22 Comments

I sincerely hope Biden's campaign uses the incredible targeting capabilities of Google and Meta to indundate anti-vaxxers with messages about Trump's plan to let pharma companies do what they wanted by waiving excessive FDA restrictions and fast-tracking approvals. (This is what they'll hate the most but also totally Trump's best policy decision.)

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Will they? anti-vaxxers have a strong individual choice/I know best lean. Many of them are the same people who wanted to take ivermectin. I'm not sure they will see that as a bad thing.

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You think anti-vaxxers are pro pharma? They already believe the “deep state” is in cahoots with big pharma to make people 5G receivers, they’re not going to suddenly turn and think “even less regulation would be good”.

This is a very bizarre take that seems more informed by wanting to spin everything as bad for Biden, just like you do all over slowboring as well.

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I don't think they are pro-pharma just aren't particularly upset by trump removing regulations. They already don't trust the government on medicine, why would they assume those regulations are there to protect them?

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I don't know. In my (algorithmically dictated) experience, the true anti-vaxxers think the COVID vaccine (and mRNA vaccines in general) are a unique harm/poison. I'd think targeting them, specifically, with a "Trump made this monstrosity possible" message would be effective, but what do I know?

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Ok, I'm sure there are some of those. But in my experience there are many more with a kinda "just don't make me take it you do what you want" vibe.

And I think it would be almost impossible at this point to erase the (correct) impression that dems were the ones trying to pressure people into getting the vaccines.

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I'm convinced he hurts Trump more, but also, it probably won't matter. He's not going to be on the ballot in most states. Where he is on the ballot, he'll be at 1% or less. Maybe hits one point something in his best states. Which means a fraction of 1% nationwide. And when you're down in that ballpark, there's very little spoiler effect because those are mostly habitual third party protest voters who would have otherwise voted for the Libertarian or the Green or whatever other crank is on the ballot. Most were never gettable by either Trump or Biden.

He gets media coverage wildly out of proportion to how many votes he'll get in the end. Between his dismal ballot access, and the usual third-party fade, and how those two will reenforce each other, he's going to be a negligible factor. And while it's possible we get a 2000 scenario where it comes down to a few hundred votes in a single state, yeah he might make that difference, but at that point so would a million other contingent factors including the weather on election day.

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Suppose you're the Biden campaign and want to convince Republican voters to support RFK. What could be more effective than publicly attacking RFK and demonizing him? Negative partisanship is very important and one thing that would make Republicans feel better about voting for RFK is a sense he's hated by Biden.

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If I were a Trump guy I’d put millions into ads in Michigan about how the two parties are the same on Gaza so you should vote West to tell Genocide Joe what you think of him

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I've watched hours and hours of podcasts with RFKjr and he does not worry me. He's smart, has a firm grasp of history and a great record of environmentalism - not just talking about it, or worse keyboard warrior-ing about it, but actually doing something. As a Democrat, I'm at peace voting for him. I could never vote for Biden. He listens to insane Progressives who are the minority of the party, but who have him firmly in their hold. And then there's the Kamala Harris problem. I would never want her to be president. Ever.

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Josh I love this newsletter, and I have a serious question…what makes RFK a conspiracy wackadoodle? The only thing I could find beyond the pale was the weird stuff about racial targeting of Covid. Very bizarre to be sure, but other views pilloried as conspiracies to me seem perhaps unusual but not any more insane than far left views on gender ideology or the purpose of national borders, or any number of right wing election conspiracies, to name a few. So, can you help this RFK curious person come to his senses?

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I cover a number of them in the second paragraph here https://www.joshbarro.com/p/the-kennedys-were-always-bad

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Who should single-issue voters opposed to the "pandemonium" vote for? The guy who put Fauci in charge or the other guy who put Fauci in charge? I was hoping for a No Labels option but lacking that RFK gets a look. The "vaccine issue" is no longer some 3rd rail after public health burned their credibility with mandates and lies about the mRNA shots that don't prevent transmission and that 80+% of the country has chosen to not stay current on.

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Could I ask who you voted for in 2020?

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2016 I was "nevertrump" GOP, libertarian protest vote for President.

