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Joe Kennedy running to be the only true ginger in Congress, huh? Who are the fake ginger? I don't know.
There aren't that many people who are like as Carrot Top as he is. That's true. I'm sure there's others, though.
Hello and welcome to the 538 Politics podcast. I'm Galen. The conventions are behind us and there are now nine weeks until Election Day.
So it's crunch time for the campaigns. We've got plenty to discuss today. First off, we usually expect candidates to receive a bounce in the polls after their conventions. So has that been the case this time around? Also, there's been plenty of speculation in the media that unrest in places like Kenosha and Portland could reshape the presidential race and hurt Biden. So we're going to look at what the evidence says so far. And finally, there's a high profile Democratic primary in Massachusetts on Tuesday where Congressman Joe Kennedy is challenging Senator Ed Markey for his seat in Ed Markey.
Forty seven year political career. He's never lost an election, but also no Kennedy has ever lost an election in Massachusetts. So he would meet to discuss all of that. Our editor in chief, Nate Silver. Hey, Nate. Hey, everybody. Also here with us is senior politics writer Clem alone. Hey, Claire, Hegelian, and senior politics writer Perry Bacon Junior. Hey, Perry, good to see you. Galen, good to see you, too.
So let's dive right into the convention bounces.
Nate, does it appear that the conventions, both of them, the Democratic and Republican, have they affected the race at all?
So far as we can tell at this point, it's not that easy to tell. I don't think so. Taking them one at a time with Biden's convention in general, the polling did not seem to show much of a bounce. And he went from like plus eight point four and our polling average like plus nine point something. Right. So maybe half a point or a point. But we didn't have a ton of polling conducted in between the DNC and the RNC.
All the polling we did have was online polling or robocalls, meaning no kind of live caller polls, which is important because live caller polls tend to show bigger swings. We can get into the reasons for that or not. But like generally speaking, like when you see like a big traditional convention bounce, it's from like a Gallup poll or a CNN poll, a live color poll and not like an online panel survey.
But Biden didn't seem to get much. Now, did Trump get a bounce? There's a little bit more evidence for that. So, for example, morning consult, I know it's morning consultor, morning consult or whatever. Right.
But you said that on this podcast. Well, you know, you play the greatest hits on this podcast. Morning, Consultor, morning consult. I don't know everybody. But like that organization as well as YouGov put out polls that seem to show Trump getting like a three point bounce roughly.
There are other polls, you know, Harris didn't show a bounce. The L.A. Times poll has not shown a bounce so far. There were some weird Zogby poll that I think did show a bounce. And so it's like it's a little ambiguous. The evidence so far seems to be that Trump helped himself a little bit, but not for sure. It may wind up being a lot or not at all once you get better polling in. He did not seem to help himself so much in terms of like favorability.
So you look at like favorable numbers for how do you feel about Joe Biden or Donald Trump? It looks like Biden kind of improved a little bit and Trump's did not. And so if you have the theory that like, hey, what's going to be durable versus transient out of these conventions, that Biden soften his image a little bit and Trump did not help his.
But basically, you know, we haven't had by the time you listen to this, we probably will have had a high quality life college poll or two. And therefore, it to be honest, that will probably become the discussion and we'll subsume whatever else we've been talking about and become the new conventional wisdom. But like as we taped this at eleven, forty five a.m. on a Monday, we don't have that much polling and we therefore have like a vacuum of evidence into which like Bush bad hot to flow in, you know, like pundits who haven't heard from since like 2011 are like are coming into the vacuum giving you their hot takes about Kenosha and Shig Trump voters.
Right. It's all a complete bullshit. Doesn't mean we know what's happening. It's just that there is like very little evidence right now and a lot of speculation.
All right. With that, let's move on and talk about the unrest in Kenosha and Portland, because a lot of the analysis has centered around that more than maybe even the conventions.
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Visit Lifestream NORCOM five three eight for more information. Conflict between the Black Lives Matter protesters and Trump supporters became violent over the past week, and I'm just going to run through a bit of a timeline of events so early last week, Kenosha police shot Jacob Blak, a black man, repeatedly in the back, which was recorded on video. Protesters responded, many peacefully and some by destroying cars and buildings and throwing fireworks at police later in the week. A 17 year old from Illinois was arrested and charged with several crimes, including intentional homicide, after he appeared to shoot and killed two protesters and injure another.
His motives are being investigated, but reporting so far shows that he idolized police, attended a Trump rally and was part of a Facebook group that planned to go to Kenosha with firearms to protect property. The unrest has since subsided in Kenosha. In Portland, there have been nightly protests since the killing of George Floyd, with some turning destructive, launching fireworks and throwing objects at police near a downtown courthouse on Saturday night, a group of apparent Trump supporters drove through downtown Portland, firing paintball guns and pepper spray at protesters.
