9. “…Down to the Wire” – a lot to cover in this issue

Edited by David S. Kerr 

A Product of Morningside Communications 

In this Issue:  Does Donald Trump have mystical powers? Really, does he? – No October Surprises, so far anyway – North Carolina Senate race seemingly not bothered by texting scandal – Democrats rolling in dough – A Bridge too far? “Stick with the plan Joe” – What is Issue Number One amongst voters? – and a word from our London correspondent, Ross Duncan in “Across the Pond? 

Does Donald Trump have mystical powers?  Yes, I know, what a bizarre question, but bear with me here.  Think about it, here it is, just two weeks until the election, the Democrats are leading in every poll, nationally, in swing states they need to carry (though arguably not by much), and in states they shouldn’t have any chance of carrying.  However, I a lot of Democrats, true believer, who think the Biden/Harris ticket is going to lose.  What gives here?  Usually, such gloom and doom outlooks are reserved for campaigns in much weaker positions.  So, what’s the cause? 

The answer has to be a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) left over from 2016.  Democrats had been so sure they were going to win that when they lost – a loss that was followed by four years of red-faced anger on the part of most Democrats – that they seem to have developed a bizarre sort of fatalism about 2020.  Who knows, maybe Donald Trump does a rabbit hiding somewhere, but where it is at the moment, is something of a mystery. 

No October surprises – so far anyway:  One big difference, in these last few days of the 2020 campaign and the 2016 is the absence of an “October surprises.”  An October surprise is some really game changing revelation or scandal that pops up at the last minute.  Taking the Way Back machine to 2000, the surprise news was that then Governor George W. Bush and his running mate Dick Cheney, both had prior drunk driving convictions, something that was revealed the Friday and Saturday before the election.  This surprise news probably edged the election towards Al Gore.  Gore though losing the electoral college won in the popular vote.  Before the news of the drunk driving charges he was lagging by 4-5%.  A little more recently, Donald Trump benefited heavily by the announcement about 10 days before the election that the FBI was reopening the investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s e-mails while she was Secretary of State.  That hurt Clinton and gave those who had been on the fence or tentatively in the Hillary column an excuse to vote for Trump.  This year try as anyone might, so far anyway, no October surprises.  Hunter Biden, the former Vice President’s son is one worry for the Democrats.  But, so far, it seems like more smoke than fire. We’ll have to see if the Trump folks can make something out of it.  Something I seriously doubt. 

North Carolina is more forgiving than I remember:  Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) seemed sure of a win over his Democratic opponent Cal Cunningham after it was revealed that Cunningham was sending salacious e-mails to a married woman.  However, this part of the Bible Belt must be more forgiving than the North Carolina I remember from the 1960’s, and Cunningham holds on to his lead.  Biden too looks poised to carry the state. 

Another reason for the Democrats to not be so gloomy:  Most Democratic campaigns, it’s almost a given, are underfunded.  Shoestring efforts are often the norm, but not if your name is Joe Biden.  Thanks to a record setting haul in September he has over $450 Million in cash on hand.  Some small countries would like to have that much.  Another reason that Democrats shouldn’t be quite so gloomy. 

A Bridge too Far:  No, this isn’t about the ill-fated Allied invasion of Holland. Rather, it’s about all the talk regarding the Democrats taking states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas.  Talk that could well drive the Biden campaign to stray away from its original plan. If I were advising Joe Biden, I would suggest doing my best to quell such speculation.  Of course, one of these states might flip.  However, anything that doesn’t stick to the Democratic Party’s basic strategy of (1) holding the “blue line” states of the Great Lakes and the Rust Belt, (2) flipping Florida or North Carolina, is just noise.  Alas, it’s so hard to stick to a plan when everyone is excited and hoping for a big win, but winning campaigns are run on tight discipline and yes sticking to the original game plan. Remember Bill Clinton’s campaign theme in 1992.  “It’s the economy, stupid.”  He knew the states where that message resonated the most, he stuck to them, never went off topic and won handily. 

Issue Number One:   The top issue, going away, with almost every age group and demographic is the COVID Pandemic and how well it’s been managed or not well managed.  This could be the one issue that keeps the tide flowing Biden’s way.  Particularly as COVID hits some of the midwestern states he’d like to win. 

Trump or Biden – Who would be best for Britain? – By Ross Duncan in London 

Trump or Biden – who would be best for Britain? The British press is divided on this question. They disagree over the relative significance of Trump and Biden’s views on Brexit, trade and foreign policy, as well as on the personalities of the two men. Consensus, as always, is hard to come by. 

One thing is apparent, however. Neither Trump nor Biden are raging Anglophobes. Indeed, the powerful bond between our two nations will remain whoever sits in the Oval Office. This truth is a useful corrective to the hysterical reporting in some sections of the British press. 

Yet it would be a mistake to suggest that who wins in November would have no significance for Britain. Both men, after all, come with notable advantages. Whilst Biden is more predictable and deeply suspicious of Russia, Trump is rhetorically supportive of Brexit and has awoken the West to the threat of China. 

I sense, however, that too much emphasis in Britain is placed on the identity of the future President. Indeed, no matter who wins the election in November, Britain’s influence in Washington will continue to depend ultimately upon the holy trinity of economic credibility, military strength and diplomatic finesse. 

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