Saxman: SOTU, Peanut Gallery, Motive Attribution Asymmetry? DeSantis Leads Trump in New National Poll

Virginia FREE Fridays at 3pm today – reply to this email to be added to the weekly calendar invite.

Special guest – Jeff Ryer, Press Secretary for the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus. Yes, we will be inviting folks from other caucuses to join us. #NonPartisan.

Topics – Joe Biden State of the Union, 2023 State Senate Races, General Assembly budget negotiations, and whatever else you want to bring up here in Election Nerd Disneyland.


Here’s an early analysis of the 2023 Senate elections done by Joe Szymanski over at Elections Daily. Not a bad start. Bottom line? The Virginia Senate is tick tight right now. As a result? It’s getting…

Back in 2014 – yes, almost ten years ago, as noted by Arthur Brooks in a March 2nd, 2019 column in the New York Times :

2014 article in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on “motive attribution asymmetry” — the assumption that your ideology is based in love, while your opponent’s is based in hate — suggests an answer.

The researchers found that the average Republican and the average Democrat today suffer from a level of motive attribution asymmetry that is comparable with that of Palestinians and Israelis. Each side thinks it is driven by benevolence, while the other is evil and motivated by hatred — and is therefore an enemy with whom one cannot negotiate or compromise.

And that was BEFORE Donald Trump came down the escalator.

While we often look at American politics as Red vs Blue, R vs D, Them vs US, when one puts it in the context of being “comparable with that of the Palestinians and Israelis” – it changes one’s perspective.

Or it SHOULD. (See below for Arthur Brooks talk about solving the problem)

If you watched the State of the Union Tuesday and thought only one side of the chamber was acting inappropriately, childish, or working from a set of “alternate facts”, I think you need a vacation from politics. Put down your smartphone. Turn off cable news. Give it a couple of weeks. Please. In fact, make that your Lenten sacrifice. Ash Wednesday is February 22nd. Hit this Amazon link for a rosary.

Consider this.

Both major political parties damn near swore a political blood oath NOT to touch Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. That’s 2/3rds of the federal budget completely off limits to any reform. ANY. REFORM. Of a budget running at hot trillion dollars OVER what revenues we bring in.

Look at the Debt Clock – if you dare.

No wonder Joe Biden was more focused on small ball bullsh*t like resort fees, cable bills, and airline tickets.

Meanwhile, the Peanut Gallery Caucus thinks the State of the Union is time to shine on social media. It’s not. It’s embarrassing. Childish. Unserious.

Begs the question – is anyone serious about the suffocating amount of debt being shoved down our kids’ and grandkids’ throats when they can’t even buy a house? Imagine growing up, graduating high school then college, getting jobs, getting married, working hard, moving up, living right, and not being able to find a decent house to buy. #AmericanDreamBuhBye

And THEN watching the President of the United State and the ENTIRE Congress basically tell you there is zero capacity for landing the American fiscal plane safely.

Fly-a-plane GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Biden took credit for creating millions of jobs. Okay, every politician does that. If it happens on your watch and it’s good, you take credit. If something bad happens on your watch, you put out a press statement after 5pm on Fridays. We all get it.

And the January jobs report was fantastic. But was it because people are running out of benefits and have to pay down their Christmas tabs? (irony noted)

As I have written before, the unemployment rate is not my preferred economic benchmark. The Labor Participation Rate is the one I watch. It means as a percentage how many are in the economic boat rowing and how many are not? Last twenty years:

That chart tells me what’s actually happening in the broader jobs market.

More history of the participation rate for context:

Politically, because not a lot of people like, AGAIN, the leading contenders for the nominations of either political party, I see the 2024 presidential race coming down to this one question:

“Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Yes, it’s back to the 1980s.

Here is the ABC/WAPO Poll and analysis

Only 16% of those polled believe that they are better off than they were four years ago.

Those numbers are dismal, historic lows, and a real problem for incumbents like Joe Biden. When you watch and hear supporters of Donald Trump on cable news, they say things like “it was better during the last administration” or “Biden’s plans aren’t working…” etc…

Toss in polling showing Trump beating Biden head to head and over time that could turn the Donald’s declining political fortunes around.

Now, I don’t think for a second that it will be a straight up Biden/Trump rematch. Too many Republicans are willing to split off from the GOP if Trump looks like he is going to win the nomination again. Or will Trump split off? #4thDivorce

Keeping Republicans unified like the Democrats managed to do in 2020, should be their #1 priority. #NothingElseMatters

Metallica? Live? Hell yeah…throw in an orchestra? Sublime.

Biden, on the other hand, gave a SOTU aimed clearly at the base of his party. Given the rousing response from his side of the Peanut Gallery, can you honestly say he’s NOT the favorite to win the nomination again? Lacking a recession this year, he’s the prohibitive favorite.

2023 is a critical year setting the field for the 2024 campaign.

So. Watch. Virginia.


See you at 3pm.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Burt Bacharach:

And because his collaboration with Dionne Warwick is iconic:

Now Arthur Brooks.

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