washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ed Kilgore

Trump Will Betray His White Working-Class Base

What Democrats should keep in mind, however, is that whichever way he goes he is very likely going to betray his white working-class base — the people who put him into office — sooner or later. The “later” part is the most certain. Donald Trump does not have the power to bring back the Industrial Era economy he has so avidly embraced. He will not be able to reopen the coal mines, rebuild the manufacturing sector, or repeal the international economic trends that would exist with or without NAFTA or TPP. And for that matter, he has little ability to reverse the demographic and cultural trends most of his voters dislike.
–Ed Kilgore

The Optimistic Leftist

The Optimistic Leftist

“…The case he makes cogent and persuasive. If you’re anywhere on the left side of the political spectrum, you’re feeling pretty glum these days. Well, read this book.”
 —Michael Tomasky
E. J. Dionne Jr

E.J. Dionne Speaks Out

Donald Trump cast himself as the champion of a besieged American working class and a defender of its interests. His early decisions tell us something very different: This could be the most anti-worker, anti-union crowd to run our government since the Gilded Age.
–E.J. Dionne Jr.

The Optimistic Leftist

Ruy Teixeira’s, “The Optimistic Leftist”

“…a powerful, provocative and persuasive case that progressives are in a better position than they realize to make our world better.”
—E.J. Dionne

The Daily Strategist

May 27, 2017

State of the Race Update

by Ruy Teixeira
cross-posted at the Washington Monthly’s Showdown ’06 blog
Over the weekend, I put up a lengthy post on “State of the Race: The Macro and the Micro“, which provided my basic take on how the campaign currently looks, based both on macro (national) and micro (race-specific) indicators. There isn’t much new micro data, but the release of four new national polls (CNN, USA Today/Gallup, CBS/New York Times and ABC/Washington Post) yesterday allows for some updating of the macro indictors–updating that is all bad, bad, bad for the GOP.
Generic Congressional Vote. In these four polls, Democrats averaged a 17 point lead over the Republicans. That pulls Charles Franklin’s trend-based estimate of the Democratic advantage up to 13 points.
Bush Approval. These four polls averaged 37 percent approval for president Bush. Charles Franklin’s trend estimate has consequentially been pulled down to 38 percent.
Congressional approval. These four polls averaged 28 percent Congressional approval.
Party Favorability and Preferences. In the Gallup poll, Democrats in Congress are favored over Repubicans in Congress on health care (+37), gas prices (+26), corruption in government (+21), the economy (+21), the situation in Iraq (+17), immigration (+13) and even moral standards in the country (+7) and terrorism (+5). In the ABC/Washington Post poll, the Democratic party is favored over the Republican party on health care (+33), ethics in government (+19), the economy (+17), immigration (+13), the situation in Iraq (+13) and even the US campaign against terrorism (+6).
Believe me, this just scratches the surface of all the bad news in these polls for the GOP. If these macro sentiments are driving the micro situation farther toward the Democrats–which they likely are–the GOP is indeed in very big trouble. No wonder Charlie Cook observed in his latest column: “Four weeks is a lifetime in politics and the tide still could shift. But for Republicans to salvage their majorities in the House and Senate, quite a bit would have to change.”
Stay tuned. We shall see if the GOP gets those changes…or whether these polls foreshadow a disastrous election day for the Republicans.


New Roundtable on National Security

by Scott Winship
Hope you are enjoying Columbus Day. (Personally, I’d trade it for making Election Day a national holiday so that people might actually vote.) Whether or not you’re enjoying the holiday, our new roundtable on national security is bound to make it a little better. Our discussion piece this time around is by Marc Grinberg, Rachel Kleinfeld, and Matt Spence of the Truman National Security Project. They present an organizing public philosophy on national security for Democrats that would bring together the left and center factions of the Party and win over swing voters.
We are lucky enough to have responses from former Colorado senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart and from Heather Hurlburt of the US in the World Initiative and democracyarsenal.org. Responses to come from Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and David Rieff, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. Check it out.


