The Old Man and the Felon

Turning 80 and being charged with a felony are equally disqualifying.

I laughed out loud at the Gallup headline “Felonies, Old Age Heavily Count Against Candidates.” To quote Joan Ganz Cooney, “One of these things is not like the other.”

Depressingly, however, those polled view them equally disqualifying:

Less than a third of Americans say they would be willing to vote for someone nominated by their party who is over the age of 80 or has been charged with a felony or convicted of a felony by a jury. Somewhat more, but still less than half of Americans, say they would consider backing someone nominated by their party who is a socialist.

Gallup’s latest measure of Americans’ willingness to vote for presidential candidates with different personal backgrounds finds between 60% and 74% willing to support a gay or lesbian candidate, a Muslim, someone older than 70, or an atheist, while about a quarter to a third would not. Meanwhile, 88% of the public would support a Jewish candidate, and more than 90% would back a woman, Hispanic adult, Black adult or Catholic if their party happened to nominate someone with that background.

That there are still a significant number of Americans who would rule out a woman or someone who is Black, Hispanic, or Jewish is sad but not shocking. And, thankfully, the overwhelming number don’t see those attributes as disqualifying. Indeed, the respondents were actually more welcoming than I would have guessed of gay, Muslim, or atheist candidates.

But exactly the same percentage—two-thirds—find being over the age of 80 and charged with a felony crime disqualifying. And it’s not because they take “innocent until proven guilty” to extremes—the number barely moves when the theoretical candidate is convicted by a jury.

Rather obviously, this is not simply a theoretical exercise:

The poll addressed the issues of felonies and candidate age with separate questions each asked of about half of the poll’s respondents. The question about candidates older than 70 applies to both President Joe Biden, who is 81, and former President Donald Trump, who is 77. The questions about a candidate who has been charged with a felony and one who has been convicted by a jury would pertain only to Trump, who currently faces 91 felony counts in four separate criminal cases, some of which could be decided before Election Day.

Biden and Trump emerge as their parties’ presidential nominees this year (as they are on track to do, by virtue of their dominance in their respective primary fields), voters would face a choice between two of the most objectionable characteristics to Americans of those measured — someone who has been charged with a felony (Trump) and someone who is older than 80 (Biden).

An analysis of the responses of those answering both of these questions suggests that a slight majority of Americans (52%) would be unperturbed by the choice between Biden and Trump. These individuals indicate they would be comfortable voting for either someone who is over 80 (23%) or who has been charged with a felony (21%), or would feel comfortable with both types of candidates (8%).

On the other hand, 43% of respondents asked about voting for someone over 80 and someone charged with a felony say they would not vote for either type of candidate, while the remaining 5% are unsure about both.

Ah, but there’s a plot twist!

It turns out that partisanship matters.

With both major party front-runners over the age of 70, it is not surprising that majorities of Republicans and Democrats, as well as independents, say they would be willing to vote for a candidate older than 70. However, of the three political party groups, only Democrats are willing to vote for a candidate over 80 — and even then, a bare majority (53%) say they would do so.

Trump’s legal situation is undoubtedly why Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they would vote for a candidate who has faced felony charges. Still, less than half of Republicans (46%) are willing to vote for someone charged with a felony, and even fewer (35%) are willing to vote for someone convicted of one.

In the abstract, I think 80 is too old to embark on a four-year stint in the most stressful, important job on the planet. In the particular, I think Joe Biden is too old to serve a second term. But, given that the alternative is to put Donald J. Trump back in the White House, I won’t hesitate to vote for him anyway.

For a committed Republican, however, Biden’s advanced age is magnified, and Trump’s criminality is minimized. The alternative, after all, is to re-elect a socialist! And he’s probably a criminal, too! Or, at least, his son is. So, really, six of one, half dozen of the other. And he’s really old!

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2024 Election, 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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” Agent K.

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  2. Not the IT Dept. says:

    A neighbor gave me what I think is the strongest argument against Trump if you’re tempted by the age thing: he says that if Trump is re-elected it will be screaming headlines and news shows every single day and he’s fed up with that. He’s fed up with the dial-it-up-to-the-red-zone stuff that he thinks Trump is addicted to. In his opinion, Biden will be boring and we’ll be able to go days without hearing about him.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Turning 80 and being charged with a felony are equally disqualifying.

    Ummm…. No. Just no. Equating the 2 is malpractice James. We don’t put old people in prison because of their age. We do put people who steal, share, and refuse to return classified material to the govt, in jail. Never mind those who attempt to negate an election through mob violence.

    Turning 80 is not ideal but the alternative is far worse. Sorry if you don’t like it, but life is like that.

    eta: And the fact of the matter is, according to out constitution neither are disqualifying.

