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Greenberg and Carville: Why Trump Won, Part 1

The following article is cross-posted from a Democracy Corps e-blast (website link here):

We are entering a period too awful to contemplate, and James and I thought it important to share our first take on what happened and why. Thankfully, Women’s Voices Women’s Vote Action Fund and the Roosevelt Institute supported this election night survey and critical research on the changing electorate and the economy throughout this cycle that allows us to offer unique perspective. There are extensive findings that we are only just beginning to fully explore and will continue to release to add texture to this complicated outcome. This note focuses on why people voted the way they did and what happened across this very diverse and divided electorate.

First, we believe Hillary Clinton and Democrats could have won this election if Democratic base voters turned out at higher numbers and appealed to enough white working class voters, particularly women, to win the Rust Belt.

Second, it should not be ignored that some of the reason for Trump’s upset is malicious interference by the Russian Federation and their allies at WikiLeaks, as well as reckless politics by the F.B.I. in the post-debate period. Battling back against this media coverage forced Clinton to take her foot off the pedal. She was unable to end the campaign turning out her voters by talking about the change they were demanding.

Democracy Corps’ research for WVWVAF and Roosevelt has consistently shown the importance of putting forward a progressive economic agenda and message of change to motivate a changing electorate, reach out to persuadable voters, and consolidate the Democratic base. In our polling we found that Hillary Clinton gains her biggest leads when she is calling for an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected, and puts forward bold policies to end trickle-down economics. Debate dial-meter testing for WVWVAF found voters became more enthusiastic about Clinton and viewed her more positively when she went after Trump for proposing massive tax-breaks for himself and failed to release his own tax returns. (View our debate dial meter group reporting here and here)

Instead, the campaign closed by attacking Trump and few voters remembered her bold economic plans and the change she was promising. The result was an election where the “New American Majority” did not turnout in anywhere near the numbers expected.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump was on message running on cleaning-up the political system, attacking Clinton as a tool of big business and Wall Street, and offering a reprieve from bad trade deals that cost American jobs and greater public investment. For those who voted for – or considered – Trump, his vow to repeal Obamacare and keep liberals off the Supreme Court were the most important reasons to cast their ballots. But nearly as important were his economic plans and how his business success prepared him to create jobs.


Trump’s hard-line immigration stance ranked fifth and may be an overstated factor in the outcome of the election. Even a plurality of Republicans say that “Immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents.

The arguments for Clinton that won her support were her experience, her temperament and suitability to serve as Commander in Chief, her capacity to govern for Americans of all backgrounds and her support for women on equal pay, the right to choose and funding Planned Parenthood. As we saw, that was her closing argument. Her plans to grow the economy by taxing the rich and investing in the middle class were overshadowed and only rank fifth in voter attention.


The attacks on Trump that registered among those who voted for Clinton and considered her concerned the hateful things he has said about vulnerable minority groups, his disrespect for women, and his inability to handle the nuclear codes given his thin-skin.  His plans to cut taxes on the rich, likely himself, and his refusal to release his tax returns scored even lower, and were not elevated enough to make an impression on voters.

Because the Clinton campaign ended up running on her experience, suitability to govern and openness to America’s diversity and women, but not on the economy and change, it is not surprising that the Democrats ended up best on uniting the country and reviving the middle class. Because they did not run on the economy and change, Republicans have a 6-point lead on handling the economy. And while voters questioned Trump’s capacity to serve as Commander in Chief, the GOP has a 10-point lead on keeping the country safe.


On Election Day, millennials and Hispanics – two of the groups that form the Rising American Electorate – were among the least engaged voting blocs, with obvious consequences (only 72 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of millennials gave the highest rating of significance of this election on a 10-point scale).

Despite all that, the Rising American Electorate did become the majority of the vote for the first time. The groups of minorities, unmarried women and millennials who twice elected President Obama now formed 55 percent of voters, pushed up by the growth of millennials and Hispanics. African American voters held their share of the vote at 12 percent, while unmarried women still fell just short of being one-quarter of the voters. They helped Clinton win the popular vote.


White working class voters played a big part in the very late swing to Trump, particularly in the battleground states. This came in part from further consolidation of white working class male voters and elevated turnout, particularly in the rural areas and small towns in the Rust Belt. We always had Trump performing well here: he held a 36-point lead before the conventions, and in the end, won by 49-points with 72 percent of their vote.

Just as important was the late switch of white working class women. Hillary had been competitive among white non-college women after the debates, pushing Trump’s margin to 7-points.  But the disrupted close to the campaign saw those women move dramatically away, with Trump winning by 26 points, 7-points better than Romney.

These voters thought Trump was raising legitimate working class issues, and with the Clinton campaign mobilizing its diverse base and no longer talking about change, the white working class women moved to the Republicans in many states.

Obviously, we are only beginning to understand this new moment and what it means for progressives. We look forward to sharing the rest of our findings in the coming week.

This survey took place Monday, November 7 – Wednesday November 9, 2016 among 1,300 voters or (on Monday only) those with a high stated intention of voting in 2016.  In addition to a 900 voter base sample, oversamples of 200 Rising American Electorate voters (unmarried women, minorities and millennials) and 200 battleground state voters (AZ, FL, OH, IA, NC, NV, NH, PA, VA, WI) were included. Margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.27 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Of the 1,300 respondents, 65 percent were interviewed via cell phone in order to accurately sample the American electorate.


Linkon: How Political Leaders, Media Can Sharpen Focus on Improving Lives of Working-Class

The following article by Georgetown University Professor Sherry Linkon, a faculty affiliate of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor and editor of Working-Class Perspectives, first appeared at Moyers & Company on November 3rd:

At the end of most US presidential elections, most Americans are ready to see the last of campaign ads, social media commentaries and tension-fraught news coverage. That’s even more true this year. But more than in most recent elections, we shouldn’t expect the frustrations and divisions that have surfaced over the past 18 months to disappear after the ballots have been counted. Tensions over class and race, especially, may die down, but they aren’t going away. If a new president will take them on, something good might yet emerge from this ugly election.

Although it’s true that working-class voters are declining in number, they have drawn increasing attention over the past several elections, in part because, as Ruy Teixeira and his colleagues at The Democratic Strategist have been arguing for a while, they remain a crucial demographic. And this year, the white working class has not only been recognized as a key voting bloc, it has been an active player, demanding that the country and its leaders recognize the economy does not work for many Americans.

Amid far too many reports that have pinned Donald Trump’s success on the white working class, this year’s election coverage also has drawn attention to real problems, many of them rooted in class and racial inequalities. If the next president wants to succeed she (or he) must address what design experts call “wicked problems” — big, complex issues that resist simple explanations or one-dimensional solutions. It won’t be easy.

The election has created the conditions for addressing the first of those: class resentment. I don’t mean the resentment poor and working-class people feel toward the wealthy. I mean the resentment they feel toward a government that doesn’t seem to care about them or have the will to address economic inequality. I’m also talking about resentment toward a public discourse that denigrates and blames working-class people for not being more like the middle class. WNYC’s On the Media provided a terrific overview of that discourse in a series of reports about common and problematic assumptions that shape reporting on poverty. As host Brooke Gladstone explained, reliance on these assumptions generates media that reinforces the idea that people are poor because they don’t work hard or because they make bad choices. No matter how much we might deplore some of the behavior and attitudes that have surfaced in the election, we can’t address the class-based cultural divide by dismissing poor and working-class people as “deplorables” who lack the critical thinking skills that college education provides.

Good leadership could address class resentment not only with better policies — more on that below — but also by taking it seriously. While claims that Trump’s support comes primarily from the white working class are problematic, both he and Bernie Sanders won votes this year because they addressed working-class people’s sense of being left behind by the economy and put down by the media. Both also recognized a simple truth about American culture: Class is a central and increasingly important divide. A good president will acknowledge that, but also will lead the way in fostering deeper and more critical conversations about the economic, social and cultural roots of those divisions.

Of course, the cultural divide reflects a very real and serious economic gap, and a good leader must be willing to talk about its sources and consequences — including the way contemporary global capitalism, neoliberal ideology and technology drive economic changes that deepen inequality. We need to create more jobs through infrastructure projects among other strategies. But we also need policies that address not only the quantity of jobs but also their quality — what they pay, how they are structured and how workers are protected from exploitation as well as physical and psychological injuries. Raising the minimum wage is just a start. American economic leaders need to look critically at the effects of the “gig economy” and rising precarity, a term some scholars have coined to describe the uncertainty facing many workers who can’t count on a regular paycheck. Instead of pushing for everyone to go to college, we need to focus on ensuring that the thousands of working-class jobs that our economy will continue to produce are good jobs. This doesn’t necessarily mean bringing back manufacturing. It probably does mean bringing back the labor movement, with a broader and more inclusive social unionism.