State of the Race: The Macro and the Micro

by Ruy Teixeira
(cross-posted at www.washingtonmonthly.com)
Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to looking at the outlook for this year’s Congressional elections. One is the “macro” approach, where one looks at a variety of national indicators to gauge the mood of the electorate and how that’s likely to affect the incumbent and challenging parties. The other approach is the “micro” approach, which assesses how each individual House and Senate race is likely to turn out, and aggregates up from that level to assess the likely gains and losses of the two parties.
The two methods can tell different stories and, indeed, this spring that’s just what they did. The macro story suggested that the GOP was in terrible shape and likely to get swamped by the Democrats in November. Indeed, by these macro-indicators, as Charlie Cook pointed out at the time, the GOP was at least as badly off as the Democrats were at that point in the 1994 election cycle.
The micro story was different, however. Looking at individual races, it was hard to see where the Democrats could pick up enough seats to take back the House, while the Senate looked almost impossible.
But that was then. This is now and now the macro and micro data are aligning and pointing in the same direction: big trouble for the Republicans and a good chance that they could lose not only the House—which looks better than 50-50 at this point—but also the Senate.
Let’s review the relevant data, starting with the macro indicators.
Right Direction/Wrong Track
Right before 1994 election, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal (NBC/WSJ) poll had this critical indicator of the public mood at 55 percent wrong track/27 percent right direction. Today, the same poll has this indicator at 58 percent wrong track/29 percent right direction.
Generic Congressional Contest
In polls concluded this week, Democrats averaged a 14 point lead among registered voters in the generic congressional contest. Charles Franklin’s model-based trend estimate looks to be about a 12 point lead for the Democrats, judging from the chart on his site. Even assuming the generic question overestimates Democratic support by 5 points (Charlie Cook’s rule of thumb and the average difference between Gallup’s final poll among registered voters and the actual election result), that still gives the Democrats an average lead of 7-9 points.
The Democrats are also running even larger leads among independents in the generic Congressional ballot–typically 6-7 points higher than their overall lead. Thus, if the Democrats’ “true” overall lead is now about 8 points, then their true lead among independents is probably 14 or 15 points.
With that in mind, consider the following. As far back as I can get data (1982), the Democrats have never had a lead among independents larger than 4 points in an actual election, a level they managed to achieve in both 1986 and 1990. Indeed, since 1990, they’ve lost independents in every congressional election: by 14 points in 1994; by 4 points in 1998; and by 2 points in 2002. So, even leaving questions of relative partisan turnout aside (and I suspect the Democrats will do better, not worse, in this respect in 2006), the implications of a strong Democratic lead among independents in this year’s election, if it holds, are huge.
Generic congressional data also tend to show substantial shifts away from the GOP among a wide range of Republican-leaning groups, including some of their strongest base groups. For relevant data, see the October 3 Democracy Corps memo “Key Targets for November” and Friday’s Washington Post article, “GOP’s hold on Evangelicals Weakening”.
Presidential Job Approval
According to the Hotline, the average approval rating for Bush in this week’s polls is 38 percent approval/56 percent disapproval (Charles Franklin’s trend-based estimate has his current rating a couple of points higher). By comparison, Clinton’s average approval rating right before the 1994 election was 46 percent/45 percent.
Congressional Job Approval
The Hotline’s weekly poll average for Congressional job approval is now 28 percent, with 65 percent disapproval. Right before the 1994 election, Congress’ job approval stood at 24 percent (according to the NBC/WSJ poll). This indicator is not just bad for the incumbent GOP in general, but there are reasons to believe this is a key indicator of potentially large seat swings. As a Gallup report on Congressional job approval and the election notes:
During recent midterm election years, low congressional approval ratings have been associated with greater shifts in the partisan composition of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the five elections since 1974 in which Congress’ approval rating was below 40%, the average net change in U.S. House seats from one party to the other was 29. In the three midterm elections in which congressional approval ratings were above 40%, the average change was five seats….
The fact that both congressional and presidential approval ratings are low does not bode well for the Republican Party. The current situation is similar to the political environment in 1978 and 1994, when Democrats controlled both the legislative and executive branches — which were both unpopular. Those elections resulted in net losses for the Democratic Party of 11 and 53 seats, respectively.
Party Favorability and Preferences
According to a Gallup report based on data collected before the Foley scandal, Republicans are now running a considerable favorability deficit. The public rates them 42 percent favorable/53 percent unfavorable, compared to a 54 percent favorable/40 unfavorable rating for Democrats.
The latest Pew poll finds the Democrats preferred 55-27 on “more concerned with people like me”, 48-28 on “can bring about changes the country needs”, 44-34 on better managing the federal government and 41-27 on governing in a more honest and ethical way. And the public believes, by 41-27, that the GOP is more influenced by lobbyists and special interests.
On issues, the latest Ipsos-AP poll reports the following. Registered voters prefer Democrats over Republicans by 58-27 on health care, 53-31 on Social Security, 52-27 on gas prices, 51-36 on the economy, 50-37 on taxes, 48-38 on Iraq, 44-35 on same-sex marriage, 44-36 on immigration and 41-25 on political corruption. Most amazingly, Democrats are even preferred by 43-41 on terrorism and by 43-41 on protecting the US. (Note: the just-released Newsweek poll also finds the Democrats ahead—this time by 44 percent to 37 percent– on which party is trusted more to fight the war on terror.)
The Micro Situation
As these data suggest, there is precious little in the macro indicators that suggest anything other than a bad election for the GOP. But macro indicators don’t determine elections, voters in individual races do. And it is here that the big changes have taken place. In the spring, one could look race by race and it would be hard to see where the Democrats could make the necessary pickups to translate macro sentiment into a victorious election. But now you can.
While there is a lot of data available in a lot of different places on House races, Chris Bowers of MyDD provides a useful summary of competitive races tiered by likelihood of going Democratic and including the latest polling data, where available. This provides the raw material for thinking about how races might fall and lead to the net gain of 15 seats Democrats need to take back the House. The key thing to keep in mind is that the races near the top of Bowers’ chart appear highly likely to go Democratic (including, of course, a new entrant to this category, Mark Foley’s FL-16 seat). These races alone should take the Democrats within a handful of seats of retaking the House. After that, less probable races have to fall the Democrats’ way, but there are enough of these that average performance in these districts should put the Democrats over the top (i.e., if two races are 50-50 for the Democrats, those odds say that, on average, the Democrats should pick up one of these two seats). And historical experience suggests that in a “wave” election like this one, the party favored by the wave—the Democrats this year—may do far better than average in races that now appear 50-50.
Turning to the Senate, the math here is simpler. The Democrats must take all five of the most vulnerable GOP seats (Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) plus one of two other seats that have been considered less vulnerable but still competitive (Tennessee and Virginia) plus lose none of their own. Alternatively, they could lose one of their own (the obvious candidate here is New Jersey), but then they’d have to win all seven of the GOP seats just mentioned. This is a tall order and last spring it seemed virtually impossible; it was not clear how strong Democrats would be in the top five races and the Tennessee and Virginia races looked like real outside shots.
