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Hi, this is it, and this is Katie, we're the managers of our university radio station, SIMMONS' Radio, The Shark up in Boston.
We just finished our virtual meeting for our station's annual budget. This podcast was recorded at eleven fifty six AM on Friday, August 28th.
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We all want to not be in virtual meetings and see each other again, we feel you ladies. Hey there. It's the NPR Politics podcast. I'm Susan Davis. I cover Congress.
I'm Franco Agenus. I cover the White House.
And I miss my they cover the presidential campaign. And after two weeks of covering the political conventions, we wanted to start today's roundup with a catch up on some of the news we haven't had a chance to talk about yet. But USMA first, I think we got a note that you certainly sound like you are not in a virtual meeting outside.
I know I am at the march in Washington, D.C. today, which is on the anniversary of the very famous march that took place in 1963. And I'm sure I'm going to talk more about that later. But so that may be what you're hearing behind me. There is somebody on a loudspeaker and vendors selling T-shirts and whatnot.
Well, we want to talk about why you're at the march in a minute. But first, I think we need to start in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where on Sunday, a black man named Jacob Blake was shot seven times at close range in the back by police. The shooting was caught on video, went viral and has led to ongoing protests. On Tuesday night, a young white man allegedly shot and killed two protesters with a high powered rifle. He was arrested and is charged with first degree intentional homicide.
Frank, I want to start with you, because this is happening throughout the week of the Republican convention where so much of the message from the president and his surrogates was about law and order and restoring peace in the streets.
So how has the administration been responding to what's happening on the ground in Wisconsin?
Yeah, there was a lot of questions and thinking about what was going to happen, for example, at President Trump's speech last night and how was he going to address this. Tim Burton, the campaign spokesman, actually told some reporters that the president would address this. So there was a there was a lot of curiosity about that. But the president did not address it. They did not talk about police shooting another black man. President Trump, in his words, said he condemns in the strongest possible terms in the strongest possible terms.
The Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat run cities all like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, in New York and many others Democrat. Right.
So he is really, in a way, doubling down on looking at this from the law and order aspect, as opposed to kind of the the racial the racial hurt, the racial reckoning. It's it's been specifically about supporting law enforcement in this situation.
It's interesting to hear you talk about how President Trump highlighted the fact that these things are happening in Democratic run cities, because the pushback I've been hearing from Democrats is that these things are happening in Donald Trump's America and that he is the president and he could presumably step in in some capacity. And it is a pushback I've been hearing quite a bit from Democrats. Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, it is something the president is kind of is the incumbent. And in a way, he's running as kind of like this insurgent. We remember in 2016, he talked about he being the only one who can who can fix it, that he was the one who was going to address all these issues. You know, he's been president for the last almost four years now. And the the country is really, really suffering. And I expect for the next several months that is going to be a question that is going to be asked of him a lot.
I have certainly should he hold some responsibility for the divisions in the country. We know about his rhetoric. There's probably some blame to go in different areas. But certainly President Trump is the one in charge at the moment.
But Asma Biden in all week at his convention write his big theme was reunifying America, the soul of the nation. He's going to bring lightness to the dark. So this also seems like this is something that the Biden campaign should be in some ways weighing in on or trying to have a view of how they would do it differently. That is a fair point. And I should say both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris yesterday on the same day that President Trump accepted the Republican nomination, did make a point of saying that they are defending the peaceful protests, but said that they really shouldn't be violent and that violence would not, you know, help the situation in any way.
And they did speak up about that. They also both pointed out that they been on a call with Jacob Blake's mother, with Jacob Blake's family, until, you know, their view is that they are trying to strike a balance between calling for, you know, sort of an end to police brutality, an end to what they see as as racial injustice in the police system and at the same time call for an end to the violence that some places have seen, most notably Kenosha, in the last couple of days.
The brutality is a right and absolutely necessary. But burning down communities is not a protest. It's the. Was violence, violence that endangers lives, violence against businesses and shuttered businesses serve the community, that's wrong in the midst of this pain. The wise words that I've heard spoken so far have come from Julia Jackson, Jacob's mother. She looked at the damage done in her community and she said this, quote, This doesn't reflect my son or my family.
So let's unite. And he'll do justice and the violence and end systemic racism in this country.
