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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems in Good Position to Win NC

Yesterday J. P. Green flagged a post by Sam Wang, an expert on probability statistics,  who pinpoints North Carolina as the only state he could rate a genuine toss-up at this political moment.

Today President Obama will join Hillary Clinton in Charlotte to help boost her campaign and see if they can move NC into the “leans Democratic” category. Obama won the state’s electoral votes in 2008, but lost it in 2012. In their Bloomberg.com post on the changing political views of educated white voters in the tarheel state, Margaret Talev, Jennifer Epstein and Gregory Giroux note that African Americans are expected to be about one in four NC voters in November.

Since 2012 the demographic winds have shifted in a slightly more favorable direction for NC Democrats. Perhaps even more significantly, the NC Republican establishment has made an awful mess of their prospects by cranking up hysteria on the transgender bathroom “issue” with the ‘HB2 law,’ which has cost the state significant business revenues and embarrassed NC residents.

Talev, Epstein and Giroux quote Morgan Jackson, a Raleigh consultant to the Clinton campaign, who notes the effect of the publicity and other trends favoring Clinton and the Democrats in NC, which also has a GOP governorship and Senate seat being contested:

…We are growing in a more diverse way, the electorate’s getting less and less white, and more urbanized, and more folks have college degrees. All those things are connecting together. And there’s a huge out-of-state migration into these areas. People move to where the jobs are.”

Meanwhile, Jackson said that that the HB2 law had “turned off all of suburbia” and represented “a big mistake” for Republicans. A number of artists, from Bruce Springsteen to Cirque du Soleil, nixed plans to perform in the state, while some, like Cyndi Lauper, said they would donate proceeds from their shows there to LGBT causes.

“It very quickly went from being about bathrooms, or even discrimination, to jobs and the state’s reputation nationally,” said Jackson. “Exactly the voters Trump needs to bring over not only are turned off by his rhetoric, but the water is poisoned by HB2.”

The authors also quote TDS founding editor Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of major works on changing political demographics and political attitudes in the U.S., who sees Democrats making significant inroads with white educated voters: “The moment [Trump] became a serious candidate, it immediately presented itself as a hypothesis…” Further,

Texeira said Clinton isn’t expected to win a majority of the white, college-educated vote in North Carolina, and that she doesn’t have to to carry the state. He said she just needs to do better than Obama did in 2012, when he took about 30 percent of that vote. “If the minority vote’s very strong for Clinton and she can even do somewhat-less-bad among the white, college-educated vote, then that should be enough,” he said. “If she got 40 percent it’s almost a lock that she wins the state.”

The authors add that Clinton is now doing much better with white educated voters:

Recent national polls of registered voters show Clinton leading with college-educated whites, a group that Obama lost by 14 percentage points nationally in 2012 and by four points in 2008. The size of her advantage in late June varied from just one point in a Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey, to an eight-point edge in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, to 10 points in a Quinnipiac University survey.

…If the shift in the white, college-educated vote nationally holds in swing states, Texeira predicted Trump is “toast.” “Trump would have to carry the white, working class vote by something like 36 points or 40 points,” he said.

…White, college-educated voters could also help Clinton strengthen Democrats’ prospects in states like Colorado and Virginia, which rank No. 1 and No. 9, respectively, in a Bloomberg analysis of 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data that calculates the percentages of non-Hispanic whites age 25 or older who hold bachelor’s degrees or higher. They are 44.4 percent of the population in Colorado and 40.3 percent in Virginia.

The question is, can Trump offset Clinton’s inroads with educated white voters with equivalent or better performance with white voters who have less than a college education? Trump’s prospects are further diminished by Clinton’s clear edge with Latino voters in NC and other swing states.

Much depends on the respective voter turnout operations of the two campaigns. Given the signs of increasing disarray in Trump’s campaign and the impressive management displayed by the Clinton campaign, the smart money favors the Democrats.

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