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Fearing bet on loser, more Democratic voters are playing pundit

Former Vice President Joe Biden meets with supporters

Former Vice President Joe Biden meets with supporters on Aug. 9 in Clear Lake, Iowa. Credit: AP / John Locher

All about the electability

Democratic primary voters are sorting through the field to decide their favorite. But for a majority of them, who they like best may not determine who they will vote for.

The Atlantic writes that Democrats fearful of a second Donald Trump term are struggling to figure out who would be his strongest opponent with the electorate at large.

A Gallup poll in June found 58% of the Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters wanted the candidate with the "best chance" of beating Trump, versus 39% who gave priority to the one who they agreed with most on issues. The gap was narrower in a Quinnipiac poll this month, but electability still had the edge by 50% to 46%.

For now, that's helping Joe Biden, who has put up the best numbers in polls showing head-to-head matchups between Trump and the top Democratic contenders. In a Monmouth University survey, among those who feel only one or two candidates have a shot, 41% currently support Biden, compared with just 13% who are for Elizabeth Warren; 11% for Kamala Harris; 10% for Bernie Sanders; and 5% for Pete Buttigieg.

The Quinnipiac poll found Warren tops at 32% when Democratic-minded voters were asked about who has the best policy ideas. But on the question of who would get their vote, Biden held an 11-point lead over Warren.

The Atlantic said "who can beat Trump" was the near-universal standard of New Hampshire Democrats it interviewed recently.

Elizabeth Keniston, who was waiting to hear Biden speak in Portsmouth, said, “I like the other platforms better, but I think he’s the only one the middle of the country might vote for. I usually vote for the person I want. But this year I’m going to be more thoughtful. I look at polls.”

Recession? Don't worry ... much

Is the U.S. at risk of recession? Comments from Trump Sunday added up to a not-quite-absolute guarantee of no.

“I don’t think we’re having a recession," Trump told reporters as he returned to Washington from his New Jersey golf club. “We’re doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they’re loaded up with money.”

Trump acknowledged that economies across the world are "not doing well like we are doing," including China, which he insisted was paying the bigger price from tariffs in the trade war with the U.S. "I mean the world is in a recession right now, although that’s too big a statement," he said.

Trump added that "most economists actually say we are not going to have a recession," and the U.S. has options on how to handle a recession. If the U.S. hit a slowdown, Trump added, "it would be because I have to take on China and some other countries … If I wanted to make a bad deal and settle on China, the market would go up. But it wouldn't be the right thing to do."

Earlier, Trump economic and trade advisers Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro went on the Sunday talk shows to try to wave off recession fears. Kudlow also admitted how he famously got it wrong as a CNBC commentator in 2007, the year before the last economic meltdown, when he predicted “there’s no recession coming.” For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

Taking Trumpophilia to extremes

Stephen Miller, who has devised Trump's hard-line immigration policies, is at the peak of his White House power, The Washington Post reports, and it's not just because he and his boss are on the same wavelength. Miller's got the show-your-loyalty thing coming out of his ears.

In an interview with the Post, Miller said he experienced a “jolt of electricity to my soul” when he saw Trump announce his presidential run in 2015, “as though everything that I felt at the deepest levels of my heart were for now being expressed by a candidate for our nation’s highest office before a watching world.”

Miller said he has no personal ambitions beyond serving Trump. “Every day of my life I thank God for having the privilege to come and work here for this president and this mission,” Miller said. “And you cannot understand me, you cannot understand anything that I say, do or think if you do not understand that my sole motivation is to serve this president and this country, and there is no other.”

The Post profile portrayed Miller as a ruthless operative who made end runs around Cabinet secretaries to command lower-echelon officials inside their departments to do his bidding. “The thing about Stephen is, he can bully anybody he wants because he and the president share similar views, and he is channeling the president’s beliefs,” said a senior official.

His influence with Trump is rivaled only by another 30-something, son-in-law Jared Kushner. The Post wrote that Miller is dismissive of Kushner's more moderate immigration views, according to senior officials. After the story went online, Miller called those claims “utterly malicious fabrications.”

Janison: Left coast heft

New York gets more notice from Trump for "Presidential Harassment," but California is the heavyweight for state-level resistance to Trump and will play the bigger role in the Democrats' 2020 efforts to deny him re-election, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

The Golden State has 55 electoral votes to 29 for the Empire State. Its presidential primary is on March 3, the biggest prize on Super Tuesday and eight weeks before New York's.

California's population and economic clout translate into power in pushing stricter EPA standards for cars. Both states have joined lawsuits challenging Trump policies on climate change and immigration. A New York law tries to get at Trump's tax returns; California would keep him off the primary ballot next year if he doesn't release them.

California also brings more star power to the Democratic race. Sen. Kamala Harris among the top-tier contenders, while New York's Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rank close to the bottom.

Cold shoulder from Greenland

Trump's past property acquisitions have never included 57,000 citizens of another country, but they do apparently inform his interest in having the U.S. buy Greenland from Denmark.

"Essentially it's a large real estate deal," Trump told reporters on his way back to Washington. Earlier, Kudlow confirmed on "Fox News Sunday" that Trump is “looking at” purchasing the world's largest island. "Greenland is a strategic place. They’ve got a lot of valuable minerals,” Kudlow said.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen visited Greenland Sunday and assured its self-governing inhabitants: "Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this (Trump's interest in acquiring) is not meant seriously."

Serious or not, it may be that Trump doesn't want to sound too eager. "It’s not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that,” said the president, who is scheduled to visit Denmark next month on a previously scheduled Europe trip.

What else is happening:

  • A majority of Americans in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll panned Trump's response to the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Only 36% approved, while 52% disapproved. His overall approval stood at 43%.
  • Democratic 2020 contender Beto O'Rourke, who is from El Paso, told NBC's "Meet the Press" the killer's targeting of Hispanics there was a "consequence and cost" of Trump.
  • Asked on CNN's "State of the Union" if it would be a "racist act" to vote for Trump in 2020, Buttigieg said, "Well, at best, it means looking the other way on racism."
  • Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who is considering a GOP primary challenge to the president, said on "Meet the Press" he'd still vote for Trump over any Democratic nominee. "I am a core Republican," Sanford said.
  • Trump tied trade negotiations with China to the unrest in Hong Kong on camera for the first time, saying that a deal would be harder if there’s a violent conclusion to protests there.
  • Trump is upset with Fox News polls, though it's unclear whether he thinks they are biased against him or is complaining they are not biased enough in his favor. "Fox has changed, and my worst polls have always been from Fox. There’s something going on at Fox," Trump complained. The Fox poll Thursday showed him losing head-to-head matchups against four top Democrats.

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