washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ruy Teixeira

Democrats Need to Be the Party of and for Working People—of All Races

And they can’t retake Congress unless they win over more white workers.
by Robert Griffin, John Halpin & Ruy Teixeira

Read the article…

Matt Morrison

Rebuilding a Progressive Majority by Winning Back White Working-Class Moderates

From the findings of Working America, the AFL-CIO’s outreach program to non-union working people.
by Matt Morrison

Read the article…

The Daily Strategist

April 24, 2018

Wasserman: Dems Can Leverage GOP House Candidates ‘Risk Factors’

The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman identifies 7 key “risk factors” for Republican House candidates in the Midterm elections, including:

  1. Sits in a district with a Cook PVI score of R+5 or less Republican.
  2. Sits in a district that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
  3. Received 55 percent of the vote or less in the 2016 election (or a 2017 special election).
  4. Voted in favor of the American Health Care Act in the May 4 roll call vote.
  5. Voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the December 19 roll call vote.
  6. Raised less money than at least one Democratic opponent in the first quarter of 2018.
  7. Has a Democratic opponent with at least $200,000 in cash on hand as of March 31.

Wasserman notes, further, “Only one incumbent, Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), has all seven risk factors. Eight incumbents have six risk factors, 23 incumbents have five, 23 incumbents have four and 32 have three. This is not a hard and fast list, and over the next quarter, many incumbents will add or subtract factors based on their own and their opponents’ progress. ”

In addition, Wasserman adds that “Democrats have a donor enthusiasm edge: in the first quarter of 2018, at least 43 sitting Republicans were out-raised by at least one Democratic opponent.”

According to Wasserman, “Our latest ratings point to 56 vulnerable GOP-held seats, versus six vulnerable Democratic seats,” along with 18 Republicans in “toss-up” territory.

One of the interesting things about the “risk factors” is that they aren’t linked to opinion polling, which may appeal to (ahem) armchair analysts. The names with the risk factors will change somewhat over the next six months, and it would be instructive to compare predictive value of this template to the opinion polls, and also how well it performs together with polls, compared to polls alone.

Holzer Probes Challenge of Increasing Working-Class Earnings

Now that the pundits and political activists are more focused than ever before in the post-war period on the importance to Democrats of winning a larger share of white working-class voters (thanks in some measure to TDS efforts), the “how” question arises and demands some answers. Brookings Senior Fellow for Economic Studies Harry J. Holzer offers some policy ideas for increasing compensation of non-college workers of all races in his article, “Jobs for the working class: Raising earnings among non-college graduates,” which may prove helpful to Democraic campaigns. As Holzer writes,

Federal and state efforts to improve earnings among non-college educated Americans should focus on: 1) Improving education and skills programs at community colleges while incentivizing employers to create better jobs; 2) Raising job availability in depressed geographic regions; 3) Reducing barriers to work associated with opioids and criminal records; and 4) Strengthening work incentives by “making work pay“ in low-wage jobs and reforming income support programs like SSDI.

Holzer concedes that such an agenda would certainly require “significant new expenditures at both the federal and state levels.” He believes that “some actions, like efforts to spur employment in distressed regions, should grow slowly until more evidence is generated about their cost-effectiveness,” but “the overall package of policies outlined above should be implemented robustly.”

Regarding the degree of difficulty in implementing his agenda, he notes that “the federal fiscal outlook has been severely damaged in the past few months by the passage of reckless tax cuts as well as spending increases.” He leaves no doubt about the need to correct the GOP’s “extremely regressive” tax policy and  “rescinding some if not all tax cuts to allow new spending of the type outlined here makes sense, in my view.”

With the unemployment rate relatively low, it is important for Democrats to get out front on the need to reduce income inequality and boost the real wages of working-class voters of all races. Democratic candidates and campaign directors should give a thoughtful read to Holzer’s entire Brookings essay for starters.

Political Strategy Notes

Talk about ‘Clinton Derangement Syndrome,’ Associated Press reports that, eighteeen months after the 2016 election Hillary “Clinton Stars as Central Villain in GOP’s Midterm Strategy,” with big bucks being invested in ads ‘linking’ Democratic midterm candidates to her. What’s hard to understand is how Republicans think obsessing about HRC is going to win them any new votes in 2018, instead of branding the GOP as the yesterday party that is hopelessly constipated by their own misogyny. Yes, Republicans, by all means, invest vast sums of money, time and energy in a new round of Clinton-bashing, which will win you oodles of seats in the midterms.

