OnTheissues excerpts political biographies to discover candidates' issue stances.
Full-length books allow candidates to provide more substance and context than shorter TV-oriented and newspaper-excerpted blurbs
-- we include both the longer and the shorter versions on candidate pages so that voters can read the summary blubr and then the details with more context.
Following is our current crop of political biographies excerpted in early 2021 -- we'll add similar crops every few months in the lead-up to upcoming elections.
In this crop, we focus on retrospectives of the 2020 presidential race (three books on the Trump Administration); analyses of the Biden administration (two books); biogrpahies of candiadtes for 2022 (one book now, with more to follow); and philosophical underpinnings of current campaigns (two books).
Our book excerpts are intended to not only to provide issue-based excerpts, but also to give readers a flavor of the book in question, for which we include brief book reviews focused on helping voters decide if they'd like to read the full book.
President Biden's Cabinet appointments are mostly finalized; today former Florida Senator Bill Nelson was sworn in as NASA Administrator. The final list appears below -- actual Cabinet posts on the left; and Cabinet-level positions on the right.
President Biden made his first address to a joint session of Congress (technically not a "State of the Union" speech, since the Constitution requires reporting on the past year after each year of service -- but everyone calls is that anyway). We excerpt Biden's speech; the official Republican Party response by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC); plus other commentary to follow:
There are only three states holding gubernatorial races in 2021, NJ, VA, and CA.
California is a "recall election" which requires 1.5 million signatures on a "recall petition" -- sufficient signatures were submitted by the March 17 deadline but the results are yet to be certified; then an election date will be set.
In Rhode Island, the next gubernatorial election is November 2022 -- but the incumbent Governor got appointed to President Biden's Cabinet, so the Lieutenant Governor got seated, upending the 2022 race just as it's getting started.
Two races in Georgia will determine control of Senate
Georgia had two Senate races in 2020, and in neither race did a candidate get over 50% of the vote.
Under Georgia election law, a runoff will occur on Jan. 5th, 2021, with the top two vote-getters from each race.
Right now, the election results yield 48 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate.
-- with Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker, the two Georgia seats will determine majority control of the Senate.
The party with majority control of the Senate determines all the Senate committee chairs, and thereby sets the agenda for all of 2021-2022.
Hence "all eyes on Georgia" until Jan. 5.
Below is our coverage of the Georgia Senate elections and the coming runoffs -- the winners of the Nov. 3 election, who are in the runoff for Jan. 5, are marked.
Regularly-scheduled election for 6-year Senate term (candidates shown with party affiliation and percentage of November vote):
We predict that Joe Biden will win in a landslide, but not on Election Night.
We further predict that polling will be vindicated after the travesty of incorrect polls in Nov 2016, with caveats. Details below....
ON ELECTION NIGHT: We predict Biden will end the evening ahead by 175-123 on Nov. 3 -- those are the dark blue and dark red states in our prediction map above.
No victory will be declared on Nov. 3, because not enough states will have finished counting ballots for either candidate to reach the minimum 270 electoral votes for victory.
ON ELECTION VICTORY: The light blue and light red states, we predict, will all be decided in the days following the election -- some by Nov. 4, and some as late as Nov 9, due to COVID slowing the ballot counting.
Biden should reach the threshold 270 electoral votes sometime around Friday, Nov. 6. In the intervening three days, the presidency will be uncertain -- we describe that "interregnum" below.
ON POLLING: Our prediction is based on polls (like everyone else's), with exceptions detailed below.
The pollsters claim to have "fixed" the problems with polling from November 2016, and we have studied their methods and believe them.
If they're wrong again, like in 2016, it means polling cannot be fixed.
DARK BLUE: Biden leads in the polls by 5% or more in several polls in these states. If any of these are inaccurate, it means the polls were grossly wrong -- and should never be trusted, ever again.
LIGHT BLUE: Biden leads in the polls by 2% or more in several polls in these states, or there are exception in our list below (for TX, FL, and GA).
DARK RED: Trump leads, and Biden stopped campaigning in these states. Two exceptions are Maine and Nebraska, both of which split their electoral votes -- Trump might lose a couple of electoral votes there.
LIGHT RED: Too close to call. We predict these will go to Trump because of "shy voter syndrome": Trump supporters are reluctant to tell the truth to pollsters because they consider pollsters to be anti-Trump.
ON EXCEPTIONS: We make three state predictions that bend the rules above, all based on extra campaigning done on the Democratic side. These three states are all "too close too call", so we're calling them for Biden because....
GA:Stacey Abrams has worked for two years on registering black voters (who typically vote 90% Dem. to 10% GOP) in Georgia, after the stolen election of 2018.
Pollsters cannot count newly-registered voters when they are unexpectedly registered -- they have to use the previous election's expectations -- so thousands of new voters are ignored in the polls.
TX:Beto O'Rourke has worked for months near Texas' southern border, registering new Latino voters (including many former Mexicans or people with family in Mexico), another under-represented community.