Inequality doesn’t stem only from employment, however. As Jack Metzgar has argued, we need tax policies that focus less on the persistent fantasy of trickle-down economics and instead put cash into the pockets of the working class, who will spend it. We could expand the earned income tax credit and increase credits to help families pay for child care, housing or college. We also need to take another look at health care. The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, with in its emphasis on providing insurance to those who hadn’t had it previously, but it still relies on the private insurance industry. It’s time to develop a single-payer system that puts first the needs of ordinary people, not those of a profit-based industry.

Perhaps the most troubling problem that has surfaced in this year’s election is racism. While some have challenged stories that present racism as a white working-class problem, we also know that racism and racial divisions are real problems for working-class people. Racism is a class issue, in multiple ways. First, racial division undermines the class solidarity that could generate social change movements. It also distracts people from the real source of their problems — not other poor and working-class people, but the economic and political system that, as Guy Standing has suggested, is rigged against workers and what, in today’s economy, he has named the “precariat.”

At the same time, racism presents a threat to working-class people. While the profiling and anxieties that underlie police violence toward black people sometimes target middle-class (and upper-middle-class) African-Americans, working-class black men are probably at greater risk. Here, too, we need policies that more forcefully address racial injustice and divisions, to ensure that citizens are protected by the police rather than needing protection from them. But we also need policies that facilitate more racial interaction. Among the most interesting insights on this year’s election was Jonathan Rothwell’s analysis of Gallup poll data, which revealed that Trump’s strongest support came from white people living in highly segregated areas. Racism is a structural issue, not just a matter of morality or attitudes, and we need to address it with policies that challenge housing and education segregation and inequities.

None of this is easy, and these “solutions” are as limited as they are idealistic. I’m sure there are better ideas out there. Our next president needs to find them. She (or he) must pay attention — not only to the anger and frustration of working-class people but also to the complex nature of the problems that generate those feelings.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign tried to keep his supporters’ momentum going by creating Organizing for America, which became Organizing for Action, a network of community organizing groups that largely faded from the national picture. This year, we need more.

Neither the media nor the new president should stop talking about and listening to the working class. It’s time to move from campaign mode to action, from courting working-class voters to addressing the conditions of their lives.


Early Voting Clues Favor Dems

Sophia Tesfaye notes at salon.com “Nearly 30 percent of the Republicans who have already voted in Florida cast their ballots for the former secretary of state, according to a new poll released late on Tuesday. Of all Florida early voters in the TargetSmart/William & Mary poll, Clinton led Republican rival Donald Trump 55 percent to 37 percent, while 28 percent of Republicans voted for Clinton.”

However, adds Tesfaye, “Democrats are faring worse in early voting in Florida than they did four years ago even as Clinton gains support from unlikely allies…In 2012 while Democrats outpaced Republicans in total Florida ballots cast before Election Day by more than 10,000…The discrepancy between Clinton’s early-vote performance in 2016 and President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 can be attributed to African-American turnout in the state. As the Tampa Bay Times noted, black voters accounted for 22 percent of the votes cast before Election Day in 2012, but only 15 percent so far this year.”

At The Upshot Nate Cohn explains that “Already, about 2,338,000 people have voted in North Carolina, out of about 4,527,000 we think will eventually vote. Based on the voting history and demographic characteristics of those people, we think Hillary Clinton leads in North Carolina by about 6 percentage points. We think she has an even larger lead – 10 percentage points – among people who have already voted.”

Bloomberg’s Mark Niquette and John McCormick report that in Ohio, “Early-vote requests by Democrats in Cuyahoga County, however, are down 35 percent compared with the same point in 2012, and ballots returned are off by 31 percent, according to data from the county board of elections. Republicans are running slightly ahead.”

However, “Numbers for Democrats are more encouraging in Columbus and surrounding Franklin County, where ballot returns from Democrats are up 74 percent compared with 36 percent for Republicans from the same point in 2012, the local data shows.”


Lux: Comey’s Innuendo Will Backfire, Energize Democrats

The following article by Democratic strategist Mike Lux, author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, is cross-posted from HuffPo:

I have been involved in politics a long time, knocking on doors as a kid in the first presidential race I was involved in for George McGovern back in 1972. I am also a student of American history, enough that I wrote a book about it. There have been a lot of strange and wild things in the history of American politics, but nothing even close to what happened last Friday with FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress about Hillary’s e-mails. His abuse of power defies Department of Justice policy and the Hatch Act, and threatens the integrity of this election by using the FBI as a political tool. It’s one of the more outrageous things I’ve ever seen in politics — and I just lived through more than a year of Donald Trump running for president!

But Comey’s gift-wrapped package to Trump and his Republican friends in Congress will likely be a gift that blows up in their faces. Democrats are no longer in any danger of taking anything for granted. We now have something to fire us up to win this election in a powerful rebuke to the good-old-boy politics of the powers that be. We need to tell Comey, Trump, Ryan, McConnell and all the other right-wing Republicans that we are not going to let them take this election away from us.

What we need to focus on this last week of the election is what we’ve always needed to focus on: getting out our voters. And this Comey BS is giving our ground troops renewed passion and focus. Our mission must be to tell voters what this election is really about, which is: What kind of nation we want to be over the next four years? Do we want to move forward on real solutions to the country’s problems, or do we want to descend into racism, nativism, and the worst kind of trickle-down cronyism?

This election isn’t about Comey’s bizarre, inappropriate gamesmanship, or Trump’s demagogic bullying about locking Hillary up when she’s never been charged with a crime. What the 2016 election is about is our future. We are at a fundamental crossroads in American history.

Are we going to do something about climate change or pretend it is a hoax, as Trump claims? Are we going to make college free for most students, as Hillary and Bernie want to do, and help those with college debt reduce it, or turn the country over to a man who created the fraudulent Trump University to lure students deeper into debt? Are we going to raise the minimum wage and empower workers to be able to bargain fairly with their employers, or decide, in Trump’s words, that “the minimum wage is too high”?

Are we going to make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and close corporate tax loopholes or give the wealthy and big business the biggest tax cuts they have ever had, as Trump wants to do? Are we going to finally pass comprehensive immigration reform, or build Trump’s wall? Are we going to finally do something about criminal justice reform, or impose Trump’s authoritarian version of “law and order”?

Will Hillary appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Citizens United and preserve women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality, with a Democratic Senate there to confirm them? Or is Trump going to appoint the kind of people who will do the opposite, with a Republican Senate to confirm them?

Hillary’s transition team is already consulting with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders over who should be appointed if Hillary wins. Trump’s advisers include Chris “Bridge-gate” Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Ailes, and Newt Gingrich. Who should progressives prefer?

Big questions here. Pretty important stuff. We are about to elect a president. And a Senate majority. And the House of Representatives. And Governors. We are about to go to the polls and elect state legislators, county commissioners, mayors, city council members, school board members, and water commission members. All of these elected officials, at all levels, are going to make a huge impact on our lives, and the lives of future generations.

We are at a unique moment in American history, making choices that matter more for our future than any election in our history except maybe 1932, in the worst days of the Great Depression, and 1860, on the verge of the Civil War. In the lead-up to that 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln quoted the book of Mark in the famous Lincoln-Douglass debates, saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln was right about his times and about ours.

Electing Donald Trump and his Republican allies would divide this country fundamentally, and not only stop any forward motion we’ve made in the last few years, but it would move us in reverse. Any chance at doing something significant on climate change, raising wages, student debt, getting tougher on Wall Street — poof, gone. And we would go profoundly backward in terms of economic fairness, civil rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and criminal justice. But if Democrats, with the most progressive platform in the history of the Republic, sweep into office, we can begin to make some real progress.

So don’t get distracted, folks. This election is not about whether Hillary Clinton mishandled her emails several years ago. This election is about what direction we go as a nation. This election is about the biggest issues imaginable.

If you are angry about James Comey’s vague, innuendo-laden letter to Congress, don’t get distracted. Use that anger to turn out every vote you can. Knock on doors, make calls, talk to your friends, get on Facebook and Twitter and spread the word. I’ve said it before, I will say it again: it is progressives who hold the fate of this election, and the fate of this country, in their hands.

The swing voters in this election are the young people, people of color, women, and Bernie voters who are trying to decide — not between Hillary and Trump — but between voting and not voting. If progressive activists get those progressives out to vote, we will win this election going away. We have to persuade our friends that the stakes in this election could not be higher. That should be easy, because it is the truth, but it will take work. There are still good people who share your values who need convincing on how much it matters that they vote.

