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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten notes, “If former Vice President Joe Biden is to win this election, his best chance probably runs through the Great Lakes…Were Biden to hold the Clinton states (and polls indicate that he probably will), he needs to find an extra 38 electoral votes…Those extra 38 electoral votes are likely to come from the six closest states Trump won in 2016: Arizona (11 electoral votes), Florida (29 electoral votes), Michigan (16 electoral votes), North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)…Now, look at the polling aggregates in each of those contests…Michigan: Biden +8 points…Wisconsin: Biden +8 points…Pennsylvania: Biden +7 points…Nebraska’s 2nd District: Biden +7 points…Arizona: Biden +4 points…Florida: Biden +4 points…Noth Carolina: Biden +3 points…What you see here is a pretty clear divide between the Great Lake and Sun Belt states. Biden has advantages of 7 points to 8 points in the Great Lakes, while his leads are 3 to 4 points in the Sun Belt…The key in these poll numbers is that Biden doesn’t actually need Arizona, Florida or North Carolina to win. Just by winning in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and holding the Clinton states, Biden gets to 278 electoral votes…Not surprisingly, statistical models suggest that Pennsylvania is the state most likely to determine the Electoral College winner in 2020.”

Polling data have indicated for months that Democrats have intended to vote earlier at much higher rates than Republicans, who were reacting to President Trump’s near-constant false claims that voting by mail would lead to widespread fraud,” Miles Parks writes at npr.org. “We’re now getting evidence from actual voting behavior that confirms those polls. Democrats have cast about 53% of the early votes, according to predictive analysis by the data firm TargetSmart, which uses voter data beyond party registration to project turnout trends. That’s compared with 36% by Republicans…The early voters also tend to trend older. Voters 50 or older make up more than 70% of the votes cast, according to the TargetSmart analysis. Hundreds of thousands more young people have voted at this point in October, compared with the 2016 election, but they still make up a lower share of the overall total than they did then…Notably, African American voters make up a larger share of early voters than in 2016. More than six times as many African American voters have voted early this year than had at the same point in the last presidential election, according to TargetSmart.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall has a list of things Democrats ought to be worrying about, including: “David Wasserman, House editor for The Cook Political Report. wrote on Oct. 1 that voter registration patterns over a longer period in key battleground states show that “Republicans have swamped Democrats in adding new voters to the rolls, a dramatic GOP improvement over 2016.”…Four of the six states Trump won by fewer than five points in 2016 allow voters to register by party: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In recent months, there have been substantially more Republicans added to the rolls than Democrats in each of them except for Arizona…Wasserman’s data:

Florida, since the state’s March primary, added 195,652 Republicans and 98,362 Democrats.

Pennsylvania, since June, Republicans plus 135,619, Democrats up 57,985.

North Carolina, since March, Republicans up 83,785 to Democrats 38,137.

In Arizona, the exception, “Democrats out-registered Republicans 31,139 to 29,667” in recent months.”

From “Democrats Don’t Need To Win Georgia, Iowa, Ohio Or Texas — But They Could” by Perry Bacon, Jr. at FiveThirtyEight: “Just eight years ago, it would have been weird to put Iowa and Ohio in the same electoral category as Georgia and Texas. In the 2012 election, President Obama won Iowa by 6 percentage points and Ohio by 3 pointswhile losing Georgia by 8 and Texas by 16…But in the early stages of the Trump era, Georgia and Texas got a bit more blue, while Iowa and Ohio got more red. (Exactly why these shifts happened at the same time is complicated, so let’s leave that aside for the moment.) In 2016 and 2018, these four states voted similarly — about 11 points, give or take, to the right of the country overall. That gave Trump fairly comfortable wins in all four states in 2016 — when Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by just 2 points — but Republicans barely won in several key statewide races in these four states in 2018, when Democrats won the national U.S. House vote by about 9 points…Fast-forward to 2020, which is looking about as blue as 2018 — and perhaps even more so — and all four states look competitive. You can see that in the latest polls. Morning Consult surveys released this week showed President Trump with just a 2-point lead in Georgia and Texas, and a 3-point lead in Ohio. A CBS News/YouGov poll had Biden and Trump tied in Iowa. Those are just a few polls, obviously, but they largely match the FiveThirtyEight polling averages in each of these states…Biden doesn’t need to carry these states — he can win a comfortable Electoral College victory without carrying them. Trump does need them, however — but he also needs bluer states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to win reelection. Similarly, Democrats can win a Senate majoritywithout carrying any of the four Senate seats up for grabs in these states (none in Ohio but two in Georgia).”

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