Your Wonky Week – March 7, 2020

This week in wonky news!

We’re complete policy wonks, and we own that.

We talk about politics and polls and studies and data all the time. And we have a hunch that you’re keen on knowing what’s going on “in the weeds.” So we wanted to share some things we think are interesting right now. So here’s something interesting to read, a totally wonky bit we’re calling “Your In The Weeds Moment,” and because friends don’t let friends watch Fox News, “What’s Up on Fox News.”

Something Interesting to Read:

After Biden’s performance on Super Tuesday (which was *checks notes* three days ago) the entire presidential race has changed.

Sanders is no longer in the lead; Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg have exited the race (Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttegieg having exited the day before Super Tuesday); and Biden is heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination.

We’ve been hitting “refresh, refresh, refresh” for the past three days, waiting for FiveThirtyEight’s aggregation of data simulations to update. And finally, this morning, it was.

The new forecast? With caveats and cautions that this race is extremely volatile, Biden has an 88% chance of securing a majority of delegates.

And if Biden has a majority of delegates going into the convention, he wins the nomination on the first ballot.

Here’s where you can read more about it: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/after-super-tuesday-joe-biden-is-a-clear-favorite-to-win-the-nomination/

While you’re at it check out their estimates for the upcoming primary elections here: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-primary-forecast/?ex_cid=rrpromo

They’ve laid out their forecasts for each state, including how many delegates they think each candidate will net. Super interesting and worth a bookmark as we go into the “in the weeds moment” below.

Your “In the Weeds Moment”: 

The Democratic primary has been all over the place, but Biden’s performance on Super Tuesday gives him a small lead in delegates that is going to be difficult to overcome. (Difficult – not impossible.)

Here’s why.

Before Super Tuesday, moderate Democrats were split among four candidates: Biden, Buttegieg, Bloomberg and Klobuchar. Because any candidate that doesn’t get to the 15% threshold doesn’t get any delegates, splitting the “moderate wing” among four candidates increased the chances they’d not reach viability – even in moderate-leaning states and districts.

How? Well, let’s use a pretend district that’s 65% moderate democrats and 35% progressive as an example.

You could reasonably expect Bernie Sanders to reach viability in that district, even if he and Elizabeth Warren split the progressive votes 50/50 (because they’d each reach 15%).

But consider what would have happened to the moderate wing: If Biden got 20%, Buttegieg 20%, Bloomberg 13% and Klobuchar 12%, both Bloomberg and Klobuchar would receive zero delegates (and 25% of the district’s vote – the people who voted for Bloomberg or Klobuchar – would be “wasted”).

In that scenario, Sanders, Biden and Pete would split the delegates, with the largest share going to Bernie even though 65% of the voters in the district voted for a moderate/centrist candidate

Now take that same district (65% moderate) and make it a two-person race. In that scenario, you could reasonably expect Biden to get near 65% of the vote – and therefore 65% of the delegates. 

A completely different result that’s reached simply because one ideological branch of the party coalesced behind one candidate.

With fewer candidates in the race to split the moderate vote, Biden’s chances of getting all of those moderate votes – and the delegates that go with them – increases dramatically. 

There’s another reason Biden’s lead is going to be hard to overcome: the races coming up are in states that aren’t as friendly to Sanders as they are to Biden. 

Most of the remaining high-delegate states (Florida, New York, Pennsylvania) are on the eastern seaboard, where Biden does quite well. He’s expected to win all three of those states handily. Others, like Mississippi and Georgia, are states where black voters represent a larger share of the voting population – areas where Biden dominated on Super Tuesday.

Just check out the schedule for March 10:
Michigan (Biden favored)
Washington (Sanders favored)
Missouri (Biden favored)
Mississippi (Biden favored)
Idaho (Biden favored)
North Dakota (Biden favored)

And the schedule for March 17:
Florida (Biden favored)
Illinois (Biden favored)
Ohio (Biden favored)
Arizona (Biden favored)

That’s a lot of states where Biden is favored to get more delegates than Sanders. 

Again, this race has changed a lot and we won’t know it’s over until it’s over, but because the field consolidated before Super Tuesday, Bernie is going to have a difficult time making up the ground he lost on that one day.

You can read more about what Bernie has to overcome at the Upshot here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/upshot/biden-sanders-delegate-count-analysis.html

What’s Up on Fox News

Fox is definitely downplaying the threat of coronavirus – and Hannity (with the assist from Donald Trump Jr.) is suggesting that the threat of coronavirus is in the past, rather than in the future. (We wish that were true! But sadly, it’s wishful thinking.)

Trump Jr. is also out there on Fox doubling down on xenophobia and claiming that closing our borders has been good preparation for “things like this.” (We were unaware that refugees and asylum seekers brought the virus to the U.S. We thought it was American citizens who were returning from luxury cruises and family vacations to *checks notes* Italy….)

Of course, Republicans are responding to their real crisis by vilifying Democrats. According to DT Jr., “thousands of blue checkmark elitists” are saying they don’t care if people lose their jobs and homes so long as we can get one of our “leftist clowns to implement free healthcare for illegals who are never gonna pay for it – that’s well worth [everyday Americans’] suffering.” We’ve not seen those Twitter accounts, have you?

And if that wasn’t enough, the “whataboutism” du jour is to compare and contrast Obama’s response to the swine flu pandemic in 2009 to Trump’s response to coronavirus. Of course they rewrite that history in all sorts of tortured ways, but it’s worth remembering what actually happened.

Contrary to some recently-spewed GOP talking points, Obama did not wait until millions of people were infected with H1N1 before declaring an “emergency.” When H1N1 emerged in April 2009, they addressed it right away and called a public health emergency late in that month – when there were only 20 confirmed cases. Testing kits were in all 50 states by May 5. The Obama administration renewed its public health emergency status twice before declaring a national emergency in October 2009. Even while Obama’s full staff hadn’t been confirmed (his administration was four months old at that point), they clearly had testing under control – unlike the current administration that seems to want to keep people in the dark about how many people have contracted the virus.

It’s pretty clear that coronavirus is spooking the Republicans – because if the economy crumbles, they know chances of reelection plummet. 

They have a plan for that, too: as Hannity says, if the economy slows “I’ll blame Democrats!”

Of course they will. 

We know you’re up to your eyeballs in election-related stuff right now. And chances are really good that you’re mourning the departure of your favorite candidate (since four dropped out this week). 

We hear you.

But there’s an orange-haired existential threat in the White House right now, and it’s all hands on deck to remove him ASAP. 

That’s why we’re focused like a laser on our Dump Trump project, which benefits the 2020 Democratic “presumptive” nominee for President.

Dump Trump is the only 2020 nominee fund that sends your support immediately to whichever candidate wins enough delegates to secure the nomination. Others wait until the nominee has been officially named at the convention, which is usually weeks later. That means for a few weeks our nominee is a sitting duck waiting for party resources to kick in, while the GOP takes shots at them. 

If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is. So we want to make sure our 2020 Democratic nominee has some funds to fight back with when they need it the most. 

Be a Democratic nominee defender – join today at www.itstarts.today/dumptrump!.

Stay wonky!
Jonathan Zucker & Michele Hornish