July 15, 2020

Quinnipiac University's Wednesday poll gives former Vice President Joe Biden his best chances yet of winning the 2020 presidential election.

Voters back Biden over President Trump 52 percent to 37 percent, up from 49 percent to 41 percent from a month ago, the national poll shows. And while things can drastically change in the next 16 weeks, "this is a very unpleasant real-time look" at Trump's probable future, Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy says.

A movement of independents to Biden's side is key to his new gains. They back the former vice president 51 percent to 34 percent, as opposed to a 43 percent to 40 percent split in Biden's favor last month. Meanwhile Trump's approval rating tanked six points from June, down to just 36 percent this month. Approval of Trump's handling of the economy has almost reversed, from 52 percent approval an 45 percent disapproval in June to 44 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval in July. Voters narrowly say they now believe Biden will handle the economy better than Trump.

Past polls have typically given Trump an advantage in one way or another, or revealed a group of voters he could potentially turn the tides with. But this time, "there is no upside, no silver lining, no encouraging trend hidden somewhere in this survey for the president," Malloy said.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,273 registered voters from July 9–13 via cell phone and landline, with a 2.8 percent margin of error. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:08 p.m.

Just a few weeks after leaving office, former President Donald Trump was back in the spotlight on Sunday.

At the beginning of his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, he asked the enthusiastic crowd if they missed him already before telling them that he'll "continue to fight right by your side."

He then dismissed reports that he was thinking about breaking off from the Republican Party and striking out on his own. "I am not starting a new party," he said, claiming the idea was "fake news." Instead, Trump predicted the GOP will "unite and be stronger than ever before." Tim O'Donnell

4:30 p.m.

Unsurprisingly, former President Donald Trump won the Conservative Political Action Conference's 2024 presidential straw poll Sunday, and he did so handily, garnering 55 percent of the vote. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was the only other potential candidate to reach double digits at 21 percent.

It's unclear if Trump will run, but many Republicans, including some of Trump's fiercest critics, think he is the overwhelming favorite for the nomination right now if he does enter the ring. So, CPAC conducted a second poll without Trump. DeSantis led the way in that one at 43 percent, followed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) at 11 percent. Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence, who declined an invitation to the conference in Orlando, didn't gain much traction.

The polls, of course, come with many caveats attached. The election is a long way away, straw polls aren't the most reliable predictive method, and the CPAC conference is not necessarily representative of the larger Republican Party, which many analysts consider to be at a Trump-inspired crossroads right now. It's also worth noting that DeSantis' strong showing may be partly tied to the conference taking place on his home turf. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

2:28 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Sunday defended President Biden's response to a United States intelligence report that directly linked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but questions over whether the administration went far enough seem likely to remain.

The Biden administration announced sanctions on dozens of Saudis involved in Khashoggi's killing, but did not include any direct penalties on the crown prince. Psaki said "historically" presidential administrations have not imposed sanctions on leaders of foreign governments with whom the U.S. has diplomatic relations. "We believe there are more effective ways to make sure this doesn't happen again," she told CNN's Dana Bash, adding that the White House wants to leave room to work with Riyadh on areas where the two governments agree.

Bash seemed unconvinced by Psaki's explanation, questioning if Biden's response really holds the crown prince accountable, and she wasn't alone. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that Biden deserves "credit" for the sanctions that were announced and acknowledged it's a challenging situation for the new administration, but said "there ought to be something additional" focused on Salman. Portman's fellow Ohioan Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) agreed further steps are needed to hold the Saudi royal family accountable, though he told a skeptical Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press that he doesn't think Friday's sanctions represent the final say on the matter. Tim O'Donnell

1:40 p.m.

There are now three COVID-19 vaccines with approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said people shouldn't overthink which one to get.

Making the network rounds on Sunday, Fauci repeatedly assured audiences all three were highly "efficacious," even though the trial numbers from Johnson & Johnson's recently-authorized single-dose shot appear less impressive than the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech candidates. He explained that while it's understandable that someone might prefer to wait until a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is available based on the numbers, the candidates really haven't been compared head-to-head.

Fauci said multiple times Sunday that he would take the Johnson & Johnson shot without hesitation. Fauci did acknowledge he's already been fully inoculated with the Moderna vaccine, but told CNN's Dana Bash that "if I were not vaccinated now, and I had a choice of getting a J & J vaccine now or waiting for another vaccine, I would take whatever vaccine would be available to me as quickly as possible."

Fauci wasn't alone in encouraging people to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb also said he would take it, explaining the trial data was indeed "quite strong." Tim O'Donnell

12:27 p.m.

Several New York politicians, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have weighed in on allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) sexually harassed two former aides over the last several years.

Multiple Democratic state legislators have called for Cuomo's resignation, though most lawmakers at the state and national level want an independent investigation to take place first. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden supports one, as well. Cuomo's office announced it had appointed former federal Judge Barbara Jones to lead the review, but that didn't sit well with lawmakers, who argued the investigator should be appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James instead.

In response, the Cuomo administration reversed course to an extent Sunday, asking James to work jointly with the chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals (whom Cuomo appointed) to "select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report." James has already confirmed she's ready to oversee the investigation.

As for de Blasio, the mayor — whose relationship with Cuomo has never been smooth, to say the least — issued a statement calling for independent investigations into both the sexual harassment allegations and the recent revelations about New York's COVID-19 nursing home deaths, saying "questions of this magnitude cannot hang over the heads of New Yorkers as we fight off a pandemic and economic crisis." Now, he said, "it's clear" that the New York legislature "must immediately revoke the governor's emergency powers that overrule local control." Tim O'Donnell

11:02 a.m.

At least 18 people have been killed during nationwide anti-coup protests in Myanmar on Sunday, marking the deadliest day in the country since the demonstrations began earlier this month, BBC reports. Dozens more people were reportedly injured. Deaths were reported in major cities like Yangon and Mandalay, as well as several others where police allegedly fired live rounds, rubber bullets, and tear gas. Demonstrators have said, in some instances at least, that police fired without warning.

The military regime that overthrew Myanmar's elected government in February has ramped up its response to the pro-democracy rallies over the last few weeks after a few initial days of calm. Security forces have reportedly utilized increasingly violent tactics to disperse the crowds and hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been detained over the course of the demonstrations. But the protesters have so far shown no sign of slowing down. "Whatever they do, we just have to take it," one protester told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's civilian leader who has not been seen in public since she was detained by the military, is scheduled to appear in court Monday on dubious charges of possessing unregistered walkie-talkies and violating coronavirus rules, but her lawyer says he has not been able to speak with her, per BBC. Read more at BBC and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

8:26 a.m.

To counter some of the more confusing aspects of COVID-19 vaccination eligibility in the United States, Saturday Night Live's version of Dr. Anthony Fauci, portrayed by Kate McKinnon, hosted a game show in which "everyday Americans" receive a chance to vie for a shot. The judges of "So You Think You Can Get the Vaccine" were a trio of governors — California's Gavin Newsom, New York's Andrew Cuomo, and Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer (played by Alex Moffatt, Pete Davidson, and Cecily Strong, respectively).

The show got off to a rough start. Among the first few contestants were a woman pretending to be much older than she was, a fake smoker, and Aidy Bryant's Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex), who appeared more focused on delivering a standup comedy routine than getting vaccinated. Finally, a serious candidate who met all the requirements was given the nod of approval from the governors, but it turned out it was all for naught when they told him he'd have to go make an appointment online like everyone else. Watch the full clip below. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads