Biden Well Ahead of Clinton at This Stage

Comparisons with 2016 all work against Trump's re-election.

Joe Biden continues to have a strong lead over President Trump nationally and polls ahead of him in every single battleground state. As CNN’s Harry Enten explains, the “Yeah, but Hillary Clinton was ahead in 2016 and Trump still own” argument simply doesn’t work.

Biden is simply in a much better polling position than Hillary Clinton was at this time. There really is no comparison, except that both races had or have Trump as a candidate.

[…]

As I’ve pointed out before, polls taken in early to mid July can be good estimates about where a race will end up. This period is usually before the major party conventions. Voters tend to have a pretty good idea of who the candidates are, and we don’t have to worry about fleeting convention bounces showing up in the polls.

The race in Pennsylvania was quite close in mid-July. Although Monmouth wasn’t active in Pennsylvania in early July 20[16], Marist College and Quinnipiac University were. The average of their polls put Clinton at 39% to Trump’s 38%, which is where an average of all the polls put the contest.

In other words, Clinton’s edge was well within any margin of error. In fact, it was just two points different from the eventual election margin in Pennsylvania (Trump by a point).

Biden’s lead is outside the margin of error at this point.

More than that, Clinton wasn’t just under 50% in the polls, she was under 40%. Biden, on the other hand, is at 50% in the average poll in Pennsylvania and above that in the Monmouth poll.

I’ve noted in the past that the 50% is a key marker because to win Pennsylvania at this point Trump would need to convince voters who are with Biden to switch to him. He can’t just rely on luring over undecided voters. In 2016, that wasn’t the case. Trump could get plurality support merely from convincing undecided and third party voters to go his way.

When you dig deeper, you really get an understanding of Biden’s firmer footing.

His favorable rating in the Monmouth poll in Pennsylvania was 45%. His very unfavorable rating (i.e. those who really don’t like him) was 32%. The New York Times poll last month had Biden with a 50% favorable rating and just a 32% unfavorable rating.

Clinton’s favorable rating among Pennsylvania voters averaged 35% in early July 2016. Her very unfavorable rating in the Quinnipiac poll was as astoundingly high 54%. Voters really didn’t like her. I’ve never seen any very unfavorable rating like that for Biden in any remotely competitive state.

If the trends in the Pennsylvania polling between 2016 and 2020 were occurring in isolation, it would be one thing. They’re reflective, though, of a nationwide trend.

Biden is polling close to if not above 50% in live interview polls nationally. The ABC News/Washington Post, Fox News, NBC News/Wall Street Journal and Quinnipiac University polls released this week have Biden near or above 50% and with a high single digit to double digit advantage.

Like in Pennsylvania, Clinton’s lead nationally didn’t look like this at all. She was less than five points ahead of Trump, and she wasn’t close to 50%.

Moreover, Biden’s net favorability (favorable – unfavorable) rating nationally is averaging at about +3 points in live interviewer polls at this point. Clinton’s net favorability rating was averaging around -18 points in mid-July 2016.

Nor is this a function of Enten’s cherry-picking polls. The right-leaning RealClearPolitics average gives Biden an 8.6 point lead nationwide and has him leading in Wisconsin (+6.0), North Carolina (+2.0), Florida (+6.4), Pennsylvania (+7.0), Michigan (+7.7), and Arizona (+2.8). The FiveThirtyEight gang, which screens out less reliable polls, has Biden up 8.8 points nationally.

Beyond the horserace polls, the fact that Biden is simply less polarizing than Clinton, and all the rest the other key difference between 2016 and 2020 is that Trump has been President for three-and-a-half years. People are no longer speculating on what he might be like as President and calculating that it might be worth a gamble: they know what kind of President he is and have, since literally a week into his administration, disapproved of his job performance. He’s been underwater literally every day since then.

And, of course, we’ve witnessed arguably the worst handling of the COVID-19 pandemic of any major country on the planet and it’s getting worse.

A full 60 percent disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. A 54 percent majority think Biden would do a better job. Worse, Republican governors are getting hammered for following Trump’s lead, polling far worse than their Democratic counterparts. And, yes, even Fox News’ polling is showing this disparity.

The usual caveats apply. It’s only July (but July polling almost always predicts the November outcome). A vaccine could be found soon, radically shifting the public mood (but that’s unlikely). Tragedy could strike and Biden could die or, worse, be seriously incapacitated.

But, absent something of that order, the margins are so wide in so many states that ordinary levels of voter suppression won’t be enough to make a difference. And the numbers will be too big for Trump to plausibly claim Democratic chicanery.

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    Worse, Republican governors are getting hammered for following Trump’s lead, polling far worse than their Democratic counterparts.

    It’s looking like the same is holding true in many of the Senate races…at this point, that’s what the Democrats really need to focus on…put these senators between a rock and a hard place by linking them to Trump and noting how they are also following his lead…his stench is more than enough to take them down along with him…

    15
  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Anyone who cares about this country has to treat this like Biden is down by 20 points.
    No matter what you’ve done…it ain’t enough.
    Trump made clear in the Fox News debacle that he does not plan to go without a fight.
    We are seeing in Portland that he has his own army, although the make-up of that force is not yet clear.
    There have been 44 peaceful transitions of power in our Government.
    There will not be 45.
    Do more.

    28
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And the numbers will be too big for Trump to plausibly claim Democratic chicanery.

    Not that mere facts have ever been an impediment to his spinning of alternative facts.

    12
  4. JohnMcC says:

    Was reminded this morning while cruising the web of a telegram sent to the White House during the Campaign of ’32: Mr Hoover, vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimous.

    Strangely, that’s not likely. I think future political scientists will look at this election and be amazed that something like 40% of the electorate seems perfectly satisfied with Mr Trump’s leadership. Where on Mazlow’s hierarchy does tribalism fit? Obviously, for millions of our neighbors and family it is above ‘being safe from disease’.

    5
  5. Kathy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    There may be a mutually reinforcing thing going on, where the less favorably a GOP governor is seen, that too rubs off on the Republican candidate(s) for Senate in that state. This also may drive down turnout on the Republican side.

    4
  6. @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    There will not be 45.

    While I am concerned about Trump’s behavior in and around a loss, and especially the degree to which he will increase distrust in our democracy, let’s be honest about the amount of effort it would take to actually defy a loss. Has he done anything during his time in office (or, heck, his whole life) that would suggest he has the energy and drive to try to stay in power?

    14
  7. Nightcrawler says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I was about to say the same thing. I don’t care if Biden ends up ahead by 50 points in all 50 states. Everyone needs to vote like their lives depend on it, because they do.

    I don’t see a peaceful transfer of power, either.

    11
  8. @JohnMcC:

    I think future political scientists will look at this election and be amazed that something like 40% of the electorate seems perfectly satisfied with Mr Trump’s leadership.

    As a political scientist now, I will not be amazed. It will be a reflection of what I continually harp on: the power of partisan identity in a strictly binary electoral system. And it won’t be because they all approve of him, per se (although many do), but because of abortion, taxes, white supremacy, trans rights, gay marriage, and/or a host/combination of other reasons.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t find it pretty stunning on a simple, human level.

    16
  9. Kathy says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I think future political scientists will look at this election and be amazed that something like 40% of the electorate seems perfectly satisfied with Mr Trump’s leadership.

    A friend back in high school liked to say there might be limits to human intelligence, but human stupidity abides by no bounds.

