washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

Some salient points from Kyle Kondik’s “Electoral College Rating Changes: Half-Dozen Moves Toward Republicans in What Remains a Toss-up Race” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Today we’re making a half-dozen changes to our Electoral College ratings, all of them benefiting the Republicans. These moves don’t significantly change our overall outlook, which is that we don’t really see a clear favorite in the presidential race, but they do better align our ratings with that overall outlook….Map 1 shows the updated ratings, which now show 251 electoral votes at least leaning toward the Republicans and 241 at least leaning toward the Democrats. Four states are Toss-ups: Arizona and Nevada in the west and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the Industrial North.

Map 1: Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings

….Our general assumption is that Biden is going to perform at least a little better in November than polls are showing now, much like Donald Trump generally performed better in November of both of his election years than what late spring polling suggested. Biden probably has a little bit more base consolidation to do than Trump—we may actually be seeing some of that in the wake of Trump’s conviction on business record falsification charges in New York a couple of weeks ago. To be clear, that doesn’t make Biden a favorite in our eyes—again, we just don’t see a favorite….Pennsylvania, the native state of President Biden and one of the states that helped nudge Donald Trump over the finish line in 2016 before flipping back blue in 2020, goes from Leans Democratic to Toss-up. This reduces, from 260 to 241, the number of electoral votes at least leaning to Democrats in our ratings. We also are making a concurrent move in the Senate race there, moving Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic. We think Casey will likely do better than Biden, but not overwhelmingly better, so it makes sense to make these moves in tandem (we’ll say more about this race and the overall Senate picture in a future issue). Pennsylvania moves to Toss-up but we are keeping Michigan as Leans Democratic; Michigan is generally more Democratic than Pennsylvania in presidential elections (that has been the case in each of the last seven elections)….Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which together basically decided both the 2016 and 2020 elections, seem likeliest to be the deciders in 2024 as well.”

In “An unexpected generational realignment is scrambling the 2024 election,” Zachary B. Wolf writes at CNN Politics, in 2020, “Biden’s margin among younger voters — he got 65% of voters ages 18-24 — helped him overcome the fact that Trump got 52% of older voters, who accounted for more than half the electorate….Voters under 30 haven’t preferred the Republican since 1988, when George H.W. Bush defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis in a landslide. Voters over the age of 65 haven’t preferred the Democrat since 2000, when Al Gore lost the election despite getting more votes than Republican George W. Bush….But the old rules don’t seem to apply in this year’s presidential election, where both candidates are old men and their fitness to serve is a top issue. Older voters are gravitating to Biden, and younger voters are taking a look at Trump….A new Marist poll in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, for instance, showed a tight race overall with Trump at 47% and Biden at 45%, a within-the-margin-of-error difference….Trump is making inroads with voters of color and is nearly even with Biden among voters under 45 in that poll. But older voters have gone in the opposite direction, and instead of favoring Trump, are nearly split in the Marist poll….It’s a trend that extends to other states. In a nationwide Quinnipiac University poll released in May, Biden and Trump split younger voters, but Biden has an edge among voters 65 and older….They also write that “in 2024, baby boomers now make up a wide majority of the senior vote for the first time — an enticing demographic shift the Biden campaign is seizing upon in Michigan and across the country.”….CNN’s Ronald Brownstein noted last year that older voters were more likely to approve of Biden’s job performance and argued that some of his policy wins, like pushing for lowering drug costs in Medicare, appeal directly to seniors….Whatever the reason, if Biden is to overcome questions about his age to keep his job, it will be with help from people his own age.”

In another close Biden vs. Trump race, Black and Latino voters could make the difference,” David Lauter writes at The Los Angeles Times. “Two weeks after Donald Trump’s conviction on multiple feloniesrelated to the payment of hush money to a porn actress, we have a pretty good sense of the political impact: It has hurt him, but not much….In the average of public polls maintained by the FiveThirtyEight website, for example, Trump’s edge over President Biden has dropped by 0.8 percentage pointssince the jury verdict was announced….That’s a very small shift, but it comes in a very tight race: The polling average now finds the two candidates almost tied — 41% for Trump, 40% for Biden….Pollsters have to guess which voters will actually cast ballots this fall; we can’t know for sure. All polls also come with a degree of uncertainty, reflected in their stated margin of error. In statewide races, it’s normal for polls to miss the final results by 4-5 points. There’s no way to know in advance which side the error will help….Polls are also a snapshot, and lots of events could have an impact between now and November. The list starts with the scheduled June 27 Biden-Trump debate and continues through Trump’s sentencing on July 11, his pick of a running mate, the two party conventions, a second debate in September and undoubtedly other developments that can’t be known in advance….In 2020, Biden carried 25 states, the District of Columbia and one Nebraska congressional district, which splits its electoral votes. He ended up with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232….Biden currently can count on 19 of those states plus D.C., with a total of 226 electoral votes….Georgia, which Biden carried last time, currently leans toward Trump. Five other Biden-carried states — Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — are competitive. Together, they have 61 electoral votes….”

Lauter continues, “Of the 25 states Trump carried, all but one remain solidly in his favor. The exception, North Carolina, leans in his direction. Democrats have hopes of making it competitive, but that’s not the case now….To get to the 270 needed for victory, Biden needs to nail down 44 electoral votes beyond what he can currently count on….His best shot, current polls suggest, would be to carry the three competitive northern industrial states. Together, they would give him precisely what he needs. In all three, recent polls show a very tight race….All that sounds very familiar: The election will likely be settled by small margins in Wisconsin, Michigan and, especially, Pennsylvania — exactly as it was in both 2016 and 2020….But there’s a twist this time. Trump won in 2016 by appealing to the grievances of conservative white Americans. This time, his advantage over Biden comes by virtue of support from Black and Latino voters….Biden still wins both groups, but his margins have shrunk significantly from four years ago….A new poll from Marist College of voters in Pennsylvania illustrates the point. The poll finds Trump ahead, barely, in a state that Biden carried in 2020 and that both candidates need this year….What’s changed is that Trump gets 23% of Black voters, compared with only 7% whom he won in 2020, according to exit polls….As in Pennsylvania, white voters in Arizona haven’t moved — Trump wins among them by about 9 points, the poll found. What has changed since Biden narrowly won the state is that he’s only winning Latino voters by eight points — less than half his margin from four years ago….the key question, as political analyst Ron Brownstein has written, may be “whether Trump can sustain his support among non-Whites while offering … a bristling message and agenda on race-related issues” that energizes his white, conservative core supporters….Trump repeatedly has called for mass deportations of immigrants in the country without legal documentation — a group that’s heavily Latino — as well as reinstitution of stop-and-frisk police tactics that many cities have abandoned because they led to civil rights violations….Those policies are not popular — except with Trump’s base. A lot of voters, especially younger ones, who are just now starting to tune in to the campaign, haven’t heard much about them. Democrats will be working overtime during the next several months to make sure that changes.”

Political Strategy Notes

From “Democrats Should Run Against the Supreme Court:  And they should take on more than the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They ought to campaign against the whole Trump-enabled, rights-stealing, gift-taking conservative supermajority” by David Atkins at The Washington Monthly: “Shortly after a Manhattan jury convicted Donald Trump of 34 felonies, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson made a curious plea on Fox News. He begged the Supreme Court to intervene on Trump’s behalf. Johnson didn’t claim that Trump was innocent. He didn’t claim that Trump did nothing wrong or did not commit crimes. Instead, the Louisiana Republican simply gestured at vague “abuses of the system” and said he expected the highest court in the land to step in because he “knew some of the justices personally.”….If this feels wrong, that’s because it is. Johnson’s Hail Mary suggestion to his personal friends on the Supreme Court to help Trump evade accountability for his crimes is yet another illustration of the damage that the far-right Supreme Court is doing to the fabric of American democracy. After all, even if the justices ignore the speaker’s plea, they have already dawdled so long on presidential immunity that they have ended any possibility that Trump could be tried for the January 6, 2021, insurrection before election day….Especially after the Court issued its Dobbs decision overturning a half-century of abortion rights, a majority of Americans are incensed about the justices’ behavior. Fixing the Court ought to be a centerpiece of the fight against the far right’s assault on democracy.” In addition to the scandals around Justices Alito and Thomas, “there is the court’s extremist political lurch. The majority of the Court’s conservative jurists were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. One was installed by an unprecedented refusal to allow Congress to vote on a Democratic president’s nominee until a Republican was in the Oval Office. The result is a 6-3 hyper-conservative majority that is rapidly tilting the country’s legal framework in favor of corporate power and Christian dominionism….As a result, the Court has become deeply unpopular, with over 60 percent of Americans disapproving of its job. This comes at a time when the judiciary arguably has more power over Americans’ lives than at any other time. Research shows that most voters believe the Court is conspiring to protect Trump on his immunity claims and that opportunities exist for candidates to run on opposition and reforms to the Court….the more the presidential election is a referendum on Joe Biden, the less likely Democrats will prevail. The more it is a referendum on Donald Trump and the Court, the likelier it is that the MAGA Christian nationalist movement will be stopped at the ballot box….The battle for the White House will likely be won or lost among lower-information and less engaged voters whose understanding of the mechanisms of political outcomes can be tenuous at best—and most of whom currently support Trump. An astonishing 17 percent of voters blame Joe Biden for the loss of abortion rights in Dobbs….There is a significant opportunity to educate voters on what Trump has done to them by putting extremists on the court where they are unaccountable, free to take back long-held rights and enrich themselves as well.”

