It’s off-the-charts bananas that he’s talking this way two days before the first debate, knowing that Democrats are planning to spend the next month scaring voters into believing Amy Coney Barrett will soon nuke coverage for preexisting conditions. This is the left’s entire closing argument for the presidential election, that ObamaCare’s a goner if she’s confirmed — and it’s coming out of the president’s own mouth.
It’d be like Biden suddenly tweeting that, come to think of it, he *does* support riots and Antifa.
There’s a nonzero chance that Biden’s going to warn 90 million people on Tuesday night that the new Supreme Court is about to kill the Affordable Care Act and Trump will turn to the camera and say, “Correct.”
The inevitable reply from Biden will be that if there’s a better, cheaper alternative, it’s strange that Republicans haven’t been able to produce it after 10 years of trying. To try to protect himself from that charge, Trump was reduced to issuing an executive order last week that amounts to little more than a press release that he supports continued coverage for preexisting conditions. The order has no practical effect; if the Court nukes O-Care, insurers would be free to start denying that coverage again. “It would be richly deserved if GOP electoral hopes collapse because of an interaction between their abstract belief that Obamacare is unconstitutional and should be struck down and their utter failure to produce a strategy for dealing with the resulting fallout,” observed Peter Spiliakos of NRO.
When I say this is the left’s entire closing argument for the election, I’m not exaggerating. Chuck Schumer made it official yesterday:
Chuck Schumer has some simple advice for how to take down Amy Coney Barrett: Talk about “health care, health care, health care.”…
“All the data show that with COVID raging, the number one priority for the American people is health care — its affordability, accessibility and quality,” Schumer said in the Dear Colleague note to other Democratic senators, obtained by POLITICO. “We must focus like a laser on health care because Judge Barrett’s record is so clear on this issue.”…
“Given Senate Republicans‘ monomaniacal drive to fill this vacancy as quickly as possible, the best way to defend those rights is a bipartisan majority that will refuse to vote on a Supreme Court nominee before the election,” Schumer said. “This will not happen on its own. It requires public pressure on Senate Republicans. Health care remains the best way to keep the pressure up.”
It’s weird but true that the chances of Roe being overturned are now greater than they’ve been since 1992 and yet that’s *not* Democrats’ top objection to Barrett’s nomination. That’s how confident they are that the threat to ObamaCare is a political winner for them.
I’ll never understand why Trump insists on embracing positions which he has every reason to know will hurt him at the polls. My best guess is that he’s completely bought into his own “silent majority” rhetoric and believes that, no matter what the polls say and no matter how successful Democratic House candidates were in 2018, his positions on issues are the secret preference of a majority of Americans. Admittedly, if you watched Fox News for 10 hours a day, you might reasonably reach that conclusion too. But in reality, it would leave you in a position like this:
How Trump's base first appeals have backfired https://t.co/C1TlC5KXl6 You see it well in this AM's ABC/WaPo poll. He's doing much better with conservatives than in 2016, but doing significantly worse w/ liberals/moderates. The result? Losing by a lot more now overall than in 2016 pic.twitter.com/mdfsK9aqqv
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) September 27, 2020
The poll suggests that Mr. Trump would reap little political benefit from a clash over abortion rights: 56 percent said they would be less likely to vote for Mr. Trump if his justice would help overturn Roe v. Wade, while just 24 percent said they would be more inclined to vote for him…
The poll shows that 71 percent of independents said abortion should be legal all or most of the time, and even 31 percent of Republicans said the same. Only 33 percent of the country said the procedure should be illegal all or most of the time…
Fifty-seven percent of voters, including nearly two-thirds of independents, said they supported the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era law that Mr. Trump’s administration is seeking to overturn in the Supreme Court…
Americans oppose Mr. Trump’s policy preferences on the pandemic by significant margins: Two-thirds of voters said they would support a national mask mandate, while 63 percent said they would support new lockdowns to fight a second wave of the disease if public health experts recommend them.
In Trump’s defense, he didn’t have much room to maneuver on the Ginsburg vacancy. Appointing pro-life justices is the reason much of his base stuck with him; he can’t abandon that now just because centrists are leery of seeing Roe overturned. But he can certainly stop advertising the fact that he thinks his new pick is going to blow up ObamaCare, just like he can certainly finesse his rhetoric on masks and lockdowns to seem a little more in sync with wary voters whose support he needs.
Perhaps relatedly, both the Times national poll and a new NBC poll of Michigan and Wisconsin find majorities want the winner of the election to fill Ginsburg’s seat. That’s probably not a big problem for Trump, as voters are more evenly divided on what the Senate should do now that Trump has made the pick anyway:
NYT/Siena Poll: “If Donald Trump selects a nominee for the Supreme Court before the election, do you think the Senate should or should not act?”
47% of voters say Senate should act.
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) September 27, 2020
It’s also possible if not probable that Barrett will prove so impressive and sympathetic during her confirmation hearing that voters who’d prefer to let the electorate decide who gets to fill this seat will soften on that position. But the numbers at this early stage aren’t great. Nationally, 56 percent want the next president to fill the seat versus 41 percent who want Trump to do it now; among women, independents, and college-educated whites, all groups that he needs to make inroads with, 60 percent or more wanted to let the election decide who makes the pick. In Michigan the split on that question was 54/42 overall and in Wisconsin it was 56/42. I doubt that him choosing Barrett will convince anyone who’s on the fence to support Biden, but it may be that someone who’s already leaning Biden will treat it as just one more reason not to give Trump a second look. And he badly needs that second look: He trails by eight in Michigan and by 10 in Wisconsin, according to NBC.
So here he is this morning, gleefully speculating in the middle of a pandemic that ObamaCare insurance might soon be “terminated.” Makes no sense. I bet there were audible groans from Senate Republicans when they saw his tweet.
One last point. Polling over the last few months suggests that Michigan and Wisconsin are the toughest “holds” for Trump this year among the swing states he won in 2016. If NBC’s numbers are accurate, they may be starting to slip away. If that’s so, it would mean Trump’s realistic best-case scenario for electoral votes this fall is 280. (He could go higher if he gets a pick-up opportunity in Nevada or Minnesota, but those states increasingly seem like a stretch too.) That would mean Biden would need merely to flip any one of Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, or Florida to win the presidency. Flipping Arizona plus any other red battleground, including Iowa, or even just the Second Districts in Maine or Nebraska would also get him to 270. Trump needs some movement back towards him in MI or WI or else his chances start to look very precarious.