    5
  10. Teve says:

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is refusing to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote, as he scoffs at polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Joe Biden. Trump says it’s too early to make such an ironclad guarantee.

    “I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview on ”Fox News Sunday.” “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” The Biden campaign responded: “The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”

    There is no way Trump successfully puts together a coup.

    12
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Motive – I would argue that EVERYTHING HE HAS DONE in 3.5 years was done solely in the interest of staying in office. Certainly the prospect of potential SDNY indictments and statute of limitations laws give him plenty of motivation.
    Opportunity –
    He has Bill Barr at the DOJ, who appears to be one of those involved with his military operation in Portland.
    He has Mitch McConnell and 51 other Republican Senators who have shown they will stick with him no matter how clear cut the case against him.
    He has the Justice Boof Court, who just recently had the clear chance to go against him on his taxes and instead punted it back down to the lower courts…thereby extending the issue past the election and protecting his re-election chances.

    Fake News is what Trump calls news he doesn’t like. When he talks about election fraud he is simply talking about election results he doesn’t like. On November 4th he will have everyone of his sycophants yelling Election Fraud…with absolutely no basis in fact. But it will be enough for him to drag it all out for a good deal of time.

    Biden must win resoundingly…and Democrats must take the Senate. Otherwise there will be a shitshow of epic proportions.

    7
  12. Joe says:

    Tragedy could strike

    Or an unmarked van full of unidentified camo’d feds could pull up next to him.

    6
  13. Scott F. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Has he done anything during his time in office (or, heck, his whole life) that would suggest he has the energy and drive to try to stay in power?

    I would suggest his limited energy will need to shift immediately to staving off indictments.

    5
  14. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’m 100% certain that if he could, Trump would absolutely disregard an unfavorable electoral outcome.

    As @Daryl and his brother Darryl pointed out, he has a strong motive and he would receive active support from the Senate, the Justice Department, several state governments and, conceivably, the Supreme Court.

    Probably, this will still not be enough. Probably ≠ certainly.

    4
  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    If Trump were smarter he’d resign. He may yet. It’s his best path out of the mess he’s made for himself. It’s a battle between his psychopathy which is surely screaming, ‘run away, run away!’ and his neediness and insecurity which is screaming, ‘but Daddy won’t love me if I’m a loser!’

    He has well and truly fucked himself.

    The SDNY is just part of the picture. Corruption investigations will quickly expose his money-laundering and corruption and will generate new rounds of charges. He’ll be civilly sued six ways from Sunday. His taxes and relative poverty will be exposed. Tell-all books from insiders will proliferate, replete with first person accounts of the unhinged madman ranting and raging.

    It’s not a good picture. He needs a federal pardon at the least. The only way he’ll get a pardon that will hold up is from Pence. And the only way Pence can pardon him is by Trump resigning. Is he smart enough to figure that out? Is he strong enough to tear the Band-aid off? I don’t know.

    Pardon everyone associated with his administration. Resign and be pardoned in turn by Pence. GTFO of the country ahead of the SDNY and NY state tax authorities. I still like Philippines for his exile.

    8
  16. @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I would argue that EVERYTHING HE HAS DONE in 3.5 years was done solely in the interest of staying in office.

    Sure, like pretending the pandemic is basically over. That is flim-flam rhetoric, it isn’t action.

    He wasn’t even able to get DACA rescinded due to bureaucratic reasons, even with Barr and Kavanaugh.

    And yes, FNC will do damage to confidence in the system.

    As you know, I think Trump is a threat to US democracy and agree that the larger the margin of his loss, the better.

    I just don’t think he has the ability, energy, or general wherewithal to actually resist a peaceful transfer of power.

    7
  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    He has Bill Barr at the DOJ, who appears to be one of those involved with his military operation in Portland.

    He also played a role in the attack on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park.

    6
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That is flim-flam rhetoric, it isn’t action.

    Except that he got a huge swath of the country to open prematurely in order to try and save the economy and thus his re-election…which is indeed, action.
    Ultimately…I hope that you are correct, and that I am proven wrong.

    2
  19. @drj:

    Probably ≠ certainly.

    Indeed, but let’s not get ourselves too wound up. Vigilance is wise, to be sure, but this sounds all too much like previous narratives that Trump plays 14-dimensional chess. (Or, the idea that he was likely to win in Nov).

    4
  20. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Early last June, Trump told Fox news that if he didn’t win this November, he’d “go on and do other things.” His spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said next day that Trump would accept the results of the election.

    Now he’s saying that he’ll “have to see” if he accepts the election results.

    @Michael Reynolds:
    He’ll have to resign before the election so as not to look like a total loser. Then if the Pence ticket gets buried in a landslide, Trump can always tell himself (and everyone else) that it was his v.p. who lost. Bigly.

    6
  21. MarkedMan says:

    @drj:

    he would receive active support from the Senate

    Once it is safe, the Republicans will sh*t all over Donnie boy at the first opportunity. They will not protect him. They don’t want four more years of this mentally diseased incompetent any more than decent people do.

    6
  22. KM says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I just don’t think he has the ability, energy, or general wherewithal to actually resist a peaceful transfer of power.

    I am of two minds about this. I absolutely agree that the man is lazy both mentally and physically. He’s not out setting up schemes for Deep State Two Bugaloo or whatever they’re calling themselves now. Trump expects things to just happen – he never does any of the work but takes the credit. Many of the terrible things he’s done in this Administration were someone else’s plan / idea. They brought their evil to him and he rubber-stamped it because it sounded like something he wanted. Remember – Trump didn’t want the wall at first but after a focus group pushed him to state it in a speech, he *loved* the response it got and because a central theme. He blesses evil but it’s creation often lies in the hands of underlings (looking at you, Miller)

    I expect a Trump loss to be triggering to many. After all, what limited legal protection he gets as POTUS they don’t. He’s their only protection right now so if he goes, they’re screwed. Not to mention the MAGAt nuts and QAnons who really, really, REALLY need to be vindicated or they’re going to snap. He’s already putting the bug in their ear that the election is going to be stolen and they should do “something” about it. I don’t think he’s going to try for a coup per se but to remind America he’s holding the leash of a lot of very angry, armed violent people and if they come for him, he’ll let them loose. I honestly think his people are silently spreading the message to leave him alone post-Presidency or else MAGAts will riot.

    9
  23. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    this sounds all too much like previous narratives that Trump plays 14-dimensional chess.

    Not at all.

    But we know that Trump has no intrinsic inhibition against illegally seizing power. He probably doesn’t have the guts (and certainly not the unaided wherewithal), but – again – if he could, he would. A cornered rat, etc.

    Additionally, Trump will have at least some cover. Barr would go to bat for him. McConnell too, if he believed he could get away with it. I don’t trust Roberts if he has to choose between bending the law to benefit his team and the total collapse of the conservative project (in case of a failed coup).

    While I think it is rather unlikely that Trump and his GOP enablers could pull off (or would even seriously attempt) a government takeover, I’m also not sanguine about it.

    Also, they have been laying the ideological groundwork: “Republic, not a democracy,” “Real America,” “silent majority,” “voter fraud,” etc., etc.

    Not that I believe they have been planning for a coup all along, but ideas sometimes have the nasty tendency to take on a life of their own – expecially if post facto rationalizations/justifications are suddenly required.

    7
  24. drj says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Once it is safe, the Republicans will sh*t all over Donnie boy at the first opportunity.

    Sure. But it is not a given that it will ever be safe. The GOP has truly caught the tiger by the tail. There is no clear way to extract themselves from this situation.

    Also, who is going to break ranks first?

    3
  25. @CSK:

    Now he’s saying that he’ll “have to see” if he accepts the election results.

    Which is a terrible thing to say and norm-breaking. I think I wrote about it when he said something similar back in 2016.

    I am not going to panic, however, over things that Trump says. He says, as you may have noticed, a lot of stuff that neither really makes sense nor comes to pass.

    I am not saying ignore it. I am saying let’s not act like he is going to become a super-genius and finally competent authoritarian at the final hour.

    8
  26. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I cited it mostly as an example of Trump’s well-known inability to stick to even his own script. Five weeks ago he said he’d go quietly, and now he’s saying he’ll “have to see.” It must be exhausting to be one of his spokespeople and constantly try to reconcile all these inconsistencies.

    4
  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sure, but he can do that regardless of whether he loses. Quit the day before inauguration, Pence pardons him that afternoon, he’s spared the indignity (from his perspective) of the inauguration, and that’s the ballgame.

    I still maintain that he won’t though.

    4
  28. KM says:

    Upon reflection, there’s no damn way Ivanka, Jared, Miller or even Barr are going to do time for what they’ve done. They’ll be making sure of that. There’s a non-zero chance pardons have already been written up and are awaiting a date and signature, just in case. They’ll have also been laying groundwork for an escape or protection should Trump fail to come through for them. It’s easy to know where the bodies are buried when you held the shovel. They’d have to be absolute blind idiots to not look at Cult45 and think “hmmm, how can I use this to CYA when this all goes to hell?”

    No, I don’t think Trump himself will be the one pushing resistance to a loss since he really thinks he’s the invulnerable King. He cannot fail, only be failed. The enablers, though? They’re covering their asses and will have a plan. They just need the threat of a failed or non-violent transfer of power to get away long enough for it to not matter.

    4
  29. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I still like Philippines for his exile.

    What have you got against the Philippines?

    It may be he’d rather go to prison than to admit any kind of weakness, or to admit defeat. It may also be he believes he won’t ever be convicted of anything. And far more likely, IMO, he may be convinced the policy by the DOJ not to charge a sitting president, means he can’t be charged with any crimes he committed while in office.

    2
  30. Kingdaddy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    While I am concerned about Trump’s behavior in and around a loss, and especially the degree to which he will increase distrust in our democracy, let’s be honest about the amount of effort it would take to actually defy a loss. Has he done anything during his time in office (or, heck, his whole life) that would suggest he has the energy and drive to try to stay in power?

    Reminds me of a recent Atlantic article by Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic, arguing that Trump is too lazy to be an effective authoritarian. While I think that’s mostly correct, he does get very energized about defending himself.

    5
  31. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Not that mere facts have ever been an impediment to his spinning of alternative facts.

    Sure. But if people simply laugh at the stupidity, I don’t see how he holds on to the office.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And it won’t be because they all approve of him, per se (although many do), but because of abortion, taxes, white supremacy, trans rights, gay marriage, and/or a host/combination of other reasons.

    Exactly. There are people who see Biden as an existential threat because of the social issues alone. If Trump can replace Ginsburg and Breyer, everything else will have been worth it.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I just don’t think he has the ability, energy, or general wherewithal to actually resist a peaceful transfer of power.

    All of that. And, while our checks and balances have not worked like they’re supposed to, it’s worth noting that the Supreme Court has ruled against him many times and he has acquiesced every single time.

    John Roberts is not going to throw away his reputation, much less the legitimacy of his court, to stage a coup. He’s just not.

    13
  32. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    ” I am saying let’s not act like he is going to become a super-genius and finally competent authoritarian at the final hour.”

    I am not seeing why being a super genius, or even competent, is a requirement for Trump attempting to claim voter fraud and to seek to hold on to the Presidency following an election which Biden claims to have won. Can you explain why you think it will take a greater effort than asking his supporters to rally around the White House and create a “Second Amendment remedy” to keep him in power while Barr litigates the results of the election until it reaches a Supreme Court which has shown little compunction about deciding cases involving voting rights in the manner most favorable to Republicans?

    1
  33. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Sure, but he can do that regardless of whether he loses. Quit the day before inauguration, Pence pardons him that afternoon

    I don’t think it is likely. What motivation would Pence have to pardon Trump at that stage? The way I see it, he loses his hold over Pence unless he resigns soon enough for Pence to run in his place.
    FWIW if it happens the most logical time is right before the convention. Once it is apparent that it will be a disaster Trump can avoid the humiliation by resigning and letting Pence go the rest of the way.

    Again, not likely, but if he were to do it, that would be the time.

    2
  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    If I were playing Trump’s hand I’d ask myself why I should take a very public beating on election day when I can cook up some bullshit excuse and bail out early. Why take two beatings? If he quits early he avoids an electoral loss and has a chance to GTFO before NY’s AG and tax people come after him.

    Then there’s Pence. He might think he has a shot if Trump leaves before election day. After Trump takes his beating at the ballot box, Pence is left without a future except as a butt of snide jokes. There’s not much dignity in any outcome for Pence, but I’d say it’s marginally better for him if Trump bails in September. He may not be willing to pardon Trump if Trump screws him right to the wall.

    4
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    You beat me to it.

    2
  36. Paine says:

    I’m less concerned with Trump himself putting up a fight than I am with the entire GOP local, state, and federal apparatus pulling every dirty trick, breaking every norm, and exploiting every loophole there is to keep their judge-appointer in office.

    Ezra Klein has a good piece over at Vox on how Biden’s team is running a fairly safe campaign which leaves Trump looking like an idiot every time he levels some crazy accusation about Biden being some far-left radical.

    4
  37. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    It may be he’d rather go to prison than to admit any kind of weakness, or to admit defeat

    While that may be true, it’s not really relevant. Trump never admits anything. Ever. To this day he brags about his great successes in casinos and airlines.

    2
  38. JohnMcC says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Respectfully, two words:
    Bill Barr.

    3
  39. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Fair enough.

    Let me amend what I said: it may be he’d rather go to prison than to be shown to be weak and a loser.

    But maybe that doesn’t work either. He may not believe that would ever happen.

    1
  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Paine: It’s definitely a concern. But I wonder if it is more likely that the campaign managers, sensing an epic loss, turn their attention to looting the coffers more blatantly then ever.

    1
  41. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    John Roberts is not going to throw away his reputation, much less the legitimacy of his court, to stage a coup. He’s just not.

    To be fair, at lot of this is Roberts not being able to stand the absolute legal garbage the Trump Admin is dumping at his door rather then a true moral stand. Several recent rulings smack of him telling them “No grade if you can’t be bothered to put your name on your homework” then a rejection of their underlying “logic”. I agree Roberts isn’t willing to sacrifice his reputation and legacy for Trump but I’m no fool to think it’s on ideological grounds. I read it phrased rather elegantly somewhere that Roberts would love to rule a home run for Trump but first he needs them to not whiff the ball. Should the case come to him with enough legal wiggle room and “reasonable doubt” I think we’d see another Bush vs Gore disaster.

    4
  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump cannot hold the White House. He’s got DoJ, but not all of DoJ. He certainly does not have the FBI. I doubt very much he has the Secret Service. So, as far as we can see, he has ICE, various DHS thugs and Erik Prince.