Some insights from Thomas B. Edsall’s NYT essay, “Trump Would Be Long Gone if Only We Could ….” “A central predicament of President Biden’s campaign is how to persuade voters to abandon Donald Trump. “In 2012 the Obama campaign turned a nice guy, Mitt Romney, into a piece of crap,” Steve Murphy, a co-founder of the Democratic media firm MVAR Media, told me. “You can’t do that to Trump because everybody already knows he’s a piece of crap.”….Not only do voters know that Trump is a liar and corrupt, narcissistic and venal; his supporters have repeatedly found ways to slide past his liabilities….Kabir Khanna, the deputy director of elections and data analytics for CBS News, emailed me in response to my inquiries concerning the problems facing Democrats who seek to attack Trump….“Part of the issue for Democrats,” he wrote, “is that views of Trump are pretty well established for most of the electorate. Most people know what they think of him. Perhaps the best an opposition campaign can hope to do is raise the salience of certain issues, policies or aspects of his leadership style.” Edsall quotes TDS managing editor Ed Kilgore, who warned at New York magazine “No one should expect Trump to self-destruct or persuadable voters to wake up some morning and realize what a terrible man he is.” ….In April, before the verdict, Republicans were decisively against a felon becoming president, with 17 percent in favor and 58 percent opposed (and the remaining 25 percent not sure)….After the conviction, Republicans flipped, with 58 percent in favor of a felon becoming president and 23 percent opposed (and 19 percent unsure)….John Ganz, a political analyst and the author of the new book “When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s,” captured this aspect of Trump in “The Shadow of the Mob: Trump’s Gangster Gemeinschaft,” an essay posted last week on Ganz’s Substack, Unpopular Front….For Ganz, one comment in particular from an African American operations manager who participated in a Times focus group session conducted hours after the New York jury found Trump guilty provided an instructive case study: “Trump represents a shock to the system. His supporters don’t hold him to the same ethical standards. He’s the antihero, the Soprano, the “Breaking Bad,” the guy who does bad things, who is a bad guy but does them on behalf of the people he represents.”

“In 2020, Wisconsin was one of Joe Biden’s most important electoral victories, as he successfully clawed back the Midwestern swing state that was narrowly won by Donald Trump in 2016,” John L. Dorman writes in “Biden is lagging in key swing states. But white non-college voters are keeping him afloat in Wisconsin” at Insider. Dorman continues, “While Democrats need to perform strongly in the liberal population centers of Milwaukee and Madison in order to win statewide elections, the party still retains a significant level of support in many rural communities. And it’s Biden’s support among white voters without a college degree — a huge voting bloc in these areas — that’s currently keeping him afloat in Wisconsin….Among the seven major swing states, Biden currently trails Trump by at least three points in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina, according to Real Clear Polling averages….In Michigan and Pennsylvania, Biden has smaller deficits against Trump in the polling averages….But in Wisconsin, Biden is often tied with Trump in polling, or has a slim lead. And it’s the backing of many white working-class voters that has been critical for the president….The most recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Biden leading Trump by six points (50% to 44%) among registered voters, while a recent Cook Political Report survey had Biden and Trump tied at 45% among Wisconsin voters….In the Quinnipiac poll, Wisconsin voters gave Biden positive marks on issues like abortion rights and the preservation of democracy. But even on the question of who would better handle international conflicts — where Trump has opened up a lead in many recent polls — the former president only led Biden by one point (48% to 47%)….When it came to economic issues, Trump had an eight-point lead over Biden (52% to 44%) in Wisconsin, per Quinnipiac, a relatively stable number for the incumbent on an issue where he has struggled in national polling. For Biden, the Wisconsin number represents a much more positive outlook from voters compared to his standing in states like Arizona and Nevada…,Among white voters in Wisconsin, Biden actually led Trump by four points (50% to 46%) in the Quinnipiac poll. And college-educated white voters in Wisconsin backed Biden by 27 points (61% to 34%)….But among white voters without college degrees, Biden only trailed Trump by eight points (44% to 52%), a deficit that is much narrower than in virtually every other swing state….That Biden has been able to hold on to a sizable level of support from this voting bloc — despite their overall migration to the GOP — shows the uniqueness of the president’s electoral coalition in Wisconsin.”

Don’t pay too much attention to all of the hoo-ha about the Democrats’ big financial advantage in the 2024 elections. As Michael Mechanic writes in “America’s Top 100 Donors Heavily Favor Trump and the Republicans” at Mother Jones: “Donald Trump may have lost in the Manhattan court where a jury recently convicted him of 34 felonies, but there’s one place he and his party appear to be winning: in the race to snag major cash from the richest families in America….For all of Trump’s supposed grassroots appeal, as of May 1, less than one-third of contributions to his campaign committee for the 2024 election cycle had come from grassroots donors—people giving less than $200. (Campaign finance disclosures tend to lag a month or two behind.)….According to OpenSecrets, large contributors accounted for 69 percent of Trump’s $121 million total. President Joe Biden’s campaign committee, which took in $195 million, got 54 percent from large donors….More broadly, the lion’s share of confirmed contributions from the biggest political givers—the top 100 families—have flowed to Republican candidates and groups….In the “hard money” category—direct donations to candidates, which federal law caps at modest sums—Republicans took in 27 percent more from the Top 100 families than Democrats did ($85.9 million vs. $67.9 million)….But looking at all federal contributions, including “soft money,” a category that tallies the generous donations allowed to party committees and the unrestricted contributions to SuperPACs, Republicans raked in a whopping $508 million from the Top 100—triple the Democrats’ $169 million take….And this was all before Trump got convicted….Trump has vowed to go further: “We’re gonna give you tax cuts,” he told a gathering of “rich as hell” prospective donors at a December Mar-a-Lago fundraiser. Since then, he has been openly transactional in his efforts to raise cash, warning rich donors that supporting Biden will cost them, whereas the policies of a second Trump administration would further enrich them, along with corporate shareholders. (He has also solicited oil and gas executives for generous contributions, promising his administration would pursue policies in their favor.)….A river of cash has poured into Trump’s coffers since his conviction—the campaign claims it received $53 million in the first 24 hours. Which is kind of surreal, but I suppose it adds up. After all, when Trump holds a post-conviction press conference that starts with him saying, “This is a case where, if they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone,” at least some of those rich-as-hell donors no doubt imagine he’s talking directly to them.”

Political Strategy Notes

Some excerpts from “Showing Contempt for Young Voters Is a Great Way for Democrats to Lose in November” by Jeet Heer at The Nation: “Contempt for the Democratic Party’s progressive base is a sure path to Donald Trump’s return. A specter haunts the Democratic Party: the ghost of Clintonism, an ideology that’s been discredited at the ballot box yet still retains a mysteriously powerful hold on party elders. Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, when she lost a winnable election to a political novice who scored the highest disapproval polling numbers in modern American history, should have sounded the death knell for her brand of politics….This disdain, both for working-class whites whose lives had become precarious as a result of the neoliberalism championed by her husband and for young progressives who sought to break the neoliberal consensus, was matched by an eager courting of suburban Republicans. Corporate Democrats thought this overwhelmingly white constituency could be won over by a mixture of performative revulsion at Trump’s personal vulgarity and nationalist celebrations of foreign-policy hawkishness….Trump’s victory had many causes, but the Clintons’ hostility toward large parts of the Democratic coalition stands out as an unforced error, especially egregious because it was a choice….Joe Biden’s success in 2020 was due in no small part to his deliberate rejection of Clinton’s failed strategy. “Scranton Joe” courted both Sanders voters and blue-collar whites. He promised expanded infrastructure spending and tougher trade deals. Progressive young people might not have given Biden their votes in the primaries, but he campaigned as a candidate who saw them as part of his coalition and duly won their votes on Election Day….Until early May, Biden gave Israel a virtual blank check to fight a ferocious war with massive civilian casualties. This has been enormously unpopular with young people and nonwhite voters, splintering the Democratic coalition anew.” Heer’s article is very hard on Clinton, who I believe probably would have made a good president. But her blind spots, as Heer argues so effectively, made her a lousy candidate in too many working-class precincts. But let’s not lose track of Heer’s larger point – Democrats should reject bashing young voters and other lefty groups, who could help in a close election. That’s an unforced error worth avoiding.

