Here are six things that could change the 2020 presidential race

WASHINGTON – With 98 days to go until the election, Joe Biden has a bigger and more lasting advantage over President Trump than Hillary Clinton had in 2016, particularly in key battlefield states.

But that does not mean that the race is guaranteed to remain stable for the next three months. Here are six upcoming events and possible stories that could move the numbers.

  1. Biden’s VP Selection: With the Democratic convention approaching, so does Biden’s running mate selection. Not since LBJ has a VP selection did he really help win a presidential race, but bad choices have failed (see: Palin, Sarah). And as we’ve written, Biden’s favorite / unfavorable numbers are soft on African Americans and younger voters.
  2. Virtual Conventions: Given the increased polarization in the country, the days of big bounces after the convention are probably over, and that’s especially true during a pandemic. Still, the conventions will consist of two weeks of speeches to sell each party’s ticket.
  3. Will the economic and coronavirus numbers improve, worsen, or stay the same? These could be the most important statistics to watch in the next three months. It’s the basics, stupid.
  4. The debates (or will they take place?): That Notre Dame has become the last university campus to retire as the venue for the debate during the pandemic is an ominous sign. The same goes for the fact that the Trump camp appears to be still negotiating over the debates.
  5. Another October surprise? James Comey’s letter in the last two weeks of the 2016 election is proof that events at the end of a presidential race can move numbers.
  6. How the 2020 vote is told: This could be the most important story of all, especially in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Are there long lines? Disputes over mail ballots? Delays in the postal service? Fraud and abuse allegations? And how long does it take to count the ballots?

Expect fireworks at Barr’s audience today

As of 10:00 am ET, Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. And just from Barr’s opening statement, it looks like it will be a combative audience.

“Since I made it clear that I was going to do everything possible to get to the bottom of the serious abuses involved in the false ‘Russiagate’ scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have tried to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the fact of the President who eliminates criminal cases according to his instructions, “Barr is expected to say, according to his prepared comments.

(So ​​Barr believes that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election; that the Trump campaign did not expect that it would benefit from the interference; and that Roger Stone did not contact Russian intelligence in ’16?)

It will say this about African Americans killed by police: “According to statistics compiled by the Washington Post, the number of unarmed black men killed by police so far this year is 8. The number of unarmed white men killed by police during the same time the period is 11. “

(13% of the population of the United States is black; 60% is white).

And Barr will say this about the protests in Portland: “What takes place every night around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States. “

Downloading data: the numbers you need to know today

4,317,028: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the latest data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 59,724 more cases than yesterday morning).

149,500: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,679 more than yesterday morning.)

52.25 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers from the COVID Monitoring Project.

68 percent: The proportion of Americans who say they always wear a protective mask when they leave home and can meet other people, according to a new NBC News follow-up survey | SurveyMonkey.

$ 1 billion: The amount of the coronavirus relief package unveiled yesterday by Republicans as benefits will expire in a few days.

Two: The number of Major League Baseball games postponed last night after Miami Marlins team members tested positive for the virus.

Conversation Policy with Benjy: Where’s my shot?

Even though there are signs that a vaccine may be within reach, some experts are concerned that Americans will become complacent in hopes that a miracle drug will rescue our coronavirus response, writes Benjy Sarlin of NBC. Even in the best-case scenario where a vaccine is approved by the end of the year, it can take months to distribute, and many things can go wrong along the way.

A new report by the Center for American Progress urges the federal government to prepare early for everything from making enough glass vials (to store the vaccine) to opening a network of community health clinics (to administer it) to run a campaign. PSA (to convince people to receive it, which polls suggest many Americans may be reluctant to do).

“I think there will finally be a vaccine that at least partially works. So it is important to prepare for that eventuality, ”Topher Spiro, CAP vice president of health policy and co-author of the report, told NBC News. “It will take a while to defend some of these things.”

The report, of course, assumes that we found an effective vaccine. But some experts, including a senior pharmaceutical CEO, caution that we need a Plan B in case the next phase of trials reaches a difficult point or the first approved vaccines are only partially effective.

Ben Kamisar’s Ad Watch

Today’s Ad Watch takes a look at a new Giffords PAC ad, which is getting into the Colorado Senate race with a $ 1.25 million television ad campaign against Cory Gardner.

The first announcement in that Colorado campaign frames Gardner as more concerned with staying with Trump than with helping Colorado families deal with gun violence, beating up the Republican in a state that has seen tragic mass shootings in recent years and that has given Trump low marks.

NBC learned that the announcement (to be released today through the end of next month on broadcast and cable) is part of at least $ 7.5 million that Giffords PAC plans to spend these general elections to play in top-down races on the ballot. and the message on the prevention of armed violence.

Read more on the MTP blog later this morning about the push.

Tweet of the day

Here’s what’s in the Senate Republican Relief Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the Republican Party Coronavirus Relief Package on Monday, and includes a $ 400 cut in the weekly federal unemployment benefit. If enacted, the $ 200 fixed benefit would last two months until states transition to a wage replacement system. Essentially, states would have two months to create. A system that would give unemployed people 70 percent of their wages.

The bill also includes $ 105 billion for schools, liability protections, and another round of direct payments for Americans. You can read more about it here.

However, at a particularly awkward moment, McConnell seemed to ignore some of the components of the bill. When asked by our Hill team why there is new money for a new FBI headquarters on the bill ($ 1.75 billion), McConnell replied, “I’m not sure it is, am I?” After confirmation by a staff member, McConnell said there were provisions in the bill as a starting point with the Trump administration.

But negotiations with Democrats will likely not be as smooth as including construction provisions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill was “a half-hearted legislative proposal.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world?

The Trump administration is sending more federal agents to Portland.

Trump’s announcement, and the subsequent cancellation, of launching a first pitch at Yankee Stadium came as a surprise to the team.

Susan Collins will vote against Trump’s election to the Fed board.

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien tested positive for coronavirus.

The New York Times reviews Trump’s story of mourning others.

Politician writes that Trump has a big problem with voters who are the core of his base: the white working class.

How real is Susan Rice’s buzz by veep?