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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

As Trump Overtakes Biden in Polls, Political Ace Mark Barabak Tries to Talk Us Down from the Ledge

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Donald Trump isn't making any secret about what he'll do if he wins next year's presidential election: Install an authoritarian government loyal to him, not the Constitution.

Parroting fascist political rhetoric, Trump in recent weeks has attacked domestic opponents as "vermin" who must be "rooted out," amid reports that right-wing allies are preparing policy plans to rescind the independence of the U.S. Justice Department, to install loyalists throughout the government while dismantling the Civil Service system, to round up undocumented immigrants and imprison them in "sprawling camps," to unilaterally send federal troops into Mexico to fight drug cartels, and to fulfill his fervent desire to use the military to put down domestic protest.

Or, as Trump famously told erstwhile Chief of Staff John Kelly, "Hitler did a lot of good things."

Being somewhat partial to Democracy ourselves, Newsmakers has been unnerved by recent, state-by-state polls showing Trump now leading President Biden in key battlegrounds -- and so reached out to Mark Z. Barabak, the most experienced and trustworthy political reporter we know, in search of a level-headed view of these developments.

"It's like a weather forecast a year out," shrugged the Los Angeles Times political columnist, suggesting that while you might trust a meteorologist's prediction that next winter will be cold, it's probably not a good bet to accept their prognostication about exactly how much precipitation will fall on the first Tuesday after the first Monday next November.

As with every other recent election, added Barabak, who has covered every presidential campaign since 1984, the 2024 result likely will be determined by perhaps 100,000-200,000,or so total votes in the handful of states that remain truly competitive: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsyslvania and Wisconsin, for starters.

His bottom line: Current polls reflect the public's perspective solely as a referendum on Biden, as Trump benefits from not being constantly in the public eye., By next fall, as voters focus more fully on the reality that whatever the president's flaws, he is all that deters the toxic menace of Trumpist extremism, the contest will transform into a choice election,.

In our conversation on this week's episode of Newsmakers TV, Barabak also offers insights on the upcoming state of play for control of the Senate and the House, the contest for California's open U.S. Senate seat and the possible political implications of the curent wars in the Mideast and Ukraine.

He also talks about "The New West," his terrific recent series that reported in depth and detail the stories of how and why key Western states, from the Rockies to the Pacific, rapidly transformed from steadfast Republican to loyally Democratic electorates.

The series represents a hiding-in-plain sight perceptual scoop that explains a critical feature of the U.S. political landscape that has been all-but-overlooked by other national political reporters overwhelmingly festooned with East Coast blinkers, winkers and blinders.


You can watch our interview with Mark via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link, or listen to the podcast version here. TVSB, Channel 17, broadcasts the show every weekday at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs the program on Monday at 5:30 p.m.


Brendan Loper cartoon for The New Yorker.

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