Transcribe your podcast

Hello from the Lincoln Project and welcome back, I'm Ron Artest. It's time for another State of the vote episode. Once per week, we'll update you on the national political map as voters around the country cast their ballots. This election is unlike any other in our history because of the record number of ballots that are being cast by mail. So although we're conditioned to think that Election Day is a one time event that happens once a year, people are voting right now.


People are already voting by mail in every state. Early in-person voting and absentee in-person voting is underway in states like Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. And we'll start in Florida and Wisconsin this week. Joining me today is Lincoln Project co-founder and former political director of the California Republican Party. Mike, I eat numbers for breakfast. Madrid, it's not going to get old.


Mike, thanks for being on again. Yeah, I'm impressed by the state role. You just did like you. And I can just whip off 15, 16 states at a time. It's impressive. It's going man, that's going. We're in it. Millions of people have already voted in this election. I think as a last count that I looked 14 million and we're going to see that vote count rise over the next couple of weeks. What are the trends that we're seeing on the national map that voters should be watching before we dig into the nuts and bolts today?


Well, let's talk a little bit about that early vote, because when you're talking about fourteen point seven million ballots or whatever it is, and that's about the range, give or take a million. Look, if we hit one hundred and fifty million ballots cast, that will be a record. I don't think we've surpassed one hundred thirty seven hundred thirty eight million before. I think, Ron, I think we're going to hit one hundred and sixty million this year, which will be historic.


But it will also change a lot of what we're looking at in terms of the polling, because nobody is gauging for that kind of a turnout model. And remember, this is some of the criticism of the twenty sixteen polls. It's not that there were shy voters. It's not that there were you know, the polls were necessarily off. It's just if you don't wait and accurately guess what the turnout numbers are, everything gets skewed. And that's really more a function.


I'm not speaking for every poll, but really was that was much more of a function of the turnout model of different demographic groups. There was an over performance of noncollege educated white voters. There was an underperformance of black voters. That skews the turnout model. And that's why you saw some of what you saw. Twenty sixteen. We may be in a situation like that. The good news is, I think if the turnout numbers are as high as I think they're going to be, it will benefit Joe Biden considerably.


Yeah. And the other reason this is a historic election, not just because of turnout, but because of the record number of ballots that are being cast by mail. So before we get into the states, we're going to talk about California and Iowa.


But can you talk about the way mail in voting has been viewed in the past and how it's going to contribute to the record numbers of turnout this year? Yeah, so there's a lot different about voting by mail. And we're starting to see both good, great indicators, I would argue, with the kind of response. And then there's some problems in the processing, which you and I have explored these issues a little bit over the course of the past few months on what some of that might look like.


But but generally, I mean, when I was a young man in the business, which was some time ago, it was Republicans who spent considerable amount of resources trying to train their vote or train our voters millions and millions of dollars, many, many years and countless hours in campaign headquarters. I've spent trying to work to make sure that Republicans were voting by mail so that we could bank those votes. And we spent literally decades retraining and rehabilitating Republican voters to cast their vote by mail that, you know, enter Donald Trump has changed considerably.


Right. And so what is peculiar and no one has ever seen this dynamic before is by a considerable margin, the vote by mail demographic is going to skew very, very pro by it and very Democratic and the day of vote. And I'm laughing. I'm smiling when I say this because I never thought I'd ever say this will benefit the Republicans. The late vote, as we've called it, is always benefited the Democrats. It was always low propensity, low information voters, often minority people of color, younger folks, people who aren't as engaged in the process with massive get out the vote operations and labor unions, kind of huge democratic spend put on the ground, kind of knocking and dragging people to the polls.


That's not a demographic that works well for for Republicans. Well, this year, like everything else in 2020, the exact opposite is going to happen. The vote by mail numbers is going to significantly skew towards Joe Biden and with a very robust Republican turnout. Or you should see the day of vote of the day in the count going through through the night of November 3rd, benefiting the Republicans and Donald Trump.


All right, let's. Turn to California for just a few minutes, because this story has played out over the last week and it's worth talking about as it relates to ballots being cast right now. There were unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Southern California this week. And this term, ballot harvesting has been bandied about quite a bit. And I don't think anybody really understands what it is. Can you start by explaining for our listeners what ballot harvesting is, why it's a hot topic, particularly in California, and what the best ways to return a mail ballot are.


OK, so this is again, this is California. So this is a little sensitive to to make here on the left coast. Mike, on the co-founders of Lincoln Project. Mm hmm. OK, California has probably pushed the envelope of the ways to vote more than any other state by a factor of five or six. And it's also why we take so long to count any possible way we can engage voters. We tend to do that. And it's because, I mean, candidly, there is a partisan construct to this.


