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Hey there, listeners, before we get started, I just wanted to give a shout out to our colleagues over at ABC News who are also covering the conventions on podcast this week. Those podcasts are Start Here, which is a daily news podcast. They're going to be out every morning with the news from the conventions, as well as other important news from the day.
Also, check out the Powerhouse Politics podcast, which does in-depth interviews with newsmakers throughout the convention. Those are both going to be daily throughout the convention. So go check them out.
Hello and welcome to this late night reaction edition of the 538 Politics podcast, I'm Galen Truk. We've just wrapped up night two of the Democratic National Convention. The theme for the night was Leadership Matters, but it was also the keynote night, which is when we usually hear from an up and coming star in the party tonight. It was 17 up and coming stars in the party. We also heard from Joe Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden. We also had the roll call ceremony where Joe Biden was formally nominated, the Democratic nominee.
It feels like it's been a long time that we have thought of him as the presumptive nominee, but it became official tonight. And so here with me to talk about what went down, our senior politics writer, Perry Bacon, Jr.. Hey, Perry. Good evening, Gaila.
Also here with us is elections analyst Nathaniel Rakesh. Hey, Nathaniel. Good evening, Galen. And tech and politics reporter Caleb Rogers.
Hey, Kelly. Hey, Perry. Let's start off with the usual theme of the Tuesday night of the National Convention, which is giving the rising stars in the party some time to speak and maybe give some indication of what the party thinks of its future tonight. That was 17 different people. What was going on there?
I don't necessarily view the keynote speech is always telling us that much. I don't remember who gave the keynote speech in 2016 over Obama gave it in 2004. But beyond that, I'm not sure the keynote tells us that much.
So it was Elizabeth Warren in 2016. And before that, that's still a big deal. She was killing Castro in 2012, so it's a pretty big deal. OK, so we'll take that under advisement.
That's it. Seventeen people spoke. It was definitely like I think they were all under 50. My guests, you know, and they were all really young and I didn't know some of them. This is my job. I didn't know some of them before they spoke tonight. I knew a few of them. I know Stacey Abrams, of course, who was kind of the biggest who I get to speak to most of that group. But in terms of like showing the geographic, ideological and racial diversity of the party, it sort of made sense.
And in terms of showcasing someone, I think I think it sort of reflects this whole Democratic convention, this whole process, which is like the Democratic Party is against Donald Trump. I'm not totally sure what it's for. And I think that was clear tonight. It's for diversity. It's for inclusion.
It's against Donald Trump, but it's not really sure about what it's what it is beyond that it is for Barack Obama.
Well, yeah, in some ways, Barack Obama is the most uniting force in the party. And he couldn't also give the keynote speech in addition to, I guess, his Thursday night intro of the nominee, Kayleigh. And then, you know, I'm curious what you made of how the party tried to try to paint its future stars or what its future looks like.
Yeah, I didn't really think it worked. You know, I think having a montage of the party's rising stars is a great idea. But I think once it lasted beyond three or four minutes, it started to get a little draggy and frenetic with all the cutting. Trying to actually put a speech together in a collage like that I don't think worked as well. I think they should have probably done a a montage, like I said, of people showing all the different faces of the rising stars in the party leading up to one person who is going to give the keynote address.
They kind of did that with Stacey Abrams, who spoke at the end, kind of uninterrupted, but only for, you know, maybe a minute. I would have given her a lot more time, especially since she is a very good speaker and B, clearly someone that the party, all wings of the party, I think can be excited about for the future. But I think like how many like to Perry's point, like, is also my job to know these people and I just watch them.
How many of the keynote speakers of the twenty 20 DNC can I name now an hour after seeing them. Two, three. Like I think that's a sign that it didn't make a big impression.
Yeah, I think it definitely made it difficult for any one of them to really stand out in any kind of real way.