Not to dwell excessively on elections past, but Tom McGrath has a provocatively-titled article, “How 1980s Yuppies Gave Us Donald Trump. If it weren’t for the young urban professionals of the 1980s, we’d never have MAGA,” at Politico, in which he argues: “If you really want to understand Trump’s appeal, you need to go back a few decades to examine the social forces that shaped his rise as a real estate developer and remade American politics in the 1980s. Specifically, you need to wind back the tape to the 1984 Democratic primary, the almost-pulled-it-off candidacy of Colorado Senator Gary Hart and the emerging yuppie demographic that made up his base. They don’t remotely resemble the working-class base we associate with Trump today. But together, they helped shift the Democratic Party’s focus away from its labor coalition and toward the hyper-educated liberal voters it largely represents today, eventually creating an opening for Trump to cast Democrats as out-of-touch elites and draw the white working class away from them. In fact, if it weren’t for 1980s yuppies and the way they shifted America’s political parties, the modern MAGA GOP might never have arisen in the first place….Ironically, it was Donald Trump — if not a yuppie himself, then at least a walking symbol of 1980s glitz and excess — who spotted the political opportunity, persuading many working‐class Americans that he was on their side. In office, Trump’s only significant legislative accomplishment was a massive tax cut for wealthy Americans, though he also imposed significant trade tariffs on China….Democrats have tried to win back the working class in recent years — this past September, President Joe Biden made history as the first sitting commander in chief to join a picket line when he expressed solidarity with United Auto Workers on strike in Detroit — but they continue to struggle with college-educated liberals’ takeover of the party. It’s a hard road after so many years of neglect.” While Trump was emblematic of the more narcissistic yuppies of the 1980s, that doesn’t tell you how he mobilized contempt for liberals from 2016 to today and won over so many white working-class voters. That’s a different – and more relevant – story.

Florida Daily reports “Currently, the abortion and the marijuana amendment on this year’s Florida ballot aren’t a top concern for Florida voters. Instead, it’s insurance and inflation according to a new survey by the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) Center for Political Strategy….Results revealed that 26% of Florida voters rank property insurance costs as their top issue, followed by inflation at 21%. Illegal immigration (13%) and housing costs (10%). “Its economic kitchen table issues,” said AIF….When it came to political candidates, AIF found that voters chose a generic Republican candidate over a generic Democratic candidate by a 47%-43% margin, 10% of voters said they were undecided. But registered Independents said they preferred a generic Democrat over a generic Republican by a 43%-36% margin….On issues facing the state, the GOP outperformed Democrats on most issues….The economy, (44%-23%), reducing inflation/everyday costs (35%-25%), crime (46%-16%), education (38%-31%), and protecting personal freedoms (45%-37%)…. But on the state’s top issue, the plurality of voters (44%) believes both parties aren’t doing a productive job lowering property insurance costs….“The average Floridian is really feeling the effects of the insurance crisis and higher prices,” said AIF Vice President of Political Operations Jeremy Sheftel. “With hurricane season officially underway, it will be worth monitoring to see how voters will respond as the season progresses.” AIF notes that as of April of this year, there are 13,477,715 total registered voters in Florida. Republicans lead with 5,248,509 (39%) followed by Democrats with 4,344,377 (32%) and Independents with 3,884,829 (29%). Since the 2020 voter registration book closing, Republicans have seen a net gain of +50,083 voters while Democrats and Independents have seen net losses of -978,896 and -111,793, respectively.”

In “President vs. Senate: What to Watch in the Polls, and What History Suggests,” Kyle Kondik observes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “In both the 2016 and 2020 elections, the party that won each Senate race was the same as the party that won that state for president, with just one exception: In 2020, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) won reelection despite President Biden winning her state for president. Our J. Miles Coleman tracked the history of split Senate/presidential results in the post-World War II era; such split results used to be common but have been rare in the past two presidential election cycles. In another Crystal Ball article, Miles documented the decline of Senate/presidential ticket-splitting over the last six presidential cycles….The presidency will likely be decided by how many of the following six states Biden can hang onto, all of which he carried in 2020 but by less than his 4.5-point edge in the national popular vote: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Of these states, 5 of the 6 have Senate races (all but Georgia). Democratic Senate candidates generally lead in those states while Joe Biden does not (more on the specifics below in Table 3)….Just to reiterate the basic math, Democrats have a 51-49 Senate majority now (that includes the independents who caucus with them). West Virginia is effectively already lost for Democrats with Manchin’s retirement, unless he uses his new independent status to run for reelection (but that seems like more of a consideration for a late run for governor based on recent reporting, and Manchin would be an underdog in the context of any 2024 statewide bid in West Virginia). So that reduces the Democratic margin to 50-50, and they don’t have any clear offensive targets. In addition to holding all of the swing state seats, Democrats also need to defend Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jon Tester (D-MT) in states that are going to vote for Trump by, respectively, 5-10 (or more) and 15-20 (or more) points. We didn’t include these races in Table 3 because there’s little recent nonpartisan polling in either race. Brown and Tester have both waded carefully in the aftermath of Trump’s conviction in a New York trial last week, which makes sense given the potential for the conviction to further nationalize the electorate at a time when Brown and Tester both need a lot of crossover support to win….Overall, it will be important to continue to monitor the differences between the presidential and the Senate polling. We suspect that actual margins in the key states will be closer than polls currently show, but it’s not unimaginable that we’ll get some split presidential-Senate results this year. And Democrats will almost certainly need to produce at least two such results—in Montana and Ohio—to salvage even a 50-50 split in the Senate.”

Political Strategy Notes

Check out the new union peeps for Biden ad:

Bearing in mind that swing state polls are more relevant than national polls, your inner optimist will enjoy this report from Simon Rosenberg’s Hopium Chronicles: “It’s pretty clear the race has a moved a few points towards Biden in recent weeks, and that we are now in a close, competitive election where neither candidate has a firm lead….It is wrong now to say that Trump leads, and the media needs to not replicate their 2022 red wave mistake of dismissing or ignoring data that doesn’t fit the Republicans are strong/Dems are weak narrative – particularly when we’ve been winning election after election of all kinds since Dobbs, and it’s been the Republican Party which has repeatedly struggled….when you expand your consideration of the strength of the two candidates and two parties to include other ways of evaluating political strength, I think Trump is in trouble. His party is broke, and broken. It’s an unprecedented dumpster fire, not a juggernaut. From the Washington Post this morning, Trump lags behind Biden in cash reserves while legal bills mount….There has been much discussion about whether this election will be a referendum on Biden or Trump….one of the biggest political developments in recent days has been the drying up of the GOP’s big attacks on Biden. Consider:

  • The economy is remarkably strong, not weak
  • Inflation has come way down, not soaring
  • Crime, violent crime and murder rates are down across the US, not raging
  • Domestic oil and renewable production is setting records, and US is more energy independent than in decades – there is no “war on energy” causing rising gas prices and loss of independence
  • Democrats are for order at the border, they are for Trumpian chaos
  • The “Biden crime family” narrative was a fake Russian info op, once again laundered by Republican useful idiots
  • And now we see in the State of The Union Biden strong, smart and vigorous; and it turns out, of course, that Republican Special Counsel lied about Biden’s memory challenges

Republicans have no clear shot at him any more. There is no longer a strong case against Biden’s re-election. With that, I think what we are beginning to see is the election is increasingly becoming a referendum on Trump and not Biden. And that my friends is an election Republicans cannot possibly win.”

Trump munchkins have been charged in yet another election fraud scam, this time in Wisconsin. As Talia Jane reports at The New Republic: “Kenneth Chesebro got smacked with a felony fraud charge by Wisconsin prosecutors on Tuesday. Largely considered the architect of the fake electors plot to flip the 2020 election to Trump, Chesebro was charged alongside Michael Roman, head of Trump’s 2020 Election Day operations, and fellow Trump lawyer James Troupis. All were charged with one count of forgery in the case brought by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Paul, according to court records….The statute listed for the Trump trio’s charges, “forgery-uttering,” is a Class H felony in Wisconsin, essentially defined as touting bogus official statements or fake legal documents or public records as true while knowing they’re fraudulent….Chesebro, as part of the fake elector scheme, attempted to send fake certified elector documents—which falsely claimed Wisconsin and Michigan electors chose Trump—to Washington, D.C., ahead of 2020’s presidential electoral certification process. The plot was spoiled when the documents infamously got stuck in the mail, leading to a last-minute scramble by the schemers to get the phony paperwork into the hands of then–Vice President Mike Pence in time to certify election results on January 6, 2021….Chesebro is also named as a co-conspirator in Georgia’s fake elector charges, where he is cooperating with the state and has pleaded guilty to planning the goofily villainous scheme. Chesebro is reportedly also cooperating with prosecutors in Michigan and Wisconsin….Tuesday’s charges are a first for Troupis and Roman, who join the vaunted ranks of at least a dozen other Trump lawyers and toadies who conspired to submit fake electors to certify the 2020 election for Trump. Troupis and Chesebro are also being sued by Biden electors in Wisconsin for the plot, where 10 other Republican electors settled a lawsuit in December 2023 forcing them to admit Biden won the 2020 election.”