California is essentially a one party state. Democrats have been very regularly pushing the envelope on how we can make sure that the franchise is is permitted to as many people as possible. Frankly, it's one of those things where I agree with them on. I think there's nothing wrong with voting. Well, curiously, I know that we should be doing everything we can to increase the number of voters. But recently in the last couple of years, and this was first effectuated in the twenty eighteen midterms, they passed a law that allowed for what has been called ballot harvesting.


Republicans call it ballot harvesting. Democrats kind of shy away from the number of that that that nomenclature. But I think it's very accurate. What that means is this. It means that somebody who is authorized can go out and actually collect ballots from people in their homes or knock on their door and say, I'm with this, I'm with the Democratic Party. Can I take your ballot that you've received? And I will process it and take it to the county government center.


Now, there's a restriction of three ballots, certainly at a time. Right. You can't go out and collect ten thousand ballots, but if you have volunteers of 30, 40, 50, 80, 100 people, you can see how this can magnify when you're talking to these groups.


The theory is the political theory is it would benefit Democrats because they're talking to lower information voters, people of color and younger voters who are more likely to turn a ballot over to somebody that they trust as opposed to feel the need to go into the county governments that are to cast the vote. Republicans, our demographic is you know, it's a fifty five, sixty five plus votes. And there's like no way anybody's going to touch their ballot. They're not even sure that the people, the county governments are counting the ballots should be touching the ballots.




They're very suspicious. Right. And so as a result, what you have is this problem where this law arguably benefits the Democrats to a very significant degree because their demographic is the most likely to respond to this, this new process of voting. It is controversial. I'm not going to suggest it's not. It probably needs a lot more vetting and discussing and even maybe some more safety protocols. But the law for the moment is what the law is. The problem became with the narrative, as we've talked about before, is when the late ballots were being processed, largely mail ballots, because 70 percent of voters in California vote by mail.


Let me say that again, seven zero, not 17, 70 percent of voters in California vote by mail. It takes weeks to process that. So you'll recall or maybe you won't. But for for the listeners in twenty eighteen, when the early votes came in and recounted and all the pundits were on TV stations saying, oh, this wasn't a blue wave, it was just a small blue trickle, the Democrats only picked up eight or nine seats.


There's a possibility the Republicans could actually hold the majority. And as every day went on after that, it was clearly it was a blue tsunami and they picked up 40 seats. That's because of ballot by mail. Yeah, well, in California, we lost seven seats. We the Republicans, that's a big number. And those are like all the targeted seats. And so what happened was they blamed ballot harvesting. So the Republicans needed an excuse so they could have been Schrum could.


Well, I think so. This is really interesting. It it it it is not that they lost because more people voted and didn't like the Republican candidates. It's that more people had their ballots tampered with or stolen by using the term ballot harvesting. They're essentially casting doubt on the validity of the election. One hundred percent, which is really nefarious. And and we've seen a lot of that from the commander in chief this year.


And not only have we seen from the commander in chief, but it's really become a cultural characteristic of the Republican Party, which takes me to the to answer your question, the famous Madrid long stemwinder, why wasn't it the people of it? Yeah.


So what happens is there's this fear of if you don't vote like us, you're stealing the election. Like that's the only way you can win, which is curious because it's already a minority party. There's already more Democrats than Republicans. And so, so much energy is focused by Republicans on. Straining that vote or finding reasons why people are fraudulently stealing the election or dead people are voting or the undocumented are voting or whatever, and it's like, no, it's pretty basic math.


You may be just what you're saying is racist and people don't like that. Now have a better explanation. Let's just summarize this for for for our listener. So ballot harvesting is essentially a way for minority communities, people who are low propensity voters, which is what we call them. If you if you are unlikely to vote, you're registered and you're eligible, but you're unlikely to vote. We call you low propensity. But this is a way for low propensity voters to actually vote because someone is helping them get their ballot into where it needs to go.


Correct. Bottom line, which means more people end up voting. Yeah, and let me but let's be clear. It's available to everybody. But but it's just demographically, people feel differently. So, yes. So it engages running a campaign.


And we've got limited resources and we've got, let's say, 50 volunteers in a congressional district in California. We're going to deploy them to households that we know have a low propensity, correct likelihood, but less so because we want more people. We want to add to the number and add to the turnout and not duplicate efforts. If we know that 55 plus voters are already going to vote, they're going to take their ballot exactly where it needs go, then we don't need to help them.


Right. But bottom line is ballot harvesting essentially helps low propensity voters cast their ballots and it and it results in a higher vote count trend because those low propensity voters tend to vote Democratic. It usually ends up being a higher Democratic turnout. And that is what Republicans don't like. It scares the holy hell out of them. Right, because they don't want these voters voting essentially. Let's just say say it what it is. Yeah. So what they have done in all their wisdom in the California Republican Party is they've decided we've got an idea, why don't we do some ballot harvesting ourselves with our demographics.