    I commented the other day on the importance of senior military, Milley and Mattis chief among them, standing up against Trump. If Trump had the 101st he could hold out for a while. But if he doesn’t, he can’t, because Biden will be sworn in and the Army will follow a legal order to remove the trespassers from the WH.

    He does not have the power, the organization, the intelligence or the personal strength. He is no Franco or Mussolini. He’s not even a Salazar or a Noriega. He’s old, weak and stupid.

    The danger, IMO, is not that he won’t leave, but that he’ll have a scorched earth departure. He could, for example, pardon every single person accused or convicted of a federal charge. He could start a war. He could call for an uprising. I don’t think he has that kind of energy left in him, I think he’s stumbling toward the finish line like a blown-out marathoner. But he could.

    6
  43. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    John Roberts is not going to throw away his reputation, much less the legitimacy of his court, to stage a coup. He’s just not.

    But he isn’t going to stage a coup. If it came to that, Roberts would refrain from immediately intervening in a contested election that saw some very strong indications of voting irregularities in blue states.

    Also, Bush v. Gore.

    (And that is if RBG is still around and hasn’t been replaced by Rao before things come to a head.)

    ETA: @KM beat me to it.

    2
  44. Teve says:

    @Paine:

    Ezra Klein has a good piece over at Vox on how Biden’s team is running a fairly safe campaign which leaves Trump looking like an idiot every time he levels some crazy accusation about Biden being some far-left radical.

    Just a few weeks ago some Democrats were complaining that Biden was not visible and should be out there making news and making himself the story, and I thought that was a terrible idea. If your enemy is self-destructing, don’t interrupt him.

    4
  45. JohnMcC says:

    Have mentioned before that Max Boot was a participant in a ‘war game’ in which various Washington inside and near-the-top people imagined how a Trump team would nullify the election result. They basically worked within state legislatures (quite a few states have R-party legislative majorities and D-party governors) to delay naming electors; there were lots of law suits involved. When the mandated day for the EC to meet & vote, it was not a fully constituted body. The short version is that Trump teams duplicated GWBush’s team’s win in 2000.

    Should be read before being certain that ‘it can’t happen here’ because ‘the Supreme Court will save us’.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/

    4
  46. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    If he doesn’t resign before election day, and he loses bigtime, then yes, I think there’s a very good possibility he’ll try to “punish” the U.S. for rejecting him. Vindictiveness is one of Trump’s animating forces. His whole life, business and personal, is a record of him wreaking vengeance against those who cross him.

    Whether this will wake Cult45 up to the fact that he despises them remains to be seen. I suspect that most of them, having invested so much emotionally and psychologically in Trump, will refuse to believe it even when he kicks them directly in the teeth.

    3
  47. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Barr is one person, he can huff and puff all he wants and not get anything. The first 2-3 levels of the DoJ are at will appointments that he can fire, but replacements need senate confirmation, below that we are looking at civil servants who are well versed in obfuscating the wheels of government. Anything Barr wants can be slow walked till after 1/20 when Biden would be president.

    On the Max Boot piece. I saw that at the time of publication and my reaction was, yes that is a path. But I also realized it is one with lots of moving parts and need for coordination. The fact that state legislatures would need to be in session, which in most states it is the governor who has the power to call a special session.

    For Boot’s scenario to work, that process should have started already.

    1
  48. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He’ll cook up the same bullshit excuse after he loses. It’ll be that the election was rigged, election fraud, deep state actors undermined him, you name it. It’ll be anything besides admitting that he actually lost. He won’t quit for the same reason that he’ll never admit that he lost.

    6
  49. Kathy says:

    I wonder how much cover the GOP would give their Trump.

    For one thing, if it’s true the establishment is unhappy at Trump and want to see him gone, then they won’t support any attempted coup.

    But even if the above is not true, consider just how short memories are in politics. Trump will be forgotten by 2024. Biden will face a very tough situation: a bad economy and a raging pandemic. He’ll have a terrible time dealing with both, will likely lose seats in Congress in the midterms, and he may not even run for reelection. This positions the GOP for massive gains in 2022 and 2024. Why mess that up with a coup? To keep in power a proven divisive incompetent?

    And as Michael Reynolds has pointed out, how much support does Trump the Moron command among the military? Any successful coup needs strong military backing. Not just troops willing to endorse the coup, but to actively fight their fellow citizens and other troops. and again, to keep a proven divisive incompetent in power?

    5
  50. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    John Roberts is not going to throw away his reputation, much less the legitimacy of his court, to stage a coup. He’s just not.

    How did Scalia’s reputation suffer when he went along with a coup?
    Many of you still (wrongly) consider him to have been a brilliant jurist.

    “…limited to the present circumstances…”

    8
  51. Mister Bluster says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:..Anyone who cares about this country has to treat this like Biden is down by 20 points.
    No matter what you’ve done…it ain’t enough.

    I found this in the archives from October 2016.
    There are many more posts on OTB threads preeceeding the 2016 President USA election that seemed to suggest that there was no way for Trump to win.

    Mister Bluster says:
    Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 18:05
    @stonetools:..Looks like Clinton’s enemies are out of bullets , whereas the anti-Trump forces are just getting warmed up.

    I said it several weeks ago and I stand firm.
    “I do not claim the ability to predict the future.
    I do not know who will be inaugurated President USA in January 2017.”

    Postulating about what to do if Trump is beaten and refuses to abdicate is second on my list of things to do.
    “Anyone who cares about this country has to treat this like Biden is down by 20 points.”
    is paramount.

    1
  52. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    It won’t be a military coup.
    The election won’t be certified.
    It’ll get tied up in the courts…to infinity and beyond.
    Republicans held 11 investigations into Benghazi, and Democrats were powerless to stop them.
    Republicans STOLE A FUQING SUPREME COURT SEAT, and Democrats were powerless to stop them.
    Barr gas-lighted the entire nation re Mueller and Democrats were powerless to stop him. He then attacked peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, and Democrats were powerless to stop him. Today he is doing the same in Portland, and Democrats are powerless to stop him.
    Trump bribed another country to manufacture dirt on Biden and McConnell made sure Democrats were powerless to stop him.
    Tell me who is going to stop Trump and Barr and McConnell, now?

    4
  53. @Daryl and his brother Darryl: It is worth noting that elections are certified at the state level.

    2
  54. JohnMcC says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Fair enough. I suppose we’ll know more by the end of January. And of course I hope I’m being paranoid. But as we used to say in the bad old days, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

    1
  55. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Or, he will attempt to cash in by cutting personal deals with the Russians, the Saudis, etc. I think that’s quite likely no matter what happens in November.

  56. Don’t get me wrong: I fear a lot of damage could be done by Trump if he loses. I think he had already planted seeds that will bear the fruit of some citizens being highly distrustful of the system. Worse, Trump has not allegiance to the country, only to himself.

    And I have argued for years, like with Doug and Andy, that everyone should vote for the Democrat because the margin of victory matters–even if one lives in a solidly blue or red state. Vote against Trump.

    I just don’t think he will try and stay in power. I think that if was that kind of authortarian-wannabe he would have already made a variety of moves. He has not shown himself to be especially capable, thankfully, in this arena. That is not to say he hasn’t done some awful things, but when it comes to efficacious authoritarian take-overs, one does not allow an election to take place that one could lose, lose it, and then start up the dictatorship. It doesn’t work that way.

