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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Seniors Against Trump

Who Are the Key Voters Turning Against Trump?

They’re senior voters, and they could be Joe Biden’s secret weapon.

By Ruy Teixeira in The New York Times
Read the Article.

Stan Greenberg in The American Prospect

The Tea Party’s Last Stand

The legions that swept over the Republican Party in 2010 aren’t ascendant today—and they’ve scared a lot of other Republicans away.

BY STANLEY B. GREENBERG

Read the Article.

Democrats – Get Ready for the Inevitable Republican Counterattack

It’s coming, and we should be prepared.
By Andrew Levison

Read the Strategy Memo.

Seniors Against Trump

Key Voters Turning Against Trump?

They’re senior voters, and they could be Joe Biden’s secret weapon.

By Ruy Teixeira in The New York Times
Read the Article.

Stan Greenberg in The American Prospect

Tea Party’s Last Stand

The legions that swept over the Republican Party in 2010 aren’t ascendant today—and they’ve scared a lot of other Republicans away.

BY STANLEY B. GREENBERG

Read the Article.

The Daily Strategist

August 4, 2020

Teixeira: Now That You Mention It, Biden’s Running a Pretty Darn Good Campaign

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

John Cassidy has a good article at The New Yorker site praising Biden’s “big tent” strategy. He talks about three big challenges Biden is surmounting:

1. Uniting the Democratic Party after a chaotic primary season.
2. Fashioning a coherent response to the tumultuous events of 2020
3. Avoiding giving Trump an easy target

On #3, he breaks it down this way, with the help of some fellow named Teixeira:

“The third challenge that Biden faced was to avoid giving Trump an easy target. The pandemic has made the dodging part easier. Hunkered down in Wilmington, Biden largely has left the President to dig his own hole—which he has done, ably. But Biden has also reached out to Trump Country. The first of his Build Back Better speeches was delivered in Rust Belt Pennsylvania: it included calls to restore American manufacturing and “buy American.” As well as adopting some of the language of economic nationalism, Biden has rejected certain progressive proposals, such as defunding the police and enforcing a complete ban on fracking, that might alienate moderate whites in battleground states.

This is smart politics, Ruy Teixeira, a polling expert and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told me. Despite the changing demographics of the United States, whites who don’t have a college degree still make up about forty-four per cent of the eligible electorate, according to Teixeira; in some places, such as parts of the Midwest, the figure is even higher. “You cannot cede massive sections of the electorate if you want to be successful politically,” Teixeira said.

In 2016, Trump carried the white non-college demographic by thirty-one percentage points at the national level, according to Teixeira’s analysis of exit polls and election returns. Biden has narrowed the gap to twelve points, Teixeira said, citing a recent survey. That is similar to the margin in 2008, when Barack Obama defeated John McCain and the Democrats increased their majorities in both houses of Congress. As it is often defined, the Obama coalition consisted of minority voters, college-educated white liberals, and young people. Teixeira pointed out that Obama’s ability to restrict McCain’s margin in the white non-college demographic was also important, and if Biden matched that feat in November, he said, it could be of enormous consequence. “This is not the only thing that is going wrong for Trump,” Teixeira said, “but it is the thing that could give the Democrats the big victory that they need to govern effectively.”

None of this means that Biden is a lock for the Oval Office. Between now and November 3rd, something could conceivably shift the momentum against him, such as a Vice-Presidential pick that backfires, a major slipup in the debates, or a surprising economic upturn. Right now, though, the challenger’s strategy of keeping the focus on the incumbent and pitching a broad tent that accommodates anyone who wants to see the back of Trump is working well.”

Data note: despite my best efforts, they managed to garble my description of the data sources. The 2016 data are from the States of Change project and have nothing to do with the exit polls; we modeled data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, the Census’ American Community Survey and election returns down to the county level. The 2020 data are from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape weekly surveys and are based on surveys from May 1 onward, a total of 43,000 cases.

That said, still a great article!


Political Strategy Notes

Domenico Montanaro reports in “2020 Electoral Map Ratings: Trump Slides, Biden Advantage Expands Over 270 Votes” at npr.org that “It’s hard to believe that the hole President Trump dug for himself could get deeper, but it has…A record and widening majority of Americans disapprove of the job he’s doing when it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic; he gets poor scores on race relations; he’s seen a suburban erosion despite efforts to win over suburban voters with fear; and all that has led to a worsened outlook for Trump against Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election…As a result, in the past month and a half, the latest NPR analysis of the Electoral College has several states shifting in Biden’s favor, and now has a 297-170 advantage over Trump with exactly three months to go until Election Day…Here are our changes:

Colorado from Lean D to Likely D
Florida from Toss Up to Lean D
New Hampshire from Toss Up to Lean D
Nevada
from Toss Up to Lean D
Pennsylvania from Toss Up to Lean D
Georgia
from Lean R to Toss up.”

At Newsweek, David H. Freedman warns that “The pandemic has in fact driven up voter interest in mail-ins on both sides—but it may be too late to make the adjustment. Setting up a mail-in ballot system efficient enough to handle a large percentage of a state’s voters takes years, says Kathleen Hale, an Auburn University political scientist and election expert who works with officials throughout the country to help ensure elections go smoothly. Nevertheless, in response to the pandemic, dozens of states, including New York, have tried to vastly expand their mail-in capabilities—from supplementary absentee ballots to universal access—virtually overnight. They could face serious problems with the distribution, collection and counting of those ballots, says Hale, author of “How We Vote: Innovation in American Elections.” “There’s substantial risk in trying to change the system on the fly,” she says.”

Freedman continues, “Twelve states passed legislation since March making it easier to vote by mail, but battleground states have drawn the most scrutiny. Small shifts in voting in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina could swing 15 or more electoral votes one way or the other. The Texas governor and its Republican legislative majority have fought to block any expansion of mail-in voting. A pro-mail-in-vote group sued the state and won in a federal court, only to be overturned in a higher court when the state appealed…Pennsylvania gets a C from the Brookings Institute’s mail-in-voting accessibility scorecard. So does Georgia, which sent out mail-in ballots for its primary. Under pressure from the Republican state legislature, however, the state does not plan to follow suit in the general election. Michigan gets a B, but Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds if the state doesn’t back off its support for voting by mail. Trump has so far refrained from making similar threats against Florida over its embrace of mail-in voting, perhaps because it’s where he himself votes—by mail, at least in the case of this year’s primary. In states that succumb to Republican pressure to hang onto restrictions on mail-in ballots, most voters will have only one option, says Hale: to endure long lines at the polls.”

From “Want #NeverBiden Holdouts to Join #TeamJoe? Take it from this Bernie voter: Show them some respect” by Erica Etelson at medium.com: “When you try to convince someone to do or believe something, they get defensive and double-down in their opposition. This isn’t unique to so-called “Bernie bros”, it’s part of the human condition. If you want someone to consider the merits of what you’re saying, put aside your agenda and have a friendly conversation…Listen to their reasons for refusing to vote for Biden. Put yourself in their shoes –if you believed a certain candidate was the one and only person capable of plugging the hole in our ship only to see that candidate defeated by someone you believe drilled that hole, would you feel conflicted?..Respect their feelings, even if you don’t share them, and understand the following: Grief has five stages: Denial (“I can’t believe he dropped out”); anger (“The Democratic establishment screwed him over again”); bargaining (“Maybe Biden will drop out and Bernie can run”); depression (“Progressives will never win and our country is doomed”); and acceptance (“This totally blows but we have to make the best of a horrible situation”). Bernie supporters are at some stage of this grief process, and understanding their emotional state willl help you navigate the conversation.”

Etelson, author of “Beyond Contempt: How Liberals Can Communcicate Across the Great Divide,  goes on to suggest ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ questions and statements to generate a mutually-respectful conversation and suggests four principles for questions and statements to “avoid triggering defensiveness,: including: “1. They’re phrased subjectively, not as incontrovertible truth.; 2. They acknowledge the other person’s thoughts and feelings.; 3. They acknowledge Biden’s flaws.; 4. They refrain from scolding the other person’s political purity…This last point is key. Sometimes leftists come across as self-righteous and contemptuous of those who don’t share their beliefs. Clinton’s campaign consultant says that Clinton’s highly contemptuous “deplorables” gaffe cost her the election. No one is charmed by a finger wagging in their face — not Trump voters, not swing voters and not Bernie voters…This habit of scolding ideological advesaries is exacerbated with so much of our political discourse now taking place online. Facebook is chockablock with obnoxious memes that preemptively blame “Bernie bros” for throwing the election to Trump.”

In “‘Hating Joe Biden doesn’t juice up their base’: Key swing state slips away from Trump: Trump has trailed in every public poll in Pennsylvania since June,”  Holly Otterbeing writes at Politico: “Senior citizens and suburban voters are sinking President Donald Trump’s campaign across the country…But here in Pennsylvania — home to one of the largest populations of residents age 65 or older and where suburbanites comprise more than half of the electorate — their defection to Joe Biden is hurting Trump even more acutely…It’s a very big problem in a swing state that’s central to his Rust Belt path to victory. Four years ago, Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to carry Pennsylvania, in part by winning older and suburban voters, as well as blue-collar white workers in ancestrally Democratic areas. Now, with less than 100 days till Election Day, surveys show those voters are eyeing something different yet again.Joe Biden has an overall early lead in the state of 6 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, and has led Trump in all 12 public polls released since the beginning of June.”

Harry Enten writes in “Trump must win North Carolina. He’s losing there” at CNN Politics: “Absentee ballots start getting mailed to North Carolina voters in just 33 days, and a new CBS News/YouGov poll reveals ominous news for President Donald Trump in the Tar Heel state…Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow 48% to 44% advantage among likely voters. It’s the latest CNN approved poll to find Biden ahead in North Carolina. Last week, a NBC News/Marist College poll gave Biden a 7-point lead…To be clear, there are pretty much no paths to Trump winning the presidency without a victory in North Carolina. Additionally a Biden win in the state could help aid Democrats in their bid for the Senate majority come next January…North Carolina is best described as a swing state that tilts toward the Republican Party. Trump won it by 4 points in 2016, so this new CBS News/YouGov poll is the inverse of that…If Biden’s current polling edge in North Carolina were to be the final result, it would be the best Democratic performance since southerner Jimmy Carter won the state by 11 points in 1976…No Republican has won the presidency without North Carolina since Dwight Eisenhower did it in 1956.”

In “The choice: A healer or a heel,” Glenn Altschuler explains at msn.com why the 2020 election is more about public health than anything else: “In the midst of a pandemic, in which the United States has suffered more fatalities per capita than all but a handful of other nations, Nov. 3, 2020, is almost certain to be a referendum on public health. Former Vice President Joe Biden has already defined the presidential election as, in essence, a contest between an empathetic and experienced healer and a callous and clueless heel…The strategy appears to be working. A poll completed in mid-July found that 54 percent of Americans trust Biden to address the Coronavirus crisis, while only 34 percent expressed confidence in President Trump. In another survey, Americans gave Biden a substantial edge over Trump on a range of personality traits: honesty, cares about the needs of ordinary people, a good role model, even-tempered…African Americans and Latinos, it is now clear, are about three times more likely to be infected with the Coronavirus as their white neighbors and nearly twice as likely to die from the disease. Many of them have front-line jobs, rely on public transportation, share living spaces with other people, including elderly relatives, have underlying medical conditions and less access to quality healthcare. They are collateral damage of Trump’s politicization of COVID-19.”

Altschuler adds, “Other casualties include Americans over the age of 65, who are more likely than younger people to support mask wearing and social distancing and who are apprehensive about a premature reopening of the economy. Many in this age cohort, which was responsible in no small measure for Trump’s victory in 2016, now find the president “self-absorbed” and “not serious” – and prefer Biden…In 2020, Democrats should also return to the public health agenda that resonated with so many voters in the mid-term elections. Despite Trump’s promises, they can point out, his administration did not even draft – let alone get a Congress controlled by Republicans to pass – a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Instead, they will no doubt remind voters, Trump’s Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare(which, according to a Fox News poll, is supported by 56 percent of Americans), a move that would eliminate coverage for as many as 23 million Americans (in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic that has significantly increased the number of people without health insurance)…the Democratic campaign can tout Biden’s healthcare plan, which features lowering the age to opt into Medicare to 60; offering a “public option” to anyone not satisfied with employer-sponsored coverage; reducing costs to people who buy insurance on the ACA exchanges; and repealing laws exempting corporations from negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Unlike “Medicare for All,” which remains controversial, these significant but incremental reforms are likely to garner support from a substantial percentage of voters…Recently, Biden has contrasted his approach with that of the president, who, he says, “has quit on the country” because he is unwilling or unable to understand that “he can’t deal with our economic crisis without serving, saving, and solving the public health crisis.”