Right, genius. OK, this is going so they identify evangelical churches and gun stores and they decide we're going to put boxes, collection and then label it official. Like literally they just ran them off the printer at the campaign headquarters, Scotch taped, official ballot box, biosecure, secure metal box, however secure that could be, and stuck these boxes out front of gun stores and churches. But, Mike, yes, I thought there was a law, the limit to the number of ballots you could harvest.


Of course. Of course there is. And it also creates all sorts of chain of custody issues with the ballot, because when you do take somebody's ballot, you have to sign an affidavit. Right. It's not like just anybody can kind of go grab it and take it and then put it in there. There's secure security there, security limits. And you're putting, you know, under penalty of perjury. And this would be criminal. By the way, this is a crime.


Go to prison crime, not just civil penalty, pay a fine. You know that if you are engaged in some sort of fraud, you're going to jail. It's serious stuff. So that's one of the safeguards. As you sign an affidavit. I collected this ballot on behalf of so-and-so, signed it under penalty of perjury, and then you go your process at three per person time, right? Yeah, exactly. And so what happens under this scenario is who signs that ballot, right?


You just drop it in the box. No one signed it until they open it up and then they sign it. If somebody you don't even know, there's all there's all sorts of problems with doing this. So the party that loves to yell about ballot fraud on law and order is literally. Yeah, go ahead. Right. So you got it. You see where it's going. And so the funny thing is, it's not funny. It's just it's so maddening just having spent such a significant part of my life and my career working on these programs that actually were showing efficiencies and effectiveness.


And it's working and they're smart to just within want just in the Trump administration. This you know, the Republican Party's been filing lawsuits against universal vote by mail. It's clearly voter suppression. That's what they're trying to do. Yes. And so then what they're doing with their own base, which they know is a base that isn't going to respond to this. Well, it's just opening up this PR nightmare and it just reinforces the image of people who don't really want democracy to work.


And that and the truth is, there's something to that. Folks, we are out of place in our country's history where one of the only two major political parties is trying to win by reducing the number of people who vote because they cannot compete in the marketplace of ideas and gain any traction there. They are shrinking and they are losing. And the only way that they can win is by sabotaging or suppressing the vote. That is where we are.


That is not only where we are, but think about that for a moment. That's not sustainable. No gets it gets worse every election cycle for you. And at some point it just the floor falls out. And that's probably what's going to happen in twenty twenty if not the twenty twenty. It does not work long term, you can't have that as a strategy, especially when you're only focused on one demographic in the country that is the fastest shrinking demographic and every other demographic in the country hates you because of this tactic that you're using.


Yeah, OK, sorry about let's switch gears a little bit. No, I think that was really helpful for a lot of people. There's been an avalanche of early voting this election cycle, which we've just been talking about. Mike, can you talk about how early in-person voting looks around the country in states like Texas and Georgia? And I and I say Texas. Obviously, we had better on just last week, which was a fantastic conversation. Yeah.


Thank you to better for coming on. And and Georgia, which is which is now looking like a swing state. Yeah. Which is looking like a hit in Texas and Georgia. We're talking about a swing states in twenty twenty.


Did you ever think that we would be having, you know, brother, we were talking about the Sunbelt months ago. We were saying this was going to happen or are we wrong? We were looking at the numbers and we both were like Scatman. Yeah. And so the Sunbelt is very much in play. So, look, we had over a million voters show up on the first day of early voting in taxes. That is astronomical. Yeah, it's just it's it's it's it's kind of one of those things that happens in your like it's so significant.


You have to step back and go, OK, what what does this mean? Like, what does that mean? Is this a one day event? Is this going to like after this? Is it going to. Is it going to like settle down to planet Earth and then kind of skyrocket back up on Election Day? And that's really what we're looking for, not only in Texas, but in Georgia, where you're seeing people waiting three and a half, four and a half, five hours in line to cast their vote by by the early voting process.


And we saw it in Virginia, talked about it a couple of weeks ago. It is a national phenomenon. And that's why I'm projecting extraordinarily high turnout as we get closer and closer to this. So real quickly, there are two schools of thought. The first is and I alluded to this, this is an early burst of pent up energy is one school of thought that says you're going to see massive amounts of people in the first four or five days and then it will come back down to earth and go normal.


And then I'll pop back up on Election Day itself. The other school of thought which I adhere to is no, it's as big as it is now. It's just cycling and it's going to keep climbing. It doesn't mean they will necessarily be more every day, but I don't believe that there's going to be a downturn or if it is, it's just a small downturn before it comes back up, which will crest on Election Day. So that's why I think we're going to get to these really, really high numbers.


And again, that's a pretty bold prediction for somebody who's looking at the numbers to move from one hundred thirty seven, a record of back and two thousand and eight to one hundred and sixty. That's extraordinary. And that will change the turnout models on basically everybody's poll because nobody is anticipating that level of turnout. Yeah, and here's one of the quick question.


