I keep encountering people who share with me their (agonized) conviction that Trump will be re-elected. Admittedly, it’s a fear that keeps me up at night–despite my life-long belief that most Americans are good, sensible people, and despite consistent polling that shows a majority of citizens disapprove of him.

It isn’t an entirely unreasonable fear; thanks to the Electoral College, gerrymandering, vote suppression, Russian bots and the various electoral games at which the GOP excels, it can happen. The strength of turnout in November by voters determined to “vote blue no matter who” will tell us whether today’s optimism or pessimism is justified.

That said, I recently became aware of some polling that should cheer us up.

Stan Greenberg is a longtime Democratic pollster, and he predicts both massive turnout and a massive defeat for Trump and for the GOP generally. A column in the Los Angeles Times reports the basis for his optimism.

The columnist begins by conceding the possibilities for defeat: maybe the Democrats will self-destruct at their convention, for example.

Maybe vote suppression by Republicans will succeed. Maybe Tulsi Gabbard will run as a third-party candidate and draw enough votes in a few key states to give the election to Trump. Maybe Trump will lose the popular vote by millions — again — but squeak through in the electoral college by a few thousand.

Despite those possibilities, the column notes that Trump has done nothing to expand his base–and cites Greenberg and others for data showing that the GOP’s base is considerably smaller than that of the Democrats.

Almost half of registered voters (48%) say they are certain they will vote against Trump, while only a third (34%) say they are certain they will vote for him.

The Democratic strategist and pollster Stan Greenberg has a whole book about why Trump will lose (with the great title R.I.P. G.O.P.). He asked voters in a 2016 election day poll whether they could handle an unexpected expense of $500. A majority of unmarried women said they could not. They are unlikely to agree with Trump’s claims about his tax cut benefiting everybody, and unmarried women make up a quarter of the potential electorate.

On many of the issues Americans care most about, Trump is consistently on the wrong side. An increasing majority of people, as Greenberg points out, believe “immigration benefits our country,” up from 50% in 2016 to 65% today. An increasing majority — now more than 60% — believe that the government should play a bigger role in addressing our problems, especially in healthcare. Free college tuition and a wealth tax have widespread support.

But what about the Electoral College? Hillary Clinton was ahead in all the national polls, and won nationally by nearly three million votes. What about Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin?

Of course 2016 showed that we need to look beyond the national polls, and focus on the swing states. But there, too, the news is encouraging. In Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, since Trump took office, his net approval ratings, which started out on the plus side, have fallen — disastrously. In Pennsylvania they decreased by 17 points, in Wisconsin by 20 points, in Michigan by 22 points. In the midterm voting, those three swing states all elected Democrats in 2018. Wisconsin elected a Democratic governor to replace a Republican, and reelected a Democratic senator; Pennsylvania reelected a Democratic governor and Democrats there took three House seats away from Republican incumbents. In Michigan, which the Democrats lost to Trump by 11,000 votes, the Democrats had a huge victory in 2018, sweeping the elections for governor and senator and flipping two House seats. Voters also banned gerrymandering and created automatic voter registration, which together will bear fruit in 2020. All this explains why I’m quite certain we’ll be free at last from Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2021.

A lot can happen between now and November. We can’t afford to rely on this or any other analysis– we can’t let our guard down. We have to keep working hard and do everything in our power to get the vote out.

But these are good numbers and good omens. Fingers crossed…


Defining Chutzpah

Chutzpah is a yiddish term that roughly translates as “gall” or “nerve.” Borscht belt comedians have historically illustrated its meaning with the following example: a young man kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.

The young man in that story looks almost reasonable in comparison with AIG–or more accurately, in comparison with AIG’s former CEO, Maurice Greenberg. Greenberg may go down in history as the ultimate example of chutzpah. As Politico noted, in an introduction to their report,

Remember when AIG took a $182 billion bailout only to turn around and hand out seven-figure bonuses to the same guys who tanked their company? Grab the pitchforks — it gets better.

Politico was talking about the fact that AIG’s current board was meeting to consider whether the company should join a lawsuit brought by Greeenberg and former shareholders of the insurance giant. The suit centers on an allegation that the terms of the bailout that saved the company were unfairly onerous.

Think about that for a minute.

In fact, let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s say your brother-in-law came to you with a problem; thanks to his own greed and all-too-clever business dealings, his company was on the verge of ruin. Assume he begged for your help–a loan to get him out of the dicey situation he had created. You wouldn’t have given him the loan, but you knew that if you allowed him to go under, other family members–most of whom were innocent of any participation in his folly–would lose money they’d invested in his business. Some would lose their life savings. Your nephews would have to drop out of college, your sister-in-law who had cancer would lose her health insurance…The consequences of his stupidity and venality would be horrible.

So you grudgingly agree. You tell him that you’ll lend him the money, but only on condition that he repay it with interest at an above-market rate and subject to other terms you hope will protect you and his company against further profligate behaviors. He eagerly agrees, since he knows no one else would lend him the money and the higher rate is justified by the greater risk involved. Deal.

Immediately after he gets the money, he takes his management team on an extravagant cruise. And then, when the business stabilizes, he sues you, alleging that the terms of your loan were unfair.

See what Politico meant by the pitchforks reference?

I don’t blame AIG’s current board for going through the motions of deciding whether to join this jaw-dropping lawsuit. They have an obligation to their shareholders to actively consider even bizarre claims, and they decided–quite prudently–against it. But the audacity of the Greenberg lawsuit–the staggering sense of entitlement it displays–is absolutely overwhelming.

It easily displaces other examples of chutzpah. In fact, it may be the most apt definition of the word yet encountered.

It makes me want to ask that famous question: have you no shame, sir?