    6
  57. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    And presumably those deals would not be in the best interests of the United States, which would be an added element to his vengeance quest.

    I can see him thinking: “How can I best get revenge against this sh!thole country that treated me so poorly as to reject me for a second term?”

    1
  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    There will not be a coup.
    Assuming he loses, trump will not refuse to leave the White House.

    He will however say anything at all casting blame where ever he can (except at himself) and whine and complain about how unfair it all is, how rigged it all is and that America is dead.

    And 27% will gobble up every word of it. Then they will sit back in their barcalounger, turn on FOX news, open up a Coor’s Light and a bag of cheetos, and get their rage on. Some will sit in their darkened basements, caress their AR-15s and think dark thoughts. And a few of them will even come out and do something horrendous.

    But most of them will climb the stairs out of their basement, sit back in their barcalounger, turn on FOX news, open up a Bud Light and a bag of cheetos, and think, “Well, if the ATf’nF comes knockin’ on mah door, I’ll show them a thing or two.”

    3
  59. JohnMcC says:

    As is typical in this sort of hypothetical discussion, we begin to repeat ourselves. There being only so much light that can be shown, there becomes more heat.

    God knows, I don’t want to be ‘right’ about this. But….

    @Steven L. Taylor: It is in states where competing slates of electors are possible (with sufficient Republican legislators signing on to one group, Democratic Governors choosing another) that the Trump/Boot ‘team’ froze the process past the date which is set for the EC to meet. Apparently 3 U.S. Code paragraph 5 sets a specific date for that ‘election’.

    If armed gangs are blowing each other away in American streets and no meeting of electors is possible, well, how would a Supreme Court react? How would the DoD react? How would Congress react?

    Fearfulness over a really bad outcome seems reasonable.

    Again, I desperately hope I can look back and say how dumb my fears were. But it’s pretty scary without letting imagination run rampant.

    1
  60. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “It is worth noting that elections are certified at the state level.”

    True. Do you think that if Florida’s electoral votes are challenged, the Secretary of State appointed by Governor DeSantis will certify that the votes went for Biden if there is any argument (reasonable or not) that they should go to Trump? Do you expect that if there is a lawsuit challenging the electoral votes for Wisconsin, the State Supreme Court will rule for Biden if there is any argument (reasonable or not) that they should go to Trump? If so, then I think you have not been following the way those parties have been acting on electoral issues in the past couple of years.

    3
  61. @JohnMcC:

    If armed gangs are blowing each other away in American streets and no meeting of electors is possible

    The amount of actual violence in the streets that would make it impossible for electors to meet would be immense. If we get to that stage, we are in the middle of a horrific civil war. Indeed, if there was that much violence in the streets, civilization would be on the brink of collapse.

    Let’s keep a sense of proportion.

    8
  62. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    But how can Trump guarantee that the instant the ink is dry on the resignation letter, President Pence doesn’t say “Pardon, I beg your pardon, what pardon?”

    For the Republicans I think a pardon would be a nightmare.
    Better to go to war with the Trumpkins, who would be deflated by Donald scuttling.

    Well, maybe Pence is enough of a boy scout to be a man of his word.
    But if McConnell gets Pence alone: “Now listen to me, you dumb hoosier sonofabitch…”?
    Thin reed for Trump to hang his fate upon.

  63. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    On predictit.com I have 600 shares of ‘will resign’ and 500 shares of ‘won’t complete first term.’ Long shot bets, but I’m only interested in long shots. ~$150 invested against possible payout of a grand.

    1
  64. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s not a good picture. He needs a federal pardon at the least. The only way he’ll get a pardon that will hold up is from Pence. And the only way Pence can pardon him is by Trump resigning. Is he smart enough to figure that out? Is he strong enough to tear the Band-aid off? I don’t know.

    Whoever is the next President (Democrat or Republican if Trump resigns) will pardon him, and for two reasons. The first is to avoid the violence that would come from convicting him of anything (civil suits on the other hand won’t bother his supporters, suing someone is like buying a lottery ticket).

    The second is because, as Chomsky has pointed out, every American president since WW2 has been a war criminal (same for every leader of Russia and China — being a big power means breaking a lot of moral laws). If Biden allows Trumps to be convicted, then the next Republican president won’t find it difficult at all to find a way to have Biden convicted of something. It’s the reason Obama never went after Bush, and why Trump never went after Obama — no one wants to start that game of arresting the other party’s retired Presidents, because once started supporters will insist on returning the favor. And that really would destroy the country.

    What’s keeping Trump in the game is ego (it makes up about 95% of his character). If someone can come up with a good way for him to quit without hurting his ego I think he’d jump at it.

    5
  65. @Moosebreath: My point is this: the question on the table is whether Trump leaves if he loses. The assertion was made that the election might not be certified in a way that suggests a single certification, but there are 51.

    Now, if Biden wins convincingly, then specific states won’t matter.

    But, yes, in a tighter EC contest FL or WI or some other state might matter–and then we are in the courts. This is different than the centralized scenarios from above and really aren’t about Trump not leaving office, but rather some kind of 2000 repeat. That is a different scenario (and those court battles would be over by January 20th, and then we are back to this notion of leaving if he lost).

    TL; DR: there are scenarios in which we end up in the courts, but that is a different discussion of whether Trump will leave or not.

    Alt version: a close race that ends up in the courts is not the same as “there won’t be a peaceful transfer of power for the first time ever.”

    2
  66. JohnMcC says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Copy that! Proportion gets harder the longer quarantine goes on. (Now the 11th day since nasal swab without result — grrrr.)

  67. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Northerner:
    No one cares about war crimes. That happens to foreigners and Americans have never given a single meager crap about foreigners who get blowed up. Contrast the number of people who could roughly approximate the number of US casualties in Vietnam with the percentage of people who have even a vague idea of Vietnamese deaths. In any case war crimes involve international law which we’ve never paid much attention to and has no real enforcement mechanism.

    If Biden pardoned Trump he’d be gutted before he started – unless it was part of a larger deal that had Trump publicly confess his guilt.

    Domestic terrorism is a possibility but somehow I doubt it will amount to much. It would essentially be a version of the KKK, and we’ve knocked them down before. I stayed off-grid for 22 years but a) no one was really looking for me, and b) that ended in 2001. The 20 years since have made it far, far harder to hide.

    1
  68. JohnSF says:

    @Moosebreath:
    Some other commentators have noted: if Trump loses key states but is ahead on “on the day” votes, he screams fraud, calls on the states to refuse to validate. Republican state governments follow Trump’s lead.
    Chaos ensues.
    Courts refuse to intervene.
    Enough states refuse to send electors to deny Biden 270.
    Election is then in the hands of the House; but not voting normally.
    Voting by state delegation, 50 votes.
    And if “Trumpublicans” are the majority of delegations: Hail President Trump!

    How realistic is this?
    Just bad fiction cheese nightmare, I hope.
    But, 2020…

    2
  69. @JohnMcC:

    Now the 11th day since nasal swab without result — grrrr

    Ugh. That is very frustrating.

    I have a family member waiting as well. It has been 10 days, I think.

    1
  70. JohnSF says:

    @Northerner:

    Chomsky has pointed out, every American president since WW2 has been a war criminal

    And Chomsky’s legal standing is?
    Here in the UK various on the left, right and righteously right-on liberal center have brayed “war crimes!!!” at Tony Blair and his Cabinet for the past 15 odd years.
    And every time anyone asks them to point out what statute said persons have violated?
    On what charge are they to be arraigned?
    …… ummm ……

    Of course, some say, “haul them to the Hague”
    ICC be “Who, us? Nah, mate.”

