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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Julia Mueller notes that “Betting markets heavily favor Warnock over Walker in Georgia runoff” at The Hill: “Online betting markets are heavily favoring incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) over Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate runoff with two days until the election….The Democrat’s chances of winning the runoff were at 89.5 percent to Walker’s 10.5 percent as of Sunday afternoon, according to the tracker Election Betting Odds, which culls odds from other popular betting markets….The site, run by conservatives John Stossel and Maxim Lott, notes Warnock’s lead has climbed 1.4 percent in the last day….PredictIt and Polymarket both show Warnock at 89 percent. Smarkets, another betting market used by Election Betting Odds, puts Warnock’s odds even higher — at 92.6 percent to Walker’s 8.3 percent….Recent polling has also put Warnock in the lead, though only slightly….Results from Emerson College and The Hill released last week showed the Democrat up by 2 percentage points, and a CNN poll released Friday found Warnock leading by 4 points.” Lest Dems get too giddy with optimism about this report, Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien argue in the abstract to their Public Opinion Quarterly article, “Are Political Market Really Superior to Polls as Election Predictors?”  “Election markets have been praised for their ability to fore-cast election outcomes, and to forecast better than trial-heat polls. This paper challenges that optimistic assessment of election markets, based on an analysis of low Electronic Market (IEM) data from presidential elections between 1988 and 2004. We argue that it is inappropriate to naively compare market forecasts of an election outcome with exact poll results on the day prices are recorded, that is, market prices reflect forecasts of what will happen on Election Day whereas trial-heat polls register preferences on the day of the poll. We then show that when poll leads are properly discounted, poll-based forecasts outperform vote-share market prices.”

Alex Samuels ponders “How Either Candidate Could Win Georgia’s Senate Runoff” at FiveThirtyEight, and writes: “However, because of what happened during the 2020 cycle and the fact that recent polling shows that this race could be a tight one, it’s hard to rely only on historical data. The first poll of the runoff, a November Fabrizio Ward and Impact Research survey for AARP, showed the incumbent with 51 percent support from voters versus Walker’s 47 percent. But a second, more recent, Phillips Academy Poll of likely voters, on the other hand, showed Walker and Warnock essentially neck-and-neck (48 percent to 47 percent, respectively) with 5 percent of voters still undecided. And a third FrederickPolls, Compete Digital, and AMM Political survey of likely runoff voters had the two men tied at 50 percent support each….The 2021 Georgia runoff was different. Next week’s election will tell us if it was an outlier — or the potential harbinger of more Democratic statewide victories to come. If past runoffs are any guide, we’d expect there to be at least some dropoff in turnout. In 2021, for example, turnout was down about 10 percent from the total votes cast in November 2020, and historically that was an unusually small decline in runoff turnout. “There are fewer incentives to turn out this year than there were in 2021,” Bullock said. “So we might expect less people to show up to the polls this year.”….Still, the outcome of this race will tell us which side can better mobilize their base, even during a midterm year when control of the Senate isn’t at stake. And that could start to answer a much bigger question: Is the Peach State red enough to where we can regard recent Democratic wins as an off-chance phenomenon? Or is it now more competitive — or even purple — meaning races can swing in either party’s favor based on the circumstances and candidates?”

In “How Donald Trump is helping Raphael Warnock in Georgia” at CNN Politics, Harry Enten shares his perspective on the closing days of the Georgia run-off campaign: “Trump’s unpopularity in Georgia is causing him to stay out of the state in the campaign’s final days and is part of a deeper reshaping of political alignments in America….To understand the Trump impact on Georgia, take a look at the CNN/SSRS poll of the Senate runoffreleased on Friday. Trump came in with a favorable rating of just 39% and an unfavorable rating of 54% among likely voters….Not surprisingly, Walker leads among White voters and Warnock with Black voters. This is what you’d expect in most closely divided states….But what might have floored a political analyst a mere eight years ago is the extent of the educational divide among White voters in Georgia. Walker was ahead 83% to 17% among White voters without a college degree. His lead shrunk to 51% to 47% among White voters with a college degree….Indeed, arguably the biggest reason Democrats are now competitive in Georgia elections is how much more Democratic college-educated White voters have become….Unlike in most states, though, there wasn’t a lot of ground Republicans could gain among non-college-educated White voters in Georgia. They were already solidly Republican. There was a ton of ground, however, that the GOP could lose among White voters with a college degree….This made Georgia a perfect place for Democrats to make gains because a significant portion of the state’s White population holds a college degree. In the CNN poll, 45% of likely White runoff voters have a college degree….When Warnock combines support from these White college-educated voters with the deeply Democratic Black vote (who made up nearly 30% of the likely electorate in the CNN poll), it gives him a small advantage as the campaign comes to a close.”

But Democrats should also get real about the limitations of a Warnock victory, should they be so lucky. As Lauren Gambino notes at The Guardian, “Likely to remain in place, even with a 51st seat, is the Senate filibuster. Despite mounting calls from across the party to weaken the rule to protect voting rights and codify Roe v Wade, Democrats do not have the support of 50 senators to do so. Manchin and his Democratic colleague, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, oppose changes to the filibuster, which imposes a 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation. Democrats would have needed to gain at least two additional senators to overcome their resistance and even then, such legislation would be unlikely to advance in a Republican-controlled House….Without a majority in the House, Democrats’ streak of legislating will all but certainly grind to a halt. In the senate, Democrats’ priority will be to confirm federal judges and executive branch appointees nominated by the president. Here again having a one-seat cushion would help Democrats bypass a degree of obstinance within their ranks, in contrast to earlier this year when one of Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve was forced to withdraw her candidacy after Manchin announced his opposition.” However, looking toward the near future, Gambino adds, “Holding Warnock’s seat would also have longer-term political implications. Democrats face a daunting political map in 2024, when 21 senators who caucus with the party face reelection, including three who represent states Donald Trump won in 2020….“Winning or losing this race isn’t just about whether or not it puts Democrats at 50 or 51 for the next two years,” said Mary Small, national advocacy director at Indivisible, a progressive advocacy group with affiliates across the country. “It also locks in the seat for the next six years in a way that will shape the composition of the Senate in future Congresses as well.”….Having an extra vote in the Senate will free Harris, allowing her to travel even when the chamber expects a party-line vote. In her role as president of the Senate, Harris has broken 26 ties, the most for any vice president in a single-term….“Not having the vice president tied to DC all the time as a tie-breaking vote is another sort of overlooked piece of why senator Warnock’s win will be so important,” Small said, adding: “The ability of the executive branch to have high-profile people out there telling that story of what was accomplished will be a critical part of what [Democrats] need to do heading into 2024.”

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