washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times opinion essayist Thomas B. Edsall sent out a nine-pack of questions to “political operatives, pollsters and political scientists” and shares some of the responses he received. First some of his observations: “Why should Democrats be worrying?…From 2016 to 2023, according to Morning Consult, the share of voters saying that the Democratic Party “cares about me” fell to 41 percent from 43 percent while rising for the Republican Party to 39 percent from 30 percent; the share saying the Democrats “care about the middle class” fell to 46 percent from 47 percent while rising to 42 percent from 33 percent for the Republican Party….What’s more, the percentage of voters saying the Democratic Party is “too liberal” rose to 47 percent from 40 percent from 2020 to 2023 while the percentage saying the Republican Party was “too conservative” remained constant at 38 percent….Why should Republicans be worrying?….Robert M. Stein, a political scientist at Rice, responded to my question about MAGA turnout by email: “Turnout among MAGA supporters may be less important than how many MAGA voters there are in the 2024 election and in which states they are.”….One of the most distinctive demographic characteristics of self-identified MAGA voters, Stein pointed out, “is their age: Over half (56 percent) were over the age of 65 as of 2020. By 2024, the proportion of MAGA voters over 70 will be greater than 50 percent and will put these voters in the likely category of voters leaving the electorate, dying, ill and unable to vote.”

Drilling down on demographic change, Edsall writes: “Because of these trends, Stein continued, “it may be the case that the absolute number and share of the electorate that are MAGA voters is diluted in 2024 by their own exit from the electorate and the entry of new and younger and non-MAGA voters.”…Along similar lines, Martin Wattenberg, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine, argued by email that generational change will be a key factor in the elections….From 2020 to 2024, “about 13 million adult citizens will have died,” and “these lost voters favored Trump in 2020 by a substantial margin. My rough estimate is that removing these voters from the electorate will increase Biden’s national popular vote margin by about 1.2 million votes.”….The aging of the electorate works to the advantage of Biden and his fellow Democrats. So, too, does what is happening with younger voters at the other end of the age distribution. Here, Democrats have an ace in the hole: the strong liberal and Democratic convictions of voters ages 18 to 42, whose share of the electorate is steadily growing.” And the issues embraced by surging younger voters favor Democrats. As Edsall notes, ”

Don’t forget Gen Z. They are on fire. Unlike you and me, who dove under our school desks in nuclear attack drills but never experienced a nuclear attack, this generation spent their entire school lives doing mass shooting drills and witnessing a mass shooting at a school in the news regularly.

Young voters, Trippi continued, “are not going to vote G.O.P., and they are going to vote. Dobbs, climate, homophobia, gun violence are all driving this generation away from the G.O.P. — in much the same way that Dems lost the younger generation during the Reagan years.”

Edsall notes lots of anxiety about potential 3rd party effects: “Paul Begala, a Democratic political operative and CNN contributor, wrote by email:

Please allow me to start with what to me is the most critical variable in the 2024 presidential election: Will Dr. Cornel West’s Green Party candidacy swing the election to Donald Trump? If I were working for the Biden-Harris ticket, that’s what would keep me up at night.

In Begala’s opinion, “Dr. West has more charisma, better communications skills and greater potential appeal than Dr. Jill Stein did in 2016. If, in fact, he is able to garner even 2 to 5 percent, that could doom Biden and the country.”….And that, Begala continued, does not “even take into account a potential centrist candidacy under the No Labels banner. Biden won moderates by a 30-point margin (64 to 34), and 38 percent of all voters described themselves as moderate in 2020. If No Labels were to field a viable, centrist candidate, that, too, would doom Biden.” Also, “Norman Ornstein, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed, arguing that third-party candidates are a “huge issue”:

The role of No Labels and, secondarily, of Cornel West: They could be genuine spoilers here. And that is their goal. Harlan Crow and other right-wing billionaires did not give big bucks to No Labels to create more moderate politics and outcomes.

Edsall sees media coverage as a potential wild card of considerable consequence. “One source of uncertainty is the media, which can and often does play a key role in setting the campaign agenda. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Trump is a prime example….In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard conducted a study, summarized in “Partisanship, Propaganda, & Disinformation: Online Media & the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.” It found that reporting on Clinton was dominated “by coverage of alleged improprieties associated with the Clinton Foundation and emails.”….According to the study, the press, television and online media devoted more space and time to Clinton’s emails than it did to the combined coverage of Trump’s taxes, his comments about women, his failed “university,” his foundation and his campaign’s dealings with Russia….In the run-up to 2024, it is unlikely the media could inflict much more damage on Trump, given that the extensive coverage of the 91 felony counts against him has not seemed to affect his favorable or unfavorable rating….Biden, in contrast, has much more to gain or lose from media coverage. Will it focus on his age or his legislative and policy achievements? On inflation and consumer costs or economic growth and high employment rates? On questions about his ability to complete a second term or the threats to democracy posed by the ascendant right wing of the Republican Party?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.