This group is pro-Democrat too, and all the more so because of Trump's demonization of Mexicans and immigrants in general.
FL:Mike Bloomberg has spent $100 million on TV advertising in Florida in favor of Biden. That spending will turn out many young people and other polling groups under-represented in traditional polling.
ON ELECTION LATE-NIGHT: If you see TX, GA, and FL declared for Trump late on Nov. 3, then Trump will win the whole election overwhelmingly. Biden still has enough to win without those three -- it would be 305-233 in Biden's favor -- but it means the polls are all wrong, and our analysis is all wrong, and it's 2016 all over again.
If you see TX, GA, or FL (any of the three) declared for Biden late on Nov. 3, then Biden will win overwhelmingly. This is the scenario we predict as the most likely.
If neither of those overwhelming scenarios occurs, then there will be no winner reaching 270 electoral votes for several days, and America will suffer an "interregnum", a period where America's leadership is undetermined...
ON INTERREGNUM:: Awaiting an outcome of the presidential race is dangerous in the current political climate. If no winner is decided on Nov. 3 or early Nov. 4, we predict a period of civil unrest until a winner is declared, which could be days or even weeks.
Recall the interregnum of November-to-December 2000, when Al Gore and George W. Bush fought in the courts for the presidency while the country waited with bated breath.
We don't foresee Trump's supporters holding their breath while courts slowly proceed -- we foresee them taking to the streets instead-- hence our prediction of civil unrest until a decisive outcome.
In both those cases, the governor is from the same party as the Senator for whom he'd be appointing a replacement. In the following cases, the governor and Senator are from opposing parties -- which means these appointments would change the partisan balance in the Senate:
The third debate between Biden and Trump included new rules by the Commission on Presidential Debates to mute the microphones.
When one candidate is initially asked a question, the microphone of the opposing candidate is muted for two minutes, to allow an uninterrupted response.
This new rule responds to the first debate's constant speaking over each other (most of which did NOT occur during the "uninterrupted response" time).
The debate took place at Belmont University, in Nashville TN. The moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC, chose six topics:
Race in America
Leadership (which becamse the question, "What will say on inauguration day to those who voted against you?")
The Trump campaign requested a focus on foreign policy (which came up a few times, but not as a formal question)
OnTheIssues predictions for 35 Senate races: Democratic takeover, but not on Election Day!
The partisan balance in the United States Senate currently stands at 53 Republicans to 47 Democrats.
We predict a 3-round takeover of the Senate by the Democratic Party - round one on Nov. 3 (tie 50-50); round 2 around Nov. 10 (partisan split 52-48 in favor of the Dems); and round 3 on Jan. 5 (final partisan split 53-47, in the opposite direction from 2020).
We predict a net gain on Election Day of 3 seats for the Democrats, yielding a 50-50 partisan split.
Surprises might come in the following additional five races, which are too-close-to-call: AK, IA, KS, NC, SC
All five of the too-close-to-call races have Republican incumbents--the surprise would mean that the Democrats gain a majority of the Senate. We predict no surprise victory declarations on Election Day....
HOWEVER, the pandemic will cause slow election counting, and hence we predict that these five races will all take several days to decide the winner. We predict that TWO of the too-close-to-call races will result in a Democratic takeover, and hence a safe majority for the Democrats in the 2021 Senate, but not until aound Nov. 9th or Nov. 10th, and hence "all eyes on the Carolinas."
HOWEVER, we also predict that the Georgia "GA-2" Special Senate Election AND the regular "GA-6" Senate election will not be decided until a runoff on January 5. The Nov. 3 election is a "jungle primary" in which we predict no candidate will exceed 50%, so it'll be "all eyes on Georgia" for two months.
We predict a Democratic victory in ONE of these two seats (both have Republican incumbents now), because the people of Georgia will be influenced by the opportunity to have their Senator in the majority party.
Note that the Arizona race is also a special election; we predict that the Democrat will win, and will be seated for the lame-duck session of Congress. That would also apply to the Georgia special election, but we predict "no winner" until after the lame-duck session ends.
Note that the Lousiana race is also a "jungle primary", but we predict a clean Republican victory and hence no later runoff race, as we predict in Georgia.
The second debate between Biden and Trump was cancelled because the two sides could not agree on virus protective conditions after President Trump exited Walter Reed hospital for a coronavirus infection. Accordingly:
Vice President Biden participated in a Town Hall on ABC in Philadelphia, moderated by George Stephanopoulos.
President Trump participated in a Town Hall on NBC in Miami, moderated by Savannah Guthrie.
The "Dueling Town Halls" took place at the same time, on opposite TV networks.
When the two candidates addressed the same topic, we excerpted as if the two candidates were on the same stage, responding
The first debate was moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace, on Sept. 29, at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. Wallace selected the following topics for the first debate:
The Trump and Biden Records
The Supreme Court (and the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett)