America is ready to change the channel on Trump

The Donald Trump show has jumped the shark.

After four years of watching Trump in his natural habitat of bad TV, U.S. voters are ready to tell him that his show is canceled.

Yes, it’s still possible that Trump might win the election on Nov. 3, which is now less than three weeks away. Possible, but highly unlikely. 538’s aggregate polling average has former Vice President Joe Biden leading Trump by 10.2 points — a lead that has only grown, bit by bit, in recent weeks after being remarkably steady all year. In all of its 40,000 election simulations, 538 gives Biden the win 87 times out of 100, compared with Trump wins in only 13 out of 100.

Biden’s lead is growing bigger because so many Americans, especially women, just can’t stomach Trump any more. His disastrous, bullying performance at the debate with Biden; his own bout with COVID-19 after he continually downplayed the disease’s seriousness; his reckless behavior in refusing to control the spread of the novel coronavirus; his mocking of those wearing masks; his dishonesty about the pandemic when he knew how deadly it was back in February; and so much more.

More than anything else, his failure to take serious actions to control the pandemic all but killed his chances at reelection. He keeps falsely claiming that the pandemic is over, despite the fact that there have been nearly 8 million cases and over 216,000 deaths related to COVID in the U.S. alone. Nearly 57% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of coronavirus, and Americans trust Biden over Trump on the issue, 57% to 40%.

Many polling and news organizations, citing multiple state polls, give Biden an easy path to go over the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. That threshold may not be reached on Election Night — a real possibility, given the huge number of absentee ballots that will need to be counted — but it will be reached. For instance, even with some swing states such as Florida, Iowa, and Ohio still in the toss-up category, this NPR count gives Biden 290 electoral votes to Trump’s 163. Other news organizations such as CNN, the Los Angeles Times, and Politico, all have Biden with more than enough votes to become the president-elect and the 46th president on Jan. 20, 2021.

We can only hope that the reality show presidency is nearly over. As Washington Post columnist Alyssa Rosenberg put it:

The thing about running your life — or your presidential administration — like a television show is that eventually TV shows end. And as Election Day approaches, the Trump Show looks like a fading program that’s hoping to earn a renewal — but knows deep down that its stars will probably have to settle for money earned in syndication. …

In the waning days of what might prove to be its final season, the Trump Show feels as if it’s given up on the prospect of bringing in new viewers. Instead, it’s replaying the hits for longtime fans.

Trump is going back to the ego-driven rallies that cable news carried endlessly four years ago, which got us into the Trump mess in the first place. The networks (except, of course, for Fox News) seem to have wised up and no longer give him so much free publicity.

But some networks are slow to learn. With Trump’s case of COVID-19, the Commission on Presidential Debates made the responsible decision to run the Oct. 15 town hall-style debate between Trump and Biden as a virtual event instead, with both candidates participating remotely. Trump refused, because he wouldn’t be able to try to browbeat Biden in person, thus possibly triggering his stuttering. And the debate moderator would be able to cut Trump off by muting him. So the commission took the responsible avenue to cancel the town hall debate.

ABC gave Biden the option of his own town hall, as it already had aired one for Trump a month ago. Now NBC is upping the ante by holding its own Trump town hall at the exact same time. Trump’s town hall will be shown on NBC affiliates such as MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo. Why reward Trump with free air time when he threw a hissy fit about a virtual town hall? The dueling town halls are a made-by-TV rivalry, as one NBC staffer put it. As media critic Eric Boehlert said in his Press Run newsletter, “There’s a good chance Biden will draw more viewers for his town hall Thursday night. Debunking the media myth about how Trump remains some sort of Must See TV president and that he’s a cultural phenomenon — a Reality TV star! — whose every word Americans hang on, ratings have consistently shown that most of the country tuned Trump out long ago.”

In a way, this falls perfectly into Trump world. He will measure each candidate’s success in TV ratings. The campaign is pushing its MAGA-hatted fervent supporters to tune in, just to juice the ratings. Let’s all give Trump a ratings failure he can’t ignore and tune in to ABC on Oct. 15.

Despite Biden’s current polling advantage, no Democratic voter is complacent about the election outcome. Unexpected (and certainly unethical, if not illegal) actions to suppress Democratic turnout are still happening. There are still draconian voter ID laws in many states. Too many still-active voters have been scrubbed from voter rolls, mainly in states run by Republicans, such as Georgia. Those same states closed many polling places in areas with higher Democratic turnout, especially those with a lot of minority voters. And with a surge of absentee ballots this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of those voters, especially those filling out an absentee ballot for the first time, are bound to make mistakes, with some states requiring extra “secrecy” envelopes and multiple witness signatures. Those votes might not be counted if the ballots are disqualified.

Then there’s the problem of Trump casting doubt on election results. For months, Trump has been selling the lie that mail-in ballots will lead to widespread fraud, despite the fact that voter fraud is almost nonexistent. The Electronic Registration Information Center found a mail-in ballot fraud rate of only 0.0025 percent in 2016 and 2018 in three vote-by-mail states. Trump constantly claims that the only way he can lose the election is if it’s rigged. (Actually, that’s only if “rigged” means that more people voted for Joe Biden than for Trump. A LOT more.) There’s also the possibility of the Trump team challenging election results in court, and if the Senate confirms nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, she would be another Trump-leaning conservative justice.

But the truth is, too many people are just tired of Trump’s lies, his antics, and his erratic behavior. No, the Trump show is in its final season. And a majority of Americans will be only too happy to deliver to Donald Trump the catchphrase that made him famous on The Apprentice:

“You’re fired.”

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