Even some of the up and coming stories that we are familiar with, you know, didn't really get a chance to speak for more than like 10, 20 seconds at a time, you know, kind of understand what they were going for, especially because given the constraints of a digital convention, you're not going to have that same kind of keynote speech with the reaction of the audience and sort of that energy within the room that you would get.
That enables you to have something like a 2004 Barack Obama speech that just like was never going to happen with somebody sitting in front of their camera or, like, filming in their kitchen or something. So they tried to spice it up to something different. But I agree that it didn't quite work the way I think they hoped it would.
So, Glenn, I think you're implying, though, that they it is a little bit of a problem. The. The party couldn't bother to choose someone like, you know, it is a little bit indication of a little bit of confusion that pick Abram's pick AOC pick Pete Buddhism's just pick someone. It's not that hard, but it seems like there are too nervous to pick someone and suggest we all like this person. That's not really a good sign.
Yeah, I mean, I think the party definitely has different wings that it worries about upsetting. I don't know that it's a problem at this point. Oftentimes these things end up getting resolved through the primary process. And for now, Joe Biden is the person who suits that role. But do we know what the future of the Democratic Party looks like? I don't. And I wasn't given a better portrait of what that future looks like through the party's eyes by having 70 different people, ranging from Conor Lamb, who is a more conservative Democrat who want a Trump district in a special election, and then also hearing from AOC or Stacey Abrams.
I think the theme of this whole convention, as you've all said, is that you're going to hear from Colin Powell and John McCain and you're also going to hear from Adi Barkan and Alexander Al-Kasim Cortez. And as you said, the thing that unites all of those people is that they don't want him to be president anymore. What it looks like as a coalition in twenty twenty four or what it looks like as a coalition in twenty twenty eight, I don't know.
But I'm curious and I guess the question is, do we have any sense from the party of what they think their future looks like? Anyway, I did want to ask you, as you're covering the tech and politics beat for five thirty eight, what you make of the structure of this very abnormal convention via Zoome for the most part, with a lot of precautions for covid. I know you've also been covering the covid be over the past several months.
Yeah, it's been interesting.
I don't know if I'm just cynical, but I really had low expectations, especially because, you know, it was only a few weeks ago that they really confirmed that they weren't really going to do anything live in Milwaukee and including having Biden accept the nomination. I think we all thought they might still be a few things sort of in person in the more traditional sense. And so I wasn't sure how they were going to be able to pull it off, how creative they would get with it, or if they would just try to make, you know, people at podiums and sort of project that outwards.
So I think it's been kind of hit and miss. You know, we all agreed that the roll call tonight was really effective and kind of in some ways better than the normal roll call, because we got to see, like the home states and picturesque backdrops and interesting little tidbits there. And it was much happier. Also, we got through it in like 30, 40 minutes.
But then there's been other things where they've tried stuff that it hasn't quite landed, like the sort of Zouma applause that they keep cutting to after certain segments, which is really cringe. And I don't know why they haven't got the memo yet. Like, don't do that tomorrow night. But, you know, they're trying something brand new here. They're breaking new ground. So I think we can be a little patient with it while also being extremely judgmental.
Yeah, I agree with all that. I loved the roll call. I do think it was interesting, kind of sat well, I think it both reflected the fact that we had five thirty eight hour geography nerds, but also reflected the fact that the night overall was kind of blah, that pretty much everybody on our live blog said the best part of tonight was the roll call, where we got to see all the different people against all the different backgrounds and all the pretty scenery in the States.
But that was definitely my favorite part. The roll calls are always fun with all the regional accents and characters and things like that. But it was really cool. Like honestly, it was the most traveling that I have done since, you know, last year.
I agree the roll call was great, in part because everything else kind of wasn't. So we'll come back to the live stuff in a little bit.
But yeah, I talked to be a little bit more about that. Why why was all the other stuff not so great?
Part of it might be that I don't necessarily agree with their sort of view of the electorate. Maybe like the parade of kind of X Republicans speaking last night, I thought covered the subject, but apparently we needed to have Cindy McCain, John McCain. How bipartite Colin Powell like these are all the same people as John Kasich and Christie Todd Whitman.