It’s up to us. Let’s get this done.


Greenberg and Carville: Strategy for Maximizing Democratic Gains

The following article by James Carville and Stan Greenberg is cross-posted from DCorps:

Democracy Corps’ new national survey shows Democrats have an opportunity to make significant gains if they have the right strategy in the final weeks of the campaign. This survey came out of the field on Monday night, just in time to arm campaigns, committees and progressive allies with the best strategy for maximizing gains.[1]

This survey shows Clinton with a comfortable double digit lead over Trump (+12), but that lead is not produced not by the “New American Majority” making itself felt.  Rather, her lead has been produced by Trump’s capacity to drive away female and college-educated voters and even seniors. Clinton has a small lead with white married women and is tied with white male college graduates.

True, she is getting landslide margins with white female college graduates and millennials. But the Clinton campaign has not fully consolidated the progressive base of Democrats, Sanders voters, unmarried women and minorities and Democrats have not consolidated their support down ballot. 

This survey gives the Hillary Clinton campaign, House and Senate committees and progressive allies the messages to sharply shift the vote in the final two weeks. They are:

  1. The GOP’s link to Donald Trump as the main attack communicated broadly and to minority voters;
  2. Clinton’s tough economic choice communicated in a targeted way to unmarried women, millennials, Democrats and white working class women.

It will come as good news that the DCCC’s attack linking Republican candidates to Donald Trump produces the best overall result for Democrats, taking them into a 9-point lead against a Republican promising to balance Hillary Clinton. Both the Trump link and the economic contrast messages shift 17 percent of the voters to the Democrats, but the economic contrast moves some anti-Trump Republicans back into the GOP fold (producing only a 6-point Democratic margin).

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The Trump association attack does better overall because it produces bigger shifts with independents and Republicans. Minority voters are also more consolidated by the Trump association message.

But advocating for an economy that works for the middle class and attacking the Republican for supporting more trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the richest and corporations, while accepting campaign funding from big oil and Wall Street, produces dramatically bigger shifts with unmarried women, millennials and white working class women.

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These two weapons can be deployed together and produce additional shifts that can allow Democrats to win down-ballot. It will also help Hillary Clinton consolidate all the votes that are possible.


[1] This national survey took place October 21-24, 2016.  Respondents who voted in the 2012 election or registered since were selected from the national voter file. Likely voters were determined based on stated intention of voting next month.  Margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.27 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Of the 900 respondents, 65 percent were interviewed via cell phone to accurately sample the American electorate.

 
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Download this file (Dcor_Oct National_Closing Message Ealert_10.27.2016.pdf)Memo [ ] 268 Kb
Download this file (Dcor_Oct National_FQ_10.24.2016_ealert.pdf)Toplines [ ] 292 Kb

Encouraging Clues from Early Voting Reports in Key States

Nate Cohn reports at The Upshot: “Already, about 968,000 people have voted in North Carolina, out of about 4,413,000 we think will eventually vote. Based on the voting history and demographic characteristics of those people, we think Hillary Clinton leads in North Carolina by about 6 percentage points. We think she has an even larger lead – 22 percentage points – among people who have already voted.”

At Politico Kyle Cheney notes, “In Nevada, where early in-person voting began on Saturday, Democratic voters cast 23,000 more ballots than Republicans as of Tuesday afternoon, good for a 15 percentage-point edge in the nearly 150,000 ballots cast. (Mail-in and absentee ballots narrow the gap slightly.)…Polling and early-voting returns suggest Democrats are maintaining an edge in North Carolina, and they are also slicing into a thinner-than-expected early vote lead for Republicans in Florida, who now lead by about half a percentage point; in 2012, the GOP held a much more significant edge two weeks from Election Day.

…In Colorado — where Democrats hold a voter registration edge for the first time — early returns give the party a 23,000-vote lead in returned and in-person ballots. In Arizona, which last went Democratic in 1996, Democrats held a thin early-vote lead on Monday.

Even reliably Republican Texas is sending shudders down GOP spines. In the state’s most heavily populated, Democratic-leaning urban counties, early-voting turnout is surging beyond its historical pace — and new polls suddenly show the unthinkable: Texas is not entirely out of reach for Clinton.”

