Presidential politics move fast. What we’re watching heading into a new week on the 2020 campaign:
Days to general election: 43
Days to first debate: 8
The October surprise of 2020 came early.
The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg injects another generational fight to an election year that already featured the deadliest public health threat in a century, the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression and the most significant civil unrest since the civil rights era. Six weeks before Election Day, the fight to replace Ginsburg is set to dominate headlines, with the prospect of reshuffling voters’ priorities and campaign strategies, especially for President Donald Trump.
Still, the pandemic rages on. Millions of school children are stuck at home. The economic recovery is dragging. And nearly 200,000 Americans have died.
Coming soon: one of the most highly anticipated presidential debates in the modern era is just eight days away.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
Is this suddenly a new election?
A presidential election that was shaping up to be a referendum on Trump’s divisive leadership through dueling crises may suddenly be transformed into one about Trump’s next lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.
It’s clear that the most passionate partisans in Washington and elsewhere will be obsessed with the election-eve nomination fight. The stakes are huge for the future of the U.S. judiciary and several major issues, abortion rights among them. But it’s less clear that the persuadable voters of Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona are equally interested in the Supreme Court battle.
Americans For Prosperity President Tim Phillips, a conservative leader whose organization has spent months knocking on swing-state voters’ doors and has a keen sense of the electorate, is skeptical that the court battle will change the direction of the election. He was out canvassing over the weekend and tells us that the Supreme Court didn’t even come up. He notes that most Americans are dealing with much more imminent crises: millions of children can’t go to school, grandparents remain in isolation, and Main Street in towns across the nation is struggling to stay open.
If anybody says they know how this nomination fight will or won’t reshape the 2020 landscape, they’re only guessing.
And the nominee is?
Those close to the president are encouraging him to announce his Supreme Court nominee on or before the day of the first presidential debate, which is Sept. 29.