Now is what's happening in Kenosha right now, shifting the political ground in what is potentially the most critical swing state for Donald Trump of Wisconsin?
Gosh, I mean, I think that is such an important question that I don't know that anybody really knows the answer to. I was in Kenosha earlier this summer, and part of the reason why I went there is the margin of victory. Donald Trump won Kenosha County in 2016, but he was the first time that a Republican had won that county in decades. And it was a really slim margin of victory that he had. And when I was there, Democrats sounded really optimistic.
You know, they felt like the trends had been going in their direction. And I've been messaging a bit just for a couple of people to hear how things are. And and I do think there is a sense that there is a lot of nervousness. I mean, look, at the end of the day, I think there is nervousness around the safety and security of their community, both from Republicans and Democrats. But there is this sense that this county, as it was, was kind of a microcosm of how close the state of Wisconsin was.
And now you have this police shooting. But coupled with the fact that there has been rioting and looting and burning of buildings and and Donald Trump has tried to suggest that that is the fault of democratic lawlessness. Yeah, and as the protests roll on, do people get tired of them? Right. Is the support waning as it goes on and on?
Because it's not just Wisconsin, right? We've seen Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and even maybe there's a through line to where you are right now to the march in Washington.
I mean, there are definitely a lot more people here, Sue, than I had envisioned. I was thinking because of the pandemic, because, you know, people are not necessarily traveling loads and they wanted everyone here to wear masks and they were doing temperature checks. Yeah, I honestly did not expect that big of a crowd. But, you know, they're a horrible crowd estimates, so I'm not going to go there. But the streets have been cordoned off, pedestrian only, and there are easily thousands of people here.
And I met people who came in from, say, Florida, in Chicago, New Jersey, other places to be here for this march. But, you know, some of them talk about the very polarizing nature they feel of politics right now. There are many, many African-Americans here. But I think what's notable is amongst the younger crowd in particular, it's a pretty multiracial group. There are many white people, Latino people, Asian people, black people.
Here are the people on the ground. I mean, what are they saying about Trump? Did any of them watch the convention?
You know, one through line is that people here are not fans of President Trump. I wouldn't say that they were necessarily glued to the TV watching the Republican convention, but they're very aware of the fact that this is happening the day after that convention wrapped up. You know, what I think is important, though, is that there were a couple of people that I talked to who are not fans of Joe Biden and maybe I should say more than a couple of people.
There were some people who are not fans of him. They were not enthusiastic about his candidacy. But there's this, like level of pragmatism that they feel in terms of needing to vote for him because in their view, they can't handle another few years of of President Trump. All right, Asma, we're going to let you go because we know you have to cover the march. And I think I can tell you're wearing a mask while you are talking to us.
So credit to you. Does this Haberfeld keep that mask on? Thanks. All right. Take it. We'll take a quick break.
And when we come back, we're going to talk about how the electorate has changed since 2016. Support for this podcast and the following message come from Google. Google's free tools are designed to help millions of businesses around the country adapt to a new way of working from updating their business hours to switching to curbside pickup to activating online booking. Small businesses are staying connected to their customers with Google. They can even add gift card and donation links on Google so they can get support from their community.
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Hey, I'm Sam Sanders, host of It's Been a Minute on my show. We catch you up on all the things in news and culture. The Space Force. I totally missed this. What is the space for stop in space? I don't know about space for you know what? I've been in my apartment for four months.
Oh, man. Crushing it to thank you and good news without the despair.
Listen now to the it's been a minute podcast from NPR. And we're back and we've got Domenico Montanaro with us. Hey, Domenico. Hey. Hey, how's it going? Good.
So you just did an analysis of how the electorate has changed since 2016.
So what are sort of the top takeaways for what the pool of voters is looking like this time around?
Well, I mean, the first thing is that I really wanted to do this because I feel like everyone continues to talk about 20, 20 as if it's the same pool of people from 2016. And it's just not President Trump's base. The headline is has gotten smaller. You know, he's he really was able to win, propelled to win in 2016 because of whites without a college degree.
And they have gone down as a share of eligible voters by four points. So they were 45 percent of the electorate in 2016. Now they're 41 percent.
And when you look at all other groups, whites with a college degree, Latinos and Asians, they've all gone up. So you can see how that pool is getting a little shallower for President Trump. And if he was able to eke out last time, this is a little bit of a vice grip.