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  4. Tony W says:

    The one I find comical is the “I could never vote for an atheist” sentiment.

    “I require my political candidates to listen to the voices in their head (or the heads of others) and believe in things without evidence or the ability to prove/disprove them.”

    It’s so odd….

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  5. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: But James isn’t really equating the two, the headline is tongue-in-cheek. He’s pretty clear he doesn’t think the two are the same:

    I laughed out loud at the Gallup headline “Felonies, Old Age Heavily Count Against Candidates.”

    To quote Joan Ganz Cooney, “One of these things is not like the other.”

    Depressingly, however, those polled view them equally disqualifying

    80 really *is* too old to be in the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and (probably) the judiciary as well, and you’re correct that old age isn’t Constitutionally disqualifying. But it’s unequivocally better than the alternative currently on offer at the top of the ticket, a sentiment in which James concludes his post.

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  6. Scott F. says:

    Given the date of the poll (Jan 2-24), the central premise of the poll (Between now and the 2024 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates — their education, age, religion, race and so on.) is demonstrably false. As Biden and Trump were clearly established as presumptive nominees by these dates, to poll on generalized categories such as race, religion, and education is obfuscation. (The gender question may have had some relevance while Nikki Haley still had a theoretical chance, but c‘mon.)

    This polling trivializes diversity (as per usual, we will have a choice between two older white men) and normalizes criminality (as per the unusual, an alleged criminal will be nominated by a major party). This is contemptible at this political moment.

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  7. ptfe says:

    I’m going to come right out and say I don’t think felony accusations or convictions are disqualifying. The particular accusations against this particular GOP candidate – along with his vile views and personality – are. Those crimes, of course, are a reflection of the man.

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  8. Paul L. says:

    Sen. Ted Stevens was charged and convicted of multiple felonies.
    Handwave that away as old news.

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  9. de stijl says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    That was my first reaction when I heard Biden declared the winner. Relief from waking up every day to potential chaotic malarkey and monkeyshines our President would get up to overnight. It was anxiety provoking. Untethered narcissist as CinC, what could go wrong? Who wants Loki as President? That’s so weird to me.

    I don’t want chaos and extreme personal pique and distracted flightiness in a President.

    Biden wasn’t my first choice, or second choice for the D nominee, but he’s fine and reasonably competent. He is a steady hand. Most times boring, consensus-seeking, and baseline competency is by far the preferred trait over mercurial, polarizing, and whim-driven in a leader.

    I’d take boring, predictable, cautious in a President everyday over whatever the hell drives Trump’s moods and mental focus.

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  10. de stijl says:

    @Scott F.:

    Criminality is a-okay if you’re rich, white, and Republican.

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  11. Kylopod says:

    That there are still a significant number of Americans who would rule out a woman or someone who is Black, Hispanic, or Jewish is sad but not shocking.

    The percentages who say they would vote for such groups have dropped from previous iterations of this poll. In 2019, 96% said they would vote for a black candidate, 95% for a Hispanic, 94% for a woman, and 93% for a Jew. Now it’s 92, 93, 93, and 88 respectively.

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  12. DrDaveT says:

    Among many depressing facts in evidence here, the one that struck me the most was that those polled do not distinguish at all between being charged with a felony and being convicted of a felony. Could there be a more scathing assertion of lack of faith in the criminal justice system?

    I also frankly do not believe the 54% of Republicans who said they would not vote for someone charged with a felony. Many of them absolutely would, and will.

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  13. Jen says:

    @Paul L.: Not sure what you’re getting at here. That Republican Senators can get away with that stuff? That Senator “the Internet is a series of tubes” might not have had all his faculties? That flying on a small plane en route to a private hunting lodge is fraught with peril?

    Your non sequiturs are becoming ever more random.

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  14. Mimai says:

    …who happened to be…

    This phrase bothers me. And I think it biases the prompt, which then biases the response.

    In some instances, it is no different than saying “through no fault of their own.”

    Eg, “Would you vote for someone who, through no fault of their own, is Black [gay or lesbian]?”

    Makes it sound like being Black or gay or lesbian is a defect. I realize some people do indeed believe that. And still, the wording of the prompt can influence the responses of people who do not believe that. Or do not believe that these characteristics, on net, are disqualifying.

    Another thing about the phrase “who happened to be” is that it doesn’t apply equally for all of the items. It’s a passive phrase (see above re “through no fault of their own”). And not all of the items are passive.

    To take two examples, neither “atheist” nor “socialist” are passive.* These labels only mean something because of what a person does or does not do, believe, etc.

    Contrast that with “woman”** or “Hispanic” or “over the age of 70.”