Some insights from “Swing-state Senate Democrats are touting Biden’s record – without mentioning him” by Arit John and David Wright at CNN Politics: “Democrats locked in competitive Senate races are leaning into their party’s legislative accomplishments in ads touting investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, as well as the lowering the cost of some prescription drugs, such as insulin….The senators, whose votes sent the bills to the White House, are front and center. But one name is often missing: President Joe Biden, who signed the bills into law….In an election in which most Democrats will be running on reproductive rights and contrasts with Republican leadership, senators such as Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania are emphasizing their roles in advancing key parts of the Biden agenda without mentioning the president….But the spots also highlight the balancing act they’ll have to perform to win crossover votes from independents and Republicans who won’t back Biden….Democrats will need to defend seven competitive seats – including five in presidential battlegrounds – and win the White House to maintain the majority in the Senate….Polls show Senate Democratic candidates running ahead of Biden, who has been plagued by low approval ratings and who trails or ties Trump in key states. For months, Democrats have argued the president’s support will grow as voters tune in closer to the election and learn more about his agenda….There are signs that voters aren’t broadly aware of Democrats’ record. A KFF poll from May found that 52% of registered voters older than 65 were aware the Inflation Reduction Act capped the cost of insulin for Medicare recipients at $35 per month. An AP-NORC poll from April found that about a third of voters didn’t know enough about the Inflation Reduction Act to say whether it had made a difference on climate change, the economy or inflation….Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said he believes Democrats’ unified messaging on abortion, democracy and the contrast with Trump will help all party candidates on the ballot in the state. In addition to reelecting Biden and Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrats hope to gain ground in the state Legislature.” OK, 2024 is not a good year for spotlighting national  leaders for either party. But the opportunity is to encourage voters to compare the parties and their accomplishments as a whole, in which case Republicans have very few bragging points. There ought to be some swing state ads that invite the comparison.

Political Strategy Notes

For what it’s worth, “One in 10 Republicans less likely to vote for Trump after guilty verdict, Reuters/Ipsos poll finds,” Jason Lange writes at Reuters. Lange explains, “Ten percent of Republican registered voters say they are less likely to vote for Donald Trump following his felony conviction for falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to a porn star, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that closed on Friday….The two-day poll, conducted in the hours after the Republican presidential candidate’s conviction by a Manhattan jury on Thursday, also found that 56% of Republican registered voters said the case would have no effect on their vote and 35% said they were more likely to support Trump, who has claimed the charges against him are politically motivated and has vowed to appeal….The potential loss of a tenth of his party’s voters is more significant for Trump than the stronger backing of more than a third of Republicans, since many of the latter would be likely to vote for him regardless of the conviction….Among independent registered voters, 25% said Trump’s conviction made them less likely to support him in November, compared to 18% who said they were more likely and 56% who said the conviction would have no impact on their decision….The verdict could shake up the race between Trump, who was U.S. president from 2017-2021, and Democratic President Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 5 election. U.S. presidential elections are typically decided by thin margins in a handful of competitive swing states, meaning that even small numbers of voters defecting from their candidates can have a big impact….Biden and Trump remain locked in a tight race, with 41% of voters saying they would vote for Biden if the election were held today and 39% saying they would pick Trump, according to the poll, which surveyed 2,556 U.S. adults nationwide.” Plug in all of the usual caveats, especially the one about swing state polls being more meaningful in 2024 than national polls, and we still have a bunch of “what if?” scenarios and no safe bets. At The Hill, Nick Robertson writes, “Trump leads Biden by about 1 percentage point in The Hill/Decision Desk HQ average of polls, though Biden has gained on Trump since the conviction, leading Trump in most polls since Thursday.”

In “Donald Trump Gets More Bad News From Fourth Post-Verdict Poll” at Newsweek, Mandy Taheri adds, “Meanwhile, three separate polls conducted since Trump’s guilty verdict also show similar findings with the ABC News/Ipsos poll….A YouGov snap poll of 3,040 Americans conducted just hours after the verdict was announced revealed that 50 percent believe Trump was guilty, while 30 percent thought he was not. Another 19 percent were unsure. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points….Broken down into party lines, 15 percent of Republicans think Trump is guilty while 64 percent do not, 48 percent of independents think Trump is guilty while 25 percent do not, and 86 percent of Democratsbelieve he is guilty while 5 percent do not. A total of 831 Republicans, 1,114 independents, and 1,113 Democrats were surveyed. The margin of error of the subgroups are unclear….Morning Consult’s poll of 2,220 registered voters found 54 percent approve of the jury’s verdict while 39 percent disapprove. Across party lines, 18 percent of Republicans approve of the verdict while 74 percent disapprove, 52 percent of independents approve while 33 disapprove and 88 percent of Democrats approve while 8 percent disapprove. The poll, which was conducted on Friday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.” Nonetheless, “Steven Cheung, Trump’s campaign communications director, told Newsweek via email on Saturday, “President Trump has seen an outpouring support, which has led to polling increases and record-shattering fundraising numbers that include close to $53 million in just 24 hours, 30% of those who are new donors.”….He also mentioned a snap Daily Mail/J.L. Partners poll taken after Thursday’s verdict, which found that Trump’s approval rating was up by 6 percentage points compared to those who disapproved….A total of 22 percent of likely voters had a more positive view of Trump after his guilty verdict while 16 percent had a more negative view. Meanwhile, 32 percent of likely voters who already had a negative view of Trump had no change of opinion while 27 percent of likely voters who already had a positive view of Trump had no change. The poll surveyed 403 likely voters from Thursday to Friday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.” Perhaps all of the polls taken thus far can be likened to knee-jerk reactions so soon after the verdict.

A Bit of Trump Trial Campaign Advice” by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo: “Trump’s play is always dominance. The weapon of choice against that puffed-up pro-wrestling-like dominance spectacle that is at the heart of Trumpism is mockery. And this provides such a wonderful opening….Trump was convicted of a felony. So the trial was rigged. Just like when Donald Trump lost a whole presidential election. Remember that? And he said that was rigged. He couldn’t just take it like a man (or woman) like the other … what, 44 guys who lost, and just admit he lost? And remember back in 2016 when it looked like he was going to lose, well … that election was rigged too. And then he won so it wasn’t rigged anymore. And the lawsuit that dissolved his company for decades of serial fraud. Also rigged, surprisingly!….Don’t we all know that guy? From our own lives? It’s not his fault? Someone always set him up? It was rigged!….And why stop there? Remember the convictions of Bannon and Flynn and Manafort and Stone and good lord almost every one who’s ever worked for him? All rigged. And what about the time he pulled up a U-Haul on the White House lawn and made off with a few hundred boxes of classified records and kept them in random rooms at his beach resort. Also rigged? Yes, would you believe that prosecution was also rigged! We know this guy….The way to constantly inject Trump’s felony conviction into the campaign, other than remembering that “convicted felon” is now his first name, is to simply make his pathetic whining, excuses and demands for never-ending life mulligans the center of the campaign against him. He’s a disgrace but more than that an embarrassment. It won’t be hard because he’ll be making this claim non-stop through November, just a constant cue up for the same lethal mockery. It is the heart of his politics to always be jacking the conversation up to higher and higher levels of drama, even when the drama is his own menace, indeed especially when the drama is his own menace. That’s his power. What cuts him down is to zero in on the pathetic excuse-making and whining, a trait all of us associate with the most odious and pitiful people we’ve ever known. And let that pull the disgrace of his many crimes and prosecutions along with it.”