    2
  71. To perhaps suggest some proportionality, this is Trump from his interview with Wallace yesterday:

    “I called Michigan, I want to have a big rally in Michigan. Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Michigan? Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Minnesota? Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Nevada? We’re not allowed to have rallies.”

    Are we really of the opinion that Trump is on the pathway to not leaving peacefully (and even to the point of inspiring massive street violence) but he will abide by orders not to have rallies in specific states?

    4
  72. Again: waiting until he has clearly lost is the absolute nadir of his presidency. It is the worst moment to decide to be a dictator.

    5
  73. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It is worth noting that elections are certified at the state level.

    Yes…sorry I wasn’t clear. (However Congress does count the electoral votes and certifies that count – a process which is open to objections and questioning of the validity of the votes)
    The fate of the nation may depend upon the honesty and forthrightness of Governor DeSantis?
    I feel better now.

    1
  74. Kylopod says:

    @KM:

    To be fair, at lot of this is Roberts not being able to stand the absolute legal garbage the Trump Admin is dumping at his door rather then a true moral stand.

    True moral stand? Perish the thought.

    John Roberts is the Chris Wallace of the SCOTUS–someone who engages in the smallest of pushbacks against right-wing lunacy in his venue, just enough to get him an unearned reputation of being an independent truth-teller, while acting as an enabler for the entrenchment of right-wing power, just in an underhanded and subtle way that fools a lot of people.

    We don’t have to speculate about whether Roberts would participate in a coup. He already has. The decisions on vote-by-mail in Wisconsin and Texas; the ex-felons in Florida; or for that matter his gutting of the Voting Rights Act several years ago. What he’s done in all these decisions is not follow a particular method of constitutional interpretation where it leads–please don’t anybody insult my intelligence by making such an argument–but willingly and deliberately use his power as justice to suppress Democratic voting simply because he can, and in the case of the Wisconsin and Texas decisions, endanger people’s lives by forcing them to choose between their vote and their health.

    But because the impact of these decisions is baked in from the start, people are a lot less likely to think he’s helping “steal” the election, even though the effect is absolutely the same. If Biden is declared the winner in November and then Trump challenges it in court and most or all of the the mail-in votes are invalidated, a lot of people would call that a coup. But when Roberts invalidates it months before the election, before the people have even had the chance to vote, he gets called the respectable, principled swing-vote on the Court.

    6
  75. Sleeping Dog says:

    How much trouble can The Former Reality TV Host cause if he doesn’t accept the election results. The answer is it depends on how close the election is and if some state Biden wins has a Fla 2000 size meltdown.

    As of 7/14 Cook Political Report, which has been among the more circumspect of the prognosticators shows Joe w/279 EV based on states that are lean, likely or solid Dem. As of that date, Wis, MI and PA all are going to Joe. Only Wis has a history of botching elections and has a R state legislature that has shown an impetus to cause trouble, but with a Dem governor.

    The undecided states are Fla, Geo. NC and AZ. Any of those going to Joe only adds to his EV advantage and makes it harder for The Former… to refuse to accept the results. Even if there are questions regarding a state that Joe has won, turnabout is fair play and Dems can raise issues about a state that the R’s have won. If Wis is a problem and Joe took say NC, Fla or AZ it won’t matter.

    If Joe gets 270+ on 11/3, the election will be certified and he’ll be sworn-in 1/20.

    1
  76. de stijl says:

    Wisconsin Rs in a lame duck session hamstrung the incoming governor.

    It is not unprecedented. I judge the likelihood the Sheriffs have to show up and physically enforce an eviction is very small.

    No sane R would provoke that constitutional crisis. That would essentially be treason and civil war.

    McConnell and friends are cooking up plans to handcuff Biden now. They did it before for Obama.

    Obviously, Trump while whine about voter fraud on his way out the door, but saner heads will make it clear he must leave peaceably.

    Trump is inciting future violence in not saying he will absolutely abide by the upcoming election results. That man is a walking pustule of retribution.

    Years from now we still need to hammer home how awful Trump was and to not trust anyone who thought it was okay to vote for this monster, to accommodate him, to enable his chaos and petty nonsense.

  77. de stijl says:

    I think the most damning stuff is the petty attempts at gaslighting.

    The size of the inauguration crowd. Sharpiegate.

    Defending a factually lost argument is not a good look. Makes you look weak, brittle, stupid.

  78. JohnSF says:

    Found the original on my comments on possible Trumpist response to marginal defeat.
    Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian.

    I also note @JohnMcC made the point way before I did.

  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @drj: I’m not inclined to either believe or doubt what Trump might be capable of if he lost the election–although I, too, see lack of impetus as a factor.

    BUT, if he were to decide to refuse to step down AND the Senate supported him AND the Supreme Court endorsed it AND the Department of Justice provided him cover, the next Civil War starts shortly after and God only knows what the next United States–or whatever fragments thereof have not been burned to the ground–looks like, but it won’t be pretty.

    5
  80. Scott F. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I’m not the first to note that Trump, with his narcissistic personality disorder, got into this presidency thing for the rallies and the parades rather than the opportunity to lead. If Trump was offered a way to continue to have large rallies of rabid supporters, he’d give up everything else.

    I say we offer him the pulpit of a mega-church if he resigns tomorrow.

    4
  81. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Again: waiting until he has clearly lost is the absolute nadir of his presidency. It is the worst moment to decide to be a dictator.

    This is both true…and consistent with the brand.

    1
  82. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: While I’m of the opinion that Trump will leave if he loses, the “We are not allowed to have rallies” schtick doesn’t really mean anything other than “No on is showing up for my rallies so I’m going to pretend someone is stopping me.”

  83. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “TL; DR: there are scenarios in which we end up in the courts, but that is a different discussion of whether Trump will leave or not.

    Alt version: a close race that ends up in the courts is not the same as “there won’t be a peaceful transfer of power for the first time ever.””

    I will disagree, depending upon how reasonable the arguments for Trump are. If Trump raises arguments which should be laughed out of court, but are upheld anyway by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, then I believe that counts as Trump not accepting he must leave when he lost.

    1
  84. @MarkedMan:

    the “We are not allowed to have rallies” schtick doesn’t really mean anything other than “No on is showing up for my rallies so I’m going to pretend someone is stopping me.”

    Sure, but that fits my point. We are not talking a burgeoning strongman.

    2
  85. @Moosebreath: If there is a close election of a 2000-in-Florida type, then yes, he’ll fight in court.

    But that’ s fair cry from where @Daryl and his brother Darryl started out:

    There have been 44 peaceful transitions of power in our Government.
    There will not be 45.

    2
  86. de stijl says:

    Trump will want to destroy and salt the earth on anyone who criticizes him.

    It is 100% predictable. Cohn taught him very well. As did Daddy per the hearsay.

    But no way sitting R legislators ignore an election result. Doing so is civil war and treason. Well, it did happen before.

    2
  87. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    With you on this. The sky is not falling. Hell, we’re guessing. The election is three months out. Signs point to yes, but not a done deal.

    But if Trump loses, he will light a lot of fuses on his way out the door. But if he does lose, sane heads within will push him out.

    Plus, Rs are comfortable when the opposition is in power. You get to criticize and are not accountable.