Around nine p.m., gunfire erupted and one man was killed. The man's identity hasn't been released at this point at 11 45 on Monday morning. But according to reports, he was wearing a Patriot prayer hat, which is a far right group in the Portland area. No information has been released about his assailant. And we're waiting for more reporting and any arrests. So those are some of the key details. And over the past week, Republicans featured unrest in cities as a prominent part of their pitch during their convention.
And some in the media have speculated that these protests and clashes could hurt Biden's standing in the race.
So I want to discuss what we know and what we don't know about how the public is reacting. Of course, we don't have data following the unrest in Kenosha and Portland to a large extent, because this just happened. But what do we know about the public response to the Black Lives Matter protests up until this point and whether or not it is reshaping the race?
So what we've seen in the polls, like around late May, early June after George Floyds killing and the protests around that was support for Black Lives Matter had been about 10 percent plurality, meaning, like more Americans supported Black Lives Matter than opposed.
It was a gap of about 10 during the time and like around June six, then those numbers shifted a lot where you had at some point fifty six percent of people supported the Black Lives Matter, according to civic polling, and only about 28 percent, around 30 percent disapproved of the Black Lives Matter. So you get a big increase in support for Black Lives Matter and as sort of a decrease in opposition to it. But over the last couple of months, those numbers have come back to where now Black Lives matters.
Net approval is about where it was before George Floyds Soran. So it's like plus 10 muchachos, lower than plus 20 or plus 25 in the middle in the early June.
So Black Lives Matter support has went down. And mainly what you see in the polling is that Republican opposition to Black Lives Matter has went way up. And that's not surprising because Republicans are attacking Black Lives Matter more and also Black Lives Matter has pushed them ideas, most notably defunding the police that are actually pretty unpopular. So listen to reason Republicans and you've also seen among independents, Black Lives Matter has gotten more unpopular as well. That could be some independence of a Republican.
There could be some who are centrist if he's ever voted for Clinton or voting for Biden. So that you've seen that changes will engender among white Democrats, Black Lives Matter support is still the same.
And then overall, from the start of the protests in early June, until now, Joe Biden around the start of the protests was ahead by six. And according the most recent, our polling average right now, Joe Biden is ahead by eight.
So there's not been up to now the protests around George Floyd at least did not seem, even though even though they got more aggressive and more unpopular with the public, they did not hurt Vice President Biden's campaign.
It seems like voters separated those two things. And we will now have to see what's happened these last 10 days and if that changes the polls. But one other note on this, August 17, before the conventions started, our polling average had Biden ahead by eight point four. It now has been ahead by eight point one. So up to now at least, we haven't seen much evidence of a shift in the race. But again, the polls sort of post RNC post Kenosha.
We have very little polling data at all.
So why has there been speculation among some in the media that there will be negative consequences for Biden and Democrats in the election clarinet, if you want to weigh in on that. I know it's speculation about speculation, but from what we can understand by reading reports, where is this idea coming from? I'm not sure.
And one reason why I'm not sure is kind of based on what Perry said earlier, which is that when we had kind of a similar period.
In June, early June, where no one like now, in early June, the coronavirus numbers are getting better, and then you did have looting and violence in some cities, including New York, in early June. And Trump came out and held his Bible in Lafayette Square. And that actually was associated with Trump declining in the polls and Biden opening up what today is kind of his biggest lead.
So it's a little bit unclear. I think there are a few things to think about, though. One is that people may be kind of mistaking a convention bounce, like we talked about before, for having to do with Kenosha and Portland, where in general you expect convention bounce, as we weren't sure as sure what to expect because of the virtual conventions this time. Right. But if Trump goes from like minus nine to minus six or minus seven, it's actually like it's not clear that that's good for him because you might expect a bigger bounce, like our model, or probably that is fairly neutral.
But if you want to weave a narrative around some semblance of data, then you can say, oh, this proves that Kenosha, whatever is having an effect.
I think it's a reaction to the Republican convention was all about, especially a couple of the days, chaos in urban areas. And, you know, in reporting after the fact, we've now found out that some of these people who were featured in the RNC videos, particularly of people in New York public housing, they didn't know that they were going to be part of a promotional video for the president at the RNC. So some of the programming that that was involved in the RNC that painted cities and frankly, like the residents in them, black and brown as being the victims of crime waves over the summer, you know, that is true.
Crime is going up in cities over the summer for many complicated reasons, which we're not going to get into here. But there was this idea that that was the Trump narrative about the conventions. Right. Was that these protests are actually a sign of terrible disorder in American cities. All of that is kind of you know, there's lots of historical dog whistles in America. So I think what we're seeing happen in, as Nate said, this vacuum of solid information.
You're seeing people react to the narrative of the RNC, to the thesis of the RNC. So the thesis of the RNC was these protests are terrible. They're terrible for America. We're tying Joe Biden to these protests. Therefore, the media or cable will say, well, Joe Biden's numbers go down. Now, the thing that's really interesting is for lots of reasons, Joe Biden has not many of them having to do with the pandemic. Joe Biden hasn't really like been out marching at a Black Lives Matter protests.