2020 I voted for Biden! The Democrats could have had me after being lifelong GOP. But subsequently destroyed it on covid. Remember Biden as candidate was going to "shut down the virus not the country" and was rejecting the concept of vaccine mandates etc. Then total 180, censorship, mandates, nonsense and 2 years of living in constant fear of what my kids would be prohibited from doing next because I hadn't rushed to give them a shot they didn't need and that didn't protect anyone else.

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Ray, I understand where you are coming from. My wife and I started fostering an 18 month year old boy in January 2020 and then two months later found ourselves both working from home while trying to keep a toddler alive. It was tough but we got through it and now that 5 year old is our adopted son! As a lifelong center-left Dem (I turn 40 in August) I did get very frustrated with the Biden administration’s pace of opening things back up. I live in southeastern WI and my son had to wear a mask at daycare up until early 2022. Undoubtedly, this hurt his language development and left us very frustrated and disillusioned. Nevertheless, when I look at the two parties responses to COVID, I can’t help but think the Dem approach was superior. They were way too cautious about opening things up, but I appreciate that the caution was borne out of a general desire to keep as many people alive as possible. Intentions matter a lot. The GOP wanted to open things up because they knew it would be popular, but their intentions were focused on scoring political points, not the best interest of American citizens. Don’t get me wrong, they ended up being at least partially right, but that was much more out of luck than policy skill or scientific insight. I think it’s risky to vote on the prospect that a political party will stay lucky.

It would be great if we could have a true non-partisan 9/11 commission style review of the origins and policy response of COVID and then have a sane congress that could implement changes to the FDA and CDC that would enable a better response in the future. I do wish that Dems looked back at themselves more critically in the COVID era and would learn from it. I’m sure some have - Dem governors like Jared Polis were at the vanguard of the “vax and relax” movement. Anyways, you have to vote in a way that you think is right for you and your family, but time and again, Dems demonstrate that they actually do care about policy and outcomes (even if they are sometimes wrong headed in their approach). Back in 2008, when the financial system needed rescue, Dems provided the votes that GOP leaders needed. In 2020, Dems negotiated in good faith with Trump’s best cabinet secretary (that’s for you Josh!) Steve Mnuchin to rescue the economy (the GOP would have let a Dem president sink). Dems are far from perfect but they approach governing seriously. That has to count for something. Thanks for reading my long pitch and I hope you and your family are well!

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I worry about Kennedy. Just qualified for the ballot in Michigan, a vulnerability for Biden right now. Though I can see him taking from both parties.

I think a key question will be this: Does the amount of Republicans who cross over for Biden or don’t vote because of their dislike for Trump outweigh protest votes against Biden from the Left and whatever votes Kennedy takes away. Hope so.

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Trump’s lack of sophistication should be a given, but I do appreciate your allergy to assumption there Josh :)

What I think is entirely possible here is that Trump is setting up a situation where he closes the popular vote gap by a lot, due to Biden losing the left wing environmentalist vote to RFK, but actually doing worse in the Electoral College than 2020 because said left wing environmentalists are not very efficiently distributed throughout the country. That is, he might pick up 5 percentage points in CA, but end up losing FL because he can’t get his story straight on abortion.

And the thing is, Trump probably thinks this is a good tradeoff. To him, winning the popular vote is more important than actually winning, as we can see by his reaction to that happening in 2016.

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No, Trump absolutely cares far more about winning the presidency this time around. Trump is the most important thing to Trump and being president lets him kill many prosecutions.

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Apr 20·edited Apr 20

Trump cares about winning, yes, but he cares *more* about getting the most votes, and so he would approve of a strategy that led to the latter without realizing it meant forgoing the former. He's not very smart.

Based on this and your other comments here, you don’t really understand Trump or Republicans.

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Maybe if Trump won the popular vote (highly unlikely, but let's imagine) and then lost the EC, that would finally convince Republicans to take seriously abolishing the EC. Right now it helps them tremendously. If it were to hurt them in even one election, I could see them arguing to kill it (especially Trump) because everything Republicans do is reactionary and they are incapable of seeing past tomorrow, much less another 4 years down the line.

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In the end, I don’t see Kennedy having that much pull in the election. He’s too much of an oddball.

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