Now things look different. The Democrats must still run the table in the manner described but the outside shots now look quite plausible and chances in the top five look good to very good. Here are the last-five-poll averages from the very useful site, Pollster.com, run by Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin: Missouri (McCaskill-Talent), 44-45; Montana (Tester-Burns), 49-43; Ohio (Brown-DeWine), 45-42; Pennsylvania (Casey-Santorum), 49-39; Rhode Island (Whitehouse-Chafee), 44-40; Tennessee (Ford-Corker), 45-43; and Virginia (Webb-Allen), 42-48. In addition, in New Jersey (far and away the Republicans’ best chance for a seat pickup), Democrat Bob Menendez now leads Republican Tom Kean by 43-41. So, in a wave election, all the raw materials are there for these seats to all or almost all break in the Democrats’ direction– an outcome with plenty of historical precedent—leading to a switch in control of the Senate. That doesn’t mean it will happen (chances still look poorer than in the House for a switch of control and are probably less than 50-50) but it easily could happen, something most observers would not have said earlier in the year.
What Lies Ahead
One month ‘til election day! What we would all like to know, of course, is whether this situation is liable to get better, get worse or stay the same for the GOP. On the stay the same or get worse side of the argument, start with the fact that this is a heavily nationalized election, which is a big disadvantage for an unpopular incumbent administration and Congress. To cite some representative data, the latest Pew poll found voters saying national issues, rather than local issues, were most important to their vote by a 51-23 margin. And 39 percent said they are thinking of their vote for Congress as a vote against President Bush. Analogous figures going back to 1982 show that this level of anti-president voting has never been surpassed—indeed, there are no figures before 2006 that are even close.
The Foley scandal should, if nothing else, keep the spotlight shining on the failures of the Bush administration and GOP Congress. Changing the subject back to local issues, already difficult, has just become even harder.
But it could be much worse than that. Two of my favorite political observers, Charlie Cook and Chuck Todd (editor of the Hotline), termed it respectively a possible “inflection point” or “tipping point” in the campaign, creating serious momentum toward the Democrats as we move toward election day. Already, we know that almost everybody (78 percent in the latest Time poll) has heard of the Foley scandal and that they strongly believe a GOP cover-up is going on (64-16 in the same poll).
But it could take awhile for these effects to be fully felt. In the Pew poll, which concluded on October 4, there was no difference in the Democratic lead (13 points) in the generic Congressional contest before and after the Foley news broke. A more extensive review of recent data by Mark Blumenthal also finds no recent change.
On the other hand, an October 7 story in The New York Times suggests that the Foley scandal is already tipping some races where corruption or related issues have been important in the Democrats’ direction. And the just-released Newsweek poll does have Bush’s approval rating down to 33 percent, a new low in that poll. So we shall see.
But the biggest problem for the GOP remains Iraq. Even before the Foley scandal broke, the string of Iraq-related bad news and revelations (the loss of Anbar province in Iraq, the NIE conclusion that the Iraq war has made the war on terrorism harder, the Woodward and Powell books and their documentation of Bush administration failures) had halted some modest momentum in the GOP’s direction. Now Iraq is increasing in importance to voters’ Congressional vote intentions—and is clearly the top voting issue—even as pessimism on Iraq deepens. In the new Newsweek poll, 64 percent believe the US is losing ground in Iraq and 66 percent say the war in Iraq has not made the country safer from terrorism.
On the get better for the GOP side of the argument, there are limited possibilities. One, of course, is some unforeseen event that allows the GOP to change the subject. Not much one can say about this other than it could possibly happen.
Then there is the vaunted GOP turnout machine (but polls have generally shown Democrats more enthusiastic about voting this year and the Foley scandal seems likely to have a further negative effect on GOP voting enthusiasm) and their ability to spend a lot of money in the last days of the campaign. This may be their last and only hope of avoiding a very bad election. The Democrats, however, will not be standing idly by while the GOP tries to muscle their way out of bad situation, so it should be a very interesting last several weeks.