Right. Some of that is I think he's an older man. Right. And he doesn't want to endanger himself. But also, I have to think that someone on his team is saying, OK, Joe, we're playing this a little safe. Right. And playing it safe might mean not directly tying yourself to a protest movement that. Yeah. Is like controversial to some people.
I also think it's you know, as the stats that you cited earlier about approval numbers for the Black Lives Matter movement going down, kind of the further and further George Floyd and George Floyd, the person and the incident gets in people's rearview mirror. Unfortunately, that's human nature, is that these movements become detached sometimes from the thing that it really initially incited the human interaction. So, I mean, I think it is kind of narrative filling in for any real empirical knowledge that we have this week.
And I think part of what's going on is the general sort of conventional view of American politics is that Republicans won the 68 election in particular, and maybe the ones in, say, 70 to 80 sort of running on law and order, tough on crime, maybe kind of anti black people to some extent. So the conventional view of those elections is maybe that when the election is about sort of racialized issues, that helps the Republicans in a majority white country and the Republicans are better at that kind of election.
And in 2016, maybe they won that kind of election as well. So I think there's a lot of recent history that I think maybe is like overinterpretation a bit, but still history to suggest that maybe this is is probably good for Trump, that the question is like, are cities having too much violence as opposed to is he handling the coronavirus well or did George Floyd deserve to die? So in this sense, like any subject shift, the subject we've been talking about for like most of the last few months are just bad for Trump.
So this subject, I would argue, might be sort of closer to neutral for Trump. So I think that that's worth considering as well. And I do think the electorate is not the same as 1968. But I might submit that some of our or even 1988, but I might submit that some of our pundits are older, are sort of stuck in the electorate, changes much different terms of college education in terms of non-white voters. But I do think some of these pundits and are still sort of seeing like Trump might win this election.
I have no doubt this issue might help him. But it was true. I still don't think a lot of her campaign is. Definitely the same in 2020 as it is in 1980 or 1968, and it's not the same when he is the incumbent, right? Usually you say, OK, everything is on fire right now.
Blame the incumbent. Well, it doesn't work for Trump. And the sense in June, again, that, like, oh, everything covid plus looting. Right. Everything is kind of falling apart. I mean, that was not a good period in the polls for Trump. I mean, I definitely agree, Perry, that, like, the media is kind of buying Trump's framing on this. And I agree clear that people may have been primed by the convention.
Right. You get kind of four days of a relatively well crafted version of the GOP message as compared to Trump impromptu.
And it kind of primes people for thinking and a.. And also, like, you know, let's also be honest, right?
There is very little professional disincentive and psychological disincentive to say, oh, hey, like Trump's got a pretty good shot here.
You know what I mean? Like, that will make you seem wise and like, you know, if he wins and you look smart, if he loses, you say, well, we did say it was a toss up.
Right. So not too surprising. There's no incentive to be the person who goes out there and says, oh, yeah, Joe Biden's got this right, which I think is also not accurate. I think it is fairly uncertain.
Well, also, we've talked about this on the podcast before, that in the press. Yeah, there may be left biases, but there's also a bias towards covering a campaign that feels competitive because that will get people more interested in the race. And so to the extent that you can say, well, it was a terrible summer for Trump, but things seem to be turning a corner because of the unrest in American cities from a narrative perspective, from like literally a narrative, as in the story that Americans follow through the news, that seems like a more compelling story than just OK.
Well, the race has been pretty stagnant and it still seems somewhat stagnant, plus a convention bounce to some extent.
Yeah, I no, it's boring to say, oh, it was eight points. It went to nine and out seven, then that's not very exciting. It we'll see what happens on Election Day. It's not very exciting. So I totally agree with that, Galen.
And also that question is like the Biden people that I talked to, Biden staffers also always said, we don't think we're going to win by 10 points. The race is going to get closer. So I thought some of those polls, I think there was there were some polls over the summer showing Biden ahead by 15. I sort of was making fun of those at the time. And so I do think, like Trump, I always assumed was going to get between 42 and 46 percent.
Hard to really get below that. Hard to get. Probably hard to get above that. Maybe I'm wrong. But so in some ways, like some tightening happening may have less to do with the events that are happening and more have to do with like 46 percent of people voted for Trump in 2016. I assume a lot of them will end up coming back to Trump again. And so that and some I suspect some of what you're seeing in the polls is like undecided people who voted for Trump may end up coming back to him.
And I think that's sort of like giving me hard for us to tease out. Is this based on events? Is this based on strategy or is this based on sort of like where some of the natural patterns the electorate is going to go? It was hard for me to see Biden winning 52 to 38, but we had polls saying that in part like in June.
