“In his first week in office, Biden announced at least 33 new policies that he will implement through the executive branch, according to a count from CNN. Polls conducted by Morning Consult and Ipsos since Biden’s first day in office have assessed public opinion on 14 of these policies. In all cases, more of those polled favor the policies than oppose them, and a majoritysupport nearly every policy,” Perry Bacon Jr. reports at FiveThirtyEight. “The popularity of these policies is notable for a few reasons. First, Biden’s emphasis on trying to unify the country in his inaugural address has created a debate in political circles about exactly what constitutes “unity.” These early executive orders meet one definition — adopting policies that a clear majority of Americans support, which necessitates that at least some Republicans back them. In fact, a few of these policies, such as requiring people to wear masks on federal property, have plurality support among Republicans. (On the other hand, many of Biden’s policies, such as trying to make sure noncitizens are counted in the U.S. Census, are extremely unpopular with Republicans.)….You might be skeptical of polling that seems favorable to Democrats after many polls in 2016 and 2020 underestimated GOP strength. But there are a number of recent examples of liberal policies being supported by voters who also back Republican candidates. This happened last fall in Florida, where a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour got 61 percent support, but the presidential candidate in favor of that idea, Biden, received only 48 percent. So I tend to think these numbers are reliable and that a bloc of Trump voters agrees with many of Biden’s new policies.”
Was the Georgia flip in the 2020-21 elections a rare clusterfuck for Republicans, or is it an indication of a more durable trend? At The Hill, Tal Axelrod notes (via MSN News), “Democrats are significantly outpacing Republicans in their approval ratings in Georgia in a sign of the party’s burgeoning strength in the Deep South state, according to a new poll from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The poll, conducted by the University of Georgia and released Saturday, shows the state’s two newly elected Democratic senators and President Biden with net positive approval ratings, while Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and former President Trump have approval ratings that are underwater and sinking….Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who just unseated former Sen. David Perdue (R) in Georgia, had an approval rating of about 50 percent, while just 40 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of him. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), who flipped Georgia’s other Senate seat in a special election and will have to run for a full term in 2022, has a net positive approval rating at 54-37….Another 52 percent of voters had a favorable view of Biden, compared with just 41 percent who had an unfavorable view. Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee who is expected to run for that post again in 2022, has a similarly positive 51-41 approval rating….Fifty-seven percent disapprove of the job Trump did in office. By comparison, 48 percent of voters approved of the job Trump was doing last year….Fifty-seven percent of voters also said Trump is responsible for a “great deal” or a “good amount” of blame for egging on the deadly mob on Jan. 6, and 51 percent of voters said the House was right to impeach him over it.”
Is it time for political analysts to ditch the “bellwether” term? Ryan Matsumoto makes a good case for it with respect to counties, in his post “Where Did All The Bellwether Counties Go?,” also at FiveThirtyEight. As Matsumoto notes, “From 1980 to 2016, 19 counties voted for the winner of the presidential election every single time. The most impressive of those was Valencia County, New Mexico, which voted for the victor in every presidential election from 1952 to 2016….But in 2020, 18 of these 19 “bellwether counties” voted for former President Donald Trump. Just one — Clallam County, Washington — voted for President Joe Biden….like so many electoral trends, demographics play a major role in explaining why these once-bellwether counties finally missed the mark in 2020.” However, a ‘bellwether’ county is different from a ‘swing’ county, which has a habit of close popular vote margins in presidential elections. There are still plenty of those, depending how you define a close margin. But they have also been declining, as Matsumoto notes: “…according to David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report, just 303 counties were decided by single-digit margins in 2016, compared to 1,096 counties that fit that description in 1992.” There are states which have picked presidential winners in recent elections, but Trump’s disruptive politics, the pandemic and accelerating demographic changes complicate any attempt to peg a ‘bellwether’ state in 2024.
Democrats have different opinions about exactly what they should to do about the filibuster. But doing nothing about it is clearly the road to ruin, as Washington Post columnist E, J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his current syndicated column: “The Democrats can use their House and Senate majorities to reform our politics, guarantee voting rights and enhance our democracy. Or they can surrender to an anti-majoritarian, money-dominated system, and allow the more accessible approach to voting created during the coronaviruspandemic to be destroyed….This means that the party must recognize that the Senate filibuster, contrary to happy myth, does not promote bipartisanship or constructive compromise by requiring most bills to get 60 votes. No, in the face of a radicalized Republican Party, maintaining the current filibuster rules means abandoning any aspirations to a legacy of genuine achievement….Sorry, there is no third way here. Yes, Democrats could avoid a complete repeal of the filibuster by getting rid of it only for certain categories of bills — for example, those related to voting rights and democratic reforms. But living with the status quo means capitulating to obstruction. Democrats have only 50 votes plus Vice President Harris’s tie-breaker. They will never get 10 votes from a GOP that can’t even find a way to exile white-supremacist extremists from its ranks.”