382 Comments
May 16, 2023·edited May 17, 2023

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Sykes: "Naturally, Ruy Teixeira provides a sobering counterpoint along with his usual tough love. . . . He starts with the assumption that the GOP will nominate Trump and offers five (!) reasons why Biden might still lose. You probably don’t want to read this, but you should anyway . . . ."

No, don't read Republican apologist Teixeira unless vyou also read JVL's critique thereof

JVL: "Ruy Teixeira tried to make this point yesterday with a column outlining reasons Biden could lose. Charlie linked to it this morning, but I want to push back a bit on Ruy’s reasoning.

"His premise is correct: Biden could lose to Trump. Or to DeSantis. Or any other Republican.

"But Ruy’s reasoning strikes me as not quite on-point. He gives five reasons Trump could win:

"1 Biden really is an extraordinarily weak candidate.

"2 Trump may be a stronger opponent than Democrats expect.

"3 Biden and the Democrats have not moved to the center on cultural issues.

"4 Abortion may not be the silver bullet many Democrats assume it will be in 2024.

"5 There is a working-class sized hole in Biden’s re-elect strategy.

"I like Ruy, but with respect . . . "

Ruy Teixeira is full of stuff, including straw men, disingenuousness, assumption of facts not in evidence -- I especially take issue with his misapprehensions of the culture wars and what Americans want in that context

(This is me saying this, not JVL)

One of Teixeira's beloved first principles seems to be that Democrats must move to the social/cultural right -- imo however Dems must fight harder against Republican (and fellow traveler) lies and bad faith arguments

JVL's five reasons are more firmly and sanely based than Teixeira's

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Heard not a word from him on that during Ron’s last re-election campaign. Not a word. Maybe you can provide me where he did DURING RON’s LAST RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN, which is what I stated. I’m certainly open to you finding that.

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founding

Listened to podcast this morning. Excellent; especially liked the observation of only 2 publications covering Proud Boy trials. Glad Lawfare is there, and looking forward to their informed coverage. Thanks, Charlie, for making this a regular podcast.

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Nicki Haley…remember wayyy back when politicians didn’t talk about other potential competitors dying as a campaign tool?

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Charlie,

Great newsletter and congratulations on the new podcast!

I usually don't comment on newsletters but I feel compelled to do so here because I believe that Teixeira's analysis is, to put it bluntly, wrong. I won't pretend that Biden is invulnerable--far from it--but I do think it's worth noting that most of the data we have shows that Biden is very well positioned to beat Trump again and starts off as a clear, close-to-heavy favorite against the twice-impeached former president. I'd like to address his argument specifically as it pertains to Biden's approval ratings:

Biden is an extraordinarily *strong* candidate.

Most of Teixeira's analysis focuses on Biden's approval ratings, a point a lot of other pundits have touched on when trying to paint Biden as a vulnerable incumbent. There is both a qualitative and quantitative case against this. First, in my opinion, approval ratings are no longer as indicative of candidate strength as they used to be (Trump had historically low approval ratings and nearly won reelection; Biden had awful approval ratings and still saw his party have one of the best midterm performances in modern history). It is my belief that the 2016 election and the unexpected chaos it unleashed into the body politic fundamentally changed the rules of the game, and the Trump years left Americans of every race, religion, and creed less trustful of their government and more dissatisfied with their political leaders. To me, Biden's low approval ratings are more indicative of a general dissatisfaction with our political moment (with Biden--the elected head of our government--being a focal point for voter dissatisfaction) than they are of a general dislike of the president. Are voter thrilled with him? Certainly not, but that's different from hating the guy and not being willing to vote for him. More importantly, Biden's current approval ratings exist in a vacuum at the moment. When voters are asked "do you approve of President Biden," it's easy to answer that as an up or down referendum on his leadership. In the spring of 2024, however, when that same question is asked, voters are more likely to see it not as a question of Biden's personal performance, but instead as a measure of their approval *relative to the alternative.* In other words, I expect him to get a bit of bump when Trump officially wins the nomination.

Put aside my own personal opinions though and look at the data we have from the past few cycles. Biden's approval ratings have been hovering around the low-to-mid 40s for most of his presidency. With approval ratings like that, you'd expect the president's party to suffer a midterm wipeout along the lines of 2010--Biden and the Democrats did not. Instead, they held Republicans to a draw in Congress (losing seven seats in the House but netting a seat in the Senate) and arguably won the midterms at the state level (dems only lost one incumbent governor in Nevada; flipped three gubernatorial seats in AZ, MD, and MA; and they established *four* new state-based trifectas in MI, MD, MA, and MN).

How did dems do this? By winning independent voters who historically vote against the president's party by double digits. Democrats narrowly beat out Republicans among voters who identified as independents by two points, the first time the president's party has won independent voters in a midterm in quite some time, according to an exit poll from CNN. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Democrats *won* voters who somewhat disapproved of Biden by four points, according to another exit poll from NBC. To put in perspective how amazing those numbers are, consider that independent voters broke for Democrats by 18 and 12 points in 2006 and 2018 (respectively), while breaking for Republicans by 19 and 12 points in 2010 and 2014 (respectively), for a cumulative average of 15.25 points in favor of the opposition party since 2006. Sure, we can chalk *some* of that up to the Dobbs decision, but even with that, Dems shouldn't have defied political gravity by over 17 points.