Yeah. Perry, you mentioned previously the 60s and 70s a little bit in terms of relying on historical precedent to understand our current times. And during the past several months during the protests, we've seen some academic research cited multiple times, essentially suggesting that peaceful protests, particularly peaceful protests that see a violent response from police historically in the 1968 election, actually increased Democratic voter share in surrounding counties while violent protests actually increased Republican share of the vote in surrounding counties. And this research from Omar Wasow.
So when we look at that, I mean, to what extent should we use that as a template for understanding the current times versus, you know, the country has changed a lot. And in 1968, the incumbent was a Democrat.
I'm leery of that for two reasons. One, because the demographic changes in the country, the changes in racial attitudes in the country, I don't know how like 1968 was a long time ago. I don't know how they were to say that. And I guess the second thing I might say is part of the issue is I think is to disentangle who exactly is attacking who and which protests are violent. Like literally I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what happened in Portland right now.
And we have, like, you know, very different media narratives about it. And we have very bifurcated media itself. So figuring out disentangling who is inciting who and then figuring out which voters believe, who is inciting, who is going to be, I think, fairly challenging to determine. I think it would be hard to say this is a violent protest from the Black Lives Matter people versus this is a violent. Yes, people from the antiblack last winter, people versus this is a valid action by the police, I think is going to be fairly hard to disentangle in these next few weeks.
What's so interesting, I mean, we were talking I think you said earlier that a lot of the commenters are people who are older. I mean, the Trump campaign also seems to be acting from like an older person's playbook in the sense of I was so struck at the convention by all of the talk about suburbs, which really seemed to just like go back to these 1968 battles over federal housing and, you know, the George Romney versus Richard Nixon integration of the suburbs.
And there is this idea going back to like the suburban Housewives of America, to use the Trump phrasing, how those people feel about the Black Lives Matter movement. Maybe those white suburban housewives are getting slightly more tepid about the movement. But on the other hand, they probably know black people who live in their suburbs now. Right. It's not this like totally foreign specter that it was in in the night, the late 1960s in some places around the country, which is why some of the strategy seems so odd.
You know, you had that St. Louis couple talking about they want to destroy the suburbs, you know, talking about I mean, it's essentially alluding to like Section eight vouchers and like letting the the other into the suburbs. It's just like a very it's it doesn't plan the more nuanced way that people I don't even know how to put this talk about race or talk about like how they want to keep their neighborhood the same, whatever that means. You know, a lot of that fight comes down to like schools and busing and stuff like that.
Those those debates are still alive and well in America. But there's less kind of the housing talk that the Trump campaign was using feels very retro in this way, that I wonder if that mindset won't continue to hurt them in the next three months.
Well, here's the other point that you brought up at the beginning. But I want to kind of dive into, which is that, yes, support for the Black Lives Matter movement has decreased. And polling also shows that Americans increasingly say that they see the protests as mostly violent as opposed to mostly peaceful. So there's still a plurality that say mostly peaceful. But the number of people who say mostly violent has been increasing at the same time. We haven't seen that result in worse head to head polling for Biden.
Right. And he said in statements over the weekend and also he's expected to give a speech around Pittsburgh today on the violence and basically denouncing it on all sides, etc., and challenging President Trump to do the same. He also had a Twitter storm over the weekend. President Trump, that is, in which he seemed to give some support to his supporters who are going into Portland, even some support for the 17 year old apparent vigilante in Kenosha.
So how does the response from the president and the Democratic nominee shape what happens going forward? And what else should we know about how they're responding?
Part of what's going on here is my sense is the Trump campaign is smartly sees an opportunity here, which is to they're trying to goad Biden into you must condemn the protests. You must condemn the looting. I think they're trying to get Biden to attack the protests in a way he in which he attacks also the Black Lives Matter movement, which will irritate his part of his party. So I think Trump is smartly trying to get Biden to like come so far on the side of, like the violent.
The protesters are too violent that irritate, you know, the sort of younger and black people who are who are who are out on the streets who don't really like Biden in the first place, who are Democrats and sort of create an intraparty battle that seems smart to me actually, I think is part of what Trump is trying to do there. I think you have a Democratic Party that is somewhat divided where like the John Kasich Republicans are not super excited to be voting with the L.A. Marcosi crowd.
And so I think they would like Joe Biden to condemn certain lefties whenever they could. Like I saw over the weekend, there was an urge for some for Biden to have a Sister Souljah moment. I think there is some urge in the sort of Biden coalition to have Biden attack somebody on the left to show how serious he is that they like that. So I think there is a tension here in terms of like but I think Biden is in a place where there's a lot of hard choices here to be made and the sort of like how exactly you precisely condemn the violent protesters, but not the and you condemn rioting without condemning the peaceful protest.
This is not the easiest line to draw. So I think that I think there is something I was curious to see what Biden says the next few days. And I think the issue is more complicated because some of the protests are happening in Portland, which is which in the popular imagination is a white city. But some readers emailed me telling me Portland actually is more diverse than you think it is. But Kenosha is definitely a racialized conflict. And so I do think that Trump trying.