You're expressing the same I'm not sure how big the electorate is of sort of like elite establishment people who used to work in Washington, though, who still live in Washington, like Colin Powell, who don't like Trump. I just think that part of electorate is very small. Joe Biden has already won those people. I don't know how much talking about them is like how much touting them is that useful in addition to them being kind of boring as a message.
And yeah, I just I think their electorate is that, like, it's not that it's the AOC should speak more, but I think that people who might reach demographics, who Biden is not already doing well with, might be like we can talk about Latino voters. We talk about like a younger black youth. We can talk about they're just blocks of electorate. He's not necessarily as strong with. But I think. If you vote for Joe Biden in the primary or the general election, like Joe Biden, Colin Powell, John McCain, that this is Joe Biden's base in a certain way, the sort of older, sort of more moderate person, the center, left or center?
Right. So I'm just so I found that part to be kind of tedious, to be honest with you, and also not interesting and also not very probably not very effective. I will say.
I think that they didn't necessarily see at least the Colin Powell part in the same vein as last night. And Colin Powell has been a Democrat for a while now. He endorsed Barack Obama. So I think they fit him into the national security portion of the evening, has a way of saying almost giving Joe Biden these almost, I guess, nonpartisan, which is partly what you're saying, but these nonpartisan credentials of keeping America safe, that he's equipped to do.
So, the McCain montage, I agree. Maybe it would have been better suited for last night, especially right next to the you know, they tried to shoehorn it in with the national security stuff, but I don't think it worked.
What you're getting at is a is an interesting point, which is what does the party think that its goal should be with all of this? And we've talked about on this podcast that never Trumper is a very small segment of the electorate. You know, like people who used to identify as Republicans are in many ways still do identify as Republicans who hate Donald Trump. So do they think that this is just doubling down on what was an effective strategy of turning out suburban voters in 2018?
Because like, if that's part of the strategy, then maybe it's understandable. But what are some of the specifics of what you think they don't understand about the electorate?
So what I would say is they're very focused on saying moderate, moderate, moderate, moderate and very much saying not left, left.
So they're viewing like AOK bad, you know, Colin Powell good because we're trying to moderate, not lift.
And I don't think most voters that way. I think they were disengaged. Elect a lot of people have the data suggest it's not that most people have views in the middle. They may be conservative immigration, whether it be liberal and something else. We're trying to reach voters that are more complicated, more and other or orthodox more like people who are disengaged from the process.
People who maybe didn't vote in 16, voted in 12. I just think they're targeting sort of the high information moderate, kind of like John Kasich, Republican. And I think we've had two nights of that. And I think the skill of AOC or for that matter Stacey Abrams, is not necessarily their ideology, but the people find them exciting or interesting or compelling. I think they're viewing AOC as like left AOC left bad and I think AOK. Good speaker.
Interesting. Good. Don't have her say we're going to like abolish ICE while she's speaking, but give her more time and give you no boring Republican X less time like Ayanna Pressley could give a good speech. I think they're missing the fact that the electorate is divided, they're missing the young party electorate, they're missing the Latino part of the electorate. They're missing the Asian part of the electorate.
It feels like they have a lot of older white people and older black people talking. And that's Joe Biden's existing base.
Yeah, I got to say, it's hard not to feel like they're really taking the more progressive voters and progressive supporters for granted. Like, it's like we know that they're not going to vote for Trump. So we've got them. It doesn't seem like they're taking any kind of risks or trying to reach some of those voters that they really do need to be reaching at this point.
Well, but clearly, I think that's exactly the point. They don't need to be taking risks because Joe Biden is up by eight points right now. I think, you know, they're playing a very safe game, which I think makes sense given their position. I take your guy's point, certainly, but I do think that they don't feel a lot of pressure to kind of wrangle up the progressive Bernie Sanders supporters, because I do think that those people are in Joe Biden's corner because they just hate Donald Trump a lot and really want to get rid of him and are will happily, maybe not happily, but will be content to pull the lever for Joe Biden to do so.
