The New Politics of Race?

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Good morning. New Jersey moves toward a millionaires tax. New polls show Democrats leading Senate races. And the president continues to enjoy significant Latino support.

President Trump famously won the 2016 election thanks to a surge of support from white voters. This year, Trump is trailing Joe Biden largely because some of those voters have swung back to the Democrats. In several recent swing-state polls, Biden is even winning a narrow majority of white voters.

But Biden is not quite running away with the election. He leads by six percentage points in The Times’s national polling average, down from almost 10 points earlier this summer.

What’s going on? In large part, Biden continues to struggle with Hispanic voters. Trump, despite making repeated appeals to white nationalism and castigating immigrants, has a chance to do better among Hispanic voters than he did in 2016, and win more than a third of them, even as he does worse with white voters.

One possible explanation — a worrisome one for Democrats in the long run — is that Hispanics are following a path not so different from earlier European immigrant groups, like Italian and Irish Americans. As they assimilated, they became less reliably Democratic. To oversimplify, they voted for F.D.R. and then for Reagan.

Ross Douthat, a Times columnist, argues that Trump’s relative strength among Hispanic Americans is a sign that Democrats are misreading the politics of race. Liberals often draw a bright line between whites and people of color (as the acronym BIPOC — for Black, Indigenous and people of color — suggests). But this binary breakdown doesn’t reflect reality, Ross argues.

For starters, about 53 percent of Latinos identify as white, Andrea González-Ramírez of Medium notes. Others do not but are conservative — on abortion, taxes, Cuba or other issues. In some states, Hispanic men appear to be especially open to supporting Trump, Stephanie Valencia of Equis Research, a polling firm, told my colleague Ian Prasad Philbrick.

A recent Times poll of four battleground states captured some of these dynamics. Most Hispanic voters said Biden had not done enough to condemn rioting, said he supported cutting police funding (which is not true) and said they themselves opposed police funding cuts. For that matter, most Black voters also opposed such funding cuts.

It’s a reminder that well-educated progressive activists and writers — of all races — are well to the left of most Black, Hispanic and Asian voters on major issues. These groups, in fact, are among the more moderate parts of the Democratic coalition in important respects. If Democrats don’t grapple with this reality, they risk losing some of those voters.

For more: Two recent podcasts — the FiveThirtyEight politics podcast and “The Argument,” from Times Opinion — delve into Trump’s relative strength among Hispanic voters.

TWO MORE BIG STORIES

1. New Jersey moves to tax the richest

New Jersey is poised to become one of the first states to adopt a so-called millionaires tax, raising taxes on income over $1 million by nearly two percentage points. Phil Murphy, the state’s Democratic governor, and legislative leaders reached a deal on the tax as a way to alleviate a budget shortfall caused by the pandemic.

“We do not hold any grudge at all against those who have been successful in life,” Murphy, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, said. “But in this unprecedented time, when so many middle-class families and others have sacrificed so much, now is the time to ensure that the wealthiest among us are also called to sacrifice.”

Taxes on high incomes are likely to be central to the Democratic Party’s agenda if Biden wins the presidency. He has proposed raising tax rates on people who earn more than $400,000.

In other political news:

New polls by The Times and Siena College show Democratic Senate candidates with narrow to modest leads in Arizona, Maine and North Carolina. Winning those races would significantly increase the party’s chance of retaking Senate control.

At a CNN town-hall-style event last night, Biden played up his middle-class roots and criticized Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “You lost your freedom because he didn’t act,” Biden said.

2. Subverting the C.D.C.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outraged many public health experts last month by discouraging people without coronavirus symptoms from being tested. It’s now clear that Trump administration officials — and not C.D.C. scientists — wrote the recommendation, as a story by The Times’s Apoorva Mandavilli documents.

In other virus developments:

Olivia Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, endorsed Biden and accused Trump of badly mismanaging the coronavirus.

Schools in New York City again delayed the start of in-person classes for most students, just days before they were to begin.

The World Health Organization warned of a “very serious” resurgence of the coronavirus across Europe. (Here’s an updated map with country-by-country numbers.)

Here’s what else is happening

Hurricane Sally left entire Gulf Coast neighborhoods waterlogged, and officials have attributed at least one death to the storm. (Here are some resources for helping those coping with recent disasters.)

Firefighters made progress against several big wildfires in the West on Thursday, though authorities warned that dry conditions could allow fires to strengthen again.

A rare Mediterranean cyclone known as a Medicane — a storm all but unknown until the 1990s — made landfall in Greece today.

Amy Dorris, a former model, told The Guardian that Trump sexually assaulted her at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1997. Trump, who has been accused of assault or harassment by more than a dozen other women, denied Dorris’s allegation.

The Trump administration said it was investigating whether Princeton had violated federal civil rights law, suggesting that a public expression of contrition for a history of “systemic racism” at the university was an acknowledgment of illegal behavior.

From The Times Magazine: Two men died of meth overdoses at the home of a West Hollywood political donor. Conspiracy theories abounded — but the truth is even stranger.

Lives Lived: Dr. John Najarian was a renowned transplant surgeon and chief of surgery at the University of Minnesota Hospitals known for taking on particularly difficult cases, including a successful liver transplant in a 64-year-old man. Dr. Najarian died at 92.

IDEA OF THE DAY: The real law-and-order problem

The writer Anand Giridharadas has written a fascinating response to my recent item on Biden’s vulnerability on so-called law and order issues. Giridharadas writes:

America does have a law-and-order problem, but it’s nothing new. And the nature of that law-and-order problem is being the most violent country in the rich world. And the genesis of that violence isn’t Black and brown communities rising up against friendly, overwhelmingly white suburbs of Minneapolis. It’s white America, from the founding days of the republic, committing to an economic and political model that made violence a daily, systemic necessity.

I’d add one point: It’s possible to agree with all of that and still think Biden is vulnerable. “Law and order” is indeed often a dog whistle for racism, but it can still be politically effective. And “law and order” issues aren’t only and always about racism. Just consider the views of Black and Hispanic voters about police funding (which are highlighted in the chart earlier in today’s newsletter).

Along with his response, Giridharadas includes an interview with Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He’s the author of a new book, “The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy,” which delves into the racist roots of America’s propensity toward violence.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT, TIKTOK

A celebratory brisket

In honor of the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, here’s a recipe for a delicious brisket. Coca-Cola, along with chunks of fresh ginger, are the ingredients behind the sweet-and-sour sauce. For more ideas, the Cooking team curated a collection of holiday recipes.

Watch something … political

Our weekly suggestion from Gilbert Cruz, The Times’s Culture editor:

Less than two months before a presidential election, it might seem odd to recommend a series about politics, given that it’s everywhere. But I am locked into watching “Borgen,” now available on Netflix.

The three-season drama follows Birgitte Nyborg, a moderate Danish politician who becomes that nation’s first female prime minister. The tone falls somewhere between the often-too-idealistic “The West Wing” and the always-too-self-serious “House of Cards.” It’s a peek into a system in which compromise and deal-making between multiple political parties are often as necessary as pure power plays.

And, as our TV critic Margaret Lyons wrote recently in her Watching newsletter (subscribe!), “Alongside the political material, ‘Borgen’ is a grounded, rich domestic drama, and Birgitte’s seemingly #relationshipgoals marriage becomes something much messier and more fraught.”

Lessons from TikTok

The nature of fame on TikTok is inherently different from other platforms like Instagram: It has an algorithm that propels kids to stardom overnight, and entire fandoms are often built around creators of relatively mundane videos.

In The Atlantic, the writer Kaitlyn Tiffany explains how fame on TikTok serves as a reflection of what modern girlhood looks like. Videos often spotlight activities girls have been doing for decades, from dancing in their bedrooms to fighting with parents.

“TikTok is a massive network of girls talking primarily to one another,” she writes. “Every major cultural trend that has come from TikTok is a girl-culture trend: VSCO girls, e-girls, the dances created by girls and copied by other girls.”

Diversions

It’s nearly fall. Here’s a guide to what plants you can bring inside.

In this week’s Modern Love, a walk on the beach prompts revelations about a mother’s secret desire.

The late-night comedy hosts reacted to Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. coronavirus death rate was low compared to the rest of the world’s, “if you take the blue states out.”

Games

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Birthplace of the Renaissance (five letters).

Or try this week’s news quiz.

You can find all of our puzzles here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you on Monday. — David

P.S. The word “gympietides” — the minute, pain-causing molecules of Australia’s giant stinging trees — appeared for the first time in The Times this week, as noted by the Twitter bot @NYT_first_said.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the reopening of schools in New York City. On “The Argument,” Opinion writers talk about Bob Woodward’s new book and QAnon.

Lalena Fisher, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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