A quick correction on that Yang story

First up, a quick correction. Yesterday I reported on Andrew Yang’s fundraising bump in response to the announcement at the Thursday debate that he would give $1,000 dollars a month to 10 families for one year.

Here’s the correction part. I said that in total, that program added up to an expense of $1.2 million dollars. That is off by a factor of ten. In fact, it adds up to $120,000 dollars, something that many of you who can do math pointed out to me. So the fact that Yang raised $1 million dollars in the three days following that announcement is a substantially bigger deal given the cost outlay here.

I have put in a request to the head office for a calculator, and am waiting to see if that will be approved.

Buttigieg suggests avoiding gun buybacks

All right, let’s talk about gun safety laws—everybody’s favorite topic. If you’ll recall, in last week’s debate, former Representative Beto O’Rourke talked about mandatory buybacks for assault weapons. He has proposed this before, and it’s clear he definitely means it. So let’s first listen to that clip from the debate. David Muir speaks first. Listen in:


Yeah, so that made waves, for obvious reasons. Here’s a candidate being super-clear about what he would do. And yeah, there is a little common ground here on buybacks, but this is still a very divisive issue. In fact, another Texas politician, state representative Briscoe Cain, responded on Twitter. He wrote, “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.” That was taken as a threat of violence, the O’Rourke campaign reported it as such to the FBI, and Twitter promptly deleted the tweet. At the time, O’Rourke wrote on Twitter, “This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn't own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else.”

Okay, so what we have here is a good example of the divide. But what does the polling say? Is O’Rourke at all correct that there is some common ground here on gun safety laws, specifically assault weapon buybacks? Reading from a piece in the Washington Post by Antonia Noori Farzan and Kayla Epstein:

“The proposal has widespread support among Democrats nationally — 74 percent support a mandatory buyback program, compared with 31 percent of Republicans, a recent Washington Post [slash] ABC News poll found.”

Let’s dig into the specifics from that poll. I’m concerned more here with OVERALL numbers, not party-specific numbers, because I really think the most important question on this issue is what can American voters AGREE on, not which things are most polarizing, or which party likes which issues. So let’s look at that poll, which, for the following questions has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Here are some key numbers.

89% of people, overall, support mandatory BACKGROUND CHECKS for potential gun buyers.

86% of people, overall, support so-called “red flag” laws, which would allow police to take away guns temporarily from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, if a judge grants that order.

60% of people, overall, support a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, meaning any clip that can hold more than 10 rounds.

56% of people, overall, support a BAN on the sale of NEW assault weapons. Again, that’s more than half supporting a ban on NEW sales. And that links up with this next number.

52% of people, overall, support a mandatory buyback program for all assault weapons. Remember the margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Okay, so if we take that poll to be an accurate measurement of what public sentiment is, then O’Rourke’s proposal for buybacks is the very definition of divisive—he’s got roughly half the people in the country agreeing with him. Within the same poll, there is clear evidence that the two items almost everybody CAN agree on are background checks and red flag laws. And things like banning high-capacity magazines are doing a little better than buybacks, but not by a whole lot.

Another poll basically supports this conclusion on mandatory buybacks. A poll from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist had just under 50 percent supporting a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons, while the poll we talked about put that number just above 50 percent. Given the margins, those numbers are basically the same.

All right, so time for more clips. This one is from CNN this Sunday, and it comes from an interview with Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Anchor Jake Tapper speaks first. Listen in:


Okay, so Buttigieg is correct that two of the specific proposals he mentions—universal background checks and red flag laws—are areas of general agreement. He’s on shakier ground when he talks about a “majority” in favor of banning the sale of new assault weapons­—again, that number is perhaps 56%, plus or minus 3.5 percent, at least in the data we’ve heard today. So, yeah, TECHNICALLY that’s a majority, but a slim one at best. And his other claim, that there’s a majority in favor of banning high-capacity magazines…well, yes, that is true, at 60% plus or minus 3.5, but still a FAR cry from those super-obvious items like background checks and red flag laws nearing 90%.

So you may notice I’m doing a lot of parsing of polls and numbers here. That’s partly because I think it’s important to understand what the data is, when the candidates are talking about data, but it’s also vital to understanding this next clip.

Okay, so ALSO this Sunday, this time on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd cited that statement by Chris Coons, plus a tweet from Pat Toomey, who is a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. Todd was looking for O’Rourke to a give a response. Listen in, and Todd speaks first:


And yeah, that clip was slightly cut off at the end. So this is a big element of the current discussion on gun safety laws within the Democratic primary. You have O’Rourke very clearly articulating not just his position, but his disinterest in whether it’s popular.

Then you have Buttigieg saying, let’s do the things that are popular because they are POSSIBLE. This is a big question in the Democratic primary—do you support candidates who go after things they can get done, even if they’re incremental? Or do you support those who stick with their beliefs, even if they know those beliefs are unpopular or maybe can’t get done? It is a tough call, and it applies to many issues.

So, that’s where we stand today on this issue, and you better believe this will come up again in the October debate, where both of these candidates will be present—now whether they’ll be on the same stage, we don’t know yet.

Details on the MSNBC climate town starting tomorrow

Okay, next up, a reminder that MSNBC has a climate town hall event airing on Thursday and Friday this week. It’s a bit different than the CNN climate event we saw two weeks ago. In the MSNBC event, we’ll see a different mix of candidates, including a Republican! So here’s the list, in alphabetical order:

Bennet, Booker, Bullock, Buttigieg, Castro, Delaney, Ryan, Sanders, Steyer, Weld, Williamson, and Yang.

The event will air on September 19thand 20th—yes, that is Thursday and Friday THIS WEEK, and it starts at 3pm Eastern time each day. The physical event takes place at Georgetown University, and the moderators are both from MSNBC—they are Chris Hayes and Ali Velshi. There will be audience questions, and if this is anything like the CNN event, those questions are going to be very direct.

Reading here from an article in Vox by Sean Collins:

“Most of the candidates scheduled to appear have developed their own climate change plans, a number of which were released in the days ahead of the CNN debate [sic]. While Republican Bill Weld does not, he has said climate change is one of the reasons he is primarying President Donald Trump, and he told Vox’s Jane Coaston he is particularly concerned with rising ocean levels.
“We are required to plan for a 7-foot storm surge right now in the city of Boston for any waterfront development,” he said. “In another few years, that’s going to be 14 feet. This is going to be a lot of property that’s going to be shorefront property in 2040 that’s not shorefront property now.””

All of this is part of a week-long series on NBC News that they call “Climate in Crisis.” They have also created a new Climate Unit, which is apparently a reporting team focused on climate issues specifically. There’s a bit more on that, as well as the other climate-related programming this week, in a press released linked in the show notes.

Now, you may ask, how can we watch this climate forum, especially if we don’t have cable? Well, my personal advice is to check out the link in the show notes to an MSNBC page that is ALREADY UP and has a link to stream the Climate Forum live. Right now, if you go play that video, it is streaming a standby signal, and I didn’t have to log in, so I assume that will stay there through Thursday and Friday. However, reading from that press release, the event:

“…will be live-streamed in part on NBC News Now and Telemundo and featured on MSNBC programming, Thursday, September 19[th] and Friday, September 20[th]. [Chris] Hayes will also dedicate a live hour of MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” exclusively to climate that week.”

Carter reflects on age and the presidency

In an appearance at the Carter Center in Atlanta, former President Jimmy Carter reflected on the role of age and the presidency. His comments came after a question about whether he might consider running for president in 2020, since, technically, he’s not term-limited yet. Carter is about to turn 95, and this is what he said. Listen in:


In an article for the Associated Press, Bill Barrow did most of the math for us. When Trump was elected, he was the oldest first-term president in history upon his swearing-in, and he is currently 73 years old, more than two years into his presidency. By comparison, Reagan was 69 when he started his first term in 1981.

If elected, upon being sworn in, Sanders would be 79 years old, and would turn 80 a month into his presidency. Biden would be 77 upon swearing in, and Warren would be 71. Warren and Sanders both have February birthdays, so Warren would turn 72 shortly into her presidency. Of this whole group, Warren is the only one who wouldn’t set a new age record, though she would still be older than Reagan at the start.

While it’s clear that Carter’s remarks were couched in terms of his OWN age and whether HE would be capable of doing the job, it’s instructive to look at the field and the relative ages we have on the board here.

By comparison, Reagan LEFT the presidency at age 77, and that is the current record for the oldest person in the office at all, ever. We might see that record broken, under lots of scenarios. For instance, if Trump remains for a second term, he will break Regan’s record, turning 78 before the end of his second term. Both Biden and Sanders would promptly break that record within their first year. And so would Warren, eventually, assuming she served two terms.

And here’s some more presidential age trivia for you. Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest president ever sworn in, at age 42. In the current field, there are multiple people who could beat that record, including Buttigieg and Gabbard, who would be 38 and 40 respectively upon inauguration, though Buttigieg has a late-January birthday, so he’d turn 39 just a few days into his first term.

Another new national poll comes out and does not change the picture for October

Last up today, a brief look at some polling. A new poll from NBC News/The Wall Street Journal came out and did not do a ton to move the field, especially in terms of October debate qualification.

The margin of error for this poll is plus or minus 4.36% in either direction. On the key question about which candidate a Democratic primary voter would support in the primary, a few things stood out.

One is that Harris dropped to just 5%, while she had 13% in this same poll two months ago. Another is that Biden INCREASED to 31% from 26% two months ago, and Warren INCREASED to 25% from 19% two months ago. All the other changes were in in the one- or two-point range, which puts them well inside the margin of error.

The reason I mention this? Well, the poll did nothing to add qualifying results for Gabbard or Williamson, who are still looking to pick up more results by October 1stin order to reach the October DNC debate. I will keep you posted, and should have more on Gabbard and her polling status later this week.

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Well folks, it is officially sweater weather in Portland, with the outside temperature at 55 degrees as I record this. It’s gray, it’s rainy, there’s moss on stuff that shouldn’t have moss on it, it’s all the great things you expect from September in the Pacific Northwest. This means the yarden is rapidly approaching fall. The big visible change there is when the leaves on the Flame Ash in the front yard turn bright red right before falling off. It’s not QUITE there yet, but it’s a matter of days. So, best case for the next six months? A little sun to go with your sweater vest. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.