Friday, August 7, 2020

Notations On Our World (Special Friday Edition): On the Week That Was With #RandomThoughts From The Grid...

 It has been a challenging week as our World continue to grapple with COVID-19.   Our team chose a sampling of some of the discourse this week as our on-going assessments continue:

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Notations On Our World (Special Mid-Week Edition): On #BeirutBlast, #Iran, #Election2020 In the US (Updated) & Other Thoughts

The last 24 hours has been horrific as Lebanon was witness to a horrific explosion that was felt as far back as Cyprus.   We understood that an Earthquake was also felt in Jordan. The explosion was just like what happened in Hiroshima and Nagakasi.   There are some reports that the warehouse where the explosion occured may have belonged to Hezbollah--The Lebanese Prime Minister has promised further explanations as the World awaits the verdict on the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Harriri--whom we view as the Father of Modern Lebanon.  Our team will continue to assess it over the ensuing days.   Beyond Lebanon, there is Iran.   We received a report of another execution announced by Iran who was detained during the uprising three years ago which was of profound concern as we were quite amazed by how Iran sent forth an airplane of supplies in spite of the profound challenges Iran is faced with due to how COVID-19 continues to ravage Iran.   We have also been seeing reports of a claim by the Iranian President of deliberations with the head of the three branches of Government and the supposed announcement of additional measures to relieve economic pressures after an approval by the Supreme Guide (Supreme Leader) as economic challenges compounded by the ravates of COVID-19 continues to devastate the Country  We have been reviewing reports on wide-spread strikes by workers, how rationing is starting to be prevalent and as a majority of the country continues ot be under povertry line--and even one headline noted how the monthly rents We have also been assessing the United States.    Some interesting developments occured in primaries yesterday as the countdown to the General Elections continue.   This is as President Trump's interview with Axios earlier this week made the headlines.     As we continue to assess the state of the elections and provide updated guidance over the ensuing days, our team decided to release the following courtesy the team at Predictit--We had been hoping to share guidance on the promised Healthcare Plan by President Trump which was due to be released--however it was delayed.   This is as the plans for the convention continues including tenative plans by President Trump to deliver his acceptance speech from the South Lawn of the White House and Former Vice President Biden to deliver his from his home state of Delaware in light of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.We leave all with the following courtesy Predictit along with the latest from Crystal Ball as the Election Season heats up: 
US ElectionsCongressGovernmentState & LocalWorld
You Said How Much? A Cool $280 Million on Ads for Biden Campaign
What's Happening: Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his presidential campaign announced Wednesday that they will blanket television and social media with $280 million in advertising by Election Day, more than his rival’s campaign has spent in total since 2017.


The advertising outlay across 15 states marks a sharp increase for the former vice president, who once struggled to find money during his party’s primary and only aired his first general election ad blitz in June.


The new Biden ad reservations, which includes $60 million allocated to digital ads, would exhaust all of the $242 million his campaign reported having available to spend last month. The sum also all but guarantees that the Trump-Biden showdown will be the most expensive US election in history.


dashboard Biden Leads Trump by 18¢: Who will win the 2020 US presidential election?


Ahead of Biden’s new reservations, the campaign had spent $47 million on TV and radio ads, Kantar/CMAG shows, and roughly $27 million in digital ads.


“Our approach is to go on offense, to have a broad strategy across all platforms and channels to reach voters where they are,” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager to reporters.


The Biden campaign will continue running ads in the six core battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona and Florida. They’ve also made reservations in states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, including Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia.


Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has reserved nearly $150 million in television ads across 11 states for the fall, according to media research companies. To date, Trump has significantly out-spent Biden on Facebook, Google and on television.


The Trump campaign also said this week that it was resuming advertising in four states — North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Arizona — after taking a temporary pause for an internal strategy review. According to ad tracker Kantar/CMAG, Trump has television ads reserved between now and Election Day in a dozen states.


dashboard Market: Which party will win the 2020 US presidential election?