The late Social Security and Medicare recipient, Ayn Rand still occupies a tender spot in the hardened hearts of Republican leadership, despite the fading fortunes of her acolyte, lame duck Paul Ryan. But a new, less atheistic guru has now arisen from the currents of modern conservative thought, reports Hugh Drochon at The Guardian: “American conservatives, especially among the country’s powerful Catholic minority (which includes six of the nine supreme court justices), have found a new champion for their cause in the Notre Dame political theorist Patrick Deneen. His latest book, Why Liberalism Failed, has been critically acclaimed throughout the conservative press, with the prominent Harvard legal scholar Adrian Vermeule, himself a recent convert to Catholicism, declaring it a “triumph…Deneen never spells out exactly what these local communities might look like, but it’s clear that what he wants, in reality, is a return to “updated Benedictine forms” of Catholic monastic communities. Like many who share his worldview, Deneen believes that if people returned to such communities they would get back on a moral path that includes the rejection of gay marriage and premarital sex, two of Deneen’s pet peeves.”

In his syndicated column, “Where are the conservatives we need?,” E. J. Dionne also comments on the moral vacuum at the center of modern conservatism: “If conservatism in the United States has claimed to stand for anything, it is the idea that government authority should be limited. Conservatives regularly argue (especially when Democrats are in the White House) that the executive’s clout should be checked and that legitimate law enforcement authorities deserve our respect, particularly when they are investigating abuses of power…Any doubts that Republicanism and conservatism have given themselves over to one man, his whims and his survival were dispelled by the GOP’s use of the congressional oversight process to undermine a legitimate probe into a hostile power’s interference in our elections…There is an emptiness where problem-solving conservatism used to be…the corruption of American conservatism is the primary cause of our inability to have constructive debates that move us to resolve issues rather than ignore them…except for a small, honorable cadre of writers and think-tankers, the American right has taken itself out of the game. Our politics will remain broken as long as conservatism confines its energies to cutting taxes and defending a reckless president at all costs.”

From “America is still unprepared for a Russian attack on our elections” by The Washington Post Editorial Board: “As this year’s midterm elections approach, the country is still unprepared for another Russian attack on the vote, and President Trump continues to send mixed signals — at best — about what he would do if the Kremlin launched an even more aggressive interference campaign than the one that roiled the 2016 presidential race…In last month’s omnibus spending bill, Congress set aside more than $300 million for states to invest in hardening their election infrastructure. They have a lot to do. New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks election technology and procedures nationwide, reports that most states are using electronic voting machines that are at least a decade old, many running antiquated software that may not be regularly updated for new security threats. Though most states recognize that they must replace obsolete machines, not much has changed since 2016…Beyond voting machines, there are softer targets that are more exposed to remote hacking, including electronic voting rolls, vote-tallying servers and state elections websites. These are the sorts of electronic resources that Russian hackers seem to have infiltrated in 2016. There is no evidence the hackers changed anything, but there is also no guarantee they will not try in the future.”

Jared Bernstein argues “Why Democrats must, for the sake of the future, repeal and replace the Republican tax cut,” and observes that “The tax bill obliterates the revenue needed to protect those hurt by globalization and technological change. As we speak, conservatives are trying to disassemble the safety net and impose work requirements, regardless of whether remunerative work is available or feasible. Now that they’ve shifted revenue from the Treasury to their donor base, they are arguing that we can’t afford social insurance programs…Deficit spending can relieve the tension for a while. But, eventually, the tax cut, unless it is reversed, will erode the policy insulation that must both provide meaningful opportunity to those on the wrong side of the inequality divide and prevent the rigging of the system. Because once the system is rigged, rest assured that Trump-like characters will promise that its de-rigging depends on global insulation and nationalist racial/immigration policies…the opposition party must make repealing and replacing the tax cuts its top priority. And it must understand the point of doing so is not to cut taxes for those with less means, but to help those hurt by forces beyond their control to reconnect to the broader economy, which has long left them behind.”

“It’s been just 17 months since the election, and we have a completely new consensus among Democratic politicians,” Paul Waldman writes at The Plum Line. “A group of Democratic senators led by Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.) has introduced the Choose Medicare Act, which would open up Medicare to anyone who wants it and isn’t already eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Individuals could get it through the exchanges and employers could put their employees on it instead of private insurance. In its basic structure, it’s extremely similar to the Medicare Extra For All plan put out by the Center for American Progress, the most influential liberal think tank. There’s also a plan to allow states to create a buy-in to Medicaid introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and a Medicare-X Choice Act from Sens. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) still has his Medicare for All plan, which differs from these in that they emphasize that it would be voluntary, and private insurance would stay around as long as it can compete…These plans are not identical, and the details do matter — about how it’ll be structured, what will be covered, how it’ll be paid for, and so on. But the basic idea seems to have been decided. Here’s the most succinct summary I can offer: Open up an existing government health insurance program, either Medicare or Medicaid, to anyone who wants it…But even if we don’t have a consensus among Democratic policy wonks, we’re getting awfully close to a consensus among Democratic politicians, on that one basic idea.”

