Two columns on different aspects of our ubiquitous president…. (Link to full column embedded in headlines.)

Trump’s new Supreme Court list is semi-cynical mixed bag (Sept. 9): At first glance, President Trump’s expanded list of potential Supreme Court nominees is as much a political ploy as a serious list of qualified nominees and is thus less admirable and less helpful than his list’s earlier iterations.

This doesn’t mean it’s a bad list, nor does it mean that it’s not a good political move. The more attention is focused on judges, the more it will be to Trump’s benefit and Joe Biden’s detriment. Without rehashing more than a decade worth of polling and analysis, suffice it to say that the issue of judges, at least on a slight net basis, motivates more voters for conservatives and Republicans than for liberals and Democrats….

Trump’s misbehavior makes some of us ask ‘what if’ (Sept. 7): Amid a spate of new reports painting President Trump in a highly unflattering light, the question keeps gnawing at some of us: If Trump withdrew from his reelection race, how would another Republican running in his place be polling?

My sense, based on more than four decades of close attention to presidential politics, is that Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, or Kristi Noem would be running neck and neck with Joe Biden rather than an average of about 8 points behind.

There’s no way to prove it, of course. Even the attempt to convince people, by extrapolating from existing polls and other evidence, would rely on such subjective interpretations as to be not worth the hassle. The effort would reinforce the opinions of those who already believe as much, but the arguments would be just as quickly dismissed by those who think Trump is uniquely a winner.

What cannot be denied is that there’s a hard core of people who might otherwise be open to voting for a Republican but who will never, ever vote for Trump. They find him too divisive, too destructive to support. There are plenty of others unenthused about Biden and who might thus just stay home from voting but whose antipathy to Trump may push them to the ballot box for the Democrat after all. Polls do consistently show that an inordinate number, even a majority of likely Biden voters say their expected vote is more against Trump than for Biden….


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