    As for the felony item, how about: “Would you vote for someone who was proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, by a jury of their peers, to have committed a felony?” That said, I agree with @ptfe:.

    What’s my point? (1) I set a goal for myself to write x number of words per day, and I’m counting this entry. (2) There is a science (and art too) to survey development. And it bothers me when I see some of the most basic of violations.

    *I realize it’s more complicated… for these items and even moreso for others.
    **Yes, I have read Masha Gessen.

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  15. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I also frankly do not believe the 54% of Republicans who said they would not vote for someone charged with a felony. Many of them absolutely would, and will.

    I agree.

    I’m fairly convinced that many of the respondents to these polls are lying. Sometimes to themselves. For example, I’ve been following this poll for years and I have never for a moment believed that over 90% of Americans are willing to vote for a black candidate.

    When it comes to the new questions they’ve added about age and felony charges, I think probably most of the respondents see right through it as questions about Biden and Trump–and then the partisan polarization kicks in. But just as a lot of people won’t admit they’re unwilling to vote for a minority group or a woman, they also won’t admit they would vote for a criminal.

    Also–and I haven’t seen others bring this up–I’d bet a nontrivial amount of those Republicans interpret the question on criminal charges by thinking of Biden. Sure, in actual reality he hasn’t been charged with anything–though his son has, and they use the son as a proxy for Joe. In any case, when it comes to polls you can’t always assume respondents are interpreting the questions literally; they think they’re being asked essentially if they’d vote for a criminal, and they have a different notion than you and I of who the criminal is in this race.

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  16. charontwo says:

    @Tony W:

    The one I find comical is the “I could never vote for an atheist” sentiment.

    But I am perfectly OK with devout Christians like Donald Trump.

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  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Mimai:

    There is a science (and art too) to survey development. And it bothers me when I see some of the most basic of violations.

    Absolutely this.

    The company I work for employs a lot of very smart scientists. Some of them are experts in survey design. I write scathing technical reviews when the ones who are NOT experts (or even trained) in survey design try to conduct surveys. Most of them don’t even understand what they’ve done wrong.

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  18. wr says:

    @Paul L.: “Sen. Ted Stevens was charged and convicted of multiple felonies. Handwave that away as old news.”

    What’s to handwave? He was sleazy and corrupt. The fact that the Justice Department screwed up the trial doesn’t mean he wasn’t a crook.

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  19. @Paul L.:

    Sen. Ted Stevens was charged and convicted of multiple felonies.
    Handwave that away as old news.

    Ted Stevens, being dead and all, is definitely too old to run for president.

    I honestly am not sure what your point is supposed to be.

    If you are trying to make an argument, simply writing a person’s name and making vague statements doesn’t do it.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jen:

    Your non sequiturs are becoming ever more random.

    At the same time as Trump is spiraling down into dementia. Coincidence?

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Ted Stevens, being dead and all, is definitely too old to run for president.

    Stating facts not in evidence. I see nothing in the poll above that addresses the question of dead candidates. I am willing to bet that a significant % of GOP voters would have no issue voting for a dead Trump.

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  21. Bill Jempty says:

    @de stijl: Four words for you- Robert Menendez & Andrew Cuomo

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  22. Bill Jempty says:

    @Oz arkHillbilly:

    We don’t put old people in prison because of their age.

    You’re right. We put them in nursing homes, assisted living, hospices or over 55 communities. In the last they get to play bridge 3 times a week, play bingo once a week, and get to watch Barbra Streisand or Elvis Presley impersonators on a regular basis.

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  23. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I am willing to bet that a significant % of GOP voters would have no issue voting for a dead Trump.

    This has occurred to me.

    To begin with, if Trump were to suddenly drop dead from one too many hamberders, not only would the theories of his being assassinated take off like a storm, but I’d be willing to bet a lot of them will claim he’s not really dead. It’s not any crazier than some of the theories I’ve already heard from these folks (such as the notion that Biden has already died and has been replaced by a double).

    And even those who accept that he’s dead will still vote for him, anyway, because they think a dead Trump is better than a live RINO (which they define as any Republican who isn’t Trump).

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  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kylopod:
    Well, as we know, Trump was sent by Jesus, personally, and Jesus famously continued to be God even after he was killed. I would expect Trump to rise from the dead after three days. I certainly hope we get a chance to test that theory, and soon.

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  25. mattbernius says:

    Paul L’s point is that Steven’s conviction was overturned because of FBI and prosecutorial misconduct. Which I guess means that the charges against Trump need to be cleared… Along I guess with every other federal conviction.

    He also had similar feelings about local law enforcement, so I can only assume he also wants all local prosecutions overturned and the police defunded.

