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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

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June 20, 2018

Trump Losing Ground in Key 2016 Heartland States

Any time new state-by-state data about Trump’s popularity comes out, I am very focused on those once-blue “Heartland” states that shocked the world in 2016 and lifted him to the presidency. So I wrote about some new Morning Consult findings at New York:

The president’s ratings among registered voters are underwater (more negative than positive) in the very heartland states he flipped from a past heritage of Democratic voting in 2016: Wisconsin (-12), Michigan (-9), Iowa (-7), Ohio (-4), and Pennsylvania (-4). In the short term, that matters because all these states other than Iowa have Senate races in November, and there are a total of 12 highly competitive House races among them (according to the Cook Political Report).

There are some other Trump ’16 states where his high standing has eroded significantly, including six that are holding Senate races this year: Arizona (+2), Montana (+3), Florida (+5), Missouri (+5), Texas (+5), North Dakota (+6), and Indiana (+8). There are other 2018 Senate battlegrounds, however, where POTUS is still very popular, such as Tennessee (+20), Mississippi (+23), and West Virginia (+27).

It may be argued that Trump did, after all, win in 2016 despite poor favorability ratings. But presidential elections are comparative, and Trump was fortunate to face a Democratic opponent with pretty bad favorability ratings as well. Since midterms are typically more of a straight-up referendum on the president (and are likely to be so even more with a president who dominates the news like this one has), lack of presidential popularity should be a much bigger deal. Yes, Trump’s national approval ratings have drifted upward in 2018, but are still well south of 50 percent. And there’s one bit of historical data from Gallup that ought to especially worry Republicans: the parties of presidents facing midterms with job approval ratings below 50 percent have on average lost 36 House seats.

Of course, 2020 is a different matter, and what happens then will depend on a thousand variables, including the identity of Trump’s Democratic opponent (assuming he’s running for reelection). But let’s don’t forget he won in the first place by executing what amounts to an inside straight based on extremely narrow wins in heartland states in the context of a national popular-vote defeat. And that’s why we might pay especially close attention to how his party does this November in those very states.


Democrats Gradually Improving November Prospects

The defeat of Mark Sanford got most of the headlines on the evening of the June 12 round of primaries. But the broader impact on the general election battlegrounds should be noted, as I observed at New York:

In several places primary voters set up intriguing battles.

Virginia: Here comes the 2018 wave of Democratic women

According to the Cook Political Report, there are four Republican-held House seats in the Old Dominion that are vulnerable to a Democratic takeover. And Democrats have nominated four impressive women to take on this critical challenge.

The most vulnerable seat of all probably belongs to Barbara Comstock, whose suburban/exurban Tenth District in Northern Virginia, which Hillary Clinton carried by nearly ten points in 2016. Last night the national party favorite to take on Comstock, state legislator Jennifer Wexton, won over a large and well-qualified field.

In the central Virginia Seventh District, represented by hard-right representative Dave Brat (famous for upsetting then–Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary), another woman with strong national and elected-official backing, former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger, routed Marine veteran Daniel Ward in what was expected to be a close race. In the Tidewater Second District, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee thinks it has the right challenger to former Navy SEAL and freshmen representative Scott Taylor (a frequent Trump critic who had no trouble in his own primary) in Navy vet and small-business owner Elaine Luria, who easily defeated self-proclaimed progressive Karen Mallard in the primary.

In the west-central Virginia Fifth District, which leans Republicans (Trump carried it easily) but has pockets of Democratic strength, a fourth woman, former journalist and author Leslie Cockburn, had no primary opponent, but is awaiting a local GOP selection process trigged by incumbent representative Thomas Garrett’s sudden announcement two weeks ago that he was struggling with alcoholism and would not run for another term. Cockburn has been a fundraising dynamo.

All four of these Democratic candidates benefited from the early support of EMILY’s List, which is having a really good cycle so far. If 2018 does turn out to be the Year of the Democratic Woman, it could begin in Virginia.

One Virginia Democrat who is breathing much easier today is U.S. senator Tim Kaine, whose GOP opponent will be neo-Confederate Trumpite Corey Stewart. The fiery Stewart, who nearly upset Ed Gillespie in the 2017 gubernatorial primary, had a surprisingly tough time dispatching state legislator Nick Freitas in his primary, but narrowly survived.

Maine: Ranked-choice voting has arrived

Maine has a competitive House race in its rural-dominated Second Congressional District (carried by Trump in 2016 and held by GOP representative Bruce Poliquin), and a governor’s race that could determine whether term-limited wild man Paul LePage’s reactionary policies (including a fight against a voter-mandated Medicaid expansion) continue or end. In both contests the state’s embattled experiment with ranked-choice (a.k.a. “instant runoff”) voting is coming into play. Driven in part by LePage’s two plurality (thanks to independent candidacies) gubernatorial wins, Maine voters mandated adoption of ranked-choice voting (which asks voters to rank all candidates on the ballot and then reallocates last-place votes by secondary preference until someone achieves a majority) in a 2017 ballot initiative. A subsequent court decision limited rank-choiced voting to federal elections and state primaries, but it was fully deployed on June 12.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary heavily funded front-runner Shawn Moody won a clear majority and will avoid any ranked-choice follow-up. In the Democratic primary, though, longtime front-runner and Attorney General Janet Mills only received a third of the vote, and will have to wait for ranked-choice tabulations (which could take as long as a week) to determine if she can hold off second-place finisher Adam Cote (or theoretically, even another candidate, should one of them pile up a huge number of second-choice preferences). The same is true in the Second District Democratic congressional race, where with votes still being counted state legislator Jared Golden has slipped just below a majority, which means second-preference ballots from third-place finisher Craig Olson will determine whether Golden or Burt’s Bees scion and environmentalist Lucas St. Clair will get the nod.

In a separate vote, a “people’s veto” referendum overruled legislation passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature to revoke ranked-choice voting in the future, so it will be available at least for congressional races in November barring future judicial interventions.

Nevada: A huge Senate race ahead

Democrats’ slim but very real hopes of winning back control of the U.S. Senate in November depend heavily on U.S. Representative Jacky Rosen, a freshman congresswoman from southern Nevada and a close ally of former Senator Harry Reid. Rosen easily defeated five opponents in the June 12 primary and will now take on the most vulnerable Republican Senate incumbent who hasn’t decided to retire, Dean Heller, in what should be a close race in closely divided state. Heller tried to carve out an identity as relatively independent of Donald Trump and the Senate GOP leadership early in the Trump administration, but when that began to upset conservatives in Washington and back home, he quickly turned himself around. He ultimately benefited from a Trump intervention to talk conservative gadfly Danny Tarkanian out of a primary challenge, and now has to figure out how to survive a general election.