But, you know, it's not a national election in that state by state matters. And it still seems like in the states that matter the most in this election, certainly for Donald Trump, working class white voters still are very much the key. If I'm thinking Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. Right.
I wanted to look at white non college voters in particular and see where they're strongest or the or the biggest share of the population.
Let's run down the list of the seven battleground states that have a population of 50 percent or more of white non college graduates.
Still, that's Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
All of those sort of working class Rust Belt, Midwestern, hardscrabble New England with New Hampshire.
What we are seeing, though, in each of those states is a decline in whites without a college degree and an increase in whites with a college degree.
I mean, this is a key demographic for President Trump. I mean, we all remember back in 2012 with Mitt Romney, the Republicans had that GOP autopsy where they said that the Republicans need to kind of widen their base. They need to be more approachable to people of color. Well, President Trump came in and he wiped that all away. And he basically said, no, we don't need to reach out to the people of color, to the immigrant communities, to Latino voters.
Instead, he said, yes, we should expand our reach. But he did so towards the group that Domenico is talking about, these white, you know, noncollege studied voters. And he did that very successfully. He did.
And I think that to the detriment a little bit of what the Republican Party had been talking about in that autopsy and to the detriment of the Republican Party, is that what's happened underneath all of this is you're seeing a diversifying Sunbelt, in particular, Arizona, Georgia and Texas are states that we would not be normally talking about in past election cycles, except for the fact that demography has kind of become destiny in those places.
You know, Arizona in particular, whites without a college degree are down five points.
They make up about 33 percent of the electorate in Arizona.
But what's happened just since 2016, Latinos up six points in Arizona. So, you know, when you're looking at that now, they're up to 31 percent of the electorate, almost on par with whites without a college degree.
That's why you see Joe Biden leading narrowly in a place like Arizona. It's why Georgia, you're seeing continued demographic shift and Biden being able to be competitive there.
And Texas, which, you know, look, I'll believe Texas when I see it.
Yeah, I'm with you, but it's competitive. And Trump's going to have to spend money there.
But when you talk about electorate, you're talking about people who are just eligible voters. This isn't necessarily people that we know are going to show up and actually vote. Exactly.
And I think that's look, those likely voter models are things we're going to start to see from pollsters. They can be fraught with all kinds of problems because you just never know who's really going to show up. You try to measure enthusiasm. You try to measure past voting performance.
And look, that's always the sort of roll of the dice that these campaigns make with who they think are their highest propensity voters. And when it comes to these white voters without college degrees, they're still high propensity Trump voters. And the Trump campaign believes that they can get more of them to turnout in 2016. They turn out at a rate of 58 percent. That's lower than in 2004 when they turned out at a rate of 61 percent for George W. Bush.
Trump may have one massive record margins with those voters, but they believe that they can get more of them out to the polls. And right now, with his approval ratings going down on coronavirus and. Race relations, you know, that looks like his best, if not only path, and I'll I'll just add that, you know, when I talk to Republicans, Republican strategists, Republicans and the administration and I say, look at these polls, what do they mean?
A lot of times the pushback to me is is kind of Domenikos talking about, you know, they did so well with this group of voters in the past and they're saying, look, we can do so much better this time. Don't forget that back in 2016, we were this tiny handful sized operation with a candidate in the back of a plane calling cable news channels. They are much more well-funded. They are much more organized now. They have been fundraising since the beginning of the administration.
And they also have the backing of the establishment behind them in ways that they didn't necessarily have, certainly in the beginning of of 2016.
So if the median voter or the the typical Trump voter in 2020 is going to be a white person without a college degree, probably a man, right.
A white man without a college degree, if that's his sweet spot, what's the Biden sweet spot? What is the electorate that is sort of Biden's really core supporter?
Well, the huge changing thing from 2016 is just the big red alarm.
You know, fire for the Trump campaign is suburban voters, in particular suburban women.
You know, I mean, people can talk about what their size is or how strong they're going to be at the polls or whatever.
The shift from 2016 to 2020 in poll after poll after poll after poll just shows suburban women overwhelmingly on Joe Biden's side when President Trump did pretty well with them in 2016.