    Honestly, based on his positions he seems to be a more radical prison abolitionist than most of the activists I know.

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  26. Franklin says:

    @Tony W: They really could have used a question about voting for a theist. (My guess is a lot of people would find that scary-sounding, some because they wouldn’t know what it was, and others because they did 🙂

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  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    Indeed, I wonder if @Paul L is a prisoner currently. When I was in jail we were all – by amazing coincidence – 100% innocent and we had all been done dirty by The Man.

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  28. Kylopod says:

    @Franklin:

    They really could have used a question about voting for a theist. (My guess is a lot of people would find that scary-sounding, some because they wouldn’t know what it was, and others because they did.)

    That could be remedied by simply asking whether they’d vote for a candidate who believes in God.

    The bigger reason you don’t see it in this poll, though, is that theists aren’t a minority, and every US president up to now has at least purported to believe in God, or at any rate not outright denied it.

    (The only group mentioned on the list that is technically not a minority is women. But they certainly have been excluded from the presidency so far.)

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  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @Kylopod:

    Quite likely Ozark Hillbilly joined me in voting for the corpse of Mel Carnahan to toss John Ashbrook out of the senate. So if trumps still on the ballot the cult will likely vote for him.

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  30. de stijl says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    I prefer boring, base competency over daily ever-possible World War III because of a perceived affront to a fragile ego any day of the week. I’d take milquetoast blah over flighty, mercurial chaos every time.

    Besides, I voted for Warren in my caucus. Buttigieg second choice. Biden was an all y’all “safe” selection. Yeah, obviously voted for him in the general election, but I sort of got the general vibe as to why he bacame the nominee – he was the least objectionable. The least rabble-rousing. The safest. I got it. Anti-Trump. Not my preferred, but fully acceptable.

    I’m not advocating for blah, I’m advocating against chaos. In the presidency.

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  31. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    So if trumps still on the ballot the cult will likely vote for him.

    In 2020 after Trump contracted Covid, there were pieces speculating what would happen if Trump (or Biden) died before the election. It’s more complicated than it is for state races because of the issue of electors. Would they vote for the dead candidate they’d been pledged to? Or would they coordinate around someone else, likely Pence (who would already be the incumbent president in this scenario)?

    The only remotely comparable situation that has happened was during the 1872 election, when Ulysses S. Grant’s challenger Horace Greeley died after Election Day, but before the electors had convened. The electors ended up splitting their vote among several choices. But as Greeley had already lost, there wasn’t much at stake in how his electors voted. If a winning candidate were to die before the electors convened, or an already-dead candidate were to win on Election Day, the question would be much more consequential.

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  32. CSK says:

    @Tony W:

    I’m sure we’ve had atheists aplenty in the White House, but they pretended otherwise.

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  33. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:

    Replacing a candidate on a ticket has historically been a party function and there is no reason to believe that if trump or Biden died before election day, but after the convention, that anyone but the respective party committees will choose the replacement. Then a vote for the deceased trump or Biden would become a vote for the replacement candidate.

    Particularly in the R party, there will be screaming an hollering, more so if they don’t choose trumps VP pick.

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  34. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    As far as I know, Paul L. Had never been incarcerated. The closest he had discussed to coming was having to go to traffic court where his lawyer conspired with the judge against him to do something (maybe plea the alleged charge down vs figuring it outright… Not sure he, unsurprisingly wasn’t clear about the details*).

    * – I have no idea why my mind captures this level of minutiae about y’all’s… While simultaneously not being able to remember people names IRL.

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  35. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    I’m sure we’ve had atheists aplenty in the White House, but they pretended otherwise.

    Sure. But at the end of the day, if we’re to come up with reliable historical descriptions, we have to stick to public self-identification. The alternative is chaos. For example, despite what we know about Buchanan and some speculation about Lincoln, there’s never been an openly gay president. And while the average Republican will probably tell you that a bunch of presidents past and present have been socialists, the fact remains that none of them identified as one.

    Given the taboo around nonbelief in American politics, it’s reasonable to suppose that at least some of our presidents have been closet atheists, but in general I’d avoid speculating about individuals. When it comes to guessing a person’s private religious beliefs, that’s about the most subjective thing imaginable.

    Now, I make an exception for Trump, who I’d say is definitely an atheist (or perhaps an autotheist). But Trump is unusually transparent in what he believes, because he holds the distinction among US presidents of being a fucking moron with the emotional level of a 4-year-old, yet he’s the leader of an overwhelmingly religious group of voters so he has a strong incentive to pretend even though his attempts to do so are laughably unconvincing to anyone with a triple-digit IQ.

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  36. de stijl says:

    @Franklin:

    As a fairly quiet and never really think about it atheist, I’ve been forced all my adult life to vote for people who are, profess to be, or convincingly pretend to be theists, specificically Christian. I haven’t had any other choice most of my life. I’ve never felt represented.

    My then minority view has gotten substantially bigger over the years and the “none”, not religious slice of the population has increased.

    Amongst pols, it was and often still is mostly performative, obligatory and for the benefit of the easily swayed, but it always bugged me that everybody played along. Mostly for short-term gain.

    In the the 80s and 90s it was de riguer. It was inescapable. I chose the best candidate of the bunch.

    Sometime, before I die, I’d love to see two non-theists vie for the same seat and see how religiously minded folks react to that. It’d be fascinating.

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  37. gVOR10 says:

    Has anyone mentioned that Ted Stevens, a Republican, was improperly convicted by Republican W. Bush’s DOJ and Obama’s AG, Eric Holder, petitioned the court to vacate the conviction? So while it’s possible innocent people are convicted, this case wouldn’t seem to be politically motivated and while innocent poor people may plead out, I suspect wrongful convictions of people who can hire good lawyers are rare. Especially now, as the Supremes, for whatever reason one might suspect, have made it very hard to convict for bribery. For which see Bob McDonnell.

    Why do I suspect that had Trump been convicted of insurrection his supporters would be arguing 14A still didn’t apply because the deep state wrongly convicted him.

    I’ve mentioned before that smart spell check takes a typo the reader would probably figure out, if not just read without noticing, and changes it to a real word leaving no clue to the meaning. I apparently fat fingered “court” above and came back to find “cointreau”. And shouldn’t it have been capitalized? AI may take all our jobs, but not today.

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  38. JohnMc says:

    @Bill Jempty: How many votes do you suppose they’ll get in the next democratic primary? You think 50%?

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  39. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR10: I don’t have much interest in being Paul L.’s cryptologist, but when I first read his comment what flashed through my mind was that Stevens’ conviction led to a Democrat being elected Senator in deep-red Alaska, which means that at least some Republican voters drew the line at criminality even if it meant electing a Democrat, and that speaks well for those voters.

    Is that what Paul L. had in mind? Probably not. And I doubt it’s very applicable to Trump. The stakes are higher than a single Senate race, Alaska Republicans sometimes show a level of independence not seen in other red states, and in any case it was eons ago in political time, when there was still some level of accountability in the party (a reason why Obama did so well in many parts of red America that would later become super-Trumpified).

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  40. @mattbernius: I expect you are correct.

    However, it would be nice if he would articulate his position rather than make us guess/assume someone will translate for him.

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  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    However, it would be nice if he would articulate his position

    What have you seen from him that suggests he is able to do this, even were he willing?

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  42. Jay L Gischer says:

    I found that poll upsetting.

    Until I did a bit of math.

    So, about 2/3 of the voting-eligible population voted in 2020. I presume the poll was taken among eligible voters.

    So, roughly speaking, the polled individuals split half and half R and D. One half of 2/3 is 1/3.

    So, we could get the results shown in the poll if all the Ds said they wouldn’t vote for a felon, and all the R’s said they wouldn’t vote for someone over 80.

    So, umm. Not very meaningful, I think.

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  43. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m sure we can safely assume that some U.S. presidents were closeted gay men or closeted atheists. I have always done so.

    Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, and Munroe were Deists, not the rock-solid Protestant fundamentalists they’ve been retrofitted by some as being.

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  44. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    it would be nice if he would articulate his position rather than make us guess/assume someone will translate for him.

    I have done my best to try and explain that to him on so many occasions, to no avail.

    I just don’t think he gets how difficult he is to understand. Three best example of this was a critical letter he wrote to a local politician who was advocating for even greater police protections (if I remember correctly). Unless you were fluent in Paul L., the excerpt he shared read as supporting the politician versus what he intended.

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  45. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I see nothing in the poll above that addresses the question of dead candidates. I am willing to bet that a significant % of GOP voters would have no issue voting for a dead Trump.

    And a significant number of Democrats would vote for a dead Biden, after considering the alternative.

    Which leads to the actuarially unlikely but plausible scenario of both Trump and Biden shuffling off this mortal coil, and America choosing between two dead candidates. I like old Joe, and don’t want him to die, but it really would be the funniest possible situation, and kind of hope it happens.

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  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: My guess is that they would do the same thing that they do now: pick the one from their team and make up a bunch of nonsense about him being like Cyrus the Great (i.e. called “of God” to some specific purpose). There’s plenty of recent history of evangelical voters rejecting the actual Christian for the worldly secularist (Reagan preferred over Carter–even by Baptists I would add, I was there) or someone’s Christianity being substandard (Obama). What you’re suggesting as a mind blower isn’t particularly unusual. Politics come into the realm of the admonitions about not loving the world or the inability to serve two masters. Genuinely religious people might well take it to be wiser to let you guys burn the place down on your own if they spent time considering it at a metaphysical level.

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  47. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    or someone’s Christianity being substandard (Obama).

    During the 2012 GOP primaries, Robert Jeffress said he couldn’t back Romney because he wasn’t a Christian and belonged to a cult. But after the primaries were over and Romney became the nominee, he endorsed him.

    I get at some level why many Christians don’t view Mormonism as a real form of Christianity, but the UCC is pretty mainstream Protestant. So, by Jeffress’s standards he articulated during the primaries, Obama should have been “better” than Romney. Of course, we know there wasn’t a chance in hell he’d ever admit it–because at the end of the day it always came down to politics for him.

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  48. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    I always read Deism as a really smart way to duck the social norm of the time. It was a fancy dodge, was my understanding. Vaguely Christian enough to pass muster. But it was as close to non-belief as could be countenanced at the time. Did everyone know it was a dodge back then?

    I need to know more about Deism in the late 18th century. It goes on the list of things to look up.

    I am good friends with a guy and his wife who used to go a Unitarian church, mostly for community and the positive vibes. They no longer. Even obscure Protestant branches with bizarre doctrines consider UU heretical and either pagan or atheistic, or both.

    It was never my business to ask why they walked away, but I always was a bit curious. Not my business, end of the day.

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  49. Bill Jempty says:

    @Gustopher:

    I like old Joe, and don’t want him to die, but it really would be the funniest possible situation, and kind of hope it happens.

    There is this movie from over 40 years ago, that if I remember correctly one of the Presidential candidates died. FF was not considered very funny and bombed at both the box office and with critics.

    Early to mid 80’s comedic movies, Private Benjamin, First Monday in October, Stripes, Wrong is Right, Protocol. You love them or want to throw up……..

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  50. Bill Jempty says:

    @JohnMc:

    How many votes do you suppose they’ll get in the next democratic primary? You think 50%?

    Cuomo is out of office, Menendez…..I don’t know NJ politics well enough to make any predictions.

    I could have mentioned Anthony Weiner too. My local congress critter, Lois Frankel, is far from clean but has covered her tracks well.

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  51. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    You could start here:

    http://www.enlightenmentdeism.com

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  52. Grumpy realist says:

    @Bill Jempty: I know that translating comedy across languages is difficult (not to be confused with when the translations themselves are the source of hilarity), but here we’re seeing comedy across time can be just as bad. I suspect that this is because most comedy depends on an unspoken background of topical reference objects that aren’t passed on.

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  53. Kylopod says:

    @Bill Jempty: I would guess that for just about every fantasy political scenario a pundit has come up with, there’s at least one movie or TV drama that has depicted it happening. If you want a name for this principle, call it Sorkin’s Law.

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  54. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty: it’s not funny if just one candidate dies. I want “my dead guy is better than your dead guy,” and pure chaos.

    That said, I like old Joe, and wish him a long and healthy life. And I dislike Trump and wish him a long and painful life, preferably in prison. Ideally he would have a non-fatal stroke that leaves him physically disabled.

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  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Among evangelicals and fundies, the UCC is, indeed, a pretty mainstream Protestant denomination–which means, in Fundish, that it is a “liberal” denomination that denies the authority of the scriptures, the sovereignty of God, and a buncha other stuff. [CRT TRIGGER WARNING!!!] However, that designation is only for white congregations lead by white, male pastors. Obama’s church wasn’t even Christian at all. Jeffress’s standard remains intact.

    ETA: Remember the reaction to Rev. Wright’s “God damn America” comment. Even white people who aren’t particularly Christian objected to the statement, the speaker, and the candidate because of it. (Although in the case of the speaker, it was more of a 15 minutes of fame thing, I thought, and against the candidate, it was just one point among many objections.)

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  56. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Thanks! I appreciate that!

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  57. Paul L. says:

    @mattbernius: The corrupt cop didn’t show up.
    I was charged with giving a car to an unlicensed driver when my niece lent her car that I co-owned to a unlicensed driver. They dropped the charges against her when the driver plead guilty. But I got a lawyer to fight it and he delayed my trial. Should have filed complaints against the lawyer and the cop, but I didn’t know about that until later.

    My way of defunding the police is to abolish qualified immunity and make them pay for violating rights.
    Immunity is how government officials get away with breaking the law because it would flood the courts and cost too much to apply the same standard to the law enforcement caste that citizens are held too.