It is going to go there tomorrow, we think. So I do think that the country is majority white. Trump, I think is sort of does have some sense of what sensibilities are around these issues.
So I think this is a tricky issue for Biden to seem appropriately woke without being to work for lack of a better way to say that it's almost I I've started to think about Biden knitting together those Kazik Republicans with like squad fanatics as kind of sometimes you'll watch those like TV entertainment channels and they'll be doing these red carpet interviews. And it's just a study and how to give a softball interview. Right. Like you think of Biden is like the celebrity being interviewed on the red carpet and the two camps, the Kazik Republicans and the like, the more liberal parts of the Democratic Party, they don't want to ask him any hard questions that will bring up an answer that they don't want to hear, that they know will make some people angry.
And so like that whole side of the election and frankly, like, that's why Biden's convention was all about what a nice guy he is, what a nice man Joe Biden is. So you're seeing everyone kind of tiptoe around that. And Trump is doing this thing, which he did in 2016, which was this which is this tactic of we're not trying to win you over. We're trying to, like, depress your enthusiasm about Joe Biden. So, like, Trump wants to ask the hard questions, the like, frankly, valid questions, which people are asking about Biden in the in the primary about his record on race and like, is he too clumsy and not evolved on race?
If you poke too hard into a lot of, you know, like older white Democrats records, you find problems with race or things that don't hold up in twenty twenty. But it is an interesting dynamic. And Trump, if we know one quality he has, it's that he will always go there and they do.
You have thoughts on how the response is shaping up so far?
I find it a little bizarre that we've kind of had a news cycle about like, oh, is Joe Biden denouncing the protests loudly enough? Because Joe Biden has never like denouncing the violence loud enough because Joe Biden is like never promoted violence, which President Trump arguably has. You know, President Trump is the president. Joe Biden is not.
I mean, it's kind of, I think a little bit of a but her email's moment in some ways, at least in the case of Clinton, you had like some degree of wrongdoing and it became a giant thing. But like, if one of the candidates, No. One as president and number two. Right.
You have literally these kind of caravans of like Trump cars and vans, people with Trump paraphernalia driving from rural Oregon into Portland. It results in somebody being killed, someone who I think was on the Trump side, so to speak. Right. Like, it's not great to have these kind of violent confrontations in the streets. But Trump kind of retweeted video of the Trump vans coming in and seems to be you know, his advisers have said like actually we think if these things get violent, it's probably good for us politically.
So I think the media is taking this up pretty badly.
So the quote I'll share actually from Kellyanne Conway on Fox and Friends, she said, The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who's best on public safety and law and order.
I mean, that's despicable. I mean, I don't have a high opinion of Kellyanne Conway to begin with. That's a despicable quote. Obviously, there is violence on both sides. I think there has been sometimes people are using the euphemism protests when they should be referring to violence and sometimes vice versa. That's a tricky thing to get right kind of editorially. But you have one candidate whose official strategy it is, is to kind of say, yeah, this is good for us electorally if violence occurs.
And Joe Biden saying none of that.
And like, I don't care if it makes you seem like a partisan to say that, like, the media's job is to make that clear to people that like, you know, if one candidate's electoral strategy now is we hope that you ignore the pandemic that has killed one hundred eighty thousand Americans because maybe there'll be violence that will be good for me politically, even though I'm the incumbent. I mean, that's like that's number one in a mission of a lot of weakness if you want to be very cautious about it.
But number two, just kind of disgusting.
It has put the media in a bad position. I will say that I don't know. I've been kind of thinking about this the past couple of weeks and been a little bit like depressed about it, because I've been hearing people, you know, I was in Ohio for the past couple of weeks and I heard people say stuff about like, you know, the tone of NPR, right? Like life. Like it's too in the tank, it's too liberal.
And when you listen to NPR, like, you know, especially right now, a lot of what they're saying, they you have to fact check on the fly. You have to accurately describe protests that are valid protest, but which sometimes in turn into violence and destruction of property. And there's this host of. Particular 2020 pitfalls in the course of reading the five minute, you know, morning news that happen, and it does put you in a really difficult position to describe.
You know, I'm sure all of us on this podcast have received things about like, you sound too liberal. You know, you sound like I think it's less and less right now. You sound too conservative in part because watching the RNC was a little bit of like a divorcing yourself from reality because the pandemic was wasn't really mentioned that much. And when it was mentioned, it was often mentioned saying untruthful or misleading things about it. So it does it does place everyone in a really tricky spot, which, again, the the Trump campaign campaign means to do right.
Like it's right. It's not that it's not smart on some level, it's just that it might be immoral. Yeah.
And look, I'll just say, like, if you listen to this, like if if you're somehow listening this episode of the podcast and you haven't listened before, I don't think we are a podcast or I don't think I personally am someone who is afraid to call out the media for many different types of biases, including liberal biases in some context.
