Secret Trump Voters
November 2, 2020
The Daily Pnut strongly encourages all of our readers to practice their civic duty on November 3rd and have a plan in place to vote. In recent “normal” times, the incumbent wins (2004 or 2012) or it’s minority rule (2000 and 2016), or something incredibly has changed like a massive recession (2008). Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, so please be proactive and ensure that your voice is heard. Regardless of your politics, we can all probably agree that this will go down as the most important election of our lifetime — so make sure you make your mark on history.
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” — Plato
“Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” — Susan B. Anthony
“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote – a very different thing.” — Walter H. Judd
Searching For Secret Trump Voters
(Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)
It’s finally here, almost. Election Day is tomorrow. And despite what the polls have been saying for a long time now — that Joe Biden is well ahead of Donald Trump nearly everywhere — 2016’s election results are forever etched into Democrats’ memories. Truth is, we won’t know for sure it’s over … until it’s over. And we’re not at all sure when that will be exactly.
Four years ago, national polls were confidently showing Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump. She did win the popular vote, of course, but then lost the Electoral College, and thus the election. The vast majority of folks were blindsided. Two pollsters who weren’t, however, are Arie Kapteyn and Robert Cahaly. Kapteyn, a Dutch economist who leads the USC’s Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, oversaw the USC/Los Angeles Times poll that gave Trump a 3-point lead heading into election day. That was wrong; Clinton won the popular vote by 2 points. Cahaly, a Republican pollster with the Trafalgar Group, had preelection surveys that showed Trump nudging out Clinton in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina — all of which he won.
Conventional pollsters say they’ve learned their lessons; this time they’re accounting for factors that skewed their results in 2016. Kapteyn and Cahaly aren’t so sure. Both men think polls could be undercounting Trump’s support this year as well, thanks again to the “shy” Trump voters — people reluctant to share their opinions for fear of being judged. Cahaly thinks those votes are likely to make the difference again.
Many observers believe the president isn’t interested in reaching out to voters who didn’t support him in the past. But the Trump campaign has known for a long time that its best shot at winning was to find new voters in its strongholds, rather than trying to persuade swing Democrats or independents to cross over. The campaign believes these voters — mostly the white working class from factory towns, farms, and mining communities — are overlooked by polls that show Trump consistently trailing Biden. The strategy to attract those voters has been to focus on having raucous rallies in small towns and places that rarely get presidential attention, and to launch voter registration and data collection efforts around those events.
“There’s a lot of hidden Trump votes out there,” Cahaly says. “Will Biden win the popular vote? Probably… But I think Trump is likely to have an Electoral College victory.”
- Silver linings electoral playbook: Can Trump win again despite the polls? FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver on 2016’s lessons. (Vox)
- What the US Should Have Learned From the 2016 Election (Gizmodo)
- A differing opinion: Why Trump isn’t behind in national polls because of “shy voters” (Vox)
For Trump, Those Stuck In Kuwait Can Wait
- President Trump has made a central theme of his administration’s identity the mistreatment of Americans imprisoned abroad. In August, the opening video on the first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention asserted that America treats all its citizens equally regardless of race, and that “No American should ever be left behind.”
- “I’m very pleased to let everyone know that we brought back over 50 hostages from 22 different countries,” Trump announced during the convention. “We’re very proud of the job we did.” For one group of Americans, those words ring hollow. Dozens of US military contractors have been arrested, tortured, and jailed in Kuwait, some on trumped up charges.
- In the last five years, 28 Americans have done time in the Emirate’s notorious Central Prison Complex, with little help from the State Department. These men think they know why: none of them are White — specifically, all but 3 are Black. However, it cannot be overlooked that these men, while supporting the military, are not soldiers who are often protected under treaties.