Campaign Logic: Biden has been leading Trump in a series of polls taken in battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The coronavirus pandemic has had an adverse effect on Trump’s polls, with 37 percent of voters approving of his handling of the pandemic and 59 percent disapproving.


Progress in the polls has allowed Biden's campaign to make ad reservations that will build multiple pathways to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. The strategy is also designed to force the president’s campaign to spend money in states such as Texas and Georgia, which have been reliably Republican in past elections.


“We’re really building a strategy that allows for that expanded map and to be on offense,” Dillon explained.


dashboard Map: Which party will win the Electoral College?


"Old Fashioned" Campaigning: A recent POLITICO article out last night paints a stark difference between the two campaign's approaches to campaigning.


While both campaigns are funneling millions of dollars into their field programs, the Trump campaign says it's knocked on over 1 million doors in the past week alone. Biden’s campaign, on the other hand, says it knocked on zero.


Trump Victory has over 1,500 full-time staffers across 23 states, and it has required staffers to read “Groundbreakers: How Obama's 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America," a close look at Obama’s 2008 and 2012 ground games. And to top things off, the Republican National Committee (RNC) says it will add an additional 1,000 people by the end of September to focus on doors and get out the vote.


By contrast, the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) aren’t sending volunteers or staffers to talk with voters at home, and don’t anticipate doing anything more than dropping off literature unless the crisis abates. The campaign and the DNC think they can compensate for the lack of in-person canvassing with phone calls, texts, new forms of digital organizing and virtual meet-ups with voters.


The competing strategies on face-to-face campaigning has no modern precedent, making it a potential wild card in November, especially in close races.


dashboard Market: What will be the Electoral College margin in the 2020 presidential election?


Wisdom of the Crowd: The presumptive Democratic nominee leads President Trump in the overall 2020 US presidential winner market by 18¢ as of close yesterday. Biden YES shares are trading at 60¢, down 3¢ since a 90-day high on July 28 of 63¢. President Trump's shares are trading at 42¢, up 4¢ since a 90-day low of 38¢ on July 18.


A similar trend can be seen in the generic party winner market where the generic Democrat contract is trading at 63¢, down 4¢ from the 90-day high of 66¢ on July 2. The Republican contract is up 3¢ since it's 90-day low of 37¢ on the same day and is currently trading at 40¢. That means a 23¢ gap has formed with traders favoring a Democratic victory this fall at 63¢ to 40¢.


In the Electoral College margin of victory market traders continue to expect Democrats to win by at least 100 votes with the top four contracts separated by just 2¢.


The top two contracts going into today's trading were "Democrats by 280+" and "Democrats by 150 - 209", which were both at 14¢. The highest Republican contract remains to be "GOP to win by 60 to 99" votes at 7¢.




- The Senate: Ranking the Top Dozen Best Targets

The Senate: Ranking the Top Dozen Best Targets
Establishment Republicans relieved by Kansas primary result; rating changes in Georgia and Iowa

By Kyle Kondik
Managing Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball


-- National Republicans breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday night, as Rep. Roger Marshall (R, KS-1) beat 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach (R) in the Kansas Senate primary. Practically speaking, the Kansas Senate race went from being a potentially major Democratic offensive target to one where the Republicans have a very clear edge.

-- Kansas remains Likely Republican in our ratings.

-- We rank the top dozen Senate seats in order of their likelihood of flipping. Of the 12, 10 are held by Republicans, underscoring the amount of defense that the GOP will need to play in order to hold their majority.

-- We have two Senate rating changes, one in favor of each party.

Table 1: Crystal Ball Senate rating changes

SenatorOld RatingNew Rating
Georgia SpecialLeans RepublicanLikely Republican
Joni Ernst (R-IA)Leans RepublicanToss-up

Map 1: Crystal Ball Senate ratings

GOP leadership overjoyed by Kansas primary result

In a cycle where the Republicans' list of defensive responsibilities in the Senate has seemed to get longer and longer, GOP leaders must be extremely happy to be able to effectively cross one off the list. Rep. Roger Marshall (R, KS-1) defeated 2018 gubernatorial nominee and conservative hardliner Kris Kobach (R) Tuesday evening, making it much easier for Republicans to defend the open seat and frustrating national Democrats, who spent real money in Kansas to try to help Kobach win the primary.

Kobach kicked away the Kansas governorship last cycle, losing a very winnable race to now-Gov. Laura Kelly (D). Establishment Republicans were so petrified of Kobach losing a Senate general election that they first implored Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) to come home and run for the seat and then tried to get President Trump to back Marshall against Kobach, who Trump endorsed in his very narrow 2018 gubernatorial primary victory. As it was, Trump stayed out, but Marshall won anyway.

Democrats have a respectable nominee, party-switching state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D), but Marshall fits the traditional Kansas GOP mold much better than Kobach. This is the second time Marshall has beaten a further-right Republican in a contentious primary; he also knocked off then-Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R, KS-1) in 2016.

Despite signs of Democratic growth in the Kansas City suburbs and a few other places in the state, Kansas remains a Republican state: The president carried it by about 20 points in 2016. Even if Trump significantly underperforms in the state, he is still very likely to carry it, meaning that Bollier will need to attract at least some crossover support from Trump voters to win. That would have been an easier task against Kobach than Marshall. Kansas also has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932, despite electing many Democratic governors in that same timeframe: A state’s baseline partisanship is often easier to overcome in state races as opposed to federal ones.

We're keeping the Kansas Senate race as Likely Republican, matching our presidential rating there, but Marshall should be fine.

This is a good development for Senate Republicans, although they still have a lot of defense to play in other states. Speaking of...

The big picture

As we examine the race for the Senate majority, we thought it’d be worthwhile to rank the dozen seats we see as the most competitive from most to least likely to change hands. As we see it right now, 10 of the 12 most vulnerable seats are held by Republicans, even as Democrats are defending the seat likeliest to flip, Alabama.

1. Alabama (D)

2. Colorado (R)

3. Arizona (R)

4. Maine (R)

5. North Carolina (R)

6. Iowa (R)

7. Montana (R)

8. Georgia (Regular) (R)

9. Michigan (D)

10. Texas (R)

11. Georgia (Special) (R)

12. Alaska (R)

Before we explain the rankings (and a couple of rating changes), we wanted to explain how presidential partisanship plays into them. While presidential and Senate results will differ, presidential and Senate outcomes have come further into alignment in recent years.

Table 2 shows the same ranking of Senate seats in terms of likelihood of flipping, but we also added three additional columns.

Table 2: Presidential scenarios in top 12 Senate races

The first is the actual 2016 presidential margin by state, when Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by two points. The second is a hypothetical scenario in which Joe Biden would win by five points nationally, or three points better than Clinton, and the third is a hypothetical where Biden would win by 10 points nationally, or eight points better than Clinton. A positive number is a Democratic presidential victory in a given state; a negative number indicates a Republican win.

We adjusted the state-level presidential margins to match the hypothetical national change from 2016; this would represent what political scientists might call a “uniform swing,” in which these states’ presidential margins change the same way the national margin does. Reality won’t be so neat and tidy, but this does give us a presidential baseline as we go through our Senate list.

We are not going to say that the situation of Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is hopeless, but he has trailed even in Democratic internal polls -- when a candidate is behind in even his own party’s polls, he is behind, and likely by more than the party polls show (as nonpartisan surveys have shown). The presidential scenarios show that, even in the event of a Biden national blowout, Jones will need an immense amount of crossover voting to win.

Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) have generally been behind in their races; there is a little more uncertainty with Gardner given that former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) suffered through a very bad string of news coverage in advance of his primary a little over a month ago, but we haven’t seen much indication that Gardner has changed the race in a meaningful way. McSally has been behind, and generally not just by a few points, in Arizona, a more frequently polled state. The difference between the two races is the presidential: It’s not hard to imagine Trump winning Arizona, a purple-trending red state, but it is hard to imagine Trump winning Colorado, a blue-trending purple state. So Gardner will need to attract more crossover support than McSally -- he likely will win some, but we’d be surprised if he gets enough. Meanwhile, polls show McSally running behind Trump when she may need to run ahead of him.

The presidential factor is also the reason why we see Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) as slightly more vulnerable than Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): Joe Biden seems very likely to carry Maine, and by a bigger margin than 2016, while North Carolina (like Arizona) remains a presidential Toss-up. Again, Collins (like Gardner) probably will get crossover support, but perhaps not enough. Tillis, just like McSally, polls behind Trump.

Beyond Maine and North Carolina, Iowa is now in the Toss-up column. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), like McSally and Tillis, appears to be doing a little worse than Trump in her state. She has a little more wiggle room than the other two -- note that Trump still carries Iowa even in this hypothetical scenario where Biden is winning nationally by 10 -- but both parties are acting (and spending) like Iowa is a Toss-up.

We continue to rate Montana and Georgia's regular Senate election as Leans Republican even though good cases can be made that both should be Toss-ups. We have different reasoning for keeping both where they’ve been in our ratings.

In the case of Montana, presidential partisanship is key: Trump seems very likely to carry the state again, albeit by a reduced margin, and it’s historically difficult to dislodge a sitting senator whose party is winning the state concurrently in the presidential race. Additionally, the trajectory of the race may actually be going the way of incumbent Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT); a couple of months ago, we thought Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) was leading Daines. Now, based on what we've heard and seen, we are not so sure, and Daines may be ahead, slightly.

In Georgia, Sen. David Perdue (R) is locked in a close race with former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff (D), although he generally polls a little bit better than Trump, and he may be able to attract a little bit of crucial crossover support from Trump-skeptical Metro Atlanta suburbanites who aren’t quite ready to abandon the GOP down the ballot. Perdue also has a backstop in his race: a general election runoff if no one gets over 50%. As we explained in a deep dive on Georgia, the runoff scenario could help Republicans in terms of turnout. So Ossoff may need to get over 50% in the November general election to practically be able to win the seat.

The Republicans’ other offensive target on this list, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), is honestly closer to being rated Likely Democratic than Toss-up. Both Peters and Biden have consistently posted leads in the state, and Republican pessimism about Michigan at the presidential level seems to be growing, which has to bleed down to the Senate level. John James (R), who is taking a second run at the Senate after losing to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in 2018, has been outraising Peters, but only by relatively small margins.

Texas is kind of like the regular Senate race in Georgia, except that former congressional candidate MJ Hegar (D) doesn’t have the resources that Ossoff does and Texas may vote overall to the right of Georgia for president (as it did in 2016 and has in every presidential election since 1988).

Speaking of Georgia, we are moving the special Georgia Senate race from Leans Republican to Likely Republican for several reasons. First of all, we already mentioned the possibility of a runoff in the other Georgia seat, and that Democrats face certain hardships in Georgia runoffs. A runoff is virtually guaranteed in the special race because it is an all-party primary and there are many candidates on both sides. Additionally, it is not even clear that the Democrats will advance a candidate to the runoff: appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and her top GOP challenger, Rep. Doug Collins (R, GA-9), often finish atop polls, while the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), the choice of national Democrats, sometimes lags behind Matt Lieberman (D), the son of former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), with former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver (D) also garnering some support. So Democrats have work to do to just get into the runoff, and if they get there, they have to deal with the same turnout problems that have beguiled them in past runoffs. So the Republicans have a few important backstops in this race.

Finally, there are a few Likely Republican seats that one could put in the final slot. We decided to go with Alaska, where Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) is running for a second term against doctor Al Gross, an independent/Democrat. Others might put Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in this spot, but despite some close polls, it is just really hard for a Democrat to get a high enough share of the vote to win in such a racially polarized state (Jones has a similar problem in another racially divided Deep South state, Alabama). Alaska's electorate, though also Republican-leaning, is more fluid, and we see it as a more plausible -- though still unlikely -- Democratic upset target.


Overall, the battle for the Senate is close, although we would probably rather be the Democrats than the Republicans at the moment. The reason is basically that, of the three decisive Toss-ups in our ratings, we would probably pick the Democrats in at least two of them right now: both Maine and North Carolina are closer to Leans Democratic than Leans Republican. If Democrats win those, as well as Arizona and Colorado (while losing Alabama), they would forge a 50-50 tie, with what they hope is a Democratic vice president breaking ties.

Beyond these top races, the Democrats also have better second-tier targets than the Republicans: namely, the regular race in Georgia as well as Montana. We were prepared to add Kansas to that list, too, but Roger Marshall seems to have spared the GOP that additional headache.

We look forward to our weekly assessment next week:

Monday, August 3, 2020

Notations From the Grid (Weekly Edition): Out & About in the United States On the Week That Was....

Charts: The Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the U.S. So Far

The United States suffered a 32.5% drop in Economic Growth over the course of the Quarter.   We hereby present the snapshot of economic activity courtesy the team at Visual Capitalist.  It was also quite as the US Dollar collapsed, Oil Companies reported record losses and bankruptcies in the US Oil Sector soared: 


This is as a furious debate continued over Social Media as exemplified below as the Election Season got under way: 

Former Vice President Biden was slated to announce his running mate--as Conservative Twitter began a campaign against one of the leading contenders, Congresswoman Karen Bass of California tagging her as "Communist Karen" for issuing a statement on the death of Fidel Castro.   Dan Boningo also sent forth a report claiming from sources close to the situation that Former Vice President Joe Biden is suffering from cognititive decline.   

As we also went to press, we received this courtesy Peter Diamandis--we have periodically featured his guidance in our Visions Platform--however this is an interesting development--and we present the full notation from his blog as COVID-19 rages on:

We’re bombarded every day with news about the latest miracle vaccine candidate: when it will be available, which vaccines have reached clinical trials, the stock market performance of the manufacturers, and so on.

But four critical questions are not adequately discussed:

  1. Can any of these vaccines be manufactured at scale?
  2. How often do people need to be vaccinated… annually? Every 6 months?
  3. Who gets the first 100 million doses? The first billion?
  4. How do we reliably distribute these doses? Can we?

Manufacturing and distributing billions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be one of the biggest logistical challenges in history.

Because I’m in the midst of building a vaccine company (COVAXX), I’m thinking about these issues and closely tracking the industry on a daily basis. It’s an understatement to say that there are a lot of challenges ahead.

In this blog, I want to address the four challenges listed above, give you a quick overview of what my own company COVAXX is doing, and provide an overview of the other players. Ultimately, I’m hoping that many will succeed. We need them all.

Let’s dive in.

Want to learn more? Join me, Tony Robbins, and the co-CEOs of COVAXX THIS WEDNESDAY, August 5th for a detailed Webinar at 1pm PT / 4pm ET to learn more… Bring your friends and family: you will want to be among the first to know about this vaccine and its extraordinary potential.

Sign up HERE.

(Note: If you like this blog share it! LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Read on Or send your friends and family to this link to subscribe!)

My disclosure: I’ve personally been working on COVAXX non-stop since March. 

While I normally focus on a half-dozen companies (XPRIZE, Singularity University, BOLD Capital, Abundance, FutureLoop and more), the magnitude of COVID-19 and the power of this vaccine is so compelling, that I’ve put almost everything else on hold to get this technology to the finish line…

Here are four of the roadblocks to manufacturing and distributing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

  1. Having an ability to scale -- fast!

We need 4.4 billion annual doses to vaccinate adults worldwide. That number will increase if we also have to vaccinate children. And it will increase further if more than one dose per adult is required. (Note: Most scientists believe that two doses per adult will be needed, a primary and a booster shot some weeks later.)

Meeting this challenge will likely require the combined output of several vaccine manufactures over the next 12-18 months.

Several of the top vaccine candidates, including the AstraZeneca / Oxford partnership, Moderna, and Pfizer, have committed to producing at least 100 million doses in 2020. Additionally, each company has pledged to produce at least 1 billion doses in 2021.

COVAXX has also committed to producing 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by early Q1 2021, and 1 billion doses by the end of next year.

But plans are not enough. Execution of these goals is essential for our collective success.

  1. Using a commercially proven manufacturing platform

One major concern is the fact that several of the leading vaccine candidates rely on manufacturing platforms that haven’t yet been commercially proven, meaning that the vaccine has only been manufactured in small doses thus far.

For example, Moderna’s and Pfizer’s mRNA-based vaccine is based on a technology platform that has never been approved for human use. We don’t know if the tech can reliably be scaled to handle hundreds of millions and eventually billions of doses in the timeframe we need.

One major advantage that COVAXX is offering the world is proven manufacturing. The same technology platform being used to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine already produces >500 million animal vaccines per year, and has produced over 5 billion doses in total to date. It works and it’s cheap.

  1. Ensuring that distribution is reliable

Even the safest and most effective vaccine won’t work if it can’t reach patients.

One major concern is that some of today’s top vaccine candidates (specifically the mRNA vaccines) require storage in freezers at -112 degrees Fahrenheit (-80 degrees Celsius) for the vaccine to be effective and not degrade. That means using liquid nitrogen.

That may work in a factory or a warehouse.

But most clinics, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies don’t have such sophisticated storage technology.

So how do we get these vaccines to an individual patient?

Now consider the billions of people we need to reach in remote regions and emerging economies where normal refrigeration is a problem, let alone keeping vaccines at -112 degrees Fahrenheit (-80 degrees Celsius).

In our interconnected world, an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

Again, I’m proud that the COVAXX platform uses a “synthetic peptide technology” that only requires normal (widely available) refrigeration. UBI (COVAXX’s parent company) currently distributes synthetic peptide vaccines to millions of farmers in rural China who have no special infrastructure. We know that it works, is robust, and is easy to distribute.

  1. Distributing the vaccines in an ethical way

The truth is, this will not be a winner-takes-all model. We’ll likely need multiple vaccines from different manufacturers to meet the high demand. And for this reason, I wish all of the vaccine teams great success.

But even then, there are critical questions that we’re not sufficiently discussing in the media.

Who should get the vaccine first? Healthcare workers? The elderly? What about waiters? Are corporate executives more essential than grocery store clerks?

These are some of the questions we’ll have to answer as the first vaccines become available.

To address these questions, COVAXX was the first company (that I know of) to announce the formation of a Vaccine Advisory Working Group composed of doctors, economists, ethicists, and policymakers to help us answer these questions in an informed and ethical way.

I’m privileged to be part of such a brilliant team that’s dedicated to a singular mission: defeating COVID-19.

If you’d like to learn more and educate yourself about the industry and about COVAXX, please JOIN TONY ROBBINS & ME as we interview the Co-CEOs (Mei Mei Hu & Lou Reese) about COVAXX, the plan for manufacturing and distributing the vaccine, and much more.

LIVE Q&A will follow the webinar.

Webinar DateAugust 5th at 1pm PT / 4pm ET.

Click HERE to register for this free webinar, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Warmest wishes,


Here is a sample of several companies’ planned production of COVID-19 vaccines.


# Doses (2020)

# Doses (2021)


100 million (Q1 2021)

~1 billion

Astrazeneca / Oxford1

>400 million

~2 billion


>1 million

>100 million


100 million

~1 billion


10 - 100 million

>1 billion


>100 million

1.3 billion

Sanofi / GSK6

100 million

1 billion


This is as The United States threatened further action against China  as noted by the Financial Times of London--and as the Attorney General of the United States was before the US House Judiciary Committee: