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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

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.”

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