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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Crystal Ball wizards Sabato, Skelley and Kondik crunch post-debate data and see Clinton trending toward 300+ electoral votes.

In his New York Times op-ed, “How to Build a Democratic Majority That Lasts,” Steve Phillips, author of “Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority” and the founder of Democracy in Color, writes, “In November, Democrats have the chance to secure a decades-long electoral majority for decades, but they are at risk of missing this moment because too many consultants still stick to an outdated and ineffective campaign script that was written for a different, whiter era. Democratic spending is significantly misaligned with the pillars of the party’s electoral advantage, and campaigns throw away millions of dollars on ineffective ads while neglecting efforts to mobilize the rapidly growing ranks of minorities…The evidence about the formula for Democratic victory at the national level is overwhelming. When large numbers of voters — particularly minorities — turn out, Democrats win. When turnout plummets — as it did in midterm elections in 2010 and 2014 — Democrats lose…The most critical decision campaigns have to make is how to allocate limited time and money between persuasion and mobilization. Persuasion is aimed at those people who have a history of voting regularly, and it generally takes the form of paid advertising, mainly on television. Mobilization involves the more labor-intensive work of turning out infrequent voters by making phone calls, knocking on doors and driving people to the polls…The gross imbalance between investing in persuasion over mobilization could potentially be justified if there were evidence showing the efficacy of paid advertising, but there isn’t. Studies looking at decades of election data offer the same conclusion: Paid ads do little to change voter behavior. A recent study by the political scientists Ryan Enos and Anthony Fowler looked at the impact of identical ads when broadcast into neighboring areas. One area received, according to the authors, “traditional ground campaigning such as door-to-door canvassing, phone calls and direct mail,” and the other didn’t. The study found that voters in the region that received direct contact had turnout rates 7 percentage points higher than the neighboring region. (President Obama’s average margin of victory in 2012 in the seven battleground states was 4 percent)…In 2016, there’s still time to redirect resources to what we know works: mobilizing voters of color.”

Also at The Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik takes a stab at explaining something I’ve been wondering about, “Why Trump Will Do Better in Ohio Than He Does Nationally: And why that doesn’t guarantee he’ll win the state.” A key graph: “According to the Upshot at the New York Times, the national electorate should be nearly 45% non-college educated white and nearly 30% college-educated white (that site generally believes that exit polls overstate the percentage of nonwhites and college graduates in the electorate). In Ohio, based on the New York Times’ analysis and our own research, the Ohio electorate should be about half non-college white in 2016 and about a third college-educated white. In other words, the gap between non-college and college-educated whites in Ohio is a little bit larger than the national gap, so a growing educational difference in white voter preference — with Trump overperforming with non-college graduates and underperforming with college graduates — probably works more to Trump’s advantage in Ohio than it might in some other states.”

At The Upshot David Rothschild and Sharad Goel cast some more doubt on the polls in their post, “When You Hear the Margin of Error Is Plus or Minus 3 Percent, Think 7 Instead.” As the authors conclude, “This November, we would not be at all surprised to see Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump beat the state-by-state polling averages by about two percentage points. We just don’t know which one would do it.”

The American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson probes “What’s Millennials’ Support for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson All About?” and answers “White skin privilege, that’s what.” Meyerson explains, “A late-September survey of more than 1,750 millennials, conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs and Research for the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, found that most national polls overstate young people’s support for Johnson and Stein because they under-sampled black, Latino, and Asian American millennials. The AP-NORC poll found just 11 percent of millennials backed Johnson, and just 4 percent Stein. Johnson had the backing of 15 percent of whites aged 18 to 30—but just 8 percent of Latinos, 6 percent of Asian Americans, and 4 percent of African Americans. Stein was getting 4 percent of white millennials, but just 2 percent of their black counterparts.Similarly, a second late-September survey by Latino Decisions found that 77 percent of Latino millennials were backing Clinton—exceeding by a full 10 points the 67 percent of older Latinos who said they’d vote for her.”

Jeremy W. Peters reports at the new York Times that “More Asian-Americans Are Identifying as Democrats, Survey Finds.” From his lede: “More than twice as many Asian-Americans now identify as Democrats than as Republicans, and they hold strongly unfavorable views of Donald J. Trump, a new national survey found, emphasizing the Republican Party’s continued struggle to appeal to minority groups…The figures, published on Wednesday by the nonpartisan National Asian-American Survey, suggested that the political allegiances of Asians might be hardening in a way that could harm Republicans with the fastest-growing minority group well beyond 2016.”

I had my doubts about the merits of sending Al Gore out to serve as Clinton’s “Millennial Whisperer,” but Ed Kilgore makes a good point that “there truly is no better witness to the real-life consequences of the not-a-dime’s-worth-of-difference view of the major parties that remains so prevalent among the current batch of youngsters.”

In his Esquire post, “People in Power Don’t Want You to Vote,” Charles Pierce has some choice words for  the voter suppression scams of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans: “This is the kind of penny-ante corruption that has marked the entire political career of Governor Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest subsidiary once called the state of Wisconsin. This is the kind of cheap trickeration that has landed so many of his campaign aides in the hoosegow. This is what passes for cleverness in what has become a Republican banana republic…”

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