Inside the bizarro alternate universe​ of a closed Facebook group for anti-vaxxers

Facebook is a menace. COVID-19 is a menace. Conservatism is a cesspool. Together, those three ingredients have created a toxic stew of malevolent death and devastation. We can talk about all those things in the abstract, look at the numbers and statistics, and catch the occasional whiff of seditionist right-wing rhetoric. But I hadn't really fully understood just how horrifying that combination of right-wing extremism, Facebook, and a killer virus was until I became a regular at the Herman Cain Awards subreddit. This series will document some of those stories, so we are aware of what the other side is doing to our country.

Today's cautionary tale isn't an individual, but an entire closed Facebook forum of future award winners. Guys, this one is really, really bizarre.

Here we go, into the belly of the beast! Buckle up.


Number one rule is to come up with alternate spellings for key phrases like Ivermectin, in order to evade whatever pitiful countermeasures Facebook is employing against these purveyors of misinformation and death.



Holy shit, it's a thing. They really are calling themselves "pureblood," like the Nazis.

Hopefully their myriad other vaccinations didn't sully the purity of their blood.

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It's, uh, funny that a caregiver's child and his family don't want COVID in their midst?

Here's hoping that they wise up and require vaccination. Because Christy thinks masks are useless, so you know she's not wearing them. She's going to expose them to virus.

Which is why this thing isn't ending anytime soon.


That c19vaxreactions is nothing but anecdotes. Or, as they call them "Real stories."

So, no website with stats.

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This is definitely a growing narrative with this crowd—hospitals are killing patients, therefore people should stay home. Perhaps that's why yesterday's cautionary tale didn't go to the hospital until her husband had O2 levels in the 60s.

Ventilators aren't killing people. Ventilators are a horrible blunt instrument of last resort, when Covid has destroyed a patient's ability to breathe on their own. Not many people survive them. Forcing oxygen into lungs is an abrasive process, literally shredding lung tissue. That's why you see so many of these patients end up with collapsed lungs. The oxygen shreds tissue to the point where it creates holes in the lungs.

But really, given the state of hospitals in the hottest zones, I'm okay with these people staying home. Leave the hospitals for responsible people who are doing what needs to be done to survive a global mass-death pandemic.


"Do your research" equals "what some random people on Facebook say.


Imagine thinking that today's Joe McCarthy analogue isn't Donald Trump, but Joe Biden.


Imagine blaming the vaccine for a heart attack six months later.

And everyone follows with "so-and-so had a vaccine, and then months later something unrelated happened! It was clearly the vaccine!"


Oh boy.

I'm so conflicted between "go to the hospital and get the monoclonal antibodies!", and "Good, don't clog up the hospital with your irresponsible butt."

This spoke to me:

I feel that way every single day with these stories.


Siri, how many ways can I misspell "flu" because the real way to spell it is so hard?


So no, no reputable sites.


Elderly lady: "Hi, I'm 85 and I've never had any issues so the only possible explanation for some late onset asthma has to be the vaccine, because it couldn't have anything to do with being 85."

Anti-vaxxer: "Take Ivermectin."


Dandelion detox tea and Ivermectin. Everything is solved, including spike protein shedding by the vaccinated!

No more need for any medical system anymore.


FLCCC is "Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance." They think Ivermectin, Vitamin D, and Zinc will cure people.

What that has to do with Mexico, I haven't the faintest...


When the vaccine's rated effectiveness is in the low 90%s, yeah, no one wants to be exposed to their death virus.

Or we can go with "mark of the beast." Whatever, at this point.


When you stop breathing it's too late guys.

Also with the heart. Once it stops beating, also too late.

Unless you have "antiviral herbs."

Just don't go to hospitals.


And we're back to the creepy "pure blood" shit. Because these people aren't deplorable enough.




The government wants more people dead!

The government wants people to take a vaccine, that would mean less people dead!

The government is, uh, confused.


Much like Qanon, these people have created a world in which heads, they win, tails we lose. Cases up? It's the government and hospitals killing people. Cases down? It's because people are avoiding hospitals and taking Ivermectin.

Someone got sick, was hospitalized, and pulled through? God is great! She healed because god. Someone got sic, was hospitalized, and died? God is great! She got her angel wings and got called home because Jesus needed her more.

COVID is a scam! But also, COVID is a Chinese communist plot! And also, COVID is a media creation to make Donald Trump look bad!

Oh, and they all have immune systems! Because immune systems have never been circumvented by deadly pathogens. But wait, they got sick? Prayer warriors assemble!

Seriously, I might have more respect for these yokels if they could come up with a single cohesive and logical narrative, rather than this "throw everything against the wall and fuck it, let's go with all of it because why not?" bullshit.

And in the middle if it all, Facebook facilitates the spread of this misinformation, helping kill thousands every day. Conservative conspiracy mongering and Facebook are a marriage made in hell, and for once, conservatives aren't being protected from their own stupidity. They are actively participating in their own destruction, as they point and laugh at everyone—including us liberals!—trying to save their lives.

The tragic timeline of an anti-vaxxer's COVID death

This tweet is spot on:

And what's amazing is just how spot-on it is. Several subreddits over at Reddit, like the Herman Cain Award, have sprung forth to document these stories, repeated time and time again, every single day. Here's one such story:


It always begins with mocking the vaccine and those who take it, and declaring that the whole thing is a hoax.


