Daily Reformer: Cancellation of large events in Washington. Coming here?

Good morning!

Wow a lot of bills being heard in committee rooms on the Capitol campus today. Capitol readers: Who can tell me which ones matter? [email protected] Extra points for the ones that seem like they don’t matter, but actually matter.

No Mariners games in Seattle for now

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington will order a halt to public gatherings of more than 250 people, aimed at sporting events and concerts, Seattle Times reports.

The Times has a detailed look at the bureaucratic Cover Your Bum behavior among federal and state agencies as scientists in Washington state sought to get approval for early coronavirus testing. Existing regulations meant to protect health and privacy often stood in the way. Still, according to the reporting, the federal government has been anything but nimble in this emerging crisis. And what signals were they getting from the top?

More broadly, how can government be more nimble in these crises? This is something for progressive readers to think hard about, since they ostensibly care about government.

This piece in conservative National Review is filled with a bit too much airy abstraction for my taste — can’t we just have started testing sooner? — but it also indicates that at least some conservatives are coming to terms with this dangerous moment. Michael Brendan Dougherty is also firmly rejecting the know-nothingism coming from other quarters.

The brutality of exponential math: A week ago: 100 confirmed cases in the U.S.; now, more than 1,000 cases. Sure, it’s like the flu. Just more contagious and far deadlier.

This is a good explainer in a helpful QandA format from the Times on how coronavirus gets spread and what precautions you can take. Very ewww but also helpful:

Can the virus last on a bus pole, touch screen or other surface? Yes. After numerous people who attended a Buddhist temple in Hong Kong fell ill, the city’s Center for Health Protection collected samples from the site. Restroom faucets and the cloth covers over Buddhist texts tested positive for coronavirus, the agency said.

Biden and Bernie
Barring some unforeseen event, Joe Biden is the likely Democratic nominee for president, which means we’ll likely see a November election between two white men who together have lived 150 years. John Harris wrote an insightful and fun (but also a little scary) essay last week (headline: “2020 Becomes the Dementia Election):

In the cases of Biden and Trump, as their public appearances often vary widely in crispness and command of detail, the reporter-operative conversation increasingly sounds something like the way family members discuss an elderly relative, trying to distinguish normal aging from something more troubling. “I’m becoming worried: Dad really seemed lost at dinner.” “No, no, that’s just because all the ambient noise makes it hard for him to hear. One on one, he’s as sharp as you or me.” “I don’t know, Sis, I don’t think you are facing facts.” “Oh, so now this is about me?!”

Biden did it by stitching the coalition that propelled Democrats to the House majority in 2018, but his strongest support came from Black voters who gave him massive margins in southern states and places like Detroit. The undercovered dynamic of the race: Black voters loyal to Joe Biden because he was unquestionably loyal to Barack Obama, as pointed out in this tweet that has gone viral.

But Biden did not replicate the coalition of Obama, who won young voters. Unfortunately for Sanders, not enough of them turned out. But Dems have a serious problem — and especially in the case of a Biden 2022 midterm — with the generational divide.

And consider: Sanders runs two cycles in a row, first against a mainstream Democratic woman with a long history in the party, and then against a mainstream Democratic man with a long history in the party. Unfortunately, it’s like a political science experiment of unconscious bias against women candidates, and the results are clear, as Reformer guest analyst Brian Rice told us Tuesday and pointed out to me again early this morning:

Quite a night for Joe Biden. He ran even stronger than I thought possible. He won nearly every single county in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri. (My dad would make an onomatopoeia out of that somehow.) These are some 200 more pieces of the puzzle which now shows quite a picture. Perhaps the biggest is that Biden can reconstruct the Blue Wall against Trump. 

In 2016 Missouri was a dead heat between Clinton and Sanders—50/50. Yesterday, Biden had 60%. In my view the 10% bump for “the establishment” candidate Biden can be directly traced to the subtle bias against women Clinton faced in 2016. 

Sanders has constructed a didactic narrative in his campaign and insisted in Engels-like fashion that the election was a dialectic between two world views. There perhaps is a kernel of truth in that. But the reality is that people vote for a whole lot of reasons. And in 2016 no one understood those reasons better than the current occupant of the White House.

I should also note Rice’s interest in the race: He’s lobbyist for the firefighters; the international has endorsed Biden.

A related factor, Nate Silver estimates that one-fourth of Sanders’ support in 2016 was #neverhillary. The Sanders base while significant is smaller than it appeared — and much smaller if you were just basing it on Twitter noise. And it didn’t grow enough.

AOC, who endorsed Sanders in October and has been campaigning for him ever since and was a particular help in the Latino community, is gracious and measured in defeat, and takes the long view. Smart.

J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and toddler son.