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Trump's rallies make no political sense. Here's why he does them anyway. – CNN



Instead of projecting newfound empathy and sobriety, Trump has flaunted his recklessness at packed, mostly maskless campaign rallies. That gleeful abandon, as he bleeds support from voters fearing he hasn’t taken the pandemic seriously, makes no political sense.
But it makes perfect emotional sense for a President who craves the applause of a zealous minority. His hunger for affirmation explains much about his conduct of the presidency — and why it may soon come to an end.
Trump won the White House by eking out an Electoral College majority on the strength of a narrow but intense support base among less-educated White conservatives. He lost the popular vote, and became the first president in the era of modern polling never to reach 50% approval.
Nor has Trump seriously tried to broaden his appeal. Even after a wrenching midterm election defeat in 2018, he refused to temper his vitriolic style or hard-right approach to issues from immigration to taxation to health care to the environment.
He prefers the safety and comfort of audiences that already embrace him over the uncertainty and risk of encountering those who don’t. As President, he has visited West Virginia, which he won in 2016 by 42 percentage points, eight times. By the tally of CBS White House Correspondent and real-time historian Mark Knoller, that’s the same number of visits as he’s made to California, which has a population 20 times larger but rejected him by 30 points.
Fighting from behind in his reelection campaign, Trump now lavishes attention on battleground states. But he still won’t moderate his message.
Once the pandemic shook Americans and shattered the economy, political prudence argued for an aggressive, focused federal response. Trump refused, indulging the reluctance of supporters who imagined it would mostly harm blue states but spare red ones.
Once racial justice protests mushroomed in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police, public sentiment favored a conciliatory approach. Trump chose “law and order” crackdowns pitched to the ire of blue-collar White supporters.
After institutions from NASCAR to the Pentagon shunned divisive Confederate emblems, accepting 21st-century racial sensibilities became a political no-brainer. Trump defiantly sheltered the prejudices of allies who fear change in a diversifying America.
While debating Democratic nominee Joe Biden at a moment when open racism represents the foremost taboo in contemporary society, Trump ducked an invitation to condemn White supremacists who back him. In his NBC town hall last week, Trump dared not even condemn the lunatic theories of QAnon adherents who have embraced his presidency from the deluded, extremist fringe.
In theory, that might reflect a considered strategy of turbocharging turnout among existing supporters when persuading other voters is fruitless. But Trump’s tactics have been so obviously self-defeating as to render that explanation insufficient. It also overlooks his propensity for impulsivity over planning.
“He doesn’t think strategically,” observed Tim O’Brien, one of Trump’s biographers, who served as an adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. “He’s completely visceral and reactive.”
In her recent book, Trump’s niece said a harsh family upbringing had left him with a “fragile ego” that drives him toward the cheers of a crowd. “He knows he has never been loved,” wrote Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist.
Two weeks ago, Trump left his sickbed and endangered his Secret Service detail simply to wave at supporters outside Walter Reed hospital from his limousine. Last week, he defied public health advice to stalk the campaign trail in Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Wisconsin.
If Trump stages a comeback in the dwindling days of the campaign, in-person rallies are unlikely to be the cause. Research shows that such events exert marginal, fleeting influence on the electorate. The preeminence of social media over local news coverage “suggests the effect will be even smaller in this cycle,” noted Thomas Wood, an Ohio State University political scientist who has advised Republican candidates.
Yet rallies provide psychic gratification Trump cannot find watching bleak television coverage of his presidency from the White House. Dancing to “YMCA,” slinging masks from the stage, modulating his voice like a vaudeville performer, he draws energy from his fans’ adoration.
In a year of violent discord, polls show a broad swath of Americans fear his truculence makes the country less safe. But his North Carolina crowd cheered his boast about the killing of a murder suspect by US Marshals.
Most Americans no longer believe him about the pandemic he downplayed from the start. But at his rallies, they do.
Most Americans heed Dr. Anthony Fauci, a fact campaign advisers have recognized by using the eminent scientist in ads against his will. At Trump’s rallies, supporters laugh as he mocks Fauci.
In Pennsylvania, he pleaded, “Suburban women, please like me.” In Florida, he announced that “I feel so powerful” after recovering from Covid-19 that he wanted to dive into the audience for hugs and kisses.
As most of the country disdains him, there’s little doubt Trump’s sentiment was genuine.
“He needs these people,” said Michael D’Antonio, another Trump biographer and a CNN contributor. “He is desperate to be loved. The harder things get, the more desperate he is.”

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A look at stock market history around elections and whether politics really matter – CNBC



U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden answer a question during the second and final presidential debate at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, October 22, 2020.
Morry Gash | Pool | Reuters

Does it matter for stocks who wins the White House? Is there anything unusual about the candidates this year that could impact the markets, regardless of who wins? 