    2
  88. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy:

    [Biden] may not even run for reelection.

    As much as I hate to be that guy, I HOPE that an 82-year-old man [edit: actually only 81and11/12 til after the election] is not going to run for reelection.

    1
  89. Joe says:

    @JohnSF: The order of documents is that Pence signs the pardon, looks across the desk to see Trump then sign the resignation, then Pence pushes the pardon across the table and then Trump slides the resignation back across the table.

    2
  90. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    A one term Biden regency is kinda the goal. Normalcy and sanity for four years, then let the young’uns have a melee to determine the next up.

    The VP pick is fraught because of that expected dynamic.

    1
  91. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t want to keep going around in circles, but you are missing my point (which is not the same as Darryl’s).

    I am saying that if it is a close election, which depends upon a decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court or similar entity which has shown itself to be nakedly partisan, then I would not expect them to hand down an impartial decision, and I am not expecting that the US Supreme Court will be willing to look behind the decision, but rather elect to bring the matter to a close by affirming it, as they did in 2000, as they have done in the recent gerrymandering cases, as they have done in the recent case on Florida’s referendum restoring voting rights to felons, and as they have done in this year’s decisions on voting procedures. So if your position is that Trump remaining in power due to a blatantly partisan decision is consistent with the concept of a peaceful transition of power, then I will disagree.

    2
  92. JohnSF says:

    @Joe:
    Only to find that Pence has written, “Best regards, M. Mouse” 🙂

    Though it’s really in bad taste to joke about a potential constitutional crisis.
    Then again, not many who know me, have ever accused me of good taste.

    More interestingly, can a President revoke his own presidential pardon?

  93. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    People age differently, but frankly I’d be surprised if Biden finished his term.

    Lately I’ve been given some thought to the Roman practice of electing two magistrates to the same office, making them equal in power and with mutual veto power.

    History shows such joint rule is the exception. But it also shows many capable rulers who had a kind of all-purpose advisor acting as a second-in-command. Modern governments lack any such figure.

  94. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy: Heck, why not go full Diocletian and institute a tetrarchy?

    3
  95. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But that’ s fair cry from where @Daryl and his brother Darryl started out:
    There have been 44 peaceful transitions of power in our Government.
    There will not be 45.

    This is fair…and terms should be defined. What is “a peaceful” transition, and what is “not peaceful”.
    Let’s say people are peacefully protesting Trumps ongoing nonsensical court battles, in Lafayette Park on January 10th, and they are attacked by Trump’s paramilitary outfit, currently operating in Portland. Then the SCOTUS rules on Jan 15th that Biden won, and he is inaugurated on the 20th as scheduled. Is it still a “peaceful transition?”
    There is a multiverse of ways this election can go sideways…where on the spectrum is the line between peaceful and not peaceful?

  96. Kathy says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    The twin consuls system worked very well for centuries. The Tetrarchy barely outlasted Diocletian.

    Of course, it bears mentioning the consulship was no match for partisanship, just as the tribunate had failed under the same strain.

    1
  97. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kathy: I was at an event where General Joe Votel, the now retired former Commander of Socom and Centcom was speaking. When asked about the politics of people in the middle east he said, “The capacity of people to undermine their self-interest with self-defeating behavior….is extraordinary ”

    I immediately thought about WWC Republican voters…

    3
  98. Paine says:

    Oh, I have no doubt that should Trump lose, he will go scorched earth through inauguration day doing everything he can to make his opponents miserable.

    But isn’t there some law that allows a new legislature to roll back laws or exec orders that are placed in the final few months of the previous term? I seem to recall the Repubs using that against some of Obama’s final actions.

  99. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Teve: And to be perfectly candid, no one, and I do mean no one in either the military, FBI, or Secret service is afraid of a coup attempt by the DHS types that are operating in Portland. These are 3rd tier LE people that couldn’t make the cut at FBI, SS, and CIA. Perfect for Trump.

    2
  100. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    3rd tier or not, they are still detaining people off the street.

    Depositing them where? Under what charge? By what jurisdiction?

    That Portland bs is goddamned frightening.

    1
  101. JohnMcC says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Not to be too argumentative (leave that to the ex—smiley face with wink here) but the fighting quality of any particular bunch is pretty much beside the point. I had the opportunity (rare for an AF smuck) to take a long walk in a bad neighborhood with a company of Marines long long ago. There’s no doubt in my mind about the outcome of any shooting. (I recall the story from a few years ago about the shootout in Texas between two motorcycle gangs; hundreds of shots fired, 2 or 3 stretcher cases; lots of holes in cars and windows.)

    The question in the linked WaPo/Max Boot op-ed is what would be the Supreme Court’s reaction to what would appear to be a civil war erupting on American streets. In the prediction made by the ‘war game’, the Supremes would have an undeniable urge to quiet the situation down. Which would be to trust whichever Administration had the WH.

    This is all highly speculative and it draws us into ‘what-if’s’ that are actually pretty specific, a bad way to have a discussion.

    I’ll say again, though, that if they are really out to get you, it’s not paranoia.

  102. @Moosebreath: I was never arguing that a court battle that produced an unjust outcome was impossible.

    Indeed, I was arguing that a close election and a court battle doesn’t belong in the same category as what a lot of folks in this thread were arguing.

    To me, a close election and a court battle, while it would be frustrating, would still be at least semi-normal (broadly defined).

    I do not think we are in disagreement, certainly not on the broad brushstrokes of what I think I understand your scenario to be.

  103. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @de stijl: From a civilian perspective–yes, Id grant that would scare many. From a perspective someone that is familiar with how foreign coups take place and how they maintain power–you can’t get there with 3rd stringers. This is basically a 10th grader punching a 6th grader. Bullying unarmed protestors is about the right speed for them..

  104. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Don’t really care if they are lame-os in the fed alphabet pecking order. Wrong thing to focus on in my mind.

    Not who but what.

  105. Gustopher says:

    I eagerly await the trolls in 2021 shifting from “It’s a Republic, not a Democracy” to “It’s a Right Wing Dictatorship, not a Democracy.”

  106. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think you are still misreading what I am saying. I will repeat my final sentence with emphasis added, highlighting the part you seem to have skipped over:

    “So if your position is that Trump remaining in power due to a blatantly partisan decision is consistent with the concept of a peaceful transition of power, then I will disagree.”

    In such an event, I think we are outside the realm of semi-normal situations, and to the contrary feel such a situation is analogous to the situation where Trump refuses to hand over power after he has lost, with the only change being that a partisan court has ruled it is OK to do so.

    1
  107. de stijl says:

    The Bureau of Land Management are all like, Hey, dudes, we were OG BLM.

    I’ve camped all over the inter mountain West. National parks, national forests, state parks, BLM land. In most BLM land you can camp unless posted.

    I stayed at a KOA once in Kansas because it was that or a motel. I made the choice.

    1
  108. al Ameda says:

    Although Trump has done a self immolation job on his corporate brand, he is going to leave office with a federal pension, federally provided full time security, and probably will have extremely lucrative job offers from Fox.

    We have all paid a great price for his presidency, and that will continue to be the case for years to come.

    2
  109. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @de stijl: No….focus on Who and What. Knowing who is paramount to assessing the What. In this discussion– the what being the threat of keeping a President who lost an election in power. The Whos are not capable of achieving that What.

  110. @Moosebreath: I acknowledge what you are saying, although a lot rides on the definition of “a blatantly partisan decision.”

