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The 100 Day March to Election Day - "The Sunday Political Brunch" July 26, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – We are at a critical milestone. Sunday July 26, 2020 marks 100 days until Election Day 2020. There is a lot of consternation in the polls, and precious little time to change minds. A lot is at stake. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The Trump Briefing Return” – This week President Trump returned to the White House Briefing Room podium for the first time since April. The question is, is it too little, too late? The closest this race has been was April 3, 2020, when it was a statistical dead heat with a Fox News Poll showing President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden tied at 43 percent. The latest nationwide composite poll from Real Clear Politics has it 50 percent for Biden to 41 percent for Trump. The race is in play, with no guarantees based on the latest polling data. But clearly Trump’s lack of Covid-19 briefings may have damaged his chances.

“Florida Convention Off” – President Trump has cancelled his planned election acceptance speech in Jacksonville, Florida, while much of the rest of the GOP National Convention in Charlotte may be virtual. The Milwaukee convention for the Democrats will be largely viral. My plans to be at both are cancelled. Trump needs to win both Florida and North Carolina to win a second term, and this hurts him. Being high-profile in both states just over two months before the election helps. And all the money that would be poured into the local economies would also be a bonus to the Republicans. Taking that off the table hurts bad in must-win states.

“Biden VP Pick?” – Former Vice President Joe Biden needs to name his running mate, and soon, in my opinion. He needs to build some excitement and momentum, and with it the money and manpower that’s needed for a ground campaign. One thought I had was that he announce it the week of the Republican National Convention, to steal the GOP’s thunder, just as John McCain did to Democrats the morning after their 2008 convention in Denver, when he announced Gov. Sarah Palin, (R) AL. While that strategy caused a huge bounce for the GOP (and briefly put McCain in the lead), it failed in the end. Biden should announce his pick no later than August 3, which is three months until Election Day.

“All Eyes on the Senate” – As with 1980, the race for the White House is not the only marquee race this year. Control of the U.S. Senate is on the table. Right now, Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage over Democrats. But the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll of the Senate shows Republicans winning 47 seats and Democrats winning 46. There are seven states where the races are a toss-up: Maine, Arizona, Georgia. Montana, Michigan, North Carolina and Iowa. Democrats need to win three or four of the toss-ups to take the Senate majority.

“What About the House?” – The Real Clear Politics composite poll for the U.S. House shows a much different story. It lists 214 Democrats as safe, versus 190 Republican. 31 races are listed as toss-ups, so Democrats need to win only four of them to maintain their majority. Republican chances of winning the House appear slim, to none.

“The Importance of Coattails” – In 1980 Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory over President Jimmy Carter, that was so large it swept Republicans into control of the U.S. Senate And while the GOP did not take the House that year, there were enough Republican gains that paired with conservative Southern Democrats, Republicans wound up with a philosophical majority in the House that helped pass tax cuts and defense spending increases, advocated by Reagan. The House will stay a Democratic majority in 2020, but if Biden wins the White House, he may sweep enough Senate races to get a majority there, too.

What’s going on in your state as we are 100 days until Election Day 2020. Just click the comment button and let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the six Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com

© 2020 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

A Summer Political Hodge-Podge – “The Sunday Political Brunch” July 19, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – We’re a month away from the truncated political nominating conventions and past most of the primaries. So, there’s not just one political theme right now. It’s more of a hodge-podge or potluck, so let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Polls, Polls and More Polls” – The latest Real Clear Politics composite poll, which is an average of all recent polls, has it 49 percent for Biden to 40 percent for Trump. A rate of 11 percent undecided at this point is significant. But if the poll is then broken down by state, Biden would have 222 Electoral College votes, to 115 for Trump. You need 270 to become president. While the race in trending toward Biden, it’s still a toss-up three and a half months out.

“History Holds Lessons” – A lot of my Democrat friends are giddy at the current poll numbers. To say many are overconfident at this point would be an understatement. At this point in the 2016 race Hillary Clinton also had 49 percent support, to 37 percent for Donald Trump, and nine percent of Libertarian Gary Johnson. That left a mere five-percent undecided. My point is that overconfidence is what killed the Clinton campaign, as its leaders just assumed, she’d win. They failed to make an aggressive push for the African American vote in the key states of Michigan and Wisconsin and lost them both. Many Democrats worry about history repeating itself.

“An American Legend” – Speaking of African Americans and their voting power, the nation lost a civil rights icon this week. Rep. John Lewis (D) Georgia died at the age of 80 from cancer. In the 1960s Lewis lead the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was a key ally of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I was a reporter in Washington, D.C., I interviewed Congressman Lewis many times for WBS-TV in Atlanta. He told me stories about beatings he endured during protests in the 60s, to racist hate-mail he was still receiving in his Congressional office in the 1990s. He was a brave and kind and remarkable man. God rest his soul.

“Trump Still has Clout” – If anyone doubts that President Trump still has political clout, just look what happened in the Alabama U.S. Senate Primary this week. Former Alabama Senator and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session was trying to win his old seat back. He’d been a U.S. Senator for 20 years and was the first Senator to endorse Trump in 2016, for which he was awarded a spot in Trump’s cabinet. But then Sessions allowed the probe into Russian election meddling, and he was eventually fired by Trump. In this year’s Senate race Trump backed former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville over Sessions. Tuberville won in a landslide with 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Sessions. As the old saying goes, paybacks are hell.
Tuberville now faces Sen. Doug Jones (D) Alabama, in a race that is considered the most likely Republican pick-up in 2020.

“How Strategies Can Backfire” – Gov. Brian Kemp (R) Georgia has sued Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) Atlanta, over the city’s mandatory mask order. Kemp, like many others, believes masks are beneficial but should remain voluntary. But his whole strategy has launched Mayor Bottoms into the national spotlight, giving her free and extensive publicity. It’s no secret that Bottoms is on Joe Biden’s short-lit for vice-presidential running mates. The platform is likely giving the Biden campaign a free, nation-wide focus group on whether Bottoms has the meddle to be VP (and by extension, president). People like how feisty and combative she can be, and those can be admirable qualities in politics.

“A Murderer Inside a VA Hospital” – They are perhaps the most despicable crimes I’ve covered in my 43 years as a news reporter. Reta Mays, a 46-year-old nurse’s aide at the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia pleaded guilty to murdering seven U.S. Military Veterans who came to the hospital for medical care. Mays, who admitted in court she has no medical degree, certifications, nor licenses, was fired after it was found she falsified her credentials. Congress continues to investigate, as she awaits a likely life sentence. “The investigation is not over. We need to find out how someone who was unqualified was able to be in a room with our veterans, strictly unsupervised, to be able to do such a horrifying act. She falsified her resume, we do know that,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.

What are your thoughts on politics this hot summer of 2020? Just click the comment button and let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the six Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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