For answers, we turn to Ed Clissold, chief U.S. Strategist for Ned Davis Research, who has studied elections and the impact on markets going back to 1900. 

This Q&A was derived from written research and an interview with Clissold. It has been edited for brevity.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this election and the impact on the markets. What’s your take?

Part of the problem is that this is an unusual situation. The incumbent is in the middle of a recession and a big drop in the market, even though that occurred earlier in the year. I don’t mean a “recession” as technically defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); I mean that a large portion of the U.S. believes we are in a recession.

Why is that perception important?

When those conditions are in place, the incumbent is a serious underdog.  Since 1900, the incumbent party has won five times and lost nine when there was a 20% decline in the DJIA or a recession in the election year.   But the last incumbent to win under these circumstances was Truman in 1948.  Since 1952, no party has retained the White House when there was either a 20% decline in the markets or a recession, and both have taken place in 2020. 

But isn’t this a unique recession?  This was caused by Covid-19.

Yes. Because the cause of the 2020 recession is an exogenous shock, one of the biggest questions heading into the fall is whether voters will blame President Trump for the economy. Most recessions have a more complicated genesis than this one, and Trump is certainly trying to make the case that he is the better one to handle this.

Is there anything unique about Biden?  He is proposing changes in the tax code on both a personal and corporate level.  That matters to Wall Street, doesn’t it?

Yes. The main concerns we have heard from our clients is that higher taxes and more regulations would be detrimental to stocks.

OK, you’ve made it clear the circumstances are unusual this year.  But what about the historical record?  Does the stock market do better or worse when a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House?

The markets tend to go up whether there is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. When adjusted for inflation, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained an average of 3.8% annually under Democrats since 1900, versus 1.1% under Republicans.

Why is that?

The President is not as influential on the economy as many people think. There are many factors that drive returns and who is in the White House is only one of many factors, including the fact that the U.S. is a capitalist society, where the means of production is mostly in private hands, and that there is a court system that enforces contracts.

What about when one party controls both the Congress and the White House?

When Republicans control both the Congress and the White House, returns have averaged 7.09% a year.  Under Democratic presidents, the market has risen faster when there has been a check on their power. When Democrats control the Congress and the Presidency, the market has risen an average of 2.96% a year, but 5.21% with a Democratic President and a Republican Congress.  

What about immediately after an election, going into the end of the year?

The market tends to perform better when the incumbent party wins than when the incumbent party loses.

Why is that?

It’s likely because the market often reacts to uncertainty, and a change in party leadership represents an additional unknown.

Does it matter for that short period whether it is a Republican or Democrat who has won or lost?

The strongest gains going into the end of the year occur when incumbent Republicans win, and the biggest losses when incumbent Republicans have lost, on average, likely because Republicans often positioned themselves as pro-business.

Does that outperformance when the Republicans have lost extend into the following year?

No. That relative performance has reversed in post-election years, with the strongest average gain in years following incumbent Republican losses. 

So what does this tell us?  Seems like this debate about the Republican vs. Democrat impact on stocks is a lot about perception.

Yes. Party control may be more about sentiment than fundamentals in most cases. Also, once the election is over, investors can focus on other things, like earnings, economic growth, or interest rates, so whatever sentiment-driven market action that occurs in the election year tends to fade and reverse itself.

Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.

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US VP warns Dems against playing politics over vaccine – Anadolu Agency




US Vice President Mike Pence has warned Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris against playing politics with COVID-19 issues. 

Biden, Harris, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, need to “stop playing politics with people’s lives by undermining confidence in a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine,” Pence told Fox News on Sunday.

“The president has speeded up the process through Operation Warp Speed, but we cut no corners on safety, and we are not going to distribute a coronavirus vaccine until the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and independent evaluation say it is safe and effective for the American people,” he added.

The FDA approved Thursday Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir, a drug touted by President Donald Trump who received it earlier this month after contracting COVID-19.

On Friday, the FDA also gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca to continue their vaccine trials after both companies earlier paused their trials as some participants in trials became ill.

Some Democrats have claimed Trump was acting reckless in coronavirus treatment options, arguing the president has been expediting trials to have a vaccine ready before the election on Nov. 3.

“I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said last month.

The US administration implemented Operation Warp Speed, which offers to pay Pfizer and BioNTech $1.95 billion for 100 million doses if their vaccine proves “safe and effective”, and a $1.6 billion deal with Novavax to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses by next January.

The US has more than 8.63 million cases and over 225,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, figures show over 43 million infections and more than 1.15 million deaths.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – The Battlefords News-Optimist



OTTAWA — Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

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“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

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