While Trump’s action was good news for Dean Heller, it could wind up costing Republicans a rare shot at a Democratic-held House seat, Rosen’s Third District. Tarkanian (son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian) has lost a string of five straight elections for public office dating back to 2004, the most recent being a loss to Rosen in 2016. Trump’s sort-of endorsement and the fundraising machine he had put together for a Senate run made Tark an instant front-runner, and he won 44 percent against former TV reporter Michelle Mortensen and state legislator Scott Hammond. If history is any indication, Tarkanian may have an uphill fight against Third District Democratic nominee Susie Lee, a philanthropist with her own fundraising chops and strong support from both Rosen and Reid.


How Dems Can Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time

The following posts, “Democrats Should Be Able to Walk Down the Street and Chew Gum at the Same Time” and “More on How Democrats Can Walk Down the Street and Chew Gum at the Same Time” by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, are cross-posted from his blog:

[Part 1]

The New York Times Sunday Review treated us to an article by two history professors averring that, for Democrats, “Turning Affluent Suburbs Blue Isn’t Worth the Cost“. They posit a sort of zero-sum game between reaching these voters and reaching poorer and nonwhite voters. Sigh.

Fortunately, David Atkins at the Washington Monthly has an excellent takedown of this ridiculous–and politically harmful–contention:

“In order to clamber out of the political wilderness, Democrats must….win over some Trump voters using economic arguments that many would like to dismiss as impossible, as well as continue to gain ground in many increasingly blue, well-educated suburbs that cause queasiness to many economic progressives. And they must do so simultaneously, while maintaining and increasing commitments to both social and economic justice through sentencing reform, jobs guarantees and much else.

How is this possible? It’s fairly simple, actually. The answer lies in the fact that most voters–and particularly most persuadable voters—are not pure partisans. They are often what political scientists call “cross-pressured,” which means they hold multiple strong views that don’t fit neatly within one political party or another and force them to choose what they might consider the lesser of two evils in a two-party system.

It is self-evident that Trump voters by definition didn’t see a problem with voting for a racist, sexist buffoon. But many Trump voters also proved remarkably indifferent to Republican economic orthodoxy, and many want high taxes on Wall Street, robust jobs programs and investment in domestic industry, and libertarian social policy on many issues like drugs. Neither party will give them everything they want, but a committed progressive economic agenda that rejects the muddled market-directed pabulum of education and retraining as a solution to all ills can be successful in winning many of them over, even though the progressive commitment to racial and gender equality might rankle them as just so much social-justice-warrior political correctness. This isn’t idle speculation: a very large number of registered Democrats are already just so cross-pressured. Appallingly, a full third of Democrats have a negative opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a quarter of Democrats think millions voted illegally in the 2016 election. If they register as Democrats anyway, it’s a fair bet that economics are their top priority. It stands to reason their number could be increased to regain some of the voters who chose Barack Obama twice, and then flipped over to Trump.

So, too, can cross-pressured affluent suburban Democrats be won over by a stridently economically progressive Democratic Party in spite of their potential reservations about their tax bracket, mutual fund returns, McMansion values and budget deficits. Sure, these voters might not like the idea of transaction taxes on Wall Street impacting their dividends or affordable housing being built near their bungalows, but their commitments to social equality and their desire not to have jingoists running the country’s trade and foreign policy mean that they will generally choose the party of both Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders over that of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Republicans have understood this for decades. The three legs of their electoral stool (social, economic and foreign policy) don’t particularly like one another or mesh well together, but they have largely held together due to combined mutual interest.

A Democratic Party that takes seriously commitments to both social and economic justice can do likewise, even though some of the former may not be palatable to part of the white working class, and some of the latter may not be desirable among the well-heeled. It must do so if it wants to regain power.”

Yup, that’s why they call ’em coalitions! Time to move forward past pointless either-or debates.

[Part 2]

David Jarman at Daily Kos Elections (don’t read the site?; you should!) provides a comprehensive rebuttal to the loony argument that Democrats trying to turn affluent suburbs blue are biting into the poison apple.

Jarman’s piece begins:

“Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a baffling and potentially harmful opinion piece by two history professors, Lily Geismer and Michael Lessner, titled “Turning Affluent Suburbs Blue Isn’t Worth the Cost.” In short, they argue that affluent suburban districts, if they elect Democrats, are likely to elect centrists who won’t pass the kind of progressive legislation that will adequately address economic and racial inequality. The short-term benefits of winning races in those districts, they say, will eventually be outweighed by the long-term harm created from a Democratic congressional caucus that’s too heavy on economic elites and not enough “real Americans.”

I’m going to propose a counterargument that may blow some minds with how off-the-wall it is: Maybe Democrats should contest as many races as possible, and try to win elections in as many places as possible, regardless of income, education, or race. There are different aspects to the Democratic agenda that can appeal to different types of people, and historically, electoral success for one party or the other has generally relied on putting up a big tent that can house a broad coalition capable of earning and sustaining a majority.

Moreover, this isn’t the right time to be writing off any seats or any capable Democratic candidates because they’re too hot or too cold. Given the existential threats to American democracy currently posed by those in charge of Washington, DC, I can’t even imagine the level of detached privilege that would lead one to say that we shouldn’t try to target some of the seats that are likeliest right now to fall into our grasp, and instead focus on the groundwork for a purer and more perfect party at some point in the future.”

He also notes:

There’s been a lot of recent research showing that college-educated whites (presumably, the authors’ vision of who lives in these affluent suburbs) are now somewhat more liberal in their policy preferences than non-college-educated whites. This is a reversal from, say, the mid-to-late 20th century. You can see this if you look at the changes in county-level election results over the decades, broken out by education level. You can also see it if you look at long-term studies that track the electorate’s views over time.

Researcher Sean McElwee has been one of the main proponents of this line of thought; he’s used data from the American National Election Studies (a long-term polling project conducted by political scientists that asks a battery of demographic and policy questions) to show that college-educated whites are now more liberal on questions about progressive economic policies than non-college whites are.

For instance, college-educated whites answer “yes” at a higher rate to questions like “Favor millionaires’ tax,” “Government should reduce inequality,” and “More regulation of banks.” Similarly, Democratic primary voters have become significantly less racist in the last decade: The number of Democrats who “strongly disagree” with the proposition that “If black people would try harder, they could be just as well off as whites” shot up between 2008 and 2016.”

After a very informative analysis of who currently represents these affluent suburban districts and who is now running in these districts, he concludes:

“Are people who’ve won the housing lottery via either privilege or simply by virtue of having gotten there first, but who are generally progressive in their values and policy preferences—who, at the national level, want a more equitable tax system, who want a higher minimum wage, who want more government involvement in providing health care to everyone, and above all, who want a non-embarrassing, non-threatening president, but who are NIMBYish in their beliefs about their own neighborhood—to be welcomed into the big tent, even though they’re imperfect? Or are they to be cast aside in pursuit of a Democratic Party unicorn that looks more like the one of old—when, it should be pointed out, they repeatedly lost presidential elections, under the banner of fellows like Adlai Stevenson, Walter Mondale, and George McGovern? I know which one I’d prefer.”

Me too. And so should you.


