now, if you ask for billions of dollars – I think I would wait a few days,” said Mr. Brown.
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