He drank and partied with his neighbors, even as the scientific community was begging people not to. He got lucky, survived the first wave, and the lack of consequences for his reckless behavior just emboldened him to continue laughing at people behaving responsibly. There is a weird obsession with talking about their "immune systems," as if immune systems have ever been a barrier to death by disease.


More mocking of the vaccine.

Eventually, all the partying and drinking with neighbors caught up to him.


Prayers needed.

You know the old joke, right? The one about the preacher caught in rising flood waters? A boat shows up, offers to take him to safety, he refuses, because he trusts god to save him. Same thing when a second boat arrives. Waters keep rising, he's on the steeple of his church, a helicopter arrives, he waves it away, he trusts god to save him. He drowns.

Eventually, he meets god, and asks him why his prayers went unanswered. God says, "I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what else was I supposed to do?"

God sent them the vaccine, in record time! And yet they keep praying for salvation.


I picked this story because its tragic ending had a bit of a silver lining—he recognized too late the folly of remaining unvaccinated. Most of the people in these stories do not. These people go to the grave clinging to their stories that they were infected by vaccinated people, or that liberal hospitals are killing conservatives by refusing them supposedly life-saving treatments like hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, the horse dewormer.

And yet even his death-bed regrets are met with skepticism and an appeal for crackpot remedies made of lemons and grapefruits—but organic! Even worse, even as he essentially says "not taking the vaccine killed me," the response is "that's good that you did.!!!!!!!" That's next-level sickness.


At the end, these "pull them up by the bootstraps" conservatives always end up resorting to the inevitable GoFundMe page. Always.

None of this is funny. It's not worthy of mocking. It's not just desserts. By refusing to vaccinate, these people are prolonging our national and global misery while allowing the virus countless new opportunities to mutate and potentially evade existing vaccines. It's crushing the will of our brave and diligent health care providers—doctors and nurses—who fought through two waves during unvaccinated times, but now have to suffer the delta wave when it is so easily avoidable (and for free!).

Maybe, just maybe, enough of these stories will finally jolt these dead-enders to reassess their behavior and vaccinate—for their communities and families, if not for themselves.

Doesn't seem like that's going to happen anytime soon, unfortunately.

Trump sychophants have taken over Republican Party — but a handful of rebels play long game

All Republicans are awful. They are greedy, selfish, death-worshipping assholes. Let's just stipulate that because it's objectively true—it's no accident that while they were happy to toss aside their supposed fealty to "family values" and "national security" during the Trump years, the one thing they got accomplished was tax cuts for the über-wealthy. Their priorities have always been clear.

That said, we can divide Republicans into two camps, one of them full of morons beyond belief, and the other not so dumb. The first has surrendered itself completely to the felon-in-waiting Donald Trump, who cost them the House, the Senate, and the White House—only the third president to lose reelection in the last hundred years. He isn't just the nation's biggest loser, but a living reminder of the GOP's lack of any actual ideological core beyond tax cuts for the rich. Remember, Republicans didn't even bother writing a party platform during their presidential convention! Why bother writing anything down when all that matters is what Trump thinks in the moment, subject to his changing irrational whims?

The Trump lickspittles have won the battle for control of their party. But there is a smaller faction—those Republicans who, while ideologically odious, at least remain loyal to the Constitution and the principles of American democracy. It's a low bar to meet and a distressingly small number of Republicans meet it, but they exist.

Yet while this small minority of Republicans might be on the outs today, they're playing the long game, and it's a smarter game to play. They may not be the future of the party, but they have more of a chance to do so than any of the Lickspittle caucus ever will.

Six Republicans voted for the Jan. 6 commission:

Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
Susan Collins, Maine
Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
Rob Portman, Ohio
Mitt Romney, Utah
Ben Sasse, Nebraska

This nearly mirrors the list of Republicans who voted to convict during Trump's second impeachment trial. The only differences are that Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey is missing (he didn't bother to stick around) and Portman was added to this list.

Of those, Portman is retiring, Collins represents a blue state, and Murkowski is protected by the strange politics of her state (including the brand new "top-four" jungle primary that protects her from being ousted in a traditional Republican-only primary).

Cassidy, Romney, and Sasse, however, represent solid red states (even if Utah isn't particularly Trump-loving), and Sasse, in particular, has presidential ambitions. (Maybe Romney too.)

Over in the House, 35 Republicans voted for the commission—a stunningly large number of defectors—led by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was recently cancelled from the House leadership. That is a significant increase from the 10 who voted for Trump's second impeachment. And if you look at that list, it's not a list of "liberal Republicans," or even moderates. No liberal Republicans are left, and precious few moderates, as well. Most were solid conservatives standing up for the Constitution.

It would be hard to point to any elected official and not think that they have higher-office aspirations. So these Republicans, in all future campaigns, will have this vote hung around their necks during their primaries. It's the reason so many Republicans took the coward's way out and stood by Trump. They were afraid to face their base voters having stood up to Trump. There are the loyalists, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who are far gone in Q-conspiracy land and worship their idol Trump. But aside from those, there are the opportunists—the Sens. Josh Hawleys and Ted Cruzes, Republicans working feverishly to capture that Trump electoral magic in a bottle and releasing it for their own benefit in their inevitable future presidential bids. George P. Bush is the latest of that crowd to humiliate themselves in a bid to win Trump's approval.

