Opinion | Trump Is Excited About These Three Things


“There simply won’t be much movement in the aggregate,” he added. “This means that even small things on the margin could end up mattering a lot.”

Levendusky, in contrast to some others I have quoted here, suggests that despite a difficult set of issues, Biden may be stronger than expected:

In a normal year, Biden would be in real trouble. But Trump brings his own unique issues as well, especially this year. He’s a uniquely mobilizing factor for Democrats — they view him as an existential threat, and his indictments may well drag down support among key groups he needs to win back in order to secure the White House.

In the case of Trump’s indictments, Levendusky argues that “the core of Trump’s base is unlikely to be moved, but more marginal voters are a different story.” If these “wavering Republicans or independent voters are in key states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, etc., that will be extremely damaging to Trump.”

Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at Princeton who has written extensively about crime, argued in an email that Biden can make the case that he has a better record on fighting gun violence and crime than is widely recognized:

Candidate Trump will undoubtedly paint a portrait of urban America as lawless, dangerous, and disorderly, just as he did in 2016. That said, President Biden has a strong case to make that he has done more than any recent president to address gun violence.

Gun violence, Sharkey wrote,

began to skyrocket in the summer of 2020, when former President Trump was in office. Since that point, the level of violence has plateaued, and so far in 2023 the vast majority of U.S. cities have seen sharp declines in homicides and shootings.

While the Republican Party, Sharkey continued,

has railed against the Department of Justice and largely ignored the Jan. 6 assault on U.S. Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department officers, the Biden administration has invested additional federal funding in law enforcement while also using federal funds to support Community Violence Intervention programs, which, even if the funding was nowhere near sufficient, represents a historic expansion of the federal government’s approach to addressing violent crime. The passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is the first major federal legislation to address guns in decades.

A potential problem with Sharkey’s analysis is that in contemporary campaigns, especially those involving Donald Trump, it’s not at all clear that substance matters.

Few, if any, have put it better than retired Marine General John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, who on Oct. 2 expressed to CNN his frustration over seeing his ex-boss far ahead in the competition for the nomination:

What can I add that has not already been said? A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all “suckers” because “there is nothing in it for them.” A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “it doesn’t look good for me.’”A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are “losers” and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.

Kelly continued:

A person who is not truthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women. A person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about. … A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law.

“There is nothing more that can be said,” Kelly concluded. “God help us.”

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