Political Strategy Notes

A FiveThirtyEight.com chat session responds to the question, “Will Voters Give Trump Credit For North Korea?” Among the possibilities, as Perry Bacon, Jr. sees it: “I don’t think the agreement reached this week means a ton. If there are no North Korean nuke tests between now and Election Day 2018 but also no big deal between Trump and Kim, then North Korea is not a real Election Day factor. It recedes from the news. I don’t think this summit itself changes the midterm dynamics that much….The media will move on from this issue back to Mueller/Pruitt/Trump scandals/tweets, etc. People just don’t think about foreign policy that much in general.” Micah Cohen adds, “How’s this for a starting point: Voters will view Trump’s North Korea policy through their normal partisan lens … unless (i) it very clearly goes south and a substantial portion of elected Republicans begin to criticize it, or (ii) it very clearly goes well and even the commenters in the media are praising it?…But the 90 percent confidence interval of likely outcomes probably fails to break partisan biases….And you can see those biases in the pre-summit polling:” Clare Malone suggests, “I agree about the midterms. It could affect 2020 more, or at least play a part.”

I’m a fan of both Robert DeNiro and Samantha Bee. But Frank Bruni makes a good point in his ‘open letter’ column, “How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump” at The New York Times: “I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning….Many voters don’t hear your arguments or the facts, which are on your side. They just wince at the din…It’s about maturity, pragmatism and plain old smarts — and the necessity of all three when the stakes are this high…“When they go low, we go high,” said another first lady, Michelle Obama, at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. It’s a fine set of marching orders, disobeyed ever since.” Of course actors and entertainers should have their say, like everyone else. But Bruni’s column should be a keeper for all public figures who want their comments to be strategically-sound.

Vox’s Dylan Scott says polls indicate “Democrats have a good shot at turning Ohio blue again in 2018,” and notes that, “Brown, a popular two-term incumbent, should already be viewed as the favorite, but both polls showed him running far ahead of Renacci:…Quinnipiac: Brown leads Renacci, 51 percent to 34 percent…Suffolk: Brown is again way ahead of Renacci, 53 percent to 36 percent…DeWine had been considered the slight favorite in a state that has been trending red, with no statewide elected Democrats except Brown, and where Donald Trump won by 8 points in 2016. But both surveys actually found Cordray ahead:…Quinnipiac: Cordray narrowly led DeWine 42 percent to 40 percent…Suffolk: Cordray had a bigger lead over DeWine, 43 percent to 36 percent…But the findings were striking enough that after their release, the University of Virginia’s Crystal Ball said it was shifting the Ohio governor’s race from Lean Republican to Toss-Up and the Senate race from Lean Democrat to Likely Democrat.”

At The Upshot, Neil Irwin addresses a question of enormous consequence that doesn’t get enough coverage, “If the Robots Come for Our Jobs, What Should the Government Do?” Trump’s antagonistic trade policies are a distraction from more immediate, real-world causes of job loss. It’s less about the role of tariffs than automation and U.S. industry’s investing too much in other countries. Regarding automation, Irwin writes that “Some of the potential answers are big, bold ideas that have gained traction in particular ideological circles. A universal basic income — the idea that the government simply give each citizen enough money every month to support basic needs — has fans among both free-market libertarians and socialists….But other ideas starting to percolate in economic policy circles may have advantages in terms of cost and political viability.” Irwin flags several other ideas emerging from think tanks, including shorter terms for patents and trademarks, shorter work-weeks (work-sharing), expanding subsidized re-training and “life-long learning accounts,” greater ‘portability’ of benefits, and expanding the earned-income tax-credit. It would be good to see more Democrats developing proposals that include some of these measures and addressing the rvages of automation more directly.

Robert Atkinson argues in “The Pro-Growth Minimum Wage” at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, however, that automation is a desireable consequence of raising the minimum wage, in part because somebody has to make and service the new machines. But mostly Atkinson is concerned with better progressive messaging in support of the minimum wage. “If progressives want to break through this frustrating stalemate and get a higher minimum wage over the finish line—at least in more states, if not in Congress—it’s time for them to make the case for a higher minimum wage on the grounds of growth first, and fairness second. In other words, not only should progressives stop ceding ground to opponents when it comes to jobs and GDP growth, they should rightly assert that a higher minimum wage would actually improve both. In other words: If we want to grow the U.S. economy, not just redistribute more of its fruits to low-income workers, we need to raise the minimum wage. This argument is much more likely to prevail…what’s truly important is how many jobs there are in the U.S. economy after raising the minimum wage…There are too many low-wage, low-skill jobs, too little investment by companies in new machinery and high-performance work organizations, and too little support by government for those organizations, including skills development. Getting out of this trap will require a wide range of policies, including better programs to boost worker skills. But no policy change is more vital here than a higher minimum wage. And, as such, progressives will need to champion such a move, by highlighting the essential role it will play in creating a robust economy and growth for all.”

Democrats have been gifted ample material for a powerful ‘weathervane’ ad in the Trump Administration’s decision to gut the highly-popular pre-existing health care provision of the Affordable Care Act. WaPo’s Fact Checkers Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly document the history of Trump’s comments supporting pre-existing condistion coverage on at least ten occasions — in stark contrast to his recently authorizing the gutting of the measure. As the authors conclude, “With no explanation or warning, the president now supports an effort to nullify the provisions that make it possible for millions of people to purchase affordable insurance. Thus this new position, directly contradicting his repeated stance as a candidate and as president, qualifies as a flip-flop.”

Some insights from Meredith Ferguson’s “Cracking the Code of Young Voter Turnout” at Campaigns & Elections: “Consider who young people are today, and for whom they’re being asked to vote. They’re the most racially and culturally diverse generation in American history. Forty-six percent identify as a race or ethnicity other than white. Yet, women and minorities each make up less than 20 percent of lawmakers in the 115th Congress. According to the CDC, eight percent of high schoolers identify as LGBTQ, while only one percent of Congress does. The average member is 57 years old — that’s among the highest average in recent history…Young people also refuse to be bound by the traditional ideological boxes. The plurality — 46 percent — of our survey respondents said they identify as independent or unaffiliated and 50 percent view themselves as moderates. While young people may be considered liberal on many social issues, those positions reflect more of a societal shift than a political philosophy…For example, even a majority of our respondents who identify as conservative support universal background checks for gun purchases and believe that the government has a responsibility to ensure health coverage for all.”

In his Washington Post column, “Trump’s America goes full Charles Dickens,” Dana Milbank spotlights the glaring contradiction between GOP elected officials mouthing of cliched concern for opiate addicts and migrant children and their failure to support anything resembling substantial legislation to address the  crises. “This is why the show of compassion rings hollow: Republican lawmakers aren’t willing to stand up to the source of their Dickensian dilemma. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) spoke out against Trump — and lost his primary Tuesday. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) once expressed concern about Trump — and was forced into a runoff. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is retiring, complains his GOP colleagues won’t defend their own trade principles because they don’t want to “poke the bear…Republicans may be afraid voters will see them as heartless — but they are more afraid of crossing Trump.”

“The problem with this administration is that everything it does is a distraction from everything else it does,” writes Eric Alterman at The Nation. “Trade? Immigration? Economic equality? Education? Environmental protection? Workers’ rights? Women’s rights? Diplomacy? Whatever it is, to borrow from Groucho Marx, they’re against it. And they will also lie about it. And they will complain about being asked about it…Trump’s genius for distraction, self-pity, and entertaining idiocy succeeds not only in normalizing his psychopathic behavior and malevolent prejudices but also in hiding the fact that institutions that protect our freedom and democratic rights are teetering beneath a ferocious assault…Trump supporters and their media apologists complain that news coverage of this administration is overwhelmingly negative. In fact, it’s nowhere near negative enough. That’s because it is piecemeal and professional, and cannot help itself from trying to be fair to “both sides,” bending over backward to treat Trump as somehow normal.” Well put. Now Dems could use some fresh ideas for addressing the media coverage problems associated with Trump’s distractions and false equivalency journalism.


Brownstein: Democratic ‘Coalition of Transformation’ Must Navigate Complex Demographic and Geographic Differences in Political Attitudes

At CNN Politics, Ronald Brownstein addresses “one of the central questions about our steadily widening political and social divide: Is the fundamental fissure in American life now demographic or geographic?”

The answer, a growing body of evidence suggests, is both. And that may point to a future of even greater distance — and antagonism — between a Democratic coalition centered in racially diverse, largely secular, and post-industrial metropolitan centers and a Republican coalition grounded in small-town and rural communities that remain mostly white, Christian and rooted in traditional manufacturing, agriculture and resource extraction.

…Since the early 1990s, the two parties’ coalitions of support have steadily separated, both demographically and geographically. That process reached a new peak in the bruising 2016 presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Geographically, Clinton dominated the nation’s biggest places, winning 87 of the nation’s 100 largest counties, while Trump carried over 2,600 of the nation’s other 3,000 counties, most of them smaller. (He won more counties than any candidate in either party since Ronald Reagan in 1984.)

Demographically, the divides were just as formidable, with Clinton posting big margins among younger and minority voters, Trump romping among blue-collar and older whites, and college-educated whites dividing almost exactly in half between them. The parties’ positions in the House of Representatives largely follow these tracks, with Democrats relying mostly on diverse and white-collar urbanized districts, while most of the Republican caucus represents predominantly white and heavily blue-collar seats beyond the metro centers.

Brownstein sorts out the residential patterns of the key demographic constituencies, and notes that ” In an exhaustive recent study, the non-partisan Pew Research Center, for instance, found that non-whites comprised over half the population in the largest urban centers, about one-third in suburban communities, and only about one-fifth in small town and rural places. Whites without a college degree represented about three-in-10 urban residents, exactly four-in-ten in suburbs and nearly six-in-10 in rural places.” Further, “Each of the electorate’s three broadest groupings — whites without a college degree, whites with a four-year college degree or more and non-whites — bend steadily toward more conservative views as they move from the most- to the least-populated communities.”

On the one hand, non-college whites almost always expressed more conservative views than did either non-whites or whites with a college degree living in the same kind of geographic area…When asked, for instance, whether immigrants had a positive impact on their community, in urban areas 62% of college-educated whites and 51% of non-whites, compared to only 36% of non-college whites said yes. In suburban areas, 56% of college-educated whites and 50% of non-whites, compared to just 32% of blue-collar whites, saw a positive impact. In rural areas, about 40% of both college whites and non-whites saw a positive impact, compared to only about one-fourth of non-college whites.

Likewise, in urban, suburban and rural communities alike the share of college-educated whites and non-whites was greater (often much greater) than the proportion of blue-collar whites who agreed that whites still have advantages over African-Americans; agreed that women still face significant obstacles in society; agreed that society can prosper without people making marriage and child-rearing a priority; and agreed that the growing number of newcomers strengthens, rather than weakens, America. Urban and suburban minorities and college-educated whites were also much more likely than their white blue-collar counterparts to say government should do more to solve problems. (Rural blue- and white-collar whites largely converged on the question.) The sole wrinkle in this general pattern is that in urban areas non-whites were slightly less likely than blue-collar whites to express liberal views on abortion and gay marriage — a reflection of the deep culturally conservative strains in many African-American and Hispanic churches.

But, just as important, Pew’s survey also found that the share of each major demographic group expressing liberal views was almost always greater, often much greater, in larger than smaller places…The share of college whites who said government should do more to solve problems rose even more precipitously from about two-fifths in rural places, to just over half in suburbia, to nearly three-fourths in urban centers…Among non-whites, the share supporting more government activism similarly grew from 62% in rural communities, to 65% in suburbs to 78% in urban centers.

Additional data from Browstein’s article supports the patterns with ‘social issues,’ including same-sex marriage, immigration and reproductive rights. The data amplifies “the persistent power of place” in American politics, as well as demographic realities in “shaping political attitudes.”  He adds that the survey results “reinforce the argument that Ruy Teixeira, a longtime liberal electoral analyst, and author John Judis made in their landmark 2002 book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority.” In that book, the two argued that Democrats had a better chance of reaching blue-collar whites who chose to live amid the diversity of urban centers than those who located in more racially and religiously homogenous communities outside the metropolitan core.” He quotes Teixeira on some of the reasons for the attitudinal differences:

“One is you hang around in an area where certain types of ideas are dominant and you tend to absorb those attitudes,” he said. Second, he continued, in small places people are less likely to actually face personal interaction with the sources of so many cultural flashpoints. “There is a well known relationship about … having certain attitudes about immigration or feminists and not encountering many,” he notes…Finally, he said, these impulses are reinforced by the growing economic gap between thriving larger metropolitan areas and smaller places that are struggling to hold population and jobs. “The fact is that a lot of these white non-college voters who are living in dense areas are living in areas that are working, where economic mobility is feasible, and that takes the edge off of their cultural conservatism,” Teixeira says.

Brownstein explains that “The November midterm election seems likely to further extend this crevice between what I have called the Democratic “coalition of transformation” and the Republican “coalition of restoration.” All polls suggest Republicans face enormous risk in white-collar suburbs and urban districts crowded with college-educated whites and minority voters resistant to Trump. But the Democrats’ prospects appear much more limited beyond those urban centers.”

Brownstein sees an opportunity for Democrats, noting that “In Pew’s data, large majorities of blue-collar whites across rural, suburban and urban communities agreed that the economy favors the powerful; across all three areas, in fact, they were nearly as likely to agree with that sentiment as were minorities and college whites.” He concludes with Teixeira’s observation that, “The chink in the armor [for Republicans], such as it is, there is a conflict between these [blue-collar and rural] voters’ views of the rich and powerful in general and their views of entitlement programs and the way Republicans really do approach policy…If [Democrats] can convince more people that it’s a really top priority to help you and your community, they would look the other way on some of their cultural conservative views.


Teixeira: How a New Breed of Whites Could Beat the Republican Party

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

When people think of demographic change in America, they are most likely to think of the rise of racial minorities and the decline of whites. And this is indeed a large and important trend.

Yet, despite this “browning of America” and the presumed disadvantage this poses to the GOP since they do so poorly among minority voters, the Republican party remains in a strong political position due to increased support they have managed to cultivate among whites. Many Democrats fear, and Republicans hope, that this approach can stave off the effects of minority voter growth indefinitely.

But what if the most fundamental demographic change of all—generational replacement—was going to present Republicans with a new breed of whites who were hostile to or at least much less interested in what the GOP has to offer? That would indeed be a problem for Republicans’ default strategy for dealing with demographic change.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. Data are accumulating indicating that younger generation whites are very different than older generation whites. Consider the 2016 election where Trump built a victory on his support among white voters, especially in key swing states. Nationally, he carried whites by 55-39 but Clinton carried white Millennial generation voters (approximated here by the 18-29 year old age category) by 48-42. In Florida, white Millennials supported Clinton by 49-43; in Iowa by 47-40; in Michigan by 50-41; in Pennsylvania by 50-41; and in Wisconsin by 54-37.

White millennials also solidly favor the Democratic party in terms of baseline partisanship and are overwhelmingly sympathetic to immigrants and oppose building Trump’s wall along the Mexico border.

This is definitely a different breed of white people. And the differences extend to both college-educated and noncollege whites. Across states in 2016, Clinton ran around 25 points better among white college Millennials than among white college voters as a whole and 25 points better among white noncollege Millennials than among white noncollege voters as a whole. These are huge differences with huge implications. By 2020, Millennial and younger generation voters will be over half of eligible voters and by 2032 these generations will be two thirds of all eligible.

Faced with such a tsunami of young minority and liberal white votes, what will the Republican party do? Their current plans do not appear to make allowances for a different breed of white people. But they’d better because the new breed is coming fast and is likely to blow apart their default strategy of relying on the white vote and the white vote alone.

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Political Strategy Notes

“An electoral strategy that prioritizes high-tech areas and inner-ring suburbs faces daunting demographic math when applied nationwide. It has left liberalism in a historically weak political position, write Lily Geismer, author of “Don’t Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party” and Matthew D. Lassiter, author of “The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South,” in their New York Times op-ed, Turning Affluent Suburbs Blue Isn’t Worth the Cost. “Democrats haven’t paid enough attention to the substantial policy costs of turning affluent suburbs blue. That focus has failed to reverse the downward mobility of middle-income households and openly favored upscale communities without addressing economic and racial inequality…The Democratic fixation on upscale white suburbs also distorts policies and diverts resources that could generate higher turnout among nonwhite voting blocs that are crucial to the party’s fortunes and too often taken for granted. It should not be that hard for liberalism to challenge the Republican tax scheme to redistribute income upward, and build on Mr. Obama’s important but inadequate health care reform, with policy solutions that address the real diversity of American suburbia.”

Thomas B. Edsall has an instructive column about the drastic decline of worker rights in America at The New York Times, entitled “The Class Struggle According to Donald Trump.” Edsall draws from a range of scholarly studies and sources to illuminate the ways workers are increasingy restricted by “noncompete” and no-raid” agreements that severely restrict the mobility of an estimated 30 million workers in the U.S. Edsall also recounts the devastating effects of “alternative work arrangements ” (24 million workers in “temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, and independent contractors or freelancers”) mandatory arbitration and spreading anti-union policies in the labor force. As for the Trump Administration’s role in American worklife, Edsall writes, “Trump campaigned as the ally of the white working class, but any notion that he would take its side as it faces off against employers is a gross misjudgment. His administration has turned the executive branch, the federal courts and the regulatory agencies into the sworn enemy of workers, organized and unorganized. Trump is indisputably indifferent to the plight of anyone in the bottom half of the income distribution: look at his appointments, look at his record in office, look back at his business career and look at the man himself.”

Net Neutrality is history starting today. As Daniel Politi writes at slate.com, “The repeal of the rules known as net neutrality, which essentially prohibit internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to certain websites, is officially set to take effect on Monday. Lawmakers and state officials are working to try to reinstate the rules shortly so the change may not be long-lived but that doesn’t change the fact that starting June 11, internet service providers will be much freer to block, speed up or slow down access to certain content…Online protests are expected on Monday to call attention to the issue as activists focus on lobbying the House of Representatives, where lawmakers still haven’t taken up a measure that would restore net neutrality. The measure passed the Senate on May 16 but the House is still around 50 votes short. Democrats have been pushing for a vote to get everyone’s position on the record, thinking it could become a key issue in midterm elections.” Smart Democratic candidates will make sure their constituents know who to blame for this attack against free speech — Republicans.

Michael Scherer’s “Should Democrats find a Trump of their own? Political outsiders find little room in 2020 presidential field” at The Washington Post considers some possible “outside the box” presidential candidates for Democrats, including Starbuck’s departing chairman, Howard Schultz, talk show star Oprah Winfrey, Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, Disney’s Bob Iger, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and liberal financier Tom Steyer. Thing is, none of these potential candidates are far outside the corporate box. Cuban said last year that he would rather run as a Repubican. Schultz has even proposed cutting “entitlements” and opposes single-payer health care, which is becomming more popular with Democratic rank and file and elected officials. But credit the best quote in the article to Steyer, who says “As far as I am concerned, anybody who is thinking about 2020 is taking their eye off the ball.”

One of the GOP’s favorite targets is billionaire philanthropist, author and progressive activist George Soros, who has been a generous contributor to Democratic candidates and progressive causes, as well as a broad range of non-partisan humanitarian causes. In his Post Politics article, “‘I must be doing something right’: Billionaire George Soros faces renewed attacks with defiance,” Michael Kranish notes that Soros gave $25 million to mobilize Democratic voters in 2016 and plans to spend another $15 million supporting candidates this year. “This cycle, Soros has focused his political investments on congressional races and mobilizing voters on the left. His largest donation this year has been $5 million to Win Justice, a voter-mobilization group focused on minorities, women and young voters in Florida, Michigan and Nevada.” In addition, “His New York-based Open Society Foundations now spends $940 million a year in 100 countries, promoting values such as free speech and free elections.” Soros is arguably the most important and generaous progressive donor of our times, and the Democratic party would have a tough time of it, without his contributions as a counter-weight to the billions of dollars the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other conservative sugar-daddies have lavished on Republican candidates.