What the Liz Cheneys and Ben Sasses know, because it's obvious, is that Trump will never anoint any of that crowd—not the loyalists, and not the opportunists—for anything in which he or his spawn have their eye on. He is loyal to himself first, and Ivanka Trump second. Then, to a lesser degree, his sons. And after that, the spouses and partners. That's it!

There isn't a chance in hell that a Trump doesn't run for president in 2024. It might not be Donald Trump himself—he might be too indicted, too convicted, too in jail, or too dead from all those disgusting Big Macs he eats. But if it isn't the Liar in Chief himself, it will be one of his children. The loyalists might not care, pathetically worshipping at the altar of Trump. But the opportunists are making a bet that will never pay off. They will never inherit the Trump movement, because Trump doesn't give a rat's ass about anyone but himself and his clan. They have thrown in with an odious, morally obscene man who will never give them the approbation they so desperately want from him.

Cheney and Sasse are ambitious politicians. They know what they face inside their party, and they're making a calculated bet that someday sanity will return to their party, and their brand of competent conservatism will once again have value. These are smart politicians, and they know the pitfalls and dangers they face ahead. They may lose their next primary bids. They may be further ostracized and marginalized. They may simply fail to stem the tide of a Republican Party falling deeper into conspiracy territory.

But if the Republican Party ever breaks out of this current fever, they'll be there to pick up the pieces and lead it onward.

The chance that happens is slim. What, 5% or 10%? Let's not pretend odds are good. But it's not out of the realm of impossibility. And even 10% is a higher chance of success than the big 0% the lickspittles have of ever becoming president, becoming leaders of their party, or even winning any seats coveted by the Trump clan.

Sinema's schtick is wearing thin in Arizona

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was the first Democrat elected to the Senate in her state in 30 years. The birthplace of the modern conservative movement, her 2018 victory was considered a massive coup for Democrats.

Yet two years later, Democrats comfortably won the other Senate seat while Joe Biden narrowly won its presidential electoral votes. This isn't Barry Goldwater's Arizona. Yet Sinema doesn't seem to have realized that, acting as if her state is akin to Joe Manchin's West Virginia. She has gleefully courted coverage like this: "Kyrsten Sinema's defense of the Senate's age-old rules is likely to frustrate progressives eager to use every tool at their disposal to advance their priorities." She didn't just oppose a minimum wage hike, she did so with utter glee, with the thumbs-down heard around the world.

As a result, we have one Arizona Democrat who is a solid and safe Democratic vote, and the other one who is a pain in the ass. And now we have polling that conclusively shows that Sinema's popularity is being pummeled by her obstinance.


Details below.

Look at Sinema's trendline in the two years she's been in the Senate:

She went from 41% favorable, 35% unfavorable at the start of February, to 29% favorable, 40% unfavorable—a dramatic overnight 17-point net drop. As you might imagine, her numbers among Democrats have dropped precipitously:

That's a +23 net favorability rating, down from +53. Now if you were to ask Sinema, she'd likely laugh this off. She thinks Arizona is a bunch of Republicans, hence no need to keep Democrats happy. But here's her problem—her antics aren't just pissing off Democrats. She's also losing ground among Independents.

She is now deeply underwater among independents, going from a +6 net favorable rating, to -20 today. As for Republicans? They never liked her and still don't, she's gone from 16% favorable, 57% unfavorable, to 15-53 today. No wonder her overall numbers have cratered to that extent!

So how does freshman Sen. Mark Kelly compare? Note, he's been a reliable Democratic vote, hasn't caused any waves, isn't creating any problems. Voted for the $15 minimum wage. So what does Arizona think of him?

Woah, 48% approve, 41% disapprove. Remember, for Sinema, it's 29-40.

It's even better among independents!

Kelly is at 49-38 among independents, while Sinema is at 24-44. And this is after establishing a reliably liberal voting track record, including that fateful minimum wage hike.

To summarize:

Favorability Kyrsten Sinema Mark Kelly
Overall 29-40 48-41
Democrats 48-25 90-4
Independents 24-44 49-38
Republicans 15-53 7-80

Sinema appears oblivious to her state's changes. We're no longer talking about the Arizona that birthed the modern conservative movement. Rather, it's the Arizona with rapidly growing and politically engaged Latino and American Indian communities, as well as shifting educated suburbs.

About the only good news for Sinema is that she doesn't face reelection for another four years. But at this current trajectory, her reelection is nowhere near assured, much less surviving what should be an inevitable primary.

The incredibly smart politics of the Democrats' $3,600 child credit

In a stunningly ambitious and smart move, Democrats have proposed a child credit of $3,600 for children under the age of 6, and $3,000 for children up to the age of 17. The hope is to make it a permanent plan, structured as monthly payments, and would be means-tested to phase out starting at $75,000 for a single filer, and $150,000 for joint earners. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has proposed a similar plan, increasing chances of a bipartisan agreement on the credit. (His plan even does the smart thing and sends the cash to everyone, to make things simple, and recaptures payments to high earners at tax season.)

On the policy side, this child credit would be perhaps the single most economically impactful possible action, cutting child poverty in half.

But here's the thing, not only is this brilliant policy. It's even more brilliant politics as we head into the 2022 and 2024 election cycles.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of all families have children under the age of 18, or 33.4 million families. Two-thirds of American households earn less than $75,000, and just shy of 80% make less than $150,000, meaning that a solid majority of households with children will be impacted by this credit.