Why that turnout will be disproportionately people of color, not all of it, but a significant it will be more representative than the general electoral model that we use as a standard, mean or standard measure. Does that make sense? It does make sense. And we should highlight for our listeners who may not be as familiar with the horserace numbers as we are from twenty sixteen, the reason those votes from people of color are so significant is that, for example, in Michigan in twenty sixteen, Hillary Clinton lost by I think twenty four something thousand votes or so.


I could be off by a couple of thousand, but about one hundred and twenty thousand black voters stayed home. Exactly. Same thing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Right. That's how he went. That's how you win Pennsylvania. That's how he wins Michigan.


That's that North Carolina becomes more competitive if the African-American turnout returns to just its normal range of popping back up three or four percentage points, it's probably very unlikely that Donald Trump would win reelection. I think it's going to be considerably higher than that. Yeah.


And that prediction that this record turnout is only going to build over the course of the next few weeks is correlated to the enthusiasm that we've seen among voters to vote. Right. And I don't think I think to your point, I think it's a valid prediction because it doesn't seem realistic that we're going to see a decrease in enthusiasm of voters to vote against Donald Trump between now and Election Day. One hundred percent. And let me add some more data points to this, too.


When you look back at every special and regularly held election for federal office, this is the, you know, OS special, remember back in the day and the twenty eighteen midterms and the special election for the Senate and in Alabama, even there has been an over performance, a market over performance from Democratic constituencies that we have never seen before. Every election since Donald Trump has been president and there's been a small dip with Republicans, there's why would that seize?


To continue when he himself is on the ballot, it makes no sense, and so when you start to see these huge numbers, I don't think there's pent up energy and enthusiasm. Anger is a two or three or four day event. I think it's just where the country is at its best. Been building years for years. And so I think there's a lot of people going, I want to vote. There's a four hour wait. I'm going to show up tomorrow.


I'm going to do it. And they're going to just wait until, you know, they realize it's either not I mean, they're going to vote or go vote, even if they're waiting means mean. Got to wait 16 hours on election that they're going to vote and just think about that. Think about what you are giving up as a voter in your day, in your life in order to make that sacrifice, to go vote, even though Republicans in many jurisdictions in this country have made it extremely difficult to vote like Texas.


We've talked about the limiting of the number of ballot drop boxes to one per county. Even though Harris County has X percent of the population of the state, they've made it very difficult to vote. So think about what's going on in the minds and hearts of the voters who are showing up to wait in long lines for like 16 hours. That is dedication and it's fueled by enthusiasm. That's exactly right. And whatever the course, whatever the cause of that enthusiasm, it is undeniable.


And let me talk about twenty eighteen. Real quick is a setup to the turnout, because that's to me, that's the best indicator. Right, of the past. Sometimes that's an indicator. Krysten Sinema wins in Arizona by a couple of points in a midterm in Arizona. Better rural comes with two and a half within two and a half points of Ted Cruz in Texas. Stacey Abrams probably won that one won Georgia after Santos wins by a point in Florida.


All Sunbelt states, all states that we're looking at, every one of them has showed polling with Biden in a positive trajectory over the last seven to 10 days. So why is it odd to think that the turnout numbers are going to be higher in a presidential than they were in a midterm? Of course they're going to be. And they were enough basically to win most of those Sunbelt states, or at least half of them in an honest count or dishonest count, half of them one.


Why would we expect that that would not be different with a higher turnout when we're already seeing it? So that's kind of where I'm approaching it. We'll see if I'm right. But I think that every one of these states, Georgia, is absolutely in play. I think we're going to talk about that again soon. Texas is truly a battleground state. Arizona is you know, it's been plus Biden between seven and two point four, six or seven months.


Florida moving in Biden's direction. Definitely all of this is a result of this. This, you know, obviously the demographics that we've been moving and focused on. But turnout is something that I think we might be underestimating just a bit. And if you're underestimating, by the way, if we're under massive underestimating turnout by one percent and that's just good for Biden, it's not only good, it could be Tecktonik. Donald Trump won by seventy seven thousand votes across five states, a one percent shift.


He would have lost most of those states. So you start talking about just the natural trajectory of turnout under any other circumstance, Hillary Clinton would have won. We're in a much different environment, which is going to argue for, I think, a much higher turnout. So when you start getting to millions and millions of more votes, that's very strong ground for the Democrats to be on. And it's why the Republicans are scared. And there's another indicator.


That's another data point. It's why the governor of Texas only wants one voting place. And in every county, it's why California Republicans are setting up a fake ballot boxes in front of gun stores. It's like, you know, it's not hard to see what's going on. Yeah, right there. Yeah, they're absolutely they're absolutely scared. Yeah. All right, let's get into Iowa. Can you set the stage for us by talking about, first, the demographic trends in Iowa?