Yeah, and that's why you're seeing so much of the Trump campaign kind of reaching out to them and talking directly to suburban voters, suburban women voters, you know, having events at the White House in the last few weeks and also pushing this narrative that Democrats want to bring in low cost housing and they're going to destroy suburbs, which, you know, a lot of people see as a racist kind of issue that they feel is being brought in here.
Well, it certainly makes sense if we think about who these voters are that they need to reach and juice for turnout. If you put that up against what we just saw play out over the last two weeks at the conventions. Right. I mean, like the Democratic Convention had so many messages that seemed geared towards a suburban female type voter and the Republican convention seemed rich in themes that would appeal to a working class white guy.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you heard this over and over again and during the Democrats convention about, you know, it's like what type of character do you want your president to be? And they painted Joe Biden obviously, as this very empathetic person who cares about his family, cares about Americans, cares about the elevator worker in a, you know, New York building. And the president is talking about America that would be in danger if Biden was elected.
And it's, you know, two very contrasting narratives there.
The thing that's so interesting to me, though, is that there's so much volatility, but at the same time, so much of this election is already baked in. I mean, so many people have already made up their minds. They know who they're going to vote for. And there's such a tiny swath of the electorate that is truly persuadable and they are the voters that are going to decide this election. But we tend to know that these are the voters that also pay the least amount of attention to day to day politics, right?
Yeah, the least engaged voters for the most part. You know, depending on the estimate, anywhere from six to 12 percent of the country are truly persuadable. That's you know, that's that's 88 percent of the country at least has already made up their minds and are not persuadable.
So you will start voting in a matter of weeks.
And, you know, I think that because of the of the coronavirus, because of the prevalence of early voting, because of the fact that so many people aren't going to want to go to the polls, you're going to see at least half of the votes, probably more than that, be cast before Election Day.
Well, let's take a quick break. And when we come back, it's time for Can't Let It Go support for this podcast. And the following message come from the Annie Casey Foundation developing solutions to support strong families and communities to help ensure a brighter future for America's children. More information is available at ABC AFG.
Good question. That's a really good question. It's a great question. This is free therapy. Thank you for asking me that. God, that's such a good question.
That's an interesting question. But what fresh air interviews are really about are the interesting answers. Listen and subscribe to Fresh Air from Why and NPR.
And we're back and let's end the show like we do every week with Can't Let It Go, the part of the show where we talk about the things we can't stop thinking about politics or otherwise, I'm going to go first because mine is related to the conventions, which I have basically spent the last two weeks of my life consumed by, as have both of you.
The thing I can't let go this week is Melania Trump's fashion choices, huh?
Which I'm sure you two fashionistas have a lot of thoughts about this. A dangerous topic.
So dangerous. I'm not going to I am not going to weigh in on like or dislike. I just can't let it go because I feel like both choices were statements. Right. Like these are events where, you know, you're going to be getting national coverage.
You're going to be your picture is going to be on every newspaper.
You're going to be in every television shot.
And you think a lot about what you wear. Women think about a lot about what they wear in this. First ladies think a lot about what they wear and her.
I think it was I don't remember which night of the week she spoke.
She spoke Tuesday or Wednesday. Time is a blur right now.
But she wore this sort of militaristic, you know, sharp cut top and skirt that just looked very intense for Melania, who tends to dress much more softly, much more traditional first lady.
I just thought it was a very, like, provocative look. And then for the big acceptance speech tonight, she comes out of the White House in this like neon green.
She had a cape, right? It had a cape.
Totally untraditional first lady. Look, I mean, she looked fantastic. She always looks good. But just the color, the statement, it was just like, wow, it was just an eye popper. And also someone posted a picture of it, which I think speaks to it.
But it said, if you wonder why Melania wore this dress, like, here's an aerial view and you just see this sort of like a sea of dark suits and this like bright pop of color in the audience. And I just think it was Melanie Champion. Like, you can't miss me.
No, no doubt about that. And she was not missed. I mean, just, you know, here I am sitting in a back room in my house and, you know, watching the convention on TV. I got to my Twitter feed going. Melania Trump walks out of the White House, starts walking along with President Trump.
And my Twitter feed just like jumps is like dress, dress, dress, green, green, green, cape, cape, cape. I mean, it was like it was like it was a big moment.
And yet there will be plenty of people who say, why do you continue to talk about what women wear? Right.
