washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

E. J. Dionne, Jr. warns “If young voters sit out 2022, Democrats will be in a world of hurt” at The Washington Post: “President Biden and the Democrats would do well to spend a lot of time over the coming weeks talking with young Americans. It’s a matter of survival. If younger voters remain as turned off as they are now, Democrats will get clobbered in November.Generational differences don’t always play a major role in politics, but they do now. Democrats are unusually dependent on support among the young, and if youth turnout in 2022 regresses to levels closer to those in the 2014 midterms, a lot of Democratic incumbents will be looking for new jobs….The facts are plain. In five key swing states in 2020, Biden needed young voters to prevail. According to exit polls, Biden won voters under 30 years old by 31 points in Arizona, 27 points in Pennsylvania, 24 points in Michigan, 23 points in Wisconsin and 13 points in Georgia….According to Census Bureau figures, only 19.9 percent of voters 18- to 29-years old cast ballots in the 2014 midterms, which produced a GOP sweep. But, inspired in part by the anti-Trump movement, under-30 turnout soared to 35.6 percent in 2018, helping Democrats win control of the House. Turnout was also up substantially among 30- to-44-year-olds….[Democratic pollster Molly] Murphy said, “the glaring reality of what is at stake” if the Republicans win may prove to be the Democrats’ strongest card, especially if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade. The “idea that Republicans are very extreme,” McElwee said, is widely held among the younger voters Democrats need to bring to the polls….No doubt some older Democratic officeholders will wax impatient with the impatience of the young. After all, Biden and his party have had to deal with a wall of Republican obstruction, the president has made a big dent in judicial appointments, and he has pursued broadly progressive regulatory policies….But with their party facing a potential catastrophe this fall, Democrats don’t have the luxury of lecturing their younger supporters on the need for patience. They will either turn them out, or they’ll lose.”

Speaking of young voters, Daniel Cox writes in his FiveThirtyeight article, “There’s A New Age Gap On Abortion Rights” that “A new report from the Pew Research Center found that support for abortion rights is considerably higher among young Americans. Roughly three-quarters of 18- to 29-year-olds say abortion should generally be legal, including 30 percent who say it should be legal in all cases. Meanwhile, Americans 65 and older expressed much more tepid support — only 54 percent said abortion should be legal without exception (14 percent) or with some exceptions (40 percent)….This might not sound all that surprising since younger adults often see issuesdifferently from older adults, but this age gap on attitudes about abortion contradicts past polling on this issue. According to the General Social Survey,1young Americans’ views on obtaining an abortion have not been appreciably different from the public’s overall for much of the past 40-plus years. That changed fairly recently, though. On the question of whether someone should be able to get an abortion for any reason, 64 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreed in 2021, a 20-percentage-point increase from a decade earlier….In fact, over the past decade, one of the most confounding trends in public opinion has been why millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996)2 — who are less religious, more educated and more liberal than previous generations — are not stronger supporters of abortion rights. Polls have generally shown that millennialsexpress considerable ambivalence about abortion, views that do not distinguish them from the broader public.”

Cox continues, “Now, though, we’re left to solve another riddle: Why do Generation Z adults (born between 1997 and 2004) not share millennials’ more conservative perspectives on abortion? There are a few possible explanations worth considering…..Perhaps the simplest is that Gen Z adults, particularly women, are more liberal than previous generations when they were young adults — including millennials. While younger adults are typically more liberal than older ones, Gen Z women especially tend to be progressive. An analysis of Gallup surveys over the past decade conducted by the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life, which I lead, found a critical shift in political identity among young women. In 2021, we found that 44 percent of 18- to 29-year-old women identified as liberal, whereas only 30 percent of 18- to 29-year-old women identified as such a decade earlier. Among men in this age group, the share who identified as liberal was essentially unchanged during the same time period….a crucial difference between Gen Z and millennials on abortion rights may have to do with shifting perceptions of access. Millennials came of age at a time when abortion was perceived as generally available and subject to comparatively few restrictions. In a 2011 survey, a majority (55 percent) of millennials said it was not at all or not too difficult to get an abortion, a significantly higher share compared with other age groups’ responses. After a decade of state-level restrictions, though, and well-publicized efforts to reduce abortion access, views have changed significantly….Of course, research has long shown that younger Americans are generally less engaged in politics and spend less time talking about political issues than older Americans. But abortion may be an issue they care about more. According to results from Pew’s March survey, younger Americans spend as much time as Americans overall thinking about abortion, and for young women, the share is even higher. If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973, it is not difficult to believe that the large majority of Gen Zers who support abortion rights will see such a move as an infringement on rights once afforded to them. And if the past few years have shown us anything, it is that anxiety is a powerful political motivator.”

From “The Outlook for the 2022 Senate Elections: A State-by-State Analysis: What a predictive model tells us about the last decade of results, as well as 2022” by Alan I. Abramowitz at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Given the uncertainty of the overall results of the 2022 Senate elections, I decided to conduct a seat-by-seat analysis of all 174 Senate races since 2012 to see what factors have influenced the results of these contests. I then applied the findings from these earlier elections to the 35 contests taking place this year in order to predict their outcomes. The results of this seat-by-seat analysis were consistent with the national forecast from the generic ballot model. With neither party holding a clear advantage, control of the Senate will likely come down to a half dozen or so competitive contests in which the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates could be crucial….Based on the results of my analysis of Senate contests between 2012 and 2020 in Table 2, I calculated the model’s expected results of all 35 Senate contests taking place this year. The results are displayed in Table 5….Based on the accuracy of the predictions for elections between 2012 and 2020, we can have a high degree of confidence in the outcomes of races in which the predicted margin is greater than 10 points but less confidence if the predicted margin is less than 10 points.”

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