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President Herbert Hoover at the 1932 Republican convention

Photo by GPA Photo Archive/ CC BY-NC 2.0

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A couple weeks ago, Trump hit 40 percent approval rating in FiveThirtyEight's polling aggregate. I watched eagerly to see if he might fall below that threshold, which would have been a clear sign the bottom was absolutely dropping out from his campaign.

Unfortunately, Trump managed to bounce back a bit, but not by much. He's currently sitting at 41.4 percent approval and has been bobbing around that 41 percent mark since early June. But not to worry, a look at the worst political routs in modern U.S. history shows that presidents and major-party nominees pretty much get 40 percent of the votes no matter how dreadful their leadership or campaign.


Take President Herbert Hoover, for instance, running for reelection against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 amid the Great Depression, with food lines and shanty towns across America. Hoover still won 39.7 percent that year to FDR's 57.4 percent.

But Hoover isn't alone, as MSNBC's Chris Hayes pointed out during a segment last week. In 1984, Walter Mondale lost every single state to Ronald Reagan except his home state of Minnesota and Washington D.C. and Mondale still got 41 percent of the popular vote.

And how about Jimmy Carter's doomed 1980 reelection bid amid stagflation, an oil crisis, and the ongoing Iran hostage crisis? Another Reagan rout but Carter still took 41 percent of the popular vote.

So when you look at the Trump's approvals and just can't imagine why on earth they are still managing to hang around 40 percent or a little above, that's actually about the norm. That 40 percent threshold is almost baked in to our two-party system. What would be truly noteworthy is if Trump falls several points under 40 percent for a sustained period of time.

It's also why—as we all recall from 2016—what really matters is the outcomes at the state level. But overall, the trendlines on Trump's approvals continue to be very steady and very bad for him. Civiqs has Trump right around where Five Thirty Eight does, 41 percent, but with a lot less noise along the way, which really allows you to see how Trump's position has just continually worsened since the start of the pandemic.

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Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on CNN Sunday morning with Jake Tapper on his State of the Union show. In part because Democratic reps, like Republican reps, going on Sunday shows is about this coming election, and in part because newscasters are not particularly deep or creative when it comes to talking about politics, Tapper decided to spend a lot of time trying to get Ocasio-Cortez to attack Joe Biden for their differences of political opinions. Newsflash: Ocasio-Cortez, progressive hero, co-author of the ambitious Green New Deal environmental package, and Vice President Joe Biden aren't exactly on the same page as to how to handle climate change.

More to the point, Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez whether or not she was bothered by the fact that Biden has not said he would outright ban fracking. The move to ban fracking in states across the country has been a seesaw battle of fossil fuel interests fighting against progressive environmentalism and science. Biden's refusal to provide full-throated support for a ban on fracking is disappointing to many of us on the left, but it isn't surprising. Even more importantly, it is below the most essential first step the progressive movement—and the country for that matter—needs to take: getting rid of Donald Trump and getting rid of the Republican majority in the Senate.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be pulled into a pointless argument about fracking with Jake Tapper. Her position is well-reported. So is Biden's. AOC explains very clearly that this is how politics work in a representative democracy.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It does not bother me. I believe, and I have a very strong position on fracking. You know, the science is very clear, the methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions and trapping heat in the air, and just from a perspective of stopping climate change there is a scientific consensus. However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with the fracking ban and I consider that, you know—it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first. I am happy to make my case but I also understand he is in disagreement on that issue.

Tapper wonders whether this will depress the youth vote, a vote that AOC represents more closely than Biden. This, of course, is literally the only reason Trump and his surrogates have been bringing up this difference of positions the last couple of weeks. The hope is that it will depress the more progressive vote, while spooking some more conservative-leaning folks in fossil-fuel heavy states like Pennsylvania and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez points out that the youth vote over the past couple of years has not simply become more sophisticated since 2016, it has brought in more progressive candidates and officials into local elections. The turnout in 2018 showed that, and Ocasio-Cortez believes that this election is very clearly a choice between Donald Trump, someone who is a non-starter of a human being, and Joe Biden.

Tapper then plays a clip of Biden telling reporters that he isn't "getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," but that he's talking about getting rid of the subsidies the fake free-marketeers enjoy in the fossil fuel industry. While Tapper is hoping that this will illustrate how Biden isn't AOC and the youth vote may be turned off by this statement, she sees it as an important step in the right direction.

REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: When he says we are eliminating subsidies, I think that is, frankly, an important first step. A lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure they get as much government subsidy, and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible. ... If you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day in many areas. They are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels. When you eliminate government subsidies, it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. I think while the vice president wants to make sure that he is not doing it by government mandate or regulation. I do believe that we are moving towards that future. I believe that there's a way and that we should push that process along but again, the vice president and my disagreements are, I believe, recorded and that is quite all right.