Parents are getting free money.

Now picture the 2022 and 2024 campaigns—Democrats (and non-asshole Republicans) can run on delivering that money to parents. And more importantly, they can run on Republicans trying to take that money away. Campaign messaging doesn't get simpler than this.

Conservatives have two main public arguments against the child credit. They claim that it would incentivize lower earners like single mothers from working more, as if staying home taking care of kids is inherently bad. They argue that it would blow up the deficit, which they can stuff it. Any conservative argument based on the size of the deficit is inherently bad faith until they themselves introduce legislation reversing their irresponsible tax cuts for billionaires, not to mention rein in Pentagon spending. If they want to be taken seriously as deficit hawks, they can act the part.

Both of these arguments lack substance, and really, they're not trying. Conservatives are merely resorting to their old worn framework arguments to pretend to object on substantive grounds: There's their old appeal to racism ("welfare mothers!"), and their claims of Democratic fiscal irresponsibility. It's all rote and half-assed, and that's because they don't want to talk about their real reason for opposing the child credit—a child credit that would dramatically help their core, poor, rural, white constituency.

In short, Republicans don't want voters to have to chose between them and $3,000-3,600 per year, per child. That's a choice that will cause even the most brain-addled QAnon conspiracy theorist to think twice when voting. And given a base that is largely exiting the electorate (they are old and dying off), Republicans can't afford to lose more ground among younger generations of white voters.

For traditionally low-performing core Democratic constituencies like Black and Latinos, it's no longer a question of "what have you done for me lately" that breeds voter non-performance and apathy. It's clear what's at stake: monthly checks for parents. It can also help blunt any lasting Republican gains among these voters.

If played right, the child tax credit could be the issue for 2022, just like health care dominated the 2018 campaign and led to a Democratic wave election. If Democrats want to buck the traditional losses suffered by the party in the White House in its first midterm, it'll need to be on the offensive. Pointing to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene won't get people excited to vote for Democrats. Pointing to free money will.

Of course, Democrats being Democrats, they don't have this quite right. They insist on means-testing it at the source, meaning high earners won't get a check. Problem is, the IRS doesn't know if you are a high earner this year. Maybe you were killing it until the pandemic crushed your business. Or you bucked the macro trends and had a gangbuster year amidst an economic calamity. The IRS only knows what happened in 2019.

And even after taxes are filed this year, and the IRS has a more updated picture, it won't know if you had a new baby or adopted a child until next year. Meanwhile, people's financial situation will continue to shift irrespective of the tax filing schedule. Meanwhile, the overworked IRS would have yet another administrative headache after years of being starved for funding. And you know what happens when people don't get their check, or it's the wrong size? People get angry, undercutting the policy side, yes, but also the political benefits.

Simplicity works in messaging. Send everyone a child credit. If someone makes too much money, claw it back during tax season. Set the income threshold high so that if someone gets an overpayment they don't really notice it. If they notice it, the threshold is too low. And then create a robust safe harbor for edge cases to avoid the sort of debt collection nightmares seen in other countries, as documented in this Twitter thread.

"There is something symbolically important about this being a universal child benefit," said Sam Hammond, a policy expert at the conservative Niskanen Center who wrote Romney's plan. "Overall, Neal's plan would be, unequivocally, a massive win against child poverty. But it could do more to clean up the administrative complexity of the current system by making the payment universal."

(To be clear, the Romney proposal eliminates other poverty programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, so I'm not advocating for it, just the part that eliminates means testing up front.)

Still, even if the complicated and cumbersome means testing survives, this child credit is a stunning validation of Democratic governance, delivering real tangible benefits to the people who put their faith and money and blood, sweat, and tears into the last two election cycles. And they're setting themselves up nicely for the next two election cycles.

Because we might wish that voters voted on Q craziness, or climate change, or immigration reform, or social justice, or any of the other myriad issues that drive our activism here at Daily Kos. But in the end, Democrats will get far more traction by merely sending them a check in the mail.

Oh, and Donald Trump set the precedent: Put Joe Biden's name on them, really big.

Trump didn’t offer his deplorables hope of a better life — he promised to drag everyone down to their own sorry level

Whiny-ass sore-loser Donald Trump has a legit super power—both times he's run, he's turned out voters that haven't shown up for any other election, and didn't even show up in the polls. Remember, polling was perfectly fine in 2018, and Democrats swept races in 2017, 2018, and 2019. They even won governorships in blood-red Kentucky and Louisiana!

Yet both 2016 and 2020 saw the emergence of a massive wave of white voters that polling totally missed. In fact, despite suffering some defections among suburban Republicans, Trump still managed to get 10 million more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016! So I came up with a theory: the Hidden Deplorables.

The outline goes like this:

The hidden deplorables aren't Republican. They aren't even conservative. They're apolitical, otherwise ignoring politics, because their lives legitimately suck. They live in meth country, with dim job prospects (in fact, those two factors are highly correlated). Institutions have failed them—corporations abandoned them for cheaper labor overseas, government feels distant, and it's certainly not improving their lives. Cities feel like walled gardens—unattainable, unaffordable, yet that's where all the jobs are, the culture, the action. These deplorables have been left behind. So their attitude? "Fuck them all."

In other words, these are people who have lost everything and simply want to burn everything to the ground. Trump didn't offer hope for a better life, he promised to drag everyone down to their own sorry level. That's why it didn't even matter that Republicans failed to offer up a policy platform at their convention. No one needs to write "burn every norm, institution, and tradition to the ground" down in a platform. It was quite well understood.