Sofia Benavides explains “Why Mexico’s election is more important than ever for the United States” at CNN Politics: “With more than 98 million eligible voters, some 70,000 candidates and over 20,000 public offices being contested, Mexico’s general election on June 2 will be the largest in the country’s history….But it’s not just the massive scale of the event that makes it so important in the eyes of observers across the border in the United States….For the first time in history, the country looks set to elect its first female president. The two front-runners are both women – Claudia Sheinbaum, of the Morena party, who is backed by the governing coalition Sigamos Haciendo Historia, and Xóchitl Gálvez, who is backed by an coalition of opposition parties….The vote is also important because it falls in the same year as the US presidential election – something that happens only once every 12 years – and comes at a time of transition in the relationship between the two countries….Mexico became the United States’ top trading partner last year, surpassing China and Canada….Experts say this is largely because geopolitical issues such as the pandemic, the legacy of Trump’s trade war against China, and the war in Ukraine all encouraged near-shoring – the relocation of supply chains nearer to home – which boosted US imports from Mexico and its investment in the country….Key to facilitating this shift was the creation of the USMCA trade agreement, which came into effect in 2020 between Mexico, the United States and Canada….Many analysts believe the US is currently playing down disputes over the USMCA in the hope that this can ease differences in other areas, both in domestic Mexican issues – such as alleged human rights violations, the government’s treatment of journalists, and the increase in political assassinations – and bilateral concerns such as immigration and the drug trade….“It’s very transactional. Mexico agreed to partially manage the immigration crisis in the US, keeping immigrants in Mexican territory and taking care of their deportation, in exchange for the United States not activating these lawsuits,” said Raquel López Portillo Maltos, executive secretary of the youth group of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (Comexi) think tank….While migration across the countries’ 1,933 miles long border is a shared concern, the issue is much lower on Mexican politicians’ agenda than in the US — where it could be a decisive factor in the November vote, according to Carin Zissis, editor-in-chief of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas website….The rub for US politicians is that they need buy-in from their Mexican counterparts if their own immigration policies are to succeed.”

Are Dems Ready to Meet the Challenge of the Trump Verdict?

No. There is no way to fully prepare for such an unprecedented political event. Never before has a Democratic presidential campaign had to run against a convicted felon.

“Americans reacted Thursday to the historic conviction of former President Donald Trump on 34 felony charges with a mixture of surprise, joy, anger, indifference and expletives,” a team of reporters note in “‘Speechless’: Swing state voters react to Donald Trump’s guilty verdict“ at USA Today. Politico has five “takeaways” from the verdict. NPR has four. But nobody really knows how it will play out.

Can Democrats safely assume that Trump will still be the Republican nominee? Probably, although the prospects for chaos in the Republican Party have just increased significantly, and the chaos factor was already a big problem for them. Nearly all Republican “leaders,” notably including Nikki Haley, have signed up for the Trump grovelfest. Watch them now squirm as they try to justify their continued support for a convicted felon, while still trying to project an image of conservative public servants who are tough on crime. That sell just got a lot harder.

Some worry that the verdict will somehow help Trump. But I suspect he has already maxxed out with the “evil Democrats are out to destroy Trump” voters. There are only so many of them, and they would have to believe that Democrats somehow politicized the jury, which is quite a stretch.

Some Republicans will say that the trial was conducted in a kangaroo court, even though Trump’s attorneys had plenty of opportunities to ditch jurors they deemed to be prejudiced against him. More than 500 potential jurors were scrutinized for this trial. The Trump grovelers will argue that it ain’t over until the appeal process is completed. That looks a bit weak in light of the speed of the jury’s verdict, which is a slam dunk of a message.

If Trump starts to tank badly in poll averages, the GOP grovelfest could quickly come to an end, and they will dump him at their convention. In that event, expect amusingly dodgy comments, something like “my support was always contingent on Mr. Trump being found innocent.” Not a great look.

Republicans now have an even shorter list of credible replacement presidential candidates. Edge to Democrats in that possibility.

But that doesn’t mean that Biden will have a lock on re-election. Americans have short memories. And there is also the possibility that voters will shrug off the conviction, believing that it’s just more of the crazy polarization of our times. After all the “if-then” scenarios are parsed, nobody knows what is going to happen. Democrats should have measured responses, don’t gloat so much and play it cool.

Political Strategy Notes

Ronald Brownstein shares some insights in his article “The unusual turnout dynamic that could decide the 2024 election” at CNN Politics: “For decades, Democrats have built their electoral strategies on a common assumption: the higher the turnout, the better their chances of winning. But that familiar equation may no longer apply for President Joe Biden in 2024….A wide array of polls this year shows Biden running best among Americans with the most consistent history of voting, while former President Donald Trump often displays the most strength among people who have been the least likely to vote….These new patterns are creating challenges for each party. Trump’s potential appeal to more irregular voters, particularly younger Black and Latino men, is compelling Democrats to rethink longstanding strategies that focused on mobilizing as many younger and non-White voters as possible without worrying about their partisan allegiance….“What all this means is this election has volatility,” says Daniel Hopkins, a University of Pennsylvania political scientist who has studied the widening partisan divergence between voters with and without a consistent history of turning out. “We used to expect that the marginal non-voter, the next voter who turned out if an election was very engaging, didn’t look different from people who did vote. In this case, the crowd that hasn’t gotten engaged looks very, very different.”

Brownstein explains further, “Merged results from the three most recent national NBC polls, conducted by a bipartisan team of prominent Democratic and Republican pollsters, for instance, found that Biden leads Trump by 4 percentage points among people who voted in both 2020 and 2022. But among those who voted in 2020 but not 2022, Trump led Biden by 12 percentage points. Trump’s lead swelled to 20 percentage points among those who did not vote in either 2020 or 2022. Fully 65% of those who did not vote in either of the past two elections said they disapproved of Biden’s performance in office….Combined results from recent national New York Times/Siena College polls likewise have found Biden narrowly leading among potential 2024 voters who turned out in 2020 while trailing Trump by double digits among those who did not vote in their previous contest….Hopkins has conducted perhaps the most ambitious attempt to quantify the divergence between Americans with and without a history of voting. Earlier this year, he and a colleague worked with NORC at the University of Chicago to survey over 2,400 adults about their preferences in the 2024 race. The poll only surveyed people who were old enough to vote in each of the past three elections — the midterms of 2018 and 2022 and the 2020 presidential race….The results were striking. Among adults who had voted in each of the past three federal elections, Biden led Trump by 11 points, and Biden eked out a narrow advantage among voters who participated in two of the past three races. But, the poll found, Trump led Biden by 12 percentage points among those who voted in just one of the past three elections and by a crushing margin of 18 percentage points among those who came out for none of them….As important, the pattern held across racial lines. In the poll, Trump ran even with Biden among Latinos who voted in two, one or none of the past three elections, while Biden held a nearly 20-point advantage among those who voted in all three. With Black voters, Biden’s lead was just 10 points among those who did not show up for any of the past three elections, but over 80 points among those who participated in all three.”

Brownstein adds, “Using data from Catalist, a leading Democratic voter targeting firm, Michael Podhorzer, the former political director of the AFL-CIO, reached similar conclusions. He found that in 2020 Biden’s margins over Trump were higher among people who voted in the three previous elections of 2018, 2016 and 2014 than those who voted in some or none of them — and that the relationship held across racial lines….Hopkins said the gap between habitual and irregular voters in his latest survey was far greater than the difference he found when he conducted a similar poll early in the 2016 race between Trump and Hillary Clinton. Key to this widening chasm, he believes, may be another dynamic: Adults who are less likely to vote are also less likely to follow political news….“For more infrequent voters, these are often people who pay less attention to politics and whose political barometer is more the question of how is my family doing economically, how does the country seem to be doing,” Hopkins said. “For those voters, Donald Trump…is not especially unusual.” By contrast, Hopkins said, a “sizable sliver” of habitual voters “have a sense that Trump may be qualitatively different than other political candidates with respect to norm violations and January 6.” For less frequent voters, he added, the equation may be as simple as “they don’t love what they see with Joe Biden, and if Donald Trump is the person running against Joe Biden, they want change.”….The NBC polling results buttress that conclusion: It found that among the roughly one-sixth of voters who say they do not follow political news, Trump led Biden by fully 2-to-1….Several analysts caution that while this divergence between high- and low-frequency voters is appearing consistently in polls now, it’s too early to say for certain whether it will persist through Election Day.”

Further, notes Brownstein, “Through the 21st century, as first Millennials and now Generation Z have entered the electorate in large numbers, Democrats have unwaveringly operated on the belief that turning out as many young voters as possible would benefit the party….But that’s a much more uncertain proposition in 2024, as demonstrated by the latest youth poll from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, probably the most in-depth look at attitudes among young people. In the IOP poll this spring, Biden led Trump by nearly 20 points among young adults (aged 18-29) who said they definitely plan to vote in November; that lead was comparable to Biden’s advantage among all young adults in 2020….But Republicans point out that even if Trump doesn’t win as many of these irregularly voting non-White men as polls show today, he will still benefit if they drift toward third-party candidates or simply choose not to vote. Looking at the Black community, “even if you don’t buy the potential for Trump to flip lots of votes there, it seems there’s considerable risk of a turnout drop-off that will hit Biden’s raw margins out of big cities in the battlegrounds that Democrats usually depend on,” said GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini…. But Trump’s position steadily improved as the likelihood of voting diminished, with the former president leading Biden by 2-to-1 among those who said they probably would not vote….Those who indicated they were less likely to vote tended to be young people without a college degree, non-Whites and the very youngest cohort aged 18-24. John Della Volpe, the Institute of Politics’ polling director, pointed out that those youngest adults probably don’t remember much about Trump’s presidency.” Brownstein concludes, “Democrats can feel confident that at least as many habitual voters are hostile to Trump as committed to him, particularly in most of the battleground states that will decide the election. The decisive variable for 2024 may be how many people beyond that inner core of the most reliable voters show up and whether they break for the former president as decisively as most polls now suggest.”

Political Strategy Notes

At Deseret News, Hanna Seariac probes for answers to a question of much political interest: “Is either political party the home of working-class voters?” As Seariac writes, “according to a new poll from Gallup. Forty-six percent of Republicans consider themselves working or lower class and 35% of Democrats do. Sixty-two percent of Democrats identify themselves as upper-middle or middle class and 53% of Republicans say the same.” Class identification does not necessarily tell you how people are going to vote in a crazy political year like 2024. But, in this case, it does shed some light on political leanings. As Seariac explains, “The survey data comes from self-identification, not factors like education level or profession or income. Economic experts differ on the specifics of what qualifies as working class, but generally, it refers to people who do not have college educations (around 62% of the country) and/or those who receive an hourly wage rather than a salary….Gallup survey data started showing this shift in 2022. When the same survey was done in 2019, 46% of Democrats identified as working or lower class while only 34% of Republicans did. In contrast, 65% of Republicans called themselves upper-middle or middle class and 54% of Republicans did. Self-identification has fluctuated along those lines, but from 2002 to 2019, Republicans generally identified more as upper-middle and middle class more than Democrats did — the reverse was true for Democrats calling themselves working and lower class at a higher rate than Republicans.” Nor does class self i.d. tell us why working-class voters feel an affinity for one party of. the other. Seariac notes further, “Left-of-center think tank Progressive Policy Institute did a survey with YouGov about the politics of the working-class voters (defined in the report as those without four-year college degrees). The report found that the working class trusts Republicans more on the economy, natural security, immigration and crime while they trust Democrats more on climate change, clean energy, abortion access and respecting elections.”

Seariac adds, “Forty-seven percent of the working class said they want a federal government involved in the economy mostly via protecting free markets while 34% said they want a small federal government with less taxation and spending. Nineteen percent responded in favor of a large federal government involved in wealth distribution….As far as which party the working class trusts to put the interests of the working class people first, respondents were almost evenly divided — 38% said Democrats and 37% said Republicans. Twenty-two percent of respondents said neither….A plurality of respondents to the survey also said they would prefer if the Democratic Party would spend tax dollars more efficiently rather than grow government programs. As for what they want the Republican Party to do, they said they’d like if the GOP would cut spending and increase taxes on the wealthy….Among those surveyed, 50% said their household income was less than $50,000 annually and 27% said it was between $50,000 and $100,000 with the remainder either not marking prefer not to say or reporting a household income above $100,000….“In the short term, the political preferences of working-class voters are likely to be shaped by urgent issues such as high prices and illegal immigration,” wrote William A. Galston for Brookings Institute about the survey. “In the longer term, however, a party that combines moderation on cultural issues with support for government programs that would improve the prospects of upward mobility for the working class would likely improve its performance in this key part of the electorate.”….Galston also pointed toward specific policies that some members of the working class have taken issues with such as student loan forgiveness. Fifty-six percent of working-class voters said they oppose student loan debt relief because they think it’s unfair to those who don’t get a college degree….“I think the claim that says the Republican Party is the party of the working class is at best, insincere, and more likely, political misdirection and rebranding exercises,” John Russo, visiting scholar at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, told NPR in 2021. He pointed toward Biden winning the majority of voters earning less than $50,000 a year in 2020 and Trump winning the majority of voters who made more than $100,000 annually….Others point toward areas where the working class may poll differently than what the messaging from Democratic politicians sounds like. Ruy Teixeira, fellow at American Enterprise Institute, wrote for The Liberal Patriot that working-class voters are less ideological, have economic struggles and in his words are “more focused on material concerns.”

Some useful talking points for Dems regarding “Here’s What Trump and the GOP Really Think About the Working Class: Trump polls very well with voters without college degrees. But organized labor polls well with even more voters. Make a move, Democrats” by Timothy Noah at The New Republic: “….Democrats need to get word out that the GOP is bent on destroying unions, which today enjoy more popular support (67 percent approval) than they have for six decades. Even more than one-third of Republicans agree that labor unions are a net positive for the country.” Trump “appointed anti-union members to the National Labor Relations Board who made it easier for employers to manipulate the size of a bargaining unit to defeat a union bid; lengthened and complicated union elections to make it harder for unions to win; made it easier for corporations to avoid responsibility for their subcontractors’ labor violations; and allowed employers to prevent labor unions, which already are barred from electioneering on company premises, from contacting workers via company email….Trump also changed overtime rules to exclude eligibility for eight million workers; failed to raise the $7.25 hourly minimum wage (after promising to do so during the 2016 election, though only in reaction to a backlash after he proposed eliminating it entirely); killed a regulation barring employers from requiring employees to agree never to sue the company as a condition of employment; reduced the number of manufacturing jobs by 75,000 (losing 43,000 the year before the Covid epidemic); and cut federal workplace safety inspections to their lowest level in history. This is very much a partial list. There’s more here and here….More representative of what “Trump’s economic circles” think is Trump’s own think tank. The America First Policy Institute is chaired by Linda McMahon, who ran the Small Business Administration under Trump and then a pro-Trump super PAC. She posted an op-ed last June at The Daily Caller that attacked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for signing into law a repeal of the state’s right-to-work law. This law had barred unions from collecting “fair share” fees from union nonmembers….The nonprofit group In Union and the political strategist Mike Lux this week released a reportnoting that among working-class voters, a “considerable” number are “double haters” (that is, they hate both Biden and Trump), third-party curious, or undecided. “Most of them voted Democratic in the recent past,” Lux wrote. “These are prime and winnable Democratic targets, and we should focus a great deal of firepower on winning them over.”

Some observations from “Will Trump Leaners Come Home to Biden? The weirdness of this year’s polling gives the President’s team hope.” by James Joyner at outsidethebeltwaay.com: “President Joe Biden trails Donald Trump by approximately one point in national polls, according to FiveThirtyEight. The gap is larger in most of the so-called swing states, including Pennsylvania (2.1 per cent), Arizona (4.3 per cent), Georgia (6.1 per cent), and Nevada (seven per cent). Moreover, in both 2016 and 2020, most polls ended up understating Trump’s support. This year, the head-to-head polls and Biden’s unpopularity have made many Democrats anxious about the coming election, but that feeling does not appear to have pervaded the White House. Axios reported last week that, “in public and private, Biden has been telling anyone who will listen that he’s gaining ground—and is probably up—on Donald Trump in their rematch from 2020.” (The Axios story says this sense of optimism is also shared by his “team.”)….even aside from the possibility of cataclysmic events shaking up the landscape, it’s almost impossible to project a race where both candidates are so universally unpopular. There are more truly enthusiastic Trump voters than truly enthusiastic Biden voters. But there are also more people who intensely dislike Trump than intensely dislike Biden….Think about those with little if any partisan or ideological predisposition. They may have real doubts and concerns about Trump’s character, behavior, values, and perhaps whether he has much respect for institutions and the rule of law. Substantively, only the abortion issue really rises to the surface for many of these people….Conversely, doubts and concerns about Biden are more about his abilities and his judgment, his priorities and objectives. Most don’t doubt Biden’s morals, values, and intentions, but do wonder whether this has been the cruise they signed up for. Just as abortion is the substantive chink in the armor for Trump, it is age and health for Biden, who looks and acts even older than he is….We have a group of voters who are not enthusiastic about either candidate, and many may well end up deciding not to decide. In some minds, not casting a ballot is becoming a very real and deliberate option, a way to show their displeasure with their choices and the nominees that the two parties have offered up. They look at the field of independent or third-party candidates and do not see a political knight in shining armor worthy of their support.”