Well, I you know, I always push back on that because I think fashion is very political. I don't think it's I don't think it's sort of capricious and doesn't matter. I think fashion is a very effective way, especially for politicians to make statements and people use fashion all the time to make different political values. So I say fashion matters and I'm not afraid to talk about it.
You know, it's interesting. I don't know if she was thinking this, but, you know, both both of the outfits were green and green. You know, internationally is the color of revolution for freedom. Right.
So, you know, maybe there was some message in that I like green. Well, I know my stay at home fashion was also, well, fun.
Domenica, why can't you let go this week when I can't let go of is what the NBA players did this week, you know, following the shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the protests there.
And, you know, Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back seven times by police and they took a real stand in saying that they were not going to play game five with the Milwaukee Bucks, was supposed to be playing against the Orlando Magic. And the Bucs are one of the top teams in the league. They have one of the best players in the league who just won defensive MVP.
They were in the locker room, decided not to come out. They boycotted that game, said that there were things that were bigger than basketball. They talked to the attorney general very much getting involved in politics. You know, I wrote about in twenty seventeen about black athletes and some white allies who've stood up against racism and done so at significant risk to themselves. Lots of pressure on their livelihood, ability to play sports. You know, it was the thing they dedicated their lives to.
So for athletes now to step out, feel like it's safe and try to make change is a huge, huge cultural moment. They just can't let go.
Yeah, and it seems like it's in every sport. Right. Like it's basketball this week, but it seems like sports culture overall. And I think sports have always been political, but always maybe more of a murmur. And it feels like much more of a shout right now.
Yeah, I interviewed John Lewis, you know, a few years ago before I was at NPR, actually. And one of the things that he this was during, you know, the Colin Kaepernick, you know, kneeling during The Star-Spangled Banner. And what what John Lewis said back then in 2017 was that sports athletes are becoming the new civil rights leaders of the day. And it only is in, you know, increased with that. And it's it's really wild to watch.
And what I find really fascinating is that the white. And a lot of conservatives try to put the NBA in a box, you know, it's three quarters black make up of the players who play in the NBA. And President Trump, you heard him say that, you know, he's surprised the ratings haven't gone down. He's basically done with them. You heard Jared Kushner say it's nice that they have millions of dollars to be able to take a day off of work, unlike most people.
You heard an aide to Mike Pence, Mark Short, say that he thinks it's absurd what they're doing and then what happened.
Other sports also showed solidarity.
You know, I'm a New York Mets fan, and I was surprised to see I hadn't seen a visual representation of this in baseball, which is majority white, by the way, where the Mets and Marlins players came out of their dugout, had a 42 second moment of silence. Then they all walked off the field and the only thing left on the field was a Black Lives Matter T-shirt over home plate.
Hmm. Yeah, it's really powerful. Real soccer WNBA. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Franco, what can't you let go this week. Oh man. So what I can't let go this week is just another kind of, you know, another moment that just made 20-20 feel like come on really.
And what else could that be. What could possibly be. Do you guys remember Macaulay Culkin from. Oh yeah.
Well he was ten years old when he did that film. He tweets out this week. He writes, Hey, guys, want to feel old?
I'm forty. You're welcome. And that hurts. Yeah.
When I was surprised by what that is that I always thought I was older than Macaulay Culkin, like a lot older, you know, watching the movies growing up. And it's like, you know, like pretty close in age.
I was like, really surprised. I was like, how young was I went home alone, came out.
He was a much more successful ten year old than you, apparently, or I was. Or I was just always a thirty year old. Even when you don't want to peak too soon, you don't want to peak too soon. Yeah. All right. That's a wrap for today. But before we go, we have an announcement next Thursday, September 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. We're going to be hosting our first ever trivia night. So if you want to flex your political history knowledge, this night is for you.
Head to NPR presents Dog to RSVP. Our executive producer is Shirley Henry. Our editors are Muthoni Muturi and Eric McDaniel. Our producers are Barton Girdwood and Chloe Weiner. Thanks to Chipotle, Alaina Moore, Dana Fairrington and Brandon Carter. I'm Susan Davis. I cover Congress.
I'm Frank or as I cover the White House. And I'm Domenico Montanaro, senior political editor and correspondent.
And keep the change, you filthy animals. And thank you for listening to the NPR Politics podcast. Go Home Alone, Aigo.