Trump is a fount of political distractions. But it may be that one that he can’t control could end up helping him, as Ronald Brownstein explains in his article “Why Stormy Daniels Poses a Problem for Democrats: The intense media focus on President Trump’s personal dramas hurts the party’s ability to sell its message to the voters it needs most” in The Atlantic. “As Brownstein concludes, “as in 2016, personal doubts about the president may not prove disqualifying for enough voters to provide Democrats a winning majority. By contrast, even without much media focus in recent weeks, polls show that most Americans now tilt slightly negative on the GOP tax plan and slightly positive on preserving the ACA. The election results in November are much more likely to turn on which side wins the arguments over those policies than on whether slightly more or fewer Americans than today consider Trump unfit for the presidency. In other words: For a sunny outcome this fall, Democrats probably need more health care and taxes—and less Comey and Stormy.” See Ed Kilgore’s take just below on Brownstein’s article, and note also Ruy Teixeira Facebook post, “Ron Brownstein has this exactly right in my opinion.

There is plenty of hand-wringing about whether or not young people will actually vote in November. “The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February sparked a renewed interest in gun control, with students who survived the attack leading rallies, marches, walkouts and campaigns for gun legislation. People across the country, and the world, participated in hundreds of events demanding action on gun violence…Now, leaders are hoping the momentum from the March for Our Lives movement will lead to a more enduring next phase: getting young people to the voting booth in November, an effort to change not just policy in Washington, but the people who set it,” writes Katie Zezima at The Washington Post. “NextGen America, a liberal advocacy group founded by hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, and gun-control advocacy groups Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety have announced an initiative aimed at getting 50,000 teenagers registered to vote ahead of the midterm elections in November…Groups from around the country are hosting voter drives at high schools and colleges, including during widespread school walkouts on Friday, the anniversary of the 1999 massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School. They are setting up voter-registration tables at gun-control marches and are working to galvanize the nation’s youngest voters around a single issue…The groups plan to mail voter-registration forms to 18- and 19-year-olds on their birthdays, target them with online voter-registration ads and, where legal, preregister 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. The focus will be on students who will reach legal voting age by Election Day 2018.”

It appears that one controversial reform is rapidly gaining traction with both parties, according to “Democrats say looser marijuana laws attract young voters, and some Republicans are catching on” by Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim. The authors write “As they gear up for the fall campaign, both parties are trying to energize their bases to turn out at the polls. For Democrats, who have embraced the most liberal platform in decades, marijuana reform is another issue they hope will enliven their core voters…“This motivates young people because it’s a question of freedom, of justice,” said Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, part of a younger, more liberal generation of Democratic lawmakers…The percentage of Americans who support legalizing marijuana is nearly double what it was in 2000, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the fall. The poll showed a partisan divide, with most Democrats favoring legalization and a majority of Republicans opposed. But younger Republicans saw legalization as much more favorable than older Republicans…Former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) recently joined the board of advisers for a company that cultivates and dispenses cannabis. Boehner was previously an opponent of decriminalizing marijuana…Recreational marijuana is legal for adults in nine states and the District. One of those states is Colorado, where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner secured a major concession from the Trump administration last week…The White House said Trump will get behind legislative efforts to protect states that have legalized marijuana, even though that collides with the approach favored by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

Do White Working Class Voters Care That Much About Comey and Stormy?

During a week that featured a heavy dose of Trump scandal coverage, one of my favorite journalists, Ron Brownstein, wondered how it was all going over in different demographic groups. It was an important enough of a question that I wrote about it at New York:

[A] lot of things about the man who became the 45th president that worry upscale Republicans (and their elite #NeverTrump representatives) just don’t matter as much to the white working-class folk who have provided Trump’s sturdiest base of support. Some of it may have to do with news consumption habits: If you watch Fox News rather than read National Review, you got a very different impression of the options available to conservative-leaning voters in 2016.

It’s also entirely possible that white working-class voters are more cynical than their more highly educated counterparts about the moral tone of politicians who are not named Trump; “They’re all crooks” is a pretty common sentiment in those circles. In any event, this is a question that is not important strictly as a matter of retrospectively figuring out how a man of Trump’s character and background managed to get himself elected in the first place; as Ron Brownstein observes, it may well determine the political impact of the continuing Trump scandals we are hearing about nearly every day:

“All three national polls released this week placed Trump’s approval rating among whites without a college degree below his commanding two-thirds in 2016. But he remained positive with those voters overall, and in each survey they preferred Republicans over Democrats for Congress by at least 13 percentage points. That’s despite last week’s nonstop news about Comey’s new book; the continued sparring between Trump and Daniels, the adult film star; and the FBI’s raid on Cohen, the president’s longtime ‘fixer.'”

Trump is taking much more of a beating among college-educated white voters, who are also an important part of his coalition, and that’s not surprising. They are to some extent Comey voters:

“Comey embodies precisely the voters the GOP has been shedding under this president—even despite his unusually personal reasons to recoil from a Trump-led party. The former FBI director, after all, is a white man with a post-graduate education who’s long leaned Republican.”

