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Elizabeth Warren passes Joe Biden in 2020 polls

Is former Vice President Joe Biden's "return to normalcy" approach too moderate for Democratic voters?

Photo credit: Scott Kowalchyk / CBS via Getty Images
  • For the first time, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has overtaken former Vice President Joe Biden as the frontrunner of the Democratic presidential candidates.
  • The lead is modest and there's always a margin of error in polling data.
  • Warren and Biden represent two competing strategies among Democrats: revolution and restoration, respectively.


United States Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has overtaken former Vice President Joe Biden as the frontrunner of the Democratic presidential candidates, according to several polls.

The first signs that Warren was inching ahead of Biden came from Iowa. On Sept. 21, a Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll indicated Warren beat Biden by 2 percentage points, with 22 percent of likely Democratic voters saying she was their first choice, followed by Biden (20 percent) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (11 percent).

J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll, told the Des Moines Register it was "the first major shakeup" in what had been a fairly steady race. "It's the first time we've had someone other than Joe Biden at the top of the leaderboard," she said.

A national poll from Quinnipiac University also revealed that Warren had a two-point lead over Biden, while a separate poll from Economist/YouGov showed Warren with a one-point lead over the former vice president.

"It now appears likely to boil down to a two-way contest, one in which Democrats will have to decide whether to go big or go home," analyst Charlie Cook, founder of the bipartisan Cook Political Report, wrote this week. "In this case, going big is doing something bold, daring, and exciting but potentially risky — that is, going with Warren. Going home is to a more comfortable, familiar, but not terribly exciting place: Biden. Revolution versus restoration."

Biden had long been considered the favorite to win the Democratic primaries. The former vice president was, for many Democrats, the safe bet, the electable candidate whose resume and political chops would likely be enough to unseat President Donald Trump — or, better yet, "beat him like a drum," as Biden said earlier this month.

In some ways, Biden's appeal is about what he won't do: Lose to Trump in 2020 by alienating moderate voters. But this asset — Biden's centrism and "return to normalcy" promise — might also be turning off more idealistic Democratic voters who want not only to beat Trump, but also to overhaul the system. What's also not helping Biden, a reputed gaffe machine," is his tendency to stumble during the Democratic debates, which has prompted critics on both sides of the aisle to question whether his age, 76, is a liability.

U.S. Senator And Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren Campaigns In NH

Boston Globe / Getty

Meanwhile, Warren is offering the kind of "big, structural change" that many Democrats want, and she's offering relatively detailed plans for how to bring about these changes, which include: increasing taxes for the richest individuals and corporations, cancelling student debt, making college free and childcare affordable, eliminating private prisons, reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, raising the minimum wage to $15, abolishing the electoral college, among other proposals.

Compared to Biden, Warren's supporters seem generally younger and more enthusiastic. You can see this difference at Warren's rallies — at least one of which The New York Times likened to a rapturous church service — where hundreds of supporters often wait hours in line to take a selfie with the presidential candidate.

Warren also benefits from not having suffered as many recent attacks from Trump and his followers. In contrast, Biden and his son, Hunter, have become ensnared in a scandal in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to "do us a favor" and investigate potential corruption on the part of the Bidens. As Trump faces an impeachment inquiry over this request, he's repeatedly bashed Biden, tweeting multiple videos essentially accusing the former vice president of corruption, but offering no hard evidence. It's possible that Trump wants to knock Biden out of the race because he considers the former vice president to be a stronger opponent than Warren.

On Oct. 15, The New York Times and CNN are scheduled to host the next Democratic presidential debate, which will include:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Tom Steyer, billionaire and activist
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  • Andrew Yang, entrepreneur

Live today! Unfiltered lessons of a female entrepreneur

Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think, live at 1pm EDT today.

Two MIT students just solved Richard Feynman’s famed physics puzzle

Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.

Surprising Science

Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.

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Two-thirds of parents say technology makes parenting harder

Parental anxieties stem from the complex relationship between technology, child development, and the internet's trove of unseemly content.

Sex & Relationships
  • Today's parents believe parenting is harder now than 20 years ago.
  • A Pew Research Center survey found this belief stems from the new challenges and worries brought by technology.
  • With some schools going remote next year, many parents will need to adjust expectations and re-learn that measured screen usage won't harm their children.

Parents and guardians have always endured a tough road. They are the providers of an entire human being's subsistence. They keep that person feed, clothed, and bathe; They help them learn and invest in their enrichment and experiences; They also help them navigate social life in their early years, and they do all this with limited time and resources, while simultaneously balancing their own lives and careers.

Add to that a barrage of advice and reminders that they can always spend more money, dedicate more time, or flat-out do better, and it's no wonder that psychologists worry about parental burnout.

But is parenting harder today than it was, say, 20 years ago? The Pew Research Center asked more than 3,600 parents this question, and a majority (66 percent) believe the answer is yes. While some classic complaints made the list—a lack of discipline, a disrespectful generation, and the changing moral landscape—the most common reason cited was the impact of digital technology and social media.

A mixed response to technology

children using desktop computer

Parents worry that their children spend too much time in front of screens while also recognizing technologies educational benefits.

(Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

This parental concern stems not only from the ubiquity of screens in children's lives, but the well-publicized relationship between screen time and child development. Headlines abound citing the pernicious effects screen time has on cognitive and language development. Professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, issue warnings that too much screen time can lead to sleep problems, lower grades, weight problems, mood problems, poor self-image, and the fear of missing out—to name a few!

According to Pew's research, parents—which Pew defines as an adult or guardian with at least one child under their care, though they may also have adult children—have taken these warnings to heart. While 84 percent of those surveyed are confident they know how much screen time is appropriate, 71 percent worry their child spends too much time in front of screens.

To counter this worry, most parents take the measured approach of setting limits on the length of time children can access screens. Others limit which technologies children have access to. A majority of parents (71 percent) view smartphones as potentially harmful to children. They believe the devices impair learning effective social skills, developing healthy friendships, or being creative. As a result, about the same percentage of parents believe children should be at least 12 years old before owning a smartphone or using social media.

But a deeper concern than screen time seems to be what content those screens can access. An overwhelming 98 percent of those surveyed say parents and guardians shouldered the responsibility of protecting children from inappropriate online content. Far less put the responsibility on tech companies (78 percent) or the government (65 percent).

Parents of young children say they check the websites and apps their children use and set parental controls to restrict access. A minority of parents admit to looking at call and text records, tracking their child's location with GPS, or following their child on social media.

Yet, parents also recognize the value of digital technology or, at least, have acquiesced to its omnipresence. The poster child for this dichotomy is YouTube, with its one billion hours played daily, many before children's eyes. Seventy-three percent of parents with young children are concerned that their child will encounter inappropriate content on the platform, and 46 percent say they already have. Yet, 80 percent still let their children watch videos, many letting them do so daily. Some reasons cited are that they can learn new things or be exposed to different cultures. The number one cited reason, however, is to keep children entertained.

For the Pew Research Center's complete report, check out "Parenting Children in the Age of Screens."

Screens, parents, and pandemics

Perhaps most troubling, Pew's survey was conducted in early March. That's before novel coronavirus spread wildly across the United States. Before shelter-in-place laws. Before schools shuttered their doors. Before desperate parents, who suddenly found themselves their child's only social and educational outlet, needed a digital lifeline to help them cope.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many parents to rely on e-learning platforms and YouTube to supplement their children's education—or just let the kids enjoy their umpteenth viewing of "Moana" so they can eke out a bit more work. With that increase in screen time comes a corresponding increase in guilt, anxiety, and frustration.

But are these concerns overblown?

As Jenny Radesky, M.D., a pediatrician and expert on children and the media at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, told the New York Times, parents don't always need to view screen time as a negative. "Even the phrase 'screen time' itself is problematic. It reduces the debate to a black and white issue, when the reality is much more nuanced," Radesky said.

Radesky helped the American Academy of Pediatrics craft its statement about screen time use during the pandemic. While the AAP urges parents to preserve offline experiences and maintain limits, the organization acknowledges that children's media use will, by necessity, increase. To make it a supportive experience, the statement recommends parents make a plan with their children, be selective of the quality of media, and use social media to maintain connections together. It also encourages parents to adjust their expectations and notice their own technology use.

"We are trying to prevent parents from feeling like they are not meeting some sort of standard," Radesky said. "There is no science behind this right now. If you are looking for specific time limits, then I would say: Don't be on it all day."

This is good advice for parents, now and after the pandemic. While studies show that excessive screen time is deleterious, others show no harm from measured, metered use. For every fear that screens make our kids stupid, there's a study showing the kids are all right. If we maintain realistic standards and learn to weigh quality and quantity within those standards, maybe parenting in the digital age won't seem so darn difficult.

How meditation can change your life and mind

Reaching beyond the stereotypes of meditation and embracing the science of mindfulness.

Videos
  • There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what mindfulness is and what meditation can do for those who practice it. In this video, professors, neuroscientists, psychologists, composers, authors, and a former Buddhist monk share their experiences, explain the science behind meditation, and discuss the benefits of learning to be in the moment.
  • "Mindfulness allows us to shift our relationship to our experience," explains psychologist Daniel Goleman. The science shows that long-term meditators have higher levels of gamma waves in their brains even when they are not meditating. The effect of this altered response is yet unknown, though it shows that there are lasting cognitive effects.
  • "I think we're looking at meditation as the next big public health revolution," says ABC News anchor Dan Harris. "Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no-brainers like exercise, brushing your teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you." Closing out the video is a guided meditation experience led by author Damien Echols that can be practiced anywhere and repeated as many times as you'd like.
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