Political Strategy Notes

Here’s a clue from “Most Americans falsely think the U.S. is in recession, poll shows” by Rebecca Picciotto at cnbc.com as to why President Biden can’t get much traction: “More than half of Americans think the United States is in an economic recession, although gross domestic product has been increasing for the past several years….According to a new Guardian/Harris poll, 56% of respondents said they believe the U.S. is in a recession and 58% say that President Joe Biden is responsible for what they see as an economic downturn….A recession is an extended period of economic decline, usually designated when GDP has declined for two or more consecutive fiscal quarters….Under those terms, the U.S. is definitively not in a recession….GDP grew by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2024. Granted, that is a decelerated rate from the 3.3% growth of the fourth quarter of 2023, but it is not recessionary. U.S. GDP growth has been outpacing that of other developed nations….Despite some positive signals that the economy is recovering from the pandemic chaos that disrupted supply chains and sent inflation skyrocketing, consumer attitudes have lagged, often driven by the high costs of daily living caused by stubbornly high inflation.” No doubt the argument about individual financial situations being more influential in poll outcomes than aggregate economic data has some relevance here. All the Biden campaign can do about this is keep plugging away at every opportunity and make some ads showing individual families testifying about how much better off they are today than they were under Trump. Aggregate economic data just doesn’t pack the same punch as real people testifying about their lives.

If you know anyone who believes the Trump campaign’s recent reference to a “unified Reich” was just a stray brain fart of an unruly staffer, not a recurring symptom of the candidate’s sympathy for vicious dictators, refer them to “Trump removes video referencing ‘unified Reich. but his Nazi allusions are long-standing” by Stephen Collimnson at CNN Politics. As Collinson writes, “Donald Trump dabbles in Nazi allusions too often for it to be a coincidence….The latest example is a video posted on the ex-president’s social media account that features a fake headline implying the US could become a “unified Reich” if he wins a second term in November. The video replicates what appears to be World War I-era newspapers. But the term “Reich,” which means a kind of empire, is also synonymous with the later Third Reich of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The presumptive GOP nominee’s campaign insisted the sharing of the third-party video on Monday was the work of a staffer and not Trump, who was in court. It was eventually taken down hours later on Tuesday….Trump may not have not been responsible for the post. But campaigns reflect the character of the candidate. And Trump has been flirting with Nazi imagery and giving comfort to far-right extremists for years. He recently accused President Joe Biden of running a “Gestapo” administration. Trump has several times warned immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of the United States, echoing language used by Hitler in his manifesto “Mein Kampf,” which the ex-president claims he hasn’t read. Back in 2017, Trump equivocated about condemning a White supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us.”….Trump also allegedly praised Hitler, according to former White House chief of staff John Kelly, who was quoted by CNN’s Jim Sciutto in his new book “The Return of Great Powers.” Kelly commented: “He said, ‘Well, but Hitler did some good things.’ I said, ‘Well, what?’ And he said, ‘Well, [Hitler] rebuilt the economy.’”….Sciutto also cited Kelly as saying that Trump believed that Hitler’s hold on senior Nazi officers displayed a loyalty he did not enjoy from his senior subordinates….He’s promising the biggest deportation operation in history to expel undocumented migrants. And his echoing of Nazi rhetoric on immigration has the same consequence as Hitler’s — to demonize outsiders supposedly threatening the ‘native’ purity of the homeland….Trump has already tried to avoid leaving power after a democratic election he lost, whipping up his supporters ahead of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. And over the weekend, he spitballed about potentially serving more than the two terms to which the Constitution says he can be elected.” Collinson co includes, “Anyone who admires Hitler and his murderous cult would do well to walk through the preserved death camps, gas chambers and mass crematoria in Eastern Europe where Nazis exterminated the continent’s Jews. And those who carelessly peddle Nazi-themed rhetoric should visit the cliffs of Normandy, where Biden is expected next month to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day amid rows of buried US and Allied soldiers who perished as part of the cost of eradicating fascism.”

In his Salon article, “How Trump’s hidden Nazi messages help conceal his open antisemitism: Now that Trump is finally facing legal consequences for his actions he’s amplifying his Hitlerian language,” Chauncey DeVega shares some thoughts on Trump’s Nazi musings: “One of the most important rules for surviving and triumphing over an authoritarian regime is to always take seriously what the dictator says. They are not kidding. This rule most certainly applies to Donald Trump, who has promised that he is going to be a dictator on “day one” if he defeats President Biden in the 2024 election….Trump’s Nazi projections are part of a much larger dynamic where today’s right openly embraces antisemitism, white supremacy, and racism….Dr. Sharon Nazarian, who is a board member of the Anti-Defamation League and a noted expert on global antisemitism, issued the following statement in response to the Trump campaign’s “unified Reich” video:

Words like Reich don’t just accidentally end up in campaign videos. This is a message to antisemites and anti-democratic extremists everywhere about what to expect should Trump return to the White House. Donald Trump knows exactly what he is doing. This is part of a long pattern of behavior where he normalizes antisemitic language and behavior and then later claims that he ‘didn’t know’ or it was ‘fake news’, but the extremists know full well where he stands, and we need acknowledge that these aren’t mistakes, he is telling us exactly what he would do in a second term. Donald Trump no longer should be given the benefit of the doubt. He sees antisemitism as a powerful tool to be used towards his own political goals, and those goals are to reshape American democracy and society in ways that will make the lives of Jews unsafe.

….Trump has repeatedly shared antisemitic images and memes on social media and has met personally with antisemites and white supremacists….Trump has continued to channel Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, with his threats and promises to purify the blood of the nation by getting rid of human “vermin” and other “pollution” as part of final battle and campaign of retribution and revenge when/if he takes power in 2025. These are eliminationist and genocidal threats of violence against those individuals and groups targeted as other or who dare to resist the regime and its attempt to end multiracial pluralistic democracy. Trump has also threatened, on numerous occasions, while president and afterwards, to have his political and personal “enemies” killed.” In his conclusion, DeVega warns, “The water in the pot is boiling more rapidly and too many Americans have gotten far too comfortable in it.”

The ever-optimistic Simon Rosenberg opines at his “Hopium Chronicles”: “Let’s talk the Electoral College today. Here are the results of new Bloomberg/Morning Consult polling of the battleground states, Biden-Trump:

  • AZ 44-49 Biden gains 2 since last poll
  • GA 44-47 Biden gains 3, within margin of error
  • MI 46-45 Biden gains 1
  • NV 46-46 Biden gains 8
  • NC 42-49 Biden gains 2
  • PA 46-48 Trump gains 1, within margin of error
  • WI 46-47 Biden gains 3, within margin of error

These are good polls for us. For Trump to win he needs to win AZ, GA, NV, keep NC, and win one of MI, PA, WI. He lost all these states except NC in 2020. So he has to go get a lot of stuff he didn’t have in 2020. In this poll, and in the three other recent battleground state polls (NYT Likely Voters, Not Registered Voters) he is not ahead, outside of the margin of error, in MI, PA or WI, or any combination of states getting to 270. The map is hard for him, and today, simply and plainly, he is not leading or ahead in the 2024 election. He is not where he wants to be right now….Our path to 270 is much clearer. Assuming we win the single Nebraska Electoral College vote we just need to win MI, PA, WI – all states we won last time, and all states where we have strong Dem governors who won in 2022. There are polls now with Biden ahead in AZ, MI, WI and tied in NV (yes this NV result is embarrassing for the New York Times). All four of these battleground polls have PA within margin of error, and a new poll about to be released in North Carolina has the Biden-Trump race there within margin of error, 43-45 Biden-Trump. This is the third poll taken in NC in recent weeks showing the election a toss up in North Carolina. Also note for those worried about Michigan that there are more polls showing us ahead in there than any other battleground state….My big point here is that not all the data in front of us is pointing in the same direction – thus folks need to be cautious about jumping to conclusions or letting a single influential poll dictate our understandings….The blue wall states – MI, PA, WI – are clearly within margin of error, tied now. We have recent polls showing AZ, GA, NC, NV also within margin of error, tied. Given all this it is simply impossible, wrong and inaccurate to argue that Trump leads or is favored. The election is close and competitive. Our path to 270 is easier. We have enormous financial and organizational advantages now, a better candidate and far, far better arguments. Senate and House polling remains encouraging, and we’ve made meaningful gains in the Congressional Generic. We’ve been winning elections of all kinds across the country since Dobbs and they keep struggling, a dynamic we’ve seen show up in voting in 2024 too…We are not where we want to be, and have a lot of work to do. But in every way imaginable, four months before voting begins, I would much rather be us than them.”

