Loose Ends (117)

A few stray items for Saturday afternoon ruminations. . .

M. Stanton Evans, writing about The New Yorker, circa 1961: “No other journal so elegantly combines the comforts of privilege with the glamor of dissent.” Some things never change.

As your deep cover operative behind enemy lines in academia, I had the opportunity yesterday to see some deep-in-the-weeds survey data (not to be confused with the daily horserace polls) some left-leaning political scientists are hawking at the moment. Among the interesting findings:

—Young voters ages 18 – 30 are heavily for Joe Biden, by a 2 to 1 margin or more. But there are questions as to how strongly they will turn out. Young voters tend to turn out somewhat weakly, except when a candidate excites them, as Obama did in 2008. Is there much excitement for Biden among youth? Hatred of Trump may be sufficient, but this is a large unknown variable. Add to this the displacement of students from their campus environment where some may be registered and where get-out-the-vote efforts are more easily organized in normal times, and I can easily see a light turnout from young voters.

—Early votes cast already supposedly favor Biden (assuming respondents are being truthful with surveyors that they have in fact cast their ballots), but of people saying they intend to vote in person on election day, Trump is ahead almost 3 to 1 in some states. My conclusion: Trump is going to win a landslide among votes cast on election day. But with more than 50 million votes or more being cast by mail, even a small lead may disappear in the week after, depending on how the vote count goes. (More on this point here.)

—Even among black voters who say they approve of Trump’s job performance, more than half intend to vote for Biden, reflecting the deep loyalty of black voters for the Democratic Party. Once again the question is enthusiasm and turnout. There is not much enthusiasm for Biden among black voters; will dislike of Trump be a sufficient motivator for marginal black voters? Another imponderable.

—Bottom line: the political scientists I listened to believe Biden is ahead, but are terrified of a rerun of 2016. 

The stock market continues to be twitchy, though it is holding up fairly well in general terms. But I keep seeing the financial press, especially the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, saying that the markets will be glad when the election is over because it will end “uncertainty,” and moreover that Wall Street is copacetic about a Biden victory. This is wrongheaded in the extreme: If Biden wins, the uncertainty will just be getting started. How much of Biden’s tax hike plan will get enacted, and will a Democratic Congress make it worse and even more punitive? What kind of regulation might we get from Treasury Secretary Elizabeth Warren and EPA administrator Mary Nichols? What kind of health care regulation will be get from HHS Secretary Wretched Gwitmer?

• A blast from the past: Politico magazine did a big feature on “Biden, Inc” in August 2019 that is obviously relevant to the present moment but is strangely forgotten. Here are the opening graphs:

The day the Bidens took over Paradigm Global Advisors was a memorable one.

In the late summer of 2006 Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Joe’s younger brother, James, purchased the firm. On their first day on the job, they showed up with Joe’s other son, Beau, and two large men and ordered the hedge fund’s chief of compliance to fire its president, according to a Paradigm executive who was present.

After the firing, the two large men escorted the fund’s president out of the firm’s midtown Manhattan office, and James Biden laid out his vision for the fund’s future. “Don’t worry about investors,” he said, according to the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation. “We’ve got people all around the world who want to invest in Joe Biden.”

At the time, the senator was just months away from both assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and launching his second presidential bid. According to the executive, James Biden made it clear he viewed the fund as a way to take money from rich foreigners who could not legally give money to his older brother or his campaign account. “We’ve got investors lined up in a line of 747s filled with cash ready to invest in this company,” the executive remembers James Biden saying.

At this, the executive recalled, Beau Biden, who was then running for attorney general of Delaware, turned bright red. He told his uncle, “This can never leave this room, and if you ever say it again, I will have nothing to do with this.”

Read the whole thing, as the saying goes.

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