At The Plum Line, Paul Waldman writes that “the Trump administration has told the public that they want to make things much, much worse. Not only may health insurance continue getting less affordable, they even want to take away the pre-existing conditions protection you now enjoy, all while they’re working hard to destabilize the private insurance market…Indeed, polls have shown over and over again that the policy issue most on voters’ minds right now is health care. In Virginia’s 2017 elections, for instance, exit polls showed health care far and away the most important issue for voters, and those who said it was their top issue picked Democrat Ralph Northam over Republican Ed Gillespie in the governor’s race by a margin of 77-22 percent. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll also found that health care is voters’ top issue. As much as president Trump may dominate the headlines, the increasing cost of care is weighing heavily on voters…Take a moment to marvel at the position the administration has taken: They think insurance companies should once again be able to deny you coverage or charge you outrageous premiums because you have a pre-existing condition….If Democrats don’t repeat that sentence a thousand times a day between now and November, they’re nuts.”

Waldman takes a step back to ponder the irony of Republicans inadvertantly taking steps to discredit privatized health insurance and replace it with a more socialized system. “There’s an old Marxist idea that sometimes you need to “heighten the contradictions,” making the problems of the current system even worse so you can more quickly bring about the revolution that will replace that system with something better. If you didn’t know better, you’d think that today’s Republican Party is doing just that on the issue of health care, in the service of exactly the kind of big-government universal program they claim to despise…Republicans seem determined not only to make American health care more inefficient and cruel in every way they can think of, but to do it while making themselves as unpopular as possible. That could both bring about the political victory of their enemies the Democrats, and create the conditions for those Democrats to pass a universal coverage program. It’s quite an extraordinary strategy.” And if Democrats succeed, “it will be in no small part because Republicans made voters so disgusted with the existing health care system and afraid for their own health security that they’re willing to support radical change.”

In her post, “How Democrats plan to pitch their economic agenda in a strong economy,” at vox.com, Ella Nilsen writes,”Trump’s approval rating is at historic lows, but one thing he has going for him is a good economy. This is key to Trump’s message: He was elected in a wave of economic anxiety, especially in white, rural areas where manufacturing jobs had disappeared…Questions linger over how much a strong economy can help Republicans win in the midterms. That’s because historically, the economy matters much less in a midterm than it does in a presidential year… Take, for instance, the 2006 midterms, when the economy was good pre-2008 recession and Republicans were in power. They were still swept out of office by the Democrats. The opposite thing happened in 2014, when the economy was steadily improving yet Democrats lost control of the Senate and ceded ground in the House.” Trump’s penchant for rolling out daily distractions to deflect coverage of the Mueller probe may also crowd out “‘good economy’ stories.

Georgia’s Democratic candidate for Governor Stacy Abrams just got a nice gift from the GOP frontrunner, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, as Ed Kilgore explains at New York Magazine: “It’s not often that you see a seasoned politician go into a meeting with a political rival and insist he flipped-flopped on a key policy issue for dishonorable reasons. But that’s what Georgia’s longtime lieutenant governor and current gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle did, according to a transcript published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: ‘Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told executive Clay Tippins he supported “bad public policy” to deprive another rival of supposed help from an outside group, in a recording obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News…Cagle’s conversation with Tippins, who finished fourth in the race, took place two days after the May 22 primary in Cagle’s campaign headquarters in DeKalb County. It was surreptitiously recorded on Tippins’ phone, which was in his coat pocket.” Of course it remains to be seen if Georgia voters have a high enough tolerance for such shenanigans to elect Cagle or his clownish Republican run-off opponent, Brian Kemp, who has a couple of messes of his own to explain to voters. Either way, Abrams will enjoy the GOP’s demolition derby, and she could get a bump from swing voters, few as they may be in Georgia.


The Iowa Bellwether

While perusing the less noticed January 5 primary states, I had some thoughts about that white working-class enclave in the prairies, Iowa, for New York:

California was the Big Kahuna of June 5 primary states. And New Jersey has four competitive House races going on this year.

But it’s another June 5 primary state, Iowa, that may wind up being the more important bellwether heading into autumn.

Democrats there are targeting two House seats and the governorship, along with other statewide offices and the legislature. But just as importantly, they are challenging the trend of the last two election cycles, in which Iowa tilted red at an alarming pace.

Entering 2012, Iowa was a classic battleground state, with one senator from each party (an arrangement Iowans seemed to like because it protected them against party swings in Washington), a governorship that had gone back and forth since 1998, a legislature with control divided between the two parties, and a three-Democrat, two-Republican House delegation. Thanks to redistricting, a Democratic and Republican House incumbent were forced to face off, and the Republican won. Barack Obama carried the state by just under 6 percent.

In 2014, the “Harkin seat” in the Senate (in which U.S. House Democrat Bruce Braley was the front-runner to succeed the retiring Harkin) went to Republican Joni Ernst by nearly nine points. GOP governor Terry Branstad was reelected by an astonishing 22-point margin. Braley’s First Congressional District, which he had held since 2006 fell to a very conservative Republican, Rod Blum. It was a terrible year for Democrats.

And then it got worse. Of the six states that flipped from Democrat to Republican in the presidential elections of 2012 and 2016, Iowa’s had by far the largest shift in popular votes: from D+6 to R+9 (Ohio was second with a net 11-point shift). From being a classic battleground state for years with most recently a distinct Democratic advantage (Obama carried it by 8.5 points in 2008), Iowa was suddenly more Republican than Texas. (This was particularly astonishing because Iowa was one of the few states Trump lost in the nominating contest.) The GOP also won undivided control of Iowa’s state government for the first time since 1998.

It was reasonably clear at the time that demographics were a big factor in Iowa’s lurch. As I said in 2016 in a piece headlined “Iowa Is So White It’s Turning Red,” Iowa was a microcosm of some important national trends:

“Iowa, once a classic blue-leaning battleground state (it went for Obama handily in 2008 and 2012), is moving toward the GOP and particularly Trump because of its high concentration of conservative white working-class voters and its small minority population. To put it another way, Democrats in both presidential and state elections have had to rely in Iowa (as in other Upper Midwestern states) on winning a relatively high percentage of the white vote. The ‘Obama Coalition’ in its full glory just doesn’t exist there. And as Democratic support among white voters — especially evangelicals, and especially non-college-educated people — has gradually eroded, it has gradually made Iowa more hospitable to Republicans, who won a very big midterm victory in the state in 2014.”

If Democrats are going to mitigate or reverse their losses among white voters (and especially non-college-educated white voters), states like Iowa are a great place to start. And Iowa Democrats have some good indicators. For one thing, their front-running candidates in three big, competitive races won their primaries easily: wealthy businessman Fred Hubbell in the governor’s race, state legislator Abby Finkenauer in the northeast Iowa First Congressional District, and small-business owner Cindy Axne in the southwest Iowa Third Congressional District. For another, the early signs sure don’t indicate another easy GOP year. A February 2018 Iowa Poll from the very reliable Selzer & Company showed incumbent Governor Kim Reynolds with a narrow 42/37 lead over Hubbell, who isn’t remotely as well known (but who has the resources to make up for that). In May, Roll Call named First District incumbent Representative Rod Blum the country’s most vulnerable House incumbent. Finkenaeuer has been out-raising him, and a late 2017 generic congressional poll of the district showed Democrats with a huge 18-point lead. Third District incumbent David Young isn’t in as much trouble as Blum, but Cook Political Report calls the race competitive (“Leans Republican”). Democrats also think they can make gains in the Iowa House, which is being targeted by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Such gains are a matter of sheer conjecture at this point, and the demographic factors that tilted Iowa red in the last two cycles have not gone away. But there’s no better laboratory for how to undermine the Trump coalition.


