Last week, the New York Times published a story with the headline “Europe’s Deadly Second Wave: How Did It Happen Again?” The essential theme of the article is that European governments relaxed their restrictions too quickly and thus brought this second wave upon themselves. The lead image is the chart below, showing daily deaths peaking in early April, falling to a long trough from late spring through early fall, then rising to an equivalent peak by the end of November.
The conventional wisdom going into next Tuesday’s election is that Donald Trump has a built-in advantage in the Electoral College, and that if he can narrow the gap in the popular vote to 2 or 3% or maybe even 4%, he can retain the Presidency.
This expectation results partly from his 2016 victory, as Hillary Clinton had a 2.1% popular vote lead but still lost handily in the Electoral College. It also results from an analysis of state by state polls, which appear to show a closer election in the battleground states than the national polls reflect.
Seven days out from the election, according the 538 polling average, Biden leads Trump by 9.1% nationally. In the key states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, however, the lead is only 7.1% and 5.3%, respectively. Pennsylvania, by 538’s calculations, is the “tipping point” state. Thus, if each state’s preferences shifted uniformly toward Trump by 5.4%, Pennsylvania would move into the Republican column and give Trump the win, even though Biden would still lead the popular vote by 3.7%. …
Voter turnout is likely to decide the winner. In prior elections, a candidate for President could win by capturing the lion’s share of “swing voters,” “undecided voters,” or “independent voters.” This year, that’s no longer the case.
There’s just not very many of them. Research by political scientist Corwin D. Smidt indicates that in Presidential elections between 1952 and 1980, an average of 12% of voters switched parties from one election to the next. Since 1984, that average has fallen to 6%.
If a candidate has little hope of converting his opponent’s partisans, his best path to victory involves motivating his own supporters to turn out to vote. …
Chicagoans have one thing in common: we do not, in the balmy days of mid-summer, feel nostalgic for February. So chalk up another tally on the register of ways 2020 has changed everything: we’d all merrily transport ourselves back to that naïve era when the coronavirus was a thing in China but not a scourge that would turn our lives upside down.
When the mayhem in Milan opened our eyes to the severity of the threat, we scrambled to learn how to protect ourselves. Back then, medical experts told us the virus spread primarily by airborne droplets which travel less than six feet and fall quickly to the ground. …
Do you remember the Marshmallow Test?
It’s a famous experiment run by Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel to test young children’s ability to delay gratification. The researchers placed kids in a room with a treat and gave them a choice: they could eat the treat, or they could wait fifteen minutes, at which time they could exchange it for a more desirable treat. It’s amusing to watch the kids as they struggle to muster the required will power.
Amid widespread speculation that relaxing stay-at-home orders would reverse the progress made in stemming the transmission of COVID-19, an analysis of recent trends shows that those fears are justified.
Although many states have just begun to re-open their economies and decrease restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, the effect of those changes is already quite clear. For the first time since I began tracking the number cases and deaths in the 84 counties originally hit hardest by the virus, the height and duration of the curve has begun to grow instead of shrink.
This change isn’t readily apparent if you look at the country’s overall numbers: on the surface, things appear to be improving: both deaths and new cases are declining. …