Hope Yen adds at kmbcnews.com that “In Florida, more than 2 million voters have already returned ballots. In-person voting began Monday, and Democrats have pulled virtually even with Republicans, at 41 percent each. That’s a much faster rate of catch-up than in 2012 and 2008, when Barack Obama won the state…This year’s numbers are troubling for Republicans…”If current early vote trends hold, it’s a real possibility that Clinton can sweep a majority of swing states including Florida,” said Scott Tranter, co-founder of the Republican data analytics firm Optimus.”

So there is some cause for optimism for Dems, but it should be tempered with caution. “Early voting may have a slight potential to affect the outcome of this election,” explains Christianna Silva at FiveThirtyEight.com, “but experts say its predictive value is not particularly high.”


New DCorps Poll Shows Dems Positioned for Big Down-ballot Gains with Clinton’s 12-Point Lead

The following article by Stan Greenberg and James Carville is cross-posted from Democracy Corps:

CLINTON IN 12-POINT LEAD, POTENTIAL FOR DOWNBALLOT GAINS  
Tuesday, October 25 2016
Attachments:
Download this file (Dcor_Oct National_EAlert_10.25.2016_for release.pdf)Report [ ] 259 Kb
Download this file (Dcor_Oct National_FQ_10.24.2016_ealert.pdf)Toplines [ ] 292 Kb

The final pre-election national survey for Democracy Corps shows Clinton moving into a commanding 12-point lead over Trump, getting to 50 percent of the vote as the third party vote is squeezed.[1] This lead is produced by some historic voting patterns and a breathtakingly unpopular Republican Party led by Donald Trump. It is also produced by a country where President Obama’s approval has reached 56 percent and wrong track numbers for the country’s direction have begun to fall.

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Critically, the association of GOP candidates with Trump and a closing Democratic economic message have the chance to translate to much larger Democratic margins down-ballot.  After voters hear the simulated campaign play out, Democrats take a 9-point lead in the House ballot, just at the edge of a majority.

Clinton has consolidated 90 percent of Democrats and actually has room to grow. Trump is winning white working class men 57 to 31 percent, but that is not better than Mitt Romney (65 to 32 percent). He is only running even with independents, men, white college educated men and seniors. That allows Clinton to run up the score with women (56 to 33 percent), unmarried women (59 to 31 percent), white college educated women (56 to 30 percent), millennials (59 to 20 percent) and in the suburbs (54 to 36 percent).

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The third party vote has been squeezed and Gary Johnson is only getting 5 percent of the four-way ballot. Though it is a small sample size, the remaining Johnson voters are mostly anti-Trump Republicans and they may not vote in the end: just 39 percent report the highest interest in voting, half the level of all likely voters. Jill Stein is only getting 2 percent of the four-way vote and her voters are Democrats.

No one is surprised that Trump emerges with a net favorability of -28 points and 60 percent hold unfavorable views of the GOP nominee. The House Republicans have an even worse image than Trump (-31 unfavorable) and the Republican Party has a -23 point unfavorable image with over half unfavorable (53 percent). With the Democratic Party at parity of positive and negative reactions, the Republicans have a brand problem. That is unlikely to change as only 26 percent of Republicans want their leaders in the next Congress to work with President Clinton to make progress.

There is a chance to translate Clinton’s emerging landslide into a wave down-ballot. In a simulated contest where the Republican congressional candidate argues they are needed as an independent check on Clinton, the Democrats move into a 9-point lead in the congressional match-up after the Republican is attacked.

Overall, the current strategy of linking Republican candidates to Donald Trump and not opposing him produces the biggest overall shift down-ballot. That is an effective message and moves Republicans and independents.

But when Democrats echo the economic message that Clinton used in the debates – vowing to build an economy for everyone and raise taxes on the rich, in contrast with an opponent who wants more trickle-down economics – there is dramatically more consolidation with Democrats and the Rising American Electorate, particularly unmarried women and white unmarried women and millennials. There is room for more consolidation among Democrats down-ballot and at the top of the ticket and this economic message will help Democratic candidates get there.

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[1] This national survey took place October 21-24, 2016.  Respondents who voted in the 2012 election or registered since were selected from the national voter file.  Likely voters were determined based on stated intention of voting next month.  Margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.27 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Of the 900 respondents, 65 percent were interviewed via cell phone in order to accurately sample the American electorate.


