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Biden, Sounding Like a President, Confronts Racism

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

bidenspeechracismJoe Biden addressed the three crises facing America – the pandemic, the economic depression and the racism ripping apart the social contract — during a forceful speech in Philadelphia this morning — about twelve hours after Donald Trump ordered a peaceful protest violently broken up to stage a photo op.

As a policy matter, the comments by the anticipated Democratic nominee for President were most notable in calling for “an era of action to reverse systemic racism,” while outlining far-reaching proposals to reform police departments, including a “national police oversight commission.”

As a political matter, the speech was significant, not only as a marker of Biden’s re-emergence into the presidential campaign from quarantine — just 154 days before the election — but as a reminder of what a president whose goal is to unify, rather than to divide, the nation, sounds like.

The full text of Biden’s speech, as prepared for delivery, is worth a read:

“I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe.”
George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation. They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk.
They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus — and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment — with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in black and brown communities.
And they speak to a nation where every day millions of people — not at the moment of losing their life — but in the course of living their life — are saying to themselves, “I can’t breathe.”
It’s a wake-up call for our nation. For all of us. And I mean all of us. It’s not the first time we’ve heard these words — they’re the same words we heard from Eric Garner when his life was taken six years ago.
But it’s time to listen to these words. Understand them. And respond to them — with real action.
The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that can bring us  together. Leadership that can recognize the pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for too long.
But there is no place for violence.
No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses — many of them built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families.
Nor is it acceptable for our police — sworn to protect and serve all people — to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.
We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest — and opportunistic violent destruction. And we must be vigilant about the violence that’s being done by the incumbent president to our democracy and to the pursuit of justice.
When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle. More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.
For that’s what the presidency is: a duty of care — to all of us, not just our voters, not just our donors, but all of us.
The President held up a bible at St. John’s church yesterday. If he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves.
That’s hard work. But it’s the work of America.
Donald Trump isn’t interested in doing that work. Instead he’s preening and sweeping away all the guardrails that have long protected our democracy. Guardrails that have helped make possible this nation’s path to a more perfect union.
A union that constantly requires reform and rededication — and yes the protests from voices of those mistreated, ignored, left out and left behind. But it’s a union worth fighting for and that’s why I’m running for President.
In addition to the Bible, he might also want to open the U.S. Constitution.
If he did, he’d find the First Amendment. It protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Mr. President: That is America.
Not horses rising up on their hind legs to push back a peaceful protest. Not using the American military to move against the American people. This nation is a nation of values. Our freedom to speak is the cherished knowledge that lives inside every American.
We will not allow any President to quiet our voice.
We won’t let those who see this as an opportunity to sow chaos throw up a smokescreen to distract us from the very real and legitimate grievances at the heart of these protests. And we can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing. We can’t.
The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.
I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be.
It’s all at stake. That is truer today than ever. And it’s in this urgency we can find the path forward.
The history of this nation teaches us that it’s in some of our darkest moments of despair that we’ve made some of our greatest progress.
The 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economy in the history of the world grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 came in the tracks of Bull Connor’s vicious dogs.
To paraphrase Reverend Barber — it’s in the mourning we find hope.
It will take more than talk. We’ve had talk before. We’ve had protests before.
Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes.
That action will not be completed in the first 100 days of my Presidency — or even an entire term. It is the work of a generation.
But if this agenda will take time to complete, it should not wait for the first 100 days of my Presidency to get started. A down payment on what is long overdue should come now. Immediately.
I call on Congress to act this month on measures that would be a first step in this direction. Starting with real police reform. Congressman Jeffries has a bill to outlaw choke holds. Congress should put it on President Trump’s desk in the next few days.
There are other measures: to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard — that also should be made law this month.
No more excuses. No more delays.
If the Senate has time to confirm Trump’s unqualified judicial nominees who will run roughshod over our Constitution, it has time to pass legislation that will give true meaning to our Constitution’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”
Looking ahead, in the first 100 days of my presidency, I have committed to creating a national police oversight commission. I’ve long believed we need real community policing.
And we need each and every police department in the country to undertake a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices. And the federal government should give them the tools and resources they need to implement reforms.
Most cops meet the highest standards of their profession. All the more reason that bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly. We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for these senseless tragedies to keep happening.
And we need to learn from the cities and precincts that are getting it right. We know, though, that to have true justice in America, we need economic justice, too. Here, too, there is much to be done.
As an immediate step, Congress should act to rectify racial inequities in the allocation of COVID-19 recovery funds.
I will be setting forth more of my agenda on economic justice and opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.
But it begins with health care. It should be a right not a privilege. The quickest route to universal coverage in this country is to expand Obamacare.
We could do it. We should do it.
But this president — even now — in the midst of a public health crisis with massive unemployment wants to destroy it.
He doesn’t care how many millions of Americans will be hurt— because he is consumed with his blinding ego when it comes to President Obama.
The President should withdraw his lawsuit to strike down Obamacare, and the Congress should prepare to act on my proposal to expand Obamacare to millions more.
These last few months we have seen America’s true heroes. The health care workers, the nurses, delivery truck drivers, grocery store workers.
We have a new phrase for them: Essential workers.
But we need to do more than praise them. We need to pay them.
Because if it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now. This country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs. It was built by America’s great middle class — by our essential workers.
I know there is enormous fear and uncertainty and anger in the country. I understand.
And I know so many Americans are suffering. Suffering the loss of a loved one. Suffering economic hardships. Suffering under the weight of generation after generation after generation of hurt inflicted on people of color — and on black and Native communities in particular.
I know what it means to grieve. My losses are not the same as the losses felt by so many. But I know what it is to feel like you cannot go on.
I know what it means to have a black hole of grief sucking at your chest.
Just a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of my son Beau’s passing from cancer. There are still moments when the pain is so great it feels no different from the day he died. But I also know that the best way to bear loss and pain is to turn all that anger and anguish to purpose.
And, Americans know what our purpose is as a nation. It has guided us from the very beginning.
It’s been reported. That on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, little Yolanda King came home from school in Atlanta and jumped in her father’s arms.
“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “now we will never get our freedom.”
Her daddy was reassuring, strong, and brave.
“Now don’t you worry, baby,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s going to be all right.”
Amid violence and fear, Dr. King persevered.
He was driven by his dream of a nation where “justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Then, in 1968 hate would cut him down in Memphis.
A few days before Dr. King was murdered, he gave a final Sunday sermon in Washington.
He told us that though the arc of a moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.
And we know we can bend it — because we have. We have to believe that still. That is our purpose. It’s been our purpose from the beginning.
To become the nation where all men and women are not only created equal — but treated equally.
To become the nation defined — in Dr. King’s words — not only by the absence of tension, but by the presence of justice.
Today in America it’s hard to keep faith that justice is at hand. I know that. You know that.
The pain is raw. The pain is real.
A president of the United States must be part of the solution, not the problem. But our president today is part of the problem.
When he tweeted the words “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” — those weren’t the words of a president. They were the words of a racist Miami police chief from the 1960s.
When he tweeted that protesters “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs … that’s when people would have been really badly hurt.” Those weren’t the words of a president — those were the kind of words a Bull Connor would have used unleashing his dogs.
The American story is about action and reaction. That’s the way history works. We can’t be naïve about that.
I wish I could say this hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn’t and it won’t. American history isn’t a fairytale with a guaranteed happy ending.
The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push-and-pull for more than 240 years.
A tug of war between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character.
At our best, the American ideal wins out.
It’s never a rout. It’s always a fight. And the battle is never finally won.
But we can’t ignore the truth that we are at our best when we open our hearts, not when we clench our fists. Donald Trump has turned our country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.
He thinks division helps him.
His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being he leads.
I ask every American to look at where we are now, and think anew: Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we pass on to our kids’ and grandkids’ lives? Fear and finger-pointing rather than hope and the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety? Self-absorption and selfishness?
Or do we want to be the America we know we can be. The America we know in our hearts we could be and should be.
Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either.
But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate.
I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.
I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.
It’s about you.
And I’ll work to not only rebuild this nation. But to build it better than it was.
To build a better future. That’s what America does.
We build the future. It may in fact be the most American thing to do.
We hunger for liberty the way Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass did.
We thirst for the vote the way Susan B. Anthony and Ella Baker and John Lewis did. We strive to explore the stars, to cure disease, to make this imperfect Union as perfect as we can.
We may come up short — but at our best we try.
We are facing formidable enemies.
They include not only the coronavirus and its terrible impact on our lives and livelihoods, but also the selfishness and fear that have loomed over our national life for the last three years.
Defeating those enemies requires us to do our duty — and that duty includes remembering who we should be.
We should be the America of FDR and Eisenhower, of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., of Jonas Salk and Neil Armstrong.
We should be the America that cherishes life and liberty and courage.
Above all, we should be the America that cherishes each other — each and every one.
We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.
So reach out to one another. Speak out for one another. And please, please take care of each other.
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we can’t do. If we do it together.


Delivered in the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia City Hall, June 2, 2020.

Why Trump’s Approval Boost is a Bump not a Spike

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

fauciwtrumpThoughtful people who have witnessed President Trump’s ignorant, incompetent, idiotic news conferences on the Coronavirus find themselves ready to slit their wrists when they see that the president’s approval rating has gone up to 49% in the latest Gallup Poll.

Fear not. As Abraham Lincoln is professed to have said: You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

What we’re seeing is known in the polling and political science business as the rally effect – “the sudden and substantial increase in public approval of the president that occurs in response to certain kinds of dramatic international events involving the United States.”

It fades away.

trumpheadshotPretending to be president “Historically, presidential job approval has increased when the nation is under threat,” according to Gallup senior editor Jeffrey M. Jones.

“Every president from Franklin Roosevelt through George W. Bush saw their approval rating surge at least 10 points after a significant national event of this kind. [George W.] Bush’s 35-point increase after 9/11 is the most notable rally effect on record. During these rallies, independents and supporters of the opposing party to the president typically show heightened support for the commander in chief.”

Here’s some context, from a wide-ranging investigation of Wikipedia:

— Cuban Missile Crisis: According to Gallup polls, President John F. Kennedy‘s approval rating in early October 1962 was at 61%. By November, after the crisis had passed, Kennedy’s approval rose to 74%. The spike in approval peaked in December 1962 at 76%. Kennedy’s approval rating slowly decreased again until it reached the pre-crisis level of 61% in June 1963.

— Iran hostage crisis: According to Gallup polls, President Jimmy Carter quickly gained 26 percentage points, jumping from 32 to 58% approval following the initial seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in November 1979. However, Carter’s handling of the crisis caused popular support to decrease, and by November 1980 Carter had returned to his pre-crisis approval rating.

— Operation Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War): According to Gallup polls, President George H. W. Bush was rated at 59% approval in January 1991, but following the success of Operation Desert Storm, Bush enjoyed a peak 89% approval rating in February 1991. From there, Bush’s approval rating slowly decreased, reaching the pre-crisis level of 61% in October 1991.

— Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush received an unprecedented increase in his approval rating. On September 10, Bush had a Gallup Poll rating of 51%. By September 15, his approval rate had increased by 34 percentage points to 85%. Just a week later, Bush was at 90%, the highest presidential approval rating ever. Over a year after the attacks occurred, Bush still received higher approval than he did before 9/11 (68% in November 2002). Both the size and duration of Bush’s popularity after 9/11 are believed to be the largest of any post-crisis boost. Many people believe that this popularity gave Bush a mandate and eventually the political leverage to begin the War in Iraq.

— Death of Osama bin Laden: According to Gallup polls, President Barack Obama received a 6% bump in his Presidential approving ratings, jumping from 46% in the three days before the mission (April 29 – May 1) to a 52% in the 3 days after the mission (May 2–4). The rally effect didn’t last long, as Obama’s approval ratings were back down to 46% by June 30.

howardbealeDisapproval of Trump is so infused in American public opinion that what he’s getting right now is a bump, not a spike in his approval rating. Even that has been artificially created by his news briefings, at which he pretends to be in command.

As Philip Rucker of the Washington Post explained, “Trump, who campaigned for the presidency by casting himself as a great dealmaker and who prides himself on being the ultimate decider, has sought to leave the impression through his daily public appearances of being in total control of America’s response to the pandemic.

“In reality, the president has been playing a secondary role in some key areas.”

For a deeper dive into the whole rally effect, check out Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg’s piece in the Atlantic.

And by the way, while Gallup had Trump at 49% approve and 45% disapprove, both Politico and Reuters had it 45% approve and 52% disapprove, The Hill had it 50-50 and YouGov had it 47-51 — so Trump’s bump is more molehill than mountain.

Whether Trump’s almost-certain Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, can use Trump’s moral, executive and political incoherence to demonstrate that he represents hope for a better White House remains to be seen. As does Biden, most days.

How’s this for an election slogan: He Couldn’t Do Worse.

Dick Polman’s Letter to Bernie: Shut It Down Now

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

berniesanders1Dear Bernie,

You are toast and we smell the burn.

We are shutting you down. We are not “corporate” or “Wall Street” or “millionaires and billionaires.” We are just everyday Democrats – African-Americans and white suburbanites, college-educated and no college at all, liberals and moderates and conservatives, and we have decisively spoken. This is not a conspiracy.

This is the voice of democracy telling you to stand down for the greater good.

There is no “revolution.” There is, instead, a shared burning desire to rectify America’s most disastrous mistake, to oust the dangerous autocratic imbecile who would do even greater damage in a second term. We’ve decided that your opponent has by far the best chance to make that happen. The longer you deny reality, the more you threaten to undermine our shared urgent mission. Park your pride. Please respect our national civic emergency.

Face the inescapable facts. Last night in Michigan – the most delegate-rich contest, the primary state you won in 2016 – 57 percent of the voters said their top priority was beating Trump; those folks chose Joe Biden over you by 26 percentage points. Statewide turnout was 25 percent higher than four years ago, and statewide, Joe crushed you by 16 points. The kids under 30 may love you, but, as always, the kids don’t vote en masse. Truth is, a whopping 63 percent of the Michigan electorate was 45 years old and higher – and among those voters, you were rejected in a landslide. The left may love you, but the left is small – no matter what impression you and your followers get from Twitter. Truth is, 78 percent of the Michigan electorate was “somewhat liberal” or “moderate-conservative,” and those voters rejected you in a landslide.

Joe won the college-educated by 14 points. Joe won the non-college-educated by 14 points. He won union households by 18 points, and non-union households by 12 points. He won men by 4 points and women by 23 points. He won whites by 11 points and blacks by 39 points, and we really shouldn’t need to tell you that if you’re on the receiving end of a landslide among black voters – yet again – you should pack your bags for Vermont and seriously reassess.

And when Michigan voters were asked who’d they trust in a crisis – you or Joe – he got the nod by 19 points. Joe may not be exciting, but we Democrats have had enough excitement these last three years. So have a lot of Republicans who can’t abide Trump any longer. Surely you noticed that in swing Macomb County, one of the Republican mayors said that Trump is “deranged” and he endorsed Joe as a safe harbor. Joe, not you, can draw those crossover voters in November. Joe is comfort food, like mac and cheese.

So please. Don’t make the same mistake you made four years ago, when you stayed in the race against Hillary Clinton long after it was obvious to everyone that you’d never surmount her delegate lead. That was not helpful. Last night you didn’t win a single county in Michigan, Mississippi, or Missouri. That should be sufficient impetus to be helpful. Please start now. Tell the kids that there’s nothing more important – for their future, for this nation’s future – than uniting with us Democrats to fight our common enemy.

We’re currently mired in a national crisis, and there’s only one issue on the voters’ minds. If you do want to stay on the trail, we suggest you simply ask Americans who they’d trust more in 2021 to combat the coronavirus: Donald Trump or Joe Biden? Trump, who fired the Obama-Biden pandemic response team, or Joe Biden, who’d respect science and rebuild the team?

dickpolmanSo join us, Bernie, because there’s not a moment to waste. And thank you in advance for your service.

— Dick Polman, DickPolman.net

Reposted from Dick Polman’s National Interest, written by the former political editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.


CA Voters: Biden’s the Centrist Who Can Beat Trump

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

nopasaran!After the contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Calbuzz — still committed to the United Front Against Trump (UFAT) — began to wonder if the Democrats might have to settle for the benevolent plutocrat to take out the malignant autocrat.

We’ve seen some very smart and committed Democrats, like our friend Rose Kapolsinski, Barbara Boxer’s longtime chief adviser, sign up with moneybags Michael Bloomberg in desperate belief that he’s the best hope for defeating Donald Trump in November.

If Biden were not viable, that would make sense.

But what South Carolina proved, with Biden’s smashing victory, is that there is one actual lifelong Democrat with the experience, skills and heart to unite the Democratic Party, win over the independents and give anti-Trump Republicans a safe harbour. It’s Joe Biden.

Now, with Tuesday’s mega-primary finally in position to help shape the race, California has an opportunity to help, as Biden put it, win big or lose big. By giving Bernie Sanders a massive victory in California, we would help the Democrats lose big. If the centrist voters of California — who constitute a majority — consolidate around one candidate, California can play a constructive, corrective role.

As we’ve said before — and this post lifts from our offering back in January — while programs, policies and principles all are important aspects in most elections, in 2020 there is and should be only one overriding consideration among fair-minded, decent human beings: defeating Donald Trump.

Some of us decided long ago that this is not a year to hang onto hopes, dreams and aspirations for progressive advances in the social order. We face a dire, life-threatening common enemy – much like competing forces did in the past to fight against Hilter and Japanese imperialism – whose continued survival poses a mortal danger that is far greater than the ideological and programmatic differences among competitors on the left.

UFAT is dedicated to one first principle: the defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 general election. So who’s best to do that?

leonpanettaListen to Leon As our friend Leon Panetta, one of the great Wise Men of modern politics said in endorsing Biden:

“When I was President Clinton’s Chief of Staff, then-Senator Biden led the fight for civil rights, common sense gun safety, equality for women, and protection of the environment. When I was President Obama’s CIA Director and Secretary of Defense, I saw then-Vice President Biden’s immense experience and keen judgment in national security affairs. He was respected by our allies and feared by our adversaries. And, he cared deeply about our troops, intelligence professionals, diplomats, and their families. Both he and I had sons deploy to the warzones after 9/11. We shared the worry of the many families whose loved ones are deployed in harm’s way.

“Joe Biden is unquestionably the most qualified individual to be President. He knows and understands the responsibilities of being President. He does not need on-the-job training. He has a proven record of fighting for working class Americans, pursuing equality for all, expanding health care accessibility, protecting our environment, and supporting strong American leadership in the world. At a time when we are facing serious threats abroad, he will rebuild our alliances, support not undermine military discipline, restore American credibility and deterrence, bolster our cyber defenses, invest in the readiness of our diplomats and our troops, listen to our intelligence professionals, and stand up to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un.”

fourstatesVotes that Matter A cold-hearted analytic look at the upcoming national election in the Electoral College, recognizes that most states’ electoral votes are already baked in. There really are only a handful of states where the outcome is uncertain, starting with Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and possibly including Florida, Arizona and a few other states.

Which means the only concern for UFAT is which candidate has the best chance of winning 270 electoral votes – without reliance on longshot strategies like vast increases in the youth vote, which sadly has never worked. Rather the candidate who can win is the one who can capture all of the electoral college votes that Hillary Clinton did in 2016, along with – at a minimum — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which she lost by a combined 70,000 votes or so.

That means fielding a candidate who can appeal to the moderate Democrats and independents in those states and boost the black vote in Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that Hillary Clinton did not inspire. And luckily, there is one moderate Democratic candidate in whom black voters have considerable confidence – Barack Obama’s former vice president – Joe Biden.

bidenblacksBlack Votes Matter While we always advise readers ABC (Always Believe Calbuzz), you don’t have to take our word. The Washington Post offers actual data about who black voters prefer and why in a recent poll of black voters that shows overwhelming support for Biden, “boosted by his personal popularity, his service in the Obama administration and perceptions that he is best equipped to defeat President Trump.”

In South Carolina on Saturday, Biden won a staggering 60% of the black vote in an election with turnout that rivaled 2008, when Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were fighting it out.

But why a moderate and not a progressive? Because that’s who Democrats actually support and that’s who can widen UFAT. If – as few analysts have done – you divide all the national and state-by-state polling out there, you find that Democratic voters give about 40% of their support to the progressive candidates – Bernie Sanders and about half of Elizabeth Warren’s people – and about 60% of their support to the moderates, with Biden far ahead, followed by Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg and others.

This is true even in California, which many Beltway analysts continue to confuse with the Peoples’ Republic of Berkley or the Sovereign State of Santa Monica. Yes Sanders has a huge lead, but it’s because the rest of the field is so divided. To keep Sanders from sweeping California’s delegates, another candidate must breach 15% statewide and with November in sight, Biden is the best choice to rally around. With Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg now out of the race, Biden has a good chance of winning a portion of California delegates.

bloombergdncBloomberg Fugetaboutit There’s one other moderate candidate who has attracted considerable attention because he has unlimited resources to build name recognition and write his own commercial TV narrative – billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The question is, can a candidate without serious black support – and his stop-and-frisk policy in NYC is just too fresh to be forgotten – use his vast wealth to overcome long odds against a candidate with a lifetime of public service who also happens to have worked for a black guy?

Our experience in California, with Al Checchi, William Simon, Meg Whitman, Michael Huffington and others tells us “no.” Neither Bloomberg nor fellow billionaire Steyer get to jump to the top of the pack in a Democratic primary season. Nor would either of them beat Trump in key states.

As for Biden’s running mate, as much as we thought she was in above her head for president, we think California’s Sen. Kamala Harris would make a good pick for Biden, gaining some national and international experience, learning some vice-presidential humility and helping to boost the black vote in critical states. Moreover, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint her successor, which could even be U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who’d make a terrific junior senator.

Amy Klobuchar, Stacy Edwards and others could run alongside Biden – whoever would do the most to reassure women, minorities and younger voters that the White House would be in good hands. Whoever Biden picks for veep is far less important than having him at the top of the ticket.

bernielarryMeanwhile, the biggest threat to the UFAT strategy may be a rear guard, deadender action almost certain to be conducted by Bernie “Red Skunk” Sanders and his Twitter Brigade that helped defeat Hillary Clinton. As a loud-mouth, armchair socialist, do-nothing, Sanders might have a shot at capturing Brooklyn College but he has zero chance of winning back the key swing states needed to triumph inthe Electoral College.

So it will be up to the rest of the Democratic Party to pressure Sanders to join the United Front Against Trump. Which is all that matters in 2020.

Sanders Leads PPIC Survey; CA Dems Still Divided

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

bernienewTwo weeks before California’s behemouth Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders has pulled ahead in the PPIC survey, followed by a cluster that includes Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg.

Statewide, California Democrats remain as they always have been — divided about 60-40, moderates versus left liberals.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Sanders is on track to get the most delegates, with 32% in the survey, followed by Biden at 14%, Warren 13%, Bloomberg and Buttigieg at 12%. With proportional representation, a candidate who wins 15% in a congressional district can pick up at least some of California’s 494 delegates — about a fifth of the 1900+ delegates it takes to win the Democratic nomination.

As the star isolate on the left, Sanders is sweeping up the progressive vote — not enough to win a majority in California but enough to win a plurality, with the moderates divided among several contenders. It’s that pattern that worries leading Democrats who are worried that no single moderate –who appeals to the bulk of the party and centrist independents and Republicans — will emerge to keep Sanders from capturing the nomination and leading the party over the electoral cliff.

PPIC found no other Democrat in double figures, with Amy Klobuchar at 5%, Rom Steyer 3% and Tulsi Gabbard at 1%. Those who have not made up their minds were 8% in the survey.

joebiden2020Unusual Findings There are some strange findings in PPIC’s survey: For example Sanders pulls 53% of the Latinos and 53% of those aged 18-44 but 40% of the liberals while Biden leads among the moderate-conservative voters with 23%, Sanders has 20% and Bloomberg has 16%. In order for Sanders to have the lead he does statewide, PPICs implicit voter model seems to assume an unusually high turnout by young voters overall and young Latinos in particular.

PPIC does not survey registered voters — it surveys adults by random sample and relies on respondents’ answers to several questions to determine who is a likely voter. Nor does the survey attempt to model the expected electorate. If older voters dominate the March 3 election as they have in the past, Biden and others might not trail Sanders by the big margins reflected in the survey.

PPIC’s survey, from Feb. 7-17, includes interviews before the New Hampshire primary, before Bloomberg’s saturation of the airwaves and before news of Sanders’ alienation of the Culinary Workers Union in Nevada. But they also reflect Sanders’ increasing grip on the left wing of the Democratic Party — a development that many mainstream Democrats find frightening.

Not California primary voters, however, according to PPIC. Among them, 34% say Sanders has the best chance of beating President Trump in November, compared to 16% each who choose Biden and Bloomberg.

PPIC’s telephone survey included 573 Democratic primary likely voters (Democrats and independent voters who say they will vote in the Democratic primary) with a sampling error of ±5.7 percent.