But I mean, just the whole notion, I guess we're kind of falling prey to it of like kind of treating Kenosha and Portland as some, like, horserace strategy question. I mean, even that's a little bit immoral or what. Right. But like, you know, and I think Claire is right that like part of what Trump does is like to trigger this reaction where the media will pearl clutch and get up in arms about things.
And that can give you other things to point toward in terms of bias or whatever else. But like but out of the various issues that come up with this campaign, this is one where I don't think there should be a lot of moral ambiguity about kind of who is rooting for what. And there is, I think, unfortunately.
And so I agree with most of I agree with all the media critique that was just given.
And if I were in charge of the media, I would sort of change how the coverage is done, I do think in this context. Knowing sort of what media norms are, I'm skeptical they're going to change in based on the last four days, I'm more sure than ever they're not going to change. So in this environment where one candidate CIMMYT promoting violence and the other candidate renouncing it will be covered is Trump is for law and order and Biden is for civility.
I think that's going to be the dynamic that exists, even if I didn't wish it so. And I guess I do. I do wonder if and I maybe I'm wrong with us and we'll see if black people are protesting. A lot is always a net negative for the Democratic Party.
I was surprised in June or July when Biden's numbers stayed high despite large numbers of black protest. I was surprised by the polling showing people like them. And I will be watching Trump's strategy the next couple of weeks. I kind of think it might work. So I'm open to that idea that now, not because of media coverage, but just because of honestly how Americans see racial issues. That's what I'm open being educated, but I'm watching carefully to see what happens.
I think that's a good thing to point out, which is like that it was a lot of people are saying this feels different because it's more of like a multiracial protest, but also support and who knows how long that continues. The thing that I think will be that has struck me about this election so far is how, you know, at the RNC in 2016, there were a lot of speakers from families who who had family members who had been killed by illegal immigrants.
And we had the whole thing about like American carnage at the inauguration. And there is something so and we were just saying before about like, you know, Kenosha and the killing of George Floyd. These are all about the worst events in a family's life or the death of a human being. And the fact that that's what this election that that like political parties are spinning election strategies based off of those events. There's something almost like tabloidy is wrong. Right, because those are real and important stories.
But the prurient interest in spinning. Well, what like we did Jacob Blake have a knife and like, was George Floyd actually like in a fight with a cop who killed him? Like, just this the the the tabloid ization of kind of the way we look at the the political race is is is deeply uncomfortable because tabloids thrive off of what sex and death these but these deaths are. You know, they obviously feed into bigger issues. But there's just something very distasteful about using people's personal tragedies to spin an entire election strategy off of.
It's funny, I was reading this essay from Vanity Fair from like nineteen ninety nine. It's called The Tabloid Decade, and it's about how in the 90s, American society lost all substance and it just became all about tabloid scandals. Right. It was about Bill Clinton and like the Pee wee Herman sex scandal and all this other stuff, you know, like and darkly like the 2010s are kind of tabloid, but in the different way, in the kind of like murdering sort of way.
And I just think there's something really dark about the way that these campaigns I mean, the Trump campaign strategy basically is playing off of these terrible events.
I mean, this bed is dark. I would say, though, that George Floyds family spoke at the DNC and sort of referred to police brutality. And then at the RNC, you had the head of the New York Police Union endorsing Trump and praising him and basically saying one party protects law enforcement officials, law enforcement on the other doesn't. So in some ways, like, these issues are very partisanize right now. So I think it's natural and I think it's unfortunate, but I think that's where we are.
And I and I sort of feel like to some extent we are having a much more racialized election than in 2008, even though two white guys are running like the election is centered on these racial issues. And to some extent, Trump is the propolis candidate and Biden is the pro black and pro police candidate in those. And that's a real divide, I think, in the American electorate for sure.
Maybe a better rate. I agree with all that. Maybe a better way to say what I'm thinking is like this election, even more so than last election, feels like it doesn't deal with what we have typically thought of as national issues. But it's almost like every city. If you turn to, you know, Section B of the newspaper, the metro section, it's all about the police and crime. And it often has very racialized subtext. Right.
So it's almost like the national election has become about Americans views on communities and crime and policing in this way that feels very local and very particular and like close to people's heart. About like, well, this is how maybe this is for the better, right, where we're actually talking about things that affect people's daily lives, but it does feel so, so, so, so, so very different from I mean, when they talked at the RNC about school vouchers, I was like, whoa, that's the first time I've heard a Republican talk about, frankly, like a non protest.
It felt like this this anomaly of the substance of old campaigns or the substance of like what national politics used to be about. I'm not saying like that that we should go back to that. I'm just saying that it feels much more visceral and localized in the way we're having it now.
Well, in many ways, the news cycle has been driven by a man who had his finger on the pulse of the New York tabloids for decade. Completely. Yes. You know, for whatever else you can say about Trump, he certainly has a sense of what drives people's emotions. Right.