While the theory will get tested in the January Senate runoffs in Georgia (Trump got 360,000 new votes in the state between 2016 and 2020, will they turn out again?), fact is it is just that—a theory. It's my best explanation as to why these Trump voters only show up when Trump is on the ballot, and why pollsters are unable to capture them. If their life sucks so much that they hate everything, why would they pick up a phone and talk to a pollster? Why would they join a polling panel? Why would they answer a polling text? And given that they've only shown up for Trump, it's nearly impossible to just model them in. (Some conservative pollsters tried to do it by simply adding a "shy Trump voter" number to their polling, it ended up being just a way to "unscrew" the polls. They were even more wrong in the final outcomes as everyone else. They actually thought Trump would win.)

Wednesday morning brought fresh new evidence of my theory, in a piece by conservative pollster Daniel Cox of the American Enterprise Institute.

Finally, research on the 2016 election by David Shor, a Democratic pollster, echoed what we found in our own pre-election 2020 survey: There was a large swing to Trump among white voters who had low levels of social trust — a group that researchers have found is also less likely to participate in telephone surveys.

In our pre-election survey on the strength of Americans' social networks, we found that nearly one in five Americans (17 percent) reported having no one they were close with, marking a 9 percentage point increase from 2013.1 What's more, we found that these socially disconnected voters were far more likely to view Trump positively and support his reelection than those with more robust personal networks. Biden was heavily favored by registered voters with larger social networks (53 percent to 37 percent), but it was Trump who had the edge among voters without any close social contacts (45 percent to 39 percent).

And this was especially true among white voters even after accounting for differences in income, education level, and racial attitudes. Sixty percent of white voters without anyone in their immediate social network favored Trump, compared to less than half (46 percent) of white voters with more robust social ties.

These are incels and Q followers and militia members and just assholes in general who repel people around them. In fact, as Republican as white people are, less than half of white people with strong social networks supported Trump! That's why urban whites are so heavily Democratic—they are surrounded by community. That's likely why suburban whites are turning blue as well, and particularly women, going to PTA meetings and their yoga or barre classes. It could also explain why suburban men, less likely to engage in such social endeavors, remain more Republican.

This theory really starts to explain a great deal, actually. Seniors are the age group most likely to be isolated, and they remain more heavily Republican. Rural areas are emptying out, with young residents moving to the big cities or other places with greater educational, recreational, and economic opportunities. Even the education gap that has emerged the last few cycles fits in—college is a community building experience.

There's no doubt this is an over-simplification of complex political trends, but there's the nut of something fascinating here. It certainly explains why the internet, and Facebook in particular, have been such a boon to conspiracy theorists and the socially marginalized, and provided rocket fuel to their growth. These people are social failures yet human, thus desperate for social interaction and community. That makes them ripe for recruitment by QAnon, white supremacists, and all manners of deplorable groups.

To be clear, this doesn't apply to all Republicans. A mega-church-going Republican who votes on abortion isn't isolated, but that individual also has no problem answering a pollster's questions. Same with a Wall Street "don't tax me" Republican. Those people are easy to find and count. But it certainly speaks to a real percentage of Republicans, and certainly explains the hidden deplorable quite well. Isolation isn't an absolute. You can't turn it on and off. It's a scale, and it's easy to see how the further on the isolation scale someone is, the less likely they are to properly interact with society and its institutions … that is, until a Trump emerges speaking to their pain and anger.

It certainly explains our own bewilderment that Trump got 10 million more votes than last time. Of course we don't see these people. No one sees these people. That's the point.

Funny thing is, these hidden deplorables don't even trust Trump himself. He literally begged them to turn out and vote for Republican candidates for governor in Louisiana and Kentucky last year, and they didn't listen. It's not Trump the institution (as president and head of the Republican Party) that motivates them. It's Trump the destroyer of norms, traditions, and liberals that motivates them to vote. So why would they vote for some Republican governor who might actually try to govern? They're attracted to Trump's specific brand of destructive chaos. That's my hope for the future—that we've seen the last of them for a while (until the next right-wing populist emerges, which seems quite inevitable at this point).

Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results, and as already noted, we'll get to test this theory out in Georgia in January. But that just speaks to the hidden deplorables' future voting habits. But as an explanation of who they are, and why they exist, this analysis by Cox is pretty solid supporting evidence.

Trump over-performed the polls twice. This could be the reason why

Two facts from this November's elections have really gnawed at me:

1) Impeached sore loser Donald Trump got 10 million more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016. Given some losses among suburban college-educated white women and other never-Trumpers, that means that over 10 million new people took a look at Trump's last four years and thought, "Yeah, that's the guy that's getting me out to cast my first vote."

2) The polls once again undercounted Republican support, like in 2016. Yet in 2018 and 2019, the polls were fine. So what gives?

I have a theory, and it's the existence of a "hidden deplorable," and it's a wonder Joe Biden and the Democrats managed to salvage the White House given their existence.

From the start, let's dispense with the notion of a "shy Trump voter." These people aren't shy, yet they certainly exist. They're the assholes trying to run the Biden campaign bus off the road in Texas. They're the anti-government militias in Michigan. They're these people:

There's nothing "shy" about these people or their support for Trump, yet pollsters aren't catching them. They turn out for Trump, but they didn't turn out for Republicans in 2017, 2018, or 2019. Remember, last year Democrats picked up governorships in the blood-red states of Louisiana and Kentucky.

