September was another banner month in this highly contentious US presidential election cycle, which saw some major news events that shifted the tone and issues of the campaign.
The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set a major battle in motion between Democrats and Republicans over who gets to decide her successor. A bombshell New York Times report shed never-before seen light on President Trump’s taxes, revealing he paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years. Lastly, a disastrous first debate performance saw former Vice President Joe Biden’s odds tick up nearly 10 points overnight on the Bonus.com Election Odds Tracker.
With just over 30 days to go until the election, it’s officially nail-biting time. Read on for our recap of September 2020 to catch yourself up on what will surely be an election to remember for generations to come.
As of this writing, Biden is sitting with a comfortable 22% odds lead over the President. But as this campaign has shown time and again, anything is possible.
The final week of September kicked off with a bombshell New York Times report on President Donald Trump’s taxes published Sunday, Sept. 27. The Times obtained nearly 20 years worth of the president’s tax returns, which blows several large holes in his carefully crafted billionaire business genius persona.
For starters, the Times reports that Trump paid no federal income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the last 15 years. In both 2016 and 2017, his first two years in office, he paid $750 in federal income taxes. He’s also facing a protracted battle with the I.R.S. that could cost him as much as $100 million, and he has further mortgage and debt liabilities which are coming due over the next two years totaling more than $300 million.
The report goes into Trump’s many business dealings in great detail, and overall paints a portrait of a man who has financed his billionaire lifestyle with a complex web of claimed financial losses that has enabled him to avoid paying any federal income taxes for most of the last 15 years.
It also reveals how many of his businesses, including his pride and joy roster of luxury golf resorts, are only staying afloat because Trump is continually dumping immense sums of money into them.
On the eve of the first presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden has opened his lead slightly on the Bonus.com 2020 US Presidential Election Odds tracker, sitting with a roughly 12.5% advantage as of this writing.
Trump’s entire image is inseparably tied up in his perceived business acumen. The picture revealed by the Times’ reporting tells a very different story, one of a man who was flush with cash coming off the success of his hosting turn on “The Apprentice,” but who saw that money start to dry up right around the time he announced his bid for the presidency.
Last week ended with the sad news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg was only the second woman to ever serve on the high court. Throughout her career as a jurist, she came to be seen as an icon for justice and equality, particularly by women and the LGBTQ community.
Ginsburg’s passing has changed the trajectory of the 2020 US presidential race, with an impending battle over appointing her replacement sure to be highly contentious. This path was all but guaranteed to be fraught with deep partisan anger when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Friday the Senate would quickly move to replace Ginsburg.
Under normal circumstances McConnell’s announcement wouldn’t be anything unusual, but confirming a Supreme Court nominee in an election year would directly violate the so-called McConnell rule. This rule was established in 2016 during the final term of President Barack Obama, when the McConnell-led Senate refused to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland following the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia.
McConnell’s justification at the time was that a Supreme Court justice should not be chosen in an election year, even though it was more than 250 days until Election Day. Ginsburg died just 46 days before the 2020 US presidential election, and McConnell announced mere hours after the news that he had no intention to follow his own rule.
The news of the Justice affectionately referred to as RBG passing mobilized the Democratic fundraising machine. Within just 40 hours of the announcement, left-leaning advocacy nonprofit ActBlue raised more than $100 million in new, small-dollar donations. No similar fundraising bump was reported among right-leaning orgs. For contrast, the Trump campaign’s entire August donation haul was just $200 million.
As it stands, former Vice President Joe Biden still has a nearly 10 point lead over Trump on the Bonus.com 2020 US Presidential Election Tracker. As Friday’s news shows however, there seems to be no limits to the twists and turns the year 2020 has in store.
President Trump’s streak of bad news continued this week with revelations from an upcoming book by famed journalist Bob Woodward that showed the president knew the seriousness of the coronavirus threat as early as February, but admitted to deliberately downplaying it to avoid “creat[ing] a panic.”
Trump gave Woodward unprecedented access, the men speaking on at least 18 occasions. The most explosive revelations in the book so far have been Trump’s candor about his early handling of the pandemic, which came out as the U.S. approaches 200,000 total deaths from COVID-19.
The Trump campaign is also finding itself short of cash. According to NBC News, Trump raised $210 million in August. Certainly nothing to sneeze at, but a significantly lower take than former Vice President Joe Biden, whose campaign took in $365 million for the same period.
Trump has had three full years to raise donations ahead of the campaign, so being virtually neck-and-neck with Biden at this late stage in the race has raised alarm bells in the Trump camp.
In other campaign money news, billionaire and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines this weekend when he committed to spending $100 million in the state of Florida to boost Biden’s chances. Bloomberg himself entered the campaign late in the game but failed to drum up enough support for his bid for the presidency.
In defiance of public health guidance, Trump has pushed ahead with a series of campaign rallies over the last week, with raucous crowds not socially distancing and wearing very few masks. In an apparent about-face to his about-face about the importance of mask wearing, Trump asked a reporter last week to remove his mask during a White House press briefing. The reporter declined.
With less than 8 weeks to go until election day, the race has become a nail-biter. According to the Bonus.com Presidential Election Tracker, Biden is ahead of Trump in the aggregate by just under 8% at the time of this writing.
Returning from Labor Day weekend, the Biden camp is no doubt pleased to see their candidate back in familiar territory: with a strong lead over President Donald Trump to win the 2020 US presidential election.
The first week of September was a nail-biter, with Trump clawing his way back from a nearly 30 point deficit to be within a single percentage point as the favorite to win. Now, with less than 60 days until the election, Biden’s lead has grown to just shy of 10 points.
It’s still anybody’s race, of course, so the candidates will no doubt be working almost around the clock over the next two months to make their cases with the American voters.
President Trump weathered a scandal involving remarks he allegedly made about US servicemembers killed in action. An article in The Atlantic cited several unnamed senior administration officials who allegedly claimed Trump called them names like “losers” and “suckers.”
Biden, whose own son Beau served in Iraq and later died of brain cancer in 2015, seized on this opportunity to hit the president on his patriotism, calling Trump’s purported words “downright un-American.”
“Beau wasn’t a loser or a sucker,” Biden said. “He served with heroes.”