I heard pollster and political analyst Frank Luntz speak (remotely) on Wednesday at a Salt Lake Chamber event. It was the day after the recent presidential debate, and Luntz was quite pessimistic about the leadership of the country. He was appalled at the behavior of Trump and Biden during the debate and worried about what the insults and name-calling taught the country’s young people about civility, decency and respect. “Democracy was just shattered,” he said.
Luntz works mostly for Republicans, but said Trump is likely to lose, and the GOP will likely lose control of the Senate, and the Democrats will retain control of the House. He also said he expects election night “is going to be awful,” with a lot of Republican votes counted first, so it will appear Trump won, only to have more Democratic votes counted later, giving Biden the win. That will set up an ugly battle, he predicted.
Luntz thinks polling methodology has improved since 2016, and he doubts there exists a large number of “secret” Trump voters whose sentiments aren’t being measured by pollsters.
While Luntz was pessimistic about the country’s leadership and direction, he was highly complimentary about Utah and our collaborative style of governance. “Utah is very special,” he said. “The people are special.” He praised Utahns for being willing to listen to each other and to seek common ground.
Reader Response. Legislative start date — I wrote on Thursday that the 2021 legislative session would start on Jan. 25. Robert Rees, an attorney in the Office of Legislative Research & General Counsel, sent me “a small correction”: “If Amendment F passes (and assuming no intervening change in the statute establishing the beginning date of the session), the Legislature’s annual general session will convene on January 19, not January 25.” Amendment F gives the Legislature statutory authority to decide when sessions start in January, rather than having the start date mandated in the Constitution.
The week’s winner. Utah’s school children are winners because of the good work of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and the people who invest the funds raised by SITLA. State Treasurer David Damschen announced recently that the Permanent State School Fund will distribute a record $93 million in 2021, with every school in the state receiving a portion, based on a per-pupil formula. Local school communities decide how the money is spent, within guidelines. SITLA does a great job leveraging the state’s school trust lands to raise money for schools.
Parting Shot. Good for Rudy Gobert. He called out China in a recent Instagram post, linking to another post by a French actor noting that “Millions of Uyghur Muslims are detained and tortured in concentration camps in China.” Gobert simply said, “Wrong is wrong.” That might sound rather innocuous, but the NBA has a very strong and sensitive relationship with China. When a Rockets team general manager expressed support for Hong Kong protestors, it created an international incident. We’ll see if Gobert’s post riles up the Chinese despots. See more info at Outkick.com.
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