And he took out an ad saying that the Central Park five, who obviously later very famously found to be innocent, should get the death penalty, you know, and he put that in all the New York newspapers. So he's certainly familiar with with all of that.
I do want to move on and talk about this primary race in Massachusetts tomorrow. This has been an insightful and thoughtful conversation and I appreciate everyone's contributions. So let's talk about this marquee Kennedy race. But first, today's podcast is brought to you by Draft Kings. The football season is coming up with the reigning champs set to take the field to kick off the season. There's no better way to get in on all the action than with Draft Kings. The leader in one day fantasy sports to celebrate week one of the football season draft Kings is putting you in the center of the action with two shots at a one million dollar top prize draft.
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The numbers, not the letters. Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy has been challenging Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey for his seat in a high profile Democratic primary race that gets decided on Tuesday. Kennedy is thirty nine and Markey is 74, although Markey is arguably further to the left than Kennedy.
But this race is complicated. So, Claire, kick us off. What are the contours of Kennedy's primary challenge to Markey?
What kinds of messages or issues are being debated?
Well, I think the first thing to know about this race is it's one of those primary races that has become nationalized, which, again, I think is like is a trend in general in the past couple of years following the AOC primary. But Markey is the incumbent. He is, you know, an older white Massachusetts Democrat who has in the course of this campaign and frankly, like the past couple of years, done a I would say, pretty successful rebrand in the manner of Bernard Sanders to be like an older man who is an ally of the young progressives.
So an older progressive who channels the policy goals of the young left, most notably the Green New Deal. Markey has been very supportive of AOC and her her quest to get a green new deal pushed through whatever that means. Right. And I don't mean that derisively. I mean, it's a very general umbrella plan. But anyway, that's how Maki's kind of made his bones. He is being challenged by Joe Kennedy. Yes. That Kennedy grandson of Robert.
He is, you know, young, handsome, red headed, that he's kind of doing the Kennedy thing. He in this you know, a lot of people think he is running for this particular Senate in this particular Senate primary because he wants to avoid this is all going to be complicated. He wants to avoid running against Ayanna Pressley for a future Massachusetts Senate seat. So Kennedy is kind of this. He saw this as his chance. And Kennedy, as far as like what constituent groups they're all kind of going far for.
Markey has been endorsed by AOC. Kennedy has been endorsed by Pelosi. Markey is kind of winning the progressive Twitter vote. I would say, you know, liberals, young progressives, obviously, Massachusetts is a pretty liberal state. So and it's a pretty wealthy state, particularly in the areas around Boston, although then you also have areas around Boston that are very white, working class, Catholic, Democrat, which is a whole other vibe. Kennedy is doing pretty well with those people and also with voters of color, and particularly in the Boston area.
There's a lot of generational stuff. There's a lot of hereditary political dynasty stuff. I don't should I stop talking? Have given a good enough picture of this. There's a lot of things to talk about in this race. I guess I'll just throw this out there before we dig any deeper.
Is there reliable polling for this race? I know primaries are hard to poll, but is it clear who's leading going into tomorrow? Yeah, markets seem to be behind it has pulled ahead in the polls by margins in the high single digits, generally speaking. So he's he's the favorite.
So Claire has described a situation in which this has become a nationalized race that is symbolic of the cleavages within the Democratic Party. Is that a fair characterization of what's happening on the ground with the different constituencies that they're speaking to? Or has that dynamic flattened everything? It's not clear that you can really talk about this race in ideological terms, because they're both running as kind of on the same policies, right? I mean, it's just like Kerry is just like I'm a caddy.
Well, for the seat, right. Like, that's just. Yeah, that's I mean, am I being too flip?
That's a blunt characterization that he obviously is not using.
No, that's but that's like the message. There's no other message really. Right. He's like, he's like he's younger and more dynamic. Right. There's no real message. I've scoured his like campaign materials and like there has to be something apart from just I'm a caddy, but there isn't really anything.
Yeah, I guess I'm not. Yeah, I'm not totally disputing it. It's like, well I keep going.
No, it's all I have to say. Right. But like there's amazingly he's not running from the left or the right relative to Marki.
It just I'm younger and we need new leadership and you know, key and why this happens to be my last name.
I think he is the youth part is part of it. I don't think the youth thing is totally irrelevant. It is a big part of what Kennedy seems to be saying to me is that I'm younger and that I'll be a more dynamic and more of a national figure like Markee is not Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Markee is up to up to now been a sort of like lesser known Senator Kennedy's been saying because of he's implying that because I'm young and he thinks he's charismatic, I would debate that.
But I think that he's saying that I'll be a more interesting figure. I'll get more name I.D.. I think Nate is actually correct is my sense is unclear as to my sense is Kennedy is running a because being a senator makes it easy to run for president. And then, B, I think Clare's getting something interesting is I think the conventional view is that if Warren retires, Ayanna Pressley would run, probably run for that seat. And my guess is a Kennedy would beat Ayanna Pressley.