No amount of personal begging and pleading from Trump could get Republicans to the polls in those red states, nor did his extensive campaigning help his party during the 2018 Democratic wave year.

Yet with the national environment only worsened from the COVID-19 pandemic and other Trump self-inflicted wounds (like his failed trade war against China), Republicans stormed back this year, dealing Democrats painful down-ballot losses in the House, Senate, and state legislatures. Not only will those loses hamstring a Biden administration, even if we win both Senate runoffs in Georgia in January, but Republicans will have a free hand to redraw U.S. House and state legislative maps to their enduring, decades-long advantage.

All because Trump was at the top of the ballot.

So again, who are these people who only vote for Trump, otherwise ignore the Republican Party (despite Trump's pleading), and don't talk to pollsters?

The hidden deplorables aren't Republican. They aren't even conservative. They're apolitical, otherwise ignoring politics, because their lives legitimately suck. They live in meth country, with dim job prospects (in fact, those two factors are highly correlated). Institutions have failed them—corporations abandoned them for cheaper labor overseas, government seems and feels distant, and it's certainly not improving their lives. Cities feel like walled gardens—unattainable, unaffordable, yet that's where all the jobs are, the culture, the action. These deplorables have been left behind. So their attitude? "Fuck them all."

Trump shows up in 2016 and gives them hope for change, saying the quiet part out loud—that their lives suck not because of their own choices and that of those decamped corporations, but because all that sweet, sweet government money is going to "illegals" and "thugs" in those cities. He puts uppity Black and brown people and women in their place. He offers them hope that, if he can't improve their lives, that at least he'll hurt all those others.

"I voted for him, and he's the one who's doing this," she said of Mr. Trump. "I thought he was going to do good things. He's not hurting the people he needs to be hurting."

Their lives suck, but Trump was supposed to be bringing everyone else down to their level. That's why all that nonsense about "economic uncertainty" was such bullshit. None of these people ever thought Trump would bring back the factories, paying good middle-class wages. They can do the same math that the corporations have. But it would all be worth it if Trump would just hurt the people he needed to be hurt.

And then he did. He put brown kids in cages. He sent federal troops against the Black Lives Matter "mobs." He nominated judges hostile to a woman's right to have agency over her body.

And above else? He destroyed. He tore shit down. Norms, traditions, entire agencies.

So 2020 rolled around, and Trump no longer offered hope of economic revival in these economically devastated meth counties. Instead, he was the personification of their rage made real, in the Oval Office itself.

We saw this in Georgia, where Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins were locked in a battle to make it to the January runoff in the state's special election. Loeffler was originally chosen to try and appeal to the very white moderate college-educated suburban women that were abandoning the GOP and endangering the party's electoral chances. Collins is a right-wing ideologue, a staunch Trump ally, and the clear favorite of the Freedom Caucus wing of the GOP. So how did Loeffler fend him off? By moving to Collins' right, like this ad that claimed she was "More conservative than Attila the Hun" and had a "100 per cent Trump voting record."

Attila youtu.be

Loeffler literally said she was worse than a king best known for raping, pillaging, plundering, and extorting the Roman Empire into near insolvency. There are no Hun ruins you can visit today because they built no civilization, created no lasting art or culture.

So truly, Loeffler couldn't have picked a better representative of the modern Trumpian Republican Party—destructive, barbaric, and corrupt.

Now given their hatred for institutions like government and the media, is it any wonder that these hidden deplorables wouldn't answer pollsters' questions? Any attempt to survey them would likely be met with a middle finger and a "fuck you."

So the last four years have shown us that they only turn out when Donald Trump is in the battle. We'll have an early test of my Hidden Deplorables theory in January, when the two Senate seats in Georgia are decided. Given the essentially tied result in the presidential race (we won by a sliver), that special election will come down to the party that suffers the last amount of drop-off from their November turnout.

Trump got a remarkable 369,000 more votes in the Peach State this year compared to 2016, when he won the state by 5%. That should've been enough to seal the deal again. Yet Stacey Abrams, her volunteers, and an army of allied organizations did the near-impossible: Biden got 594,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. That is beyond mind-blowing!

If I'm right, Republican turnout among those new Trump voters could very well be catastrophic for the GOP. Now to be clear, no one should expect this. We assume they get every single one of their voters out. We need to out-hustle them, and they'll be working their assess off to turn those people out. So to be 100% clear, this isn't a prediction, nor is it even a hope.

If Republicans can get these hidden deplorables out, then the political picture the next few cycles will be rough—more closely fought elections, control of Congress and the White House balancing on a razor's edge. Making progress will be a tough slog.

On the other hand, if the hidden deplorables only come out when Trump is on the ballot, then that gives us some breathing room in the next few cycles ahead. That is, until a Trump ends up back on the presidential ballot in 2024.

Now this is an evolving theory, and it may be bolstered or undermined as additional data and information emerges (not to mention the Georgia runoff results will reveal a great deal). But regardless, Trump is likely the single greatest campaigner in modern presidential history. Hillary Clinton didn't lose because she was a terrible candidate, she lost because she faced a political prodigy, someone whose ability to tickle the darkest recesses of the white American's lizard brain is unparalleled, in a country that doesn't elect its presidents by popular vote, but by a system that overrepresents white rural states. Joe Biden cobbled together enough of a coalition to defeat Trump, but the damage was deep down-ballot precisely because so many of the House, Senate, and state legislative battles were fought in disproportionately white and rural states and districts—the places most excited by Trump's candidacy.