Brownstein thinks this is a problem for Democrats not just because white working-class voters are relatively indifferent to evidence that Trump is a little bit piggy and a little bit thuggy. The saturation media coverage of the president’s scandals is also interfering with anti-Trump messaging about his broken promises to precisely this element of the electorate. To put it bluntly, if all these voters hear is the familiar tale they’ve heard for years about Trump’s womanizing and shady business practices, they may not hear more compelling information about Trump selling them out to Wall Street and gorging himself and his rich friends on the perks of public office.

A vote is a vote, of course, and losses among college-educated voters may (particularly if supplemented by less dramatic losses among non-college-educated voters) be enough to give Trump a black eye and Democrats control of the U.S. House. But as Brownstein notes, a significant erosion of support among Trump’s white working-class base could represent the difference between a modest and a large Democratic victory: “For a sunny outcome this fall, Democrats probably need more health care and taxes—and less Comey and Stormy.”

As we continue to absorb data on the larger-than-originally-realized size of the white working-class portion of the electorate, this is a dynamic worth watching closely. As much as the chattering classes may marvel at the ever-increasing evidence of the president’s corruption, outrage doesn’t earn the outraged any extra votes.

Greenberg: Mid-terms Can Launch New Era of Progressive Reform

In Stan Greenberg’s article, “How the US mid-terms could kickstart a new era of progressive reform” at Prospect, he provides an optimistic scenario for Democrats:November’s vote will almost certainly kick off a new progressive era of reform, much like the cluster of elections, starting with the 1910 mid-terms, which launched America’s first progressive era.” Further,

A new American majority has been growing now for some time. It is composed of black people, Hispanics and Asians, unmarried women and millennials. Already by the 2012 election, these Americans collectively comprised 53 per cent of the electorate, rising to 54 per cent by 2016, and by 2020 this majority should reach 56 per cent. What I labelled the “rising American electorate” was poised in 2016 to form part of a progressive coalition with the growing number of well-educated suburban voter and college-educated women, while also running respectably with white working class women. That coalition should have readily defeated Trump and put Democrats in power.

Yet, as Greenberg has noted eslewhere, Hillary Clinton’s failure to campaign energetically in white working class communities in Pennsylvania, Florida and the midwestern rustbelt proved a pivotal mistake, as Trump got enough votes in those areas to win the Electoral College. Greenberg believes both Clinton and Obama failed to “understand what was happening in America and the deep, persistent resentments caused by the financial crisis after 2008.”

With benefit of hindsight, Obama could have been tougher on the financial elites and helped to strengthen the Democrats’s brand as the party of working people. He was able to get re-elected anyway, thanks to his strong appeal to African American voters and his ability to win a larger share of white working-class voters than did Clinton, who had lost credibility with this consituency as a result of her associations with wealthy elites and decades of hammering GOP’s attacks on her character. As Greenberg explains,

Their own constituency of voters—and the US public more broadly—was incensed by the continued corporate dominance of American life. They were disgusted by over-paid CEOs who had betrayed their employees and their country, and by the corruption of Wall Street and Washington that rigged the political game, even as wages and wealth had crashed for most Americans. Obama bailed out the banks and auto industry and guaranteed the bosses’ bonuses, but did nothing for homeowners. Nobody went to jail.

Despite all of the impressive achievements of President Obama, including saving the economy from an all-out depression and the most significant health care reform since President Johnson, Obama was unable to provide the leadership needed to adequately strengthen Democratic credibility with the white working-class. To be fair, he faced the most intransigent Republican leadership in a generation, who refused all compromises, with their stated purpose of limiting his accomplishments. As a result,

Democrats lost among white working class voters in 2010 by 64 to 34 per cent, and by a similar margin among white seniors. They also failed to dominate sections of the vote where they should have cleaned up. Republicans won over 40 per cent of votes among millennials and unmarried women. Critically, turnout in these groups dropped or stayed flat in comparison to previous mid-term years.

In 2018, however, Greenberg argues that Democrats have a unique opportunity, because “All the ingredients that gave the Republicans a 2010 Tea Party wave are poised to produce a Democratic 2018 wave, with similar implications for Congress and state and local offices. These are the building blocks of a durable majority.” Greenberg notes further,

In the 2017 special elections, as well as in our most recent national polls, support for Democrats has reached over 90 per cent with African Americans, 65 per cent with Hispanics, 67 per cent with unmarried women and 75 per cent with millennial women. For all of them, the battle with Trump and Tea Party Republicans has made clear what they believe, what values are at stake and how much politics matters.

It sounds like a winning formula is shaping up nicely for Democrats. Assuming the “resistance” energy can be mobilized into turning out the voters who now see the Republicans as the party of wealthy elites who are ripping off working families, Greenberg’s informed analysis looks like a very good bet: “The coming wave could wipe away the Tea Party wave and counter-revolution. And that will mark the beginning of a new era of reform.”