This will be very short. Not a whole lot of geographic diversity in the state of Iowa or demographic. There's not a lot of diversity in Iowa. That's why we love you, Iowa. They do have crickets. Joni Ernst, we're talking a little bit about Joni Ernst. Know, look, this is an overwhelmingly white community. It's a rural community. And it's got kind of those sort of heartland values. Previously, you know, Iowa, prior to the past couple election cycles, Iowa's often a Democratic state.


This is the home of Tom Harkin. Right. These are some of these champions, right? Senator Tom Harkin. So, you know, more recently, of course, it has been moving more towards the Republican Party. Generally, it actually moved considerably in that direction in 2016. Donald Trump wins it by nine points. It's a big move. Wisconsin also breaks. Is Donald Trump's way very slightly. But I mentioned Wisconsin because Wisconsin and Iowa have voted together.


I think in every election for the past 50 years. They've won anomalous one out there because it's largely the same demographic. Wisconsin has a slightly higher college educated population, but it's essentially the same community, if you will. Not a lot of ethnic diversity. I'm not going to say none, but compared to most other states, it's rather homogenous as a state and as a state that is very Midwest, very rural, very agricultural, and it's moving and it has been trending towards the Republicans for some time.


So I always seen an enormous spike in covid-19 infections since August. They've reported record covid hospitalizations multiple days over the last week. Small businesses are down almost 20 percent since January. And by down, I mean closed and out of business. How much is the coronavirus impacting the voters looking at the election and then maybe, you know, reprise our our conversation about why covid is the number one indicator of downward support for Donald Trump and how those things why we're so focused on that when it comes to the numbers again.


Really good question. So, Coba, let me start with that, if I could. Yeah. So covid presented a very unique and unfortunate opportunity. Right. And I hate to refer to it as an opportunity, but we would be remiss if we were not working with public opinion and as an American and a human tragedy and a political electoral opportunity. Correct. Thank you. We'll put much more of a diplomat than I am. And again, this was never envisioned when we started the Lincoln Project.


Right. We started with an entirely different set of assumptions. We never saw pandemics coming three or four months into this project. covid-19 heads, the president makes it clear he's not going to take this seriously and he pressures Republican governors to do the same. So what happens is it hits in certain parts of the country, particularly on the coasts. And then as we go into summer, it hits the Sunbelt very, very devastatingly. And what we see then and the data shop is we start to notice that there's a correlation between the increase in infection rates in counties and the decline in Donald Trump's support numbers politically.


In other words, when this became real to people in their real lives and in their communities, it was no longer avoidable. It wasn't abstract. It wasn't like Trump saying something on TMZ or, you know, kids in cages. It was not something that they saw on the news or they could easily avoid. It was happening to everybody. Everybody was sheltering in place. You're worried about your grandparents. Are the kids going to be affected? What is this thing?


We don't know. Every American was affected by this. You know, just just to add to that point personally, when it became really real for me was when I went to the grocery store for the first time and saw people lined up six feet apart all the way down the block just to get into the grocery store. Then I realized, oh, shit, yeah, shit, shit like this is going to get real bad. And they did like I think I know everybody across the country had the same experience at roughly the same time.


And there was very little willingness on the part of people who were experiencing that to give the president the benefit of the doubt.


Precisely right. And now keep in mind, you'll also remember and I think we'll look back on this hopefully soon and kind of, you know, history, looking back to the rearview mirror, has has often given us a different understanding. We literally had the entire country in their homes for a period of time and people were watching, you know, the latest series on Netflix or whatever. But they were also watching the president on a daily basis make a clown of himself and demonstrate that he wasn't taking the serious and he didn't have even a cursory understanding of what was going on.


So the whole country for the first time is watching the same media. They're watching him. And he was bragging about having Super Bowl style ratings. It was nothing to be proud of because he was doing himself a. A service, and in the meantime, people can't buy toilet paper and people can't buy toilet paper and they're scared and they're worried about their parents and grandparents. And what about the kids and the are we going to go to school and how, you know, everybody's although everything we remember.


So at this moment in mid-March, this is when this really starts to take effect, we start to see deterioration in that hard core base Trump support that was immovable. That group that he said, if I shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue, people won't leave me. That's who he was talking about. And he was right until he essentially shot somebody on Fifth Avenue. People started dying. And then you start to see people move off of them. And we even saw movement away from and I forgot this.


Sorry about Iowa, the diversity. The evangelical community is very significant in Iowa. And you even saw evangelicals coming off and saying this is being mismanaged, this is incompetence. This is not good. Yes. And you start to see, again, very red states. The president numbers start to come into play. Yes. And that's when the battlefield, the battleground states went from five or six and 20, 16 to 13 and 14, which is where we're at right now.


Iowa is one of those states. And so covid, we know as we tracked the virus, the life of the virus into these counties, we internally called it buying into the spike. Right. What we would do is we would literally place ads online to focus on these covid messages with different demographics in literally the counties where the infection rate was going up because we knew it was directly impacting people's lives. We wanted to talk to them. And that's when you really started to see these dramatic swings from Republicans saying, I'm out.


The Trump guy is nuts and OK, everybody, whatever they were saying about him being crazy, it's not just voting for my 401k anymore. Like, this is a disaster. People are dying and now. But but here's what happens. The geography of where covid has hit really was constrained. And the coasts and the Sunbelt up until this moment in time, if you'll notice the Midwest, the and and the Rust Belt states have never really had the kind of impact that they are just at this moment starting to get.


So Wisconsin is on fire right now, right now. Wednesday, Thursday and Tuesday, the last three days of this week, Iowa has set record infection rates. That's one of the really big problem in this part of the country. Most of these hospitals are rural. You don't have a large number of ventilators and a large number of capacity. Right. You've got to drive 70 miles to the hospital. It's not like in New York where it's two subway sections down and they're ready for density and they're prepared for volume.


The rural impact in a lot of these Midwestern states and even in the Rust Belt states is going to be really tragic and it's going to happen in the next seven to 10 days. And as we learned when we had the series with the emergency room doctors, the and I think all of our listeners understand this at this point. But the reason that it was so important that we flatten the curve was to was to minimize the tax on hospital capacity everywhere in the United States.


But one of the biggest impacts that we haven't really begun to talk about yet is the excess death toll. This is what Dr. Natasha Kathuria talked about, and she's an E.R. doctor in Texas. The excess death toll as a result of the E.R., the hospitals being at capacity means that people with the normal rate of hospitalizations, people coming into the emergency room, all those people are afraid to go in or can't get in now. And so what we haven't even begun to wrestle with and we're going to see this probably next year is the is the is the totality of deaths caused by not flattening the curve by covered the covid impact, but beyond just covered the illness.


And I think in rural communities like you're talking about in Iowa, that's going to be even more pronounced. That's one hundred percent. Right. And it's tragic and it's sad. And again, you know, I don't know if it's just some wicked sense of of irony, but all of these states, if you look at the covered infection rates by county where they exceed the national average, it's essentially a complete overlay of red state America. It's all Trump states and it's all coming right now two weeks before the election.


That actually is something that may have an effect on turnout, because if you have huge covid infection rates and the death rates are hitting right at the time voting day comes, it's going to depress turnout to some degree. How much? I don't know. But asking people to go stand in line for four and five hours when they've been watching weeks of stories on the local news about the local hospital being overwhelmed and people dying in the neighborhoods getting sick, it's going to it's going to dampen turnout.


And again, no one wishes this on any of our countrymen or any human being. But it is a peculiar coincidence that it's happening right in the Bay States of supports that the. It needs these numbers, I have it right the wrong time as we coincide with Election Day. Let's talk about the Senate race for a couple of minutes. Joni Ernst has only led in one poll since the beginning of August. Teresa Greenfield is currently winning five percent of Republicans and has a lead among college educated white voters and independents.


What is causing these demographics to break for Greenfield? I think it's a combination of things. But the first is, again, I don't want to beat a dead horse here with covid. But as covid has started to move up in infection rates, started to move up in an area that was largely untouched, you started to see exactly that. These August numbers starts to move as it started to bubble up. You started to see those numbers collapse. There's also this effect, this Trump enabler effect.


That is, if you are too close to Trump and you're saying things too close to Trump, you're moving off of them. Yeah, he's like radioactive and he's completely radioactive now. And again, we had hoped we think by we had hoped that this would happen prior to the midterms so that the party could shake this off and get rid of the Trump fever and break it and be like, OK, we're done with this. But he had the entire US Senate backing him up.


So so this is as Rick Wilson says, everything Trump touches dies. That's what's happening to the party. It's what's happening to these senators. What's happening to America is what's happening to America, which is why we've got to cleanse ourselves of this, the scourge, not just covid, but this whole political scourge immediately and then work on rebuilding and getting better and getting healthier. But that is that. So Ernst Ernst, you know, connection with Trump is absolutely going to be an anchor around her, her legs pulling her down in the middle of a plus nine states by any other metric.


This should not be happening anywhere, but it is. And so, you know, trying to reconnect with this, with ethanol and, you know, goofy stuff like that. I mean, it's not goofy. And in Iowa, excuse me, but when you're talking about people dying, if you care a lot less about ethanol, when you when people are getting sick and dying in rural hospitals are overflowing, you sound out of touch. And you are.


Yeah. In fact, there was a debate last night that some clips going around last night. And if you've seen that where one of the newscasters asked her what the break even point was on a bushel of soybean, which is kind of one of those basically, you know, and that's exactly what Iowa and it was just horrible to watch. She couldn't answer the question and was trying to, you know, blame Greenfield, who answered it perfectly on the corn.


Right. These are basic things you need to know, basic metrics you need to know in a state like Iowa, that's the economy. It's every economy. Yeah. That's what your neighbors do. It's what communities do. She couldn't say it. So she now looks like she's an out of touch Washingtonian who's doing Trump's bidding at a time when the virus is spiking and everyone recognizing that they got snookered into this and that this could have been contained and managed a hell of a lot better.


Yeah, so she's really in trouble in a rock and a hard place. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I was also drawing a lot more money and attention, not because this race has moved into contention with the Senate seat, as we're just discussing, but also the presidential campaign. And smart money can get, you know, twice to bang for your buck. If he can bring down a senator and the president in the same state, in the same state, it might as well go after it.


And it's relatively cheap. The only other state that really looks like that. Well, there's two, I guess, Arizona, which has been one, which I'm going to ask you about just a second. Yeah. And then North Carolina is the same, right? There's a couple there's a handful of seats where you can knock off a senator and a president with the right investment, especially this late in the game. And here's a tip of the day.


Invest in get out the vote programs. If you've got a couple of extra bucks lying around, make sure you're investing in programs that aren't putting up, you know, more broadcast ads, because breaking through that is really tough. Either putting your money online now is the only way to get it to voters, actually, or is exactly what we're doing, which is actually what we're doing or getting getting bodies to the polls. Yes. Yes. So do you think it's too late for these senators to save themselves?


And you mentioned Arizona. McSorley tried to distance herself during the debate in Arizona. Are there are their fates too closely linked to Trump and these senators now? I think in most instances they are not all of them. There's always some anomalies, you know, races that pop up and some local dynamics that can kind of save somebody. Ernst may be one of the beneficiaries of that, but by and large, I think the Trump anchor is going to start pulling people down.


And look, you and I have talked about this, too, when I was saying, look, I think this race is going to get wider and sound strange at every every bit of experience in my body tells me this race is going to close, but the data saying it's going to get bigger. What do you follow? Do you follow the data? You follow your gut. You do this for thirty years. You learned, you know, certain things and there's kind of an art and science to it.


I think we've been fortunate. We follow the science. We've followed the data as tough as it was, and we've made the right decisions, at least to this point. Ron, the data says it can still get wider. When I see covid infection rates and see what it's done, I think these races can get wider. I think Trump's numbers can go lower. Now, we're 19 days out. I could be wrong, right? If you're following the numbers, you're following the data, it could get worse for the president, it could get worse, even though conventional wisdom would tell us that the races all the time always tightens at the end.


Right. And always has really. And always has. But to your point, like we saw that happened just a couple of weeks ago and it seems to be playing out that like that was the tightening of the race. That was it.


And that's the right way to look at it. I believe that we saw it and now it's just breaking away. That's right. And so is covid hits. And as Donald Trump makes a spectacle of himself again in a town hall in Miami, the numbers could continue to erode. Biden has an overwhelming financial advantage. He's going to be messaging into that. And so I didn't mean to get off topic with the question that you asked, but we are witnessing something that I think could be very peculiar, could be very unusual, but it also could be very historic.


Last week we talked about Texas. Now we're talking about Iowa. What about this election? Is putting these traditionally red states in play? Well, at a thirty thousand foot level, there is not a single demographic that is going towards Trump, not one, including his own.


Can you talk like we've already we've really I think we've really exhausted the covid part of this conversation. No, no, no, no, no, not at all. And I think what's really worth reiterating, and we've done this a couple of times, but I think it's worth reiterating the fact that the demographics in these states have been shifting over the course of the last 10 years. And what we're seeing right now is not a momentary blip on the radar.


We're seeing the culmination of years and years and years of changing demographics because America is changing. That's exactly right to that.


Well, and in many ways and this may be controversial to say, but hell, it's not like we're afraid of controversy.


This may be the last gasp of a certain demographic in America right there. Put up this fight there, voted with their middle fingers saying f you to the rest of you, we're going to make America great again. To hell with every other group out there. We're going to build a wall both physically and metaphorically, and we're going to be martyrs. And we're the last stand of America, as we've seen, unfortunately, psychologically. Emotionally. Yeah. And what that had the effect of doing is I think we're starting to see right now, is it pushed away.


There's just the revulsion of every other demographic group saying this is not what America is and what it can be started to move those college educated voters off. And this is when you and I had some of those conversations back in the summer saying, hey, there's a Sunbelt strategy here. There's a new Southern strategy. Is the Republican Party. The modern Republican Party, starting with Nixon, started to use the law and order imagery to move the Dixiecrats into the Republican fold.