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  58. Paul L. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Ted Stevens was running for his Senate seat after being charged and later convicted. Your standard is that he should have not been allowed to run after the indictment. I will note that the Republicans at the time agreed with you.

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  59. Matt Bernius says:

    @Paul L.:

    Maybe I am blowing it out of proportion but it gave me a bad view of the legal system.

    To the degree that your lawyer appears to have gone against your instruction or pleaded you down without consulting you, you have a legitimate complaint.

    At the same time, based on the fact pattern you just shared (not to mention that the driver pleaded guilty to the unlicensed operation of said car), I’m not sure how much leeway you had (without also understanding how your niece got her charges dismissed).

    @Paul L.:

    Ted Stevens was running for his Senate seat after being charged and later convicted. Your standard is that he should have not been allowed to run after the indictment. I will note that the Republicans at the time agreed with you.

    This is a valid point. I honestly think you would have gotten a less pushback on this post if you had lead with this versus the shorted version that led to a lot of interpretation.

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  60. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    My pleasure.

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  61. de stijl says:

    I was in confirmation class at the Lutheran church my mother attended about 6 times a year. I was 11 or 12.

    My teacher was boring as [bleep]. I knew enough about Judaism and Islam to know we all worshipped the same God. My brain expanded that idea onto all world religions. What if we are all worshipping the same supreme deity only under different names? Different aspects of the same being? One universal deity? I was staggered at the profundity of that idea

    I voiced that thought to the class and the teacher. Holy moly, did that get me into so much trouble! The teacher was appalled. My mother got a very concerned call the next day. The pastor (Lutheran, Swedish variety) got called in.

    I thought I was offering up a new discussion point. It was an ignorant interpretation of the aspects of a universal deity theory. I wasn’t trying to provoke a huge negative response. But I did, unbeknownst.

    Pastor guy was really cool with me. He was a good dude. Obvious to me even then that he was a gay man. Lutherans are cool with married pastors, but gay pastors were not accepted then and he was super closeted.

    He asked me what I said. I said it again, but thinking I would get in trouble again. He was calm about it, and asked how I came upon that idea. I told. He praised my thought process. We talked about it. Sent me home. Question unanswered.

    Hey, I was in a position of utter vulnerability and the high authority church man did not molest me.

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  62. Paul L. says:

    Nice Dig at Qualified Immunity, by Judge Don Willett (5th Cir.)

    the upside-down world of qualified immunity, everyday citizens are demanded to know the law’s every jot and tittle, but those charged with enforcing the law are only expected to know the “clearly established” ones. Turns out, ignorance of the law is an excuse—for government officials. Such blithe “rules for thee but not for me” nonchalance is less qualified immunity than unqualified impunity. The irony would be sweet if Villarreal’s resulting jailtime were not so bitter, and it lays bare the “fair warning” fiction that has become the touchstone of what counts as “clearly established law.

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  63. Paul L. says:

    @Matt Bernius: This was a local magistrate court. The case was thrown out because the cop failed to appear. But the lawyer and judge discussed the case while I was outside the courtroom.
    I didn’t have possession of the car to give permission. I cosigned a car loan to help my niece out and lived to regret it.

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  64. de stijl says:

    @Paul L.:

    Explain exactly how the cop and the lawyer are corrupt in the situation you described. It seems important to you, but, to me, it could be two folks doing their jobs properly.

    You might be an unreliable narrator.

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  65. DrDaveT says:

    @Paul L.:

    My way of defunding the police is to abolish qualified immunity and make them pay for violating rights.

    I doubt that you would find many here who disagree with that. I certainly don’t. I’m not quite sure what it has to do with Trump or Biden, though.

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  66. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I agree with Paul L. wholeheartedly on qualified immunity for cops. Would vote for that tomorrow in a second.

    If you work for a financial company doesn’t make you immune to OCC violations and reporting.

    See! We reaching across the aisle here, people!

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  67. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Remember the reaction to Rev. Wright’s “God damn America” comment. Even white people who aren’t particularly Christian objected to the statement, the speaker, and the candidate because of it.

    It wasn’t widely reported, but during a sermon Sarah Palin’s pastor had said “God is going to strike his hand down on the United States of America.”

    It would be going too far to suggest that the press in 2008 was nice to Sarah Palin. After her initially positive reception, they went pretty hard in exposing her unpreparedness for the office she was running for. But it was within strict boundaries. One of my biggest problems with the press is that they always reduce every candidate to a specific character type, and filter all praise and criticism of said candidate through that perspective. So in 2008, Palin was the candidate who may have been a nice lady, but wasn’t ready for prime time; Obama was the candidate who talked great, but had a problem of “associations” with questionable people.

