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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: The Disappearing Democratic Coalition – Time for Democrats to break out of their bubble.

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and co-author with John B. Judis of the new Book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?,” is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

In the latest RCP running average of Biden-Trump matchups, Biden is behind by a little under 2 points. He is behind Trump by 5 points in Arizona, 7 points in Georgia, 7 points in Nevada, 10 points in North Carolina, and about half a point in Wisconsin. He is only ahead in one state, Pennsylvania, by three-tenths of percentage point.

In the latest NBC poll, Biden is very far behind Trump in a variety of key areas, including the economy, border security, crime, and mental/physical fitness to be president. Particularly noteworthy here is Trump’s 22-point advantage on handling the economy. This is the largest advantage on the economy of any candidate in the history of the NBC poll going back to 1992. Also interesting is Biden’s exceedingly modest advantage (two points) on protecting democracy, which he is making a centerpiece of his campaign.

In light of these data, there are two basic choices for Biden and the Democrats: concentrate on voter mobilization to make up these deficits; or concentrate on reducing these deficits through persuasion. Naturally, these approaches are not mutually exclusive, but it’s important which one gets the greater weight.

We can look at data on the Democrats’ sympathetic voter groups to assess the potential of the mobilization approach. What jumps out from looking at these data is that Democrats’ core support in these groups has been going steadily down. That undercuts the potential of a voter mobilization strategy since there are fewer loyal supporters within these groups to get to the polls. Consider these recent data from Pew, Gallup, and Split Ticket, which provide the necessary demographic breakdowns.


Pew Biden approval rating

  • All Hispanics: 32 percent approval, 65 percent disapproval (-33 net).
  • Working-class (noncollege) Hispanics: 30 percent approval, 67 percent disapproval (-37 net).

Gallup party ID trend

  • All Hispanics: 12-point net Democratic advantage on leaned party ID. This is down 19 points from its recent high in 2021 and is the lowest net advantage for the Democrats among Hispanics since Gallup started interviewing in Spanish in 2011.

Split Ticket Biden-Trump crosstabular average

  • All Hispanics: ten-point average Biden advantage over Trump. This is 13 points down from Biden’s margin over Trump among Hispanics in the 2020 election (which in turn was 16 points down from the Democratic margin in 2016), according to Catalist data.


Pew Biden approval rating

  • All blacks: 48 percent approval, 49 percent disapproval (minus-one net).
  • Working-class (noncollege) blacks: 45 percent approval, 52 percent disapproval (minus-seven net).
  • Black adults under 50: 35 percent approval (!), 64 percent disapproval (-29 net)

Gallup party ID trend

  • All blacks: 47-point net Democratic advantage on leaned party ID. This is down 19 points from its recent high in 2020. This is also the lowest net advantage for the Democrats recorded by Gallup in its polling going back to 1999.

Split Ticket Biden-Trump crosstabular average

  • All blacks: 57 point average Biden advantage over Trump. This may seem high but it is actually 24 points down from Biden’s margin over Trump among blacks in the 2020 election.

To underscore the data on the black and Hispanic working class, here is a recent chart from the Financial Times:


Youth (18-29 years old)

Pew Biden approval rating

  • All youth: 27 percent approval, 71 percent disapproval (-44 net).

Gallup party ID trend

  • All youth: eight-point net Democratic advantage on leaned party ID. This is down 15 points from its recent high in 2019 and is the lowest net advantage for the Democrats among youth since 2005.

Split Ticket Biden-Trump crosstabular average

  • All youth: 13-point average Biden advantage over Trump. This is ten points down from Biden’s margin over Trump among youth in the 2020 election.

All this suggests Democrats need to put on their persuasion hat and vanquish the thought that they can rely on bringing their loyal foot soldiers to the polls. There just aren’t as many of them as there used to be.

And when it comes to persuasion, touting the Biden record on economics does not seem likely to do the job. Nor does florid rhetoric about impending fascism. These play best among the Democratic faithful who, as we’ve seen, have diminished in number.

Instead the hard work of convincing persuadable voters, including many in traditionally sympathetic groups, that Democrats are actually better on the economy and at least not so bad on border security, crime, and other difficult issues must be embraced. That will be difficult and means above all that Democrats must leave the comforting confines of the bubble so many of them inhabit. They will have to talk about issues they’d rather avoid like immigration and crime. And they will have to confront, not dismiss, the realities of voter concerns on the economy rather than contentedly singing the praises of their fine economic performance.

On the latter challenge, Liam Kerr on The Welcome Party’s Substack correctly diagnoses a big part of the problem:

While inflation has come down, Biden is currently not well positioned to capitalize on the change. The first problem is that voters think Biden is more focused on jobs (43 percent say it’s his top priority) than prices (23 percent say it’s his top priority), while they are more focused on prices (64 percent of voters say it’s their top priority) than jobs (7 percent).

The second is that many of the policies that the administration most frequently touts are not viewed by voters as deflationary and aren’t viewed as benefiting them. Only 27 percent of voters believe tax rebates for EVs will benefit them, and only 21 percent believe tax rebates will reduce inflation, while 45 percent believe they will increase inflation.

Similarly, only 29 percent of voters believe canceling student debt will benefit them, but 45 percent believe it will increase inflation (20 percent believe it will reduce inflation)…[T]he policies the administration has centered the most are the ones that people are least likely to believe will benefit them and most inflationary.

The administration has a number of successful policy wins that it could tout, rather than EVs tax breaks and student debt cancelation. For instance, their investments in supply chain resilience are very popular, as is the provision of the Inflation Reduction Act that allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices…Declining gas prices represent another opportunity for President Biden to show how his administration is bringing down prices, but the administration is slow to claim credit for issuing permits for drilling, leaving voters with the mistaken impression that he has not increased drilling, and in fact has decreased it.

This seems, to put it delicately, sub-optimal. But correcting this does not seem like rocket science. Talk more about what concerns voters the most and what is popular. Talk less about other stuff that lacks salience and popularity. And above all, break out of the comfort zone of Democratic partisans and activists. The cavalry aren’t coming to save you this time. There’s not even enough cavalry to do so anymore.

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