- Military contractors are technically private citizens, or “economic migrants,” as one expert who studies military contractors puts it. As such, they’re in a new class of itinerant worker, supporting the American military, but without its protections. (NYT)
Viral Vindication In Egypt
- A generation of young Egyptian women have found new freedoms online, and a voice on social media, that is beginning to challenge the country’s traditionally male-dominated, socially conservative, patriarchal society that has policed the morality of women while allowing crimes against them to go unpunished.
- Last May, after an 18-year-old Egyptian woman was raped and her report to police went unheeded, she recounted her attack on a video showing her bruised face and blackened eyes, and broadcast it via TikTok, where she had hundreds of thousands of followers. The video went viral, after which police arrested both the perpetrator and the victim. Blaming the victim for a sex crime is not unusual in Egypt. But as the video continued to gain views online a hashtag campaign arose demanding justice, and her case became the subject of TV news and talk shows.
- After three months, during which time the teenager was required to finish a “rehabilitation program,” charges against her were dropped. “At first the government wasn’t going to help me,” she said in an interview. “But when people spoke up, when my story became a public case, things changed.” (NYT)
Additional World News
- A chances to mend our ailing alliances: Biden Knows That the World Won’t Organize Itself (Atlantic, $)
- How to Take On the Tech Barons (NYT, $)
- French Muslims, stigmatized by attacks, feel under pressure (AP)
- Coup done it? How a Venezuela coup attempt, plotted in Miami, unraveled (Miami Herald)
- Mexico protesters burn Trump effigy, slam U.S. border policy (Reuters)
- The coral of the story: A Pinnacle of Coral Is Discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (NYT, $)
- The US is one of the world’s biggest sources of plastic pollution (The Verge)
- Russia rules out cutting fossil fuel production in next few decades (Guardian). Putin steps on the gas.
- Philippines typhoon: Super typhoon Goni makes two landfalls after mass evacuations (CNN)
- Coronavirus Vaccine Project’s Contract With Moncef Slaoui (NPR)
- Virus Hospitalizations Are Up in N.Y.C. But This Time, It’s Different. (NYT)
- The ‘very, very bad look’ of remdesivir, the first FDA-approved COVID-19 drug (ScienceMag)
- 40 Dead, Now 40 Laid Off: Inside a Nursing Home in Crisis (NYT)
- After Trump accuses doctors of profiteering, medical professionals push back. (NYT)
- Artificial intelligence model detects asymptomatic Covid-19 infections through cellphone-recorded coughs (MIT News)
- There are documentaries for everyone on CuriosityStream, the documentary streaming service. Stream documentaries and movies like the Art of Investing, Deep Ocean, or The Science of Sleep. There is always something new to learn about with thousands of documentaries on virtually any topic.
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The Trump Train Trucks Along… Literally
(Stephanie Keith via Getty Images)
- On Friday, a Biden campaign bus traveling from San Antonio to Austin, Texas on I-35 was greeted by a blockade of pro-Trump demonstrators. When the dozens of pickup trucks flying Trump flags surrounded the Biden bus, the campaign decided to call off the event it had scheduled in Austin. A Biden event in Pflugerville was also canceled due to the harassment.
- Historian Dr. Eric Cervini was driving to help with the Biden campaign stop when he filmed a line of pickup trucks along the highway “waiting to ambush” the campaign bus. “These Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, surrounded the bus on the interstate and attempted to drive it off the road,” Cervini alleged.
- “They outnumbered police 50-1, and they ended up hitting a staffer’s car.” Footage from a CBS affiliate in Austin shows Trump supporters with signs and bullhorns surrounding the bus when it parked, with one person screaming that Biden was a communist. The Trump campaign — and often Trump himself — has encouraged in-person conflict around the polls. Trump used the first presidential debate to urge supporters to act as “poll watchers,” a call that sparked concerns of voter intimidation. (Daily Beast)
The Public Data Drought
- Health officials are bracing for a coming wave of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths, surpassing both the spring and summer surges. Knowing which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity could be key to an effective response to the growing crisis. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) collects and analyzes this information daily — about trends in hospitalizations, which cities are at full hospital capacity, and which facilities are under stress.