    And yes, there absolutely was–and still is–a racial double-standard. I think when a lot of Americans hear a white pastor condemning the country, they interpret the criticism as the idea that the USA has fallen from some divinely ordained ideal that existed at its founding (and that’s how I think a lot of conservative Christians see the matter). Even non-conservatives hearing such preachers tend to understand it in that way. But as soon as a black preacher does it, and directly connects it to America’s history of racism (as opposed to a general attack on decadence and immorality), they perceive it as a fundamental rejection of their core national identity.

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  68. ptfe says:

    @Paul L.: My way of defunding the police is to abolish qualified immunity and make them pay for violating rights.

    Now imagine applying the same thought process to scenarios where you are not and probably will never be affected, but that affect other people.

    If I remember right, you voiced considerable animosity towards BLM, towards the very idea that law enforcement is systemically racist. But you seem to instead believe that, since This One Case that affects you directly, police powers are excessive.

    I applaud you for critically examining the events and deciding there might be something wrong with the incentives of the people involved. I urge you to consider expanding your sympathetic worldview to include similar examinations of issues that affect others.

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  69. ptfe says:

    @Paul L.: My way of defunding the police is to abolish qualified immunity and make them pay for violating rights.

    Now imagine applying the same thought process to scenarios where you are not and probably will never be affected, but that affect other people.

    If I remember right, you voiced considerable animosity towards BLM, towards the very idea that law enforcement is systemically racist. But you seem to instead believe that, since This One Case that affects you directly, police powers are excessive.

    I applaud you for critically examining the events and deciding there might be something wrong with the incentives of the people involved. I urge you to consider expanding your sympathetic worldview to include similar examinations of issues that affect others.

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  70. de stijl says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Let it slide for a couple of hours, but what the hell would make you believe I’m going to be satisfied and happy with Menendez and Cuomo or think them paragons of a type I approve of?

    Why would you think that? I seriously don’t get what point you were going for there.

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  71. Paul L. says:

    @de stijl:

    Explain exactly how the cop and the lawyer are corrupt in the situation you described. It seems important to you, but, to me, it could be two folks doing their jobs properly.

    Cop didn’t show up for my hearing.
    My lawyer talked to the Judge without me being present.
    BTW, I was a a$$hole and showed up for and watched the earlier hearing for my niece’s hearing even when my lawyer delayed my heading.

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  72. Paul L. says:

    @mattbernius:

    critical letter he wrote to a local politician who was advocating for even greater police protections (if I remember correctly).

    Never got a response.

    The January 6 insurrection has shown the importance of law enforcement and public safety . Our democracy is in peril. We need bold action to protect and strengthen our democracy. All actions by police must be kept from the public just as was done by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Remember that hero cop of the January 6 insurrection Michael Fanone would tell people recording the police to “Put the camera away!”

    Disclaimer: Please note this letter is an obvious parody and copaganda. I do not support any of the above policies. If you believe this letter is a bad faith dishonest strawman argument and not the views of Law Enforcement, Here is New York City Police Department officer, and the former six consecutive term president of its union, the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York Patrick J. Lynch.
    To all arm-chair judges:

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  73. Grumpy realist says:

    @Paul L.: unless you told your lawyer “don’t start without me”, what are you complaining about? Civil cases don’t require both sides to be present; simply that both sides be represented.

    It seems you’re complaining about your lawyer doing something that he in fact had the authority to do.

    And the fact that the cop didn’t show up was A Good Thing for your side, so whaddya complaining about?

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  74. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: A fair amount of it is also tied up in dispensationalist notions that the church universal replaced Israel as the repository of God’s covenant. And, of course, “the church”== the United States, so that as the citizens elect to live as the relentless secularists most of them (us) are, the nation they live in is in the same situation as the children of Israel as they disobeyed God. Personally, I suspect that the racist factors involved with black churches and black pastors ultimately redounds back to notions of black people as subhuman. The notion of black people carrying “the curse of Ham” has a long history.

    ETA: The notion of the church==the nation is not limited to the US by any means. I remember hearing Korea Christians tell me that North Koreans had the problems that they did because Kim Il-sung rejected the teachings of his Christian evangelist parents and the nation was being punished because he “rejected God.”

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  75. Matt Bernius says:

    @Paul L.:
    Thanks for posting both paragraphs. If I remember the last time you only posted the first one.

    BTW, I was a a$$hole and showed up for and watched the earlier hearing for my niece’s hearing even when my lawyer delayed my heading.

    I’m struggling a bit to understand why that makes you an asshole. Or why you are frustrated about the delay in your hearing–what was the reason for your lawyer’s delay?

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