If Trump Is Reelected in 2020, It Would Be An Even Bigger Surprise Than His 2016 Election

There was some buzz this week about the possibility that Trump might have an easier time getting reelected in 2020 than we’ve generally assumed. I looked at some historical precedents and offered a take at New York:

The belief that 2017 to 2021 is the danger zone for really serious Trumpian damage to the republic has lent some additional urgency to the Democratic drive for a big midterm victory that will neuter Trump until such time as he departs — voluntarily or under compulsion — the White House, cursing and boasting at every step.

Reinforcing this one-term assumption is the remarkable number of Republicans who will not commit to supporting Trump’s reelection, despite the GOP’s largely supine surrender to his takeover of their party.

But Kyle Kondik of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has published a warning to the complacent based on predictive models (mostly drawn from international samples) that suggest the power of incumbency is a bigger factor in reelection contests than is normally believed.

“[A]ssuming Trump is on the ballot, and assuming his approval rating stays around the 40% mark, it would probably be wrong to assume he’s an underdog for reelection. That’s not to say he would be a sure winner, but he wouldn’t be a sure loser, either.”

Placing a higher-than-normal value on incumbency has the benefit of helping explain why Trump managed to win in 2016: There was no Democratic incumbent, and moreover, it was (to use the title of political scientist Alan Abramowitz’s model, which predicted a Trump win) “Time for a Change,” since Democrats had held the White House for two terms. Here’s Abramowitz’s general take on how incumbency matters initially and then erodes as a party continues to hold the presidency:

“[C]andidates running for reelection after only one term in the White House enjoy a substantial advantage. In fact, in the past hundred years there has been only one election in which a party lost the White House after only one term — the 1980 election in which Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan. After two or more terms in the White House, however, it appears that this advantage disappears. Even if the incumbent president is a candidate, there is no incumbency advantage in third or later term elections. As a result, these third or later term elections tend to be highly competitive. And of course 2016 is another third term election.”

And 2020 is another second-term election — the kind an incumbent party rarely loses.

That’s one way to look at the historical record. But there are others.

Jimmy Carter wasn’t just the only second-term incumbent to lose; he was also the only one (since the 1940s, when presidential-approval-rating polls became available) to have Trump-like approval numbers. According to Gallup, here are the preelection job-approval numbers for presidents facing voters after their party had just one term holding the White House: Eisenhower ’56: 68 percent; Johnson ’64: 74 percent; Nixon ’72: 56 percent; Reagan ’84: 58 percent; Bush ’04: 53 percent; Obama ’12: 51 percent. Carter’s final job-approval number before the 1980 election was 37 percent.

Using the same source (Gallup), Trump’s highest approval rating was registered on the week of his inauguration, at 45 percent. Unlike his predecessors, his approval ratings appear to have a very limited range. So it is not at all clear, unless you really value non-U.S. examples, that Trump would be an even bet for reelection if he doesn’t become more popular.

There are, of course, four crucial variables we cannot possibly know this far away from the 2020 election: the possibility of a disabling scandal like the one that swept away Richard Nixon’s presidency less than two years after he carried 49 states; the performance of the economy (crucial to many reelections); the possibility of intra-party opposition (Johnson ’68, Ford ’76, Carter ’80, and Bush ’92 were all incumbent candidacies damaged badly by primary opposition); and the identity of the Democratic nominee.

You’d have to say at this moment that Trump’s reelection prospects are most definitely threatened by ever-emerging scandals, a likely pre-2020 economic downturn, and a Democratic opponent not as thoroughly unpopular as Hillary Clinton was in 2016. A primary opponent is less likely unless Trump otherwise looks like a loser.

On top of everything else, it’s worth remembering that Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by more than two percentage points, winning basically the same percentage that big-time loser John McCain won in 2008. Yes, he won the electoral college via the political equivalent of an inside straight, but pulling that off a second time is significantly less likely.

Anyone would be foolish to write off Trump’s reelection prospects entirely. But even with the advantages of incumbency, he’s going to have to do a lot better than he has so far to stay in the White House beyond 2021. And the sense that this strange man is never more than an inch from the political precipice is not entirely the product of his critics’ wishful thinking.

Political Strategy Notes

In her Vox post, “Democrats now have 5 competing plans to expand government health care.” Sarah Kliff explains, the plans include:”A Medicare-for-all bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders…A Medicare buy-in bill from Sens. Tim Kaine and Michael Bennet…A Medicaid buy-in bill from Sen. Brian Schatz…A Medicare “extra”-for-all proposal from the Center for American Progress, an influential liberal think tank that has strong ties to Clinton-land…This new Medicare buy-in bill from Sens. Murphy and Merkley.” Kliff adds, “when I had a chance to discuss this with Sens. Murphy and Merkley Tuesday, they made the case that health care will definitely be a top item in the party’s agenda — that Democrats will return to the issue that defined the early 2010s….“There is no question we’ll have to act,” says Murphy. “It’s the No. 1 issue in America. The polls are clear.” Read the article fopr more detail about the five bills.

At The Plum Line, Helaine Olen’s “Memo to Democrats: A progressive economic agenda is popular” provides one oif the best interpretations of the new CAP study: “…A new report released today by the Center for American Progress makes a convincing argument, using extensive polling data, that this divide does not need to exist. As it turns out, in many cases, voters — both college educated and working class, and of all races — are in favor of an economic agenda that would offer them broader protections whether it comes to work, sickness or retirement…The polling shows that workers across race support similar views on economic policy issues,” said David Madland, the co-author of the report, entitled “The Working-Class Push for Progressive Economic Policies.” “They support a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the wealthy, and more spending on healthcare and retirement. There is broad support among workers for progressive economic policy.” Among the findings: “Spending more government money on retirement draws wide support, with 52 percent of college-educated workers, 64 percent of the white working class, 78 percent of the black working class and 72 percent of the Hispanic working class saying they would like to see this…When it comes to health care, 63 percent of college-educated workers, 64 percent of the white working class, 84 percent of the black working class and 77 percent of Hispanic workers agree say the government should increase, and not decrease, spending…Paid family leave is supported by 73 percent of college-educated workers, 69 percent of the white working class, 72 percent of the black working class and 63 percent of the Hispanic working class…This shows that it’s possible to make economic issues front and center in a campaign platform in a way that doesn’t just talk to working class whites and dismisses the concerns of female and minority voters. It also shows that the oft-discussed dilemma among Democrats — whether to prioritize college educated voters or working class ones — may be a false choice…Indeed, a progressive economic agenda can talk to all of these groups and bridge the gap between them.”

A new  poll from “NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist shows that 47 percent of registered voters say they would definitely vote against a candidate for Congress who proposed impeaching Trump, compared to 42 percent who said they would definitely vote for that candidate. One in ten voters were unsure…While Democrats and Republicans remained mostly in their partisan corners, with 70 percent of Democrats saying they would definitely vote for a candidate who favored impeachment and 84 percent of Republicans saying they’d do the opposite, independents were opposed to supporting a pro-impeachment candidate, 47 percent to 42 percent…That finding comes even as independents say they have an unfavorable view of Trump overall by almost a 2-1 margin.” – From “Poll finds risks for Democrats toying with impeachment promise

“Former attorney general Eric Holder is now in charge of a Democratic organization dedicated to overturning Republican gerrymanders, but that doesn’t mean he wants to replace them with districts drawn to favor Democrats, he said Tuesday,” writes Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog. “Holder’s committee says that electing Democrats is one part of its four-part strategy to end gerrymandering, which also includes challenging gerrymanders in court, engaging voters in the redistricting process and enacting state-level reforms to ensure fairer congressional maps. It’s that last part — changing laws about redistricting — that independent experts say is key to mitigating gerrymandering. In most states, redistricting is handled like any other piece of legislation, with partisan lawmakers drawing maps that are subject to a governor’s veto.” Ingraham adds, “A number of states, such as California, Arizona and New Jersey, have opted to put the redistricting process in the hands of an independent commission. Researchers have found that districts drawn by independent panels tend to be more competitive and show less partisan skew than those drawn by politicians.”

Steve Bousquet reports at The Tampa Bay Times that Florida Governor “Rick Scott has made enemies over voting rights during the last eight years,” and it is likely to be a significant issue in his campaign for the U.S. Senate. As Bousquet writes, “In the nation’s largest swing state, Scott’s actions on voting have angered county election supervisors, the League of Women Voters, college students and federal judges, one of whom recently dismantled Florida’s system of restoring voting rights to convicted felons…The courts have repeatedly ruled against Florida in voting cases, including the recent decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who ordered Scott to create a new process to restore felons’ voting rights…Under Scott, Florida had the longest lines at early voting sites of any state, creating indelible images of obstacles to voting in 2012, the year President Barack Obama won re-election…That was a year after Scott signed the Legislature’s notorious House Bill 1355 that created new barriers to registering voters and curtailed early voting times…It also ended early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, a practice known as “souls to the polls” that helped churches mobilize African-Americans, who support Democrats.” Bousquet’s article may be the most thorough piece yet written about Scott’s lengthy record of voter supression, and Florida Democrats should circulate it widely.

At New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore writes that a “New Arizona Poll Shows Another Special Election Upset Is a Possibility” in Arizona’s 8th congressional district. “A new poll of district voters by Emerson College shows Democrat Hiral Tipirneni leading Republican state senator Debbie Lesko by a 46-45 margin…The only two previous public polls of this race showed Lesko leading by double digits. But the early polling in Pennsylvania’s 18th showed the Republican leading, too; it was Emerson College, as it happens, that first showed the Democratic winner Conor Lamb taking the lead.” However, notes Kilgore, “Republicans have a 17-point advantage in party registration in Arizona’s eighth, while Democrats held a 6-point advantage in the Pennsylvania district.” The special election will take place on April 24th.