That said, to to Perry's point, I definitely agree about some of these other constituencies within the Democratic Party that could be featured more. I thought it was interesting. They were a lot of Native American speakers and delegates in the roll call. I do think that there there could be a lot more Hispanic and Asian representation. You know, that's a complaint that I've heard, particularly about Hispanic voters. And Joe Biden's polling numbers among Hispanic voters have been kind of weak or below replacement level for a Democrat.
So that might be something they would want to gin up the way that they clearly seem to be appealing to black voters and to increase black turnout, for instance, like I might have Joe Manchin speak more instead of coal.
And that's kind of what I'm getting. It's not even ideological. It's more like someone who speaks to not elite voters. Like it feels like the party strategists who are like DC people were like, who is my list of people in DC who I think of as being the DC view as a swing of a swing voter is like the John Kasich person. I think the actual swing voter who matters. Is the sort of West Virginia person who voted for Trump but also voted for you, if you're going to, like, try to appeal to the sort of white noncollege voter, do that.
And I think they're not really doing that, as far as I can tell.
Yeah, that's a really interesting point. I want to dig into that a little bit more. But first, today's podcast is brought to you by upstart.
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We mentioned noncollege educated white voters. What do we know about how Biden is doing with some of these groups from looking at the more recent polling? Putting on a show at the DNC is one thing. You know, looking at his actual support, it looks like on the ground is another.
The crosstab suggests he's doing well with he's doing better than Hillary with older people. But that's a bit of a big thing. 055, he's doing better. His enthusiasm numbers a little sort of people under 30. But but again, they're saying they're voting for him, that it's not that excited about voting for him.
So that's something he's losing white voters without college degrees, but he's losing by a slightly less margin, lower margin than Hillary Clinton is. He's doing really well with white people, with college degrees. So so that's kind of the broader look at where he is. Like, again, he's ahead by eight to nine points. So he's doing a lot of things right. So I don't want to be overly critical of someone who's winning by a lot. But if but if the race gets tighter overall, if Trump gains like three or four points because it was a close race, if I were Biden, I'd be trying to shore up kind of like younger voters in particular and to try to minimize that white without degrees gap.
And to me, I'm watching a convention that seems very appealing to the sort of white suburban college voter who he already is doing well with.
So given that this is the one hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, I was looking at some point around women's support for Biden.
So there was a recent CBS poll had him pulling among women at 52 percent to Trump's forty two percent and one from Fox had him with 51 percent versus 39 percent for Trump. But when you start to break it down by race, it was interesting. So it was 67 percent support for Biden among non-white women, 44 percent for white women. And I know that it's often brought up that white women in the majority voted for Trump in 2016. And so that's a demographic that he's going to need to want to try to hold on to.
Notably also just the voter gender gap has remained pretty wide in the last few elections. So it was 10 points in 2012, 11 in 2016. And, you know, this recent Fox poll, which was 12 points. If it stays around that range, it could be another kind of historic gap between men and women voters.
Yeah, I was surprised that they didn't make a bigger deal out of the fact that literally today is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. I think the delegate from Tennessee, which was the state that ratified the amendment and put it over the top, she mentioned it, I believe Tom Perez mentioned it in his remarks, maybe one or one or two other mentions. But I'm surprised there wasn't at least a segment devoted to it, given the importance of women in the Democratic Party.
So the one thing I would say is what I remember about tonight was I don't think I knew much about Jill Biden. And I'll be totally honest with you about that. I've covered Biden. Biden's been in our lives for a long time now. But I could tell you about how Michelle and Barack met and how they, you know, their first dates. And I think we all sort of knew a little bit more about the relationship. I think this filled out for me a lot of the Jill Biden story.
And I think in a pretty compelling way. I think I knew she was a teacher in a community college, and I think it's basically all I knew about her. So in that sense, the polling suggests that a lot of people who are voting for Biden are voting for Biden because they hate Trump. And that makes sense. But I think if you're the Biden campaign, you want more people to be voting for Biden because the positive things about Biden and I think tonight there were some nods to Biden, his foreign policy experience.
He's a bipartisan person and to some extent, he's a nice man who's a nice husband. That's who he was, who's had a challenging life and who's whose sons, whose wife died early on, whose son died at some point. I do think tonight was effective in sort of giving more that Joe Biden's story. I think Jill did a good job with that. And I think if people stayed up for that, I think they probably do know more about both the candidate and his wife than they did before.
Yeah, they definitely felt like an introduction of her, even though obviously she was the second lady, just like you said, she wasn't as much in the public eye and wasn't as big of a player in that way. So this was sort of like her little introduction. And they did a nice job with that piece. It was interesting. There was even some funny moments. I think we're all surprised by, like the snake anecdote from her grandchildren, which I didn't see coming.
Yeah, that's a good point. I mean, it was pretty clear we focused more on boosting Biden in the second night than attacking Trump, which was the very clear theme of the first night. You talked about this actually on a previous podcast, which is that. So far, Biden's unfavorable polls are not close to Trump's unfavorable. And really what one Trump the election was, Hillary Clinton's unfavorable is getting somewhat close to his unfavorable. And then people who dislike both of them breaking for Trump in the end.
And so it seems like tonight was about like keeping those numbers up a little bit. I mean, do we know where those numbers are at right now? Are we anywhere close to the historic numbers that we saw in 2016?
Biden did like 40 percent favorable, 42 percent unfavorable. It's like it's like fairly close.
His favorable unfavorable versus versus Trump's the number of unfavorable. It's sort of like 41, 54, if I remember offhand.
So, I mean, but we should note, I think Joe Biden's unfavorable numbers will go up next week for sure, because I think that will be the entire focus of the presentation will be to drive those numbers up.
And I don't know how important it is for Biden to have. I think it's important that he doesn't go up to Hillary levels, but I think there are reasons that that won't happen. He's not in the public eye. He's he was vice president. Let he paused for a little bit. So he's been in the public eye for a long time, but he's not had the sustained attention and the sustained attacks Hillary Clinton has. He's a white man. Hillary is a woman.
I think that's relevant here, too. So I don't know how important it is to boost up, but I do. If I was going to say I do think they've given the case that Biden is a good, nice, kind family man. I still think if I were them, I try to figure out how do I build the case for Biden has some policy views. Like I think at this point, if you ask the average person, they know that Bernie Sanders is going to fight for their health care and so on, I don't think people would be able to describe what Joe Biden's two or three top policies are.
And you heard a little bit of the Joe Biden cares about health care tonight, but who doesn't? So I'd be curious that they sort of try to fill that out in the next couple of days, like his actual like what will he go into office to do on day one?
It's the soul of America, right?
The soul of America. That's they're going to restore the soul of America. Exactly.
All right. So it's getting late here on the East Coast for about a quarter of an hour away from Wednesday. So I want to give people the opportunity to give some closing thoughts on either the evening or the conventions, the two nights that we've seen so far, or if you want to preview anything, you're welcome to do that, too. I know that tonight was not quite the fiery night that we saw on night one.
It is striking like watching that first hour.
It is a very diverse party just in terms of even thinking about the accents they featured in that first rising stars, people's accents, how they sounded, how they looked. It is striking to they had decided to accentuate that. But I think in both the Rising Stars segment and the actual like roll call, that was important. I think it like there were Native Americans, there were the black, Latino, white, you know, older or younger.
I think that the diversity is definitely the story they want to tell. And it is it's like I have somebody yesterday a little bit an interesting story where you have Joe Biden, who is kind of like almost every other presidential nominee except for Obama and Hillary. He's an older white man, but they have tried to sort of meld you know, we are bringing the diversity of the country forward with Joe Biden as the as the leader of it is sort of a weird message.
But they're definitely trying to really emphasize that in some ways it's not that, is it?
Joe Biden is the leader of this multiracial, multicultural movement. And and that's kind of where we are now, is we're not going to choose a new vision. We're kind of like presenting a lot of visions for because we don't know what our new vision is. We're behind Joe Biden. We sort of know that we were trying to get past Joe Biden to.
It's a very interesting convention that way, something I thought was interesting, not about tonight, but about last night or the TV ratings. So the preliminary ratings are that eighteen point seven million people watched Monday night's proceedings on television, which is down quite a lot from the 26 million that watched the first day of the 2016 DNC. And I thought that was interesting. I kind of was thinking the ratings would go up because people are sitting around at home being bored.
But that was quite a decline. So maybe it's the case that the without the stagecraft of a real convention, people just aren't that interested. It could also be just changing viewership habits. So a lot more people are probably streaming the convention online than did in 2016. So according to the Biden campaign, an additional 10 million people on top of that eighteen point seven streamed the convention, which brings it a lot more in line with the 2016 numbers. But also those 2016 numbers don't include streaming either.
So, you know, streaming was a thing back in 2016. So probably overall there's still a decline. So I found that to be interesting based on tonight being frankly not as interesting as last night. I would expect the. Ratings to be even worse tonight, and if you look at that overall in the aggregate, you know, in terms of what we think about its impact on the race, I would expect probably I think you were already expecting not much of a convention bounce because opinions of Biden and of Trump are already so baked in.
We're in a very polarized environment. But I think when you have relatively few people watching the conventions, I am my expectations for a bounce are even lower than they were going into the convention.
I think for me, it's been really interesting.
On the first night, there was a lot of acknowledgment and emphasis of this weird, difficult time that we're in, obviously with covid, but also with Black Lives Matter movement. And all the things have been happening sort of around the world, kind of acknowledging that while also trying to do a normal political convention where you're just rallying around the party.
And the candidate tonight felt like they kind of put that aside a little bit. So I'll be interested to see if they bring that back up again in the nights to come or if they're trying to just sort of get back and focus on the party spirit and focusing on those things. I was trying to think if there was any. Obviously, this is very unique in that it's all online. But I was trying to think that there was even another presidential year where there was such a sort of overwhelming other story happening that was taking over people's minds.
And I don't know that it's ever been quite like this. You know, even 9/11 was far enough removed from 2004 that I don't think it really overshadowed it in the same way that covid is kind of taking precedence now, which also might explain some of the viewership numbers. I mean, people just have other things going on. They might not want to watch this.
I have also found is talking to people. The Postal Service story is really riveting to people in a way that the convention kind of isn't. And today you had the news about this. I know the Russia story's been going on a long time, but I think the news today of this of this big report from the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia today was one of those days was striking where I don't think the convention, like The New York Times and The Post was.
It was about the convention right now. But to me, the biggest stories of the day were the Postal Service and the Russia story, not the convention. And I think that's striking to tell. I mean, this is we're in this really heavy news time where there's a lot of what I would call real news happening. And the convention feels a little less important than it would have most years maybe. I think it'll be different when Comilla and Vice President Biden speak, of course, but like tonight, did not feel comparatively important compared to the actual news that happened during the day.
Yeah, it makes me wonder if there's an argument for networks, newspapers being like, hey, we didn't even send a bunch of people to cover this anyway. It's not like we have a huge investment. Let's cover covid more heavily. I don't know. Maybe it's just habit at this point. We all have to watch it. We all have to comment on it and have our side. But yeah, it is a good reminder that it's like the fourth most important story of the day, potentially.
All right. Well, now that we have thoroughly kind of knocked the convention off of its high horse, let's wrap up this podcast.
So thank you very. Thank you. Thank you, Nathaniel. Thanks, Kiran. And thank you, Kelly. Thank you.
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