So take a man who has criminally mismanaged the country, enriching himself at the expense of its people and his donors, killed a quarter million Americans due to negligence, leading to the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, and didn't even bother to have a campaign platform because neither he nor his party cares about issues anymore … and he gets 10 million more votes than the last time? That number is a testament to his power as a vote-getter. Let's hope no other Republicans reverse engineers that formula anytime soon. And let's pray that these hidden deplorables, seeing their vote cast for a loser (and a loser who claims the vote was stolen!) decide to return to whatever dark crevices they emerged from.

This one Republican affidavit says everything you need to know about the sorry state of today's GOP

The Trump campaign released a 234-page stack of affidavits from poll watchers in Detroit alleging supposed intimidation. This Twitter thread highlights many of the absurd claims, such as complaining that independent poll watchers were too liberal, or this one complaining about "a very large man in 'Count the Vote' gear," or this one about people being mean to him. But one stood out to me, because it says so much about the sorry state of the Republican Party and the conservative movement today. Let's take a look.

A Republican poll watcher found it suspicious that Joe Biden would get military votes. As the affidavit states, "I did find it odd that, throughout the day/night, I saw a few dozen military ballots be counted. Although I cannot provide specific numbers or names, I can estimate that at least 80% of the military ballots I saw were straight ticket democrat or simply had Joe Biden's name filled in on them. I had always been told that military personnel tended to be more conservative, so this stuck out to me as the day went on."

Oh, this is so juicy.

1. No allegation of fraud.

Just like the entire stack of affidavits, this is not an allegation of fraud. It is an allegation of … nothing, really. He observed ballots be counted. The only crime committed here is that he didn't like the results.

2. The conservative media bubble makes you stupid.

This is the problem with being trapped in the right-wing media bubble—you aren't presented with reality. Fact is, rank-and-file service members are disproportionately Black and brown. They come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. And as would be expected, Black and Latinos are more liberal, while poor (heavily Southern) whites are more conservative. This isn't rocket science. When I served in the Army, the white boys had confederate flags flying in their barracks rooms, Black and Latinos did not. So it would make sense that if you're observing ballots, in Detroit, from local military personnel serving outside the state, that those ballots would reflect the rest of Detroit—likely heavily Black, and heavily Democratic.

Not to mention, we had a president who didn't just disrespect Sen. John McCain, a war hero, but also called service members who died in war "suckers" and "losers." It's likely why a Military Times poll of our troops found Joe Biden leading 41-37, with 50% of them holding an unfavorable view of Trump.

This is the problem with living in the right-wing media bubble is that it really does make you stupid.

3. Republicans going for volume over substance

It's one thing for some ignorant Republican poll watcher to puzzle over the results of military ballots. It's another for Republican lawyers to write it up and then release it to the public. It's clear that this isn't a serious effort to detail wrongdoing. They're just going to say "WE RELEASED 234 PAGES OF WRONGDOING!" in order to con people into thinking that Trump has been robbed. The Washington Post's David Weigel, talking to us on our weekly web show The Brief, detailed that strategy—get lots of media attention making allegations and filing frivolous lawsuits, fully expecting the media (including their right-wing outlets) to ignore stories of judges or other information and analysis dismissing those claims.

So that one affidavit showed us three critical things in this post-election period: That Republicans remain safely ensconced in their media bubble, misinforming themselves, that they are feeding that media bubble with bullshit claims and accusations, fully expecting any debunking to be ignored, and despite all that, they still can't find any fraud to point to, anything that might flip the tens of thousands of votes they would need to change the election results.

And to what end? To THIS end:

As long as the MAGA deplorables think the election can be flipped, Donald Trump can keep his grift alive, and Republicans have zero interest in putting the interests of democracy ahead of Trump's ego and bank account. And maybe, if they play their cards right, they can slip a coup in there.

Trump is in trouble in these red states: final poll

This is it, last round of 2020 public state polling. Toplines: In Iowa, Joe Biden +1 and Theresa Greenfield (D) +3, in Wisconsin, Biden +4, and in Ohio, Trump +1. The details below.

IOWA, 10/29-11/1, MoE 3.7%

JOE BIDEN (D)494846

Remarkable consistency, and truly anyone's game. And wholly at odds with Saturday's Seltzer poll which had dramatic movement toward Donald Trump and Senate Republican incumbent Joni Ernst. You know the one, the poll that had everyone hyperventilating.

Either Seltzer is catching a massive shift in vote preference that literally no one else has caught, or … they're wrong. I like our numbers better. Regular readers know that in today's polarized political environment, public opinion simply doesn't shift.

Looks like undecideds consistently broke even for each candidate each time we polled. While I like Greenfield's chances, this is clearly a tight contest.

WISCONSIN, 10/29-11/1, MoE 3.6%

JOE BIDEN (D)515351

We're showing a tighter race than almost everyone else. The Economist's aggregate is +8 Biden, and here we are at half that. Still, Biden is over 50%, rendering him immune if the undecideds decide to stick with Trump.

OHIO, 10/29-11/1, MoE 3%

JOE BIDEN (D)484745

Civiqs saw three-point Trump leads in September and October, and that's down to one point, with Trump right at that 50% mark. Ohio is within Biden's grasp, but Trump still has the edge.

Remember, Trump won Ohio by eight and Iowa by 9.4. Neither of those states should be competitive. That's why no one is pretending that Trump has a viable path to victory, not even his campaign, now fixated on trying to steal the election.

Biden is winning nationally — but the states actually decide. Here's what they're telling us

We've been checking into the state polling every Thursday for several months, and it's hard to believe, but we're out of Thursdays! I'll do one more of these on Monday or Tuesday, but we're pretty much at the end. Nothing much will change the dynamics of the race anymore. It'll all come down to 1) can we get our core vote to vote, and 2) where do the dwindling set of undecideds land. The answer to those two questions will determine whether we have an Electoral College landslide victory with an early evening call, or weeks and months of chaos, legal uncertainty, and violence. The Proud Boys are, after all, standing by.

We always start with a look at the national poll trends, using The Economist's polling aggregate.

(The Economist)

As you can see merely eyeballing the chart above, nothing much has happened since late August. The top-line numbers—54.2-45.8 are pretty much the same numbers we had in early June. You want to see something fun? Let's compare the chart above to Civiqs' chart of Trump's approval ratings over the last year:

It's the same freakin' trend. I've written before that all you have to do is add two-points to Trump's approval rating to get his share of the Biden-Trump vote in Civiqs polling. (Here's is our 50-state map of Trump approval ratings, if you want to play the game.) There is direct correlation.

Back to the aggregate, Joe Biden has an 8.4-point lead in the national polling. Last week it was 8.6 points, so for all intents and purposes, nothing has moved. And why would it? We are so polarized at this point, that it's hard to imagine anything having a measurable impact anymore. We're approaching a quarter million dead from the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump's numbers have barely budged. But in the same token, what could Trump say to start winning back some of that support? That's why this Hunter Biden laptop nonsense is so patently ridiculous. Even if it was true, and it's not, no one gives a shit.

One last note before we get to the polls, please don't say stupid shit like "ignore the polls!" and "act like we're 10 points down!" We are the reality-based community. We don't ignore data, and we certainly don't create an alternate reality. It amazes me how conservatives can't handle bad news, and liberals can't handle good news. The reason we have opportunities to win tough races like Senate seats in Texas, Kansas, Alaska, Iowa, and Georgia is because Biden is doing this well. That's not a bad thing or a reason to be scared. It's a reason to get excited, because only a few points separate an okay night from a good night from the best night ever. There is no excuse for complacency because there are races we are legitimately behind in, that we can only win if we out-hustle Republicans on the ground.

As usual, we start with our baseline map.

As I say every week, I think Alaska is a battleground, but the polling isn't validating my gut instinct, so it remains red on this map.



MICHIGAN16Biden +8.0


WISCONSIN10Biden +8.0+1.4258-125
NEBRASKA-011Biden +6.5-259-125
PENNSYLVANIA20Biden +6.2+0.4279-125
FLORIDA29Biden +3.2-0.2308-125
ARIZONA11Biden +3.0-0.2319-125
NORTH CAROLINA15Biden +2.4-334-125
MAINE-021Biden +3.0+1.0335-125
GEORGIA16Biden +0.6+0.6351-125
IOWA6Biden +0.2+2.0357-125
OHIO18Trump +1.4-0.2357-143
TEXAS38Trump +2.2-0.2357-181

All in all, a great week for Biden in the key battlegrounds. Iowa flipped (barely) from a narrow Trump win to the narrowest Biden one. More importantly, the Big Three—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin all trended up for him. If Biden wins these three, it's over. He's got it. So as things currently stand, Trump would have to overcome a six-point deficit in Pennsylvania merely to stay in the game.

After Pennsylvania, things get closer, and this is where we really need to work hard to nail these states down. Political Campaigning 101 says that a good ground game can be worth three points in the final results. Look at all these states—everything from Florida on down is within that three-point spread.

The work we put in to get the final vote out can be the difference between a 279-259 victory, with Trump's lawyers trying to sow chaos and discord in Pennsylvania, trying to throw out legitimately cast votes hoping their illegitimate Supreme Court pulls another Bush v. Gore, or a 413-125 historic walloping that puts an early end to the night and squashes any conservative efforts to steal the election.

Not to mention, there are seven Senate pickups possible in those presidential battlegrounds. Given that we need to pick up net-three seats, the more we maximize our performance in those states, the better our chances to have a real and transformative Senate majority.

Finally, I really want to highlight the GOP's dilemma heading into future cycles.

The top six 2016 red states, by electoral votes, are all battlegrounds: Texas (38), Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), and North Carolina (15). Their largest safe red state is Indiana (11).

Of those, it's safe to say that Ohio is trending red, and maybe Pennsylvania. But Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina are clearly trending blue, and Florida is Florida. I'm just going to assume it'll remain 50-50 forever, but really, demographically, it's a blue state.

The modern GOP can't function as a national party if Ohio and Pennsylvania are their anchors, particularly since they're both likely losing seats during reapportionment. Who will gain? Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina … you get the point.

There is something real and special happening this year. We are all part of history. And the hard work of every single one of us, of you, has gotten us to this point, on the precipice of transformative change. So don't let up now, so close to the finish line. Let's finish strong.

Leave nothing on the road.


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