Thing are also getting interesting in another sunbelt state, this one in the deep south. As Josh Voorhees reports in his post, “Mississippi’s Senate Free-for-All Starts to Look Like a Two-Person Race” at slate.com, “With two candidates from each party, and no primary to winnow the field, Mississippi’s special election for a U.S. Senate seat could get very messy between now and November. But for now, at least, the two party favorites appear to be firmly in control…A new poll out Tuesday, the first since the field expanded to four candidates earlier this month, found a 20-percentage-point gap between the two establishment favorites and their intra-party rivals in the race to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran. The Y’all Politics survey shows Democrat Mike Espy and Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith—who was appointed to the seat earlier this month—in a virtual tie, with 33.1 percent and 33 percent support respectively, followed by Republican Chris McDaniel at 13 percent and Democrat Jason Shelton at 8 percent…If no candidate gets 50 percent on Election Day, which seems likely, then the race will be decided in a runoff. The pollsters found Hyde-Smith with a 6 point advantage in a hypothetical head-to-head with Espy, 42 percent to 36 percent. If McDaniel were to qualify, Espy’s lead grows to 19 points—43 percent to 24 percent. (The poll did not provide a margin-of-error, but it’s likely that Hyde-Smith’s lead on Espy is within or at least near it.).”

Some encouraging polling data from the Muhlenberg College Institue of Public Opinion/Morning Call 2018 Midterm Election Survey: “With about 7 months remaining before the 2018 elections Democratic candidates are in strong positions across an array of races within Pennsylvania…In a generic ballot in the midterm congressional elections in Pennsylvania the state’s voters are leaning towards Democrats over Republican candidates with 47% of voters preferring the Democrat in their district compared with 38% supporting a Republican.” Asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the tax reform law that was passed by Congress and signed by the President in December?,” 39 percent of respondents approved, 46 percent disapproved and 15 percent were “not sure.” Asked, “Do you favor or oppose building along the U.S. Mexico border to try and stop illegal immigration?,”  37 percewnt said they favored the measure,  57 percent were oppoes and 6 percent were “not sure.”

The New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot sheds light on “The Women Running in the Midterms During the Trump Era: This year’s wave of female candidates has some striking features besides its sheer size.” Talbot writes, “our hundred and seventy-two women have entered the race for the House this year, which is a lot of women. Fifty-seven women have filed or are likely to file their candidacies for the Senate. A useful comparison is to 2012, which marked the last big wave of female candidates: two hundred and ninety-eight ran for the House, thirty-six for the Senate. The number of women likely running for governor this year, seventy-eight, is a record high. The majority of female candidates in 2018 are Democrats, so it seems safe to conclude that many of them are fuelled by frustration, not to say fury, with Donald Trump…There is also a great deal of diversity within the group. It includes more women of color than previous electoral years, as well as a number of immigrants. There are more female veterans in the mix than we’ve seen before, and they’re representing both sides of the aisle…The last time women challenged the overwhelming gender imbalance among elected officials this forcefully was in 1992, the so-called Year of the Woman. Twenty-four women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives that year—the largest group of women ever to enter the House in a single election. The number of women in the Senate tripled—though because there had only been three to begin with, the resulting total wasn’t exactly a throng.

New Coalition Focuses on Better Democratic Messaging

James Hohman’s Daily 202 post, “New coalition aims to improve Democratic messaging against Trump,” focuses more broadly than the title would suggest on developing better Democraric messaging against Republican policies, beginning with the economy and corruption. As Hohman explains,

Many Democratic talking heads make weak arguments on television that fail to move voters. To address this, several groups and top pollsters on the left are teaming up to launch a new project that will conduct surveys and convene focus groups to produce monthly guidance with the most politically potent lines of attack against President Trump and congressional Republicans.

This new initiative, which has not been previously reported, will be called Navigator Research. The debut report, shared first with The Daily 202, offers original polling and talking points related to the economy, political corruption and disruption.

Key players in the new coalition include Jefrey Pollock, the president of Global Strategy Group, Pollock’s partner Nick Gourevitch and Margie Omero from GBA Strategies, along with veterans of the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns. Members of the group’s advisory council include AFL-CIO political director Mike Podhorzer, the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Navin Nayak, Emily’s List’s Christina Reynolds, the Latino Victory Project’s Stephanie Valencia and the Roosevelt Institute’s Felicia Wong. Also on the board are Arkadi Gerney from The Hub Project, Delvone Michael from Working Families and Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Biden and Gore and Gore’s lawyer during the Florida recount.

Boiling down the group’s mission, Pollock said, “For years, Republican politicians have been better at paying attention to language cues. We’re trying to do a progressive version of that.”

Navigator’s inaugural edition features findings from a national online survey of 1,009 registered voters conducted April 3-5, 2018. It also includes findings from an online discussion board of 25 voters who are not strong partisans, conducted March 22-23, 2018. Among the conclusions of the first study, 67 percent, or about 2 out of 3 respondents agreed that “The economy may be growing but wealthy people at the top are getting somuch more of the benefit than middleclass and working people,” vs. only 33 percent who said “Things are generally going well economically – the national economy is booming, the stock market is hitting record highs, and business- es are creating new jobs all the time.” Only 37 percent agreed that “The economy might be better in the country as a whole, but in my community, many people are still struggling to pay their bills and keep up a decent standard of living,” while 63 percent preferred “The economy may be growing but wealthy people at the top are getting allthe benefit, while the middle class andworking people are falling further behind.” Further, “This research finds more Americans are worried and uncertain (61%) than are confident and optimistic (39%) about the future of the economy.”

With respect to corruption, the survey indicated that 49 percent agreed that Republicans in congress are “more likely to use government to personally enrich themselves,” compared to 34 percent who said the same about Democrats in Congress and 17 percent who said ‘nether’ — almost exactly the same breakdown when the question  was “Which is more likely to use government to personally enrich their biggest campaign donors?”

 Economic inequality and political corruption may be the two issues which most favor Democrats over the GOP, which has done a superb job of re-branding itself as the party of greed in recent years. Navigator Research’s new findings affirm the Democratic edge on these two concerns, and we look forward to the messages they develop to help Democratic candidates win the midterm electioins.

Teixeira: New Report on America’s Electoral Future: Demographic Shifts and the Future of the Trump Coalition

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis (cross-posted from his facebook page):

The big report on American’s Electoral Future is out!

Just released! Here’s a key bit from the report but please check out the whole thing. There’s a lot of grist for your mill, no matter what kind of mill you’re working with.

“The wide range of scenarios considered here mostly have Democrats in 2020 maintaining and, in many cases, strengthening their popular vote victory from 2016. Indeed, in only two cases do the authors actually see a Republican popular vote victory in 2020: a 10-point pro-GOP margin swing white noncollege-educated voters and a 10-point pro-GOP margin swing among white college graduates—and, in the latter case, only if the third-party vote is reallocated.

Since Democrats registered popular vote advantages in almost all scenarios in 2020, it should be no surprise that they do so for later elections as well. In the projections that show a Democrat popular vote advantage in 2020, Democrats achieve even greater margins in each subsequent election as the projected demographic makeup of the eligible electorate continues to shift in a direction generally favorable to Democrats.

But, critically, it is electoral votes based on state outcomes, not the nationwide popular vote, that determine the winner in presidential elections. As this discussion details, many Democratic popular vote victories in these simulations do not translate into Democratic electoral vote victories.

In the 2020 election, these simulations include a scenario where Republicans gain a 15-point margin swing in their favor among Latinos, Asians, and those of other races, and a number of scenarios where the education gap among whites plays a key role. The following scenarios result in a GOP Electoral College victory but a popular vote loss: The GOP gets a 5-point margin swing from white noncollege-educated voters twinned with an equal swing toward the Democrats among white college-educated voters; a 10-point swing in Republicans’ favor among white college graduates; and a reversion to 2012 support margins among white college-educated voters. The exception to this pattern is the scenario in which Republicans gain a 10-point margin swing from white noncollege-educated voters, where the GOP carries both the Electoral College and the popular vote. Finally, simply leaving turnout and voter preferences as they were in 2016 while demographic change continues, yields a probable Republican Electoral College victory—though popular vote loss—if the third-party vote reverts to 2012 levels.

Thus, the GOP has many roads to the presidency in 2020 even though demographic shifts appear to make a Democratic popular vote victory easier than ever to obtain. Even more interesting, some of these fruitful scenarios continue to produce Republican electoral vote triumphs in 2024 and beyond, despite mounting popular vote losses.”

Read the entire report here.

C-SPAN Presents Video of Conference on Demographic Change and Future Elections

From Ruy Teixeira’s introduction: “Demographic Shifts and the Future of the Trump Coalition: The Movie. The folks at C-Span were kind enough to film our conference today at the Bipartisan Policy Center so it is available for viewing in its entirety. If I do say so myself it was a very, very good conference, crisp presentations and discussions, no filler!”

The program:

Location: Bipartisan Policy Center: 1225 Eye Street NW, Suite #1000

Opening Remarks:
John C. Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project, Bipartisan Policy Center

Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Rob Griffin, Associate Director of Research, PRRI

Panel I:
Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Amy Walter , National Editor, Cook Political Report
Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research, Pew Research Center
Matt Morrison , Executive Director, Working America
Moderator: Rob Griffin, Associate Director of Research, PRRI

Panel II:
Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Anna Greenberg,Partner, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst, RealClearPolitics
Moderator: John C. Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project, Bipartisan Policy Center

View the video here.