But again, Kennedy wants to run for president. And I don't think it'll be a great move for him if he can if he can beat I.A., if he can beat old Guy Markey instead of Ayanna Pressley. That's a great incentive.
It's a less awkward it's a much less awkward race to win when he flies to South Carolina to be president, you know? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. He's going to be like, well, yeah, I took the spot of this up and coming black woman who's a right, who was already like a rising star in Boston. Yeah.
I mean, you guys are right. You're right. He is running to be a Kennedy. I would also say that, like, the things that have become like issues in this election are very, very like local, though in some ways, like Kennedy has had a couple flubs about like like he got I'm going to mispronounces.
But the Quabbin aquaduct or the Quabbin Reservoir is this thing where, like, it basically like displaced these towns. And Kennedy had this email from his campaign where he said, well, Markey isn't representing these towns. And it turned out that these towns had been filled up by this reservoir. They no longer existed.
And then this morning, he misspelled Worcester, as in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is not supposed to wash just your source. It's spelled like Wattstax.
It's spelled W o r, c, e, e, r. But he put an H after the C, is that correct? Yeah, correct. That's correct. Not to be confused with Worcester, Ohio or Worcester OCR anyway. So and then like so, so people got mad about that. It's like, oh Kennedy doesn't even know how to spell Worcester or Kennedy doesn't even know that these, you know, whatever. So there's been some missteps there then.
I would also say, like people like Markey has been getting criticism from the black community in Boston. There was there was a black family whose family member died, has been very vocal about Markey being unhelpful, about using insensitive language with them. Markey Way, way, way, way, way back in his career was like frankly, like a lot of white Democrats, not for busing initially, which I think, you know, probably if you talk to, like older black voters, they might remember that, right?
I mean, the Boston has a very, very complicated maybe it's not even that complicated. Boston is a sort of if you if you talk about like northern white ethnic racism, Boston kind of comes up there. I mean, there's this great 30 Rock joke that I always like to use about Boston, where Jack Donaghy s mother says she's playing cards with the other ladies, with the other women from Our Lady of Reluctant Integration. Great joke and very telling about Boston.
So I think there's a lot of also dynamics at play underneath the surface between these two, like white Irish guys. I assume Markey is Irish, but maybe that is unfair on my part.
I think this race is not interesting based on these two candidates who have. You know, to one old guy, Senator, one Kennedy, both have similar views, but I love in a mission the role of Pelosi and AOC, and this is actually more as a proxy fight for their two year long fight. This is actually a great race because Markey was one of the head. It was sponsor the Senate version, the Green New Deal, which, of course, Pelosi has been trashing for two years.
So Marzo, because Markey supported the Green New Deal, AOC endorsed him and said it's not about whether you're young in terms of age beento whether your ideas are young. And so AOK has been a bunch of marquee ads and AOK is not really popular in America and not initially in parts of New York. But but it's helped Markey win the younger and the college educated vote in Massachusetts by having ROTC really strongly behind him. And then you had a couple of weeks ago, Pelosi, who has been generally discouraging primaries in the House, jumped out and surprising to me, even jumped out and endorsed Kennedy over Markey and sort of me and sort of has really get involved in this campaign on behalf of Kennedy.
You know, she knows Kennedy better, is my guess, because they're in the same chamber, although Markey was a House member for a long time. So the fact that Pelosi and AOK have jumped into this race of two guys who are both Democrats, there's no electability questions. There's really not much policy difference. But as a sign that I think this proxy fight is going to continue and has been sort of a fascinating part of these two years. Out of curiosity, given that you've described a proxy fight between, you know, two sections of the Democratic Party, is this an open primary?
Can only Democrats vote or can independents and Republicans vote if they like? So their presidential primary is a modified primary, which is kind of in between closed and open. I think that often means that independents or people who are unaffiliated can vote, but not people in the other party. I don't know if they're Senate primary is different.
Well, any closing thoughts on the race tois I mean, in the grand scheme of things, will the result be important either way? No.
In the grand scheme, everything else going on in the world, I think it's not very important in the sort of proxy like the two guys are going to vote with the Democrats and every bill are going to vote. You know one of them.
Yeah. You know what? If somebody Kennedy becomes president, then it will have been very important.
The Ivanka Trump versus Joe Kennedy, Ivanka Trump versus Joe Kennedy. It's the election America deserves.
As I mentioned, no candidate has ever lost an election in Massachusetts. But Markey also has a perfect record when it comes to winning his election. So we will see what happens on Tuesday. But let's leave it there for now. Thank you. Thank you, Galen. Thank you, Clark. Thanks, Galen. And thank you. Very nice game. My name is Galen Droog. Tony Chow is in the virtual control room. You can get in touch by emailing us at podcasts at five thirty eight dotcom.
You can also, of course, tweet us with questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show, leave us a rating or review in the Apple podcast store or tell someone about us. Also, subscribe to us on YouTube. Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon.