Thursday, October 29, 2020

Debates are Over, But “Nothing’s Moving the Numbers”

Valerie Richardson in a Washington Times interview wrote an analysis of why the many October (and some September) surprises don’t appear to be having an effect, or as I told her:

“Is there something out there? Is there a five-point shift in Hunter or in a late October surprise?” Mr. Ciruli said. “I don’t know. I’ve been waiting for it, the surprise that moves things. I’ve seen so many things that I thought might be the surprise, and nothing’s moving the numbers.”

Richardson reviewed a host of late campaign surprises, rumored and actual.

  • Vietnam peace deal – Humphrey, 1968
  • Iranian hostages – Carter, 1980
  • DUI arrest in Miami – W. Bush, 2000
  • Lehman Brothers crash – McCain, 2008
  • Superstorm Sandy – Romney, 2012
  • Access Hollywood tapes – Trump, 2016
  • Comey letter – Clinton, 2016
  • Woodward’s book and tapes – Trump, 2020
  • Trump’s taxes – Trump, 2020
  • Hunter Biden – Biden, 2020
  • The debates – Trump/Biden, 2020

Floyd Ciruli, director of the University of Denver Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, said the whirlwind year made it difficult for The New York Times’ reporting about Mr. Trump’s tax returns, for example, to take root.

“The story got some traction, but the next thing you knew you had the debate, and the story was pushed back, and then the president got the virus, and then the debate got pushed back,” said Mr. Ciruli. “So there’s just so many events piled up that it’s hard to not only get traction but to affect the electorate and tighten the race.”

If the media cycle moves too quickly for such surprises to resonate with the voters, Mr. Trumps may bear some of the blame with his constant changing of the conversation.

“What we’re in is a completely different news cycle than even four years ago,” Mr. Ciruli said. “Partially, it’s that our news consumption is different, but it’s also Trump. Because he is so news-needy and is in the news so much, there is something every day superseding what just happened.”

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