Trump’s Ultimate Strategy on Voting By Mail

An ominous series of strategic moves from Donald Trump began to dawn on me, and I wrote about it for New York:

The president is getting a lot of much-deserved negative attention for his weird little tweet  suggesting that the 2020 election should be delayed — up to and including a co-founder of the Federalist Society saying that it was “fascistic” and merited a new impeachment proceeding. But considering how rapidly the idea is being repudiated by everyone in both parties, it’s likely Trump was simply adding fuel to the fire of his relentless campaign to stigmatize voting by mail, which he continued in an afternoon press conference. And it’s increasingly apparent that he has a two-pronged strategy in doing this, based on the strong likelihood that even if all the experts mock his claims about voting by mail, Republican voters will listen, setting up a strange dual election in which one party’s voters disproportionately show up on Election Day while the others disproportionately vote by mail.

One reason he might want to do this is highlighted by David Wasserman in a column warning that mail ballots are always more likely to be invalidated than in-person ballots, with the disparity skyrocketing this year:

“The real danger is a perfect catastrophe of administrative overload, postal delays and voter error that could lead to millions of absentee ballots not counting. And this year, unlike the past, those ballots are likely to be overwhelmingly Democratic … An extensive study by Charles Stewart III, director of MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab, estimates the true number of uncounted mail ballots in 2016 was … 1.4 million — 4 percent of all mail ballots cast.

“’Voting by mail is twice as involved administratively than voting in person,” Stewart said. “If problems arise in mail voting, it’s twice as hard to correct them than it is in person. And first-time voters are more likely to have their ballots rejected.’”

And that’s in a normal year, when you don’t have the number of people trying to vote by mail — many of them in states totally unaccustomed to this phenomenon — spiked by fears of contracting a deadly virus, and/or by inadequate in-person voting infrastructure in their neighborhoods (especially minority neighborhoods). As Wasserman observes, the record of states handling mail ballots in this year’s primaries has been ominous:

“[I]n pandemic-era primaries, rejection rates have been even higher, as ill-equipped and understaffed election offices strain to meet surging demand for mail ballots from voters inexperienced with casting them.

“In Wisconsin, over 9,000 requested ballots were never mailed to voters and 23,000 absentees (more than 2 percent) were rejected. In Kentucky’s Fayette County, the state’s second largest, 8 percent of absentees were tossed out. And in parts of New York City, upward of 20 percent of absentees have been flagged as invalid.”

If big majorities of these mail ballots are being cast by Democrats, then Democrats will lose votes they would otherwise harvest. And in a close election, that could be decisive, or at least muddy the waters.

And speaking of muddy waters, there appears to be a second prong of Trump’s strategy, which I have written about before:

“In most states, Election Day results are reported first (and in all states they are counted before late-arriving mail ballots and provisional ballots, both of which already tend to skew Democratic). So if Republicans are disproportionately voting in person and Democrats are disproportionately voting by mail, misleading early returns may show Trump and other Republicans doing much better than they will eventually do, enabling Trump to claim fraud when those evil mail ballots turn it all around for Biden and his Democrats.

“Anyone doubting this is a plausible scenario needs to look back to 2018, when Republican congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy made specious claims of voter fraud when late-arriving mail ballots predictably shifted the results in key House races in California. It could have been a dress rehearsal for what might happen this November.”

And it’s with this scenario in mind that an even later tweet by Trump today should be viewed, in which he said: “Must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months or even years later!”

After having this message beaten into their brains by Trump for weeks on end, MAGA folk — and for that matter, election officials in Republican-controlled states and counties — will be very inclined to view mail-ballot-dominated later returns as fraudulent, just as POTUS keeps saying they are. I don’t know exactly what Trump will do with the toxic atmosphere he might create with Election Night claims of total victory based on relatively small fractions of the ultimate vote. Maybe it would spawn litigation, or violence in the streets, or even schemes for Republican legislatures to begin naming electors since the popular vote is “disputed.”

Either way, by hook or by crook, a partisan split in methods of voting may give Trump an unearned advantage he’ll really need in November.

Now that they have the whip hand in coronavirus stimulus negotiations in Washington, it would be a good time for congressional Democrats to make the new funds ($3.6 billion) for election assistance a must-have priority. Perhaps more competent election administration can cut down on the number of mail ballots invalidated on minor technical grounds. And surely improving the sense that we are holding a fully legitimate election that maximizes the opportunity to vote will help silence those from the White House on down who will seize on uncertainties to cry havoc.


Portland’s Inspiring ‘Wall of Moms’ Demonstration Sets a High Standard

In her July 25th New York Times article, “Mothers’ Power in U.S. Protests Echoes a Global Tradition,” Amanda Taub writes “History suggests that mothers’ power is most potent when they are able to wield their own respectability, and the protections it brings, as a political cudgel. But that is easiest for women who are already privileged: married, affluent, and members of the dominant racial or ethnic group…Mothers who are less privileged often struggle to claim that power, even though they are often the ones who most urgently need it.”

A week ago, the predominantly-white ‘Wall of Moms’ in Portland got a taste of the violence that women of color have long experienced in protest demonstrations. As Taub writes, “Ann Gregory, a lawyer and mother of two who joined the wall of moms in Portland on Sunday, said they had hoped to serve as a buffer between other demonstrators and law enforcement…“We realize that we’re a bunch of white women, and we do have privilege,” she said. “We were hoping to use that to protect the protesters…So on her first night at the protests, when federal officers fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at the group of moms, “I couldn’t believe what was happening,” she said. “We weren’t being violent. We weren’t screaming expletives at them.”

The Wall of Moms demonstrations in Portland, which explicitly supports Black Lives Matter, should be welcomed by all Americans who care about racial justice. Taub writes, “However, when officers fire tear gas and projectiles at soccer moms holding sunflowers, as happened in Portland on Sunday night, even more observers — who may not previously have thought they could be at risk — see that as a fate that might befall anyone. And history suggests that could have profound political consequences.”

Countless thousands of women who are not mothers have taken part in nonviolent protest movements for racial justice, and they have made outstanding contributions in struggles against racism, going back to the early abolitionist movement. Indeed, every demographic group can play an important role in protesting against racially-motivated violence in law enforcement. But if they don’t increase their voter turnout on election day, their accomplishments will be limited.

There is something uniquely powerful in the optics of mothers organizing into a force for peaceful social change. There are ample precedents of women organized as mothers winning victories against oppressive forces, as Taub notes, including the “Las Madres de La Plaza de Mayo” (a.k.a. “Mothers of the Disappeared) protests in Buenos Aires, Argentina 1976-83 and the women who organized the ‘Black Sash’ in South Africa in the 1970s. Taub explains that “The Government has let Black Sash survive while closing down other anti-apartheid groups in part because white South African society has perched its women on pedestals,” The Times reported in 1988. “The police find it awkward to pack the paddy wagons with well-bred troublemakers who look like their mothers or sisters.”

There are legitimate concerns about the protests against police violence against African Americans turning violent and provoking political backlash. Violence and destruction of property are the media optics Trump seeks in his increasingly desperate divide-and-conquer strategy, and there has been too much of that already. But it’s likely that the demonstrations will continue for a while at least. Protest organizers in Portland and elsewhere must more effectively invoke disciplined nonviolence, as did MLK and his leadership team, to stop the violence and property destruction, regardless of who is perpetrating it.

Yet the spectacle of mothers being bullied by Trump’s mercenaries on national television, and in print and internet media will likely amplify his image as the most corrupt and divisive president in U.S. history. The Wall of Moms protest may yet have a positive effect on November 3rd voting.

Credit Portland’s Wall of Moms protest with taking a creative stand for racial justice. These women could have stayed home and watched Trump’s hired militia brutality on television. Instead, they traded complacency for a season of service on the front lines of nonviolent protest. May their courageous examples inspire concerned mothers in all states to join nonviolent protests for racial justice and equality — and turn out at the polls in record numbers.


Political Strategy Notes

E. J. Dionne, Jr. concldes his latest Washington Post column, “This Republican implosion has been a long time coming” with ths observation: “Having skipped their homework, having spread the coronavirus with a spring break fantasy that bars and restaurants and everything else could open wide, Republicans had the nerve on Wednesday to ask for an extension. Pass a “skinny” bill extending some unemployment insurance provisions and a rent moratorium (without, of course, helping renters pay the rent)…Sorry, but you reach a point when political parties, like wayward students, must be given an F. I hope Republicans will be ready to govern again someday. Right now, the party has earned itself only a multi-year expulsion…Even more dramatically, Biden has reversed Trump’s 2016 lead among voters age 65 and older. In 2016, Trump carried seniors 56 percent to 41 percent, according to the CCES data. But Biden, who carried seniors overwhelmingly in the Democratic primaries, leads Trump 50 percent to 45 percent among the oldest voters in the average of current polls.”

At The Cook Political Report, David Wasserman shares some data-based observations that should gladden Democratic hearts: “The 2016 election was defined by mass defections of remaining white, working-class members of Democrats’ coalition to Trump, particularly in heartland states. Much in the same way, the 2020 election is currently on track to see mass defections of the remaining white professional members of Republicans’ coalition to Biden — a trend disproportionately playing out in the suburbs where those voters tend to live…In an average of nine live-interview national surveys conducted since the start of June, Biden is clobbering Trump 58 percent to 37 percent among whites with college degrees, more than double Clinton’s 51 percent to 42 percent lead among that group in 2016 according to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a nationally representative sample of 64,600 adults. Biden has also modestly cut Trump’s lead among whites without degrees to 55 percent to 37 percent, down from 59 percent to 35 percent in 2016.”

However, Wasserman adds, “If there’s a surprising weakness for Biden, it’s non-white voters – especially Latinos. He’s carrying African-Americans by 75 points over Trump in the latest polls, down from Clinton’s 80 point margin in 2016. But Trump has narrowed the gap among Latino voters to 30 points, down from his 40 point deficit four years ago. Latinos, along with 18-29 year old voters, sport some of the highest undecided rates in today’s polls…Perhaps fortunately for Biden, Latinos are underrepresented in the Electoral College battleground. In 2016, Latinos made up nine percent of the nation’s voters, but they were less than four percent of all voters in all but three of the ten closest states in 2016: Arizona (17 percent), Florida (17 percent) and Nevada (16 percent). That could limit the real benefit of any Trump improvement with Latinos since 2016…What’s more, Biden’s relative weakness with Latinos may be offset by the fact that Arizona and Florida also happen to boast the highest shares of seniors – a group with whom he is demonstrating surprising strength – of all the battleground states.”

Nathaniel Rakich explains why “Florida Could Go Blue in 2020” at FiveThirtyEight: “Florida has long been a slightly red state. Since 2004, it has consistently voted 3 or 4 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. (Indeed, polls of Florida are currently1 0.9 points better for President Trump than national polls, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages.) But could what happened in 2018 — when Florida was so much redder than the nation that it was out of reach for Democrats, even in a wave election — happen again in 2020?…Most glaringly, Miami-Dade County — Florida’s most populated county — and Osceola County voted more than 8 points more Republican in the 2018 Senate race than in the 2016 presidential race. In addition, Nelson underperformed Clinton by 6 points in the much less populous Hendry County.” Despite the Republican edge with Cuban-American voters in south Florida, Rakich notes that “Puerto Rican Floridians (who make up 32 percent of Osceola County) strongly dislike Trump” and “According to Carlos Odio, the co-founder of data firm EquisLabs, a private poll recently gave Biden a 41-point lead among Puerto Rican voters in Florida, which would be close to the 46-point lead Clinton enjoyed in a Latino Decisions pollimmediately before the 2016 election.”

Rakich concludes, “In summary, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Biden will be able to hold onto (or build upon) Nelson’s gains in the blue counties in the map above, thanks to the current pro-Democratic national environment. And with the help of Hispanic voters, older voters, or both, it’s also not hard to imagine Biden returning to Clinton’s levels of support in some of the counties that drifted red in 2018. However, Trump is fighting to build upon his 2016 support among these voters too, and without them, Biden will have a hard time winning the state — as 2018 showed…The bottom line: The outlook is bright for Democrats in the Sunshine State. On average, polls of Florida show Biden leading Trump by a healthy 7.1 points.4 If that holds, it would be a blowout by Florida standards — the widest margin for a presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush won by 22 points in 1988. But, of course, if Florida does go blue again in 2020, it would put the state in a very familiar role: as a beach ball once again.”

In his New York Times column, “Trump Is Trying to Bend Reality to His Will: Can his aggressive version of ethnonationalist populism prevail in 2020? The answer is not obvious,” Thomas B. Edsall shares the results of a study that illuminates the relationship between social mobility and political behavior: “The difficulty of rising up the economic ladder is reflected in the decline in mobility in the United States. Research by Raj Chettyand colleagues has demonstrated that the percentage of children who make more than their parents has fallen from just over 90 percent for those born in 1940 to 50 percent for those born in 1984. The declines have been sharpest in the South and Midwest, as shown in the accompanying map — in many of the areas that provided key support to Donald Trump in 2016. The frustration over the lack of mobility is particularly acute for those without college degrees.”

Edsall cites another study, which sheds on social class and income, and writes “In a 2019 paper, “The College Wealth Divide: Education and Inequality in America, 1956-2016,” three German economists, Alina Bartscher, Moritz Kuhn and Moritz Schularick, all of the University of Bonn, determined that in the United States since the since the 1970s “the real income of non-college households stagnated, while the real income of college households has risen by around 50 percent.” The income data is, however, dwarfed by the findings on wealth: While non-college households were treading water in terms of wealth, college households have increased their net worth by a factor of three compared to 1971.”

Edsall adds that Noam Gidron and Peter A. Hall, political scientists at Hebrew University and Harvard write in “Populism as a Problem of Social Integration” that “support for radical parties is likely to be especially high among people who feel they have been socially marginalized, i.e. deprived of the roles and respect normally accorded members of mainstream society.” Edall notes that “subjective social status” — that is, “people’s own beliefs about where they stand relative to others within this status hierarchy” — has become a crucial factor in shaping political commitments. As Gidron and Hall note, “There is a consistent association between levels of subjective social status and voting for parties of the populist right and radical left. The more socially marginalized people feel, the more likely they are to gravitate toward the fringes of the political spectrum.” Edsall continues, “How many voters can be described as cross-pressured by conservative cultural views and liberal economic views?…A Voter Study Group analysis of the 2016 election by Lee Drutmanfound that just under 30 percent of voters feel this way. In addition, Drutman’s study provided support for Gidron’s view that these culturally conservative and economically liberal voters lean decisively to the right. Among the 24.3 percent of voters who fit this category and voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, 75.2 percent cast ballots for Trump and 24.8 percent for Clinton, a 3 to 1 split.”

Writing at Vox, Jen Kirby flags a new Democratic proposal, “A wave of evictions is coming. Democrats are proposing a lifeline,” which could help millions of moderate income voters, who are struggling to stay solvent during the pandemic. “The federal eviction moratorium expired last week, ending protections for approximately 12 million renters. A patchwork of state and local eviction moratoriums are elapsing, or will in the coming weeks. And expanded unemployment insurance guaranteed by the CARES Act will also run out by the end of the month, eliminating $600 a week to millions of unemployed workers who don’t have jobs to go back to right now…As these benefits dry up, the United States “is facing an eviction crisis of biblical proportions,” as Aaron Carr, founder and executive director of the Housing Rights Initiative, a nonprofit housing watchdog group, put it to Vox earlier this month. All this is happening in a country with more than 4.3 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, where one of the best strategies mitigate the coronavirus outbreak is to keep people home…To try to ease this crisis, Democrats in Congress have proposed new legislation to help Americans facing evictions. On Tuesday, Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) are introducing the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act, which will provide funding so those at risk of eviction can access legal representation and any evictions will do limited damage to renters’ credit.”


The Evolution of the Veep Reveal

With Joe Biden indicating he will announce his choice of running-mate next week, I decided to do a brief reminder at New York of how this “reveal” has evolved over time.

Until pretty recently, the veep preference of the nominee was traditionally announced, and more often than not actually determined, at the convention itself. In part that was because the identity of the presidential nominee wasn’t always nailed down heading into the convention, making a running mate announcement more than a little presumptuous. Additionally, the veep selection often represented a plum appointment that might prove helpful either in winning the nomination or uniting a splintered party. The ultimate non-presumptuous gesture was made by Adlai Stevenson in 1956, when he allowed the the Democratic convention to name his running mate in open balloting for the gig. After three ballots the convention chose Tennessee populist Estes Kefauver over a young senator named John F. Kennedy (with the father of a future vice-presidential and presidential nominee, Albert Gore Sr., finishing third, and yet another future vice-presidential and presidential nominee, Hubert Humphrey, running fourth).

Equally unpredictable veep selections took place at conventions for less indifferent reasons. In 1968, Richard Nixon picked Spiro T. Agnew as an inoffensive choice after better-known options were vetoed by party factions he consulted. He did not, of course, know that Agnew would eventually resign in disgrace during his second vice-presidential term as part of a plea bargain, when he was caught taking bribes dating back to his first public office as Baltimore County Executive. In 1972, George McGovern was turned down by multiple pols before he turned to Senator Tom Eagleton — later dropped from the ticket for undisclosed health problems and drunk-driving citations (after, unfortunately, McGovern said he was “1,000 percent” behind the Missourian).

The Eagleton fiasco helped produce today’s very careful process of extensive vetting of potential running mates. That happened in tandem with a presidential nominating process dominated by primaries, which robbed conventions of most of their deliberative nature and also made possible pre-convention running mate announcements. According to data assembled by Nathaniel Rakich, the last veep announcement at a convention was in 1988 when Poppy Bush (himself announced at the 1980 convention as Reagan’s running mate after wild speculation about a Reagan-Ford ticket) chose Dan Quayle. Since then, all but two veep reveals occurred within a week of the convention, at which the choice would be formally ratified (including Obama’s naming of Biden just three days before the 2008 convention). The exceptions were John Kerry’s announcement of John Edwards as his partner 20 days before the 2004 Democratic convention and Mitt Romney’s announcement of Paul Ryan 16 days before 2012’s RNC. With the 2020 Democratic convention beginning on August 17, Biden will soon be within the historical window for going public with his choice.

Occasionally the timing of veep announcements has had a secondary purpose. In 2008, John McCain’s surprise announcement of Sarah Palin occurred the day after the Democratic convention nominated Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The idea was to “step on” news from the Democrats and shorten and flatten any convention “bounce.” It worked to some extent. Hillary Clinton tried the same thing by announcing Tim Kaine as her running mate in 2016 the day after the RNC ended. It did not work as Trump still got a good bounce. With the Republicans going second this year and Trump not expected to dump Mike Pence, no preemptive announcement is in the cards for 2020.

Biden, of course, has reduced the mystery of his veep preference considerably by announcing in advance that he will choose a woman — who will be the first woman selected as a Democratic running mate since Fritz Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro (that was announced four days before the 1984 Democratic convention). The fact that this year’s confab will be largely virtual, however, places a premium on Biden’s veep reveal, which may provide the only Democratic drama before Uncle Joe’s acceptance speech on August 20. Presumably, social-distancing requirements in Milwaukee will prevent the traditional clasped-hands gesture uniting the new ticket mates. Perhaps if Democrats win, a handshake or even a chaste hug will be possible before they are inaugurated next January.


Lessons for Dems from John Lewis

The title of Joshua Zeitz’s Politico, article provides an irresistible teaser for this political junkie: “How John Lewis Transformed American Politics: He took his radicalism inside the establishment, forever changing the Democratic Party and America itself.” That should be enough to grab the attention of any good Democrat. Among Zeitz’s observations:

In his youth, long before he became a civil rights icon—a phrase invoked in recent days by the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, NPR and countless other news outlets—Lewis stood firmly in the American radical tradition. No less strident in his condemnation of American hypocrisy than Frederick Douglass or W.E.B DuBois before him, he shined a spotlight on systemic injustice. He deployed nonviolence with an implicit understanding that it would generate social and economic disturbance and compel civic and business leaders to bend to the movement’s demands. He was the scourge of liberals inside the Kennedy administration, conservatives on the editorial board of the National Review and centrists who counseled moderation and patience. In short, his role was to make Americans profoundly uncomfortable.

All Wikipedia lede true. But Lewis, unlike many self-described ‘radicals,’ was not content to rail against both political parties as ‘establishment pawns’ and call it a day. He understood that the most powerful role he could play in support of the causes he embraced was to run for congress and become a force on the inside for making the Democratic Party, as well as America, better. As Zeitz writes,

But radicalism is only one half of Lewis’ legacy. The other half is how Lewis, along with other movement activists who later held elective office—Andrew Young, Marion Barry, James Clyburn, Julian Bond, to name just a few—took his radicalism inside the establishment, forever changing the character of the Democratic Party and, with it, the political direction of America itself. They made civil rights an unnegotiable strain of the party’s DNA and built Black-led political organizations of a sort unknown since the heyday of Reconstruction.

One might well ask if electoral politics tamed the radicalism of movement leaders like Lewis. But the more important question is how those leaders transformed partisan politics and gave birth to a new Democratic Party positioned for long-term success in a diverse 21st-century America.

Zeitz goes on to share highlights of Lewis’s heroic story and eloquent messaging, which still resonates with blazing moral authority. He explains how the Civil Rights Movement continued to  transform the Democratic Party as a force for racial justice.

In 1977, a nationwide survey of Black mayors, city council members and state representatives found that 20 percent had been involved with community action programs in the prior decade, while many others worked or volunteered with a broader range of Great Society initiatives. Lewis’ trajectory—from civil rights leader to community organizer to the Atlanta City Council and then to Congress—was in many ways typical of this journey. In effect, the civil rights movement ported its radicalism into the Democratic Party and used politics as a base to build more permanent political power for Black Americans on school boards, in statehouses and city halls and in Congress…The civil rights movement impressed on Lewis and many of his compatriots the idea that politics is the most powerful vehicle of change. Once he adopted that belief, he never looked back.

None of this is to say that electoral politics is the only worthy career for left activists. On the contrary, most genuine radicals – those who sincerely seek fundamental social and economic reform, as opposed to venting pent-up political anger – can find unlimited opportunities to engage in transformational social change and community service projects outside the political arena.

Yet, Americans and the Democratic Party should be grateful that Civil Rights Movement veterans like John Lewis and Andrew Young understood that there can be no lasting social change without energetic political engagement. Thus many of the Movement’s veterans became candidates, campaign workers, staff members, voting rights and voter registration activsts, citizen lobbyists, petitioners, and always – voters.

Zeitz notes, “Today, as a rising generation of activists take to the streets—literally pursuing a “scorched earth policy” in some cases, by toppling the statues of Confederate heroes—Lewis and his generation offer a road map.” Of course Lewis was not into vigilante destruction of public property. Like other well-trained nonviolent activists, he understood that the most efective way to change such public monuments was through the legislative process – the city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and other legislative decision-makers, so the public could be educated and backlash avoided.

Zeitz concludes, “Before he was widely cherished as the elder statesman of a popular movement, Lewis helped effect change in a nation resistant to upending its long-standing racial order, and then brought his radical brand of politics into the political system itself.” May his example inspire generations of young activists to do likewise.


Teixeira: Violent Protests Used by Trump Must Stop

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is excerpted from his facebook page:

OK, Enough Is Enough

Really, these violent street demonstrations need to stop. They’re accomplishing nothing other than giving Trump a gift. From Bob Kuttner:

“Trump, with the aid of Bill Barr, has come up with the diabolically clever ploy of sending his private federal army into cities whose mayors don’t want the help, ostensibly to protect federal property and prevent violence.

Everyone knows this is a sham, intended to provoke more violence and depict Trump as a law-and-order president. But—wouldn’t you know it—the extreme fringe of the far left is playing into Trump’s hands, aided by a few angry poor people smashing downtown windows. Some people dressing up as antifa may even be right-wing provocateurs.

Mayors are caught in this crossfire. Some were the original targets of protests that were mostly peaceful, but with violent fringes. Now, people are in the streets, mad at everybody….

Asking our far-left comrades to exercise some self-discipline is a fool’s errand. The extreme left loves moments like this. As they used to say, it “heightens the contradictions” of the capitalist system, and brings us closer to the revolution.

Read some fricking history, people. Read about the German communists in the early 1930s who confidently declared, “After Hitler, Us!”

So enough already! And I might add, anyone who is participating in this nonsense, or even supporting it, should be ashamed of themselves.


Political Strategy Notes

How risky is the Biden campaign’s decision to skip campaign rallies? Not very, according to Alan I. Abramowitz, who writes in “Do Campaign Visits Pay Off? Evidence from the 2016 Presidential Election” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “In order to estimate the impact that campaign visits had on the election results, I conducted a regression analysis of the results in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. I used the Democratic vote margin as the dependent variable and the relative number of campaign visits to each state along with the Democratic vote margin in the 2012 presidential election as independent variables…the relative number of campaign trips to a state by Trump and Clinton had no effect on the results…With infection levels rising in many states and several Trump campaign staffers having tested positive for COVID-19, it is not clear how many more live rallies the Trump campaign will be able to conduct between now and Election Day. The Biden campaign currently has no plans to hold live campaign rallies. However, the findings reported in this article indicate that whether either campaign holds live rallies and whether one holds more rallies than the other will probably have little or no impact on the election results at the state level. Campaign events may have other benefits such as energizing supporters and stimulating donations, but in 2016 they did not appear to have any effect on how well candidates did in the states in which they were held.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains “Why progressives should welcome anti-Trump Republicans,” and observes “if you believe (as I certainly do) that defeating President Trump is the prerequisite for anything good happening again in American politics, you should welcome everyone willing to help get the job done. And in light of Trump’s threats to challenge the results if he loses, the health of our democracy may depend on Biden’s winning by a landslide that would leave not a smidgen of doubt about what the voters were saying. This is an all-hands-on-deck proposition…But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves: If the race tightens, the Republican converts could be essential to getting Biden over the line…Finally, for a progressive program to have any chance in Congress, the Democrats will have to take over the Senate. The bigger Biden’s margin, the better the chances of this happening…That Trump and Trumpism create a national emergency is reason enough to pitch a very big tent. But this election could also open the way for a durable shift in the nation’s dominant public philosophy toward social decency and greater equality. A transformation of that sort requires the witness of converts.”

In her Fox News opinion article, “To win presidency and majorities in Congress, Democrats should follow this battle plan,” Donna Brazile writes: “So, putting aside the purported current state of this election campaign, here is what Democrats need to do to win the White House, retake control of the Senate, and expand their majority in the House…The four most important letters in politics are GOTV — Get Out the Vote! I know that sounds obvious. But in the middle of a deadly pandemic, getting out the vote in November will be both incredibly challenging and more important than ever before…Democratic candidates need to make this election a referendum on Donald Trump’s lack of character, utter absence of empathy, unethical use of the presidency to boost his business earnings and attack his enemies, and total lack of qualifications to be our nation’s leader…In focusing on the issues that matter to Americans, Democrats must convince voters across the political spectrum that, unlike Trump, we can be trusted. We care about people over profits. And we can unify our country after four of the most divisive years in our country’s history…Democrats must highlight the extreme right-wing trajectory of the federal bench under Trump, and tell the American people how this will immediately change on the day Biden becomes president and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., becomes Senate majority leader…”

Brazile adds, “In distinguishing our candidates from Trump, Democrats must be laser-focused on the issues, and on character and unity. We cannot respond to every inane Trump tweet, every shameless attack, and every contrived dispute. Instead, we must seize specific opportunities to rebut Trump’s angry and divisive approach to politics, by putting forward Democrats’ positive and bipartisan approach to governing…Democratic candidates must also show how the Republican Party has been co-opted by Trump. We must tell the American people how we will focus on unifying our country and ending the chaos that Trump brought to Washington. And we must highlight how Republicans have been complicit in this chaos, when they prioritize loyalty to their party and to Trump over the American people…So with 100 days until Election Day 2020, this is my message — and my warning — to Democratic candidates and our potential supporters: Get out the vote!  And focus on character, unity, and the issues that are most important to the American people, and to the voters in your individual states and congressional districts.”

Writing in Newsweek, Martin Luther King III shared the following thoughts on Rep. John Lews’s legacy and challenge to progressives: “Lewis understood that the unobstructed right to vote for all citizens, regardless of their race, religion or gender, is the cornerstone of every great democracy. A recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize, Lewis worked tirelessly to end voter suppression practices that are still being deployed. The Voting Rights Alliance lists 61 forms of voter suppression. These include: reducing the number of polling places in communities of color, intimidating voters on Election Day, “caging” and purging of registration rolls in selected ZIP codes, discriminatory voter identification requirements, draconian felon disenfranchisement laws, faulty voting machines in minority precincts, manipulation of legal residency requirements for college students, shrinking the window for early voting in key states and excessive restrictions on voting by mail, to name just a few…The daunting challenges Americans face in 2020, including police violence and its cascading repercussions in many American communities, deepening polarization and the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the enormous consequences of our elections and the leaders we chose to guide us through crises. My fervent hope that the celebration of Lewis’ life and legacy will energize millions of Americans to vote and elect leaders who will honor his memory by passing laws to make it easier, not harder, to vote…We cannot rest until exercising the right to vote is simple and easy for all Americans. Restoring the Voting Rights Act to its full strength is one of the best ways we can honor the life and legacy of Lewis.”

At abcnews.go.com, Alisa Wiersema reports that “available data seems to indicate that Democrats are leaning into mail voting in greater numbers than Republicans…In the key battleground of Florida and Ohio, Democrats outpaced Republicans in absentee ballot requests during primary contests. North Carolina, another state that is crucial for the presidential electoral count, is slated to be among the first to mail general election ballots this fall. There, Democrats’ requests for absentee ballots currently top Republicans by nearly five times…As of Wednesday, in Florida, 210,593 Democrats had already cast mail ballots for the state’s August primary election, compared to 175,458 Republicans according to data provided by the Florida Division of Elections. Last week, Florida Democrats announced more than one million Democrats had enrolled or renewed their vote by mail enrollment in the time since the March presidential preference primary. Currently, Sunshine State Democrats tout an enrollment advantage of more than 400,000 voters over Republicans.”

Wiersema notes further, “A similar scenario appears to be unfolding in the battleground state of North Carolina, where according to data provided by the state’s Board of Elections, as of Thursday, 44,555 Democrats so far had requested absentee ballots for the November general election. At the same time, just 8,623 Republicans had done the same…A week out from the contest, [Republican Secretary of State Frank] LaRose announced that 1,667,883 Ohioans had requested a vote-by-mail ballot. Of the data available at the time, 866,104 of them were Democrats and 705,478 were Republicans. At that point, Democrats had also cast 88,000 more ballots than Republicans.As of July 17, 534,610 Democrats in Kentucky — where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection — had requested absentee ballot applications, compared with 318,729 Republicans. In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins, the last New England Republican in either chamber of Congress, is facing her toughest reelection battle yet. There, McDonald’s data analysis indicated that 132,536 Democrats requested mail ballots for the June 14 primary, compared with 38,516 Republicans.”

Maeve Reston reports that “From Donald Trump to Ted Yoho, Republicans are losing with women voters” at CNN Politics: “The President was trailing Vice President Joe Biden by 25 points among women (35% to Biden’s 60%) in the recent Washington Post-ABC News poll and by 28 points in the mid-July Quinnipiac poll that showed Biden leading Trump among female voters 59% to 31%…Those numbers should be particularly alarming to the Trump campaign given that Democrats’ best result among women in a national presidential exit poll was 56% to 43% in 2008, the year that Barack Obama vanquished Arizona Sen. John McCain. Among White women in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, 50% backed Biden, 46% Trump…CNN’s Director of Polling and Election Analytics Jennifer Agiesta notes that Democrats have never won a majority of White women according to exit polls dating back to 1972. (Former President Bill Clinton won White women by 48% to 43% in 1996, but the party has never gotten to the 50% threshold or above). In 2016, Trump carried White women 52% to 43% over Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. Only 4% of Black women voted for Trump, and only 25% of Latinas supported him…In a fresh round of CNN polling released Sunday, Biden’s advantage in the swing states of Michigan, Arizona, and Florida was largely driven by his edge among women, according to Agiesta.”

Also at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Thurgood Marshall, J. and Steven Okun warn “Given a recent survey finding that Joe Biden holds a 34-point advantage over Donald Trump with 18-29 year olds, if the 2020 presidential race is just as close in key states as the one in 2016, fewer students voting could keep the former vice president from winning a race he otherwise would have…In 2016, over 50 colleges had more students than the presidential margins in their states…Certainly, fewer college students voting could create the potential for dozens of down-ballot races to be influenced…Not enough resources are being allocated to find ways to ensure students are registered to vote, and then follow through on voting. There is a danger that we might not even reach the previous 48% threshold of college students who voted in 2016…When the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University asked youth if they could register to vote online in their state, one-third said they did not know, and one-quarter who said yes were incorrect. In addition, only 24% reported having voted by mail before.”


Walter: Sorting out the Political Benefits of ‘Confrontation’ or ‘Compassion’

At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter ruminates on the choices 2020 voters are facing as regards “confrontation or compassion.”

…Does America really want an empathic president who will return our lives to the pre-pandemic normalcy? Do they reject the premise that returning to traditional government with its long-standing structural deficiencies is the answer? Do they want to continue with the change that a Trump presidency has provided or a return to a more stable status quo that Biden would represent?

The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Americans are pretty evenly divided on these questions. When asked about the type of candidate they’d prefer for President and Congress, 44 percent picked those who will “confront and challenge the establishment in government to shake up how it operates,” while 46 percent would rather have leaders who will “bring competence and compassion to the way government operates.”

No doubt many voters want both ‘confrontation’ of some kind, but also more ‘compassion’ (could there be any less compassion and empathy coming from the White House?). It’s not necessarily and either/or choice. While Biden’s impressive poll numbers suggest that more compassion is a winner, sorting out which voters want more confrontation and what kind of confrontation they want is more difficult.

Given how often I hear the word exhausted from those studying swing voters, I was somewhat surprised to see “competence and compassion” only narrowly besting “confront and challenge.” My first thought when I saw these numbers was that there could be a lot of liberals, young people and voters of color in that 44 percent cohort. After all, we’ve seen thousands of people taking to the streets this summer demanding changes to a political, social and economic system that has systemically discriminated against Black people.

But, when I looked through the cross tabs provided to me by NBC/Wall Street Journal pollsters, I found that those who want to challenge the establishment and those who want to see a more compassionate return to normalcy fall along familiar political lines.

Most Republicans (64 percent) like the “confront and challenge” approach while most Democrats (70 percent), pick “competence and compassion.” Almost two-thirds of white Evangelicals and 55 percent of white men with less than a college degree support confront and challenge, while 66 percent of liberals and 54 percent of African Americans wanted to see competence and compassion. In other words, even though the poll question did not contain the words “Trump” or “Biden,” voters in the Trump coalition stuck with “confront and challenge” while those in the Biden cohort chose “competence and compassion.”

Among independent voters, “confront and challenge” beats out “competence and compassion” by nine points (51-42 percent). But, it’s hard to know what confront and challenge mean to them. Are they supportive of Trump’s attacks on Governors and local elected officials who aren’t opening schools or the economy fast enough? Or, are they more responsive to messages from Democratic congressional candidates who boast of eschewing corporate PAC money and attack their GOP opponents for being in the back pocket of DC special interests?

With the highest turnout demographic group, however, we may be seeing signs of polarization fatigue. Sure, seniors care about their retirement assets and are often more conservative about social and cultural issues. But many of them don’t like the idea of another 4 years of angry divisiveness, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the Trump Administration. Walter notes further,

But, when we try to understand why older voters, especially those in the 65+ demographic, are currently supporting Biden over Trump, this idea of competence and compassion could be a big reason. Fifty-one percent of those who are retired and 50 percent of those who are 65 years old or older prefer candidates who emphasize compassion and competence.

Walter cautions, “As with every survey, it’s important not to read too much into one question. But, it does help remind us that even while Americans are yearning to ‘get back to normal’, we are deeply divided into what normal would look like.”

Yet Democrats can be encouraged that a broad consensus seems to be forming around the idea that America needs more compassionate leadership, even as we more assertively confront the complex injustices of our times.