Is distraction caused by Trump’s sideshows a problem for Democrats?

Washington Post syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. has a perceptive take on Trump’s politics of distraction, media enabling of it and what means for Democrats. As Dionne sees it:

Good reporters and editors labor mightily to be fair-minded in their reporting of episodes and events, and I’ll defend them to my last breath. But the larger battle, captured by the phrase “winning the news cycle,” involves a fierce competition to push reports that help your own side to the top while sidelining those that serve the interests of your opponents.

In the Trump era, this clash has fundamentally changed because the president and his lieutenants have realized that lying works; shameless dissembling is now standard operating procedure for the White House. Partisan outlets go with President Trump’s versions of events, even when they are demonstrably false. Mainstream outlets feel duty bound to report them, even as they debunk the lies.

Moreover, our chief executive instinctively knows what Alexander Hamilton taught long ago: that the despot’s “object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’ ” If the news gets troublesome, Trump and his minions create all manner of controversies and distractions that consume a lot of media space and time.

Dionne adds that “His latest discovery is how his pardon power can be a big news-cycle hit, especially when a celebrity is blended in.” Dionne notes other recent distractions, including the disinviting of the Philadelphia Eagles to the white house and blasting NFL players for their take-a-knee protests. You can add a few, if you like, including insulting his own Attorney General and heads of state who have been among the staunches allies of the U.S., hiring bomb-throwers like Giulani, announcing plans for a Soviet-style military parade and unrelenting tweets designed to provoke controversy and distractions du jour, to name a few.

Trump’s distractions can be divided into two categories: deliberate distractions, like those noted above, and his Administration’s numerous spontaneous eruptions of incompetence, such as ignorant comments about Canada’s responsibility for the white house burning down in 1812 or the anniversary of D-Day reminding us of our great relationship with Germany, keep the media in a tizzy, just trying to keep up. Too often, big media gets suckered into giving the sideshows far more coverage than the incidents deserve. But mostly, the press can’t just simply ignore the distractions, or their competitors will provide the coverage and dominate the market.

It’s gotten so bad that, as Dionne notes, “the sheer volume of corruption reports — starting with would-be Chick-fil-A spouse and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt — means that they start to drown each other out.” There is still a growing problem of false equivalence reporting, which often distorts the reality in a way that lets Repubicans off too easy. As Dionne explains,

Then there is the challenge of balance. So much of the journalism about Trump is negative because of what he does every day and because hard-working reporters and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation regularly turn up embarrassing facts. Therefore, journalists feel obligated to make sure that everyone knows they can be just as tough on Democrats. Looking “partisan” is a grave transgression. Trump and the Republicans try to paint this scarlet letter on the media almost daily.

Hats off to those members of the media who don’t fall for the distractions, and continue to report in-depth about the critical political issues, such as health care, pollution, war, racial discrimination and others. As for the enduring ‘divided Democrats’ and ‘the Democrats have been taken over by the extreme left’ themes frequently parroted by the more easilly-distracted journalists, Dionne clarifies the reality:

Lord knows, Democrats have their problems. Their own politicians regularly point them out by way of scoring points in the party’s factional wars. But with this year’s primaries nearly over, let’s at least shelve certain story lines that are simply wrong.

Contrary to a popular meme, the Democratic primary electorate is not veering sharply to the left. Left-wing candidates did not fare particularly well because rank-and-filers aren’t interested in ideological warfare and are choosing on the basis of personal qualities — it really helps to be a woman this year. Democrats cast pragmatic primary ballots in large numbers because they devoutly want to end their powerlessness.

This pragmatism is what allowed Democrats to avoid catastrophe in California on Tuesday.

Because of the state’s appropriately nicknamed “jungle primary,” the top two finishers in the first round compete in November, even if they are in the same party. Although a couple of races were close, it appears there will be Democratic candidates on the ballot this fall in every target district. Democratic voters successfully identified their own strongest contenders, and party-supported advertising pummeled Republican candidates who threatened to shut the Democrats out. A gang we thought couldn’t shoot straight actually hit the mark.

Dionne concludes by noting that “Trump tests journalists and news consumers in a way they’ve never been tested before. Like would-be autocrats elsewhere, Trump is pursuing a strategy of disorienting the citizenry with a steady stream of provocations, untruths and diversions. We cannot afford to treat any of this as the usual spin or garden-variety politics.”

The daily distractions pumped out by Trump and his Administration remain a difficult obstacle for Democrats, who are trying to get more media and public attention focused on the critical issues facing America, especially those that favor their party. The not so unrealistic hope is that ‘Trump fatigue’ is spreading to the point where enough of his support will evaporate by election day to give Democrats a House majority.

For Democrats, urging the media and voters to address the major issues, instead of the daily distractions, is a continuing challenge — and it’s one Dems must get better at meeting to build an enduring majority.


Political Strategy Notes – Democratic Midterm Primary Super Tuesday

“The night’s biggest headline,” writes Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic, “was that the Democrats appear to have placed candidates for November in all of the California congressional districts where they feared being locked out by the state’s unusual top-two primary system. That unexpected outcome—reinforced by the party’s success at nominating its preferred candidate in each competitive seat in New Jersey—means the Democrats still have an opportunity to recapture the House this fall, primarily by winning seats in states that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016…After their apparent success in California, Democrats can come close to retaking the House majority just by sweeping away the last remaining Republicans in otherwise Democratic-leaning states…At the same time, Republicans are positioned to defend or expand their majority in the Senate if they can beat some of the 10 Democrats defending seats in states that voted for Trump over Clinton. The GOP has chosen strong challengers in those states that have selected nominees so far, a pattern that continued Tuesday with the victory of Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale, the favorite of party and conservative-group leaders, for the Republican Senate nomination against Democrat Jon Tester.”

Democratic voter turnout in southern California was significantly increased over the 2014 midterm elections. As Brownstein explains, “”Overall, the California primary generated a very modest turnout: Though the final vote count will increase the total, the secretary of state reported Wednesday that only about one in five registered voters participated. But Democratic candidates on Tuesday tallied significantly more votes in each of the crucial LA-area seats than their counterparts did in 2014, the last midterm primary…For instance: Democrats on Tuesday amassed nearly 37,000 votes in the congressional district north of Los Angeles held by Republican Steve Knight. That compares to only about 20,000 votes in 2014. The overall increase was similar in Democrat Gil Cisneros’s win in the Orange County seat that Republican Representative Ed Royce is vacating…None of these LA-area districts are sure things for Democrats in November, and the primary results underscored the party’s continuing challenge of mobilizing young and minority voters in midterm elections. But the big Democratic-turnout gains around Los Angeles underscore how far the party can progress toward retaking the House just by channeling the resistance to Trump in the places that have been most dubious of him from the start.”

Brownstein notes, further, “The Cook Political Report’s nonpartisan rankings show that many of the Democrats’ top House opportunities are concentrated in blue states; among the seats that Cook rates as toss-ups or leaning toward the Democrats are five in California; three in New Jersey; two each in New York, Illinois, and Minnesota; and one each in Colorado, Virginia, and Washington. Cook rates another five seats in Pennsylvania, which Trump carried by only about 40,000 votes, as toss-ups or Democrat-leaning. Democrats also have a more long-shot chance at 10 GOP-held House seats in Clinton states that the Cookrankings rate as Republican-leaning…For Democrats, those blue-state seats may be more promising than their comparable openings in otherwise red states (such as the suburban seats around Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta), simply because the overall local environment remains so much more hostile to Trump.”

G. Elliot Morris, a data journalist for The Economist, offers a graph-rich, daily-updated midterm prediction at his blog, The Crosstab. The latest: “In my projection of the Election Day vote share, based on polls of the generic ballot and the swing toward Democrats in special elections, the Democratic Party is ahead, winning by 8.8% of the vote share on average. The margin of error is roughly 6% points…Democrats earn a median of 227 seats in our simulations of the 2018 midterms. This may differ from the strict predictions below because of the larger number of Lean Republican seats than Lean Democratic seats in the current Congress. Effectively we are saying that the below number is an ideal estimate, meant to give you context as to which seats are competitive, but that we expect Democrats to overperform expectations based on the assessment of our error in past predictions…Democrats have a 62.9 percent chance of winning a House majority on November 6th, 2018.” Morris’s methodology: “My forecast of the election day vote works in three stages. First, I average all of the generic ballot polls with an algorithm designed to produce the most predictive average for each week in the cycle. Second, I use that average to predict the most likely election day polling average for Republicans, Democrats, other parties and undecided voters. Finally, I combine the projected Democratic margin in election day polls with Democrats’ average performance in special elections between 2017 and 2018 to predict the outcome of the vote on election day.”

Noting Morriss’s analysis, Brownstein’s article and other sources, Ruy Teixeira adds in his FB post, “Democrats Looking Good for House Takeover, “The primary results from this Tuesday indicate that the Democrats remain in a good position to take back the House this November. They avoided the dreaded top two “lockout” in key California House races and now are positioned to compete in all the races where they have a chance to win. Primaries in other states like New Jersey produced strong candidates for the fall…Just how good are the Democrats’ chances of taking back the House at this point? The Economist model is now at 68 percent. Another model (linked to below) from G. Elliott Morris’ Crosstab site has Democrats’ chances at 63 percent. The recently-rolled out CBS Battleground Tracker model has it close to even with a slight Democratic advantage. Ditto Nate Cohn at the NYT. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has it pretty much even-steven…Hold on to your popcorn! But this Tuesday definitely keeps the Democrats on track.”

From “Women Won Big In Tuesday’s Primary Elections” by Willa Frej at HuffPo: “A record-breaking number of women are running for ― and winning ― spots on ballots in this year’s primary elections. Of the 92 women who participated in Tuesday’s eight primaries, at least 36 of them have emerged victorious…The overwhelming majority of women who ran were on the Democratic side of the aisle, she said, where they have a high likelihood of winning this fall if they’re running in largely Democratic districts…More than 500 women have so far filed to run in primaries this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. That number represents a 67 percent jump from 2016. More than 110 of those women have won their races, 30 of them in California alone. Most of the women running are Democrats, although one-third of Republican women running have also won their races…Many of these women credit President Donald Trump’s election and the potency of the Me Too movement with fueling their desire to run.” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List explained, “All that energy, which is still building, is going to lift Democrats up and down the ballot,” she said. “Women will be the reason Democrats win the House in November.”

NYT political reporters Carl Hulse and Jonathan Martin put it this way: “Democrats enhanced their prospects for winning control of the House with Tuesday’s coast-to-coast primary results, skirting potential calamity in California and lining up likely gains in New Jersey and possible victories in Iowa and New Mexico.” However, “But among the ballots that have been counted so far*, votes for Democratic candidates outnumber those for Republicans in only one district, the 49th, in Tuesday’s open primary elections…Republicans avoided their own worst-case scenario as well, securing a spot in the California governor’s race, which should help bring G.O.P. voters to the polls this fall to vote for their party’s House candidates. Republicans missed a slot on the ballot to challenge Senator Dianne Feinstein’s re-election bid, but a shutout in both California’s Senate race and its contest for governor could have severely depressed conservative turnout…Republican voters also chose strong candidates in Southern California for the showdown in November.”

In their post, “Top takeaways from 2018’s biggest primary night,” David Siders, Natasha Korecki, Carla Marinucci and Steven Shepard report at Politico that “The blowback for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other national Democrats who maneuvered in California’s House primaries was fierce. But as the votes were tallied Wednesday morning, it appeared that the party’s multipronged strategy — attacking Republicans, taking sides among Democrats and cajoling some other candidates to drop out — had paid off…if there’s a Democrat on the ballot in each of California’s 53 House districts in November, the party establishment in Washington will likely see its primary efforts as worth all the trouble.” It also appears that Democratic candidate for California Governor Gavin Newsom pulled off a modified version of ‘the McCaskill template,’ as the authors note: “Newsom and his supporters, hoping for an easy race against Cox instead of a difficult one against a Democrat, had aired ads reinforcing Cox’s conservative credentials for Republican voters.” Newsom’s win and his highly-likely ascension to the governorship of our largest state makes him a top ‘rising star’ in Democratic politics, as well as Tuesday’s biggest winner.

We’ll conclude this edition of Political Strategy Notes with this shamelessly optimistic excerpt from Michael Scherer’s “Democrats strengthen hand in seeking control of House, even if odds of a blue wave are diminishing” at The Washington Post: ““They have enough seats in play and enough quality candidates in those seats to win the majority,” said Nathan Gonzales, who handicaps House races for Inside Elections. “Democrats have done a good job of turning enthusiasm into a large number of candidates, of turning enthusiasm into fundraising,” Gonzalez said. “But now they have to turn that enthusiasm into votes because that is what is going to matter in November.”…Voters have cast primary ballots in 32 of the 56 Republican-held House districts most vulnerable to a Democratic takeover, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Of the 28 races that have been called, Democratic women have won in half the districts, with women leading the Democratic ticket Wednesday afternoon in one of the four remaining seats still being counted in California. The party’s nominees in these crucial districts also include six military veterans and seven nominees who are black, Latino or Asian…The winners include new political stars such as Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot running in Lexington, Ky., and Mikie Sherrill, a Navy pilot and former prosecutor running in northern New Jersey…Democrats also have benefited from a rare unity between the party’s wings. A predicted liberal Democratic rebellion has not materialized at the polls, in part because mainstream candidates have shifted to the left on policy.”