But, one may say, all this proves is that while individual Democrats may be popular, we can't say the same about the president himself. Fair enough, but I don't think this opinion is supported by the data. If we roughly approximate an individual's view of a "generic Democrat" by looking at the approval of the Democratic Party, we find that a generic dem would actually be *less* popular than president Biden (Biden has a net positive approval of 0.3, while the Democratic Party has a net negative approval rating of -0.2, according to YouGov's weekly tracking poll). What this seems to suggest is that voters aren't seeing a lot of distance between Biden and rank-and-file Dems, or--put another way--there's no reason to assume Biden will perform worse than Democratic senatorial, gubernatorial, or congressional candidates. How do we know this? Because voters really aren't voting *for* Democrats so much as they're voting *against* Republicans. Biden's approval may not be fantastic, and I would take Roy's arguments more seriously in a pre-January 6th world, but it's truly hard to imagine that the reasons why voters rejected Republicans in November--abortion, election denial, J6, Trump--won't still be around in two years. You also simply cannot mention Biden's low approval ratings without stating that--as bad as his are--Trump's are even worse, with the former president's approval falling as low as 25% in a ABC News/IPSOS poll.

Yes, Trump could win in 2024, but let's not let the trauma of the 2016 election keep us from seeing the clear reality of this current political moment: Joe Biden is favored to win reelection, and will likely exceed his 2020 margin by half a point or more.

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I dissent with everything he wrote .

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I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know whether Trump's lawyers DIDN'T or COULDN'T file a motion for stay on Pence testifying. I figure if Trump's lawyers had anticipated the appeals court denying their motion for executive privilege, they would have been ready to file an emergency motion with SCOTUS. As in, they would have filed Wednesday evening. I can't see a vexatious litigant like Trump not wanting to pursue this all the way, so it seems to me Trump is enjoying the fruits of engaging lawyers desperate or foolish enough to work for him.

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That's what 1 % will do for you.

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Definitely clears your head!

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Hi Charlie. I'm a life long Democratic but I've followed the Bulwark since it's founding and even read The Weekly Standard before that. Grateful that the Bulwark had opened my political lense so that I evaluate events with more nuance and attention to all sides of the issues. Love your guests and always listen to your show and learn something. But Ruy Treixeira? No! I've listened to him several times and don't think he adds to the conversation for all the reasons others commenters here are amply explaining.

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Let's hope she can learn some compassion.

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If you mean Haley, that's the kind of remark that it should be as impossible to come back from as it is to walk back.

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Teixeira's inclusion of the RCP Average as a data point needs to be called out. RCP is STILL including Rasmussen polling to come up with it's average, and as anyone who looked at their work in the 2022 midterms knows, their polls were thinly veiled bullshit. He missed some races by more than 10 points. I take anything that references a Rasmussen poll -- even obliquely -- with a massive grain of salt. Second, the idea that there are "cultural extremists" in both parties is a load. Only one party is currently trying to outlaw my family.

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founding

I’m gonna keep saying it until someone starts saying it out loud.....I think that we are over hyping Biden’s pending “death sentence” and forgetting that Trump, who is likely going to be his opponent will be 77 in 2 months and lives on McDonalds cheeseburgers! Let’s try to stay focused and compare apples to apples!

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Thanks! That fact gets ignored by press and pundits alike even more often than Joe Biden's accomplishments.

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When we compare 2016 to 2024 let’s make sure we include an incumbent, three lost election cycles, January 6, indictments, and Dobbs.

Factoring all that in means there’s no comparison.

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I'm in my 70s and I find Nikki Haley's comment about Mr Biden's age offensive. I guess she feels that being a target of Don Lemon regarding being past her prime gives her license to be as insulting to others regarding age as she wants, but this is just an obvious example of hypocrisy. I would like to see her castigated for this, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Haley can't be fired for her ageist statement, but I'd wager that her standings in the primary ranks won't get any sort of boost, even a minimal one, especially from the Boomers like me. (I had no intention of giving her my vote in the Primaries - nor to TFG or DeSantis either - anyway.)

Haley, like the rest of the MAGA crowd, can get bent. She is, and they all are, disgusting examples of the "new conservatism." The Republican Party, and its conservative wing, are now dead and buried by the Trumpettes.

fnord

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Ron DeSantis is much younger than Biden, but he has already successfully become a racist, sexist, sadistic fascist. Age is not a qualification, plus or minus.

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I agree that age is not a qualification, nor do I say that in my comment. In fact, I state that her ageist attack is hypocritical, and I also believe a cheap shot. Mental acuity is much more important than physical age, and in that regard I believe that TFG is senile and that DeSantis suffers from some serious undiagnosed mental illness, while Biden still has his wits about him - despite occasional screw-ups when he speaks.

fnord

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Apr 28, 2023·edited Apr 28, 2023

About twice a month at least, Charlie will ask us to read/listen to Teixeira's "tough love", which usually is pulling at "Democratic" straws while completely being blind to "Republican" reality. Of course, we are also reminded that Teixeira is himself a democrat and we should hence pay attention. Somebody needs to take a hint and it is not Biden or the Bulwark readers.

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