Newsweek Poll: The Donkey Runs Strong

Newsweek/Princeton Survey Research Associates International has a new poll (conducted 10/5-6) out and for Democrats it’s all good. Some highlights:

A plurality of Americans, 42 percent, now say they trust Democrats to do a better job of handling moral values; 36 percent say they trust Republicans more. This represents almost a complete reversal from an Aug. 2-Sept. 1, 2002 Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard/Washington Post poll in which 31 percent of Americans said they would trust Democrats to handle moral values better while 44 percent said they would trust Republicans more.

On which party is most capable of confronting terrorism:

On the subject of the war on terror at home and abroad, 44 percent of Americans trust the Democrats to handle it better-a five-point increase from the Aug. 10-11, 2006 Newsweek Poll. Thirty-seven percent trust the Republicans more-a seven-point drop from the same August Newsweek Poll.

Dealing with Iraq?

When it comes to the situation in Iraq, 47 percent of Americans say the Democrats would handle it better, versus 34 percent who say the Republicans would.

Your money?

Fifty-three percent say the Democrats would do a better job with the economy, while only 31 percent say Republicans would…Fifty-six percent say the Democrats would do a better job managing gas and oil prices and 53 percent say they would do a better job managing federal spending and the deficit.

And the kicker:

A majority of Americans, 53 percent, would like to see the Democrats take control of Congress in this year’s elections, according to the Newsweek Poll. Only 35 percent say they would like the Republicans to keep control. And 51 percent of registered voters say that if the elections were held today they would vote for the Democratic candidate in their district, versus 38 percent who say they would vote Republican. Among likely voters, 51 percent would vote for the Democratic candidate and 39 percent for the Republican candidate.

With less than a month to go, it would be hard to improve on such numbers. The challenge for Democratic candidates is to hold the line and close the deal over the next 3+ weeks with strong critiques of their opponents, clearly-stated policy positions and an inspiring vision for the future. The challenge for their campaigns is a fierce GOTV program in every district.


Dems Building ‘Blue Bridge’ in Mountain West

We refer readers to the New York Times Sunday Magazine for the second Sunday in a row, this time because freelancer Mark Sundeen takes a perceptive look at the Mountain West as a lynchpin for Democratic victories, both soon and later. Sundeen’s article “The Big-Sky Dem,” is largely a profile of charismatic Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. But he shares some interesting insights about the rising importance of the Mountain West in politics:

The Interior West has long been seen by Democrats on election night as simply a disheartening wall of big red blocks. Idaho, Utah and Wyoming haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Montana, Colorado and Arizona have all gone Republican in 9 of the last 10 presidential elections. But below the surface, the map of the West is slowly becoming a little less red and a little more blue. In 2000, Democrats had not a single governor in the interior West states; now they have four. Democrats have gradually been picking up House seats, too. In 1996, they won 4 of 24 House seats in the region. But they’ve managed to pick up 1 or 2 seats in each of the last four elections and have now clawed their way up to 8 of 28. In 2004, the party’s only bright spot besides Montana was Colorado, where Ken Salazar won a Republican Senate seat; his brother, John, picked up a House seat; and the Democrats took control of both state chambers.
“The pan-Western states — in an arc from Ohio, west to Montana and south to Arizona — are where the low-hanging and most-ripe-for-the-plucking electoral fruit for Democrats is to be found,” writes Tom Schaller in “Whistling Past Dixie.” The midterm election outlook seems to support Schaller’s thesis. None of the region’s eight Democratic representatives — the so-called Coyote Caucus — are considered at serious risk in 2006. But 10 of the 20 Republican-held seats are included in the list of 56 potential Democratic pickups compiled by Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. The Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona is putting up a surprising fight against the Republican incumbent, and the race for Nevada governor, an open seat vacated by a Republican, is listed by the Cook Report, an influential Washington political newsletter, as a toss-up.

Not all Democratic strategists agree with the “write-off-the-south” strategy. Sundeen quotes Dave ‘Mudcat’ Saunders on the subject:

As fertile as the West may seem for Democrats, some in the party remain skeptical that it matters much. “The problem with the Democrats is that they can’t count,” Dave (Mudcat) Saunders, a Democratic campaign strategist, told me. Saunders’s book, “Foxes in the Henhouse,” argues that the party would be wrong to focus on the West and ignore the South. He notes that 30 percent of the country’s electoral votes come from the South, and that by 2025 that percentage will be 40. “Georgia and Florida have as many votes as all the West put together,” Saunders points out.

It seems likely that any strategy or national candidates that can win the Mountain West could also find support in the SW and even some support in the South, and perhaps vice-versa. What seems certain, however, is a clear trend favoring Democrats in the Mountain and Southwestern states. Meanwhile, Brian Schweitzer continues to build what he calls a “blue bridge from Alberta to Mexico” an unbroken chain of Democratic governors from Montana to Arizona, and that mission could be accomplished on November 7.


GOP Losing Evangelical Voters

WaPo‘s Alan Cooperman story in today’s edition “GOP’s Hold on Evangelicals Weakening: Party’s Showing in Midterm Elections May Be Hurt as Polls Indicate Support Dropping in Base” should give Rove and Co. something new to worry about. According to Cooperman:

A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base.
…In 2004, white evangelical or born-again Christians made up a quarter of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted Republican, according to exit polls.
…Even before the Foley scandal, the portion of white evangelicals with a “favorable” impression of the Republican Party had fallen sharply this year, from 63 percent to 54 percent…the percentage of evangelicals who think that Republicans govern “in a more honest and ethical way” than Democrats has plunged to 42 percent, from 55 percent at the start of the year.

