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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In today’s New York Times frequent TDS contributor Ruy Teixeira writes in his op-ed, “Who Are the Key Voters Turning Against Trump?“: “Joe Biden may be ahead in national and many battleground polls, but Democrats are still fretting about whether key constituencies will turn out in November…But the Democrats have a secret weapon in 2020 on the other side of the age spectrum: senior voters. Among this age group — voters 65 and older — polls so far this year reveal a dramatic shift to the Democrats. That could be the most consequential political development of this election…The bipartisan States of Change project estimates that Mrs. Clinton lost this group by around 15 points. By contrast, the nonpartisan Democracy Fund + U.C.L.A. Nationscape survey, which has collected over 108,000 interviews of registered voters since the beginning of the year, has Mr. Biden leading among seniors by about six points. We are looking at a shift of over 20 points in favor of the Democrats among a group that should be at least a quarter of voters in 2020. That’s huge.”

Teixeira continues, “This pro-Democratic shift is very much in evidence in 2020 battleground states. The list includes Florida, where seniors should be an unusually high 30 percent of voters (a 17 point shift); Pennsylvania (24 points); and Michigan (26 points). In short, the age group that was President Trump’s greatest strength in 2016 is turning into a liability. In an election where he will need every vote against a strong Democratic challenge, that could be disastrous — and a harbinger of a new, broader coalition for the Democrats…Who are these seniors who are turning against Mr. Trump? As you might expect, the racial composition of the 65 and over population is majority white — about four in five. And among white seniors, we see the same shift as among seniors as a whole, over 20 points. The movement of white seniors against the president is clearly driving this trend…this shift is the most consequential we have seen in this election season. If it remains through November and beyond, it could define a new era in American politics.”

At Vox, Matthew Yglesias adds that “Consider current polling that says Biden is narrowly favored in North Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio while tied in Iowa. If you treat these as four independent contests, it starts to look extremely unlikely that Trump could sweep all four states…The bad news for Trump is that winning North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, and Iowa wouldn’t be nearly good enough for him. He needs to win Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania to carry the day. And right now, Biden’s leads in those states are big enough that it would take a very large and genuinely rare scale of polling error for that to happen.” However, “The good news for Trump is that his Electoral College edge remains large. In the FiveThirtyEight average, he’s losing nationally by 9.9, but he’s only losing Pennsylvania by 5.8 percentage points. That means that if Trump could cut his national polling deficit down to 5 or so — which could be easily enough achieved by reminding right-of-center voters who are currently undecided that they have fundamental disagreements with Biden on policy — he’d be within “normal polling error” range in the pivotal state. Even then, he’d be favored to lose, and it’s certainly possible that Trump’s numbers will get worse in the future rather than better (especially if the economy worsens when emergency measures expire in August), but the point is just that his large deficit is hardly insurmountable…After all, Michael Dukakis was up by 17 points in mid-July 1988.”

And Grace Sparks notes at CNN Politics: “Former Vice President Joe Biden leads over President Donald Trump in one of the critical Midwestern states that helped the Republican Party win the presidency four years ago, according to a Marquette University poll from Wisconsin…And a new poll out of Ohio from Quinnipiac University shows a tied race in a state where Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 8 percentage points in 2016…The Wisconsin poll, released by Marquette University Law School on Wednesday, finds Biden widening his lead over Trump, garnering 49% of registered voters to Trump’s 41%. In early May, Biden stood at 46% and Trump at 43%…Trump’s job approval has ticked down slightly — 45% of Wisconsin voters who approve of the job he’s doing as president, 51% disapprove. That’s moved from 47% approve and 49% disapprove in early May…In Ohio, Biden received 46% support among registered voters and 45% support Trump, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday…Trump’s approval stands at 44% approve, 53% disapprove in the Buckeye State and 43% approve, 54% disapprove of his handling of coronavirus.”

In “The Electoral College: Trump’s Floodgates are Creaking: Florida, Pennsylvania shift toward Biden, but he’s still shy of the magic number 270 in our ratings” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik explains: “Florida moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up, and Pennsylvania moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic…This means 268 electoral votes are rated as at least leaning to Joe Biden in our ratings; 204 are at least leaning to Donald Trump; and there are 66 electoral votes in the Toss-up category…Biden is decently positioned, although his current lead may be inflated.” However, “we have to be on guard for polling, particularly state polling, that may inflate Biden’s lead. Steve Shepard of Politico wrote recently about some of the remaining concerns with state polling. And, going back to Michigan, one of the pollsters that did well there in 2016, Republican pollster Trafalgar Group, recently showed Biden up just one point there. So not all of the numbers have been bad for Trump lately, but most of them have been…Overall, our suspicion is that Biden’s lead is artificially high right now.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall probes a question of pivotal importance to millions of American workers, “Why Do We Pay So Many People So Little Money? The coronavirus pandemic is forcing America to confront its epidemic low-wage problem.” In his conclusion, Edsall warns of a threat to Democrats who support policy reforms to reduce income inequality, which surfaced in Georgia’s recent primary: “The state’s voting system “suffered a spectacular collapse, leading to absentee ballots that never got delivered and hourslong waits at polling sites,” The Times reported, noting that “Georgia is being roiled by a politically volatile debate over whether the problems were the result of mere bungling, or an intentional effort by Republican officials to inhibit voting.” Further, Edsall adds, “Donald Trump and the Republican Party clearly see Georgia as a model, and they are determined to capitalize on the pandemic to suppress the vote and conduct an overtly anti-democratic election on Nov. 3. If they have their way, one of the first targets of suppression will be the essential work force that has learned better than anyone the severity of the damage than can be inflicted by a Trump administration.”

Washington Post syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. also has a warning that should be of interest to voters and candidates concerned about political corruption: “Shudder for the rule of law in our nation. Be alarmed that a politicized Justice Department will be allowed to do whatever it wants in service to a sitting president. Be amazed that judges can spout errant nonsense to reach a result that just happens to square with the interests of a president who shares their partisan leanings…Yes, the decision by two Court of Appeals judges to block efforts to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its prosecution of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, is that disturbing. Here’s hoping the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit insists on reviewing this scandalous decision and overturns it…Flynn himself pleaded guilty to two charges of lying to the FBI about his 2016 conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then-Russian ambassador to the United States, about sanctionsthen-President Barack Obama imposed on Russia for its interference in the 2016 campaign. Vice President Pence later said that Flynn lied to him about the nature of his contacts with Russia…After only 24 days on the job, Flynn was dismissed by President Trump, who explained in a December 2017 tweet: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies.”

In her article, “Progressive Black candidates swept key races on Tuesday: The Democratic Party is starting to look more like Democratic voters,” Ella Nilsen writes at Vox: “In the 2018 midterms, the most successful candidates were women. In 2020, a year shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality, Black candidates are proving they’re the ones to watch — winning a spate of key races on Tuesday night…In New York and Virginia, young, progressive candidates of color swept races against powerful incumbents and in open competitions alike. In Kentucky, where a key Senate primary is too close to call, Black progressive candidate Charles Booker is still locked in a competitive racewith Marine Corps veteran Amy McGrath….“In 2018, Dem voters showed an unprecedented desire to nominate women,” Cook Political Report House editor Dave Wasserman tweeted. “In 2020, we’re witnessing another sea change in desire, this time toward Black candidates…Even with the Kentucky Senate race too close to call, the June 23 primaries show young Black candidates have momentum on their side this year.”

From “Dissident Republican Groups Shift Into High Gear to Kick Trump While He’s Down” by Hanna Trudo at The Daily Beast: “The increased interest in courting Republicans, including those who have been most vocal in their opposition to Trump’s re-election, comes as Biden continues to gain ground with supporters in key swing states, including those that the president flipped from blue to red four years ago. In several recent surveys, Biden leads Trump by double digit margins…“When it comes to Donald Trump, people who tell you that there are no swing voters are wrong,” said Sarah Longwell, the strategic director for Republican Voters Against Trump, a sizable operation amid the groundswell of GOP activity working against the president’s reelection. “I talk to them all the time.”…“It’s really about permission structures,” she said. “It’s a hard thing in our tribal partisan environment for people to move against the tribe. But once they see lots of other people like them saying, ‘hey this how I feel so this is what I’m going to do about it’ … that they find very compelling.”

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