- These reports are sent to some agency staffers, but the information is not shared with the public. The daily reports show county, city, and hospital-level details, as well as national analyses that HHS does not post online. Withholding this information from the public and the research community is a missed opportunity to help prevent outbreaks and even save lives, say public health and data experts.
- “At this point, I think it’s reckless. It’s endangering people,” said the co-founder of the website COVID Exit Strategy. Hospitalization data is invaluable in looking ahead to see where and when outbreaks are getting worse. “Right now, as we head into the fall and winter surge,” said the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, “we’re trying to put more emphasis on predicting where systems will be overwhelmed.” But what’s missing for this kind of planning, he says, is “exactly the information” that appears in the internal report. (NPR)
Additional USA News
- The Left and the Right Are Radicalizing Each Other (Atlantic, $)
- Their First Try Backfired, but Giuliani and Allies Keep Aiming at Biden (NYT, $). Don’t rule out Rudy.
- Texas Supreme Court denies GOP-led petition seeking to invalidate 120,000 votes in Houston area (CNN)
- Trump says he is preparing for legal challenges to vote counts as final sprint begins (Guardian). If at first you don’t succeed, sue and sue again.
- Denialism, Dishonesty, Deflection: The Final Days of the Trump Campaign Have It All (New Yorker, $)
- If Trump wins: They Scream! We Scream!
- How Republicans Could Thwart Biden’s Democratic Agenda (Atlantic, $)
- Fraternal Order of Police deletes misleading posts celebrating Philadelphia officers who took a toddler from his mother’s SUV (WaPo, $)
- How Virus Politics Divided a Conservative Town in Wisconsin’s North (NYT, $)
- Can the internet be bigger than Big Tech? On Election Day, we’re voting for a better internet (Wired)
Tesla Takes The Wheel
- Tesla has finally released an early version of its “full self-driving” (FSD) software, which enables Tesla vehicles to autonomously navigate the vast majority of common roadway situations and complete many trips from start to finish. There is a caveat: Tesla considers it to be beta software, not intended for fully autonomous operation.
- Drivers are still expected to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel at all times. Three Tesla owners who got the FSD update uploaded driving footage to YouTube; it underscores how important it is for drivers to actively supervise the new software. Over the course of three hours, drivers had to take control over a dozen times, including at least two instances when the car seemed on course to crash into another car.
- Even so, Tesla owners are still very impressed with the software’s progress. “The improvements from two software releases ago is incredible,” one said. “It’s crazy, it’s scary, and it’s unbelievably good,” said another in a video posted Sunday. Tesla rivals like Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise have spent billions developing self-driving technology and are being ‘uberly’ cautious when it comes to putting their cars on public roads and letting them go without direct human oversight.
- Both companies are either offering or will offer driverless taxi services in limited areas. Tesla has chosen not to hire professional safety drivers; instead, it relies on its customers to supervise their vehicles and prevent crashes. It’s not a perfect system; three Tesla owners in the US have lost their lives after failing to prevent Autopilot from running into obstacles. (Arstechnica)
- We can’t believe that there are only 2 more months left in 2020: The Year of Blur (NYT, $)
- How Eugenics Shaped Statistics (Nautilus)
- Wired lives up to its name with this one: Deep Neural Networks Help to Explain Living Brains (Wired)
- You’re Not Too Old to Talk to Someone (NYT, $)
- Grin and Bear It (The Baffler)
- Watching TV While Scrolling Through Instagram? Such Multitasking Could Lead To Memory Failure (Vice)
- Why and when the US started changing the clock (CNN). Don’t be shocked by the clock.
- Cruise Ships Can Sail Again, With Strict Rules. Here’s What to Know. & Where Cruise Ships Are Sent to Die (NYT, $)
- Rest In Peace, 007: Sean Connery, Who Embodied James Bond and More, Dies at 90 & James Bond Actors Say Sean Connery ‘Defined an Era and a Style’ (NYT, $)
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