    But I will leave it at that for the moment, as I do not think I have the mental energy at the moment to do more than acknowledge your position.

    1
  111. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32

    I think we are talking past one another.

    Unidentifiable feds are plucking protesters off the streets of Portland. Chucking them into unmarked vans. No badges. No warrant. No “This is the FBI. You are under arrest for x.”

    It is essentially kidnapping. And no name no designation unis and vans makes it impossible to determine if it is legitimate LEOs or feds doing the detaining, or RW vigilantes geared up looking to bust some heads.

    That is a problem. A huge fucking problem.

    Who are they? Do they have jurisdiction? What are the charges? By what right are you detaining them? Where are you taking them? WHO ARE YOU? Show a warrant!

    This is secret police bullshit on American soil, and I am fucking pissed.

    3
  112. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am fine leaving it there as well.

  113. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No worries.. Finite potential of comparatively fractional loss versus the potential for exorbitant gain. And it’s entertaining. 🙂

  114. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Joe:

    The order of documents is that Pence signs the pardon, looks across the desk to see Trump then sign the resignation, then Pence pushes the pardon across the table and then Trump slides the resignation back across the table.

    It can’t work that way. Until Trump’s resignation had been signed and delivered to / accepted by the Secretary of State, he would still be the president and Pence, who would still have to have the oath administered, would have zero authority to pardon anyone at all. The resignation process would have to play out first.

    2
  115. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @de stijl: Yes we are having slightly different conversations. Beyond the context of who with weapons would support a Trump coup. No threat. In the context of civil liberties I do believe the State lawsuits will prevail. Federal LE have every right to operate on federal property but none that Im aware of that gives them the authority to operate on state or city property for anything not in violation of Federal law. I anticipate yet another Trump smackdown by the courts on that accord. I feel sorry for the kids terrorized in this…but theyll be vindicated. Also, as a result of not not staying below the radar these “Tactical Units” are now in the House’s Budget radar. Not a place you want to be with bad PR behind you. Theyve screwed up bad.

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  116. An Interested Party says:

    I do wonder if enough people would actually accept a repeat of 2000…I mean, again? I would hope there would be a hell of a lot of pushback against that if it were to happen again…meanwhile, after peeking at a few conservative sights, it is easy to see why so many of them still follow Trump, even if they don’t like him…they seem to have cooked up this idea that Biden is nothing more than a doddering figurehead (like the second coming of Marshal Pétain, I guess) and that evil elements within the “Democrat” Party will institute some kind of evil Marxist scheme once he wins…I mean, these people actually believe this horseshit!? No wonder our country is so screwed up…

  117. de stijl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    If you believe Joe Biden is a Marxist, I have a bitcoin arbitrage company you should invest in.

    My dear old mom thought Obama was a secret Islamist or atheist depending on what Fox told her that day.

    Alzheimer’s is really brutal. At the end I was about the only person who listened to her.

    1
  118. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party:

    they seem to have cooked up this idea that Biden is nothing more than a doddering figurehead (like the second coming of Marshal Pétain, I guess) and that evil elements within the “Democrat” Party will institute some kind of evil Marxist scheme once he wins…I mean, these people actually believe this horseshit!? No wonder our country is so screwed up…

    Which is of course a slippery slope argument.

    1
  119. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    The Oregon governor and the Portland mayor have requested repeatedly and very forcefully that the feds should vamoose now. Stop it.

    IANAL, but this is sketchy as fuck.

    1
  120. de stijl says:

    Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf:

    “I don’t need invitations by the state, state (sic) mayors, state governors to do our job.” Dude said to Fox.

    That is so creepy. Note the “I don’t…” Wow!

    We are galloping towards fascism.

    3
  121. Teve says:

    @de stijl: JADE HELM! JADE HELM!

    5
  122. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    While I am concerned about Trump’s behavior in and around a loss, and especially the degree to which he will increase distrust in our democracy, let’s be honest about the amount of effort it would take to actually defy a loss.

    But how much of the legwork would be done by Donald Trump? A few angry speeches about mail-in ballot fraud by Illegal Mexicans from South America, and his various underlings and hangers on are doing all the work while he is along for the ride.

    We have unmarked federal agents abducting people in Portland without identifying themselves, and Trump wants to expand this. Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but it seems like one of those really big sign posts on the way to a dictatorship.

    Has he done anything during his time in office (or, heck, his whole life) that would suggest he has the energy and drive to try to stay in power?

    He has surrounded himself with idiots, which is a little reassuring.

    4
  123. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I brought up Jade Helm 15 yesterday in another thread. Admittedly as a provocative poke at Tyrell (More human than human is our motto).

    1
  124. @Gustopher:

    We have unmarked federal agents abducting people in Portland without identifying themselves, and Trump wants to expand this. Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but it seems like one of those really big sign posts on the way to a dictatorship.

    I find what has happened in Portland to be profoundly disturbing and, further, find Trump’s rhetoric ont his topic unacceptable. His threats to send similar goon squads into Chicago is likewise a huge problem.

    I do not want to dismiss any of that. But sending in what really is a handful of folks into protests and harassing a relatively small number of people (and again, I find it all abhorrent in a number of ways) does not seem to be the pathway to dictatorship. Indeed, it kind of fits my point: things like this, or the LaFayette square action (which I said was fascist-adjacent a minimum, so I took it seriously) are really small scale actions by a man who thankfully does not know what he is doing and, also thankfully, is small-scale thinker.

    Put another way: if he was more tactical, smarter, and have grander goals he could do a lot more damage with these federal goons than he has. (And I pray he doesn’t figure that out).

    He is trying to convince his supporters that he is tough.

  125. KM says:

    @Steven L. Taylor :

    Are we really of the opinion that Trump is on the pathway to not leaving peacefully (and even to the point of inspiring massive street violence) but he will abide by orders not to have rallies in specific states?

    Rallies are not completely within his control because venues are private property. If he can get a venue to accommodate him, he’d have a rally in a heartbeat. The thing is, venues are at the mercy of the states they are in and can be held accountable in a way POTUS can’t. Liquor licences can be yanked, utilities turned off and fines levied on top off legal liabities for things like security and visitor safety. It’s simply not worth it for a guy who’s famous for not paying his bills. Trump’s not having rallies in states that “don’t want him” because the states are putting pressure on the venues instead of him. He’s not complying with anything – his people are having a hell of a time finding places to host where there’s interest, let alone in states that are taking COVID seriously.

    I believe the agitator will agitate because that’s what he does. His entire plan at this point is get his people up in arms to protect him, either from electoral loss or the consequences of his actions should he lose. Again, I don’t think he’s planning a coup but rather to use his MAGAts as insurance against a jail cell. He pushed his people into sending armed nuts – excuse me, “protesters” – to stand visibly armed above the legislature to protest masks during a pandemic. You can bet he’s going to agitate them into action that the Deep State is coming for him and this is what Q’s been warning about all along should he lose. He’s allowed a mythos to be built over the last 4 years that perfectly fits this scenario and he’s not afraid to use them for his own means. I will be frankly shocked if he doesn’t invoke his Cult45 minions during his salt-n’-burn finale because well… why wouldn’t the narcissist use this useful tool?

    1
  126. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Trump is a genius at provoking and belittling. His whole damned adult life.

    Now he has a bigger tool chest.

    I know he is generally an idiot, but this precedent is really disturbing.

    1