The Pew Research Poll, which is not yet posted on their website, was conducted 9/21-10/4. The poll found that the GOP still has a hefty lead among those who attend church more than once a week, while Dems improved their standing with a larger sub-group:

The main shift is among weekly churchgoers, about a quarter of all voters. Two years ago, they favored the GOP by a double-digit margin. But in the new Pew survey, 44 percent leaned toward Republicans and 43 percent toward Democrats, a statistical dead heat.

Cooperman speculates that part of the shift may be attributable to a growing interest among evangelicals in humanitarian concerns, as reflected in the popularity of Rev. Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life,” which urges Christians to embrace issues not often addressed by the most prominent evangelical preachers, including poverty, the environment and torture. He cites another poll by the Center for American Values indicating Republicans have lost 14 percent of their support among frequent churchgoers, but Dems have only added 4 percent.


DCORPS: Seniors Leaning Democratic

Democracy Corps has an important new report “Winning Seniors in the Final Month” which should be of interest to all Democratic campaigns. The report indicates that Dems now enjoy a lead of 4 percent among seniors in congressional races in a survey conducted 10/1-3, according to authors Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Ana Iparraguirre.
But the authors caution that the Dems’ lead has slipped in recent months, and among white seniors, the race is even. The authors recommend Democratic campaigns focus more on key senior issues, such as long-term care, drug prices, retirement security and opposing privatization of social security.
According to the report, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of seniors are expected to cast ballots in the upcomming election. “Seniors are the Democrats’ most important target” say the authors. They recommend “running an outsider campaign” with “a populist edge.” They urge strongly criticising Republicans who voted themselves pay raises, but denied bonuses and health care for returning veterans. The report points out that an estimated 29 percent of seniors are veterans.
The report goes into a lot more detail, and should be required reading for all Democratic candidates and campaign workers.


Dems Advance as GOP Slouches Toward Reality

Granted, the prospect of three consecutive Republican House Speakers resigning in disgrace is a less than impressive legacy for coming generations of GOP leaders — and a clue for swing voters in upcomming congressional elections. But the disgrace has already happened, and a growing chorus of conservatives is calling on Speaker Hastert to resign in connection with his ineffectual ‘leadership’ in the Foley mess.
First there was the Washington Times, not exactly the intellectual vanguard organ of the conservative movement. Now, however, the higher-browed conservative opinion leaders have begun to weigh in. Bloomberg.com quotes Tom Winter, editor-in-chief of the conservative weekly magazine Human Events:

We think the Republicans need new leaders, and I don’t think Hastert will be there much longer…I think he has to do this for the team, he has to step down.

Maggie Gallagher can’t resist getting in a few licks against the Democrats en passant, but she gets to the point in her National Review Column “Hastert Must Resign,” as does NRO National Economics Editor Larry Kudlow in “Step Aside, Speaker Hastert: This goes way beyond Foley.” The NRO’s editorial can’t quite embrace the inevitable just yet, citing House Republican leaders’ “evasion of responsibility” but calling instead for the heads of Rep. John Shimkus and unnamed aides of the Speaker. Nor can the ostrich-heads at two other leading conservative rags, The Weekly Standard and Commentary, who don’t even mention the Foley mess on their web pages as of Thursday morning. Presumably, they will all be dragged, kicking and screaming into the chilly October reality in the days ahead.
To be fair, it’s not just Hastert. NRCC Chair Thomas M. Reynolds has made a horrible mess of things, and may lose his own election, if he isn’t forced to resign from his leadership post. Kos has a report on the latest poll in his district here.
Meanwhile, Democratic campaigns looking for guidance in dealing with the GOP leadership meltdown should check out McJoan’s post at Daily Kos featuring quotes from eight Democratic “netroots” candidates for congress, addressing GOP leaders’ accountability for this and other Republican failures.
All of this may give the Dems a bump on November 7, but it would be a mistake to count on it. Dem leaders should continue to insist on full accountability, but make sure to take every opportunity to articulate a clear vision and agenda that can move America forward.


Will GOP Meltdown Give Dems a Senate Majority?

What seemed unlikely a couple of weeks ago is now a very strong possibility — a Democratic takeover of the U.S. Senate. As a result of the Foley cover-up, it is not hard to imagine droves of disgusted evangelicals staying home on November 7, and a healthy chunk of those who don’t stay at home now deciding to vote Democratic. Indeed, the GOP leadership’s internal rot is so redolent that many non-evangelical conservatives may do likewise.
You can read about it just about anywhere. But MyDD’s Chris Bowers does a particularly good job of rolling out the GOP debacle in his recent posts “Democratic breeze Blowing in the Senate” and “Total Republican Collapse Imminent.”
Dems can expect a desperate GOP counter-attack to deflect media attention any time now. Should be a wild ride.


The Republican GOTV Machine: Fact or Myth?

by Alan Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, Emory University
With only five weeks left until the 2006 midterm election, political analysts remain divided about the Democrats’ chances of regaining control of the House and Senate. While some indicators such as the generic ballot continue to show a strong Democratic advantage and the overwhelming majority of competitive races involve GOP seats, President Bush’s approval ratings have climbed a bit in recent weeks, giving Republican strategists and candidates renewed hope. In addition, many analysts believe that Republicans have an ace in the hole going into the final days of the campaign—their party’s well-oiled get-out-the-vote (GOTV) machine. Despite polls showing Democratic voters more energized than Republican voters, these analysts believe that the Republicans’ vaunted “72-hour program” will give the GOP a critical edge on Election Day.
But is the Republican GOTV machine really as good as it’s made out to be? Claims about the effectiveness of the GOP’s 72-hour program are based largely on the results of the 2004 presidential election, and especially on what happened in the large battleground states. And no state is cited more frequently to illustrate the effectiveness of the Republican 72-hour program than Ohio.
Does the evidence from Ohio actually support these claims about the effectiveness of the Republican 72-hour program? It is true that the number of Republican votes in Ohio increased dramatically between the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, going from 2.35 million in 2000 to 2.86 million in 2005. That’s an increase of more than 500,000 votes, or 21.7 percent. Sounds impressive. But wait a minute—the number of Democratic votes in Ohio rose from 2.19 million in 2000 to 2.74 million in 2004. That’s an increase of more than 550,000 votes, or 25.4%. So which party’s GOTV program was more effective?
Okay, but everyone knows that the real key to a GOTV campaign is getting out your base. So how effective were Republicans and Democrats at getting out their base voters in Ohio? Well, one way to gauge this is to focus on each party’s strongest counties. In Ohio there were 14 counties that George Bush carried by a margin of at least 10,000 votes in 2000 and 6 counties that Al Gore carried by a margin of at least 10,000 votes. Between 2000 and 2004, the number of Republican votes in the 14 strongly Republican counties increased by 163,000, or 23.4%. That’s pretty impressive. But the number of Democratic votes in these 14 GOP counties increased by 113,000, or 26.4%! So while the Republican plurality in these counties increased by about 50,000 votes, the percentage increase in Democratic turnout was actually greater than the percentage increase in Republican turnout.
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And what happened in the six strongly Democratic counties? The number of Democratic votes increased by 193,000, or 24.9%, while the number of Republican votes increased by 97,000, or 21.7%. So not only did the size of the Democratic plurality increase by almost 100,000 votes in these six counties, but the percentage increase in Democratic turnout was greater than the percentage increase in Republican turnout.
One of the most difficult things to accomplish in a GOTV campaign is to mobilize your own party’s supporters without also mobilizing the opposing party’s supporters. Not only did Democrats do a better job of turning out their own voters in Ohio, but they also did a better job of not turning out opposition voters. Based on the actual turnout data, it appears that the GOP’s vaunted 72-hour program was actually less effective than the Democratic Party’s GOTV effort in Ohio. On November 7th, that Republican ace-in-the-hole may turn out to be a joker.