Three Ideas for Clinton in the Final Debate

“With her campaign expanding to compete in traditionally Republican-leaning states and her advantage growing in most of the battlegrounds, Mrs. Clinton is well positioned as the race enters its final days. Because Mrs. Clinton is now so heavily favored to win, the debate offers an opportunity for her to start looking beyond the election and toward unifying a country that has been divided by an ugly campaign…After praising Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” credo, Mrs. Clinton now has a chance to turn that advice into action. And doing so would not simply be an exercise in high-mindedness to win plaudits from centrist commentators. By vowing to represent all Americans after the election, including Mr. Trump’s supporters, she can also disarm an opponent who relishes confrontation but has little aptitude for conciliation.” — from “Presidential Debate: How Will Trump and Clinton Handle Sexual Assault Allegations?” by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Alan Rappeport.

“One certain question Clinton will be asked is whether she would renominate Garland to the Scalia vacancy or preserve her right to come up with her own candidate for the Court. And that question could come with a twist: John McCain’s blunt statement this week that Senate Republicans will fight absolutely any nomination Clinton could make for the entire course of her presidency means there is not much point in going with a perceived judicial “moderate” like Garland when a younger, more progressive nominee would attract the same support and arouse the same opposition. But if Clinton does anything tonight other than promise to renominate Garland there will be spin-room shrieking about her constitutional radicalism.” — from Ed Kilgore’s New York Magazine post “Clinton and Trump to Debate SCOTUS.

“While it’s hard to argue with Clinton that the U.S. should be doing more to help those deeply suffering inside Syria, she should explain to the American people how her plan would work in practice. She should also explain the scale and scope of the no-fly zone she’s presenting. Will these safe zones encroach on territory held or coveted by Assad’s regime forces and their allies? If so, how will the U.S. military confront Syrian government and Russian forces that are seeking to protect or take them? Which country’s ground troops will protect the safe zones?”  — from “Clinton Should Say More About Syria: The Democratic nominee should fully lay out her Syria strategy” by Stephen Miles and Michelle Dixon in U.S. News.


2016 Provides Ultimate Test of Quantity vs. Quality in Media Coverage

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has banked a lot on the old saw that “any publicity is good publicity.” That may be true when selling widgets to suggestable consumers. But Geoffrey Skelley has put the notion to the test in his Crystal Ball post “The Danger of the Political Limelight,” and the results suggest otherwise, at least when one of the candidates is named Donald Trump. Skelley explains:

…Using Gallup data for the question “Did you read, hear, or see anything about Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump in the last day or two?” and comparative Google Trend data for the search terms “Hillary Clinton” and “Donald Trump” in the United States, it really does appear that the candidate receiving more attention tends to struggle more.

Probing “the correlation between the polls and the Gallup data as well as the correlation between the polls and the Google Trends data,” Skelley explains that “First, we compared the Gallup data to the polling averages from HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics, taking the percentage of respondents each day for Gallup who said they read, heard, or saw something about Trump and subtracting the percentage who said the same about Clinton. Then we compared the Trump margin in Gallup’s data to Trump’s margin in the polling averages. It should be noted that, on average, Trump has had slightly more net attention than Clinton by a five percentage point margin in Gallup’s measure…” In addition,

…Each candidate received gobs of attention during their party conventions, which complicates any analysis. So if we look at time periods after the convention, it’s easier to sort out who is going through spells of greater or lesser attention from the public. For the period from Aug. 1 (the Democratic convention ended on July 28) to now, the correlation is moderately strong — just above .5 — for all four polling averages. During this time, when one of the nominees has garnered notably more attention, always for negative revelations, that candidate has suffered…

Also, “Clinton and Trump have the highest unfavorable ratings of any major party nominees in modern history, notes Skelley. “Thus, when one has been in the news a good deal more than the other, it has usually been because of negative stories (outside of some convention coverage).”

Noting that “modern media coverage, especially in the Trump-Clinton contest, tends to be fairly negative,” Skelley concludes that “there is sufficient evidence to say that the 2016 presidential election has two highly disliked major party nominees who seem to perform worse the more attention they attract.”

Three weeks out, Clinton seems to be holding a lead in the polling average of about 5 points. And, while the horserace polls have shifted subtly with the media’s focus on the troubles of one presidential candidate over the other, it appears that Trump’s media coverage has been significantly more damaging overall. This may not apply quite as well to future presidential campaigns. But it looks like Trump is proving that the “any publicity is good publicity” notion is a bad premise for media strategy in politics.