Political Strategy Notes

Icymi, here are some choice nuggets from E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s gem of a column at The Washington Post: “We’re letting Trump distract us from his corrupt, anti-climate agenda.” Dionne writes: “Donald Trump sat down with oil executives and told them that if he wins, he’ll scrap a slew of President Biden’s clean energy and other environmental regulations they don’t like — as long as they raise $1 billion for him. The response? Crickets. Trump’s pay-for-play move was frequently described as “transactional.” The right word is “corrupt….Last weekend, at a rally in Wildwood, N.J., he pledged to halt offshore wind farms. All of them. Right away. “We are going to make sure that that ends on day one,” Trump said. “I’m going to write it out in an executive order.” It was consistent with a remarkable statement he was reported to have made to the energy execs: “I hate wind.”….There could hardly be a clearer contrast between Trump and Biden, or their parties. You might think that the environment, and climate in particular, would be playing a large role in the 2024 debate. Yet for all the good work reporters are doing on these issues, there is a strange, substantive vacuum in this campaign….Citizens are getting plenty of information concerning Trump’s latest polling numbers and, yes, lots of news on his hush money trial. About what he’d do if he wins again: not so much.” Dionne also provides the most believable reason yet written to explain why Trump get away with so much BS: “By violating so many norms simultaneously while throwing out so much chaff in any given week, he dodges accountability. He is the only public figure in memory who dodges one scandal by getting enmeshed in a new one. Before the first scandal sinks in, the second sucks up all the oxygen, and then along comes a third. His $1 billion ask of super-rich oil guys was barely a blip.”

Further, Dionne notes: “Trump’s party has been complicit in helping him obliterate ethical standards. Republicans, from House Speaker Mike Johnson on down, raced to New York to create a carnival of deflection. These advocates of “law and order,” “traditional values” and local control ignored the charges against Trump — rooted in sordid personal conduct joined with public corruption — by attacking the idea that a prosecutor might dare try to bring a former president to justice….The routinization of lying has a dulling effect of its own. It no longer matters that responsible journalists of every political stripe report that Trump lost the election he falsely continues to claim he won. Here again, Republican elites play his game by either hedging on what happened in 2020 (“Well, there really were problems, you know …”) or supporting his lie outright. [Why on earth the relatively few sane Republicans remaining don’t start a new conservative Party remains a mystery. The Whigs had their day, and then it was over. Every political party has a shelf life.] Dionne continues, “The politics of spectacle that Trump excels at is the enemy of a politics of substance. Take that New Jersey rally where he pledged to block offshore wind farms (he also promised to go after electric cars). This didn’t get much attention because of Trump’s praise for “Hollywood’s most famous cannibal,” as a Post headline writer succinctly put it. “The late, great Hannibal Lecter is a wonderful man,” Trump declared. Try arguing that climate change should have been the lead of the story that day….The overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is real and poses a grave danger to humanity. Those trying to evade tough measures to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels dismiss technical expertise and invent hidden motives. The climate movement, they say, wants to enhance the power of big government. It hates cars, doesn’t care about people working the oil fields and despises the “American way of life.” Case closed….Trump is thus both a cause and a symptom of the distemper in our national life. On the climate and so many other questions, the nation has about five months to realize that very big things are at stake in November’s choice. If we fail, Hannibal Lecter would be a fitting symbol for what happened to our democracy.”

Shame on you for ignoring the Supreme Court elections that are being held in 33 states this year. Ok, shame on me too. Louis Jacobson explains why they are important at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “As it happens, 2024 is a very big year for such elections. They will be held in 33 states, and in several, ideological control of the court could shift depending on the results. While I am generally looking ahead to November here, one notable state supreme court election is actually coming up next week in Georgia, as former Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow is seeking to unseat a justice appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), Andrew Pinson….In 2024, some of the most hotly contested supreme court contests will be held in a pair of big Midwestern states, Michigan and Ohio, where partisan control of the court is at least mathematically at stake. In both states, abortion has been a big issue, with voters approving pro-abortion-rights ballot measures in the past two years….Several other states that have experienced battles over abortion will be home to notable supreme court races this fall, including Arizona, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Kentucky, although it remains to be seen how much of an energizing factor abortion will be for Democrats, either overall or for judicial races specifically….According to Ballotpedia’s indispensable index of state supreme court races, 2024 has 83 state supreme court races on tap (plus 222 races for lower appeals courts, which I will not cover in this article)….Five states (Michigan, Ohio, Montana, North Carolina and Kentucky) have competitive supreme court elections this year with results that could shift the court’s ideological balance, at least to a degree.” Jacobson goes on to provide inside skinny for each off these states and “other contested states.” Yes, there is only so much time in the day and there is too much political stuff out there already to read even more about down-ballot contests. But if you are tired of the insanity of the “big” races, you may find some of these state Supreme Court races refreshing in their quaint focus on issues that actually affect our lives.

If Democrats have any realistic hopes for prevailing in the 2024 elections, we have to take the downer data and analysis seriously and, yknow, maybe try and correct some loser notions and behavior. Somebody has to bring the reality check, and Ruy Teixeira does it well in his Washington Post column, “Young voters aren’t as liberal as you think.” Some excerpts: “The romance between President Biden and young voters, never particularly torrid, remains no better than lukewarm as his administration whipsaws between its support for Israel, its desire to placate young demonstrators and the need to keep a lid on social unrest in an election year….The ongoing demonstrations on campuses are really only the latest complicating factor in an already blurry picture of young voter support for Biden and the Democrats. Young voter discontent has been gathering throughout Biden’s term and might no longer give Democrats the margins they need to hold the White House and the Senate….According to Gallup, 18-to-29-year-olds today (most of whom are considered Gen Z) are plurality, but not majority, Democratic….That plus-8 advantage is the narrowest Democratic tilt among this age group since 2005 and continues a downward trend since 2019, when the Democratic advantage among this age group was 23 points….The next age group for which Gallup makes data available is 30-to-49-year-olds. This age range is larger than desirable but does include the entirety of the millennial generation — except for those 28 and 29 years old. In 2018, when this age group had fewer millennials in it than it does today, Democrats had a 12-point advantage. Now, Republicans are ahead by two percentage points among voters between 30 and 49 years old.” Double Yikes. Teixeira continues, “….Another venerable polling outfit, Pew Research Center, has released data suggesting the Democratic advantage in party ID among 18-to-29-year-olds is much larger, possibly because Pew restricted the sample to registered voters and pushed respondents quite hard on whether they are really “independent.” This further clouds the picture of young voters’ political leanings….The most recent data indicates that only about one-third of those ages 18 to 29 identify as liberal. That liberal share is indeed higher among this age group than other age groups, but obviously it is not the dominant ideology even for this cohort….Among Gallup’s 30-to-49-year-olds — again, this age group now includes the overwhelming majority of millennials — there is even less evidence of liberal domination. They are just 25 percent liberal, 40 percent moderate and 33 percent conservative….On immigration, 48 percent of under-30 voters consider Biden more liberal than they are on the issue, compared with 29 percent who think he’s more conservative than they are. Similarly, 46 percent consider Biden more liberal on the border and 44 percent think he’s more liberal on asylum seekers than they are compared to 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively, who think he’s more conservative….On transgender issues, 48 percent of these under-30 voters (remember, these are essentially Gen Z voters we’re talking about!) consider Biden more liberal than they are on these issues, compared with 28 percent who think the president is more conservative. And by 10 points, voters under age 30 oppose the idea that transgender individuals should be allowed to play on sports teams that do not match their birth gender….On crime, 40 percent of 18-to-29-year-old voters think Biden is more liberal than they are on the issue, compared with 30 percent who think he’s more conservative. By 12 points, they think criminals are not punished harshly enough in this country rather than too harshly.” And perhaps more importantly, “Gallup data finds 62 percent of those under 35 (Gen Z and the younger millennials) describe themselves as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life” (32 percent). And a staggering 81 percent say abortion should be generally legal during the first three months of pregnancy. But when queried about the second three months of pregnancy, just under half (48 percent) think abortion should be legal in this period. And for the last three months of pregnancy, only one-third support legal abortions.” Now for the kickers: “Big data firm Catalist estimated the Democratic margin among these voters at a stable 22 or 23 points in the last three presidential contests. But polls this year have repeatedly shown Biden only narrowly ahead of former president Donald Trump among this age group — and sometimes losing….For example, the data analytics site Split Ticket maintains an average of demographic cross tabs from public polls. Thus, for 18-to-29-year-olds, Split Ticket found that Biden led Trump by an average of just 12 points in April polls. Interestingly, they also collected data on cross tabs among 18-to-34-year-olds (different polls use different age breaks) and this slightly older age group — which contains more millennials — only averaged a two-point advantage for Biden that month….Similarly, the latest New York Times-Siena poll — ranked No. 1 among all U.S. pollsters by the website FiveThirtyEight — has Biden ahead by just one point among 18-to-29-year-olds and behind by one point among 30-to-44-year-olds. Among likely voters, a smaller subset, Biden is ahead by two points among 18-to-29-year-olds and by an identical margin among 30-to-44-year-olds. But no matter how you screen, this a sharp falloff for Biden from 2020.”