Opinion: Opinion: Trump will probably lose. Uh-oh, it feels a lot like 2016 again

Trump town hall
President Trump speaks during a televised town hall with NBC journalist Savannah Guthrie in Miami on Oct. 15.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
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Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Actually, let’s go further back — to roughly this time four years ago. I was writing opinion pieces and newsletters that suggested Donald Trump, then a former reality television star and soon-to-be presidential also-ran, still had a statistically significant chance of spoiling what seemed the inevitable victory of the clear future president Hillary Clinton. The warnings were earnest and ominous, owing to Trump’s operatic awfulness and the fact that he was the second-most likely individual to ascend to the presidency. Still, drowning the warnings out was a sense of dismissiveness — an inability to imagine a modern, enlightened society in which the bully gets the prize and the bigot leads.

Fully aware that the bigot now leads and is once again predicted to lose in November, I segue to today, knowing this may tempt fate: It really does look like Trump will not be reelected, and there is research to back that up. Writing on our op-ed page, public opinion researchers Peter K. Enns and Jonathon P. Schuldt lay out the data suggesting that while “shy Trump voters” existed in some form in 2016 and were a decisive factor, the evidence for their presence in 2020 is slim. That doesn’t mean Joe Biden will win, write Enns and Schuldt, but rather that if the president pulls off another upset, it won’t be because of shy Trumpers.


And yes, if Biden loses, feel free to write and blame arrogant opinionators for another surprise victory. Angry emails will be the least of my worries if Trump wins.

Trump got the October surprise he needed in 2016. The New York Post is trying to give him another one now. You’ve probably read about the New York Post piece that has all the trappings of Russian kompromat — but you probably did not read about it on Facebook on Twitter. That’s because the two social media platforms, whose amplification of disinformation in 2016 buoyed Trump, have shut down or significantly inhibited posts that linked to the Post article. This whole ordeal has put Facebook and Twitter in an impossible situation, writes Jon Healey. L.A. Times

Does a death wish explain Trump’s solid base of support? Pieces that speculate on the psychological underpinnings of the president’s loyal fanbase are numerous, including in the L.A. Times. Our readers have gotten in on the game too, positing racism and religious-like fervor as possible reasons. Most recently, columnist Virginia Heffernan digs into Freudian psychoanalysis to reach a troubling conclusion: “‘Death wish’ goes a long way toward explaining President Trump’s persistent support. After all, the assumption that Trumpites support Trump for life-loving reasons — a desire for peace, prosperity or well-being — is wearing thin.” L.A. Times

Be not afraid of Amy Coney Barrett’s “originalism,” for it’s only common sense, writes law professor and Federal Society member Lawrence B. Solum. According to Solum, originalism explains why Barrett would regard Roe vs. Wade as something less than super-precedent but would also see Obergefell vs. Hodges, the 2015 decision on gay marriage, as far less worthy of reconsideration. I confess that Solum didn’t sell me on originalism as a guiding judicial philosophy for the ages, so I invite responses from readers of this newsletter. L.A. Times

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Wait, did the president of the United States imply his support for eugenics? You didn’t have to listen closely to pick up on the racist dog whistle blown by Trump at a rally in mostly white Bemidji, Minn. There, the president proclaimed his belief in the “racehorse” pseudo-theory of genetics — which says that selective breeding in a country can boost its power — and praised the audience for its “good genes.” Adam Cohen puts Trump’s deeply troubling remark in the broader context of a world in which support for eugenics is growing, and warns society to push back before it repeats history’s mistakes. L.A. Times

Why are Armenians everywhere supporting the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh? Mark Arax and Aris Janigian, both the grandchildren of Armenian genocide survivors who came to California 100 years ago, describe the dread of watching the Turkic leadership in Azerbaijan and Turkey resume a campaign to annihilate the Armenian people: “To the casual observer, the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, a small plot of earth in the Caucasus, may seem a squabble between neighbors. But it was the forebears of these same Turks and Azeris who massacred 1.5 million Armenians living under Ottoman rule in the years 1915 to 1918. And to this day, they continue to deny the crime of genocide. This denial is not simply an erasure of history. It sets the stage for what Armenians now fear is an attempt to inflict a mortal wound to what is left of our homeland.” L.A. Times

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