That strategy is not only not working anymore, it's the reverse effect is happening because college educated white Republicans reject that solidly out of hand. They don't want to be part of this ostracized group that is comfortable defending the Confederacy. Yes. Or standing on the sides of of holding up statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and General Robert E. Lee. Like, that's just a part of American history that they're not proud of, that we fought a war. They lost rights.


And and there's no so. So what happens is the southern part of the country, which has been attracting high tech jobs, very educated workforces, start to build communities like Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina and Nashville and. Right. And all these are Austin, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Asheville, North Carolina. Yeah, I mean, the suburbs of of Atlanta are fantastic quality of living. This old south really doesn't exist anymore. More talk a lot with Stuart Stevens about this.


And as a result, the politics have changed and they're bringing a different type of politics with them. And that is really resentencing. And it's going to create I don't know if it will be this year. I believe it will be, but if not now, it will be in the least two to four years. A realignment of American politics with a base of the Democratic Party will essentially be the entire stretch of the Sunbelt, with the exception of the Deep South.


Yeah, Perens Mike S.B is looking pretty good as a Senate candidate in Mississippi right now. Yeah, Mississippi. Yeah. Um, you know, things are fundamentally changed.


He's just a terrific candidate. The terrific candidate that has the largest Mississippi we're talking about has the largest share of black voters who are extremely motivated in this environment. He he he has a great appeal. I think it would just be beautiful if Mississippi elected a black senator. But we'll see. You know, like I said, and now we're getting we're getting kind of greedy. Yeah. It's like Texas and Georgia and all these other Iowa aren't enough. Yeah.


We'll see what happens. And again, I'm going to put up the traditional twenty sixteen qualifiers. There is still time for shifts in this race, but the data is suggesting this is going to keep. Going in this direction, I'm not saying that we're going to win Texas, Georgia and Iowa don't get comfortable, comfortable also saying that they're battleground states for a reason. The data is legitimately showing, as you said, this is not just a 20 20 phenomenon.


It's not a 20, 16 phenomenon. It's been happening for the better part of a decade. In most of these states, the trend line has been moving. Donald Trump just hit the gas pedal and it's accelerated that trend. I think in this moment you could see that break. It could be like nineteen ninety four for us as Republicans were the South realigned all in one night after 10, 12 years of movement in that direction, you might see something similar on November 3rd.


Exactly. And for anyone who's interested in understanding what the original Southern strategy was and why it was so nefarious, I would encourage you to to look it up that you can learn about it on Wikipedia. I referenced it in some remarks that I gave at the Cooper Union and back in February when we were there. You can check that out, but it'll help you understand why what we're talking about right now is so poetic when we talk about the new Southern Strategy.


Yeah, because it is literally the opposite of the racially motivated, cynical electoral calculation that the Republican Party executed in the in the 80s. And it's been beautiful to be part of fixing that with Iran. Yeah, it has been. OK, before I let you go, right now as we're recording, we just heard from CNN, former White House chief of staff tells friends that Trump is the most flawed person he's ever met. That's Marine General John Kelly, the most flawed person he's ever met.


Yeah, this is the same John Kelly who stood over the grave of his fallen son who died in blood on foreign soil, and Donald Trump asked why anybody would do that if they weren't getting paid. Here's the rest of the quote. The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though, it's more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.


The retired Marine general has told friends. That is astounding. It's damning not just because of the words and his role, but to know how much John Kelly has suffered with being a soldier and trying to be honorable and not engaging in politics had to be a very. Tortuous process to get to the moment where he realized his voice can make a difference in this election, I hope it does. Yeah, I think it's also worth noting for our listeners just how unusual it is for any member of the military, especially high ranking members of the military, even when they're retired, to speak out so explicitly with disapproval about the commander in chief that that is a new thing in American politics.


We've never been here before. Never. Never. It's extraordinary because I think they all jealously guard. And I say that in the best of terms, the honor and the dignity of the military and its and its impartiality. So this is an extraordinary moment of honor and dignity that Donald Trump does not recognize and cannot respect the most flawed human being I've ever known. Mike, thank you for being on today. Yeah, it's always great. Looking forward to Friday taping, so.


Yeah. And thanks to all of you for listening. We would like to hear from you about what questions you have and what topics you'd like us to cover on the podcast. As always, you can reach us at podcast Uplinking Project at us. And please know that even if we don't respond, we read every, you know, we get and we really love hearing from you. You can find more information about our movement at Lincoln Project, not us.


Also, check out Vogue for more information about how to register to vote, get an absentee ballot and for more information about the voting process in your state. And if you have a paper ballot and mail in ballot at home and you haven't filled it out yet, do it now, please. Thank you. If you enjoy the show, it would help us if you can rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. This really does help new voters find the show and join our movement to defeat Trump and Trump ism.


For the Lincoln Project, I'm Rons Jesslyn, I'll see you in the next episode.